One-time San Jose State University women's soccer player Amanda Villa was determined to graduate in May 2010. As a student-athlete, injuries were a major distraction and eventually led her to terminate her competitive playing career. However, she maintained her competitive drive. To graduate, she embarked on her heaviest class load of her college career to complete her liberal studies major.
Villa was a member of the 2004 through 2007 Spartans. The graduate of Notre Dame High in Belmont, Calif., had played soccer since the age of four and was especially proud to accept San Jose State's scholarship offer. Shortly after her acceptance, she suffered the first of a series of knee injuries that would eventually shorten her San Jose State playing career. Villa was concerned that San Jose State would back out of its offer, but that did not happen.
VALUING HER PLAYING CAREER
She redshirted her first season as a major college player. A diligent worker, Villa received the team's 2004 Circuit Award in recognition for her exceptional spirit as a Spartan. She was able to play a full season in 2005, but the knee injuries began accumulating after that leading to her stepping away from the sport.
"It (being on the team) was so much fun. I feel really blessed to have the opportunity to take part in it. San Jose State is largely a commuter school. I will always feel grateful I had, with athletics, an automatic community to belong to. With athletics, you were coming into a family and a camaraderie that is unparalleled. You can't find the same type of stuff," says Villa about her playing days.
A CAREER PATH AND ITS MEANING
Villa chose to major in liberal studies which she describes as a multi-disciplinary major. In large part, she credits liberal studies coordinator Susan Verducci for her academic success at San Jose State.
"...She (Verducci) made a huge difference for me. She always believed in me. She instilled a desire to continue learning and always had nice things to say about my capabilities and intelligence. I think she always respected an understood I was an athlete dealing with more than just the average student," says Villa, who has spent most of the last two years as a nanny to a pair of children now ages 9 and 11.
Looking ahead, she hopes to become a middle school teacher. Villa credits her sixth grade teacher, Brandy Vazquez, with the inspiration to pursue teaching. Middle school grades are particularly attractive to Villa, because she believes that lifelong habits are developed then.
"I believe it's a time when they make it or break it. That's when they decide if they're going to stay true to a straight-forward path, a betterment of their life, a dedication to school or go the other way. In middle school, I think that's when they decide what kind of person they will become," she says.
Amanda Villa wants to make a difference in the lives of youngsters. She took a big step towards that goal earning her bachelor's degree from San Jose State University.
More 2010 Graduation Stories
Eric Bulcholz, football - Earning A Family First
Karson Klauer, Corey Valine, Alex Sofranac, baseball - Standout Trio
Bridget McKee, water polo - University's Top Of The Class
90 Student-Athletes Eligible For Commencement