Campbell's Commitment and Philanthropy Set New Standards
April 3, 2013
It is both admirable and honorable when student-athletes can find the balance between academics and athletics, but often times, the impact some of the most distinguished collegiate athletes have on the world comes after their time on campus.
Patrick Campbell, a redshirt senior on the NC State men's track & field and cross country teams, has not only found that balance during his five years in Raleigh, but also earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees, and was recently accepted to the University of North Carolina's School of Medicine.
Campbell hopes to earn his M.D. and become a surgeon with an emphasis on pediatrics.
"For a long time, I hated the idea of doing research, but lately I've become more interested in academic medicine," Campbell said. "There are some residencies where you can do five years of general surgery training and you can also do two years of research as well."
It's not just a cool idea that relates to his college studies. Campbell has a philanthropic mindset with hopes of changing the world.
"I think research is the only way that medicine is going to progress in the future," he said. "I would love to get involved with that and make an impact somehow."
One of four NC State student-athletes to earn a 2013 ACC Postgraduate Scholarship, Campbell graduated with a B.S. degree in biological sciences in just seven semesters, before enrolling in graduate school, where he will receive his master's degree this spring.
"It's something I've always been good at," Campbell said of his ability to manage his responsibilities at NC State. "It's something my parents engrained in me when I was younger. My dad has always been my biggest fan in running so he 's always wanted me to continue that. I remember saying, 'Hey dad, I don't think I can do this,' and he said, 'No, you're fine.'"
The physical and mental rigor with which some student-athletes cope can seem unbearable at times, but Campbell worked hard and reaped the benefits as early as middle school.
Campbell attended a summer camp, the Duke TIP (Talent Identification Program), which is a program that specializes in identifying children with special or advanced skills for their age, and attempts to provide parents with the resources for their children to reach their educational potential. It was there that he took his SAT, also known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test, as a seventh grader.
After performing well on the popular college admissions exam, accumulating three college math credits in high school and taking on two semesters of 18 credit hours, Campbell received his college degree almost a full year ahead of schedule.
"I remember my freshman year I took 18 hours and it was a lot," he said. "In the end it paid off and I got to graduate early. It's something my parents helped me with and it's gotten easier ever since."
So how did he do it so fast and still post grades near the top of his class? Some call it procrastination before exams, but Campbell was almost forced to do take that approach with his busy schedule.
"I'm a person that does a really good job studying right before a class on the day of a test," he said. "Some nights I would be studying really late and have a 6:30 or 7 a.m. practice, so I would just wake up and study before that. It was exhausting at times."
It was on the track and cross country courses where Campbell was able to relieve stress and put his mind in a different place.
"It's something to focus on outside of school if you have a big test or big assignment coming up," he said. "At practice, you don't think about it for those three and a half hours you're there. I think that's very important because you have to be focused at practice if you want to get better in that aspect."
Campbell's efforts on the cross country team made him a key component to NC State's 2009 and 2011 ACC Championship squads - moments where some of his fondest memories as a member of the team took place.
"My first ACC Championship in 2009 - I will never forget that day," Campbell reminisced. "I remember coming up the hill and we had four guys in the top 10 and Coach [Rollie] Geiger was just yelling at us. I don't even remember what he said, but I've never seen him with so much enthusiasm. It gave me chills in the middle of the race. I knew right then that we were going to win. It was a special moment and a special day."
Geiger, an Assistant Athletic Director and head coach of NC State's Track & Field and Cross Country programs, can also be credited with assisting and motivating Campbell along his journey.
"He's been a great leader and role model during my time here," Campbell said. "Anything you'd ever need done, he'll help you, whether that's school or running. He wants you to be the best that you can be in both of those areas. Any time I needed to go to him for something, he was there."
Geiger's open-door policy and willingness to help student-athletes through their college years is something that runs in the blood of members of the track and cross country programs, as Campbell has also lent a helping hand on several occasions.
"I want to do mission work," Campbell stated. "My dad has been doing it for a long time and I've gone on some trips with him. They've been some of the best trips of my life."
The father of the Mooresville, N.C., native, Dr. Mike Campbell, is a doctor and philanthropist in his own right. The lessons and experiences to which he has exposed Patrick have embedded those altruistic motives within him forever. That has been evident in his mission work on the African continent.
"Every year he goes so Mawandi, Zambia to a mission hospital there," Campbell said. "He takes a mission group of about 10 people. I've been able to scrub-in on surgeries and that's what kind of assured me that I wanted to be a surgeon. We do about 40 surgeries per year there.”
Campbell always told himself he wanted to be a doctor, but there were numerous occasions where he questioned if he wanted to do it for the right reasons. Did he want to do it because his father did it? Would he like it? He answered those questions three years ago on his first mission trip with his father.
"From the first day of my first trip back in 2010, everything changed," Campbell said enthusiastically. "We operated from seven in the morning until six at night and never once did I think it was getting late or was I concerned about when we were leaving. I knew from that point on that I wanted to do this."
Most of his work involved performing parts of thyroidectomy procedures lead by his father. It's the reactions of the patients after the surgeries have left a lasting impression on Campbell.
"The gratitude the people showed was amazing," he said. "They didn't complain about anything. They were so grateful for what they were having done. That's the most rewarding part of medicine."
Campbell has been on the same mission trip twice, and will make his third trip this coming summer before beginning medical school. The purpose of the trips is always for a good cause, and his upcoming trip will offer a little bit of fun, too.
"We always take a few days to go on a safari afterwards and we're going to Kenya this year which is really cool. I'm excited because I've never been there."
Campbell keeps a quote by Seneca the Rhetorician in his thoughts: 'It's a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness,' that might be the inspiration that makes him a distinguished philanthropist many years from now.
"It reminds me of the day-to-day grind that you have to go through to achieve everything that you've set out to do."