For Kameron Backstrom, there could be no greater inspiration for success than his own grandfather. James Backstrom ’56, was a basketball and track star in the 1950s, and was the first Black man to live on Chapman’s campus. “His time there showed me the perseverance and strength of being a black man in a white dominated community and the struggles that come with that,” says Kameron.
Kameron has a BFA in TV News and Documentary and a minor in Political Science, and currently works for HBO Max as a Digital Asset Manager. “It is my job to ensure all photos and promo videos hit the platform for our users and fans to consume,” he says. He is also an elected member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors.
We asked him to share a little about his Chapman Experience.
Who was the most influential person for you at Chapman? Why?
My grandfather was the single most influential person at Chapman. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006, exactly 50 years after attending the school. He went to Chapman on a full basketball and track scholarship and was the first Black man to live on campus. His time there showed me the perseverance and strength of being a black man in a white dominated community and the struggles that come with that. He went on to be a teacher and coach and his legacy will live forever at Chapman.
If you could go back in time and experience one moment again from your time at Chapman, what would it be? Is there anything that you would do differently?
I would not go back and change anything. I had the most amazing time at Chapman and that is where I met my girlfriend of four years (Panther Sweethearts!) and all of my friends. I also joined a fraternity and met the best group of guys a man could ask for.
What do you wish you knew at the time of your graduation (about life, career, family, best place for tacos, etc.) that you know now? What advice can you give to the students and/or recent graduates of today?
If I could give any advice it would be to enjoy every second of college and to never rush it. We find ourselves always wanting to get to the next semester or event and I would say enjoy every moment. Work is always going to be there, huge responsibilities are always going to be there, but all of your friends in the same central location will only happen once.
How did Chapman prepare you for your career? For life? How did your experience prepare you for the real world?
I learned a ton about the industry in my major and was able to get hands-on experience working at CBS and Warner Bros. After I graduated, I was able to parlay all of the skills and knowledge I acquired into a full-time job at HBO Max.
Were there any major societal issues in our country/world that you recognized or faced as a young college student? What was your perspective or how did you get involved? Have your opinions on these issues changed or stayed the same?
I am half Black and half White so dealing with racial issues is something I have dealt with my entire life. The recent Black Lives Matters marches around the country was a great awakening for people who had not heard about these issues Black people face daily. My hope for Chapman and the broader country is that they will listen to Black people and teach everyone (not just kids) about the systemic inequalities we face as a people.
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