Team Player: Valyncia Raphael
Valyncia Raphael x’09 hopes she’ll make her biggest hit off the field. The senior left fielder helped the Badger softball team go undefeated in fall 2008 play, and team members look to build on that success when the Big Ten season begins in late March. But Raphael has bigger ambitions.
The California native’s Badger career has been limited by injuries. As a sophomore, she suffered a herniated disk and missed much of the season, and as she worked her way back into form during her junior year, she batted .193 with five home runs. But off the field, she’s kept her focus on the future. With a double major in English and political science and a criminal justice emphasis, Raphael aims to attend law school after she receives her bachelor’s degree.
“Initially I wanted to work for a D.A. [district attorney] somewhere,” she says. But while at the UW, she landed an internship at the Bockari House, a halfway house on Madison’s east side, where she learned more about the legal system, and about herself. “My job was mostly reading through policy reports and going through case files,” she says. “And I found that a lot of the clients had delinquency records. They were repeat offenders.”
The experience helped Raphael see what she really wants to do with her life — help juveniles break out of that cycle. “I didn’t really think I enjoyed working with kids and parents before,” she says. “I didn’t want to work with juveniles or in a group-home setting. But now, ultimately, I’d like to go back to [the Los Angeles area] and work in a center for teens in crisis. Often, if you can make a small difference for people while they’re in high school, you can make a big difference in their lives.”
“I’d like to go back to [the Los Angeles area] and work in a center for teens in crisis. Often, if you can make a small difference for people while they’re in high school, you can make a big difference in their lives.”
Published in the Spring 2009 issue