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Toni Leitz

2022 Graduate | Toni Leitz

Toni Leitz has many fond memories of visiting Yakima Valley College while growing up. The daughter of longtime staff member Linda Ison, now retired, she recalls coming to campus throughout her childhood.

After working as an certified nursing assistant at a local nursing home and starting a family, Leitz decided to return to YVC, this time as a student. She began her studies in fall 2019 working towards a degree in psychology, specializing in trauma.

“I chose psychology because I have been through some very tough situations in my life, and I know firsthand how hard these situations can be. I feel like I can use my hardships to help people going through the same pain,” said Leitz.

Faculty passion for teaching is something that Leitz feels separates YVC from other institutions.

“There is a certain love for teaching that you find at YVC. Not everyone is going to find their perfect instructor, but there are professors here who bend over backwards in order for their students to succeed.” — Toni Leitz

Overcoming obstacles became routine for Leitz during the last three years. First with handling online instruction during the pandemic and later when she became a single mother. Throughout all these challenges, Leitz never lost sight of her goals.

There was a whole new level of hard after [I became a single mom] that I could have never imagined,” Leitz said.  “I found the next level of motivation, and dropping out of school because it was too much for me at the time was not an option.”

With the foundation her YVC education has provided, Leitz is confident in her future success.

“[YVC’s program] was an absolute steppingstone in my confidence and where I wanted and needed to be in order to dive first into the psychology profession. I got to see what type of help our valley needs, and YVC was so important in showing me the kind of people that I will be serving in the future.”

This fall she will transfer to Central Washington University to pursue her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Ultimately, Leitz is looking forward to working in a career that allows her to help people.

“No problem is too big or small that anyone should feel alone in what they are going through. I want them to know that here is help out there for people who know the pain personally.”