Skip to main content

Alumni Profile: Michelle Sandoval Villegas

Last Updated on November 25, 2019 at 12:00 AM

Originally published November 25, 2019

By UC Staff

UTEP Communications

Michelle Sandoval Villegas said earning her bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at El Paso changed her life. The first-generation college graduate has since used the lessons learned during her time on campus to change the lives of others. That is evidenced by the news this fall that she was named the 2019-20 Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year. Michelle, who teaches math at Parkland Pre-Engineering Middle School, said she hopes she can inspire students to pursue their dreams just as she has.

Name: Michelle Sandoval Villegas

Current job title: 8th grade math teacher 

Company/Organization: Parkland Pre-Engineering Middle School, Ysleta Independent School District, YISD

Year graduated from UTEP: December 2009

Degree earned and major: Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies with a specialization in EC-4

Were you the first in your family to earn a college degree? Yes! I am extremely proud of this! 

From what high school did you graduate and when? Parkland High School in 2005

What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career so far? My greatest accomplishment was when I earned the 2019-20 Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year honor in October 2019! This recognition humbled me. The best part is that my accomplishment inspires students who live in the neighborhood where I grew up to know that anyone could achieve their dreams if they set their mind to it. I am gratified to see how proud my students are to see how the state honored a teacher from their school and their neighborhood.

How did your time at UTEP help you in your current job? The rigor of UTEP's education curricula and the assistance of the math faculty and advisers prepared me for the “real world” inside a classroom. The work I did as a student teacher equipped me for my own classroom. I learned to plan lessons, manage students and develop professionally.

What is the most important thing you learned at UTEP? The most important things I learned at UTEP were to value the diversity in the classroom, to understand that you cannot control who walks into a classroom, but you can influence who walks out of it, and that teaching is a hard profession that offers many rewards. 

What advice would you give your freshman self? I would tell my freshman self to breathe, relax, and enjoy the year. I would tell myself to breathe whenever I felt overwhelmed, especially during finals week. I would tell myself to relax during the tough classes because the learning and struggle would be worth it. I would tell myself to enjoy the year because college is such an amazing opportunity to try new things, meet and network with new people, and to grow as an individual.

What is/was your favorite place on campus? My favorite place on campus was the University Library because it held so much history, and those study rooms were the BEST on campus.

What is your best UTEP memory? My best UTEP memory was how proud my parents were of me on graduation day because I was the first in my family to graduate from college. My degree changed my life.

What is/was your favorite UTEP event, and why? My favorite UTEP events were the opening of the different art exhibits in the Union Gallery and the shows and activities in the Union Breezeway. I loved seeing the different cultures on our campus.

Why do you feel it is important for alumni to give back to the University? UTEP is a university like no other. UTEP is a respected research university that attracts faculty, staff and students from around the world. Alumni support will help educate future generations of professionals in all fields who will serve El Paso and communities beyond the Paso del Norte region.