Thursday, May 26, 2016

Mother the Picture of Sacrifice for WAIS Graduate

Daniel Villagomez knows sacrifice. He even knows what it looks like.

“Sacrifice. I’ve gotten to know it so well,” Villagomez said. “My mother – this is what sacrifice is.”

His mother – a single mom with four kids – put three of those kids through private school St. Mark’s Lutheran for elementary and middle school, then sent Villagomez’s older siblings through another private school for high school.

And it was his mother who found Westchester Academy of International Studies and knew that it, not the other private high school, was the right fit for Villagomez – it was public and had rigorous academics and other opportunities.

Those opportunities didn’t include sports, something of an initial issue for Villagomez who had been active in athletics at St. Mark’s. “I missed sports but I’ve managed,” he said.

How? By completing an International Baccalaureate (IB) Career certificate, becoming certified in 3D animation at the Guthrie Center -- and by finishing high school as a salutatorian after narrowly missing valedictorian.

Doing the IB Career diploma allowed Villagomez to go to the Guthrie Center to study 3D animation for four years.

“It’s not 100 percent what an IB diploma is, but I do have the career piece,” he said. “And if the certificate doesn’t do what I think it will, I still have the 3D animation (certificate).”

With no legacy to follow into WAIS, Villagomez waited out the lottery system and waiting list, being notified in the summer before he started ninth grade that he’d been accepted.
“I knew one person (at WAIS),” he said. “But even if I hadn’t known anybody I would have been fine. That’s why I love Westchester.” Noting his recent election as prom king he added, “I guess that shows I’ve met a few people here (at WAIS).”

He plans to study mechanical engineering at Texas A&M – “I’ve always liked machines,” he said – and is sure about venturing into Aggieland as an undergraduate. Once again, he’s breaking family tradition – his older brother recently graduated from Concordia University in Austin and his sister currently attends the same school.

Still, he said his brother and sister and their college careers are big influences in his life.

His mom, a surgical scrub technician with a technical degree, is working on her bachelor’s degree to become a registered nurse but put those plans on hold while her kids are in college.

“My mom is constantly moving up the ladder for us,” said Villagomez. “I have no problem saying that she’s an incredible woman.”

Rusty Graham


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