Diadel Ortiz talks to Jenny Campbell~May 2020
As a lifelong learner and youth advocate, I use education to empower adults and children in all aspects of their lives. I have dedicated most of my adult life and professional career to education, teaching, mentoring, and sharing good morals. I enjoy spending my time with my family and serving the community.
Bible quote: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.” – Jeremiah 29:11
My life goals
DOCTORATE IN HIGHER EDUCATION ADMINISTRATION Completion – 2021. Qualitative research on the topic: “How Does Parental Expectation Affect College Preparedness.”
Leaders for Life, Inc. I prepare young adults ages 16-24 to complete and pass the TASC (NJ High School Diploma) Exam – using Common Core Curriculum Standards in English, Math, Social Studies, and Science.
Areas of Expertise
Cooking, teaching, counseling, and administrative operations youth empowerment
“You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream” – C.S. Lewis
I have worked in several industries- banking, magazine publishing, non-profit, and higher ed development. I’ve had the privilege of learning from and mentoring great leaders. I am a lifelong learner who prides herself in taking risks and providing exceptional service. Integrity is essential to me – I understand the importance of always being true to yourself and others. I am a leader who inspires others to their greatness.
Note from Diadel:
I started this interview in January 2020, when I briefly heard of the outbreak in China. The pandemic was not visible here in the US. But as the weeks continued, and I kept on drafting and editing this piece, the US got hit with COVID-19. Not knowing what would happen next or how I was going to find time to complete this conversation, I decide to focus on the safety of myself and my family and to follow the state guidelines and put shelter-in-place. I had to put my own needs and the needs of my family first before I could move forward.
Now, we are in May, five months in, and I have decided to complete this interview. Interviewing and keeping up with my writing is a method that helps me find inner peace, calming, and inspiration. As I compose, I find myself immersed in an awareness of my soul and submerged in a warm space, where I can share, receive, and create wondrous stories. I hope you can relate to the conversation in this interview as they happened during a difficult time for the interviewer and me.
My guest today is an educator, wife, mother of 4, and youth advocate. Jenny Campbell shares her life, her blessing, and her path through the pestilence of the forthwith in life.
DK– Hello, Jenny, how are you and your family doing? I know this pandemic has hit hard for all of us, but especially in your area in New Jersey, where the COVID-19 outbreak is like a war zone. I know I find myself worrying about my family and friends in the NY and NJ areas. It seems these two states have been walloped. I have been in prayer, kneeling to the Lord for strength, comfort, love, and healing.
JC– It’s good to hear from you, Diadel. I pray you and your family are doing well completely. The pandemic has blessed us with time and peace to reconnect and build our energies. We are all together, loving each other while getting through this. We rely on each other’s prayers and compassion each day.
DK- How has this pandemic affected your life?
JC– The most significant issue we are facing during this pandemic is financial in security. My husband works in retail (he is the breadwinner), and the stores have closed. He was forced to apply for unemployment for the first time in the 20+ years since his migration to the US. It has been difficult for him, personally. We are not sure what the future will bring for us financially. However, we are remaining faithful and prayerful. We know we are not in control of the now so we rely on His (The Lord) promise to get us through.
DK- I admire your strength and courage through this difficult time. I know many people who are also struggling financially. It is hard, and I send you prayers and hope this will settle.
DK- What have you seen that is heartbreaking?
JC– It has been heartbreaking to watch the number of deceased increase every day. It has hit home for us:, a close friend lost his mother and cousin (our dear friend),and three close friends lost their brothers. This virus is unbiased. It is also heartbreaking watching the irresponsibility of people still congregating and not respecting the shelter-in-place orders. I can only imagine how many others they are infecting.
DK- I am so sorry, Jenny. This outbreak has become so scary at times, not knowing what will happen next. It mutates continuously without warning. Having the CDC guidelines are there to protect us and help us stay safe and alive. I, too, have seen people not taking it seriously.
DK- How have you managed to remain calm and positive?
