There is no place like home; and for the Hammond family, there is no place like their second home: Campbell University, said matriarch Jill Hammond ’05.
BUIES CREEK -- Since the fall of 2003, Campbell University has given medallions to its new undergraduate students during a New Student Convocation held at the beginning of each academic year. These medallions feature an open Bible, a Celtic cross, and the university’s motto (“Ad Astra per Aspera”). They symbolize the university’s mission, purpose, and history. Receiving one marks the start of the students’ academic journey at Campbell.
For the Hammond family, they also mark a shared experience.
Four times Mark L. Hammond, Campbell’s vice president for academic affairs and provost, has awarded one of these medallions to his own children. The first time came in 2009 when his oldest child, Erica, started at Campbell, and the second in 2011 with his son, Nicholas. Last year was Veronica’s turn. And the most recent happened Sunday, Aug. 17, when his youngest daughter, Monica, was one of more than 1,000 incoming students who participated in the university’s 2014 New Student Convocation in the John W. Pope, Jr. Convocation Center.
Of having all four of his children attend Campbell, Mark Hammond said, “I think you would find it very rare, but I think it’s a strong statement about how much I believe in Campbell and in its programs and people. It’s good enough for my whole family.”
What’s more so, his wife, Jill, added: “It was their choice to attend Campbell.”
Mark joined the Campbell faculty in 1992 as an assistant professor of biology, leading him and Jill to move to Buies Creek. In the early 2000s, after all four children had been born and were in school, Jill enrolled at Campbell as a nontraditional student to pursue an undergraduate degree in elementary education. She graduated in 2005, and today teaches sixth grade science at Harnett Central Middle School. “Campbell made it possible for me to be a full-time student and a full-time mom,” she said.
Four years after Jill’s graduation, Erica enrolled at Campbell. A 2013 pre-professional biology graduate, she chose Campbell because it had a good biology program and “it was small enough so you’re not just a number,” said Erica, who is getting clinical hours to apply to a physician assistant program.
It’s for similar reasons that her brother and two sisters also chose Campbell. “The professors know you here,” said Nicholas, a senior Spanish major.
“It’s that hometown feel,” added Veronica, a sophomore in the trust and wealth management program. “I’ve been around Campbell my entire life, and I always wanted to go here.
“It’s also nice to be able to make it home for Sunday dinners.”
Another Hammond Sunday dinner was held this past Sunday, immediately following the New Student Convocation. All the Hammonds were in attendance as the youngest of them, Monica, received her medallion from her father. “It’s already a special event because it’s Campbell’s way of welcoming you into the family,” said Monica, a pre-professional biology major. “But it was really nice that Campbell made it possible so Dad could award me my medallion.”
She added that she plans to keep the medallion, just as her brother and sisters have.
“The medallion ties not only our family together but everyone together,” Erica said. “Everyone who has gone to Campbell [over the past 10 years] has one. It reminds you that you have a common goal -- to make it to graduation -- and that you’re in this together.”
“Not every school has something like this,” Veronica added. “It’s kind of like Campbell crowning you.”
“It’s a bonding experience,” Jill said.
Campbell has given the Hammonds plenty of other times to bond, too, even in the classroom. Mark, also a professor of biology, has taught Erica, Nicholas, and Veronica in his introductory biology course, and he has Monica in his class this semester. (So far two of his children got A’s in the course and one a B.)
As a student being in their father’s class, “It’s nerve-racking,” the oldest daughter, Erica, said. “I think it’s harder because you feel the pressure to perform.”
For Mark, there’s no difference between teaching his children and the other students. “Instructionally, they are just one of the students in the course, but they may hit me up for money at the end of a class,” he said.
His children have also taken classes with each other. This semester Nicholas and Monica have a history class together, and Nicholas and Veronica are in Connections together. “We’ll be sitting right next to each other,” Veronica said. “And last year Erica and I lived together. It was the best roommate experience.”
For Monica, having two of her older siblings on campus as she begins her first year at Campbell is comforting, she said. Just a few days ago she and Veronica had lunch at the Chick-fil-A, and Monica took the time to ask her older sister some questions, such as “What’s the difference between Campbell Bucks and Creek Bucks?” “It’s nice to have them all close by," Monica said. "All of us have always been really close.”
So what advice did Monica’s brother and sisters give her as she begins her college experience? “She has to figure it out on her own,” Nicholas quipped.
“I think there’s some truth to that,” Jill added, “so she can make it her own experience, too.”
That’s what her husband, Mark, did when she began her studies at Campbell, Jill said. But when she graduated? He was right there. He read aloud her name as she walked across the stage and gave her a hug. He also gave Erica a hug on stage when she graduated in 2013. He plans to give three more when his other kids graduate from Campbell. “For all of them to come here, this wasn’t planned, but it’s tremendously rewarding,” Mark said. “They chose to come to Campbell because they wanted to come.”
Campbell, Jill added, has truly become her family’s second home. “There’s no place like home. There’s also no place like a second home,” she added. “In our case, that’s Campbell University.”
Photo by Bennett Scarborough