Past Diversity Series Events


Calling all Poets!

Thursday, November 30, 12 p.m. | YVC Campus | Hopf Union Building (HUB) Activity Area

Are you interested in publishing your poetry? Join the Diversity Series for a poetry workshop where you’ll learn how to craft a poem, submit your work, and get feedback from other poets. Event starts at 12 p.m. in the HUB.

The American Buffalo: Film and Yakama Speaker Panel

Wednesday, November 15, 7 p.m. | YVC Conference Center, Yakima Campus

Yakima Valley College celebrates Native American Heritage Month with a special event featuring Yakama Nation biologists and scholars commenting on a new documentary from renowned filmmaker Ken Burns. The event, which is free and open to the public, will feature approximately 1 hour of film cuts from “The American Buffalo” followed by a panel of prominent Yakama tribal members.

“The American Buffalo” takes viewers on a journey through more than 10,000 years of North American history and across some of the continent’s most iconic landscapes, tracing the animal’s evolution, its significance to the Indigenous people and landscape of the Great Plains, its near extinction, and the efforts to bring the magnificent mammals back from the brink.

The panel will feature Kristi Olney, lead biologist for the Yakama Nation Wildlife Resource Management Program; Jon (JD) Shellenberger, a Yakama artist, archaeologist and entrepreneur; Darwin Sockzehigh, bison technician lead for the Yakama Nation Wildlife Resource Management Program; and Emily Washines, a YVC adjunct instructor of ethnic studies and author of the blog Native Friends, which explores Indigenous history and culture.

YVC History Instructor Kenneth Zontek will serve as host for the event. Zontek is author of “Buffalo Nation: American Indian Efforts to Restore the Bison,” a history of bison restoration efforts that also explores Native peoples’ pursuit of political and cultural autonomy.

Corporate funding for “The American Buffalo” was provided by Bank of America. Major funding was provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and by The Better Angels Society and its following members: Margaret A. Cargill Foundation fund at the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation; Diane and Hal Brierley; The Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment; John and Catherine Debs; Kissick Family Foundation; Fred and Donna Seigel; Jacqueline Mars; John and Leslie McQuown; and Mr. and Mrs. Paul Tudor Jones. Funding was also provided by The Volgenau Foundation.

La Chola Conference

Friday, October 13- Sunday, October 15

YVC’s Diversity Series continues with the 2023 La Chola Conference on the Yakima Valley College Yakima Campus, October 13-15. The conference theme is: “La Chola Xola: Reclaiming Indigenous Guerillera Identities 4 Celebrating Ceremonia in Chola Spaces.” 

For more information about this contact

Strategies for College Success as a First-Generation Student

Monday, September 25| 2-4 p.m. | YVC Conference Center

YVC’s Diversity Series, along with TRIO Student Support Services is pleased to welcome educator, administrator and author Jeremiah Sims. Sims will present, “Strategies for College Success as a First-Generation Student.” During the talk he will share his personal journey through community college and ultimately UC Berkeley, as a first-generation college student. Also a TRIO alumni, Sims will teach students his self-developed strategies for college success.


Jessica Hernandez, PhD, Author Presentation

Thursday, April 27 | 2:30  – 4 p.m.

Yakima Valley College’s 2023 Diversity Series, in conjunction with the Climate and Environment student club and the Associated Students of Yakima Valley College (ASYVC), will host noted Indigenous scientist and community advocate Jessica Hernandez, PhD for an author presentation in April. Hernandez will share  key themes and research for her award-winning book, “Fresh Banana Leaves: Healing Indigenous Landscapes through Indigenous Science.”

Hernandez will talk about her book, followed by an audience Q&A,  on Thursday, April 27 from 2:30-4 p.m. in the Deccio Higher Education Center, Building #8, Parker Room and via Zoom.

Leading up to Hernandez’s campus visit, YVC will host book discussions on Wednesday, April 5, and from 2:30-3:30 p.m. in Hopf Union (HUB), Building #9, MLK Room and via Zoom and Wednesday, April 19, from 2:30-3:30 p.m. in the MLK Room and via Zoom. Discussions will be led by members the Climate and Environment club. YVC students can obtain a free copy of Hernandez’s book at the ASYVC office on the Yakima or Grandview campus. Community members can order a copy of the book online.

Dr. Hernandez (Binnizá & Maya Ch’orti’) is a transnational Indigenous scholar, scientist and community advocate based in the Pacific Northwest. She has an interdisciplinary academic background ranging from marine sciences to environmental physics. She is also an advocate for climate, energy and environmental justice.

She is currently in the process of writing a second book, “Growing Papaya Trees: Nurturing Indigenous Roots of Climate Displacement & Justice.” Hernandez has been named by Forbes as one of the 100 most powerful and influential women of Central America.

Since 2005 Yakima Valley College has partnered with several area organizations to host events and lectures through its annual Diversity Series. The events provide YVC the opportunity to bring diverse perspectives to everyday topics and push the boundaries of the term beyond race, gender, social class and sexuality.


The Life and Work of Tomás Villanueva with Graciela Villaneuva

Tomás Villanueva

YVC’s Diversity Series celebrates the life and work of local activist Tomás Villanueva. Graciela Villanueva will share her father’s legacy and how he helped shape the Yakima Valley through his social justice and activism for farmworkers.  A Q&A will follow the lecture.  Local artist’s Bertha López and Christie Tirado will share artwork honoring Villanueva that will be on display at YVC.

