Small things New Englanders may take for granted, like how to navigate slippery walkways and dress for a Nor’easter, weren’t second nature to Norwyn Campbell ’20 (ENG). But the Jamaican native, who moved to Connecticut several semesters ago, welcomed the opportunity to acquire these weather-related skills.
Campbell, currently a sophomore, is pursuing a degree in the growing field of biomedical engineering. He says it’s a perfect fit for him. He’s ambitious, wants to help others, and has an analytical outlook on life, and was drawn to integrated sciences. He says he has always had an inquisitive nature. As a child, he enjoyed taking toys apart, seeing how they worked, and then reassembling them, or trying to.
As a freshman, Campbell joined La Comunidad Intelectual, a learning community that embraces diversity and aims to develop like-minded students as intellectuals. He found it a comfortable space that felt like his family away from home. He says it offered various different types of assistance, and the faculty and staff were very willing to guide him on his academic journey.
Diana Rios, associate professor of communication and one of the learning community’s directors, was impressed by him from the start. She recalls that he was one of the few international students in the learning community. She urged him to take part in challenging and engaging activities, such as internships and career-oriented tasks, and would call on him periodically in class to share his views.
Rios says Campbell is generous with his time and enjoys helping other students with chemistry and other subjects. Says Campbell, “If I can help, I will help that person.”
He also sought out the mentorship of another faculty member, Kristin Morgan, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering whose work focuses on joint and muscle functions. After hearing her give a guest lecture at the Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy (InCHIP), he approached her to voice his interest in her research, specifically on joint stability and injuries. She recommended that he apply to join a study at the Human Performance Lab. Once accepted, he says, he was in his element.
Campbell says his dad is the one who made his college education possible, and he’s eager to make him proud. He recalls how his dad was overcome with emotion when they toured campus during Open House, as he realized that his son was going to have the opportunity to earn an American college degree, particularly at UConn.
He says he has definitely grown as a person during his time so far at UConn, and is coming more and more out of his shell. He now embraces leadership opportunities, and recently applied for a position as resident assistant – yet another opportunity to interact with fellow students and challenge himself.
In the months ahead, he also hopes to become more involved with the National Society of Black Engineers, and is looking forward to the West Indian Student Organization’s adaptation of the Jamaica Carnival, an event he describes as a cultural street-party celebrating Caribbean food, music, and community.
He says he believes a community that supports multiculturalism creates broader thinkers, and paves the way for a global outlook. Recalling his country’s motto, “Out of Many, One People,” he notes, “There are many cultures and races in Jamaica – but wherever we are in the world, we think of ourselves as Jamaicans, relating to one another on that level.”
With the student body representing more than 140 countries, the culturally rich learning environment on campus provides many opportunities to explore new ideas and perspectives, both at UConn and beyond. And that’s exactly the type of inclusivity that Campbell traveled 1,600 miles to experience.