JC– It is a blessing to have my family together. I can see their faces and hear their voices each day. That alone calms me. Nonetheless, prayer, laughter, and our intimate conversations have allowed us to stay positive and optimistic.
DK- What are some ways you have helped the community?
JC– I have recently joined the board of a great non-profit called Circles For Healing: www.circles4healing.org; We put our resources together and started a Flash Food Bank for our community and surrounding cities. To date, we’ve been able to bless and serve well over 1000 families with food and essential products through our CFH Village Care Box initiative. We have partnered with food trucks to feed essential and healthcare workers. Additionally, we have a wonderful partnership with Green Grocer Food Hub in Bloomfield, NJ; they provide fresh vegetables and fruits to our senior citizens and homeless shelters. Most importantly, we continue to provide support and prayers to each other and our families to keep us grounded in our work and His call.
DK- That is wonderful that you can give back to your community during this time of need. I know they are so appreciative of all the hard work you and your team put out daily.
DK- How do you encourage others to help in times of need?
JC– I remind people that it’s more important to do what you can for whomever you can. Helpingcan be as simple as a telephone call, a text, or a video call. It is vital to check on your friends and family who you ASSUME are doing well. Check on those that suffer from depression. Be deliberate in the things you say and do. This pandemic is like a war on our mental and emotional stability. There are so many issues surrounding being locked in. We have to check on children and adults who may be in violent situations; ensure their safety. Sharing your resources of food, money, or support can make a huge difference. Reach out to those that you do not hear from often. They need you more than ever before.
DK- It surely is a time of need for all of us. Just a simple check-in with family, friends, and neighbors is a start.
Let’s talk about you.
DK- How do you differentiate yourself?
JC– I believe everyone’s experiences are different. I think how they manage the trauma associated with these experiences are different. My life’s experiences have raised me; they have made me the woman I am today. I like to be honest with myself first in every aspect of my life. This allows me to be authentically me when I interact with others. It is essential for the love I give to others to be aligned with the love I have for myself.
DK- What do you love most about yourself?
JC- I love my integrity. MOST. I love my ability to love freely. I learned that the greatest love of all is the love of God and, thereby, self. I had a challenging childhood, like many others. I spent most of my adolescence quietly searching for acceptance. But, I’m grateful for my life’s experiences that brought me closer to understanding and forgiving myself; it taught me to love openly.
DK- Beautiful. It is important to know thyself, accept thyself, and love thyself.
DK- What are the most critical changes you have faced within yourself?
JC- I was raised by a single mother; with two older brothers. My mother took care of everyone else except herself. She taught me how to take care of others; I think she did that to a fault. I had to learn how not to forsake myself for the betterment of others. I had to learn how not to be codependent. I had to learn how to say “NO” to others when the things that were requested of me were not beneficial to my well-being.
DK- What do you want your life to be about?
JC- I want my life to be about service. I want to use the gifts that God has provided to improve the lives of others. I have a very intimate relationship with God. I pray and meditate on His word daily.
DK- We certainly all have beautiful gifts to share with humanity.
DK- What are your top five values? Are you living those values, and how?
JC– Love– I wake and live with love in my spirit every day; Light- I am committed to illuminating light. It is essential to living in your authentic self every day. Learning– I am an eager learner. I look forward to learning something new every day, no matter the age or status of the ‘teacher.’ Intimacy– I love the intimate relationship I have with my husband. He is my best friend. And Service– I am committed to providing service to my brothers and sisters. I wake each day, knowing that I will share my time, wisdom, and/or service to someone. I am confident I live these values every day. These values are the epitome of the women I am.
DK- What are some of your personal goals you are working to achieve?
JC– I want to complete my Ph.D. in higher education administration. I love learning; I’ve always dreamed of achieving the highest degree possible. I am working on my dissertation now to complete my doctorate.
DK- I love that you are achieving your personal and career goals. I want to hear more of the completion when you relinquish your intention.
DK- What motivates you to do your very best?
JC– My four daughters and husband are my motivators. I aspire to be my best self for them I want to always raise my girls by example.
DK- Your daughters are amazing. I feel privileged to have seen them as children and grow into beautiful young women. They have achieved greatness.
