Like many first generation Americans, Lizette Campos has parents who came to the United States with the hope of affording greater opportunities for themselves and for their children. As a young girl growing up in North Hollywood, life in a one-bedroom apartment with her mom, dad, and six older siblings did not necessarily seem like an overwhelming hardship for Lizette. Everyone worked together to care for the family and to make ends meet. Even so, when she graduated from high school Lizette knew that the kind of future that she hoped for would require a great deal of work, persistence, and a college education.
She enrolled at Los Angeles Valley College near her home, but shortly after classes began she found herself facing a long commute when her family relocated to Palmdale. Determined to stay the course, Lizette made the long trek every day for two years. “Commuting back and forth was an arduous process,” says Lizette, “especially when it snowed in Palmdale.” She would leave home at 5 a.m. and most often not return until late in the evening. The stress of long commutes, a full-time class schedule, and a part-time job eventually began to take their toll, both physically and emotionally. With the inspirational support of her college advisor, Lizette not only persevered, but excelled; eventually she even made g her way onto the dean’s list.
After receiving her associate of arts degree, Lizette was more determined than ever to continue on her educational path. She was accepted to CSUN in the fall of 2009, and she decided to make a bold move to an apartment within walking distance of the campus. Her new independence came with new challenges. With the assistance of financial aid and adherence to a strict budget, however, once again Lizette found a way to succeed. In addition to her internship in the Child and Family Care Center, she began to work as a student assistant at the Oviatt Library. “Ideally I wanted to work on campus,” Campos says. “I decided to job search on our CSUN website, and found a position opening to work for the Library.” Lizette worked for almost two years in Library Administration, lending valuable support to the Library Development staff. “Working for the Library was something new and exciting for me," Lizette says. “It offered me many wonderful opportunities, and I met many extraordinary people here. Little did I know that this decision would change my life!”
In 2012, Lizette applied for one of a handful of scholarships that are funded by various donors and friends of the Library, and awarded to outstanding Library student employees. “My supervisor at the time, Joyclyn Dunham, had told me about the scholarships and encouraged me to apply,” Campos says. “I wasn’t very financially stable on a student budget, with all the expenses I had such as purchasing books and other school supplies, paying for rent, bills, and helping out my family when I could.” Lizette’s decision to go through the scholarship application process -- which included gathering transcripts, letters of recommendation, a resume, and writing an essay -- paid off. She was awarded the Karin Durán Scholarship and honored at the Library’s annual Student Employee Appreciation Luncheon. Lizette confides that writing the scholarship essay and sharing the many challenges she had faced in her academic career was both difficult and a valuable life lesson. “Writing the essay in itself was part of a growing experience for me – being able to open up and share my story,” she says. The same year, Lizette graduated with her bachelor of science degree and was hired as a staff member in the Library, where she now supervises the administration reception desk and works as an assistant to Associate Dean Marianne Afifi.
After so many years of hard work, and so much to be proud of, for many this would seem like a good opportunity for a break, or least to a slower pace. For Lizette, however, successful passage through one door has only led her to the threshold of another. When speaking about her future, with her ever-present broad smile she reflects on the invaluable support that she received from her counselor at Valley College and says: “I am planning to pursue a master’s degree at CSUN in the field of Educational Psychology to become a college advisor, or apply for the CSUN graduate program in Family and Consumer Science with an emphasis in Family Studies. I would like to help low-income families by being a part of a group or organization that implements programs and provides community services. I have chosen these career options because it brings me joy and a sense of fulfillment serving others.”