Meet COS Professor: Amy Vega-Pritchett

A car drives up into the near-empty gym parking lot and parks in one of the many available spaces. As Amy gets out of her car, she takes a deep breath, noting the sharpness of the cold air. It’s an average Wednesday morning; at this time, most are still asleep, but Amy is just getting her day started by an early morning gym session starting at 5:30 am.
Once she is finished at the gym, Amy returns home and gets ready for work, walking into her office around 8:00 am and preparing for her first lecture. Amy Vega- Pritchett is a political science professor at the College of the Sequoias in Visalia, California. At 9:00, Amy is starting her first class of the day, teaching her students about the inner workings of American government and politics; she’ll be busy with various lectures for the next few hours. After her classes, Amy holds office hours for any student that needs help and works on her committee assignments.
Mrs. Pritchett is a member of the curriculum committee at COS and takes time to review the materials discussed in her department. Around 3:00 pm leaves work, sometimes to go home; however, often, she goes to attend her kids’ sports games. In the evening, Amy will make sure to take a couple of hours to grade the assignments from the hundreds of her students.
Amy Vega-Pritchett grew up in Visalia, attending Redwood High School. After graduating, Amy College of the Sequoias, the school where she currently teaches, after which she transferred to the University of California in San Diego to pursue her bachelor’s degree in political science. After receiving her bachelor’s degree, Amy participated in a program offered by the UC system called UCDC, in which she moved to Washington DC, where she worked as a staffer for California congressman Cal Wooley.
There she learned the ins and outs of politics and the responsibilities of representatives in Congress, which was of great benefit as she moved forward in teaching American politics. Soon after her job in D.C., Mrs. Pritchett moved to Peru for about six months, and while she was there, she taught English to the local kids. Once she moved back to the U.S., Amy attended CSU Long Beach, where she pursued her undergrad in political science and her teaching credentials.
When looking back on why she decided to teach, “I’m a people person,” she said, “I wanted to inspire people.”
Amy went on to explain that the goal of her teaching was to inspire her students to be politically active and teach them how to make politically informed decisions.
In 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic first broke the news, many campuses shut down, leading most classes to shift to online learning. When asked about her experience teaching online courses, Amy replied, “It was different.” She had taught online classes in the past, but they were voluntary; now, everyone was forced into exclusively online courses, and many weren’t accustomed to such classes. This shift caused Amy much frustration as students were much less responsive and harder to reach. Not only did it cause Amy frustration, “It took a toll on my health,” she claimed, “I got carpal tunnel.” The extensive time teaching on a computer not only caused her mental strain but also caused the nerves in her hands to become pinched, leading to a feeling of recurring numbness in her hands, a condition often known as carpal tunnel.
Amy is also a devoted wife and mother. While living in Hermosa and attending CSU Long Beach, Amy met a familiar face in her class, and they started dating. She had known Nick in high school, but like many, lost touch as they both moved on to college to pursue careers. After dating for a few years, they got married and settled down in Visalia. Now they have three kids, two of whom attend college and one still in high school. With two of the kids in college, Amy now has more free time than before.
During this free time, she likes to take trips to the beach with her husband, go skiing whenever there is snow at China Peak or other locations, and enjoys going biking whenever she has the time. In addition to all those other things, Amy also enjoys watching her kids’ sports games and always goes to support them.
The last couple of years have been quite hectic, from the first pandemic in 100 years to a much more divided political system.
Many people are pessimistic about the future; however, Amy keeps a positive attitude and is hopeful for what’s next to come. She continues to inspire students into being smart about politics and hopes to attract more political science majors to the college and maybe expand the department, creating an overall better experience at the College of the Sequoias.
In a message to her students, Amy says, “Don’t give up, finish your degree, and take advantage of services on campus.”