After a stranger helped him out and changed his life for the better when he was a teen, Oscar Campos has done all he can to help educate others.
As staff development assistant for the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE), Campos coordinates various events and programs. He started with SDCOE in 2001 with the Migrant Education team, working with migrant youth who weren't in school, and helped job seekers learn new skills and continue their education.
This dedication is part of why Campos was recognized as the SDCOE Employee of the Month for May. Below are some answers Campos shared after receiving the honor.
Years of Service: 18
How did you end up at SDCOE?
I had been a recruiter for San Diego Job Corps, a federal youth job-training program, for five years when I learned that SDCOE was hiring a recruiter for their Migrant Education program. Coming from a family of migrant workers, I jumped at the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of migrant children and their families while reconnecting with my roots. When I learned I had been selected for the position from a large pool of applicants, I felt like I had literally won the lottery, and in many ways, I did!
What do you find most rewarding about your job?
I accepted the position of staff development assistant five years ago thinking if I could help empower youth through education, I could do the same for friends and colleagues here at SDCOE. This connection is most notable through my work with the professional growth program, which encourages employees to continue their academic education, and through our employee development program (EDGE), which aims to improve employee competency and capacity throughout the organization. Being able to connect most of my career to empowering different groups of people through education is something I am very proud of. What brings me the most satisfaction now is the work I perform with SDCOE employee recognition programs (e.g. Teacher of the Year, Employee of the Year, Employee of the Month) and coordinating our end-of-year Celebrating Excellence event which recognizes employees for their years of service and other accomplishments. Knowing my work helps celebrate the work of others is very satisfying, especially when I get to see their big smiles when they are presented with an award.
Tell us about your co-workers and why you appreciate them.
Leaving my Migrant Education family after 13 years of working together was not easy. However, I quickly realized how lucky I was to be able to move up in the organization while staying connected with old friends and having the opportunity to make new ones. My new Organizational Excellence family is awesome! I learn new things everyday just being around them, and frankly, I would not be able to perform my job duties without their support. Leo, Darcy, and Nicole are top-notch professionals who are also down-to-earth and know how to have fun. There's never a dull moment with those three!
Please share your most noteworthy professional or personal experience at SDCOE.
Last year was especially challenging to be in charge of the event that would help say farewell to many of our beloved co-workers who were retiring. I am just now able to talk about how depressing it was to witness that mass exodus of friends. There were many times I found it difficult to stay positive and smile in front of them, as I was literally crying inside. Now, thanks to social media and the strong bonds I formed with many of them, I realize it's not so bad. I still get invited to their parties and I get firsthand retirement advice for free every time!
How do you like to spend your free time?
I consider myself a philanthropist in training so I volunteer some of my free time supporting causes that interest me. Most recently, I joined the effort to save Skateworld San Diego from being closed down. I am a board member for a local community clinic in National City. I am also an active member of a motorcycle club that organizes annual distributions of new shoes and toys for thousands of disadvantaged children in Tijuana. When I am not saving the world, I enjoy riding my motorcycle, hiking, bicycling, attending concerts, laying out on the beach, and getting together with good friends.
The one thing people would be surprised to know about me is...
I love cooking and I am planning to open a small restaurant in Rosarito when I retire. It will feature many of my grandparents' recipes and some of my own.