c/o Itzel Valdez

c/o Itzel Valdez

Over the last four years, Itzel Valdez ’23 has learned to find beauty in learning about the unfamiliar. Whether she’s studying the American public school system for her capstone project, exploring the world of Korean drumming, or practicing yoga, Valdez approaches new skills and knowledge with a smile. Valdez sat down with The Argus to talk about her experience running on the cross-country and track and field teams, exploring her various interests, and keeping a positive attitude. 

The Argus: What major are you pursuing?

Itzel Valdez: I’m an economics and College of Education Studies major. I’m also minoring in the College of East Asian Studies. 

A: Can you tell me about the Education Studies major? 

IV: Freshman year, I took a class called “Schools in Society,” and that was the first introductory course to the Education Studies major. I just feel like having gone through the public school system my whole life, it is really impactful to [reflect] on my background in education and learn about the role education plays in the United States.

I think what’s unique about [the major] is when people think about Education Studies, they think about teaching or getting a degree to teach, but [the major] is more about thinking critically about the systems in the United States and answering the bigger question of “What is the purpose of education?,” especially since we’re going through the [education] system ourselves.

A: Your capstone project is for the College of Education Studies, right?

IV: Yes. I went to a public school in Los Angeles, so I decided to do a case study and look at intradistrict segregation. There’s already a lot of research about segregation between districts, but I wanted to do a deep dive into segregation within the district itself. I’ve been working on this project for the whole semester.

A: What else are you involved in?

IV: Throughout my four years, I think being part of the cross-country and track and field team[s] has been a big part of who I am. Running is a sport that I’ve really grown to love and enjoy and is something that will stick with me for the rest of my life. I also enjoy yoga and baking in my free time. 

A: What do you like about running?

IV: I think a lot of my favorite memories came from being with the girls on the team. We always had really great leadership, and I feel bonded with the girls.

A: How did you get into yoga?

IV: There was a class I took for the College of East Asian Studies where we learned about Buddhism, and yoga was a big part of the course. I just remember being so fascinated by the role and practice of yoga in Buddhism and so then I decided to try it out. I just love it. 

A: Do you have a favorite class? 

IV: There have been a lot of education classes that I have liked. I’m also a College of East Asian Studies minor, so I’ve taken Korean and Japanese drumming classes that I’ve really enjoyed. I just think it’s so important to learn about things that are unfamiliar to you. Taking the drumming class was something I’ve truly never had experience with, so it was super interesting. 

A: Is there anything on your senior year bucket list that you haven’t done yet?

IV: I want to sled down Foss. I remember freshman year was the first time I saw snow. During finals that year, my friend and I took a snow break, and we used trash can lids to sled down Foss Hill. It didn’t work that well, but it was crazy. It was the first and last time I’ve done it, so I feel like it would be good to start and end finals at Wesleyan with sledding.

A: What advice would you give to your freshman-year self?

 IV: Enjoy yourself. No matter how hard it is, it’s important to be positive and excited. I feel like especially during my freshman year, I would stay in my room a lot and be very negative. I would tell myself to take in the good and the bad because I think those experiences really make you who you are.

A: That’s beautiful. What are you most proud of accomplishing here?

IV: I’ve grown so much. I’m proud of how much personal growth I’ve gone through. I feel like I’m at a point where I’m just so happy and confident with myself and everything that I’m doing. I’m learning to go with the flow and do things that I love. It used to be about pleasing others and being this perfect student who is always on the move, but I think there’s also beauty in just stopping and taking everything in. I’m just so proud of the mindset that I have now.


This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

Lyah Muktavaram can be reached at lmuktavaram@wesleyan.edu.


Comments are closed