Dr. Yolanda Treviño recalls that her first realization of diversity came early. Living in Minnesota, Treviño had just entered kindergarten after her parents settled down in the area after working seasonally as migrant farm workers. As she sat down with the other students in her class, Treviño was nervous; her parents spoke Spanish at home, so English was not her first language. However, she soon realized that she was not alone. With classmates who had Norwegian, Swedish, and German spoken in their homes and students from the area’s Native American community, she did not know it then, but she was not alone.
“Really, I wasn’t the only one learning a new language. There were others who had more than one language spoken in their home. That appreciation of family heritage, language, and culture still sticks with me,” Treviño said.
Today, Treviño embraces the powerful lessons of diversity she first learned as a kindergartener. As the assistant vice president for strategy, planning, and assessment with Indiana University’s Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs (OVPDEMA), Treviño works with offices across the university to devise and employ strategies to improve diversity and inclusion at IU. In doing so, Treviño harnesses the collaborative spirit of the university to create a diverse and welcoming environment for students, faculty, and staff of all backgrounds.
“Yolanda’s work represents the very best of what makes Indiana University special: our collaborative and holistic approaches to ensure that people from all backgrounds and of all academic passions can find success at IU,” said James C. Wimbush, vice president for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs, dean of The University Graduate School, and Johnson Chair for Diversity and Leadership.
In addition to working with offices across the university, Treviño has recently taken on the role of advising and coordinating the OVPDEMA academic programs and cultural centers that serve students on the IU Bloomington campus. Both within these centers and in offices across the university, Treviño said she recognizes a passion for creativity, collaboration, and progress that makes the IU experience so special. It is her role to bring out the best of this collaborative spirit to achieve positive outcomes for all who call IU home.
“We all have the same priorities – excellent education thru dynamic and innovative partnerships,” Treviño said. “How and where we can work together to make sure that there aren’t any gaps or that those gaps get reduced, and that the net of resources we provide to students, faculty, and staff is well maintained and wide enough to serve its purpose.”
After 25 years of studying and working at Indiana University, the wealth of opportunities offered to students still excites Treviño. From world-class musical performances and research opportunities to the extracurricular activities available across campus, Treviño is inspired by the sheer amount of opportunities students have to make their education their own. Treviño believes that by being curious and engaging in these opportunities can benefit IU graduates long after graduation. She points to the story of Will Shortz, an IU alum who designed his own enigmatology major, focusing on the study of puzzles. Shortz now edits the crossword section of The New York Times--an example of the kind of remarkable success, Treviño said, that IU’s focus on multidisciplinary perspectives and creativity helps make possible.
It is this kind of success that Treviño hopes to help students, faculty, and staff of all backgrounds achieve at IU. By supporting OVPDEMA’s efforts at IU Bloomington and across the university, she hopes to create a university where everyone can do their best work. And when offering students advice, she urges them to take advantage of the opportunities IU provides in the time they have.
“You’re here eight semesters. Turn each semester into what could be a lifetime of learning,” Treviño said.