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ASU political science grad conquers doubts

Campanella White Jr.

November 30, 2021

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2021 graduates.

The path to graduating from Arizona State University for Campanella White Jr. required perseverance.

He attended Mesa Community College (MCC) out of high school in 2014 through a track scholarship. However, after a year, White said that he lost interest in both school and athletics and dropped out.

“I was 18 years old, full of life, but not full of common sense.”

His parents, both educators, encouraged White to get his degree even though he wasn’t sure what he would study. During his time away from school, White had pursued acting and modeling — which he found some success in — so he thought to major in theater.

“I couldn’t find many options out there but, in my head, I was set to be the next Michael B. Jordan, so it didn’t matter what degree I had.”

Soon after that however, White began to experience some of the same feelings of indecisiveness he had when he dropped out of college. He realized that this may not be the career path for him.

White was in his third semester at MCC when he found out he was expecting his first child.

“I remember the disappointment from my boss at MCC, my parents and my peers when I broke the news,” White said. “I felt like giving up everything again.”

This time, White channeled the negativity in his life into motivation. He was determined to prove that he could balance school, work and being a father. He changed his courses to a more general path and took classes online. A year later, he graduated with his associate’s degree.

Now, White wondered “what’s next?”

White was politically minded growing up. He’d watch CNN instead of Cartoon Network. He also saw first-hand what the justice system is capable of through his brother, who spent time in and out of prison.

Due to his interest in politics and the motivation to create positive change, he began Googling political science degrees online. At nearly midnight, he found the ASU Online Bachelor of Arts in political science from the School of Politics and Global Studies.

The next morning, he was on the phone with ASU.

“I remember the self-doubt entering in again,” White said. “They aren’t going to accept me, I’ve made too many academic mistakes.”

He thought, if accepted, he would prove to himself that he belongs. He would improve his GPA and make a lasting impression. White enrolled in fall 2020 and, one year later, this December, is graduating magnum cum laude from ASU.

“All that self-doubt that I once had, no longer lingers. I proved to myself that I can do it.”

White added that while enrolled at ASU, he welcomed his second child. Although it added more to his plate, White says his children became his new motivation.

“I was no longer doing it for me, I reminded myself daily, I was doing it for them,” said White. “When balancing everything, they are what keep me grounded and motivated.”

Here he shares a little bit about is time at Arizona State University.

Question: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

Answer: The class that really changed my perspective is my marriage and family class with Dr. Krista Puruhito. She is also a mother of a newborn, and still an active teaching professor. However, her class highlights the struggles we face as adults because of things that happen in our past. The class itself is almost like a therapy session for me, in that it allows me to speak about situations that may cause me to be vulnerable. But I then realize, (the) majority of people go through what I go through, we just don’t talk about it. The professor that taught me the most important life lesson however was Professor John Dietrich. He taught me that life really is about who you know, and relationships are everything in the realm of business, and in life.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: If the odds are against you, pick yourself every time. Pick yourself because to some people you weren’t supposed to be where you are at. To some people you weren’t supposed to make it this far. To some people you weren’t supposed to be successful; but that’s the thing, you aren’t some people. You have made it this far because you, are you. Stay focused on the mission.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience at ASU?

A: My experience has been 10/10 easily! From day one on the phone getting information about registering, to being called periodically by Catherine, my success coach, just to see how I was doing. To the teachers, and staff — how amazing they made my process, thank you. ASU is my mother’s alma matter, as well as my sister's, and on Dec. 14, 2021, I will be an alum as well! Forks up!

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