We had the good fortune of connecting with Valerie Salgado and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Valerie, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
There have been times in my career when I have made a choice that doesn’t seem to add up. There was one instance where I had a solid job that that earned respect among my peers. But my ambitions lay elsewhere. For many reason, it was hard to walk away from the security, but I often thought, “If my life was a movie, how would I want it to end?” When we watch great movies, the underdog wins, the impossible becomes possible, people go out on limbs with little guarantee that it’ll work out. But it does work out. I try to remind myself of that. Risks have always led to immense growth. And usually, choices that seem risky before you take them, don’t seem so outrageous in the aftermath.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
In the last few years, I have made some big changes in my professional life. After living in New York and working as a dancer and choreographer for 14 years, I decided to move to California to be closer to my family and go back to school to earn a Masters in Special Education and my Preliminary Special Education Teaching Credential. While I know this choice would ultimately help me grow and expand my sense of purpose, it was one of the hardest choices I’ve made. Dance has always been a huge part of my identity and it seemed hard to grapple with the thought that another aspect of my self could take priority. I maintained that I would keep one foot in the business of dance so as to not close any doors, and I did. But then the pandemic put everything into perspective. There will never be anything that can so easily make my troubles go away like dance. But the past year has also taught me that my wants matter little. While I’ve been worrying about who I am without professionally pursuing dance, others struggle in ways that makes day to day living challenging. My ego stepped aside and I felt relief. There was space for me to grown in new ways. I feel great pride in helping others learn. I teach students with disabilities and they are the hardest working individuals I have ever met. I have also found that dance continues to play a huge role in my life as well as the lives of my students. I am completing a research project about how dance can potentially improve behaviors in the classroom to improve academic performance. Many of my students have very few verbal skills, but the language of dance doesn’t require people to speak with their mouths. I love how my passion for dance has stayed alive and has found a new home in the world of special education.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’ve lived in San Diego for almost 2 years, but 1 of those years didn’t count because of quarantine. I feel like I can get where I need to go but still don’t really know the city. Obviously, we’d go to the beach. They are all great here in San Diego… OB, PB, Mission Beach, La Jolla, Coronado…. maybe I’d take my friend on a beach tour, lol. Sure we could eat out, But why not hangout in my back yard and I can cook for you. I was walking round the neighborhood the other day and saw that Big kitchen Cafe has finally reopened. It’s a tiny hole in the wall neighborhood place with tons of character. They have the best pancakes in the world and there’s a jazz band that plays outside on the weekend. Maybe we could discover new places together!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to dedicate my shout out to my ballet dads Phip and Chip Fuller. They owned the ballet studio I grew up going to and they have always supported and believed in me. I think about them every single time I take class and am so grateful that they saw the best in me. They helped me to believe I could take on any challenge be it in dance or beyond. I’ll forever be grateful to them for their support!