A Journey of Resilience: Yolanda Yazzie’s Path to Success at Coconino Community College
Brenda Silveus (left) with Yolanda Yazzie (right) at the CCC Students First Celebration held on Sept. 13, 2023
Flagstaff, AZ – Yolanda Yazzie, a student at Coconino Community College (CCC), is not just pursuing an education; she's forging a path from adversity to ambition, driven by a deep sense of purpose and a desire to give back to her community. Yazzie has dealt with abusive parents. With the foster care system. With poverty and hunger. Now, as a parent herself, she is committed to helping others, and she has dedicated herself to improving her life with a career in the Hospitality industry by embarking on a journey of education beginning at Coconino Community College.
Like many young Navajo children, she grew up facing the harsh realities of poverty and the burden of an unstable home environment marred by abusive parents. It was her aunt who stepped in as a guiding light, raising her alongside her own children.
Food was often scarce in the Yazzie household, and like her cousins, she would sometimes go hungry. As she reflected on her journey, Yazzie recalled,
"I was in and out of the foster care system or living with relatives like my aunt after my parents separated. At the time, I didn’t really understand what was happening, but looking back on it now, I can see why working hard was never a choice."
Yazzie grew up, married, and started her own family. Their oldest child was born with Down Syndrome and requires additional home health care, which places enormous demands on Yazzie's time and energy. It was during this period that she discovered a new sense of purpose.
She found employment at Twin Arrows, where she worked in their coffee shop. Over eight years, she moved up the ranks within the company, taking pride in her role of providing exceptional service to patrons. It was during this time that she began to envision a different career path, one that combined her newfound passion for hospitality with her commitment to helping others.
Now in her second year at CCC, Yazzie is part of the CCC2NAU program, aiming to transition to Northern Arizona University (NAU) to pursue a Bachelor's degree in Hospitality. Her ultimate goal is to leverage her skills and knowledge to give back to her community, possibly by opening her own restaurant or coffee shop in Tolani Lakes, Arizona.
"It's always been the hard stuff in my life that pushes me to work hard and be self-determined; to find a way," she remarked.
Yazzie is quick to express her gratitude for the support she's received on her journey. Scholarships from the Blue Family Foundation and the Raymond Education Foundation have provided her with essential financial assistance for school supplies and transportation. Beyond the monetary assistance, these scholarships have granted her the precious gift of time with her family.
As she continues her educational journey at CCC and beyond, there is no doubt that she will inspire others and, in her own words, "bring her skills and knowledge back to her community" to create a brighter future for all.
To watch a video from her recent speech at the CCC Students First Celebration, visit our YouTube.
For more information about CCC scholarships or the CCC Foundation, visit coconino.edu/foundation.
About Coconino Community College
CCC has served residents across 18,000 square miles of Coconino County since 1991. The College has the goal of improving the lives of our residents through workforce development and higher education.
CCC provides affordable tuition and offers certificate programs and two-year associate degrees in academic and career fields. CCC also has programs that ease student transition to any of the three state universities, including the award-winning CCC2NAU.
CCC reaches out to the more rural portions of the County and Tribal Lands. Instructional sites offer classes through online, in-person and Zoom video conferencing classes to meet the needs of students in rural and remote areas. More than 20 percent of CCC's students are Native American learners.
Communication and Events Coordintor
- Thursday, 14th September 2023