The Unlikely Path

A $15 million gift renames the Student Union and inspires the campus community.

061716_WSQ_webextra_IMG_01Follow the Compeans’ unlikely path

“You can do it too. It’s no big deal.”

Lupe and Ramiro Compean were married in 1955 in Edinburg, Texas, not far from the Rio Grande. The young couple heard they might have better opportunities in California, so they left Texas and set out for San José by car. They arrived in the Valley of Heart’s Delight, full of plum and apricot orchards, with next to nothing.

He found work building homes. She painted houses and did landscaping. They saved their money and managed to buy a home in Almaden Valley. They continued to buy properties as they were able and she steadily learned the real estate business.

While Lupe Compean never earned a college degree, she understands the value of hard work and is glad to help students. In honor of her late husband, Lupe Compean donated $15 million to San José State to support student-focused programs that will give students the opportunity to pursue their own paths. Her advice to students as they move along those paths: “You can do it too. It’s no big deal.”

San José State’s newly renovated Student Union—the heart of student life—will bear the Compean name. The naming of the Ramiro Compean and Lupe Diaz Compean Student Union is a symbol of all that they worked for—together.

The reaction to the Compean gift has been overwhelming.

SJSU’s Facebook community expressed its gratitude and excitement:


Jody Ulate

Jody Ulate, '05 MA English, is editor of the Washington Square blog and printed alumni magazine.

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