YVC students named fellows in initiative to advance equity in Washington’s community colleges

This summer, two Yakima Valley College students are exploring how Washington’s community college system can implement practices and policies that advance equitable student outcomes as fellows in a recently-launched state initiative.

Miguel Blancas-Alejo of Yakima and Robert Morrison of Union Gap are among 30 Washington community college students selected as Guided Pathways Initiative in Diversity, Equity, and Anti-racism Leadership (IDEAL) Fellows this summer. The fellowship program is an initiative of the Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) and its Student Success Center.

Fellows are participating in weekly seminars during July and August led by facilitators and guest presenters with expertise in research, equity, and racial and social justice. Blancas-Alejo, Morrison and the other fellows will examine how community colleges can disrupt structural inequities — and ultimately impact the experience of students — through design principles that affect practices, processes and policies.

As part of their experience, each fellow will be part of a team that identifies and studies a policy, practice or process that impacts the student experience differentially. At the end of the program, each team will present what they uncover regarding ways for colleges to implement equity-advancing measures to the SBCTC’s Guided Pathways Advisory Council.

Kristi Wellington-Baker, director of the Student Success Center and strategic initiatives, noted that the goal of the Guided Pathways IDEAL Fellowship is to encourage, empower and equip student activists to advocate for justice, not just in the classroom, but in the policy and practice spaces.

“The fellowship is rigorous, as students learn about and discuss deeply entrenched, systemic inequities and how those affect student and community members’ lives,” Wellington-Baker said. “We are confident these fellows will critically contribute to the pressing racial equity dialogue and lead real change in our colleges, CTC system and our communities.”

The first cohort of Guided Pathways IDEAL Fellows were selected in December 2020. Blancas-Alejo and Morrison are among students from 17 colleges participating in the second cohort of fellows.

Press Release Contacts:
Dustin Wunderlich / 509.574.6870 / dwunderlich@yvcc.edu
Stefanie Menard / 509.574.4646 / smenard@yvcc.edu