On ‘Overload’

Primrose Cameron ’02

Primrose Cameron ’02 (MS, Counseling) self-published her first book in 2018, titled “Princess Primrose Goes to Washington DC,” about a young girl who blossoms with love and care. It’s an engaging tale that promotes family togetherness, kindness and patience. Similarly, her second book, “Princess Primrose goes to Jamaica,” was self-published in 2020.

Yet, in reality, the story of Cameron’s own life is even better.

Born to Jamaican parents who emigrated to Connecticut and willfully carved out a new life with their only child at top of mind, the girl grew to become a mother, educator, counselor, life coach, motivational speaker, community advocate, union activist and author — all the while advocating for families and young adults, both female and male.

Oh, and by the way, those don’t entirely represent Cameron’s official job. That would be as the professional development director for the Florida Education Association.

This is one Hatter who, well, wears many hats. Not coincidentally, at Stetson Homecoming 2021 Cameron was the recipient of the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Award — personifying “commitment to making other people better.”

So, maybe call this story the “Blossoming of Primrose in Her Garden of Good.” Or perhaps it’s “How to Do Everything at Once to Inspire and Uplift.”

“It’s going to be all or nothing. I’m part of the ‘all’ movement,” described Cameron, who also has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Bethune-Cookman College and a Doctorate of Counseling Psychology from Argosy University.

“I just want them to have it all in any way possible. They’re going to have to work for it, but I want them to know that the world is not as scary as what it sometimes seems to be.”

Cameron: “It’s going to be all or nothing. I’m part of the ‘all’ movement.”

Cameron’s comment was in reference to her efforts with Sisters Build Network for Girls Inc., a mentoring group for girls in grades 3-12 that she founded. However, the same could be said literally for all of her work, including the Calling A Few Good Men conference, which she founded to help hold men accountable for the lives of children and encourage mentorship. And it goes for her leadership roles both present and past with, among others, the Juvenile Diversion Alternative Program; DeLand Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority; the Florida Sheriff’s Youth Ranch; Florida Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development; Daughters of the King, OES; Florida Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development; West Volusia Branch of NAACP and the DeLand Junior Service League.

Further, Cameron’s speaking engagements encompass such topics as building relationships in the workplace, effective communication, building self-esteem and confidence, community engagement, and functional families. Also, she once hosted a weekly blog radio program and currently is a newspaper columnist for the West Volusia Beacon (DeLand).

Many of those efforts are placed under the umbrella of Cameron Enterprises LLC, established in 2014 in DeLand. She takes great pride in her volunteer/community service work, as well.

Then there’s the Florida Education Association and her focus on the professional development, growth and support of those who serve Florida’s students. Founded in 1886, FEA is the state’s largest association of professional employees and the largest labor union in the Southeast, with more than 150,000 members in 100-plus local unions. That makes Cameron a union activist, too. She began as a professional development specialist for Volusia United Educators in 2006 and the professional development director at FEA in 2020.

Her explanation for staying this busy: “I have a problem, because when I have a passion for something, I do it on overload.”

That’s what happens when, she explained in her characteristic broad smile, you are raised by parents who have been together for more than 45 years, and you are shaped by their devotion.

Both of her parents wound up in Stamford, Connecticut, leaving their homeland of Jamaica without knowing each other. Attending different Stamford high schools, they met. While dad graduated high school and later joined the U.S. Army, mom left high school and later earned her GED — so that she could stand by his side and raise their child, Primrose.

When Primrose was 2, her father, Patrick, seeking to do the right thing and honor his family, got married to Rose and joined the military. He spent 20 years serving in the Army, with Cameron attending many schools around the world and graduating high school in Germany, where the family was stationed. At the same time, he was always there for his daughter. “I have the best father ever,” said Cameron, again with her trademark smile. “He just loved us [her and mother, Rose] unconditionally and created a life for us.”

On sort of a wing and prayer, Cameron left Germany to attend Bethune-Cookman College [now Bethune–Cookman University]. Classmates in Germany were applying for schools in the States, so Cameron did the same. The only school she recalled vividly was Bethune-Cookman in Daytona Beach, where she had once spent time with her family.

“Everything that I choose to do,” Cameron concluded, “is within the lineup of my life and how I can better serve others.”

After applying, although never receiving an official acceptance letter in the mail, she arrived on campus, hopeful. “I got into this long line [of enrolled students] and asked, ‘Is my name on the list? And, fortunately, it was,” she remembered.

Still, there were more “blessings” to prepare for, such as having a son in her sophomore year. Undaunted, though, she moved forward, because that’s what she had been taught growing up, and “we had goals to accomplish. … My family motto was to ‘move forward.’”

Cameron graduated in four years — sharing that “education saved her, but her son ultimately made her into who she has become.”

With her English degree, Cameron then wanted to write books and “make lots of money,” but following the words of her academic adviser, Margaret Duncan, PhD — who noted there was a son to raise — she instead became an English teacher at T. Dewitt Taylor Middle-High School in nearby Pierson.

Cameron spent four years teaching there, married and divorced during that time, before “stumbling upon Stetson and DeLand.” Advice from a guidance counselor, Sue Hoffstrand, at Taylor Middle-High then steered her toward counseling, reluctantly. “I was told that I would make a great counselor. And my reaction was, ‘Listen to problems? No way,” she described the moment.

By virtue of a scholarship that enabled her to take one class, any class, at Stetson, she enrolled in a multicultural class taught by Professor of Education Patrick Coggins, PhD. He became her mentor, and Cameron was on her way to steering lives of her own. And she continues to work with Stetson on numerous fronts.

“Primrose is someone who I would categorize as a ‘Mission Driven’ educator,” commented Chris Colwell, EdD, associate professor and chair of Stetson’s Department of Education. “Over the years, I have found her to be, without exception, focused on making a difference in the lives of teachers and students, that is her mission. Her expertise, her team oriented approach to problem solving, and her passion for the work are evident to anyone who has the privilege to know her.”

Quite a story, huh?

It hasn’t ended. At some point, Cameron would like to step aside and “pass the baton,” noting that “somebody passed it to me, and I want to pass it to the next generation.”

Just not quite now.

“My mind is always on public education — how we provide students with the necessary opportunities that lie ahead, how do we access resources for them and how do we truly support all of our educators [from teachers to support staff to bus drivers],” Cameron said.

“That’s something I do. If you see a need, you are to address it, you are to take care of it, and you are to be your brother’s keeper and your sister’s keeper.”

“Everything that I choose to do,” she concluded, “is within the lineup of my life and how I can better serve others.”

-Michael Candelaria