Tomás Villanueva was 14 when his family immigrated from Mexico to the United States. After following the crops for three years, the family settled in Toppenish, Wash. He spent the next several years working various jobs, then decided to pursue an education. After earning his GED, he enrolled in Yakima Valley College.

From 1967 to 1974, Villanueva devoted himself to farmworker organizing and Chicano movement activism. Out of these efforts came the establishment of the Yakima Valley Farmworkers Clinic and the United Farm Workers Service Center. In 1986 he became the first president of the newly formed United Farm Workers of Washington State. Villanueva continued to be an active community member until his death in 2014.

Graciela Villaneuva is the sixth of Tomás and his wife Hortencia’s seven children. She received a master’s degree in business administration and has over 20 years of experience in the human resources industry. She has lived her entire life in the Yakima Valley and has dedicated her life to continuing Tomas’ legacy by working to improve the lives of underserved and underrepresented populations.

Virtual Conversation with Rubisela Gamboa

Rubisela Gamboa

Diversity Series Yakima Valley College’s 2022 Diversity Series will present a virtual conversation featuring Rubisela Gamboa, a scholar who has explored the undocumented migrant experience and grew up on the Yakama Reservation. Gamboa’s talk will focus on surviving segregation and racial violence, drawing upon an understanding of the historical Chicana/o experience.

Gamboa is an associate professor and chair of the American Ethnic Studies Department at Ventura College in Ventura, Calif., where she teaches history and Chicana/o studies. She grew up on the Yakama Reservation within a farmworker family. As a first-generation college student, she earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Eastern Washington University and a master’s degree in Mexican American studies from the University of Arizona.

As an undergraduate she worked as an advocate and activist in her community through M.E.Ch.A (Movimiento Estudiantil de Change & Action) leadership, volunteering with the UFW Foundation and as treasurer of the Yakima County Voters Registration Project. As a graduate student, she contributed to research focusing on the undocumented migrant experience in the context of the criminal justice system and health concerns at the Arizona/México Border. She also worked as a researcher under Project EXPORT, exploring the prevention of drug use among Latino youth and adolescent sexual risk behaviors. Her passion in life has been to make a difference through higher education; guiding students in understanding Chicana/o history, self-identity, and self-consciousness

Virtual Workshop Series Featuring Counselor James Vega

Diversity Series Yakima Valley College’s 2022 Diversity Series will present a series of three virtual workshops featuring counselor and scholar James Vega over the coming month. The free events will be held on Wednesday, April 27, May 4, and May 11 at 10:30 a.m. PST.  Q&A Session will follow each lecture by Vega.

Workshop 1 (April 27): Using the Aztec Calendar/Mexika Sunstone   Participants will: Learn how to use the comprehensive Indigenous Tonali Booklet by Maestro Jaime, Tlakatletzin Learn how to find one’s cosmic identity, characteristics, and career paths Learn how to start living each day with an increased purpose to reach one’s full potential Learn about the 20 days known as the solar day Start a journal to enter the art, poetry, thoughts, feelings, and questions. Discuss the activities to do in preparation for the next workshop.

Workshop 2 (May 4): How to Use the Ancient Indigenous Codices Charts   Participants will: Learn how to use the Tonali Booklet: Birth Chart, Mexika Solar Year Charts, 20 days/Tonali, 20-day segments/Vientena, and 13 Day Birth Cycle/Ze Trezena Learn how to understand the ancient sunstone to find out about one’s characteristics, gifts and career paths Review previous session activities and journals. Discuss the activities to do in preparation for the next workshop.

Workshop 3 (May 11): How to use the Ze Trezena/13 Day Birth Cycle information   Participants will: Learn how to help others discover how they can reach their full potential. Learn how to determine a person’s birth information by using knowledge gained during these ancient Indigenous teachings. Share their experience with these three sessions. Share their Indigenous Codice shield or collage or artistic creation. Review of previous sessions, activities, and journals.

Maestro Jaime; James Tlakatletzin Vega (fire keeper) is a child of immigrant parents from the ChiChimeka and Otomi nations (Guanajuato/Mexico). He was born in Ventura and grew up in East Los Angeles and Whittier. Inspired by his participation in East LA. Walkout Mr.
Vega went on to achieve a Vocational Lifetime Teaching Credential from UCLA, B.A. Liberal Arts (Psychology, History, Sociology) from UCSB an M.S. in Educational Psychology & Counseling Credential from CSU Northridge. Mr. Vega has worked for many years as a bilingual group-counseling specialist and counselor for Moorpark College, Oxnard College, and SPHS. After retiring from counseling, he is now at Ventura College as a Faculty within the Tutoring Department.
Mr. Vega has spent over 4 decades learning his indigenous language of Nahuatl and learning how to live in accordance with the (“Aztec Calendar”); indigenous Sacred Sun-Stone of the Mexika. His indigenous research journey has included the ancient valley of Anahuatl Mexico-Tenochtitlan and surrounding sacred sites. He was taught how to interpret/read ancient codices of pre-Kuauhtemok times from indigenous instructors as primary sources that included verbal/oral history, manuscript readings, and philosophy.
Jaime sees himself as someone who is planting the seed of ancient knowledge for our future existence. He sees this work as a way to decolonize minds.
He was commissioned to share these ancient teaching with you in order to help you find your cosmic identity or TonaLi birthdate characteristics, talents, and career potentials by using the Aztec calendar/Ancient Sunstone.

32nd Annual Students of Color Conference

The 32nd Annual Students of Color Conference – “Cancel Misinformation, Regain Truth.”

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