Spotlight Series: Antonio Villanueva

February 27, 2020

Marketing and Strategic Communications

Assistant Professor of Psychology, Antonio Villanueva, says his community drives him to be an advocate for people in helping them realize their potential. He does this for his students, but as Palo Alto College Faculty Senate president, he also gets to help his colleagues. 

In his role, Villanueva leads a group of faculty members in representing the interests of the faculty at both the College and District levels. Most recently, he worked with his colleagues to put together the first Palo Alto College Faculty Symposium, a professional development event for faculty which showcased faculty knowledge, provided enrichment, and promoted idea-sharing.

“It’s about building a better faculty for the benefit of students,” Villanueva said. “We make an impact not just in the lives of our students, but their families and the community.” 

Villanueva has been part of the Faculty Senate for several years, serving in various positions. While he enjoys his leadership role, he finds the most fulfillment in the classroom.

“I like listening to students and their stories,” Villanueva said. “I enjoy giving affirmation and encouraging them to achieve their dreams.”

Like many of his students, Villanueva is a first-generation college student. He is the youngest of seven children. His father stopped going to school after eighth grade and attained his GED years later, and his mother only attended school until third grade. It was a big deal for Villanueva to graduate from high school, and he didn’t grow up thinking about college. 

He remembers when he first left his home in the Rio Grande Valley to attend college at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio.

“I remember my dad saying to me, in Spanish, ‘Que Dios te ayude, porque yo no he vivido esa vida que estas viviendo,’” which roughly translates to, “May God help you because I have not lived that life that you are living.” 

Villanueva continued, “I think, to some extent, his heart was broken because he wanted to help me but couldn’t. It was his way of telling me I was in God’s hands.”

Now he is in a position to empower students by opening their eyes to what is possible for their lives.

“Palo Alto [College] has been a very special place for me,” Villanueva said. “It’s all about growth and development. Some students come here with big challenges and obstacles in their lives. I think we [faculty members] have a lot of responsibility, and we can really impact students in a big way.”

Though he often identifies with his students, his heart is with their parents as well.

“When I graduated from St. Mary's, I introduced my dad to some of my professors,” Villanueva said. “My dad would shake their hands and almost wanted to embrace them all. As if to say, ‘Thank you for taking care of my son and for teaching him.’ So, when I see the parents at graduation, it reminds me of my dad.”

As president of the Faculty Senate at the College, Villanueva serves the larger united Faculty Senate which is comprised of all the Alamo Colleges Faculty Senates and has served at Palo Alto College for roughly 20 years. Villanueva has also been involved in several advocacy organizations including National Council of La Raza and Valley Interfaith.