When alumna Naomi Campa (‘06) was a student, the letter dorms had not been built, Viking dorm still existed and the student body was made up of a scant 650 students. This year, Campa returns to campus as the visiting assistant professor of classics, taking over the courses of Associate Professor of Greek Language and Literature Carl Shaw during his current research leave.
Campa is originally from Miami and the majority of her family still lives there. From Miami, she moved to Sarasota where she lived the duration of her time at New College. She eventually went to graduate school in Seattle, and is currently based out of Dallas, Texas.
While Campa has known that she enjoyed teaching since high school, she did not consider classics as an academic path until taking the course Love and Sex, offered by current Associate Professor of Classics David Rohrbacher, during her first year at New College.
Despite her initial interest in the University of Miami, Campa decided to enroll at New College as an undergraduate, primarily due to her visit to the school. She had heard about the college first through a friend, and then from one of her customers during her time as a door-to-door salesperson.
“I was selling knives at the time,” Campa said, explaining how one of her customers mentioned the college to her, a random comment from a stranger, which spurred her to visit the school. After that, it was fate.
“I stayed in Pei,” Campa said. “It was super awesome. I thought ‘this is where I need to go,’ it suddenly clicked for me. After that visit I knew that was definitely where I wanted to go.”
Coming to New College, Campa knew that her interests lay in the humanities, but did not have a firm idea of what area of concentration (AOC) she would pursue.
She took a wide variety of courses during her time at New College, dabbling in philosophy and literature until she found classics.
Campa participated in traditional New College events during her time as a student and was often present at Towne Meetings.
“I went to Walls and to Palm Court Parties (PCPs) obviously and there was also Drunk Funk Tuesdays,” she said.
The majority of her undergraduate career, Campa worked in the restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota, and then transferred to another hotel in Miami where she continued to work prior to graduating from undergraduate school.
Campa took a year off after graduating from New College before deciding to go to graduate school. While she had reliable employment, she missed the intellectual engagement involved with academia.
“I realized I missed that particular type of engagement and I really wanted to keep getting better at my languages,” Campa said.
“I really love reading Greek and Latin, however dorky that sounds. Especially Greek because it’s way better than Latin,” she laughed. “You can quote me on that.”
She went to the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle. While Campa said that her studies at graduate school were harder than they were at New College, it was a similar experience in that it was an independently driven atmosphere.
“We start teaching at UW pretty soon, most people in their first if not second years,” Campa said. “I started teaching right away, in my first year.”
Campa has her bachelor’s and master’s in classics and is currently pursuing her doctorate.
“I’m what we call ABD, which just means almost, almost, almost done, ‘all but dissertation.’ I need to turn in my dissertation and then defend it,” she said.
When asked about the biggest difference in returning to campus since she attended it as a student, Campa stated that the biggest changes are the new buildings, a bigger student body, less bikes on campus and that there seem to be more fashionably inclined students.
“It seems more diverse than when I was here, which is a goal that New College had for a long time,” she continued.
This semester Campa is instructing Elementary Greek I and Advanced Latin I. Next semester she will be offering the second component of these courses along with an in-translation course on Greek democracy.
“It should attract people from philosophy, political science, or history, people interested in a broader range of stuff,” she said of next semester’s in-translation course.
“New College as a whole you see it from another perspective, all the behind the scenes, administrative things that you don’t have to think about as a student, nor should you,” she said of being back at New College.
Nowadays, Campa is married. She will return to her current home in Dallas following this school year. She stated that she probably would not have moved so far from home except for the opportunity to teach here.
“I don’t think I would have left where I was for any other school. I wouldn’t want to be away from home, but New College is such a special opportunity,” Campa said. “I love it. I have really fond memories of it and I was really excited to work with the students here.”
“New College students, they’re different than when I was here, but there’s still some sense of continuity,” she said of the student body. “I think there is a lot of self-driven motivation still there.”
Campa said that while it is fun to be back in Sarasota, it is hard to be so far from her current home in Dallas.
“I have a house, a cat, a dog and a wife back in Texas so that part is not so fun,” she elaborated.
While Campa is busy working on her dissertation, in her free time, she relaxes with an episode or two of “Bob’s Burgers,” and can often be found at Growler’s weekly trivia night. Recently she has begun practicing boxing again.
“Nothing can motivate you to exercise like getting hit in the face,” Campa said. “It really makes you want to be in shape because otherwise the person in better shape is going to punish you physically.”
Campa stated that her favorite doughnut is a glazed chocolate cake doughnut. “Or Boston crème,” she added.