Ryan Campagna – Middle School Beacon Director

By Jenna Watanabe, Marketing & Development Coordinator

JW: I’m sitting here with Ryan Campagna, our Beacon Director at Visitacion Valley Middle school. The first question I have for you is why R.O.C.K.?

RC: I have friends [who are in college now] that came through the program. [They] sent me the job listing and I looked at the website and really liked everything that R.O.C.K. does. So I applied.

JW: What’s your favorite thing about working at R.O.C.K. so far?

RC: I like my team. They’re awesome. We get done what we need to get done but [in our free time] we joke with each other and talk about music and build bonds. It’s going really well.

JW: What would you do for a career if you weren’t doing this?

RC: I’ve tried other things. I didn’t really like [anything else]. I like working with kids. It makes me learn a lot about myself.

Maybe something in the creative field, like visual arts or something like that. But I try to mix visual media [like video or photography or design] in with what I’m doing now, so I get that balance. In fact, we’re doing a family photo day soon.

JW: I heard! That will be such a great gift to our families who might not have the chance to get their own family photos done. Let’s talk about you now, outside of R.O.C.K. If you could learn anything what would it be?

RC: Play music. I would love to learn how to make beats or play bass.

JW: I bet it’s nice to have the R.O.C.K. music studio here, then! That’s great. What about if you won the lottery? What would be the first thing you’d spend it on?

RC: Probably a house. That’s a priority around here. Or just take my family and friends out.

JW: Yes, it might just take winning the lottery to afford a home in SF. What about your favorite food? Or as I like to frame it—if it’s your last meal, what are you eating?

RC: Pesto. Anything with pesto sauce. Spaghetti with pesto. I like my Grandma’s the best. I don’t know what she does, but she’s got it down.

JW: Do you have any personal mottos or mantras?

RC: I would rather struggle now, or work harder now–so I can reap the benefits later. I also like the lyrics from one of Kendrick Lamar’s songs ‘I want the credit whether I’m winning or losing’.

JW: That’s a great way to think about living your life. Let’s talk about what motivates you. What gets you out of bed in the morning?

RC: For a while I was trying to find that. Now it’s what I get from this job. [Knowing that I am] helping the kids, or line staff or the management team. They’re the extra push. While I do it for myself, I know that I affect more than myself.

JW: In regards to your role here, can you tell me about something valuable you’ve learned in the last week?

RC: The balance of figuring where I can help people. I don’t want to push too far and step on toes and I don’t want to be too hands off and let them fail. But, I don’t want to do it for them and not let them learn a lesson. It’s definitely a balance.

JW: Have you ever had something happen to you that you thought was bad but it turned out to be for the best?

RC: I didn’t have the chance to leave for college so I had to stay home and work full-time and go to school full-time. At times I thought that was a burdensome thing in my life, but it helped get me to where I am now and I am grateful. It molded me into who I am now. I have the work ethic that is clearly taking me places–I have a great job now–and I feel very successful and fulfilled in my life.

JW: What would you most like to tell yourself at age 13?

RC: I would tell myself to just enjoy life. Things are always going to get more complex and that doesn’t mean it’s going to get better or worse, but living in the moment and enjoying what’s going on around you [is important] because not everything is guaranteed. You’re not always going to have a guaranteed way of life. Just live in the moment and enjoy what’s going on.

JW: What advice do you have for kids who are struggling in school?

RC: Stick with it. Look for resources. Especially here at [Visitacion Valley Middle school], I’m realizing how many resources there are. I just left a meeting that was all about supporting students more.

Reach out–whether that’s emotionally, dealing with feelings that you feel like you’re feeling by yourself, or in academics. There are people who care about you and there are people who want to see you succeed. I always tell the kids I can’t read your mind.  Unless you tell me what’s going on, I can’t help you. So just reach out.

Also, get outlets for creativity. And know that you’re not really alone.

JW: Before we close, anything else you’d like to share?

RC: I’m just thankful to be here to meet everybody–everyone’s here for the right reasons and I’m honored to be a part of it.