Stepping Up with Kristopher Mayfield
Student Life Editor
Cameron University senior Kristopher Mayfield has always been a source of stability for his family.
“Living at home was rough,” Kris said. “A lot of the time, I was the keeper of order. I was in charge of who did their chores and who kept their room clean.”
Growing up in the small rural town of Okmulgee, Oklahoma, Kris lived at home with his mother, father and three siblings. Toward the end of high school, Kris’ father was no longer present in his life, encouraging Kris to step up and help his mother.
“I developed a ‘you’re supposed to set the standard’ attitude,” Kris said. “I was dependable and reliable; I was needed.”
Even in school, Kris shared how his classmates and teachers relied on him to do the things nobody else would. He was always the one who gave big speeches and ran important errands.
“People started to see me more as a person to look up to and not just another kid. When they started to view me as the kid that ‘did everything right,’ who never cursed or started any trouble,” Kris said. “I lost the opportunity to interact with that side of myself.”
Over time, Kris started to gain insight to how people perceived him, motivating him even more to succeed – to remain a positive influence in his school and community.
Kris said people who live in a small town grow very close.
“But that closeness wasn’t always positive,” Kris said. “It was a place where you grew up with the same people you started school with. There was comfort in that, but there were a lot of restrictions.”
As time progressed, classmates began to feel like family, and the joys and pains of having a second family extended further than just classwork.
Early on, Kris joined his school’s academic team and leadership organizations. He joined the speech and debate team his junior year.
In debate, he would often speak to mature topics that required him to think strategically about how he communicated with other people.
“Communication was sheltered. I learned to be aware of who I was and check my words before speaking because the second you said something somebody else didn’t agree with, everyone knew. Which wasn’t always a good thing.”
Drawing on his experiences at home and considering how they shaped him today, Kris lifted his chin and smiled.
“I’m not my past, and it will never define me,” Kris said. “I am a trail of constant decisions and experiences both right and wrong that continue to make me who I am.”
As one chapter closed and the time came to move on to college, Kris wanted to expand his horizons and learn more about the people and things that make up the world.
“I wanted something more,” Kris said. “Somewhere comfortable and enough room to grow.”
After touring his firstchoice university, Kris came to realize that it just wasn’t what he wanted anymore.
That’s when he remembered the speech and debate camp he attended at Cameron University years prior. Within a matter of weeks, Kris toured the campus, auditioned for the debate team and fell in love with the community.
He has since won many awards and honors for speech and debate.
“It was a rollercoaster, and it was overwhelming, but it was worth it. Every year posed a new challenge, but every year brought new lessons to learn,” he said.
“I remember this one year I had a speech that I hated by the end of the year. I just couldn’t memorize it, I struggled for so long,” he said. “Elizabeth Good sat me down one day and just said ‘Kris, you’re making this harder than it has to be. Sit down and memorize it.’ and I remember just saying ‘It’s not that easy’ and she replied, ‘It is that easy,’ walked into the other room and by the end of that day I had memorized half of the speech.”
Kris took home a National Championship that year for his speech. Even though it was a massive achievement, he doesn’t want his national title to define him.
“People give me all of this praise for winning, but I don’t want it to be something that makes it so that everything that I do after this is determined or compared to this one event,” he stated. “I use it as a motivator, but not something that constricted me to feeling like anything that I do besides getting National Champion isn’t good enough.”
For Kris’ senior year, he decided to leave the team. Feeling as though he had learned all of the lessons debate could teach him, he moved on to other passions in his life. For the last few years, Kris has been a Student Housing Resident Assistant in both Shepler and the Village. This year, Kris became the Senior Resident Assistant for Student Housing.
This opportunity is giving him the leadership and organization skills needed to excel in graduate school.
Kris is excited to learn he will be attending Louisiana State University for his Masters and hopes to receive a Residential Assistant scholarship, so he can continue doing what he loves most.
“Change is going to come whether it’s sooner or later. I like to stay on my toes nowadays,” he said. “I’m not done climbing for success because I’m not done moving yet.”
Kris said his most important life lesson has been a lesson of selfexperience.
“I was always the kind of person who wanted to learn from other people’s mistakes instead of go through them on my own. I know now that I can’t do that, and I’m taking the mistakes as they come and as they go.