Outstanding graduate: Josselin Villagran Lopez, Orthopaedic Hospital Medical Magnet High School

Posted by ELLEN MATSUMOTO MORGAN on 5/24/2019 7:00:00 AM

Silent No Longer, She Will Take Her Powerful Voice to Cal Berkeley

Josselin Villagran Lopez  Incredibly quiet, shy and introverted as a child Josselin Villagran Lopez lacked self-confidence.  She chose to stop speaking in class in elementary school.

“The fear of public judgement first started in third grade when I was yelled at a teacher for not speaking English fluently enough. As a Hispanic-American, I had grown up speaking Spanish at home and therefore had to adopt English at school.  I remember the teacher telling me that I was ‘stupid’ for not knowing what should have been my native language,” she recalled.

“Though I did eventually master English, I still carried with me the weight of her demeaning words for so long that they eventually turned into an oppressive fear,” Josselin said. “It was so stifling that I couldn’t even ask future teachers for help when I needed.”

A middle-school teacher did not wait to be asked for help.  Worried about Josselin’s silence, the teacher consulted her parents.  Her father responded that Josselin had a bright mind but she chose to deprive others of it through her silence. Motivated by the genuine concern of her parents and teacher, she began working to find her voice.

“I began to take advantage of programs that would help me overcome this challenge,” Josselin said. 

During an internship at the California Science Center, she made presentations to large, diverse crowds, about how various aspects of science relate to the world around us. She developed lesson plans, and taught children.

 At the Orthopaedic Hospital Medical Magnet High School, in addition to excelling in Advanced Placement classes, she became a member of the National Honor Society, joined the Academic Decathlon honors team and competed against other high school students. A member of the Girls Build LA club, she organized events and made presentations to the entire school. She gained a mentor in the College Bound Club. In the Skills to Success Club, she specifically worked on ways to improve her communication skills.

“Through experiences like these, I came to realize that our voices wield power.”

Silent no longer, Josselin will attend University of California, Berkeley.