ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, N.C. — Camden Dillard was a husband, father and a man of great ambition.
He was an administrator in the child nutrition department in the Rockingham County school system and a senior at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where he was enrolled in his last class to earn his Bachelor of Science degree.
But then tragedy struck.
In July, he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of pancreatic cancer. Because of his illness, he was unable to complete his last class.
His supervisor Erselle Young got an idea after visiting Camden in his hospital room at Wake Forest Baptist. She asked the superintendent of Rockingham County Schools, Dr. Rodney Shotwell, to intervene and ask UNCG to waive Camden’s last class and award him his diploma.
Dr. Shotwell wrote a letter to the provost explaining the situation and UNCG agreed to waive the class and award Camden his degree.
Shotwell said, “I wanted Cam to know that he graduated before he passed, but the big piece is I wanted his kids to be able to see what their dad was able to do.”
Knowing time was short, Dr. Shotwell, dressed in the graduation cap and gown, went to the hospital to confer the degree on Camden.
His wife Christina said she was surprised by the action, but she knew Camden had worked hard for the degree because he wanted his children to know they could do anything in life if they worked hard.
“Because he had these three little motivators who needed to see that too. I think he wanted to do everything he could to make sure that they have somebody that they can say, ‘I want to be like dad,'” said Christina. “That’s all Isiah talks about now is, you know, ‘I want to go to college just like daddy did. I want to make daddy proud. I want to do it just like daddy.'”
Camden died later that night, an accomplished man.