Susana Villagomez: Role Model and an Inspiration to Students
As a first-generation college graduate from the South Side of Chicago, Susana Villagomez knows the meaning of hard work. After graduating from Loyola in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Villagomez stayed to complete her M.Ed/Ed.S in school psychology.
Now, in addition to her full-time job as a school psychologist at a community high school in West Chicago, Villagomez is among the first students in Loyola’s new doctoral program in school psychology. Here, she talks about what she enjoys most about her job and why Loyola was a perfect fit for her.
What is the most rewarding part of being a school psychologist for you?
For me, it’s very personal. I work in a school with a high population of Hispanics, and I like to share my story with students. I grew up in Little Village and saw a lot of gang violence and things like that. So it’s rewarding when kids are interested to know how I got where I am.
I’m realistic with my students. I know what’s out there—there’s peer pressure and drugs and things like that. They say, “My family can’t afford college,” and I say, “Mine, couldn’t either, but there’s money out there, and it’s your job to find it.” I feel proud of being able to be a role model for the Hispanic population there.
I’m also really passionate about kids with Down syndrome and intellectual disabilities. I have a sister with cerebral palsy. She’s nonverbal and in a wheelchair and lives at home with us. I grew up seeing my parents have to navigate the world of special education. It’s a lot of paperwork and a lot of information. It’s a benefit being on the other side of the table and relating to the parents of kids with disabilities.
How do you feel your experience at Loyola has been unique?
Going to Loyola was one of the best decisions I ever made. When I compared other programs, Loyola offered a really good variety of classes. It looked like a lot of work, but I knew coming in that there was a reason for that.
Just as in undergrad, I felt that my professors were always there to help me and were willing to work with me. They not only taught me what I needed to learn in terms of psychology, but I really benefitted from professors taking time to go over study strategies. I think it was really significant that they thought it was important that we learn those skills.
What do you hope to get out of the program?
I’m hoping the program opens more doors in the field of education—but also in the mental health profession—so that I can help students be successful. In the past three years, there’s been a big rise in mental illness in kids as young as eighth grade.
I’m hoping to be able to reach out to those families. I’m also fascinated when I get to go to conferences and hear other people talk about their work. That’s something I would like to do as well. In addition, I would like to focus on the bilingual population.
Learn more about the Ed.D in school psychology.
More Featured Stories
QuinlanWhen Quinlan professors deliver, they deliver—and Michael Hewitt knows how to do that better than just about anyone else. Hewitt, an assistant professor of supply chain management at Quinlan, is leading new research to help companies decrease shipping times in order to increase profits.
SustainabilityLoyola is ranked No. 4 on the Sierra Club’s 2014 list of the greenest colleges in America. The annual rankings are designed to spotlight universities that are deeply committed to environmental responsibility.
Helping othersFour Loyola graduate students were recently selected for the prestigious Albert Schweitzer Fellowship program and will spend the next year working on healthcare-related projects to help underserved communities in Chicago.
What’s next?In today’s economy, recent college graduates face fierce competition for jobs. These three members of the Class of 2014, however, were able to stand out from the crowd and find full-time jobs.
VideosThe service of faith and the promotion of justice is the mission of the Society of Jesus. Our 2014 Founders’ Dinner awards recipients are among the best and brightest examples of living out these Jesuit ideals.
Continuing StudiesAfter getting married and having a child, Gazala Momin put aside her studies to raise her son and work part-time. A few years ago, she returned to college—and she recently graduated with her bachelor’s degree.
In the labKeith Jones, PhD, and his research team at Loyola are working to develop an “immortal line” of breast cancer cells, which could one day be used by researchers to help fight the deadly disease.
CommunityIn honor of the Feast of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, more than 100 Loyola faculty and staff volunteered at the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels in West Humboldt Park and at Misericordia on the north side of Chicago.
AcademicsLoyola is one of just 283 universities to have a Phi Beta Kappa chapter, a claim that only about 10 percent of the nation’s colleges can make.
In the newsLoyola’s Information Commons joins an elite group of peers on Business Insider’s list of the “coolest” college libraries in the country.
ExploreThe Institute of Environmental Sustainability combines academics and research with agriculture and community living—all in one facility.
Damen CenterThe Damen Center was designed from top to bottom with students in mind, making it the center of social life on Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus.