Campus Student Feature: Camryn Kinney

Campus Student Feature: Camryn Kinney
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.

Camryn Kinney's story is about a first-generation student laying the groundwork for her dream of opening a bakery while earning her online business degree

With the support she's found at Campus and among her social circles, Camryn has found incredible success in college, earning a 4.0 GPA and making connections with professors who have opened doors to new and exciting opportunities.

Graduating High School at 15

Camryn’s parents homeschooled Camryn and her older brother from a very young age. While they both enjoyed it, Camryn’s educational journey took an unexpected turn in seventh grade when her brother's curiosity about public school led their mother to enroll them both.

This decision marked her entry into a traditional educational environment, a stark contrast to the personalized learning she was accustomed to.

“I went to public school until the 10th grade,” Camryn told Campus. “Towards the middle of 10th grade, I basically sat my parents down and I was like, hey, I don't wanna be in public school anymore. Can we, at the end of this year, just kind of pull me out?"

After doing her own independent research into a variety of homeschooling options, Camryn approached her parents with all of the information she found. Agreeing to look into alternative pathways for her to complete her high school education, they came together as a family to find the perfect fit for Camryn - an online program.

“The program that we ended up using was at my own pace, so as long as I did all of the assignments, turned them in on time, and just waited for them to be graded, I could do them basically whenever I wanted and wherever I wanted,” Camryn recalled.

Immediately after enrolling in the programs and mapping out her course assignments, Camryn got straight to work during the summer after her tenth-grade year. She shared that during this time, she spent several hours on her laptop tackling her coursework - sometimes at her aunt and uncle’s house while she would hang out with her cousins, but mostly at home during all hours of the day and night. 

“A good portion of the time I was working on my assignments at home at probably like one or two in the morning,” she shared as she reflected on her high school journey.

“I was getting everything that I could done ahead of time, and ended up doing the last two years of high school in five months over the summer.”

Thanks to her hard work, Camryn graduated high school at the age of 15 years old.

Choosing Campus

At the time she’d earned her high school diploma, Camryn started to make plans for what her future would look like.

Reflecting on her mindset at the time, she shared with us, “It didn’t feel like at 15 years old would be the time to go to college. I can barely drive, like why am I going to go to college right now?”

Instead, Camryn decided to spend her time preparing for her future by working at daycares and planning on setting herself up for her eventual college studies.

During this phase of her life, Camryn had a profound passion for early childhood education and had considered starting a daycare. All that was left after gaining a few years of experience as a teaching assistant was to find the right college program.

“I was looking at opening up my own daycare at that time so I knew that I would probably need a business degree for it,” she explained. “I had multiple tabs always open on some computer about it, and then Campus popped up.”

Camryn shared she chose to enroll in the Campus online business program because of its flexibility and online format - features that resonated with her previous positive experience in an online setting. 

Knowing that she would need the business know-how to tackle her daycare aspirations or any other future business ventures, it was a perfect fit for her.

As she best put it, “I needed some kind of business degree for pretty much anything that I wanted to do, and Campus aligned with what I was looking for.” 

Upon connecting with a Campus admissions counselor in 2022, Camryn became a student in the Summer ‘22 Cohort. 

camryn kinney and her family posing with flexed arms after mother's chemotherapy
Camryn (center-right) with her mother (center-left), father (far right), and aunt (far left) after her mother’s chemotherapy treatment.

Asking for Help as a First-Gen Student

As a first-generation college student, Camryn noted that this is a significant milestone for herself and for her family.

“I am the first person in my family to go to college so it's a big step for me,” Camryn shared with a big grin on her face. “Everyone in my family and my friends are very supportive of it.”

When asked about her experience as a first-generation college student, she gave us insight into how her college journey is different from some of her peers.

While she has often referred to her parents for help with other areas of her life, she noted that it’s strange exploring something that they’ve never done before.

“I've been able to ask my parents, ‘How do I go about you know fixing my car? How do I go about getting an apartment? How do I do this?’, and being the first one to have this experience is different,” Camryn explained. “I can't ask my parents, ‘How do I go about managing college while working?’ They don’t know.”

Regardless of not having first-hand experience to learn from her parents, Camryn was up to the task. She found a new means of support and advice for her higher education experience from an unlikely source: her childhood friend’s parents.

