CAMPUS Graduates Get Limited Advice

Phyllis Randall, chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, had some advice for the 117 seniors completing the CAMPUS program.

But it had an expiration date.

“This speech is not about what I think you should do with the rest of your life. This speech is my best advice I can give you for the next four to six years of your life. After that, somebody will have to give you another speech to carry you from there.”

Randall had three bits of advice for the graduates.

“Although you may feel the weight of the world – the weight of your family – on your shoulders… ask your family for help.”

Experiences your family members have already been through can help you in your hour of need, she added.

“You all don’t yet know what you don’t know. Whether it’s school work, relationships, financial advice; you have to be able to ask for help. Do not be afraid and, most importantly, do not be too prideful to get help from somebody else. Your parents, your grandparents, your godparents – listen – they’ve been figuring things out for years. You’ve got to know that your parents have gone through situations – like paying for stuff – they’ve done that. And your grandparents have definitely done that… They actually know how to get you help when you need it… Call your people and ask for help.”

Randall said the graduates should focus on themselves for the next four to six years.

“If there is ever a time in your life when you should be self-centered, the next four years are it… The truth is…this is the time to be about yourself. I know you think you are adults. You are not…Your brain is not fully developed until you are between 24 and 26 years old; but we tell 18-year-olds that they’re adults. You’re not adults, you’re legal. There’s a difference between being an adult and being legal…

“Your brains are not yet adult brains… For the next four to six years, that will actually work to your favor… When I say being self-centered, I’m not saying ‘be a selfish person.’ I am saying this is a time in your life to focus on who you want to be and become that adult. This is a time of your life to focus on your health; your spiritual health, your moral health, your financial health, your physical health, your mental health. It’s a time of your life to learn how to take care of yourself and it’s important, because if you don’t take care of yourself, you’re not going to be able to help anyone else.”   

Putting something aside was the centerpiece of the third piece of advice.

“Be involved in your own life.

“Put down your cell phone, look up…

“Your generation is, by far, the most connected generation ever. You have in your hand the knowledge of the world. That does not mean you’re supposed to experience the world through your cell phone. Put it down and look up…

“We have become so enamored with our electronics, we’re losing our humanity. Our electronic items should not take the place of our human interactions.”     

The CAMPUS Senior Celebration kicked off the Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) graduation season with a ceremony on Tuesday, May 29th, at the LCPS Administrative Offices in Ashburn.

CAMPUS is a program, established in 2002, to aid high school students who are prospective first-generation college students and those who may be considered socioeconomically disadvantaged. The program served 450 students this year.

LCPS Superintendent Dr. Eric Williams said he knows the importance of being the first to attend college in a family through the experiences of his father, who, along with an uncle, were the first in their family to complete college. Williams said he spoke with his 81-year-old father over the weekend and listened again to the tales of his father’s youth. Williams’ father grew up in West Virginia coal country, one of 14 children. His father recalled the moment he first thought of going to college as a reality thanks to a comment by a high school English teacher.

“The influence of this teacher wasn’t in the knowledge or the skills she taught my dad; it was her belief in him. My father recalls a comment she made about ‘when he goes to college.’ That phrase, ‘when he goes to college,’ meant a lot to him. He can remember that exact moment – as a high school student – that someone clearly was assuming that he would go to college. He would view that as a vote of confidence in his intelligence, his ability and his work ethic. That meant all the world to him.

“Seniors, you were selected, years ago, for the CAMPUS program because people believed in you. They believed that when you work hard and develop good plans, you can, and will, succeed. I commend each of you today for your work toward earning a high school diploma and for planning next steps after high school.

“You should be proud of yourselves. We certainly are proud of you.”      

Former Del. Joe May presented the Loudoun Laurels Stewardship Scholarship Award. This is a four-year, $10,000-per-year scholarship. It is awarded to first-generation college students who have faced struggles in life. The committee deciding these scholarships was so impressed with this year’s applicants that it added two recipients.

The CAMPUS students receiving this scholarship were Sulma Hernandez of Loudoun Valley High School and Heritage High School’s Jayla Grooms.

LCPS CAMPUS Program Manager Chris Clarke listed the academic accomplishments of the 2018 CAMPUS seniors.

  • They took 517 honors and dual-enrollment courses;
  • 102 of the students were enrolled in at least one honors or dual-enrollment course;
  • 81 of the students were enrolled in at least one Advanced Placement course;
  • 97 percent of the graduates are going on to college.


Loudoun County School Board Vice Chairman Brenda Sheridan (Sterling District) and members Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge District) and Tom Marshall (Leesburg District) attended the CAMPUS Celebration.