“I chose Houston Community College because of the availability to easily access courses through various campuses.” This is what Yolanda Franklin said when I asked her what was the deciding factor to come to HCC? Turns out that the great decision that Yolanda made is letting her get her second associate’s degree by the end of this summer.
Yolanda is originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Before moving to Houston 5 years ago she lived in southern Mississippi where she was working at a childcare resource center. The reason she wanted to move to Houston is that it would provide more opportunities for her. Which it did as she was able to find a job in that line of work at a local non-profit where she supports early care educators through NAEYC accreditation, professional development, and scholarship information in order for them to access.
The reason Yolanda decided to go back to community college was to make herself more marketable in job opportunities. She had some college credits before HCC. So going into it she was able to get her first associate’s degree in multidisciplinary studies, which was also her most memorable accomplishment at HCC, proving to herself that she can finish what she started. The second associate’s degree she’s working on is in digital media and she states that this degree is just for herself because she always wanted to do something in public relations and advertising. The second degree has a lot to do with what she does currently at her job.
The biggest obstacle that Yolanda had to face while being at HCC was that her first supervisor from a different department wasn’t as supportive of her being in school, also she had a rigorous workload, and as well she had school work on top of that. The way she was able to overcome that obstacle was she was able to switch roles and got a different supervisor who was very supportive of her pursuing an associate’s degree. The supervisor even told her when the pandemic started to shift her focus to finishing her degree. Yolanda someday hopes to pay it forward someday by being the supervisor who’s supportive of her employees. She even said that day might come sometime in the near future as her supervisor chose Yolanda to be her successor once she finishes her degree.
Yolanda reflected on her time as an HCC student when I asked her “What would you tell your younger self before they had entered HCC?” She answered by saying “I would tell myself to stay the course. Don’t get distracted by work or income that would come later because once you finish your degree it’s yours. It can’t be taken away from you. Don’t just stop because the money is good right now because that’s not long term the degree is yours.”
After my interview with Yolanda, I came to realize that she’s the embodiment of what the community college experience is all about. Yes, community college can be for students who come right out of high school, but it can also be for people who want a second chance at getting their degree. In Yolanda’s case, she’s using these degrees to make a difference in the world by helping out early care educators.
She plans to attend Texas Southern University in the fall and I wish her the best of luck.