It’s that time again where we get to know a little more about the inspirational people around campus in our University of St. Francis family. Welcome to Gio’s “Idols of Inspiration” where I interview various members of staff, students, and professors from all over the USF campus. After getting to know a bit about the delightful Leslie Mayo, this time we are speaking to someone with the mind in politics. My guest for this week is someone that is passionate, wise and positively quite the character when it comes to discussing or learning about anything in the political world. This person is known for her very down to earth personality, history of political events and presidents and for having great discussions and informative debates in class. But above all, this person always enjoys having a quick chat during lunch,with her chicken noodle soup from Jitters Coffee Shop in downtown Joliet.
Any guesses coming to mind? If you guessed the “USF Political Legend Firebrand” Julie Victa, Professor of Political Science here at USF, then your correct! Professor Victa is a very spirited person when it comes to politics, she knows everything from President FDR to Reagan, Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump. Her admiring welcoming and laid-back personality allows students to feel at ease, valued and trusting to ask any questions during deep political discussion and lecture, which gives us as students the opportunity to learn more about interesting political facts. It’s also great to mention that Victa’s class assignments are philosophically intriguing and memorable, you can tell she genuinely loves her job teaching. Her Mission: “To inspire students to greater heights and achievements.”
Giovanni Alvarado: Are you married or have a spouse?
Julie Victa: I have a wonderful husband named “Virgilio,” but most call him “Vic” for short. Some may not know but he’s actually Filipino, it’s how I got the interesting last name as “Victa.” We have been married for 28 years but been together for 30. It’s been a long time when you look at it, but they have really been the best years of my life with him.
GA: What made you want to work here and be a part of the USF community?
JV: I always wanted to teach but they offered me the job. (laughs) I remember coming straight out of grad school, I went to practice and to my surprise was hired after that. It was my first job out of grad school and since then have been very blessed to have such fate.
GA: How many years have you worked here?
JV: As I look back, I almost can’t believe it, but its been 28 years already that I have worked here. Its been a very fulfilling experience and learning opportunity for me, we should never forget that we don’t ever stop learning and growing when it comes to rich and meaningful experiences.
GA: Have any things changed over your 28 years here at USF?
JV: The campus has changed greatly in the past 28 years; we have 3 campuses now aside from the main one. Like St. Claire on Plainfield Road and St. Bonaventure in downtown Joliet, where I have my office and teach. Another major change for me I guess would be that I have a big office now compared to when I used to be in a little dorm room as an office. It was like the size of a shoebox! But the nice thing about it was that it had its own little exclusive bathroom, that was cool. Over time, I actually fell in love with the downtown campus, its more relaxing and more spacious for me to work and organize.
I also enjoy decorating my office with some political campaign pins, stickers and pictures of past presidential elections and their candidates. Aside from my passion and interest in politics, I want my students who come to visit me to see this as a canvas for their potential future and what they can aspire to be and possibly say to themselves, “One day I want to run for president.” I want them to always aim high and tell themselves that “if these guys can achieve anything, like the highest office in the land, then I can too.” Students come and go, its bittersweet and is always changing, but its great getting to know so many inspiring students over the years and now. I know they will be and do great things in their future careers whatever they pursue.
GA: What is the best part of working here for you, what has inspired you most?
JV: I love working with students, I love my students and love teaching. It really is my passion and drive. I always knew I loved teaching because I remember when I taught my first class when I was in graduate school and immediately it just clicked. And I actually thought that “violins should play,” you know like in a movie when someone discovers something. It was like instant, (snaps fingers), I thought, “well I’m really good at this,” and so I loved it ever since. But that’s what I like doing best, I like teaching. I also enjoy being around with my colleagues time to time, we have a really nice department here.
GA: What is your own personal mission while working here?
JV: Take this from “A Man For All Seasons” by Thomas Moore. On one point, this guy named Richard Rich, comes to Thomas Moore and says “He’s gonna be a teacher” and he says back “umm…I don’t know if I want to do this. Who would know, who would know?” And Thomas Moore says “You, your students, and God. Not a bad audience that.” That’s my mission and favorite quote. (Smiles)
GA: Any hobbies, talents, or interesting things people may want to know more about you?
JV: I love to travel, read and explore all around Chicago. But you know, me and my husband enjoy going out and trying all kinds of exotic foods. Our animals to us are our pride and joy as well, we have a cat now, but we have also had dogs too.
GA: What is your favorite movie film and who is your favorite musical artist or song?
JV: Dr. Strangelove would have to be my favorite movie. You know, “How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb.” That’s a great movie I enjoyed. But I also love the Godfather series, but just Godfather 1 and 2, not 3! I hate 3. I like Pulp Fiction too, really great movie to watch as well. As far as favorite musical artist, I enjoy all of Michael Bublé’s music, very classy and unique. But Queen and Freddie Mercury from the old days are great and Led Zeppelin, they're kind of fun. Recently, my friend Yvonne introduced me to her music collection, because she likes rap, I have developed an affection for Biggie Smalls.
GA: What is one thing you want to see change in the world?
JV: With all due respect and honesty, I want a new presidential administration in the White House, I want to see the Mueller report published in full completely. I respect all people’s views in politics but this is just to me personally.
GA: What is one inspirational quote that you would like to share to people reading this?
JV: Well I would have to say that Thomas Moore quote I Mentioned earlier, it’s definitely one of my favorites.
As you can see, Professor Victa cares a lot about her students and their well being and future success. How many of us can say we have met someone with her vocation, while making learning enjoyable and fulfilling for us the students. She doesn’t just see her job as just “teaching” but to give informative lessons with true facts, passion and inspiration of seeing ourselves in a brighter light in the near future. She’s quite the character and role model for us all. If you ever get a chance to get Victa as your professor, you won’t regret it. Take it from personal experience, she makes political science fun and very intriguing.
Images Courtesy of Giovanni Alvarado