Vanessa Velasquez: Marketplace Profile
FOREVER GRATEFUL TO THE VENTURA COLLEGE MARKETPLACE
Vanessa Velazquez feels she owes a lot to Ventura College – as well as the Ventura College Foundation’s Weekend Marketplace.
After graduating from Santa Paula High School, Vanessa began working as the Marketplace Assistant for the Ventura College Foundation’s Weekend Marketplace, which provides the people of Ventura with local crafts, produce and goods every weekend while also helping fund the Foundation’s overhead and student support programs – and therefore, students like Vanessa.
While on the job, Vanessa received the boost in experience and confidence that comes with working closely with hundreds of vendors. She also learned about the many helpful programs and grants offered by the Foundation, thanks to her supervisor, Esmeralda Juarez.
Thanks to the Ventura College Promise and Dr. Joyce Mason Evans Annual Scholarship, Vanessa was able to become a first-generation college student, making her Manzanillo, Mexico-born, middle-school educated parents Temo and Maria extremely proud – and setting the stage for her to give back to her own California community as an educator.
“My parents have been my biggest supporters,” says Vanessa. “They’ve been there for me through smiles and tears. Every time I fall back, they’re always there to hold me back up so I can stand on my own two feet.”
Now 20 years old, Vanessa has done a fantastic job of that on her own, earning her associate degree in sociology while graduating with honors from Ventura College. She’s currently a junior at Channel Islands University and extremely excited about her ultimate life goal of teaching high school in the community she proudly calls home. That fire was lit in full during a Ventura College class taught by Professor Lauri Moore.
“I was enrolled in other classes, but nothing made my heart happier than being in a classroom and seeing Professor Lauri Moore talk about sociology,” recalls Vanessa. “When I enrolled and finished my first sociology class, I began to unwrap something that was folded in my heart, and it was helping and teaching others. Now I’m following my dream of becoming a high school teacher. I want to be able to be that teacher who changes a student’s life.”
While earning her sociology degree, Vanessa also took advantage of the Foundation’s David P. Bianco Textbook Lending Library, which allows students to check out up to three textbooks a semester for free, and the Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS) program. She credits the EOPS program and her counselor, Kenya Ramirez, for helping her achieve her degree and transfer in two years.
“She guided me towards the correct path and made sure I was receiving all the help I could get,” explains Vanessa. “Attending Ventura College was definitely, with 100-percent honesty, the best decision I have ever made in my life.”
Vanessa also realizes the immense and life-changing value provided by the Ventura College Foundation donors.
“I have benefitted from the support of the donors from the Foundation in every aspect of my life,” says Vanessa. “They have made a huge contribution in keeping my place in the education system and achieving my goals. My mom told me to always be thankful and give thanks to anyone that helps me. I extended my hand for help and the Foundation was there for me. Thanks to them, I will push forward in achieving my dreams because of their saying, ‘Your dreams. Our mission.’ I love Ventura College!”