Senior Cami Belin reminds us to find something positive in each day

When senior Criminal Justice and Psychology double-major Cami Belin began at Lees-McRae she felt at home right away.

“When I came on my tour and was doing my college search, people here made me feel so welcomed, and made me feel like I was already at home, so I wanted to get involved to be able to do the same thing for others,” Belin said.

Since that day she has done just that, getting involved in campus and student life as much as possible with the goal of welcoming others to this place that welcomed her. Since her freshman year Belin has served in Order of the Tower, the college’s student leadership organization; participated in Students Today Alumni Tomorrow (STAT), which seeks to foster relationships and bridge the gap between the student and alumni experience; sat on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee where she has been a voice for student athletes to college administration officials and representatives from Conference Carolinas; played defense on the women’s soccer team; and most recently, represented her class as senior class president for the Student Government Association.

Although her various commitments have meant a busy schedule, Belin said they have helped her achieve her goal of fostering an inviting environment for other Lees-McRae students.

“One impact that I’ve always wanted to make is for people to feel safe and welcomed. I want people to be able to know that they can come to me and talk to me about anything and everything,” Belin said. “I want people to be able to know me and know that I am welcoming to everybody and that I am willing to help anyway I can. With me specifically, and being an African American woman, I’ve been able to step out and say, ‘hey, I know we go through some struggles, but you can do it, and we can be just as successful as anyone else.’”

In addition to helping create a supportive environment for other students, Belin herself has grown exponentially throughout her undergraduate career. She describes her freshman self as relatively quiet and shy, and said it was sometimes difficult for her to break out of her shell. Now, reflecting on the past four years, Belin recognizes her strengths for leadership, collaboration, networking, time management, and self-confidence, and says these are skills she has been able to foster partially thanks to putting herself out there and getting involved wherever she could on campus.

Looking forward, Belin plans to apply these skills as she takes the next step in her life toward a career working in child advocacy, a passion she said she honed through an internship with a child advocacy center in Gaston County. Through the internship, Belin focused her passion on a career in the foster care system and now plans to pursue a master’s degree in social work after graduation.

“I am hoping to be able to go into a career that gives me the opportunity to help children who need someone to be their voice through the different difficulties and challenges that they go through,” Belin said. “My professors in the Criminal Justice and Psychology programs have really helped me grow, not only as a student in the classroom, but also as a person out of the classroom. They were very intentional about making sure that I was good, giving me different suggestions, and showing me different pathways. Having that support from my academic staff has been amazing.”

Belin’s priorities of community building, creating a positive and inclusive environment among the student body, and making a long-lasting impact on the general morale of students around campus has been excellent experience for this next step, where she will have many of the same goals for the children she works with professionally.

As she approaches graduation and begins reflecting on her time at Lees-McRae, Belin said she is proud of the growth she has made and encourages other students to step outside of their comfort zone and push themselves to accomplish the goals they didn’t think were possible. After all, she said the things you accomplish and the people you build connections with along the way might surprise you and lead you down a path you never saw coming.

“Try to get involved as much as you can, and don’t take each day for granted. Try to find a positive thing in each day. With me right now, going into my last semester of senior year, senioritis is coming, but I have to make sure that I keep the mindset of, ‘this is a beautiful day. I know this might be going wrong, but I have this that is going great for me too,’” she said. “Having that mindset that there is always something good that can counteract the bad is something I have had to remind myself of over the past four years, and I hope that will give someone else the peace they need.”

By Maya JarrellMarch 08, 2024
AcademicsCampus Life