Spotlight Series: Dr. Yolanda Reyna
February 28, 2019
Dr. Yolanda Reyna, associate professor and lead instructor for learning frameworks and student development, was recognized this spring with the Distinguished Community College Faculty Award, presented by the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education (TACHE). The award recognizes superior levels of professionalism and accomplishment in the areas of teaching, research, or service to Chicano students.
"It was quite an honor... I was humbled by it," said Reyna, adding that she was astounded to be chosen from a pool of statewide nominees. "At Palo Alto [College] alone, there's so many good faculty. My colleagues are so good at what they do and are equally as passionate."
Reyna was nominated for the award by several faculty colleagues, who have worked with her in various capacities over her 28 years serving at Palo Alto College – something she says is the most meaningful aspect of the award.
"These are the people you work with every day. These are the people that know you. I think the most important thing that you can have in your work is the respect," said Reyna. "That's the best place you can be as far as your career goes... You can't buy that."
Formerly a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) with a private practice, Reyna left her practice to help start a women's center at Palo Alto College. She has since taken on various roles – including equity program coordinator, counselor, and chairperson – and eventually started teaching.
"Being here on a college campus, you're counseling students... and you know that their lives are going to get better. You know that they're going to change," said Reyna. "This award is about our students. Why else do we do what we do? During my tenure as an associate professor, I've learned that I have more influence on students than I realized. It is my responsibility to use my influence wisely."
In all of her roles, Reyna has advocated for student success through continued commitment to education and working with students individually to help them reach their academic, personal and career goals. Oftentimes, that has meant long nights and weekends; but seeing change in her students, and now getting recognized with this award, puts the hard work into perspective.
"You get to see the changes that students make and how their lives improve. You get to see that right before your eyes. Their successes are your successes," said Reyna. "Getting that recognition gives me a jolt. It gives me the lift that I need when I get down. All that hard work I've done over the years – that's why I do it, and people do realize it."