By Kierra Whitaker, The Whetstone
Passionate. Humble. A feminist.
That is how Dianne Villar, new Title IX Coordinator, 41, describes herself.
Passionate about her work and students. Humbled by her childhood. And a feminist through supporting women.
“I like to think I am Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” she said. Ginsburg is the second woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court. “She is a strong woman I idolize,” she said.
Behind Villar’s desk hangs an abstract picture of a woman colored in brown, black and gold. On the wall to the right, a purple and gold University of Albany poster catches the eye.
Villar is one of seven and the first to attend college. She grew up in Yonkers, N.Y.
“A lot of first generation (college students) came from my area,” she said.
The University at Albany, State University of New York, a predominantly white college, was a culture shock for her.
By her growing up in a minority neighborhood, a predominantly white college was different for her.
“I did not know much about college,” she said, “everything was new to me.”
Money was her biggest obstacle.
“I had a block on my account that I knew about but did not understand, so I could not move in,” she said.
A worker in the business office helped her get everything straight.
“I gave whatever I had,” she said. “She made sure I had money to buy books.”
Freshman year was tough for her but she told herself one thing that would get her through college.
“If I can make it through freshman year, I am finishing,” she said.
Money remained a problem.
“I had worked three jobs and became a student leader,” she said.
Before her senior year in college, she found a deeper reason to graduate. Her mother died the summer before she graduated.
“She was my biggest cheerleader,” she said.
She graduated on Mother’s day that following year. “For you, mom,” was written on her graduation cap.
Villar said she had other dreams when she was young.
She once wanted to be a lawyer, but was drawn to social work and human services in college.
“I am still trying to work with the law in some way,” she said of her job. “Title IX is all about the law.”
She said her job is to advocate for students.
“It is my job to teach them rules and make sure they have equal rights,” she said.
Chris Willis, director of residence life, said she is a great addition to Student Life.
“Dianne comes to Wesley with a great deal of experience,” he said. “She is a hard worker with a passion to work with students. I am excited to have he as a colleague.”
Senior Elijah Tinson said Villar gives Wesley a fresh start at Title IX.
“You can go to her for anything,” he said. “She looks very determined.”
Villar said she loves that Wesley is a small institution so she can work with students better.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world,” she said, quoting Margaret Mead. “Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”