Beatriz “Betty” Valencia, a third-year Ph.D. in Education student, is running for Orange City Council. The following is based on a speech she gave at Chapman’s Town & Gown October 2018 Lunch at the Forum
Let me share a little bit about myself. I am the last of 12 children, with seven brothers and four sisters. I didn’t grow up with a lot of resources. In fact, I didn’t even graduate from high school. But I fought for my education. I eventually got two associate’s degrees from Rancho Santiago Community College and then went on to Cal State Fullerton. There I earned my bachelor’s in communications with a cross-cultural and intercultural emphasis because I needed to know more about you and more about me. Later, I went on to earn a master’s in organizational communication in New Mexico.
I know what it’s like to work hard, but I also know what it’s like to be part of a community. Chapman University is a key part of my community.
I work in finance; that’s my day job. I didn’t think I’d return to school, but in 2016 something fundamentally changed me. I am a leader in my organization, but I felt I needed more and I wasn’t giving everything that I could. I didn’t know where to go, so I went back to education. I looked at very diverse organizations and stumbled into Chapman University, thinking “Could this be the place for me?”
When I came to the Attallah College of Educational Studies, I thought I would continue learning the way I had at previous universities, which was really to repeat what I already knew. That isn’t Chapman. Chapman has taught me to be me. Chapman said it was okay to bring in all the parts of my experience and my journey. For me, this is where leadership for change started to take shape.
What does leadership look like for someone like me? How do I become a leader in the community? How do I take everything that I’m learning now and everything that I’ve been exposed to and bring it to my community?
I wasn’t thinking about running for office — I’m not a politician. But in April 2018 I said, “Yes.” I didn’t think twice because I knew our community needed someone like me.
The education that I’ve received in the Attallah College has been transformational. If it wasn’t for spaces like Chapman, if it wasn’t for the openness of its staff, mentors, professors, and students, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
With the right direction and the right support, a life can change. I said yes, but it was because I had my community behind me.
Win or lose, the outcome of this election is not the end goal. What’s important is the idea that someone like me is can make a difference. Someone like me has to lead the way, because you can’t be what you can’t see. I didn’t see anyone that looked like me. I didn’t see anyone running that had the perspectives that I have. And I got tired of waiting.
Chapman encourages its students to see beyond these walls and get out of the classroom, to give of themselves to make the world a better place.
John Dewey said that you train a monkey, but you develop a person. That is what Chapman is doing, and that is what leadership looks like. That is what Chapman’s Attallah College of Educational Studies has taught me.
Display Image at Top: Betty Valencia giving the welcome speech at Chapman’s recent Dolores Huerta event