PHOTO: UTSA University Strategic Communications

Last summer, Lisa Campos (B.S., ’99; M.S., ’01) joined other female athletics directors to summit Mt. Shavano, a fourteener near Salida, Colorado. If she looked to the east with a telescope, she might have spotted her rural hometown of Las Animas. The feat made perfect sense for Campos – she’s someone who makes it to the top.

Today, she’s excelling as the vice president of intercollegiate athletics at the University of Texas at San Antonio; earlier this year she was nominated as athletics director of the year by the Sports Business Journal.

During her four-year tenure at UTSA, as in previous positions at the University of Texas El Paso and Northern Arizona University, student-athletes have set numerous records for both academic and athletic achievement. They include an 82% graduation rate; improved team GPAs; and school programs that have produced seven All-Americans, earned more than 130 all-conference honors, and captured 17 individual conference titles and three team conference crowns.

Her secret for success: “Believe anything is possible.”

Drive to succeed

“My parents taught me to be courageous and go after what you want and fall forward,” Campos says. “I also believe it’s about your priorities and core values. My core values have been family, courage, integrity, loyalty, and lifelong learning. Lastly, I’ve surrounded myself with incredible people who’ve been instrumental in the success I’ve experienced. We don’t achieve great things alone.”

Campos says her drive to succeed comes from her mom, who finished second grade before working in the fields, and her dad, a second-generation Mexican American and Vietnam War vet. Campos says both parents emphasized the importance of education.

“That shaped who I am today. I was fortunate to have parents who stressed the importance of going to college and obtaining a degree, despite their lack of any formal education. They wanted a better life for me than what they had for themselves. Despite all of the statistics regarding rural, first-generation Latinos, I have earned not only an undergrad [in business administration] and master’s degree [in student affairs in higher education], but also a doctorate [in education from UTEP], and that is very fulfilling.”

CSU ahead of its time

The avid sports fan, who played volleyball, basketball, and track and field in high school and cherishes memories of Becky Hammon and the Rams advancing to the Sweet Sixteen in 1999, also gives plenty of credit to CSU.

“I often tell people that CSU was ahead of its time serving first-generation college students,” Campos says.

“Without the support of programs like the Academic Advancement Center and the other great initiatives led by Paul Thayer [associate vice president emeritus], I’m not sure how I would have navigated my college experience. And now, all I want to do is give back, especially to first-generation Latinos like myself.”

To give back to CSU, Campos and her husband have created the Joe and Rose Campos First Generation Scholarship.

“This was a tribute to my parents, who always stressed the importance of obtaining a degree,” she says. “Being able to pay it forward to current CSU first-generation students is so gratifying, particularly in the name of my parents. If it had not been for the first-generation scholarship I received while attending CSU, I’m not sure I would have been able to complete my degree.”