Reaha Campbell was born in Jamaica; at her birth, her father was unemployed and her mother was a seamstress; she knows what it is like to live with a zinc roof that incessantly leaks on rainy days. It is only the grace of God, a mother’s love and relentless dedication and the countless resources offered by America that provided her an escape. Reaha’s mother migrated to the United States to offer Reaha the greatest gift she has ever been given: the opportunity to be educated.
Half-way through her sophomore year, moving to North Carolina from Florida, her mother was diagnosed as clinically depressed, psychotic and having post-traumatic stress disorder. She lost her job, and with no savings, they had nothing to fall back on.
“Homeless . . .” the word echoed in her mind for months; even though she lived it, she did not believe it. “I’m homeless.” She thought, “I have nothing, but that does not mean that I do not have anything to give.” Being homeless was the most painful experience of her life, but it was also one that made her humble, compassionate, focused, ambitious and driven. Never feeling sorry for herself and her situation, she continued to excel in school and to also keep up with extracurricular activities; she played softball, became publicist of the Junior Classical League and secretary of Key Club. Reaha also volunteered for the Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project, St. Joseph’s Hospital, Environmental Club and the Hillcrest Enrichment Program.
At the Hillcrest Enrichment Program, Reaha is a mathematics tutor, but she does not limit herself to just helping the elementary and middle school students with math alone. She also assists with reading, writing and general homework or questions students might have that she may be able to answer. This program is her pride and joy because she is more than a tutor; she is a role-model and a bit of a mentor. Reaha tries to express to the children the importance of an education and most importantly self-confidence. Through her example, she hopes that they will realize that their dreams are within their reach.
At an early age, Reaha had an affinity for scientific endeavors. She attended the 2003 Summer Enrichment in Mathematics and Science (SEMS) Program and the 2004 NC Governor’s School for Natural Science. At the SEMS program she wrote a research paper entitled, “How the Quality of Health Care Affects the African American Community,” which addressed disparities that exist between the African American and mainstream communities, how and why they exist and what can be done in the future to bridge this unnecessary gap in healthcare delivery. At the SEMS program she was awarded the Jacqueline R. Wynn Scholarship and the Larry D. Keith Award for Outstanding Research.
Over the years, Reaha has received awards recognizing her achievements and dedication to excellence. She received the 2002 Most Outstanding Freshman Award in the Medical Sciences, the title of AP Scholar, NC Scholar, the Bausch & Lomb Honorary Science Award, the Pogue Scholarship as well as the Morehead Scholarship for UNC Chapel Hill.
Her greatest accomplishment to date is acceptance to Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine at Age 18, a senior in high school; the 7 year BA/MD program is called The Honors Program in Medical Education (HPME), and it guarantees her admission into the medical school upon completion of 3 years of undergraduate work at Northwestern’s undergraduate campus in Evanston, IL.