Portland State student Pam Campos-Palma says it sounds cliché, but she believes in living to serve the greater good.
"It's the way I've been my whole life; that's just the narrative when your culture is communal instead of individualistic," says Campos-Palma, 26, whose mother is a first-generation Honduran immigrant. "My military experience showed me how rewarding serving others can be."
After four years on active duty in the U.S. Air Force, Campos-Palma, in her third year as a reservist, headed to Portland State as a political science major, minoring in civic leadership. She works to improve the campus community as director of the Latina student organization Las Mujeres de la Raza and as a member of the University's Board of Trustees, a new governing board that will provide strategic leadership and stewardship to PSU.
"As a woman of color, a veteran and a returning student, I run the gamut of different student traits," Campos-Palma says. "I look forward to bringing a unique and beneficial perspective to the board."
As a board member she hopes to improve the graduation rate of students who belong to marginalized populations, and increase the number of those students who pursue higher degrees.
Campos-Palma also plans on leveraging her leadership experience in the Air Force and at PSU into a political career, through public policy.
"For a lot of my peers and Las Mujeres members, when they begin to realize they can make a difference, the college experience becomes much more fulfilling," she says. "That's part of what I love about PSU: It gives you the opportunity to be involved citizen."