Valerie believes that service is the secret to a happy life. Fortunately for Marquette University, her service has largely been on behalf of her alma mater. “When you love something,” Valerie says of Marquette, “you want to nurture it and help it grow to its fullest potential.”
Valerie attended Catholic schools growing up in Tampa, Fla., and chose Marquette without even visiting the campus — trusting a gut instinct that it would be the right place.
As a freshman, she made fast friends, one of whom is the niece of then-President John P. Raynor, S.J., who became a trusted mentor for Valerie. After graduation, as her sales and marketing career took her to various cities, Father Raynor kept in touch and always encouraged her to get involved with Marquette alumni clubs. She took that advice to heart, but felt disconnected when she and a college friend attended an alumni event in Tampa.
Always staying true to her alma mater and trusting her instincts, Valerie told Father Raynor that Marquette’s materials didn’t speak to ethnically diverse alumni. “He said if I wanted to see changes, I should volunteer and help make the changes happen,” Valerie remembered.
She did, and a flame was ignited.
Her first project in 2001 was chairing the fundraising effort to establish Marquette’s Ethnic Alumni Association. Valerie helped raise $25,000 to create the Ralph H. Metcalfe, Sr., Scholarship. Today, 32 students have benefited from EAA’s scholarship. “We wanted to let minority students know about EAA and help them realize that they are threads in the fabric of Marquette,” Valerie says.
Valerie served as EAA’s president from 2004 to 2006. She later became a director of the Marquette University Alumni Association National Board, went on to be elected MUAA president in 2010 to 2011, and has since broadened her volunteer impact by serving as an MUAA mentor, College of Communication advisory board member, Summer Send-off host, event speaker, among other roles. While she’s attended hundreds of events as an alumna, these days Valerie also is proud to call herself a Marquette parent. Her daughter Francesca graduated from the College of Communication in 2014.
Today, Valerie’s food and entertainment-related business, Valcooks, LLC, keeps her busy, but never too busy to offer information, guidance and even campus tours to children of friends, family and even strangers who notice her Marquette spirit wear. She’s recruited at least 10 students to Marquette. “I’m very proud to see them flourishing now,” she says. “I loved every minute at Marquette, and I want that same experience for others.”