NDS Class of: 2007
High School: Dominican Class of 2011
College: Marquette University
Family Origin: Leon, Guanajuato Mexico
Quote: “Notre Dame in itself was my home away from home.” – Quote from Valeria
Valeria Navarro-Villegas was born and raised in Leon, Guanajuato Mexico. At the age of seven, Valeria along with her mother and sisters immigrated to the United States to reunite with her father who had already lived in Milwaukee for two years. Her transition to a whole new life was extremely hard the first three years, especially learning the English language. When she enrolled at Notre Dame Middle School, at the age of ten, her life began to make more sense. The school was perfect for Valeria. It provided excellent educators who had the patience and dedication to help students like herself; students who were first generation and whose families came to America for a better quality for life. Her first year at Notre Dame, as a fifth grader, was instrumental to Valeria’s educational development. “I remember vividly how behind I was in my reading and writing skills prior to starting school at NDMS, but once I began school here I noticed a big improvement. Within a year I was able to not only catch up to my grade level, but excel past it”. What Valeria truly found special about Notre Dame was the opportunity that she had to continue learning in her native language. The Spanish class that was and is still offered at Notre Dame provided a sense of security and a piece of home, a home that she dearly missed. “Notre Dame in itself was my home away from home. It was four crucial, significant, and life changing years. I am forever grateful for the support that I received from every single individual that worked in the school while I was a student there”. The principal, the teachers, the after school program, and the graduate support program were transformative and a base to her current success as a student. “I give credit to Notre Dame and specifically the graduate support program for my success in high school. Every time I needed a tutor for biology, chemistry, or trigonometry the Notre Dame always had someone willing to help”. When the time came for Valeria to apply to colleges, the graduate support program was there every step of the way. “I remember thinking I wouldn’t be able to go to college, at least not the schools of my choice, but Notre Dame helped my dream come true. I knew my chances at the time of going to a university were slim”. Valeria knew that tuition was too expensive and she could not receive any federal aid. However, thanks to the support of NDMS she was a great candidate for the Urban Scholars program at Marquette University. If it were not for the mentors that Notre Dame provided Valeria’s academic record would not have excelled enough to have been awarded the Urban Scholars Scholarship in 2011. “I cherish every memory I have created with Notre Dame during my time there, during my high school career, and during my time at Marquette. No matter how much time passes the connection I have with Notre Dame will always be there”.