two grad photos from 2006 and 2020
Camila with her godmother Wendy Carrera, who graduated from Chapman in 2006. “She is the smartest, strongest and most selfless person I know," says Camila, "and she has made a difference in the lives of everyone she has mentored. I wanted to be just like her when I got older, so coming to Chapman was my way of following her footsteps.”

Camila Correa ’20 Comes Home to Chapman Family as Newest Alumni Engagement Coordinator

camila correa in graduation robes in front of memorial hallLike many people during the pandemic, Camila Correa ’20 found herself reevaluating her career choices. As a new Chapman University graduate with dual degrees in English and Strategic and Corporate Communication, she hoped to get a job working in public relations in the live entertainment industry. “I had seen the impact that live events have on people from all ages and was inspired to pursue a career that would let me continue to be a part of that magic.” Unfortunately, finding a job in that industry was nearly impossible in 2020. 

As the pandemic continued, her eagerness to work for a company in the entertainment business faded. “I longed for a mentor-type role because that is what made me feel like I was truly making a difference somewhere. That’s one of the reasons I came to Chapman in the first place.”

It is an instance of perfect timing that Chapman’s Alumni Engagement Office was looking for someone to fill a role that would involve working with current students and coordinating events for alumni — a position that will blend Camila’s interests in both mentoring and live entertainment. Though she’s only been at the job since October, she’s already settling comfortably into her new responsibilities at Elliott Alumni House, and appreciates being able to see everything that goes on behind the scenes at Chapman. She says, “I love being able to see just how passionate many of my coworkers are about Chapman, and the level of time and effort they put into their work to make this university as great as it is. Being here has opened my eyes to a new world and a greater appreciation for my alma mater.”

Who was the most influential person for you at Chapman? Why?

It’s difficult for me to choose just one influential person for me at Chapman because there were a few faculty members and students who really made my experience at Chapman one in a million. The most influential student to me became my best friend. Her name is Samantha Gonzalez, and she was always there for me in the bad and good times. I am grateful for her patience, understanding, and support because without it I don’t think I’d be the person I am today. 

As for the faculty that influenced me the most, Dr. Andrea Weber and Dr. Lynda Hall will always have their own special place in my heart. Dr. Weber guided me through my junior and senior years at Chapman as a Strategic and Corporate Communication student. Her guidance and belief in me that I would excel in this major encouraged me to pursue and complete that degree. 

Around the same time, I was also completing the requirements to graduate with a degree in English with an emphasis in Literature, Rhetoric and Cultural Studies. Dr. Hall was my thesis professor and mentor throughout the whole process. I struggled with choosing a literary piece to write my thesis on, so she recommended cultural works that were related to my heritage and ethnic background. Because of her recommendations and discussions with me about the cultural literature I was studying, my thesis became more than just an essay. It was a greater and more immersive learning experience that helped me also learn more about my identity and culture. 

I greatly appreciate the influence these women had on my educational and personal growth. I couldn’t have done it without them, and if they are reading this, I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart!   

If you could go back in time and experience one moment again from your time at Chapman, what would it be?  Is there anything that you would do differently?

I would go back and relive my work-study experience as a sports information assistant with Steven Olveda and the rest of the work-study crew. Working the press box during football games was my absolute favorite thing to do and I wish I had gotten that job when I was a freshman instead of just my senior year (COVID hit second semester, so all the sports in that season had to end before they even got started).

What do you wish you knew at the time of your graduation that you know now?  What advice can you give to the students and/or recent graduates of today?

I was told three different things before I graduated: 1) Do what makes you happy. 2) Pursue your passion. 3) Get a degree where the money is. None of these pieces of advice were helpful as the stressful reality of “real” adulthood was closing in. 

First, what happens when my job stops making me happy? Do I quit or endure the misery? Secondly, I have multiple passions, so narrowing it down to a few or even one is impossible for me. And lastly, the jobs I was interested in weren’t “big bank” jobs like my father wanted. 

My recommendation is to go after what drives you and approach every work and life experience you have with patience and gratitude. This motto has taken me a long way and I hope it does the same for whoever decides to take this advice. Listen to your gut feeling and don’t second guess your worth as a Chapman grad.

How did Chapman prepare you for your career?  For life?  How did your experience prepare you for the real world?

While pursuing my degrees at Chapman, I was also encouraged to pursue the things that interested me outside of school. I didn’t know how that could be beneficial to me in the long run, but now I understand. The staff and faculty at Chapman truly want every student to thrive in whatever they do, but that can only happen when she/he/they have something to look forward to outside of their work. Having a balance between personal and work life starts with having a balanced school and social life. It made me think about my wellbeing more often than I ever did and I’m grateful for that because now I know how to have a healthy balance between my personal life and work.  

Were there any major societal issues in our country/world that you recognized or faced as a young college student?  What was your perspective or how did you get involved? Have your opinions on these issues changed or stayed the same?

I really didn’t get involved with anything that addressed social issues when I was at Chapman. In hindsight, I wish I had taken more classes about social issues going on in the world to just learn more about what has been going on and how that has affected society today, but I was solely focused on being able to graduate in time (within four years). My main priorities while going to Chapman were school and work, especially my senior year. My senior year I was a full-time student working on my thesis, going to my internship, and working two part-time jobs. I had a lot on my plate, so I didn’t really have the time to get involved in anything else. 

I do, however, remember the protests that took place in Los Angeles in Spring of 2020. I live only 30 minutes away from Downtown Los Angeles, and even though we were safe from the riots, we had our own protests in our city and a rise in Asian hate crimes, because my community is predominantly Asian/Asian-American. My family was worried for our neighbors and friends because people were getting robbed and harassed. In response, our entire block invested and installed security cameras to make sure that we were always looking out for each other. That’s everything that comes to mind when I think about 2019/2020. To be honest, most of that year feels like a blur because of the pandemic. I’m sure there were other major societal issues at the time, but that is all that comes to mind.

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Staci Dumoski