One day during Natalia Villegas’s freshman year, former bowling coach Rob Ray encouraged her to come out for the winter sport.
Little did Villegas know that this moment would end up being the reason she would end up becoming as involved as she ended up being as a student at Elk Grove.
“I found a group of people that I could make friends with and we support each other, and the fact that I got to go to state three times was really cool,” Villegas said.
Villegas — who plans on majoring in graphic design at Michigan State University in the fall — placed second in state in bowling this year. Her involvement in the sport, as well as in other Elk Grove activities such as graphic design and DECA, symbolizes her school spirit.
“It was cool to see all the same girls I’ve competed with all 3 years, we all finished together,” Villegas said.
Villegas isn’t shy about sharing her passions. For one, graphic design was something that came naturally to her.
“I loved drawing but then I think around the first time the first iPad came out, we had a family iPad and a lot of apps and I realized I loved digital artwork, which is easier for me to manipulate and create new designs,” Villegas said.
It hasn’t always been easy for Villegas. She has a rare condition called idiopathic multi-centric osteolysis, which causes her bones to disappear.
But she has never let it stand in her way of living her life to the absolute fullest.
“(I’ve) learned new ways of how to do life and been taught to not be afraid to ask for things and learn how to be adaptive,” Villegas said regarding how her disability has affected her life.
And that’s just as true for her in the rest of her life, as it has taught her to get out of her comfort zone and explore opportunities no matter how they seem on the surface.
“I joined (bowling) and tried to get involved in many clubs,” Villegas said. “Like I was very nervous when I joined DECA this year, but it ended up working out and I got to go to state for that.”
Exploring and abandoning her comfort zone has really been the key factor to all of Villegas’s success these past few years and she encourages underclassmen to “take it all in” and enjoy their high school years.
“They’re not as slow paced as you might think,” Villegas said. “Now is the time to explore and learn what you’re really good at.”