A lifetime of service

Pioneer alumnus Louie Campos reflects on UC Santa Cruz experience

Louie Campos (Oakes ’73, community studies)

When 32-year-old Louie Campos graduated in 1973 with a B.A. in Community Studies, his cohort at College Seven—now Oakes College—contained only eight students. Campos and others—part of a student working group—worked with Co-Founding Provost Professor J. Herman Blake to give input on the architectural design and purpose of Oakes College, and helped create a long-lasting legacy at UC Santa Cruz. 

“The purpose of Oakes was what attracted me to the college,” Campos said. “Oakes is committed to intellectual, academic, and personal inquiry rooted in the possibility of affecting positive social and political change. That still holds true with me.”  

Today, 83-year-old Campos lives in West Sacramento with his wife of 53 years, Glennda. His career spans many roles serving the community, including jobs in the health field. These roots go back to UC Santa Cruz. 

The journey to UCSC

Between high school and when he entered UCSC, Campos had a wide range of experiences. Throughout the summers while he attended high school, Campos was a farm worker, and after he graduated, he served in the army for three years. 

Campos was stationed in Germany with a Military Occupational Specialty as a Field Medic and Pharmacy Technician. When he returned to Visalia, he worked in the fields, as a waiter, and as an orderly at the local hospital. 

When he first visited the UCSC campus, Campos was taken aback by its beauty and was reminded of his days serving in the army.  

“It reminded me of Germany since I was stationed near a dark, green, and wonderful forest (think of the Black Forest),” he says. “The campus, the people, the seeds of innovation and intellectual discovery were all there.” 

After Campos started at UCSC, Professor J. Herman Blake, Co-Founding Provost of Oakes College*, had a major influence on him. Campos said that Blake was the driver and visionary leader of what a progressive college should look like. So when a student committee was formed to help design Oakes College, Campos became a member and collaborated with Blake.

Blake said Campos played an essential role on the team.

“Campos was an exemplar of the expressed philosophy and goals of College Seven (Oakes College),” Blake said. “He embodied, he exuded, the values and principles that guided us. His model was a positive influence on his fellow students.” 

During his time at UCSC, Campos ran for student body president. His slogan was “You can trust someone over 30,” and he won the election. 

“In 1964, Jack Weinberg coined the phrase ‘Never Trust Anyone Over 30,’” Campos says. “I was saying to students that they could. In a way, I was trying to be humorous.” 

Campos said he had a good relationship with UCSC founding chancellor Dean McHenry and often pressed him on student issues.

A Lifetime of Service

His military background in health care delivery, combined with his wife’s experience as an OBGYN- Nurse Practitioner, motivated Campos to continue in this field of study. He earned a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, then became a director of community and migrant health programs in Colorado and California. In this role, Campos helped create a community and migrant health care center in Colorado. 

Campos was also a public health care administrator, working at and managing AIDS education and prevention programs for 16 years until he retired.

 Another career highlight was working as a county director for Kings County (Hanford) for Self-Help Enterprises, where he helped farmworkers build their own homes. 

“Whether working in the health field or farmworker housing, my Community Studies degree from UCSC was important, especially in the politics of community development,” he says. 

Campos also served on many community boards and committees, including one appointed by Governor Jerry Brown, who appointed him as a layperson on the State Board of Optometry. Outside of his career, Campos connected with communities and organizations around and outside of California. 

“He has constantly expanded his impact on society,” said UCSC Professor J. Herman Blake. “From a student to a community leader, from a student to a parent and grandparent. He touches generations.”

And about 13 years ago Campos spent 1.5 years collecting stories and photos of world-class athletes who were specifically from the Bryte and Broderick neighborhood in West Sacramento. The exhibit of photos and posters with narratives is still on display at the recreation center. 

“Something that I’m also proud of is organizing a no-contact boxing program for kids,” Campos said. “The coaches, who were many of the athletes that were part of the photo exhibit, were world boxing champions and baseball players. The best and most talented boxer was a little 10-year-old girl. She could box your ears off.” 

The program ran for three years and over 150 kids participated.

Parting Words

When asked if he has any advice for UCSC students and alumni, Campos replied: The Greatest Joy of a Raindrop is When it Enters the River.



* UCSC Professor Dr. Ralph Guzmán was also a co-founding provost of Oakes College. For more information on the history of Oakes College click here