Bryant Campbell and Kimberly Fryer. Mother and son earn bachelor’s degrees at same time.

Mother, Son Graduates Pay it Forward

When Kimberly Fryer brought her son, Bryant Campbell, home from the hospital after a three-month stay in the NICU, she made a promise she was determined to keep.

Campbell was born at just 28 weeks and faced a tough road ahead. That only pushed his mother to fight alongside him.

“I made a promise to God that if he made it through this, I would pay that blessing forward,” Fryer said. Holding true to that vow has brought both mother and son to another blessing.

Both are graduating with bachelor’s degrees from The University of Alabama on May 3 — Campbell with a degree in public health and Fryer with a degree in nursing.

As soon as possible, Fryer set forth to keep her promise. “My faith has always been my strength,” she said. “When Bryant came home, I was determined.”

A small baby lying in a NICU bed.
Campbell in the NICU – Fryer’s reason for becoming a neonatal nurse.

Fryer obtained her associate degree when Campbell was a baby and has been working as a neonatal nurse ever since achieving that goal.

However, the urge to earn her bachelor’s degree rose in full force with the birth of her grandson, Harrison Thomas, and watching her older son, Crimson, and his wife, Laurie, have trouble finding care their son needed in their home of Albertville.

“I realized that his mom would have to drive an hour away to a pediatrician and I was not okay with that,” said Fryer, who lives in Guntersville.

When she graduates in May, Fryer immediately begins graduate school at UA and plans to become a family nurse practitioner working with underserved communities.

Desire to Serve

That is something mother and son have in common — the desire to serve. Campbell has been there and is doing that.

He volunteers at the Good Samaritan Clinic in Tuscaloosa and previously interned with the Alabama Department of Public Health. Although his path seems clear now, Campbell’s path to graduation wasn’t always a clear one.

Campbell was a dual enrollment student taking community college courses while in high school working to earn scholarships toward college. But, in 2020, he was hospitalized with COVID-19 and had to leave school for a while.

“He had brain swelling and through an MRI during this time, we learned that he had also had a brain bleed at birth,” said Fryer. “He was really very sick.”

But Campbell’s faith wouldn’t let him veer off course. “I knew what I wanted to do and what I was meant to do,” he said.

Campbell admitted that in his first couple of semesters at Alabama, he had some doubts about his plans, but he still wanted to help people in some way.

“Honestly, I struggled emotionally and physically,” he said. “I was on the biology pre-med track and started thinking maybe I don’t want to be doctor.”

Fueled by the Alabama Experience

While still trying to figure things out, a light came on for Campbell and through a new UA experience, he discovered his true calling.

“I joined a couple of student groups that focused on the public health area of medicine — Hands in Health and Eta Sigma Gamma,” he said. “What I learned in these groups reinvigorated me.”

Kimberly Fryer and Bryant Campbell. Mother and son earn bachelor’s degrees at same time.
Fryer wants her son to be in the well-earned spotlight at graduation, so she will participate in commencement after she completes her master’s degree.

Campbell said he decided to switch majors. “These organizations helped me see what I should be doing. They fueled me and I got my motivation back.”

Choosing UA was a no-brainer for Fryer and Campbell. “Of course it was UA, we’re lifelong Alabama fans. My sons are named Bryant and Crimson Tyler,” Fryer laughed. And although Campbell’s original plan was to attend UAB, maybe UA chose him.

“When I toured the campus, I just fell in love with UA and the people,” he said. “Everyone was so nice and had the same goal of wanting to help you succeed.”

He plans to attend graduate school at UAB and earn his master’s in health care administration.

“I want to make change,” he said. “I want to help create equal access to care and for everyone to have the opportunity to get the care they need.”

Fryer and Campbell hope the paths their lives took to reach this milestone inspire others to keep going no matter the obstacles ahead.

“We want to pay our blessings forward and give people hope. In everything we do we want to glorify God.”


Jennifer Brady, UA Strategic Communications,