Meet our 2022 SAP Leadership Fellow, Christian Camacho!

 In Connection, Religion & Spirituality

The Springtide Ambassadors Program (SAP) launched in January 2021 with our inaugural group of youth and young adult ambassadors entering an online cohort that stretched over a 15-month commitment. Representing different backgrounds, identities, and regions of the United States, SAP members create and curate original content for varied platforms, including Springtide’s blog and social media as well as The Voices of Young People Podcast, and they actively contribute to our national research projects and publications with their insights, perspectives, and experiences. We’re now several months into our second SAP cohort with another phenomenal group of teens and 20 somethings. They’re meeting monthly and helping shape the research and reporting coming out of Springtide. 

Christian Camacho was a part of the first-ever SAP cohort and has continued his work with Springtide as our 2022 SAP Leadership Fellow. Christian helps plan and facilitate monthly SAP meetings and supports ambassadors through the various creative projects they opt into. He is a gifted and passionate community builder and has been intentional about helping our overlapping SAP cohorts effectively pass the baton from one group to the next.  

Below is a quick Q&A between Marte Aboagye, Springtide’s Head of Community Engagement, and Christian, our 2022 SAP Leadership Fellow. 

Marte: What initially brought you to Springtide? How did you first learn about the Springtide Ambassadors Program? 

Christian: I was referred to Springtide by Br. Ernest Miller, a De La Salle Christian Brother, who also serves as a member of the Springtide Research Advisory Board. He encouraged me to apply for the 2021 Springtide Ambassadors Program. I got the email during my senior year of college, after just returning from a really formative trip to France, and was struck by the ways SAP seemed to embody the Lasallian mission—core principles from my own faith tradition. SAP was an opportunity to look more into myself, build new connections within a network of peers, and seek to be in touch with my inner being.  

M: Tell us a little about your educational and professional background. What other work roles are you currently holding alongside this fellowship? What do you hope to do next? 

C: I am a 2021 graduate of La Salle University in Philadelphia, with a degree in political science and government. During my time there, I worked in education at my former high school in multiple roles from maintenance to administrative assistant. After graduating, I relocated to Minneapolis, and presently work at DeLaSalle High School mentoring and counseling students on their academic and career goals. I hope to eventually further my education within the Lasallian world at St. Mary’s College of California with a degree in social work and eventually complete my commitment to become a De La Salle Christian Brother. 

M: As the SAP Leadership Fellow for the 2022 cohort, you get to bring experiences and lessons from the inaugural SAP cohort into this new group. What were your favorite aspects of serving as a 2021 Springtide Ambassador? Any lessons or takeaways from SAP that have shaped your life? 

C: My favorite aspect of serving within the 2021 SAP cohort was the conversations we had around stress and anxiety and seeing how multiple age-groups seek to process their mental health and really strive for their best. It was important that the entire cohort was able to share how they reflected on issues of mental health so that members of all ages, ranging from teens to early 20s, could participate. These open conversations really grew us all as friends who didn’t see distance as an issue or barrier to building community. 

M: Among many cool hobbies, we know you’re a big reader. What is the best book you’ve read in the last year? 

C: The best book I’ve read in the past year is Undocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League, by Dan-el Padilla Peralta. I resonated with the book so much, and seeing the similarities to Sonia Sotomayor’s book My Beloved World gave me goosebumps and prevented me from putting the book down! 

M: You’ve had many significant life transitions in your time as an Ambassador—graduating from college, moving to a new state and region of the country, and starting a new job (all during a pandemic!). How have you navigated all those changes while participating in SAP? Has SAP offered any consistency amid those changes? 

C: I’ve put a lot of trust in myself while navigating these changes and have learned a lot about myself through the process! Yes, the pandemic has made a significant impact, but I wasn’t going to allow it to stop me from accomplishing my dream of working in education. Graduating from college was mandatory for me; I knew I wasn’t going to let my family down that easily. Moving to a new region of the country is still making me question many things and appreciate the extensive diversity of my hometown of Philadelphia while discovering new gems like favorite bookstores and cafes in Minneapolis. 

Through all of that, SAP has given a consistent space for me to reflect and connect with others through our monthly meetings. My personal commitment to maintaining my mental health and building/engaging community has been furthered through the structure and dialogue that SAP offers. I leave each SAP meeting with a sense of contentment and peace. Now I aim to help create that type of atmosphere for current SAP members. 

M: Any tips or insights you want to offer the 2022 SAP cohort as they continue in this 15-month program? 

C: JUST-WING-IT; those wise words come from the sticker on my water bottle. 😊 Ultimately, be open to new experiences and try something you’ve maybe never done before through the various SAP project opportunities. If you’ve never been a part of a podcast recording, DO IT. If you’ve never read a suggested book, DO IT. If you’ve never showed anyone your favorite poem or written a blog, DO IT. SAP allows you to grow as an individual while also finding a sense of connection in the process.  

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