Valeria Villa, 18, learned Spanish and English during her childhood in Mexico before moving to northern Nevada in sixth grade. Upon entering Reed High School, Villa decided two languages just weren’t enough and began delving into French. Now in her final year of Advanced Placement French, Villa said she finds learning new languages to be an easier task than expected.
“I already speak Spanish, so knowing a second language and going into my third was really easy for me. It is something that comes really natural to me and something I am really interested in,” she said. “There are a lot of words that are really similar, and a lot of cultural points that kind of connect, and I can do my different accents from my Spanish experience.”
Villa said knowing Spanish as a young girl helped her develop various speaking techniques that are challenging to others, such as rolling ‘R’ sounds, and learning similar techniques in a new language come easily.
Villa has immersed herself in everything French at Reed. She is active in the French Club, completed several advanced French classes and even peer tutors first-year French students. She said aiding young French students reminds her just how far she has come in her language endeavors.
“Just last semester I peer tutored for French again and I love helping the first-year students and remembering what I did as a freshman and how it has evolved to what I am doing as a senior,” she said.
As her graduation day approaches, Villa said she will be keeping it local to attend the University of Nevada, Reno where she has already been accepted. Villa said she will continue to pursue language through a major in International Affairs and International Relations, and she plans to explore more uncharted languages during her tenure.
“I want to learn up to five languages,” she said. “That is my goal so I am going to take German at UNR and get a minor in German and in French. Eventually I want to be an ambassador because I am really interested in the government and in learning other languages so it kind of comes together.”
Villa said her inspiration to become an ambassador has not necessarily been a life-long dream, but one that has developed during her time at Reed. Villa, who admitted she wanted to be an “eye doctor without knowing the actual term” during her freshman year, said Reed’s 'We The People' government class played a major role in influencing her future.
“It is not something I have been thinking about doing all my life. I sort of went back and forth between all of these careers,” she said. “I knew nothing about the government last year or about different parties, and learning so much about the government, the constitution and the whole (We The People) program. I think that is what drove me to it. I also thought about being a lawyer to continue researching the government, but I want to be able to keep all of my languages and all of my cultural points that interest me.”
As hundreds of students look for post-graduation options to suit their needs, Villa said she remembers well the day she decided UNR provided the best fit for her future education.
“I did consider other schools, but I attended this convention a while ago that was for the International Relations program and they had ambassadors from other countries there,” she said. “I thought it was so interesting how they actually had a good program for it and they did have other languages I was interested in. That was the point where I decided to go to UNR.”
Villa understands that traveling will be a major part of her career upon receiving her degree, and said she would love to get the cultural experiences from other countries, but she would like to remain in Nevada for as long as possible.
In her time remaining at Reed, Villa said she is focused on maintaining a high GPA and completing lots college scholarship applications, saying “that is all I am doing right now. I am focused on graduation.”