Islander Alumna Christina Campos ’14, ’16: Taking Education to New Heights

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — In the West Oso Junior High School classroom of Christina Campos ’14, ’16, the walls come alive with vibrant displays of inspiration. Paper-cut astronauts, planets, and rocket ships take flight alongside uplifting messages, creating an atmosphere of limitless possibilities. Amid this cosmic backdrop, an Islander flag hangs proudly, serving as a beacon of academic achievement.

As Campos guides her students through their educational journeys, she surrounds herself with reminders of her own accomplishments. The collection of degrees and graduation photos pinned to her bulletin board are a testament to her hard work and dedication. Yet, it is the pictures of her family that hold the greatest significance to her.

The two-time Islander alumna, who works as a West Oso Junior High science teacher and STEM campus coordinator, was the only Coastal Bend teacher selected to attend the 2023 LiftOff Summer Institute, a weeklong teacher workshop at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston. There, she interacted with NASA researchers, participated in hands-on activities, networked with other educators, and met famed Apollo 13 astronaut, Fred Haise.

“At the beginning of the trip, I felt like I was not deserving. I felt like, because of my background, some other teacher was smarter than me and should have been asked to go in my place,” she said. “As the days went on, I found my place in this NASA experience. I felt empowered, not just for myself, but empowered to bring these experiences back to my students. I am forever changed.”

Campos’ path to teaching is one of resilience and determination. She grew up on the west side of Corpus Christi in a tight-knit yet underserved community. As a child, she lost her older brother to leukemia. Faced with an unexpected pregnancy, she dropped out of Moody High School in the 11th grade. She eventually earned her GED and worked several entry-level jobs before the same courage she summoned to leave an abusive relationship ignited her drive to go back to school.

As a newly single mother of two, Campos found employment as a program specialist at Texas A&M University­Corpus Christi in 2010. She attended Del Mar College in 2011, then transferred to TAMU-CC where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in spring 2014. In September 2014, she married the love of her life, Jose.

“The professors knew that I was a single mom, that I was really working hard, and I was a first-generation student," she said. “They often checked in with me to ask me how I was doing or if I needed anything. I am still friends with my professors, and we have these amazing partnerships now.”

Campos’ initial career aspiration was to become a sports broadcaster, but after giving birth to a child with special needs, she set her sights on a new goal — becoming a teacher. She earned a Master of Science in Instructional Design and Educational Technology from TAMU-CC in 2016, and two years later, she landed her dream job at West Oso Junior High.

“No one in my family ever graduated high school, or college — ever. I was the first to break the cycle,” Campos said. “I knew that coming to West Oso was the right choice for me. I’m changing lives here. I wake up every morning super passionate about what I do.”

At West Oso, Campos’ days are filled with all things STEM — from curriculum development and teaching, to extracurricular activities like Robotics Club, STEM Girls Club, and preparation for STEM-related competitions such as the science fair. Many of her students aspire to be the first in their families to attend college, just like Campos.

“Mrs. Campos is inspiring me to be a better student by showing me things I can do through STEM and how things can change for me,” said Ava Garcia, a West Oso eighth grade member of the STEM Girls Club.

Campos takes pride in being one of the few Texas teachers accepted to the Society for Science. Each summer, she embarks on an educational pilgrimage to the organization’s Washington, D.C., headquarters to eagerly immerse herself in continuing education that equips her with fresh and captivating teaching strategies. This year, she successfully secured funding through the organization to take some of her students to the prestigious Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair, the world’s largest pre-college science fair. Campos was also chosen as a Society for Science Lead Advocate, one of 100 selected, and the only one from Texas.

“For college, I’d probably like to go to TAMU-CC, just like Mrs. Campos,” said Juan Aviles, an eighth grader at West Oso. “I really want to be an aerospace engineer. She’s inspired me because of her story. She didn’t get the opportunities that we have. So, I make sure I’m taking advantage of what I have right now for Mrs. Campos.”

Campos is thrilled to have broken the cycle of missed educational opportunities. Her oldest daughter graduated from TAMU-CC in 2021 and is a STEM teacher in San Antonio. Her oldest son, a senior at Corpus Christi's Moody High School, is involved in a mentorship program through the TAMU-CC College of Engineering and Computer Science.

Her husband Jose is a first-year psychology major at TAMU-CC this fall.

“I’m growing a family of proud Islanders," she said. “TAMU-CC is one of my favorite places in the whole world. It’s a place that I'll always call home.”