Jill A. Oglesby has been the executive director of Valencia County Literacy Council since November 2002. She will be leaving that position this summer to work on a PhD in linguistics, but will continue to serve as a tutor, new tutor trainer and hopefully a board member. She lives in Los Lunas.
Q What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?
A“I’m usually singing and car dancing to the radio! Or, talking to myself about something.”
Q What was the last gift you gave someone?
A“I gave my students candles for Christmas, and Reese’s hearts for Valentine’s Day.”
Q What were you like in high school?
A “I took ballet and jazz dance. I also sang in the church choir, played piano, wrote poetry, read a lot, loved the New Mexico mountains and loved Spanish and New Mexico history. I knew what I really liked to do as a kid, and I’m still that way.”
Q What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?
A “That’s a hard one! However, we laugh and joke a lot in my English language classroom, so it probably happened there.”
Q What did you want to be when you grew up?
A “When I was very young, I wanted to be a fashion designer. I made Barbie clothes, and I would spread a blanket out at recess at elementary school and sell them for 50 cents and a dollar. Then in seventh grade, I found out that (in those days) you had to move to New York City to be a fashion designer, and that was the end of that.”
Q Who inspires you?
A “Michelle Obama. Ruth Bader Ginsberg. The poet we just lost named Mary Oliver. Locally, Dolores Padilla, our board president. Kathleen Pickering at the Belen Public Library, and Karen Walter in UNM-Valencia’s Upward Bound program.”
Q What is your birth order in your family, and do you think it influences who you are?
A “I’m the youngest of two, but my brother got very ill in high school. So I think I ended up with characteristics of an older child and an only child as well.”
Q What do you do in your free time?
A “See above about high school.”
Q What’s the most interesting thing about you?
A “Maybe it’s that I’ve studied the Irish language since 2000 and have recently started studying Welsh. I’m in love with the sounds of these languages and want to learn more and more.
“I’m also fascinated with the ancient world, including the Celt-Iberians in Spain and their connections with Ireland. Many people have Celtic heritage from Spain in New Mexico and don’t realize it, such as people with the names of Tapia, Aragon, Carabajal, Celtillo, De Ornelas and Gallegos.”
Q If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
A “It’s a hard life being a wild animal, but I think I identify most with the sandhill cranes. I’m a flocking animal in a way.”
Q You find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
A “That’s easy: I would start a foundation to help preserve New Mexico’s indigenous languages and New Mexico’s unique Spanish. I do want to do that someday. It would also help people learn Celtic languages. I would call the foundation Gliondar, which is an Irish word meaning Joy.”
Q Who is your best friend and why?
A “My dog, Rio. He takes me for walks and plays with me with his dog toys. He’s a good fella all around.”
Q What’s your favorite song to sing when you’re alone?
A “I love to sing in Irish, Welsh and Scots Gaelic. I also like Ella Fitzgerald and Patsy Cline.”
Q Where is your happy place, and why?
A “The Pecos. My dad’s boss had a cabin up there, and he would loan it to us every summer for a week growing up. I’d love to have a cabin in the Pecos someday.”
Q Have you had a life-changing experience that led you to where you are today?
A “I grew up a Methodist in Albuquerque, but I became a Quaker when I was 26 years old. I have a deep sense of faith, and I find the Quaker principles of simplicity, peace, integrity, community and equality go hand-in-hand with how I was raised in central New Mexico. A lot of dichos from this part of the world teach the same things.”
Q What teacher had the greatest impact on you?
A “Mrs. Kopald, my high school English teacher. She really understood me when our family was going through a difficult time in high school when my brother was ill.”
Q If you could live in any other time, when might that be and why?
A “I wouldn’t live in any other time! I like indoor plumbing, my solar panel electricity and my washing machine and dryer too much.
Q If you could have dinner with one famous person from history, who would it be?
A “Lucretia Mott, my Quaker hero. She fought for women’s rights — especially to vote and go to university. She also fought against slavery and for Native American rights.”
Q What are you most proud of?
A “It may sound funny, but my brother and I lost our mom last May, and I’m proud of how we took care of her and spent time with her until the end. I’m proud of the generations of my family that came before me, too. They were very poor, but they worked hard working lives to give us more opportunities than they had had.”
Q How would you like to be remembered?
A “I’m in education, and I’d like people to remember things I passed on to them. I’d also like to be remembered for my values, thoughtfulness, and my spirit of fun.”