A Colleague Profile
Valerie Venegas, Director
of Student Activities
We all know Valerie through the fine work she does with student leaders in her capacity as Director of Student Activities. Yet, there is another facet to this professional, highly energetic woman.
Valerie was honored by the Boy Scouts of America with one of Scouts’ highest honors, the Silver Beaver Award, on March 10th at the Annual Recognition Banquet. The Silver Beaver Award is the council-level distinguished service award of the Boy Scouts. Recipients of this award are registered adult leaders, who have made an impact on the lives of youth through service given to the council. It is an award given to those who implement the Scouting program and perform community service through hard work, self sacrifice, dedication and many years of service. It is given to those who do not actively seek it.
Valerie became a Scouter in Canyons District in 2002. Her sons expressed an interest in joining Cub Scouts after coming home with a flyer from their elementary school. Since then, Valerie has held positions from Cub Master to Venturing Crew Advisor, Cub Commissioner and Merit Badge Counselor. She has chaired the District Dinner Committee. She currently serves as the District Program Vice-Chair and District Venturing Commissioner. She is Wood Badge trained and received the District Award of Merit in the Canyons District. Recently, she was honored by becoming a Bronze Pelican recipient from the Diocese of Orange County Catholic Committee. She also was named the Orange County District Venturing Commissioner of the Year. As a Brotherhood member in the Order of the Arrow, Valerie commits to and enjoys “cheerful service.” Some of this service recently included helping decorate the Boy Scouts’ Rose Parade Float celebrating their 100th Anniversary and this summer she is traveling to Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia to volunteer for three weeks at the National Jamboree.
Outside of Scouting, Valerie has her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and course work in leadership development. She served as the Chair of the Santiago Middle School Charter Board, located in Orange, for two years and is currently a member. Valerie served as the PTA President at Prospect Elementary School for four terms, and is currently the PTA Treasurer. She is dedicated to volunteering at “Isaiah’s House,” a homeless shelter for women, guiding high school students in learning lifelong skills such as tolerance, sensitivity and empathy. Valerie is committed to teaching youth about the Catholic faith through Children’s Liturgy, Confirmation classes, and serving as a Religious Emblem Counselor.
Valerie and her husband, Joe Jr., have been married for 21 years. She has four children, Katherine, Joe III, Javier and Jarod. She delights in spending time with her grandson, Evan.
Valerie is a local Orange County gal. She attended Santa Ana High School and had her sights on becoming a music therapist, with the idea of working with handicapped children. She went on to attend Santa Ana College where she was the Associated Students President and Student Trustee. Like many students she had a difficult time making up her mind on what subject to study and jumped around between majors. She started as a music major, changed to communications and explored political science, finally deciding on sociology.
Valerie received her A.A. Degree from Santa Ana College. After graduation she began working for Senator Ed Royce, who is now a Congressman, which provided her an enriching experience in politics and the behind-the-scenes knowledge that she continues to use in her job today.
Valerie transferred to Long Beach State. While there, the position of Coordinator of Student Activities opened up at Santa Ana College. She applied, but at first did not get the job. One year later, though, the position opened again and she was hired. After three years at Santa Ana College, the position in Student Activities became available at GWC. She was hired in 1989 and has been here for 20 years.
We asked Valerie what her goals were for the position when she came to GWC.
“When I arrived at GWC the Student Activities program had a turnover of two or three advisors within five years. I felt the program needed direction, guidance and stability. I wanted to help the program grow and re-energize itself. One of my passions is to teach college students about the importance of being successful leaders, community activists, and stewards of their environment.”
What do you see as your greatest accomplishment in Student Activities to date?
“The biggest accomplishment would be the re-design and completion of the Student Center. This project took five years and nine months of hard work. This past February, the center celebrated its fifth anniversary of being open. THIS IS THE BENCH MARK PLACE FOR CAMPUS LIFE! We were fortunate in that we were the first project when the bond money from Measure C became available. The student body had invested $270,000 in getting architectural renderings state approved, prior to passage of the bond measure. We were ready to go forward when the funds became available.”
What is one thing you enjoy most about your position?
“Actually, there are two things I enjoy about being the Student Activities Director. First, the new student leaders that I get to work with every year. Each year is different and challenging. Second, I love the diversity we have in our student body. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to see students’ development leadership skills and grow in their talents. I get my energy from them.”
How have you been able to balance your responsibilities on campus and your home life?
“I am blessed to have a husband and children who understand my job responsibilities. They are not happy when I have to stay late, but accept this as part of my job. I survive by having a daily calendar and I take one day at a time. I’ve learned over the years that I can love my job, but I can’t give my whole soul to it! I have to find balance between work and family. Being involved in Boy Scouts with my three sons has provided us with a common thread; we are a stronger family for it.”