Let’s talk about your life.
DK- How different was your life 2 years ago?
JC- Two years ago, I was not the CEO of my own company, Retention Strategies Unlimited (RS U). RS U was born on December 22, 2018. Having my own company has given me the power to enjoy and mentor, teach, and support our youth. It is a great way to empower students and parents in the college application process, through first-year matriculation.
DK- Amazing where the path of life takes us. It is beautiful that you are helping students and parents during a challenging time to apply and prepare for college. These times can be somewhat intimidating. Excellent to have reliable support.
DK- What in your life brought or has given you the highest satisfaction or fulfillment?
JC– My highest satisfaction was having my family witness me graduate with a bachelor’s degree in 2010. It was the most fulfilling moment of my life, to-date.
DK- What are the challenges of being a woman?
JC– I think being a woman is a gift. The gift of giving life. But, more importantly, raising generations of men and women. The challenges associated with that are (1) knowing how to balance giving too much, or not enough to your children. You want them to be the greatest they can be. It’s difficult learning to give them the tools necessary to be their greatest versions of themselves. (2) Being a great wife balancing the responsibilities and not losing yourself in the needs of your family. (3) being a woman not forgetting how to love yourself and focusing on your own personal goals as a woman, as an individual. (4) Remembering that you are also a person with feelings and needs- that are just as important as your family’s. Recognizing that two drowning people can’t save each other. Thereby, remembering to always practice self-carein order to take care of those you love.
DK- Do you have a hard time accepting defeat?
JC– I do not see any experience as defeat. I see all experiences as lessons. So, I never lose- I either learn, or I win.
DK- Great way to view defeat. Looking at it through a positive light.
DK- What is your philosophy of life-based on?
JC– “I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me.”
DK- How does love influence your life and affection?
JC– Love is an action word. It is my responsibility as a child of God to give love as He gives to me. Affection is physical- humans must be touched. It is necessary for human development.
DK- Reciprocity of what God has given us to share with others.
Let’s talk about your marriage and parenting.
DK- How long have you been married?
JC– April 2020 is our 22nd wedding anniversary.
DK- Congratulations, that is wonderful. It is beautiful to see love is the center of your marriage.
DK- What kind of boundaries protect your marriage?
JC– We are committed to respecting each other. If you can’t do it or say it in front of one another, we shouldn’t do it.
DK- Absolutely. Respect is the glue to a relationship.
DK- What are your biggest challenges as a parent? What are your greatest joys?
JC– My most significant challenges as a parent was/is making sure I am not instilling fear in my daughters. My goal is always to support them. But, I don’t want them to second guess themselves. I want them to be confident in their decisions, as well as, know that if they make a mistake, they can recover.
My greatest joy is watching them navigate through life’s challenges. And, trust me enough to talk to me about anything. They are all very comfortable sharing anything with me.
DK- What do you think is the most important thing to remember about parenting?
JC– Remember, your children are people too. Be the parent you wish you had.
Let’s talk about your career.
DK- Can you tell me a bit about your career path and what led you to the role you’re in today?
JC– I am an educator- I teach young adults who are preparing to earn their high school diploma. Many of them have been out of school for as little as two years, to as much as ten years. I believe teaching is a gift. Many of my positions have led me to where I am today.
DK- What do you enjoy most about the work you do?
JC– I enjoy changing the lives of my students. I enjoy watching them regain confidence in themselves. I appreciate how I empower them to see that they are capable and worthy of a great future.
DK- What a great feeling it is to support students’ achievement.
DK- How are you educating your students during this crisis? How are you keeping in touch?
JC-For my business clients: The COVID 19 pandemic has created an excellent opportunity for parents and students to focus on preparing for college. I also meet with my clients via ZOOM – weekly. I provide a viable plan of action for each student – depending on their grade level. Parents participate in workshops, and virtual meetings to ensure the entire family is engaged in the process.
For my work: I utilize Google Classroom to offer encouragement, assignments, and support to ensure they are remaining focused on the goal of earning their high school diploma.
