Julia Campbell's mantras for success
Since childhood, Julia Campbell, a senior in agriculture business, has repeated the same phrase in her head like a broken record: “autograph your work with excellence.”
Whether that be serving as student body president at Iowa State, running in school sports, playing an instrument or coincidentally becoming Miss Iowa Outstanding Teen, she has followed this advice from her dad.
“If you are going to do something, and you are going to put the time towards it, do it right the first time, and you won’t have to do it again,” Campbell recalled her dad telling her.
Campbell said she attributes her success to her “personal board of directors.” This support group consists of more people than Campbell could count but includes her parents, grandparents, siblings, coaches and teachers.
Campbell has kept a sheet of computer paper since her high school years that is now pinned to the wall above her desk. Listed on it are advice and personal mantras she references to remind her of the person she aspires to be.
In 2016, Campbell remembered a community member who asked her if she had a talent. The first thing that came to mind was her ability to catch grapes in her mouth. The stranger then told her about the Clinton County pageant. They needed one more contestant to host the show.
When Campbell went home to tell her family, her dad said it would be a “good interview experience.”
Campbell ended up winning the county pageant, sending her to the state competition. To her family’s and Campbell’s surprise, she won the title of Miss Iowa Teen with her performance of “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister on the drums.
While growing up in the Hawkeye territory of Eastern Iowa, Campbell and her family have always been Iowa State fans. Campbell said she remembers her and her siblings being one of the only students to proudly represent the Cyclones.
Campbell grew up working on her family’s corn and soybean farm in Clinton County. The operation is primarily run on solar power, and her family has farmed the land since 1884.
“It has taught me a lot about the value of daylight, and when daylight’s burnin’ - as my dad and grandpa would say - time to get things done,” Campbell said. “Especially outside of the farm, it is incredibly important. Because when the sun goes down a lot of times it is time to go back in and hang with family.”
While growing up, Campbell and her siblings look back on fond memories of shoveling out grain bins or picking up rocks in fields to ensure discs for equipment didn’t break.
As part of the family business, Campbell said everyone wears a lot of different hats, and no one is too important to help with the daily chores that come with the job.
Campbell competed in track and cross country throughout high school, qualifying for the Drake Relays and the State Cross Country meet. Both sports were based on individual performance, something Campbell lived for.
“When you are out there on a cross country course or in an 800, no one is going to do the work for you,” Campbell said.
After running, Campbell remembers going to the highest point of the bleachers where her grandpa was timing her splits. He was formerly a track coach, so he always gave her tips on how to improve. Campbell always appreciated this because she knew she could not cheat the grind.
Campbell eventually went on to break her school record in the 800m dash in two minutes and 19 seconds in her junior year of high school.
Originally pursuing engineering, Campbell always had her eyes set on Iowa State. While in high school, she met with the director of career services in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, who told her about the opportunities in agribusiness.
Campbell decided to major in agriculture business and added a second major in economics with an emphasis on finance. She has not looked back since.
Campbell also works for the director of career services, a job her dad, older sister and now younger brother have all also spent time in. Campbell said one of her greatest experiences while at Iowa State was attending college accompanied by her siblings.
After spending some time out of Iowa working in the private sector, Campbell could see herself helping on her family farm.
Campbell plans to spend her fourth summer working for John Deere as an intern in agriculture and forestry construction equipment in North Carolina. Then she will spend the fall semester in California working in turn and ornamental for Corteva Agriscience. Campbell said she hopes to gain experience in the private sector and then return to Iowa State in the spring of 2023 to finish her degree.
Student Government Vice President Megan Decker, a junior majoring in agriculture and society, is another person included on Campbell’s personal board of directors.
First and foremost on the sheet of computer paper is “how you make people feel is everything.”
Decker said this intention and consideration reflect all of Campbell’s interactions with people.
“I see her strength in what she reflects,” Decker said. “One thing that comes to mind to me is her positivity in about every situation. It is not blind positivity where everything is happy-go-lucky regardless of what actually happens. She genuinely does look for the good in other people and the good in situations.”
In public speaking or daily conversation, Campbell said she always references a piece of advice from her dad, which is to be clear, concise and consistent, also known as “the three C’s.”
“We can be clear on our values,” Campbell said. “Concise in what we share, to give others time to speak and share their thoughts too and consistent in who we are as a human.”
Also included on her list of mantras is a quote from Socrates.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.”
Campbell preaches what she practices; one will notice her always giving eye contact, asking questions and nodding while listening.
“I am inspired by lots of conversations that revolve around high-level ways we can manifest the next thing in our life and how we can always be improving,” Campbell said. “To me, the smallest habits and changing those on a daily basis add up over time.”
Katherine Kealey, Iowa State Daily