“Even with asking my friend's parents, it's always weird,” Camryn said. “We're close, but it's a little awkward to be like, ‘Hey, I don't know if you know me. I've been friends with your daughter for like seven years now, but can I ask you this question about your time in college?’”

Acknowledging that reaching out for help always felt awkward at first, Camryn also went on to explain how connecting with her friend’s parents is ultimately something that has brought her and some of her other friends closer together.

“There are a few relationships where it's not so weird now,” Camryn said. “I can have that full conversation without having to kind of do small talk before getting into the question.”

Finding Success with Campus

Finding invaluable advice from her friends' parents, Camryn then discovered further guidance and support through her dedicated student success coach, who became another key player in her broader network of encouragement and resources. 

As she shared with us, “I think the biggest resource I’ve relied on is my support coach, Joe,” Camryn noted. “He's just been really helpful through everything.”

From day one in the Campus online business program, each student is assigned a student success coach to help them navigate college life, and Camryn is no exception.

While her support coach has been pivotal in helping Camryn find resources and touch base with her professors to help her manage assignment deadlines while tackling personal losses, one of the key roles that Joe has played in Camryn’s college journey is a cheerleader. 

She noted that every time she has gotten the chance to connect with him, they’re constantly updating each other on how their weeks have gone. “We have a personal connection,” Camryn shared. “It’s a lot better than just kind of feeling like a number to someone.”  

And for Camryn, there is no shortage of things to cheer her on for! Throughout her time at Campus, she’s been a remarkable student, maintaining a cumulative 4.0 GPA while working full-time. This earned her a spot in the Chancellor’s Circle, which she noted was one of the most rewarding parts of her Campus learning experience. 

”Every time that I make it [into the Chancellor’s Circle], I immediately text my parents and let them know,” Camryn said with a smile as she recalled her parents' responses.

“I'll tell them, ‘I made it,’ and my mom she'll say like, ‘Oh, good job! I'm so proud of you,’ and my dad will always say, ‘You're welcome, you got it from me.’”

Making Career Moves While in School 

Adding to her already impressive accomplishments, Camryn has also been an active networker. After connecting with some of her professors at Campus, she would reach out to them and ask them to write her a recommendation on her LinkedIn profile. All of which would prove to be incredible talking points for her when she started searching for a new job late last year.

“I applied for my new job on LinkedIn, and they saw that I had a recommendation from one of my professors,” Camryn recalled. “In the interview, they were like, ‘Hey, how do you have a recommendation from so-and-so who works at this college?’, and I was like, ‘Oh yeah, he was my professor for a quarter.’ That recommendation kind of got me in the door.” 

Not long after that interview, Camryn landed a new role as a remote claims support specialist for a health insurance company.

What’s more, she also shared with us that while the position is full-time and requires her to work 40-hour work weeks, they’ve also been mindful of her class schedule, and have helped accommodate her working hours to make sure she can keep being the top student she is.

Unlocking More Resources for the Future 

Now that Camryn is in her second year in the business program and is looking to graduate sometime this year, we were thrilled to know what her plans were after she earned her business administration degree. 

During the time she has spent in college, some of her goals had shifted from when she was 15 and considered opening her own daycare facility. Instead, she shared that her goals pivoted to a different kind of business venture.

“Unfortunately, once I started looking through everything, I was like, Oh, this is a lot more work than what 15-year-old me had thought it would be,” she explained. “So right now, I am intent on opening my own bakery.”

In talking about her plans to open her bakery, Camryn also shared that while she is a few terms out from completing the program, she already has gained a versatile toolkit of business knowledge.

One of the most notable pieces of knowledge that she valued came as a result of a research project for her Entrepreneurship class taught by Rick Rasmussen

“In my Entrepreneurship class, we had a project where we had to research what different loans, grants, and funding we could get for our future businesses,” Camryn explained.

“I found out that since I am part Native American, I’m eligible for different grants and loans for business owners offered by my specific tribe.”

As part of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Camryn discovered all of the programs that she was eligible for and didn’t know existed. She pointed out that having the opportunity to do a deep dive into the resources she’s eligible for with her class’s projects opened her eyes to the possibility of making her business a reality. 

“I wouldn't have known that if I didn't have the opportunity to do that assignment.”

With the business skills she's gained and her awe-inspiring work ethic, her future is bound to be as bright as the energy she brings to everything she works toward.

Learn More About the Campus Experience 

If Camryn’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 Camryn by applying to become a Campus Scholar today!

Responses have been edited for clarity and length.

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