LAS VEGAS, NM – New Mexico State Sen. Pete Campos will deliver the commencement address to this year’s Highlands University graduating class. The 2016 Commencement Ceremony will be May 14 at 2 p.m. in the university’s John A. Wilson Complex.
“It’s important that we embrace our journey in life with integrity and respect for ourselves and others,” said Campos, who was first elected to represent District 8 in the New Mexico Senate in 1990. “I want to share that with the graduates. The legacy of what each of us leaves behind is equally important.”
Campos, who earned his master’s in counseling from Highlands University, helped secure state and federal funding for numerous university projects ranging from the Ivan Hilton Science and Technology Building to programs like the Center for the Education and Study of Diverse Populations to improve access to higher education.
“Access to all levels of education are important for the well being of the economy, family sustainability and, most importantly, to provide a purpose for people,” Campos said.
In 2008, Campos became the president of Luna Community College, where he upgraded the vocational education facilities, improved the number of courses that can transfer to four-year schools, expanded national vocational certifications, improved academic rigor, guided the college through its successful accreditation, and navigated the Great Recession without any layoffs.
“My priorities have always been to prepare and provide people with jobs and hold people accountable for student success,” said Campos, who earned his doctorate in educational leadership in 2003 from the University of New Mexico.
Campos said in everything he’s done, whether mayor of Santa Rosa, New Mexico or the superintendent of the Las Vegas City Schools, his guiding principles have been to maintain his integrity and respect for others.
“It’s cost me jobs and positions,” Campos said. “But it’s always been my conviction and commitment from within to want to serve people and help them make their lives better.
“There are some things we’re born with,” Campos said. “For me, I believe it’s been my service to others from when I was in kindergarten put in charge of delivering milk to students to where I’m at today.”
Campos said the concept of service was cemented for him when he worked with his father and mother in his family’s restaurant.
“The service industry is very important to the public,” Campos said. “it makes you rise to provide the best service, the best product and to ensure people are treated well at all times.”
Despite Campos’ successes, he said he has been an underdog, something that has helped shape who he is.
“It’s made me stronger,” Campos said. “It’s helped me stretch my thinking to better deal with issues I’ve had to face. “It has given me the opportunity to be humble and stay focused on the needs of other people. Along with that, it has helped me prepare for the unknown and unexpected.”
The unexpected faced Campos and his wife Lori in a frightening way in 2000.
“I was in the doctoral program at UNM, and Lori was diagnosed with a brain tumor,” Campos said. “If you can imagine raising a small child, working for the city schools, taking doctoral classes on weekend, and caring for my wife, those types of things have kept me grounded. Life is precious, it’s short, and we need each other. The more we help each other the better our communities will be.
“Life is made up of moments we will never forget,” Campos said. “About 19 years ago when I was having a professional picture taken, Peter, my son, as a young child, cuddled up close to me and the photographer was able to capture the love between father and son. I also cut the umbilical cord when Peter was born. These special occasions, and the love Lori and I share, will always stay with me.
“That’s what I want to tell this year’s graduating class: Within our individual journeys, we will all experience good times, difficult times and times that will last within our memories forever,” Campos said. “Life can change at any moment and can change the direction of what we do, so it’s important to remain grateful to those who have helped us.”