After high school graduation Robert Villarreal found himself staring into the ice-packed undercarriage of an automobile, an auto technician dodging droplets of melting snow filled with road salt, grime, and other unsavory debris. He was unhappy and knew something had to change.
The change arrived when Villarreal became a student in the IU School of Liberal Arts and discovered a new purpose-educating himself so he can educate others.
He found a passion for writing thanks to Professor Gail Bennett-Edelman’s W390 Writing for Social Change course. "W390 showed me how important rhetorical considerations are to writing, and how important the art of composition is to effective communication, no matter what the genre or subject matter," he says. "It showed me how one could write the same message using a variety of different words or sentence structures depending on the audience and purpose to elicit a certain response."
The course also gave him the opportunity to partake in a panel discussion alongside Professor Bennett-Edelman and two classmates at a March 2012 IUPUI conference titled "Weekend U: Changing the World through Social Entrepreneurship." The group’s panel, "Writing for Social Change: Tools for Persuasion," discussed the impact that writing can have on society. "It was the first time I had ever spoken in front of a group of people," he says, noting it as yet another moment of change.
Another change agent was Villarreal’s second major-philosophy-which has made him seek answers to tough questions and then write about his discoveries. This added to his passion for writing further solidified his desire to impact on others and, through them, society as a whole.
Villarreal wants teach writing and encourage future generations to discover their own answers, and to do so using teaching strategies that are just as innovative as those he has experienced. "I think if you can put course concepts into a context that students recognize, that will drive them to succeed," he says.
English lecturer Michael Hughes witnessed Villarreal’s effort in several classes, noting his leadership in group projects and helpfulness toward classmates with their work beyond the classroom. "He was self-motivated and went beyond what was expected in class," Hughes says. These traits helped Villarreal win the Rebecca E. Pitts Scholarship in Liberal Arts and the Sarah Jamison Keller Scholarship for English majors.
With his newly minted bachelor’s degree in hand, Villarreal is currently working as a technical writer at an Indianapolis-based automation manufacturer while he prepares to start grad school in the fall of 2014. Ushering in yet more change and challenge, Villarreal is ready to go out into the world and help others find their paths.
—By Steve Clear, Liberal Arts News Bureau—