Spark Alumni Spotlight with Carlos Campos

Carlos Campos joined CPE’s program in 2014. He grew up in Uptown DC (Columbia Heights area). He selected CPE because he had friends who had joined the program a couple years before him and they spoke highly of the organization. For Carlos, he wanted to be part of social events and networking opportunities CPE had to offer.

What’s one memorable moment you have of you and your mentor?

As a high school student, many things surprise you especially when you aren’t exposed to a lot. My mentor decided to go bowling for one of our first hangouts and said he was “decent” at it. I had never been bowling but it seemed like a fun time so of course I said yes. I show up and my mentor lets me go first. I did pretty well considering it was my first time throwing a ball. Up next is my mentor… this guy gets a strike and CURVES the ball. I was absolutely impressed and that’s definitely how you entertain a high school sophomore.

How did your mentor help you with the college application process?

When it came to the college process, which was very stressful by the way, my mentor was always there to answer questions and motivate me every step of the way. Having someone there who only wanted to help me was amazing. We actually went to go see different campuses in the area and during those tours, my mentor gave me advice on what to look out for and also gave me advice on questions to ask.

What college did you go to and what career path did you choose?

Due to financial limitations, I decided to go to the University of the District of Columbia. During my senior year, there were lots of bad things being said about the school, at a time I felt embarrassed that I was going to this school, imagine that. The school you choose won’t define your future, YOU will pave your path to the career you want.

When college started I really did not know what I wanted to study. In my senior year of high school, I researched gentrification in DC and that was really interesting to me, in some way I wanted to get involved in that so I decided to pursue architecture and community planning.

How did COVID effect your last year of college?

This question does hurt because COVID really took so much away from my senior year. COVID honestly robbed the class of 2020. It was so sad to feel that after all my hard work and sleepless nights, and all that grind to not be able to physically walk the stage. It was horrible, you can even say it was depressing. I returned my cap and gown which really hurt. But at the end of the day, I got my degree and that’s all that mattered.

In terms of taking classes online during COVID, I highly disliked it. It was horrible especially for architecture. But I’m sure the online class experience has improved since then.

How did your mentor help get you through that challenging time?

My mentor and I would have Zoom calls here and there on how things were going. My mentor would do a lot of research on how students were reacting to the switch to online classes and he’d make me feel better knowing that I wasn’t alone in how online classes negatively impacted me.

Has the pandemic made it hard to secure employment as a recent graduate?

Thankfully, this was not a problem for me. I actually interviewed for my job on Valentine’s day of 2020. Then a couple weeks later, things started closing down due to COVID. Talk about perfect timing. Thankfully, my company did not take away the full time offer. I am so blessed that things worked out the way they did because I know others weren’t as lucky as I was.

What do you enjoy doing with your free time?

Now that I have adult money and much more free time than when I was in architecture school, I tend to find myself either cycling or trying out interesting food spots in the area. I have also started getting into shoes as well which is a very expensive hobby to have. I also tend to do a lot of PC gaming and watch tons of futbol…”soccer”.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

The best I have received is, “You don’t really go to college to get good grades and try to be at the top of every class. You really go to network. You might be in class or partying with future lawyers, doctors, architects, engineers, and presidents. Talk to people, be social, participate in events and in clubs. Go out, have fun, enjoy your time, and expand your network!”