Kamil Chambers approaches life with the optimism to hope for the best and the determination to be her best. The Charlottesville, Va. native spent her formative years in Person County and she credits this community with her development. Her story, rather her testimony, encourages us to see the positives in life and trust that things will always work out for the good if we put forth the effort.
Q) What was your upbringing like?
A) I was born in Charlottesville and that’s where I spent most of my elementary school years. I came to Person County in the fourth grade, and I spent my last two years of elementary school at South Elementary. My grandparents were living in Roxboro at the time, so my mom brought us to Roxboro to be near them. After fifth grade my family moved again to Burlington, N.C. But then in ninth grade we came back to Person County, so I went to Person High School all four years and I graduated in 2009.
I made a lot of good friends in Person County. One of the biggest impacts on my life was the people that I met. And sometimes your friends become family, like my friend Brittany Satterfield. So meeting a lot of people during those years and developing close relationships that I still have today was really great for me. I can't say anything negative about my time in Person County, maybe because I wasn’t really there long enough to understand what was good and what was bad. But my time in the community was very positive. In 11th and 12th grades I was a cheerleader under Tawana Seats, so I had some really good experiences. Also, being in Person County during those years exposed me to HBCU’s. My art teacher at South Elementary, Ramona Blackwell, was a very big influence on me. She was the first person that I heard talk about HBCU’s, and I was just in fourth grade at that time. So I would say the biggest thing that I gained from being in Person County was being mentored by people like her and being encouraged to attend an HBCU, and of course, I went to North Carolina A&T State University.
Q) What was your college experience like?
A) For me, just getting to college was kind of a journey, because I had my son at 19-years-old. He was just three-months-old when I left to go to school. But he was actually the biggest motivation for me, because I wanted to be able to provide for him and to be someone he could look up to. But as far as choosing A&T, that wasn’t difficult at all. I knew I was going there after my first visit. I felt like I had enough information about the university to be comfortable that it was the right place for me. And it was.
I started as a double major in business and communications, but the load was too heavy for me because I had a son and I had a time frame in my head. My goal was to get through school so that I could get into a career and make a living for my son. So, I dropped the business major and focused on communications, specifically journalism and public relations. At the time I was interested in working in sports. Pretty much all four years I interned under Brian Holloway who was the sports information director. So I really enjoyed doing that. When we made the NCAA tournament, I was able to fly out with the team and see everything that went on behind the scenes. I was able to meet the late Craig Sager, who is a sports broadcasting legend. So that experience was really great for me. I was also part of the media team and we had an on-campus sports radio show during that time. So I loved that.
Overall A&T was a great experience. I gained friends from freshman year that I’m still friends with today, including my best friends from college Taylor Grier and Cierra Grice. Now, as far as being a mom in college, that was difficult. I stayed on campus all four years. My family was very intentional about wanting me to experience that because I was one of the first people in my family to go to college. So I stayed on campus and only saw my son on the weekends. The summer before my senior year I took courses at A&T but I stayed home at my grandfather’s house in Roxboro with my son. I would drive from Roxboro to Greensboro every day for class, and some days I would take him with me. Even when I was staying on campus, sometimes he would be with me in order to give my mom a break, which probably was against the rules, but I wanted to take on that responsibility because he was my son. I don’t regret any of it though. In fact, I’m honored that God chose to give me that experience. It’s my testimony. I can tell people about my experiences and encourage them to persevere through their struggles to reach their dreams.
Q) What was your career path and what are your proudest achievements?
I graduated from A&T in 2014 and like everybody, I was hoping to move right into the perfect job and have everything work out for me the way I wanted. But it doesn’t always happen like that. So, I was humbled very early. But it just reminded me that even after doing the work, there is still more work to do to get where you want to be. So, after graduating, I moved back to Charlottesville to be closer to family because my grandfather, who I was living with in Roxboro, passed away. So I moved back and started looking for job opportunities. At the time I was living with my aunt. My son and I were staying in her basement. And I just started working at different jobs, trying to provide for my son. I worked at a T-shirt company for about a year. Then I started looking for something closer to my field, and I landed a job with a transportation company doing marketing. But I ended up not being able to work that job because they also wanted me to be a driver, and I couldn’t do that. And that was tough because I was really excited about that job. I thought it could have been the start of a career, but it didn’t work out that way.
