Ricks: An example of perseverance in achieving lifetime goals

Published 5:57 pm Friday, June 24, 2022

Chris Ricks is the dictionary definition of perseverance.

A Camp Community College news release noted that Ricks, the current registrar at the college, has overcome obstacles and self-doubt to get where she is today. Her no-quit attitude is a shining example to all nontraditional students.

The staff at Camp helped encourage Ricks on her educational and professional journey, particularly when she was a student at the college.

Ricks, a native of Ivor, graduated from Southampton High School in 1993 with the intention of becoming a cosmetologist after taking classes at the Southampton Technical Career Center. She was married at 18 and had her first child. She started working at Southampton Hospital but eventually worked from home as a hairstylist.

After having her fifth child, she was invited to work in a salon, after receiving her cosmetology license. She eventually decided to open her own salon at Courtland in 2011. Business was booming, but in 2013, Ricks got sick and spent 20 days in the hospital. She had already been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and this illness was diagnosed as Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disease related to RA.

“I had trouble breathing and my lymph glands and saliva glands were so swollen they broke my ear drums. I couldn’t work for months. At the time, I wanted to give up. I couldn’t eat. I went from 220 pounds to 110 pounds. It gave me some time to think. Life is short, and I didn’t want to leave this world without accomplishing the things I wanted to do,” she said with a quiver in her voice. “After I got back to where I needed to be, I said, ‘I’m going back to school to get some education.’ With RA, I might not be able to work as a stylist, so I had to do something else to support my family.”

At the age of 30, Ricks decided to enroll at Camp Community College and completed the Small Business Entrepreneurship certificate program with the intention of starting a new business. The staff at CCC encouraged Ricks to continue with an associate’s degree.

“I was encouraged by the staff at Camp to do more,” she said. “That idea kept coming up in my head, and I said, ‘Why not?’”

She came back the next day and registered for the business administration associate degree program. The idea of going back to college for a higher degree was daunting to Ricks as she had been out of school for a number of years. But faculty and staff at Camp encouraged her to keep going.

“Being 30, it made me feel out of place. I felt like I really had to prove myself. I was out of school a long time. But there were some teachers that helped me a lot,” Ricks said. “One teacher, Dr. Nancy Warren (now retired), said, ‘You’re going somewhere. Don’t ever feel like you don’t have what you need to move forward.’ These words gave me the push. The staff in Student Support Services also encouraged me that I could do it.”

While she was a student at Camp, Ricks also took advantage of the Work Study program and secured a position in the Financial Aid office. There she began to learn about the behind-the-scenes aspect of the college while helping students and families fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

After graduation, she took positions at the college in the Admissions Office and Business Office, gaining valuable experience. In the meantime, she obtained her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Liberty University (May 2020). Ricks was then hired as Camp’s registrar in November 2020, having assisted the former registrar when she worked in the Admissions Office.

This spring, Ricks completed her Master of Business Administration degree at Liberty University and has applied to the doctorate program at Liberty. She hopes to start on her doctorate in higher education administration and organizational leadership this summer.

“I came here thinking that less was best for me,” she said. “But I was told by the staff here, ‘No, don’t settle for less. Take the best.’”

Having gone through many experiences over the years, Ricks is equipped to help students who are struggling.

“I know how it is to juggle work, family and school work, and having to try to beat the clock,” she said. “You have to say, ‘I can do this,’ and I will take my computer to work, or to church, or on family vacations, maybe doing assignments while traveling down the highway.

“Camp is a place where you don’t have to feel like you are in it alone. Everyone here goes out of their way to help. People go beyond what the norm would do. We bend over backwards to try to help students to get where they need to,” she said. “Most importantly, we try to make sure that people reach their goals and do what they need to be successful. Camp is going to make sure you have a success story when you leave here.”