Thacher’s Anacapa Scholar: Dr. Invernizzi

Virginia Invernizzi, our newest, most beloved Anacapa Scholar, brings a distinct and delightful perspective to The Thacher School. She hopes to learn about our community, and share her extensive knowledge of Latin American literature with us.

Dr. Invernizzi grew up in Uruguay. Her earliest memories are of the smell of the houses of the patients she visited with her father, a pediatrician, and of seeing her mother’s nose in a book. Just as she is a mix of two cultures, Virginia believes she is a mix of her parents, both physically and in her spirit: “I am playful and fun, like my father, and I enjoy reading, like my mother”. I know this to be true from her warm hugs and insightful wisdom. Even at a young age, she resembled a tree growing from her parents’  roots and spreading outwards.

When she was eleven, Dr. Invernizzi moved to the US with her aunt. “I remember begging my parents to let me leave, saying that I’d die if couldn’t go to the States,” she said without a trace of humor, “I did not know a word of English upon arrival, but once I entered school, I became fluent in a few months.” Though she grew to know English like a first language and had fully assimilated into American society, she always remained tethered to her roots: “Uruguay was and is still my home,” she said, “and I visited often during the summer.”

Perhaps in part due to the profound impact of her schooling, Virginia studied education in college. But for Virginia, the most significant classes were the literature electives. “I read voraciously”, she remarked, “In fact, I loved it so much I continued to study at a higher level”. She pursued a masters and then a ph.D. in Latin American literature, earning the title of Dr. Invernizzi.

When asked what led her to the field, Dr. Invernizzi cited her upbringing: “It was in search of my mother that I choose literature”. Her mother was intelligent, well-read, and hard to impress. Virginia described one of her greatest moments when she came home after earning her masters and had an enlightened conversation with her mother: “For the first time, we were able to talk about books on the same level. I was immensely proud.” For Virginia, education was a deeply personal pursuit.

Nowadays, she puts forth that love of education to her students: “I love teaching because it allows me to share so much with young people. I love it when students walk out of my class and say: ‘wow, that poem seemed so hard and now I get it.’” Dr. Invernizzi is very passionate about her work and her students, and she particularly loves working in a boarding school environment, where colleagues and students “share so many aspects of [their] lives”.

The life Dr. Invernizzi has created for herself is the result of well-directed ambition and good work ethic: “What guides a person in life changes as you live, mature, experience life. When I was younger my decisions were quite centered around academic pursuits and the desire to know more. Then, as I had a family and watched my kids grow my decisions were centered around what was best for my boys, my husband—for us as a family.” Now, as her children have “flown the coop”, Virginia says her decisions are more guided by a greater good. “I keep Maya Angelou’s good quote very close to my heart:  ‘Right may not be expedient, it might not be profitable, but it will satisfy our soul’.”   

In that pursuit to satisfy the soul, Dr. Invernizzi encourages students to reach beyond the community around them. As a former director of the SYA Spain program, she has one final message: “I would say go [abroad], but with the right mindset. Go wanting to learn from the people. Go full of desire to spend time with your host family. Go ready to make friends from that country. Go knowing that if you give yourself and open up to the people surrounding you, your life will change forever. Go because there is no other time in your life when you will have a host family and have people wanting so badly to teach you their ways. Go!”

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