2016 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll
J.C. Harmon High School, 1983
Ana Valdez always knew she wanted to be a teacher, but since all of the teachers in the Catholic schools she attended were nuns, she assumed that she was going to be a nun as well. Attending J.C. Harmon High School in the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools changed her understanding, and her direction in life.
At Harmon, she got the chance to learn from some wonderful teachers, including Linda Dodd, who was her freshman algebra teacher and volleyball coach, and Charlotte Davis, who was a coach and mentor. Davis, she said, encouraged her to work hard, to be present every day, and to do her best.
She has followed in their footsteps, and throughout her accomplished career in education and business in Kansas City and Washington, D.C., teaching and leading others has been a constant thread. Currently, Valdez is the advancement officer at Donnelly College, working with community organizations to develop partnerships. She is also an adjunct professor in the Bachelor of Organizational Leadership program at Donnelly, and an adjunct at Avila University.
As a teacher, she loves being able to share her experiences, and to elicit experiences from her students. She believes education to be extremely important. It has given her a foundation to take advantage of opportunities. She says that her greatest accomplishment is working in the community to make change, and that if she did not have her education, she would not have been afforded the opportunities she took advantage of.
Along with her teachers, her parents were the greatest influences in her life. She describes her dad, who passed away before she started high school, as her guardian angel, a caring, kind, generous and faithful person. Her mom was also very strong, helping the family to pull together and move forward during that difficult time, always pushing her and her siblings to do better.
Valdez always makes time to give back to her community, serving on numerous community, non-profit and university boards.
Her advice to young people: “Don’t let your difficulties bring you down, because if you do, then you’ve lost. You have to say ‘Okay, this happened,’ but don’t give yourself over to it. Okay, you got a bad grade. What are you going to do about it? How are you going to fix it?”