Foundation selects Heather Lundquist for Classified Employee of the Year Award
The Yakima Valley College Foundation announces the selection of Heather Lundquist, a program assistant in the college’s WorkFirst Department, as the 2023 recipient of the Darlene Koch Classified Employee of the Year Award. Former YVC Vice President of Administration and YVC Foundation Executive Director Darlene Koch established the award to honor the hard work and dedication of classified staff. The YVC Foundation Board of Directors makes the selection from nominations submitted by faculty, staff and administrators.
A life-long resident of the Yakima Valley, Lundquist grew up in Sunnyside. After completing high school she worked with OIC of Washington’s AmeriCorps programs and for many years at Heritage University working with the TRIO and student affairs programs. While working at Heritage, Lundquist earned an associate degree and for the first time found a support system that encouraged her to learn and grow. In 2018 she was hired at YVC and welcomed the opportunity to continue to work with students.
“During my 12 years at Heritage I feel like I grew up professionally,” said Lundquist. “It was during this time that I had the opportunity to work with students and realized how much passion I had for helping them reach their goals. When I was younger and completing high school, I did not have a great support system — no teachers that I really connected with and helped mentor me — for me that came later while I completed my degree in my 30s. It is so rewarding for me to be able to help provide a support system for students, see them grow and bring their experiences from YVC into the community.”
Lundquist’s current role provides administrative support and scheduling duties to the WorkFirst, Flagger and Job Skills programs. Her duties include building classes in ctcLink, ensuring students are enrolled in classes and coded correctly, providing customer service to students in the WorkFirst program, overseeing the organization of the Flagger Certification Program, creating and processing invoices for the Job Skills and WorkFirst programs, ordering supplies, overseeing the supply budget and developing relationships with multiple community partners and campus staff.
On campus Lundquist is well known for her leadership and willingness to jump in and help when needed. Over the past year these qualities were highlighted as the college transitioned to ctcLink, a new state-wide management system.
WorkFirst Director Lonni Rodriguez-Funk, who has worked with Lundquist over the last 14 years as a coworker and later supervisor, believes her attention to detail supports the college mission and benefits some of YVC’s most vulnerable populations.
“Heather’s responsibilities are numerous, multi-faceted and require a high level of detail, professionalism and multi-tasking. What sets Heather apart from her colleagues is her intense desire to make whatever project she is working on be the best it can be. During the ctcLink transition, she was instrumental in ensuring work orders were completed so staff could have the access they needed to help students,” said Rodriguez-Funk.
Lundquist’s colleague Brenda Montoya-Roman, pathway navigator, also noted her teamwork and collaborative nature.
“Heather has done many things which have helped make a difference in my work. When I first began working at Yakima Valley College, Heather was one of the first people to greet me,” said Montoya-Roman. “Her student first attitude, enthusiasm and smile were contagious. She demonstrated to me the importance of balancing empathy, while still holding students accountable, and motivating them to continue and further their education. She might not know it, but I attribute so much of my professional growth to her. Over the year and a half I worked with Heather, she slowly and patiently assisted me in acquiring the skills and knowledge which have made me a more confident professional today.”
Student Tiffany Hansen also shared how Lundquist’s caring attitude and training philosophy have made an impact on her.
“Heather has always gone out of her way to see how I am doing and makes sure everything is OK,” said Hansen. “She works great with the WorkFirst team and shows respect and kindness to all. I have learned and gained so many new skills because Heather pushed me out of my comfort zone. When I thought I could not do something she would challenge me in a constructive way to face my fears. I have been able to add so many tools to my belt thanks to Heather. When it comes to the students here at YVC she always makes herself available to help in any way that is needed.”
The recipient of the Darlene Koch Classified Employee of the Year Award is presented a $1,000 unrestricted monetary award. It is open to any full-time classified staff member at Yakima Valley College. For more information contact Stacey Kautz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 509.574.4645.
The Darlene Koch Classified Employee of the Year Award will be presented during YVC’s Commencement ceremony on June 16.
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