On Tuesday, October 4, Regent University School of Law students had the opportunity to connect with Delegate Ron Villanueva, who represents the 21st District in Virginia’s House of Delegates. The event was sponsored by Regent’s Asian Pacific Law Student Association (APLSA).
Villanueva has held an elected office for 15 years, and currently represents portions of the cities of Chesapeake and Virginia Beach, all-the-while balancing the demands of a family and his small business ownership.
“As an elected official, you want to make a difference,” said Villanueva. “You want to enjoy what you’re doing.”
Villanueva was a graduate student in the mid-1990s at Regent’s Robertson School of Government (RSG) and also worked on campus in the development office. His time learning on campus was “transformational,” helping him grow out of a season of doubting God and questioning his faith, and sustaining him after a season of loss.
“It’s tremendous to see how the student body and programs have grown,” said Villanueva. “It’s a testament to the mission of this school. And it’s wonderful to be back here.”
Villanueva was first elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2009 – the first Filipino-American elected to Virginia’s state government. Since then, he’s held four consecutive terms, serving as the new Chairman of Transportation, and sits on the Science and Technology and the Commerce and Labor Committee. Prior to serving in the Virginia House, Villanueva was a member of Virginia Beach City Council.
And though, admittedly, he’s earned respect despite his youthfulness, his message to students was to “do your homework.”
“You have to come with your A-game,” he said. “You need to be well-versed and when you speak, map out where your opinions are going.”
He also suggested students pursue careers in the fields where the workers are few but imperative, such as cyber-security, telecommunications, finance, healthcare, criminal justice, LGBT legislation, appeals, business law and immigration to name a few.
But for Villanueva, his life is more than developing policy, earning another term or chairing another committee.
For him, it’s about seeking the support of others, managing his schedule and acknowledging that he can’t “do it all.” He’s learned the issues that come up in his day-to-day life will always be there; but his priorities are clear:
“I’m not perfect, so I lean on God, friends and family support – that’s what I’ve been teaching my family,” said Villanueva. “There will always be another meeting you need to go to, always a deal you need to close, but you can’t take your eyes off your family and faith.”