Yolanda Bisbee, Director for the College Assistance Migrant Program and Executive Director of Tribal Relations
Yolanda has worked at the University of Idaho for over 20 years, and has helped many campus women grow personally and professionally. She has served the University of Idaho as an Administrative Assistant, Residential Counselor, Program Coordinator, and for the past ten years, as the CAMP Director. Yolanda was recently appointed the University’s Executive Director of Tribal Relations.
In every position that she has held, Yolanda has always been a great role model and inspiration for young multicultural women. She received her Bachelor’s, Master’s, and recently, her Doctoral degree from the UI. Her journey in completing her Doctorate of Education was not an easy one. She was a first-generation, single mother, maneuvering through the academic realm.
As she has shared with all of her female students, no matter the difficult obstacles that we encounter, it is important to continue one’s education and be independent, as this will result in happiness and fulfillment in the long run. Yolanda’s story is one of persistence, determination, and motivation, which makes her the perfect person to direct the College Assistance Migrant Program, and to receive this award.
Yolanda has not only touched thousands of women’s lives at the University of Idaho and in the Native American and Hispanic communities, but has changed their lives for the better. Yolanda has been a key liaison in recruiting young women to the University of Idaho from Latino and Native American communities.
Many parents of multicultural female students are not comfortable with the idea of their daughter leaving home to go to school far away without building a relationship with a female representative of the institution. As soon as they speak to Yolanda, they feel the trust and support she will provide to their daughters. She plays a huge role in many traditional Latino and Native American families agreeing to support their daughter’s dream of a college education. Due to the mentoring and support that Yolanda provides to students, she is known to many of them as “Big Mama.”
A significant number of multicultural recruitment and retention successes at the UI can be attributed to Yolanda’s vision and foundational work, but most significant is her unwavering commitment to these young women. A few years after CAMP was funded at the UI, a group of young multicultural women felt that their voice was not being represented on campus. They asked their mentor, Yolanda, to be the advisor to a newly-formed campus chapter of the Women of Color Alliance. Yolanda saw this as an opportunity to support and foster a welcoming environment for multicultural women attending the UI, and accepted the request. Yolanda is inspiring not just to students, but also to many men and women in the education profession.
Yolanda has taken on leadership roles in various campus organizations and committees. She is often one of the few women representatives at the table among many men. Her presence and expertise radiates throughout meetings, and she speaks her mind without fear of holding back. Yolanda brings a critical and important perspective that too often goes unvoiced at this institution. She is passionate in her career and is always making sure that cultural barriers are destroyed in order to create a welcoming and safe environment for all.