College of Health and Human Performance

Dustin Campbell

Applied Physiology & Kinesiology '24

Meet Dustin Campbell: A fourth-year first-generation college student from Jacksonville, Florida

On National First-Generation College Day, we celebrate the determination, resilience and accomplishments of those who are the first in their families to pursue higher education.

Join us in celebrating our first-generation students and learn more about their achievements.


Can you describe your background and what motivated you to pursue a college education as a first-generation student?

I was raised on the idea that getting your education is important to set yourself up for success later on in life. My parents predicated themselves on making sure that my brother and I didn’t make the same mistakes as them growing up by not understanding the importance of a college degree. Being raised around that mentality has definitely motivated me to further my education to eventually reach my ultimate career goals later on in life.

Could you share a memorable experience or accomplishment from your college journey that you're particularly proud of?

There was a time last spring when I failed my first physics exam on kinematics. I studied for it in the same way that I did for most tests but it was not enough. I was afraid I would fail and have to drop the course. I was even warned by friends and my professor to drop the course. However, I decided to not quit. I was going to make up for it and I did. I changed my study habits for the course and not only did I end up passing the class, but I received a perfect score on the cumulative final.

In what ways has being a first-generation college student shaped your academic and personal growth during your time in college?

It was definitely an adjustment at first. I didn’t have any family members to go to beforehand when it came to getting advice about how to navigate my way through a large university. It was challenging, but I was able to make my own path that was comfortable for me. Yes, there were growing pains along the way, but I have met great people who became close friends, professors and organizations who really helped with the transition and made the college experience much more rewarding.

Photos of Dustin Campbell with friends in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

Dustin Campbell with friends in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

What advice would you give to other first-generation students who are considering or currently attending college?

My advice would be to take your time. Take it all in. The time really does fly by fast and you can get caught up in trying to do too much all at once. Learn to find balance with your schoolwork and extracurriculars so that you can make the most of your experience.

Are there any programs or initiatives at your college that have been especially beneficial to first-generation students and how have they supported your journey?

The College of Health and Human Performance Student Ambassador program has helped me greatly throughout my journey. Through this program, I have been able to network and connect with donors and alumni who have made a large impact at this university. Hearing their stories and similar struggles that they experienced has helped me realize that it is possible to overcome any hardships and be successful. I am very grateful for the exposure that the program has given me, as well as an opportunity for me to help talk to incoming freshmen and transfer students who are also in a similar position that I was in. I like being able to help in any way that I can and it has been a great opportunity for me.

What are your future plans and aspirations after college and how do you see your first-generation background continuing to influence your path?

After I graduate from undergrad, I plan on pursuing my doctorate in physical therapy with the intent in the future of working for a professional sports team. I have always been enamored by the nature of sports, whether playing or watching, and if I could pursue a career that involves sports to a degree then I will gladly take advantage of the opportunity.

Having the background of being a first-generation student has helped me realize that I can do it. Whenever I have had doubts along the way I look back and see how far I have made it and it encourages me to keep striving for my best. This little confidence boost helps whenever I hit low-points and I will continue to use it as I continue my path.

[Profile added in 2023]

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