So, I had to try to find another job. And it was around that time that my son and I moved out of my aunt’s house. We moved into low-income housing, some people may call it the hood. But at that time it was all I could afford and I was very intentional about finding a place for my son and me. I wanted us to have our own space. But at the same time, I was having trouble finding a job. I was filling out applications, going on interviews, doing everything I could, but I could not land a job. That was a low moment. But I didn’t give up because I was determined to take good care of my son. So I started reaching out for assistance, going to different agencies for resources, eating at food pantries, things like that. Because I was determined to get through those hardships. And I was confident we would because that’s just my personality, I guess. I’ve always felt like things would work out. I firmly believe that tough times don’t last forever. So, I knew something would work out in my favor. I just had to do what I could do, which was to be a responsible adult and a responsible mother. Sure, sometimes you break down and cry. Sometimes you get frustrated. That’s ok. But you have to keep going and trust that God will work things in your favor.
And then finally, I got a call back for a communication specialist position at a private architect firm and that was really great for me. I loved that job. I learned a lot about that business and I developed my skills in the field of communications while I was there. I also went back to school to get a master’s degree. I went to Liberty University, which I really loved because it is a Christ-centered learning environment, and I earned a Master’s in Strategic Communications. This was the point when I really felt my work was starting to pay off. You know, some people say that degrees don’t matter. That’s a lie. Education makes a difference, but you also have to put in the work after you get the education. As I’ve said, you can’t just expect everything to fall in place when you get the degree, but when you have a degree in hand and you work hard, doors will open for you.
I moved on from the position at the architect firm because I was looking toward the future and I needed to be somewhere that I could continue to grow in my field. And then I was able get a position with the University of Virginia’s health care system, and that is where I am currently as a communications coordinator in the Department of Pathology. My journey has been interesting and there may still be more twists and turns. I don’t know. But I’m ok with whatever God has for me. Whatever kind of journey he has me on, I’m fine with it because I trust him. I’ve been trusting him and things have always worked out in my favor not matter how difficult they seemed. And I can really say that’s been the case during the pandemic. I was temporarily laid off at the beginning of the pandemic and even though my position was restored, I also had a baby during the pandemic, so I was out of work for a while. But God blessed me with a great husband, Jerry Chambers, and he took care of me and our three sons. We never had to worry about anything. He worked hard so that our needs were always met. And I really do appreciate him for that.
Q) Why is it important that women be recognized for their foundational work in our community and our nation?
A) It’s amazing what women can do and how far we have come. It makes me excited to be a woman. I think our ancestors and the women who paved the way for us are still motivating us because they planted the seed for us to be courageous. Women really step up in difficult situations and lead the way. And I know it’s difficult nowadays, with social media and some of the portrayals of women in music and entertainment, for women to really feel that we are valuable. Some women may feel like they are lacking something, or they aren’t good enough based off of what they see and hear. But that’s not true. You are enough as just you are. And I think we are seeing more women, both celebrities and everyday people sending that message—that we don’t have to live up to anyone else’s expectations. As a woman you are good enough as you are. Just find what you are good at, continue to be courageous, and do great work.
Q) What do you envision for the future of Person County?
A) My time in Person County was very positive and it impacted my life greatly. My husband is from Person County, and our two older sons are basically Person County natives. And I have great friends there, so even though I live in Charlottesville, I still hope the best for Person County. I hope the great experience that I had can be shared by others and they can look back at their upbringing and see the positives. Also, I know there are people who feel that Roxboro is lacking in certain areas, but I would encourage those people to be the change you want to see. Where there are negatives, do what you can to change them for yourself and others. And even when you see the negatives, don’t forget about the positives. Make sure to focus on and appreciate the good things. That’s what I hope, that everyone can appreciate the good and have courage to step up when something needs to change.
Q) What is your advice for girls and motivation that may look to you as motivation?
A) Be better than me. Don’t use my testimony as a blueprint. Use it as a teaching tool. Let it propel you to be your best self. Yes, you can make it through some of the challenges that I had to go through. I am an example of that. But you don’t have to go through some of those challenges in the first place. Learn from those who came before you, not just so you can learn how to succeed but so that you can know what to avoid.
And I love to see people who are doing better than me because that motivates me. I have friends that say I inspire them but really, they inspire me. And that’s what its all about—people pushing each other to be great. So take my story and improve upon it. And that way I can be motivated by you and we can just strengthen each other.