ASU political science instructor Manny Campos throws himself a birthday party every year, but he gives the gifts.
What began 15 years ago as a parking lot “jam session” quickly became an event known around San Angelo as Manny’s Annual Birthday Bash.
“I moved here in 2002 as a student, and I was a musician,” Campos said. “I connected with Rod Bridgeman at Sealy Flats. One weekend he asked what I was doing for my birthday, and I said I wasn’t doing anything. So he said, ‘Why don’t you just bring your stuff and let’s have a jam session.’”
“So it was a potluck,” he continued, “and we got together and people brought snacks and drinks. It started that way, and we passed the hat around. We figured that if we are going to raise money off of this, we might as well have it go to something other than my pocket.”
Each year, the money goes back into the community.
“We’ve had money go to nonprofits, to new development, to private citizens who have been injured or faced serious illness,” Campos said. “We’ve helped an injured ASU athlete, and last year we diverted some of the funds to the relief efforts in Port Aransas.”
This year, the bash is benefitting something a little closer to Angelo State, as proceeds will go to help fund the Ram Family Student Scholarship.
“It was a natural fit,” Campos said. “I work at the university, so I want to give back to the students, especially a scholarship that’s for students, by students. That really spoke to me.”
“I view it as, if I can get 300-400 people in a room together on any given night for fun, why not do something together for a good cause,” he added. “Every year we get a little bigger, and I always say maybe we won’t do it again, and then we have a really big one.”
This year’s bash will be held at the House of Fifi Dubois on Saturday, Sept. 1. It is family-friendly and guaranteed to have plenty of birthday cake. Everyone is also encouraged to wear blue and gold to show their ASU pride.
“When you trace roots, you can go back to your hometown, early jobs and friends,” Campos said, “but ASU is my roots. This is my home in a lot of ways. Yes, it is where I work, but I think to give back to your roots and where you came from is important.”
An ASU instructor since 2012, Campos also serves as the faculty advisor for the Ram and Rambelle Rugby club teams and is the faculty athletic associate for Rams Baseball. As an Angelo State alum as well, he knows the importance of making an impact on the students who come through his classroom.
“I’m just as passionate teaching as I am performing,” Campos said. “For me, those students aren’t just a number. I hope that through this event, by them kind of knowing a little bit about their instructors and professors, they realize we are people and we do things other than teach and clock out and go home.”
“You get paid to be here,” he continued, “but when you see a student get that job at a hospital, or get married and you get asked to go to their wedding, those are the things that a paycheck doesn’t cover. Those are the really important things – I love to be part of that.”
As the fall semester begins, Campos looks forward to investing in the newest members of the Ram Family as they begin their ASU journey.
“I think that if you give and you show interest and are invested, students know that,” he said. “If you want success to happen, you have to show investment, and I feel that is one of the things that drives me to show up to an ASU event.”
“I think that if you invest in them and show that you genuinely care, I think that goes much further than just handing a student a grade.”