The Weekly Issue El Semanario announces its’ endorsement of Yolanda Ortega, a candidate for University of Colorado (CU) Regent for the new Congressional District 8, which covers Adams, Weld and part of Larimer Counties. Her 50 years of experience in higher education, specifically at Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver) as well as her activism and civic responsible nature, makes her a prime candidate to fill this position. Yolanda began her higher education career as a secretary in the Chicana and Chicano Studies Department at MSU Denver, followed by promotion into several administrative positions, which included being appointed as a Vice President of Student Services, a position she held until her retirement. She left with a title of Administrator Emeritus, a status of respect and admiration.
One of the major roles that Yolanda played at MSU Denver was as an advocate for students of color, beginning at a time, when there were very few professors and administrators on college and university campuses across the state, let along advocates. As a first generation Chicana, she brought her life experiences into an institution that was thirsty for diversity, following an intense struggle during the time of gentrification and the development of the Auraria Higher Education complex. Her tireless efforts for 50 years, was an instrumental force in paving the way for Latinos who had lost trust in government during the battle for building the Institutional triplex—losing trust and suffering from a collective wounded spirit. She established a relationship between surrounding communities and this university, that is now an Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), with 35% Latino student population. As she stated, “I understand how important it is to create community, to appreciate the sacrifices your family makes and the desire to realize your dream! I know what it was like to be the ‘only one’ or the ‘first’.”
Her platform includes continued dedication and advocacy for Latinas and Latinos that often dream of going to college, but whose aspirations are often truncated by a variety of economic, social, and political issues.
Yolanda realizes that Latina/o students are often at a disadvantage with respect to earning enough money to attend college.
Yolanda further sees her role as advocating “for endowed scholarships, assistance in scholarship and grants searches and support.” She has dedicated her life to the service of others. Her vision includes, “strengthening community partnerships at CU to assist students, with concomitant policies that include internships, scholarships and a head start in the careers of their choice.”
Part of Yolanda’s experience includes decades as an actress and singer in El Centro Su Teatro—performing mitos that tell the stories of struggle, racism, marginalization, discrimination, gentrification and other maladies that have disempowered Latino communities. She uses her theatrical skills as a medium for teaching—awakening the consciousness of a community whose educational aspirations continue to face a myriad of challenges. She also sees Chicana theater as a healing force, as the complex issues of real life are played out on stage, offering catharsis for many of the audience members.
Her experience at the university is filled with stories of faculty and staff of color struggling for promotions and tenure—many times without positive resolutions. Developing pathways to attract and recruit “talented and qualified Latinx professors and professional staff,” is on her radar screen. She is committed to developing, supporting, and enhancing polices that include diversity, inclusion and equity and institutionalizing them into the structure of the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Learn more about Yolanda Ortega here.
The Weekly Issue/El Semanario Editorial Board
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