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Major: Communication

Graduation Year: 2019

Hometown: Stockton 

return to Our Students


Teresa Bergman
Department Chair
3601 Pacific Avenue
Stockton, CA 95211

Olivia Villarreal

olivia villarreal

Stockton native Olivia Villarreal '19 transferred to University of the Pacific last fall after earning no fewer than six associate degrees over the past nine years along with a certificate in American Sign Language. "Everything I went into, I loved," says the 27-year-old communication major of her zeal for learning.   

Q: Why did you choose Pacific?

A: My counselor at Delta College was the one who pushed me to apply. I was actually applying to Sacramento State. He just asked me if I had ever considered applying (to Pacific) and I told him no because I didn't think my grade point average was good enough. My GPA was about a 2.83. I always had associated Pacific with high GPAs, so I thought my odds of getting in were extremely slim. He said because I was a local I should apply because UOP always wants local students.  

Q: Was it the correct decision in retrospect?

A: It felt right when I had orientation. Right away I met with my student adviser, my faculty adviser ─ my whole academic career was already established the first day before I even got my student ID. I knew what classes I needed to take; my whole two years were already planned out. Before you even register at UOP, you have to see a counselor and they go over your entire schedule.  

Q: How did you settle on a major in communication?

A: I had a (community college) professor who taught speech advocacy. It's basically a debate class. And you had to go in front of the class on the first day and speak for as long as you can without filter words ─ your ums, your buts, your 'pausers.' I went up there and spoke for, like, five minutes and that's when he commented I was a great speaker and I was really persuasive with my tone of voice ─ one of those natural speakers.   

Q: Is there any class within the major that you particularly enjoy?

A: I really enjoyed public relations just because I feel like if I were to go into PR, I wouldn't be sitting behind a desk. Hearing what guest speakers do, they're typically not sitting behind a desk every day. I would actually be more community involved, giving speeches, speaking on behalf of my company. Also, you have to have a sense of creativity, and I'm a creative person so that satisfies that part of me.  

Q: Is there a professor you find especially inspirational? A: Teresa Bergman. She's really passionate about the topics she teaches and that has made me interested in subjects that I never thought I'd be interested in. She films documentaries, she knows how to operate a camera. I've always been interested in film, and I have a class where I'm actually going to make a documentary on celebrity culture and how it influences people to vote.  

Q: What's your favorite memory of Pacific?

A: I got my acceptance note through email. I was on my last break at work and saw that I had an email message from University of the Pacific. I just figured it was (about) something I didn't do for my application (but) it said, 'Congratulations! You've been accepted into College of the Pacific Communication Department.' I felt really accomplished. My mom worked with me and I was able to show her the email. We both cried and hugged. It was a really happy moment. Also, this past summer I received an additional scholarship for $12,000. I got my financial aid packet and wasn't satisfied with it, so I went to the financial aid office and told them my situation and they were just amazing. They told me about a scholarship that they would be applying for on behalf of me. My classmates just settled for their package and didn't take the steps that I did to get more. If you do reach out to them, they will go above and beyond for you.  

Q: What are your career plans?

A: Human Relations. I worked for a company during (community college) and they didn't have a HR department. I felt like we didn't have a voice. If an employee is having a disagreement with the company I would like to be that voice (for the person), look at it from both sides and try to find a common ground. Also, at some point in my life I would love to be a professor.  

Q: Do you have any advice for incoming Pacific students?

A: I always emphasize how the professors are there to help you. Get to know your professors. It's probably one of my favorite things about Pacific, being able to communicate with my professors. If you can't make their set times (office hours) you just shoot them an email. I've had professors create office hours for me just so I can talk to them about my concerns, and I don't think I've ever had to wait 24 hours for a professor to email me back.