2 Campuses, 1 Community
Student government boosts opportunities for engagement and collaboration
“Every day, I learn from others how to be a better citizen,” says first-generation college student Yadira Chavez, who is serving her second term on Yakima’s Student Council and her first year as president. “I’ve learned innumerable abilities such as being a leader, working in a team efficiently and effectively communicating.”
According to former Student Life Manager Laura Yolo, efforts to build a stronger bond between student officers on both the Yakima and Grandview campuses have been a priority over the last few years, even as they were slowed because of the pandemic. Recently, however, that community building work has gained momentum.
Yolo, who recently transitioned to a full-time teaching role, is excited to see the work of student leaders come to fruition and help the college fulfil its mission.
“This year’s officers are truly remarkable,” said Yolo. “This group is the first all-female and all-Latina governing body in YVC’s nearly 100-year history. It is a true representation of YVC’s students, which averages around 67% female population and 63% Hispanic/Latino ethnicity.”
Half of this year’s student officers are in YVC’s Running Start Program, earning both their high school diploma and college degree, and the other half are non-traditional returning students. That includes both Yakima Student Council President Yadria Chavez and Vice President Bertha Corona, who each got their start learning English in YVC’s ELA program.
“Watching the students work together and build relationships, often empowering each other, is amazing to be part of,” says Yolo. “It’s what I’m going to miss most now that I’ve transitioned to a new role.”
For Chavez, the benefits of the Student Life Department’s increased commitment are clear — support for students help them achieve their educational goals — and having campuses committed to working together provides more opportunities for support. According to Chavez, the importance of working across campuses is best highlighted in the Food Pantry.
“I’ve had the opportunity to hear many students’ stories about how the Food Pantry and the snack shack help them regularly,” said Chavez. “Sometimes [our students] don’t have money to purchase food. Having something to eat gives them more energy and they can focus on studying.”
“This year’s officers are truly remarkable. This group is the first all-female and all-Latina governing body in YVC’s nearly 100-year history.” — Laura Yolo
The concept of togetherness and helping others succeed is one that this year’s student government officers are passionate about.
For non-traditional student Jessica Rodriguez, who graduated from high school over 10 years ago, life came quick with work, children and other life commitments. After losing her job during the pandemic she decided she wanted to be a part of something.
“I did not want to go back to work for a meaningless job where the employee doesn’t matter,” says Rodriguez. “I [realized I] wanted to be somebody and work in an environment where I mattered and could make a difference.”
That led her to a second realization, that in order to make the impact she wanted she would need to return to school and earn a degree. Overcoming her fear, she enrolled at YVC’s Grandview Campus and quickly took on a leadership role with the Grandview Student Council — and is now serving her second year as president.
“The Grandview Campus has given me an opportunity to succeed. I can speak for many when I say, not everyone in the Lower Valley can afford to go to a university and not everyone has the support from home. Therefore, what does, ‘2 Campuses, 1 Community,’ mean to me? It means that everyone has a chance to make their dreams come true.”
Serving in a leadership role helped her step outside of her comfort zone and grow.
“Coming back to school was a very difficult decision,” Rodriguez said. “I felt very out of place. I came to school after the pandemic and that is when I realized how anti-social I had become. In the beginning, it was hard making friends. But the more I talked to students the more I realized that we all shared the same nervousness. Being involved with student life helped me get out of my shell and I have met a lot of cool people.”
Rodriguez believes the biggest contribution the Student Life Department makes to the college is fostering school spirit.
“We understand how difficult and stressful college can be,” she said. “Everyone has a million things to get done. But at Student Life, we plan events where students can attend and just have fun. “
Running Start student Paris Rosas, who is working to complete both her high school diploma from Eisenhower High School and her associate in arts transfer degree, said the opportunity to serve and connect with students in Grandview has made an impact for her development.
“I get to connect with YVC on a different level, more than just as a student. This has really helped me on an emotional level since I’m usually the type to just keep things to myself,” said Rosas.
For Rosas, belonging and engagement with Student Life activities have also helped her feel more supported and helped her grow and find a sense of belonging.
“It’s amazing getting to know staff and helping be involved in the behind the scenes of events happening. It’s very cool to be part of something and knowing that I have a place to belong. It’s important to remember we are not alone in this community and there’s more of us out there.”