DK- I honor you and all teachers for dedicating time, committing to continue to educate and share the love of learning with students. It is needed, especially during this time of crisis.
Let’s just talk.
DK- Is there something that surprised you about the role when you first started?
JC– Yes. I was surprised when one of my students (a 22-year-old man) told me, “If I had you as a teacher in high school, I wouldn’t be here right now.”
DK- Teaching is opening the heart to compassion for others. That is beautiful.
DK- What are some of the biggest challenges you face today?
JC-I am my own worst critic. I always want to know I am doing enough for every student, individually..
DK- As a female, what has been the most significant barrier in your life/career?
JC– I knew what I was getting into. However, I wish our education system was better equipped to ensure ALL students have a positive educational experience.
DK- What are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in society?
JC– It is essential to really take stock in what your gifts are- and expound on those gifts. You can build a business in any industry these days. Use your ideas to make money for yourself. Women entrepreneurs are growing exponentially. We have to learn how to be self-sufficient using our own gifts.
DK- Totally, this is the area for all women to rise up and walk their path.
DK- What words of wisdom do you want to share with others?
JC– I have always been at peace in the sea. There’s something about submerging in the sea that gives me rejuvenation, cleansing, and a sense of peace. No matter what challenges life brings, there is joy. Your ability to stand in your stillness long enough to hear your own voice, trust your discernment will be the key to your healing, personal growth, and falling in love with yourself. You have the power to create the life you want.
DK- What do you think would probably surprise most people about you?
JC– I think people would be surprised that I endured years of moelstation. People don’t equate trauma with a person that has a positive outlook on life and who is always willing to help others.
DK- I agree. Society sometimes has a hard time relating traumatic experiences with a person’s positive outcome.
DK- What have you found to be the best way of absorbing disappointment, rejection, distress, and discouragement?
JC– I expect life to be unpredictable. I anticipate that there will be disappointments, rejections, distress, and discouragement. That is not of God. I don’t take them personally. I see these things as external circumstances outside of my control.
DK- Anticipation is an essential part of life that comes with expecting the unpredictable. And being guided by God is what makes life living.
DK- If you had one piece of advice to give to a woman, what would it be?
JC– I would advise women to trust themselves. It is ok to love and be loved; you are worthy. Trust that God will never do anything to hurt you. So, live…love…and give love and peace to others. But, most importantly, yourself. Be good to you.
DK- Woman is the light of the world.
DK- Anything you would like to add?
JC– Yes, as heartwrenching and stressful as this time is, I encourage you to take a look at the things you might have taken for granted. Are you upset about shelter in place? Remember those that have no place to shelter.
Are you upset you can’t go to work? Remember, those that have no job. Are you upset you have to pay bill-rent/mortgage and car? Remember those that don’t have any of those luxuries.
Are you sick of being in the house cooped-up with your spouse? Remember why you got married. Rediscover each other.
Are you tired of homeschooling your kids? Remember the teacher(s) you’ve been judging throughout the year to teach your children. Are you sick of cooking? Remember those that have no food.
There’s always another perspective. Be blessed; you have a choice. Be grateful for it all. Find humility in the chaos and be at peace.
DK- Good outlook on the things we all take for granted. May we see with open eyes and warm hearts.
DK– What does it mean to be an Authentic Women?
JC– Being an authentic woman means to be true to yourself. Understanding that you will never be perfect, but you are God’s perfect imperfection. His grace and mercy will always be your refuge. So, don’t be afraid to fall. But be courageous enough to get up and start over again. You are GREATNESS, and no one can take that away from you.
DK- I know these are hard times, and I want to “Thank You” for presenting and showing us that even through a crisis, you can stand up, spread love and support one another. You have shown us that strength in ourselves and faith in God will help us get through any life disaster, being true to ourselves with integrity and facing fear with the willingness to overcome. Jenny, I send you blessings and prayers to you and your family. And love to the world.
Check out these websites:
Retentions Strategies Unlimited: http://
If you would like to make a donation to Circles For Healing: www.circles4healing.org