Victoria Avalor is a preschool teacher in her thirties who lives in Central Pennsylvania. On paper, it may not seem as though Victoria and Cleopatra, the last ruler of ancient Egypt, are closely connected. However, Egyptology is a huge part of Victoria’s richly creative world and Cleopatra — arguably the most iconic figure in ancient Egyptian history; a bastion of the values and innovation of the ancient civilisation — is a source of great inspiration to her.
Victoria told Centre of Excellence she decided to study the Egyptology Diploma Course to satiate a lifelong interest in ancient Egypt, a culture as misunderstood as Cleopatra herself. Victoria said, “I have been fascinated by ancient Egyptian history my entire life. I believe my earliest memory of being exposed to ancient Egyptian culture was the movie The Ten Commandments. As a child, I was fascinated by the portrayal of Egyptians and wanted to learn about their actual history and not the Hollywood version of it.”
Thus began her journey into Egyptology, absorbing books, gathering collectables, dolls, and watching documentaries and movies relating to ancient Egypt.
As an educator, Victoria is certainly keen to continue learning, explaining that she admires Cleopatras’s intelligence. Indeed, according to historians, the Queen of Egypt was a scholar of mathematics and science, a diplomat and polyglot who spoke nine languages and practised medicine, even as a teenager, before she took the throne at 18.
Victoria’s curiosity has led her on a journey to discover the true story behind the historical readings of bygone eras. She said, “In studying Cleopatra’s history, I was stunned to find that most of what the general public believes is nothing more than Roman propaganda.”
“As a woman, I can certainly relate to falsehoods being spread about me,” the free-spirited creative added. Avalor is a stage name for Victoria, a twice self-published author who loves to read and write, a professional model, and a cosplayer often in the public eye, appearing in publications such as Latina Magazine and Entertainment Weekly, to name but two.
Of her study with Centre of Excellence, Victoria recalled, “I had a great experience! It was affordable and convenient. There were no deadlines for completing the modules or tests. It was at your own pace, which worked great with my schedule. I learned so much and found the course very informative.”
So, what is it about ancient Egypt that draws Victoria? She explained, “I find their civilisation fascinating. There’s so much that they accomplished in regards to architecture, science and medicine. It’s mind-blowing that the pyramids are still standing to this day.”
Victoria also finds the religion of ancient Egypt “incredibly interesting”, citing the wide variety of goddesses and gods that explain how the universe works and the intricate process of mummification. “They mastered the method and mummies have stood the test of time in addition to the pyramids. I also love their moral compass. It was important in their religion to be a good person so that you would be permitted into the afterlife.”
Likewise, Victoria finds The Book of the Dead — a funerary work of Ancient Egyptian Magic written in hieroglyphs and used from the beginning of the New Kingdom (around 1550 BCE) to around 50 BCE — a “stunning display of text”. Her knowledge of egyptology may just come in useful as she plans to write her own book of historical fiction relating to ancient Egypt.
Her books, so far, have boasted strong female lead characters true to her own roots and experience. No doubt, ancient Egypt will prove a fruitful setting for her creative writing challenge, as Victoria says she loves the role of female empowerment in the era. She added, “There were Queens and female Pharaohs who ruled. Women had rights; they could own businesses and file for divorce. They were priestesses in Temples. Many of the Egyptian gods were women.”
Victoria has taken inspiration both aesthetically and spiritually from ancient Egypt, also, and tied it into her cosplay, creating a number of themed photoshoots over the years. She said, “I find the ancient Egyptian clothes, wigs and makeup are artistic and extraordinarily beautiful; truly the stuff fairy tales are made of...I would love to assemble one of Cleopatra’s costumes from the Elizabeth Taylor film.”
But it’s not just her beauty that Victoria admires. Of Cleopatra, Victoria said, “She was a fighter until the bitter end — everyone from her half-sister, Arsinoe IV, to the Roman Emperor, Octavian.”
The Marvel Cinematic Universe fan is open with her online community on social media about her personal struggles; Victoria has been living with depressionand she highlights the difficulties of navigating a world still unforgiving to those with mental health issues. She told Centre of Excellence, “Living with depression can be extremely difficult. It can especially be tough when you are gaining your independence and forming your path in life when even something as simple as making your lunch for work is an accomplishment.”
A supporter of herbal antidepressants and seeking professional help for mental health ailments, she has recently undergone a health evaluation and is now the proud mother of a kitten called Cookie — a doctor-issued emotional support animal. While she admits the process was very hard and she went through an array of emotions, she’s glad she did.
But, as Cleopatra herself reportedly said, she would not be triumphed over.
Victoria concluded, “No matter how heavy you feel, you have to keep moving forward. I think the best advice I can give is, keep setting goals and celebrate them. Keep working towards them no matter how big or small.”