CLASS OF 2024: Cambri Driskell uses personal challenges, faith, entrepreneurial spirit as inspiration for service

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Cambri Driskell, Class of 2024 (John Russell/Vanderbilt)

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday an inspirational text message appears on hundreds of phones across Vanderbilt and beyond. These messages of encouragement, dubbed “Little Love Letters,” are part of a mission of empathetic empowerment and support created by entrepreneur Cambri Driskell.

“My digital platform called Embody³ is designed to empower young women like me—meeting them in their season of life and encouraging their hearts into whatever they hope their life looks like,” the human and organizational development major said.

“Little Love Letters is part of that,” Driskell added. “It’s a vessel to get to love people that are maybe not in my exact sphere of influence. And to me, that’s a huge honor.”

PRODUCTIVITY WITH PURPOSE

Driskell, a Georgia native, said she came to Vanderbilt with a drive to perform at a high level and start a business. But her path is evolving.

“How I’m walking into the next season … is as someone who really values people over productivity. Valuing people drives my productivity and my purpose,” she said.

Driskell earned enough credits to graduate in December and expand a meaningful internship with the Georgia governor’s office into a job. She will be assisting first lady Marty Kemp in various projects, with a specific focus on the state’s efforts to end human trafficking.

“She champions really awesome causes that are close to my heart,” Driskell said. “Georgia is leading the way in fighting human trafficking through the GRACE Commission, which brings leaders in different sectors that are fighting human trafficking to the same table to share solutions and ideas and encouragement in a really heavy space.”

“Cambri has jumped right in and been an incredible asset to our team as we work on important issues like the fight against human trafficking in our state, along with pet adoption, supporting Georgia Grown agriculture, and mental health,” said First Lady Marty Kemp. “We’re thankful to have her on our staff and look forward to her service!”

(L-R) Kirk Driskell, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, Cambri Driskell, First Lady Marty Kemp, Deena Driskell (Submitted photo)

HARDSHIP SEASON

Like many Vanderbilt students, Driskell admits her type-A personality fueled her desire to succeed in and outside the classroom. She honed business skills and Spanish fluency. But that drive to ascend, among other things, led her to suffer emotionally.

“I walked through a really hard mental health season that I never thought would be a part of my college story,” she said. “Through that season, I believed the lie that I was alone. And I think that lie is an epidemic we unfortunately see on college campuses. Through healing, and the Lord’s grace, I’ve experienced how people have come and supported and championed me through that time.”

CHOOSING TO FIND BELONGING

Driskell found support through her family and community.

“Finding belonging has not been a hard thing because Vanderbilt is full of really amazing people. It’s actually choosing to belong and not agreeing with the lie that I’m alone and isolated,” she said.

“That was a little bit harder part of the journey, but one that I wouldn’t trade at all because I’ve gotten to have a far deeper gratitude for the people around me and how they’ve come alongside me than I ever did when I thought that I could just trailblaze by myself.”

Cambri Driskell said this is one of her favorite memories from her Vanderbilt academic experience, creating a pop-up consignment store with an all-female group to raise money for the fight against human trafficking. (Submitted photo)

IMMERSION DREAM REALIZED

Cambri Driskell helped co-host a cross-cultural event while in Seville, Spain. (Submitted photo)

Thanks to encouragement and a connection from her thesis adviser, Professor of Human and Organizational Development Douglas Perkins, Driskell also was able to expand a dream she had since her first Spanish class in middle school: immersing herself in Spain.

Driskell combined her honors thesis and her Immersion Vanderbilt project, conducting fieldwork in Seville, Spain, working with Roma communities.

“I did not know what the Roma population was before I got connected with the research center. Learning about the deeply historical marginalization of all Roma people, but specifically Roma women and girls, made my heart for women’s empowerment come alive in a whole new way,” she said. “I learned more from these women and girls than I ever could have ever asked or prayed for.”

Cambri Driskell during her study abroad in Spain (Submitted photo)

Her experience was unique because she was fully immersed in the country, language and culture for four months, which required a student visa.

“A huge shoutout to Vanderbilt and the Global Education Office for how they move mountains just to let us have our dreams come alive in these abroad experiences,” she said.

WOND’RY INNOVATION

Driskell said Vanderbilt professors and the team at the Wond’ry, Vanderbilt’s Innovation Center, especially Wond’ry Deputy Director Deanna Meador, created an environment for her to flourish.

During her first year, Driskell applied to be part of the Sullivan Family Ideator program at the Wond’ry. It’s a multi-week entrepreneurship idea boot camp that connected Driskell with expertise and mentors who are still with her today.

“Throughout that process, I think I found language for what I had always felt growing up—that entrepreneurial spirit and visionary way of approaching life,” she said. “The Wond’ry team’s willingness has really been fundamental to how I get to create impact in and love on people today.”

FAMILY, FAITH, REDEMPTION

Through all of her dreams and challenges, Driskell stays solid in her foundations of faith and family.

“I’m grateful there was never a conversation of dreams not being possible in my house. Instead, it was the belief that we could go out and do whatever we put our mind to, and we’re going to have support in that,” she said.

Driskell calls her challenges and triumphs a story of redemption.

“I think for me, it just feels like a really awesome thing to get to stomp on the lie that we’re alone in this crazy transitional season of college and to feel recognized and celebrated for all of the hard things, but also all the really beautiful things. The beautiful things being the people we encounter. That has been 100 percent a blessing.”

THREE QUESTIONS…

WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU’LL TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR ACADEMIC EXPERIENCE?

“The faculty are amazing. Just to be in the same room as my professors is a gift that has impacted me so much. I think I’ll be realizing the immensity of that gift five years down the line when I’m part of a conversation that I should not have the capacity to speak to, but I get to because of the richness of just the human capital and knowledge Vanderbilt has given me.”

WHAT DOES DARE TO GROW MEAN TO YOU?

“I think dare to grow means pushing past a lot of doubts. I’ve always been bent toward perfectionism, and growth can be pretty contradictory to perfectionism… So I think daring to grow is really digging deeper roots beyond those doubts.”

VANDERBILT IS…

“Vanderbilt is stretching. That’s my word, stretching. My college experience was not what I expected, yet I would not trade one second of it. I think it has stretched me in every single way mentally, emotionally, intellectually, professionally, relationally. It’s been far more empowering than I could have ever, ever expected or asked for, because there’s no part of me that doesn’t feel excited and equipped for the next step.”

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Learn more about VU2024’s Cambri Driskell via our Instagram. (Link in bio.) #fyp

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