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ASU Dean’s Medalist connects with and advocates for her community


A young woman smiles at the camera

Simonne Campos has been named The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' spring 2023 Dean’s Medalist for the School of Transborder Studies.

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April 28, 2023

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2023 graduates.

Simonne Campos moved to Arizona from the Bay Area and was looking for new challenges and projects she could contribute to that were greater than herself. When she was accepted at the School of Transborder Studies at Arizona State University, she found a community she could advocate for and see her impact within.

While researching possible majors at ASU, Campos had an idea of what she wanted to study but didn’t know what program would be best for herself.

“I knew that I wanted to do something that had to do with Latin American studies or Chicano identity. I was going through the majors and I saw this thing called ‘Transborder Chicano/Latino Studies’ and I read the description and thought, ‘Well that sounds really cool and something that I want to know more about.’ It did not disappoint, and I’m very very grateful that I took a chance in pursuing something that I was passionate about and it paid off.”

She found a small but close-knit community within her program. All of the work, she found, was exciting and inspiring, ranging from literature analysis to more introspective work, like asking oneself what it is to be Latino, or doing advocacy and research that looks at broader trends.

While at the School of Transborder Studies, she received the opportunity to work with Francisco Lara-Valencia on the Los Angeles Accessory Dwelling Unit (LAADU) Accelerator Program, which “pairs older adults with homeowners willing to provide a stable home by offering their accessory dwelling units (ADUs) as rentals.” This was one of the moments Campos saw the impact she could have. While working on this project, research and community advocacy mixed as she interacted with program participants.

“It was research. But it was also connection with real people, listening to real stories and taking voices of people who are not often listened to and uplifting them, making their voice heard and implementing change that would help them,” she said.

Campos, who has been named The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' spring 2023 Dean’s Medalist for the School of Transborder Studies, will graduate this May with a Bachelor of Arts in transborder Chicana/o and Latina/o studies.

While nervous to graduate and saying she will miss the community and mentors she found at the School of Transborder Studies, she is ready to pave her own way.

Question: Was there any experience or moment where you realized, “Oh, this is where I’m supposed to be”?

Answer: This is really cheesy so I don’t know if you’re going to be able to use this, but honestly, when I got the email that I was the Dean’s Medalist it made me feel like it was all worth it. It has been a great two years, but it’s also been challenging. It’s been lonely at times; there’s been a lot of hard work and effort that I didn’t know if it was always paying off. But getting some recognition and some appreciation — the support of my faculty, my professors, my mentors — it has shown me that it was worth it. That this is where I was meant to be.

Q: What would you like your future to be like?

A: I just want my future to continue to be an opportunity for me to be my most authentic self and help people through that — whatever that looks like. Implementing real change, listening to real people, making real connections, that is what I’m all about, that is the life that I lead, that is who I am as a person. I know that I can only do the best work if I am my best self. It’s so cheesy, but I can only be the most successful if I know who I am. I know that I am a people person, I know that I like to help others, and so that is what I want for the future.

Q: Do you have any advice to give to incoming students?

A: My advice to incoming students would be to not be afraid of the vast amount of opportunities we have here. Know that any feelings of not being good enough, not being experienced enough, or maybe that “those aren’t your skills,” those feelings aren’t real. You can do it. It was meant for you; it was made for you. That’s why we’re here, so take advantage of it.

Q: Do you have any messages for your fellow graduates?

A: No matter how we got here, no matter how you got here, you should be proud. We should be proud of everything that we’ve done. We all come from so many different backgrounds, we have a vast history, so whoever you are, you should be proud of yourself.

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