Alumni Spotlight: Pam Campos-Palma
Peace, Security & Justice for All
Fresh out of a Boston high school, Pam Campos-Palma (’14) joined the U.S. Air Force. The academically exceptional student studied operations intelligence and soon became an Air Force Geopolitical Analyst.
“I gave recommendations on battlefield situations, geopolitics, and counter-terrorism,” Campos-Palma recalls. “I carried a lot of responsibility. It was very intense and consequential work for someone so young. By the age of 23, I’d been deployed twice.”
New kinds of service
When Campos-Palma left active duty, she continued her military service as an Operations Intelligence Analyst in the Air Force Reserve. Her part-time commitment stationed her in Washington state, and she moved to Portland where she enrolled in PSU’s undergraduate program in Political Science and Government.
“From a very young age I was always interested in justice and conflict,” Campos-Palma says. “The military is inherently political, and it really taught me about power dynamics – both good and bad – as well as leadership structure.”
Extracurricular activities saw Campos-Palma become the first-ever student on PSU’s Board of Trustees and serve as Director of the student organization Las Mujeres PSU, a Latina women's empowerment group that extends to the greater community.
Awards and honors follow Campos-Palma wherever she goes. While at PSU, she earned a U.S. Air Force Achievement Medal and received the PSU’s Excellence Award three times. Although her accolades now include the prestigious United Nations Women Metro New York 2018 Champion of Change and the Huffington Post’s 2017 Top 40 Under 40 Latinos in Foreign Policy, her most personally meaningful award still stems from her college days.
“The best recognition I’ve ever received was the Las Mujeres PSU Award for Community Leadership and Engagement,” she says. “That award means so much because it reflected the community’s trust in me.”
Campos-Palma obtained a master’s degree from New York University and intended to pursue a job in peacekeeping at the United Nations. But she graduated during the 2016 Presidential election and decided to politically organize veterans instead.
“Military service people have made many contributions to progress and social movements in America,” she asserts. “While there are myths that the military community is largely white, male, and staunchly conservative, it’s one of our most diverse institutions. I’ve been very focused on diversifying military veterans’ voices and helping to create an army of leaders in the realm of political and social change.”
In 2016, she launched Campos-Palma Strategic Consulting to further progressive foreign policy, peace and security, and movement building. Her work is both national and global as she takes lessons from other countries and shares those from the U.S.
“I loved analyzing problems in the military. I do that now by tackling white nationalism, social injustice, and climate insecurity,” Campos-Palma says. “I call it localized diplomacy and global strategy. If we are going to take on the big problems, we need to look outside ourselves and collectively organize across borders.”