When asked about how she balances being a biomedical engineering senior, the president of her sorority and being a go-getter at her own personal happiness, Angelina Villa muses on the recurring question with a shy laugh and an “I really don’t know.”
Growing up, Villa admits that she was thankful for the different upbringing that she was raised into.
“I was really close to my dad and he was really hands on with everything, he had just started trade school and everything he did was very computer and math oriented,” Villa said.
Her love for math and science was apparent, and her calling to dive into engineering came naturally.
However, Villa started off her college experience at San Jose State University with an aching sense of seclusion that kept reminding her of her home back in Sacramento.
“All of my family was together back home, and I was really lonely,” Villa said.
Coming from a family of five sisters, the bond shared between the young women was an important factor in her life.
Villa has found exactly what she needed to push her forward in her journey of not only being a female student in a male-dominated area of study, but as a student leader that has positively impacted the people around her.
To Villa, her “life is dedicated” to Alpha Omega Epsilon and the strong women that she has been able to cross paths with through her time being a part of the organization.
“I needed them, I needed this group of girls,” Villa said.
The organization is a professional and social sorority that aims to unite and empower young women who wish to become successful professional engineers and technical scientists.
Villa learned about the organization through a simple conversation with a few girls from one of her general education classes, and she immediately fell in love with everything that it stood for.
“A lot of us are some of the only females in our classes, being one of the three or four girls out of a class of 60, so it’s nice to have this group,” mechanical engineering senior mechanical engineering major Denise Butler said.
At the time of her recruitment, Alpha Omega Epsilon in San Jose State was in the process of being recognized as a chapter affiliated to the national board.
Villa is one of the founders of the organization’s Beta Upsilon chapter on campus, which received its’ approval just recently in 2017.
“I was involved in leadership throughout high school and I wanted more leadership roles,” Villa said.
She served as the vice president of the chapter last year before taking on her current role as president.
Her motivation only continued to grow from there as her time in the organization exposed her to an array of different opportunities.
Villa hosted from hosting professional events, wentgoing on company tours and learnedlearning what companies had to offer women who work in her field of study each day.
“Angelina is one of those people that soaks up information,” Butler said. “If I have a question, she’s the first person I turn to, and if she doesn’t know the answer she points me in the right direction.”
Last year, Villa was nominatedreceived an email nominating her to speak at the Silicon Valley Women’s in Engineering Conference.
It was an achievement that she cited as being one of the greatest highlights of her time in SJSU.
The annual conference aimed to bridge relationships between female students pursuing engineering and Silicon Valley professionals who conduct seminars, teach and spoke to students present at the event.
“The conference encourages [young women] so know that they can do this . . . It’s better than just sitting in a circle, holding hands, and being sad,” Villa said.
The stigma of males ruling the engineering field is one that Villa said her generation is “growing up to break.”
“You don’t really see people pressure boys in elementary school to be engineers anymore, we’re breaking the cycle,” Villa said.
Villa is determined to make leading an this organization a stepping stone towards creating big impacts with her degree after graduation.
“I want to develop wearable technology and work within the medical field, that’s my big-picture goal,” Villa said. “I believe that I have the knowledge to make a change so that is why I’m pursuing this degree . . . to work on these things.”
Villa said she aims to work closely on medical devices that would help treat cancer and epilepsy – both illnesses that had affected the lives of those close to her and her loved ones.
“It’s not always easy, it’s not always glitter and rainbows,” Villa said. “You have to keep pushing and fall in love with what you’re doing, find something you truly care about and truly want to keep working for.”
For Villa, staying on the right track is more than just her hard work, but the collective outcome of support from her family, friends, boyfriend and sorority sisters.
“Ninety-nine percent of things you cannot do on your own, no, it takes a village to get through all of this,” Villa said.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect the correct name of Alpha Omega Epsilon.