Westmont Magazine Close to Home
Although Rob Guillermo was born in Santa Barbara, and his wife, Janie, grew up there, they wanted their daughter, Chelsea ’02, to go away to college. A talented student, she could attend any school she wanted, and Rob envisioned her at Duke.
Much to their surprise, Chelsea chose Westmont. “I had no idea what Westmont was all about,” Rob recalls. “It was that mystical college up on the hill.” He kept encouraging her to consider other schools.
But Chelsea wanted to grow as a Christian in an environment that supported her beliefs. “She wanted to be an ’insider,’ and encircle herself with Christians during her college years,” Janie explains. “She asked me, ‘When else could I live in that kind of environment?’”
According to her parents, Chelsea is happy with her choice. “She loves Westmont and is getting a great education,” Rob says. “She is really turned on to school and complains that she can’t fit in all the classes she wants to take.”
Like most students, Chelsea came to college uncertain about a major. But she has already decided to double-major in Spanish and art, and she has won a $2,000 art scholarship for next year. Art Professor Susan Savage helped her work out her program.
“The school is building her up, and she’s blooming,” Janie notes. “It’s exciting as a mom to see people care about your daughter so much.”
“Every class at Westmont has challenged Chelsea,” Rob adds. “She took honors English, and I worried about all the papers, but she hasn’t come home and asked for our help!”
“We always wanted Chelsea to be excited about school and love education just for the sake of education, so we’re pleased,” Janie states.
As teachers, the Guillermos appreciate students who love to learn. For nearly 30 years, Rob has taught history at junior high schools in Santa Barbara, earning a reputation as a stimulating and innovative teacher. In 1995, he “graduated” to Santa Barbara High. He involves students in group projects and requires them to compile a notebook, encouraging creativity. To help students understand the French Revolution, he divides the class up into peasants and aristocrats and lavishes licorice and favors on the latter.
Rob studied civil planning at the University of California at Santa Barbara, but discovered through an internship that he
didn’t want to be a planner. He decided to try teaching simply because it would give him summers off to enjoy fishing, water skiing, surfing, and beach volleyball. But he took to teaching immediately, enjoyed the students, and discovered he was good at it.
Janie, who has a B.S. and M.A. in nursing, worked at a local hospital for years before becoming a teacher at Santa Barbara City College seven years ago. “I learned how to teach from Rob — from living day to day with a really great teacher,” she notes.
While Rob is still concerned that Chelsea stayed so close to home, he and Janie have no reservations about her college experience.
“I was worried that Chelsea would become more narrow in her faith at Westmont, but instead she has broadened her perspective,” Janie confides. “The professors encourage students to discuss and explore their beliefs so they can develop their own faith.”
“I’ve been impressed to see that everyone at Westmont knows what the mission statement is — and they live it,” Rob states. “We have seen all the points — intellectual growth, community, spiritual development — met in our daughter’s experience.”