Recruiting students from across the U.S., Campus is the new alternative to online community college. We’re on a mission to maximize access to a world-class education to set students up for success no matter what their next step is. Read on to learn about our students’ unique experiences.
The journey from incarceration to education is a challenging one, but it is an adventure that Jamora Williams, a second-year online college student at Campus, has embarked on with determination and resilience.
As a first-generation student, Jamora is not only navigating the uncharted territories of higher education for herself but is also breaking barriers by being the first in her family to do so.
Join us as we explore Jamora’s inspirational story from incarceration to education, the obstacles she faced along the way, and the rewards she has reaped as a result of her dedication as well the support she received from the Campus community.
Embracing Education at Every Step
Jamora is a remarkable student and her journey has not been easy, as she has had to overcome many challenges, including drug addiction, surviving an abusive relationship, and incarceration.
As she was getting her life back on track years ago, she found herself in an abusive relationship that ultimately led to her incarceration, a pivotal moment that pushed her to transform her life.
She shared with Campus, “Prior to incarceration, I was on the path of starting to get my life together. I've been through addiction. I'm 13 years clean now.”
Jamora turned to education as a means of rebuilding and creating a brighter future for herself.
“While I was incarcerated, I went to school, and took advantage of a lot of education opportunities,” Jamora said. “Everything from learning a trade to taking classes to earn my associate degree.”
Taking advantage of the opportunity to pursue her education during her time in prison, Jamora obtained several certifications in entrepreneurship, foundations in business and financial capabilities, and more.
She even took the opportunity to pursue her associate degree through a program offered by the Darden School of Business at PVCC College. Though she was not able to finish her associate program because of complications that arose with the pandemic, that did not deter her from working toward a degree.
Embarking on a college journey is a big step in anyone's life, but for first-generation students, it carries an added layer of significance. Meet one such groundbreaker: Jamora, a second-year college student who is not only navigating the world of higher education but is also the first in her family to do so.
“I would technically be the first college graduate,” Jamora shared. “None of my siblings, or my mom, or my biological father, have graduated from college. They didn't go, or they never graduated. I’m kind of that black sheep of my family.”
Opening the Doors to New Opportunities
Once she was released, Jamora was determined to get back on her feet and start exploring her options for a future career. She tried to find jobs, and was hired for a few different positions, but found that many of them didn’t last long.
“I started to work initially,” she reflected. “However, the jobs I had were temporary. As soon as my background check came back, I was let go.”
She went on to share that the process continued, even when she came across a dream job. Though she was heartbroken, Jamora was ready to do whatever she could to make her next dream job a reality.
“I just asked myself, ‘How could I position myself so that I would be a more likely candidate?’” she said.
“I have these odds against me, but I want to do whatever I can to make sure that they're not just looking at my record, but also looking at my qualifications. I'm determined to position myself to where I get qualified enough that they're going to be like, ‘I'm willing to take a chance on her.’”
While continuing her job search online, Jamora would often come across jobs that she loved, but they all had one thing in common: a business degree was a minimum requirement.
This realization planted seeds in her mind about the importance of completing her education in business administration or business management. Not long after, Jamora came across Campus and enrolled in our online associate in business program.
“I knew that I needed to earn my degree online because at the time I didn't have a car,” she shared. “I just started to look. I knew that I needed not just online, but interactive. I needed the feeling of in-person learning with the convenience of being at home. When I came across Campus, it just had everything checked on my list.”
After doing some research, Jamora felt that the Campus Scholars program was a perfect fit because of its unique online platform. The classes we offer are live, synchronous classes that allow students to engage in real-time interactions with their professors, teaching assistants, and fellow students.
A Little Support Goes a Long Way
A crucial element of success for students from all walks of life is the support they receive. For Jamora, this support has been a key factor that has helped her make the most of her education. She reinforced this by sharing some of the wisdom she lives by.
What’s her mantra for ensuring that she gets the most out of her college education from day one?
As Jamora put it: “Strategically position yourself around those who want what's good for you.”
“When I'm going through challenges, I lean on not my own understanding, but a power greater than myself,” Jamora explained. “I utilize those support systems that I have around me. I don't have many genuine supporters, but the ones that I do have, I lean on – Campus being one of them. Campus has been incredibly supportive.”
Having a solid support system is something Jamora swears by, and it's a big part of the advice she gives to anyone thinking about going to college. She also shared some essential elements for crafting an enriching higher education experience.
“I'm not going to tell you it's going to be easy,” Jamora said. “You're going to have to utilize your resources. You're going to have to take time out to commit to your assignments. You also have to make sure you have people around you that will hold you accountable – people who want to see you succeed.”
Jamora went on to explain to us that the key people who supported her at Campus were none other than our dedicated student support coaches.
When we asked her what advice she would give to a student interested in joining our online program, she emphasized how reaching out for help is key, especially when life may have other plans.
“Your support coach is going to be your best friend,” Jamora explained. “Even if you don't think that it’s important to tell them what’s going on, you should still let them know. That way they’re always aware of what's going on in your life, and they can plan accordingly to help you. You never know what kind of resources they might have.”
The Most Rewarding Parts of the Journey
The pathway through college is filled with challenges, but it also brings many benefits. In Jamora’s case, one of the most gratifying aspects of her educational experience has been seeing the tangible results of her hard work at the end of each term.
“I would say what’s most rewarding for me…It's when I get those report cards,” Jamora noted. “When I get those grades, I feel so proud!”
The sense of achievement Jamora feels when viewing her grades at the end of each term is mirrored in her daily work life, another area where her college journey has had a profound impact. Earning high grades and receiving academic awards are not just personal victories; they’re proof that she’s able to apply her knowledge and expertise to her career.
“I'm able to connect what I'm learning in school life with my day-to-day work life,” Jamora stated. “Being able to communicate on a professional business level in business, for me, is very rewarding.”
As Jamora shared, being able to connect with her manager on a professional level gave her manager the confidence to give her management-level tasks. The increased confidence her manager has in her abilities is a testament to the broader implications of her education.
This ability to connect classroom learning to real-world situations has not only made a difference at work but has also impacted personal relationships.
Jamora reflected on another fulfilling part of her college experience: the joy and pride she sees in her family.
“Just seeing the joy in how my dad looks at me,” Jamora said with a smile. “He’s not my biological father, but my brother's father. He's been in my life my whole life, more so since I've been home. He's just so proud of me, and he’s excited about me being in college. He’s even more excited than me!”
Today, she stands as a beacon of hope and an inspiration to others. Whether they are her classmates or her family, everyone she connects with is moved by her drive and motivation to take life into their own hands.
In fact, after seeing Jamora’s success in college, her own daughter felt empowered to become a classmate! This October, Jamora's daughter enrolled in the Campus Scholars program for the Fall Quarter!
“She's a very bright kid, very ambitious, a go-getter,” Jamora said, beaming with joy. “I'm really proud of her because she too has beat the odds against her. And I tell her all the time, ‘Honey, we're cut from something different. We were built for this.’”
While Jamora pointed out that “a lot of times people don't want to be associated with a convicted felon,” that has never once stopped her from striving to overcome the challenges she and many other students have faced. When we asked her what advice she would have for other students, Jamora’s words of wisdom left us at a loss for words.
“In spite of whatever you go through, you still have the power to dictate which way your life goes,” Jamora stated. “The opportunities are there. You just have to pursue them.”
Learn More About the Campus Experience
If Jamora’s story resonates with you, or her words about Campus have caught your attention, be sure to check out the Campus online associate degree in business program or request more info here.
You can join inspiring students just like Josephine by applying to become a Campus Scholar today!