Leopard Look: Kai Campbell


Sydney Stout

Senior Kai Campbell is going to Brown University. Campbell spent summers attending pre-collegiate programs at Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, and Purdue University.

Senior Kai Campbell spent summers attending pre-collegiate programs at Stanford, Carnegie Mellon and Purdue University. Campbell was accepted into Brown University where he plans to study neuroscience or biology with aspirations to work in the medical field.

At A Glance:

Major: Neuroscience and biology

Favorite TV Show: “Last Chance U” and “Lego Ninjago”

Favorite Class: AP Biology

Dream job: Anesthesiologist or marine biologist

Looking Deeper:

The Red Ledger: What types of classes did you take in high school to prepare for college?

Kai Campbell: I definitely focused on a science path, and I took almost every science class the school offers. AP classes definitely prepared me for more difficult college concepts but also taught me how to study, which I’m sure I’ll appreciate even more in the future.

TRL: How were you able to attend research programs in the summer?

KC: I got to attend Stanford’s Summer Pre-Collegiate Studies program in Biotechnology and a National Student Leadership Conference at Race the summer before my tenth grade. The next summer I got to participate in another medicine program with Carnegie Mellon’s Pre-Collegiate Program that ended up being virtual. This past summer I was able to do research with the Summer Science Program at Purdue. This whole [application] process is very similar to college applications where you have to answer essay prompts and submit basic academic information.

TRL: How did you become interested in doing those programs?

KC: I learned about the Stanford program doing research online as it was my top choice in schools at the time. I wanted to make sure that my future was really in medicine, and I was also excited about the idea of a vacation to California. My experience at Stanford was amazing, and I decided to keep going with other summer programs. I’d recommend summer pre-college programs to anyone.

TRL: What have you learned from those various opportunities?

KC: The most important thing the programs taught me was that my passion really lies in the medical field and science research. However, the programs also taught me things about other high school students across the world. I was blown away by how brilliant the other kids were, and it really motivated me to keep working on different things related to my medicine and science passion. I still regularly talk to a bunch of the kids from those programs. They’ve all gotten into their top schools thanks, in part, to the summer programs they attended, but also the devotion to their interests that I saw just being around them for a couple of weeks.

TRL: What do you plan to study in college and why?

KC: I want to major in either neuroscience or biology with a psychology minor. I was accepted into Brown’s PLME program, which guarantees me a spot in their medical schools after my four years of undergrad, so I have the freedom to explore other areas that I might also be interested in.

TRL: What was your reaction to getting into Brown? Did you get accepted into any other schools?

KC: I opened my decisions with my family in our kitchen and just remember running through the house and a lot of yelling. Brown was my early decision school so I was already 100% certain I was going, but I also did apply and got accepted into a few other early acceptance schools like UT, UNC and Virginia.

TRL: What advice do you have for underclassmen regarding motivation for college?

KC: The biggest thing I can say is to focus on your own passions and work and not compare yourself to other students. A lot of people are super conscious about how they compare to their peers with grades, SAT scores or GPAs, and while they do matter, there’s no use fixating on small differences. Especially for GPAs, people will build their entire plan around having the highest possible GPA when it’s not even the most important thing. I wasn’t in the top 10, top 20 or even top 10% of my class in terms of GPA, and I think that shows how colleges really care about you and your passions more than your numbers. Focus on extracurricular activities that line up with whatever you are passionate about, and make yourself stand out there. 

TRL: What is the best advice you’ve received for gaining admission to the college of your choice? 

KC: The best advice I heard from older students and even people on admissions boards is that colleges aren’t really looking for the person who has the highest GPA at their school, because every high school in America has one of those. Instead, they want a person who separates themselves from their individual passions outside of school.