When Ebony Wright-Campbell ’02,’ 04 was a sophomore in Hillyer College, she suffered a personal tragedy that could have derailed her dreams of graduating from college. Her mother and only parent, Sandra Patricia Campbell, died in the World Trade Center on Sept 11, 2001. With the help of mentors, scholarships, and her own perseverance, Wright-Campbell went on to earn an associate's degree from the University's Hillyer College and a bachelor's degree in sociology from the College of Arts and Sciences. She is currently working as a social worker, helping young people finish high school. She is also pursuing her doctorate in social work.
It was that dedication to her education, as well as her career accomplishments, that made Wright-Campbell the perfect candidate for this year’s Hillyer Outstanding Young Alumnus Award. Dean David Goldenberg presented her with that honor during a ceremony on Tuesday, Oct. 7, in Wilde Auditorium. Wright-Campbell captivated the crowd with an acceptance speech that served as a tribute to both her mother and the family she created for herself at the University of Hartford.
“Was I going to stay home and sulk and think about where my mother was? I could do that here,” Wright-Campbell said of her decision to return to school the week after the attacks. “It didn’t make sense, when we fought for me to get to college to actually waste it. For me, it was the best thing to do.”
Wright-Campbell says she made it through that “horrible” year with the support of three people in particular: Sue Fitzgerald, senior advisor to the president; Woody Doane, professor of sociology in Hillyer College; and DeLois Lindsey, assistant vice president for student development. Lindsey, who Wright-Campbell calls “Mama Lois,” was her boss in the University’s multicultural office and was the person who told her about the attack on the World Trade Center. They still regularly keep in touch.