As a second-grader at Good Shepherd Catholic School in San Diego, Valerie Juguilon knew there was something different about the school assembly she was attending. She soon figured out that the teachers were announcing winners of the Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest. She didn’t realize that the teachers in the school had submitted entries from their students.
“My entry was an assignment that we did in class, and I don’t think I realized at the time that it was a contest,” said Valerie.
As students were called to the stage and recognized for their entries, they received a paper certificate. Valerie noticed they had recognized a student from each grade except for hers. When she heard her name called last, she understood her award was different from the others. She was a state-level winner, not just a winner at her school.
“I received a blue award in a thick framed folder and a fancy pen in a wooden case. Everyone was ooh-ing and aah-ing at the award and pen,” Valerie recalled. “It was really cool to be recognized as a little second grader amongst all the other 300 students.”
Valerie had an interest in handwriting at an early age, and her mother gave her books to practice writing over the summers. In elementary school, she recalled going through daily handwriting and cursive routines, using Zaner-Bloser materials that showed an uppercase and lowercase form of each letter for students to copy.
“I always enjoyed these exercises and remember hearing that writing and cursive would be more difficult for me as a left-handed student,” Valerie said. “I think that learning these skills taught me a work ethic and discipline at an early age, and to visually recognize how good presentation skills should look.”
She also found that her handwriting skills helped set her up for success in college and in her career. Valerie attended the University of California, San Diego, graduating with a degree in Urban Studies and Planning. She currently works as an account executive for a transportation planning firm, where she uses handwriting regularly to take notes, record interviews, and develop training materials and learning aids for employee commuter assistance.
“I currently do a lot of client and government-contract work, and it’s important to have strong presentation skills and discipline in any projects I’m involved with,” Valerie explained. “I think it’s helped me by working a little harder early on to develop these skills, and I’ve actually been complimented for my neat handwriting by employers.”
Valerie is still passionate about education and volunteers regularly at her high school alma mater. She strongly believes that the use of technology in schools is an excellent learning resource for students, but that handwriting should continue to be a staple in early learning.
“I think technology is a great tool for students to be able to access unlimited knowledge at the touch of a button, but it’s important for students to continue to be properly instructed how to write, especially in cursive,” Valerie said. “Cursive writing helps you stand out and brings more character to your writing and professional efforts.”
With the recognition and added responsibilities she’s received for her work ethic and strong presentation skills, there is little doubt that Valerie will continue to stand out from her peers.