Vikki Valenzuela '76, M.A. '96 is a proud Loyola Marymount University alumna, earning two degrees from the university. After receiving her bachelor's degree in Liberal Arts, she began her career as a Spanish teacher at St. Bernard High School in Playa del Rey, where she taught for five years. When she became a mother she decided to leave the classroom to focus more on her family, but still tutored students from home.
In 1993, once Vikki had returned to the classroom, a close friend expressed her interest in pursing an advanced degree, which sparked Vikki's own interest in returning to school to earn a master's degree. Having thoroughly enjoyed her undergraduate experience at LMU, a master's degree in bilingual and bicultural education from the School of Education was an easy decision. In the eyes of Vikki and her husband, going back to school was an investment in their family's future.
Her experience within the School of Education was both rewarding and challenging. She said that getting her graduate degree was, "the hardest thing I've ever done. Vikki is grateful for her support from family, friends, and School of Education faculty, in particular Dean Shane Martin, Fr. Al Koppes, Vicki Graf and Magaly Lavadenz. As an older student, she believes this was an advantage, helping her to succeed by being more committed to her work and having a great deal of experience to draw from.
Today Vikki serves as the Modern Language Chair and teaches Spanish at Marymount High School in Los Angeles. This is her 22nd year at the school. On the strong connection between Marymount High School and LMU, she says, "The Jesuit and Marymount traditions are so prevalent in the daily life of both institutions, particularly the commitment to lifelong learning and social justice.
Vikki believes that she would not be where she is at Marymount High School if not for her Loyola Marymount University education. Her biggest reward is the positive impact she has on her students. More than anything else Vikki is pleased when she runs into former students and they tell her, "I still use my Spanish!
Vikki also knows the importance of scholarship support and is very appreciative of the scholarship she received as an undergraduate and graduate student. "I believe it's important to give back and help today's students become tomorrow's leaders. Education is the best way to advance our society. We need to support our educators because that is how we preserve our future.
In her free time, Vikki is an avid runner and recently started running half marathons with her children.