About the Author: Defeating the Odds
By María Luisa Villagómez Victoria
Growing up my father was rarely around, and my mother had to work long hours to provide for my four sisters and me. After my parents divorced, my mother decided that, in order to provide for us, it was best for my sisters and I to live with my grandmother in Mexico, so we moved. At the time, I was about 7 years old while my youngest sister was only a baby. In the meantime, my mother worked picking strawberries in the fields of Oxnard, California.
During that time, my father was in and out of jail for reasons unknown to me. As a single mom, my mother worked and sent money to my grandmother in Mexico to care for us. My grandmother was our angel on earth and one of my heroes. She loved us unconditionally.
Living away from my mother for almost eight years was one of the most difficult experiences of my life. My sisters and I missed her very much. At times, that memory still pains me.
Statistically, with the adversities with which life presented me, my future should have been very different. But I chose differently. I decided to improve my life for me, my family and for our community and society in general because if I’m well, so is my community. I was determined to defeat the odds.
Nonetheless, despite not having been raised for many years by my parents, my sisters and I had a wonderful childhood, thanks to my maternal grandmother. In fact, she is the inspiration behind one of my books: My Grandma.
Farmworkers, Small Towns and My Grandma, my recently self-published bilingual children’s books were inspired by my childhood memories. In part, they tell my story as a child and the story of many children who grew up away from their parents. Farmworkers is a tribute to the many Mexican immigrants who work very hard and long hours in the fields to provide for their families. It is an attempt to highlight their love for their families, whom they must leave back home often to care for them and offer them a better life. It is also an attempt to share with the world the tremendous work ethic Farmworkers exhibit and pass on to their children.
My Grandma is an admiration for my grandmother’s unconditional love and her dedication of her best years to raising me and my sisters and instilling in us simple but good values. Ultimately, My Grandma is an honor to my grandmother’s courage to love unconditionally. She provided us with security; a vital environment for all children. Small Towns is a compilation of childhood memories. This story takes place in many Mexican villages and many small towns around the world. It illustrates the daily routine of children who are raised in small communities. Small Towns reflects how a small, but unified community, offers a positive environment to the well-being of our children. While humble, the principles reflected in my books are imperative to the well-being of contemporary and forthcoming generations. Good work ethic, family love, a caring and safe environment and an optimistic attitude towards life can take one on a journey beyond the imaginable. Such values allowed me to defeat my odds, which I intend to pass on to my son.
María L. Villagómez Victoria is the first Mexican-American woman academic dean to be hired at Napa Valley College, a Hispanic-Serving Institution. She was hired as an administrator in 2016. Currently, she is the dean of language arts, library, and social sciences. Prior to becoming an administrator, Villagómez Victoria graduated from several local and statewide leadership programs. She has taught all levels of Spanish courses at NVC since 2000. Villagómez Victoria has volunteered at various organizations and has been a member of the board of directors of several organizations. Villagómez Victoria earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Spanish from California State University, Sacramento, and a master’s degree in education from Sonoma State University. More information is available on her website at: www.latina1blogger.com and at www.mariavillagomez.com.