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Teacher profile: Ms. Villegas

Updated: Dec 14, 2023

As a history teacher, Ms. Villegas is responsible for providing the next generation of thinkers with a diverse and comprehensive understanding of the past. She recalled to me “There’s this Mark Twain quote that says ‘Travel is fatal to prejudice’. And it goes on but that's like, the main gist of it, that we're not going to grow and we're not going to learn if we're just stuck in one little niche of the world, right? We're not going to understand other cultures and other identities.”

Eleven years ago, Ms. Villegas began teaching at ERHS. “I started at a rival and Franklin but it was nothing compared to Eagle Rock. Eagle Rock is the jewel of LA Unified. Everybody wants to work at Eagle Rock, so I ended up at my happy place. We have the best students, best co-workers, best administration, best everything.”

She didn’t always want to be a teacher. “In high school, I was really into sports and played basketball and volleyball. So I've always loved sports. I hurt my ankle in eighth grade and ever since then I was really interested in human anatomy and what happens [when you are injured], so that's why I wanted to go into sports medicine to become a trainer.”

At UCLA, she began studying. “Then I realized I can't compete with those science kids. I was in a calculus class, and I got an 86% on the test and I was super excited because that’s a high B, and because [the professor] graded on a curve I ended up being a D. Once that happened, it totally just shattered all my hopes and dreams.”

But there’s a happy ending. “I had to really reflect and think, What am I good at? What do I enjoy? And it was history. So then I went into history and I thought, well, what can I do with that? That’s when I decided teaching was the right path for me. It took a lot of self-reflection.”

Before she moved to LA to attend college at UCLA, Ms. Villegas lived elsewhere. “I grew up in Northern California in a tiny town called Jackson. It's in gold country, about 3000 people live there. It's kind of in between Sacramento and Tahoe. So it's a little tiny town and I ended up in a big city.”

It comes as no surprise that in her free time, Ms. Villegas likes to read, especially about politics. “I love politics, I'm really interested in what's going on right now in the world because there's a lot on the news. Global affairs, that kind of thing. I mean, I know it's all related to history, but I'm just fascinated with what's going on in the world. I want to make sure that I'm well-read and well-educated so that misinformation does not continue to spread.”

Of the books she has read, her favorite is Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. “It's about how people get ahead, Bill Gates and all those kinds of people. The reason why they became super successful is because they had the opportunities given to them. So it just shows that you need opportunities to be successful. You have to find a champion, find someone who's going to help you get ahead in life, and that's why networking is really important, I think, and it's just a really interesting, thought-provoking book that I had to read for one of my classes [in college]. It changed my perspective on the American dream and how the American dream is only achievable if you know somebody or have someone who can give you that opportunity.”

She recommends studying abroad in college, something she regrets not doing. “I mean, I've traveled a lot since then. But I would have loved to spend at least like six months somewhere else in the world.”

Her travels have led her to a number of different countries and historical sites, her favorite being the Yucatan. “I loved the Mayan pyramids. You can climb up and you're over the tapestry of the trees and you’re way up and it's just the most magical experience. Europe, of course, is incredible and amazing. But I have to say I think the Yucatan outside of Cancun was my favorite.”

“I love [teaching]. I couldn't see myself in any other profession. I really couldn't.”

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