The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Instructor helps students adjust to life in college

By Matthew McConathy/ reporter

Yolanda Hughes coordinates the Pathways program on NE Campus. Pathways works to prepare students with disabilities for college and the workforce, giving them hands-on training.Zuleima Zeigler/The Collegian
Yolanda Hughes coordinates the Pathways program on NE Campus. Pathways works to prepare students with disabilities for college and the workforce, giving them hands-on training.
Zuleima Zeigler/The Collegian

Resources for students with disabilities become an obstacle when given the new environment of college life. 

Yolanda Hughes coordinates the NE Campus Pathways program, enabling students with disabilities to learn workforce skills. Her passion is to help students become ready for college’s high demands.

“She’s fun, she’s sweet and she’s like sunshine — never in a bad mood,” director of community and industry education Julie Parrick said.

Born in Hartford, Connecticut, she enjoyed poetry and Dr. Seuss books as a child.

“My favorite hobbies were coloring and knitting and watching ‘The Wonderful World of Disney’ as a child,” Hughes said.

She saw her mother take care of elderly people, and that gave her an inspiration to do what she does today.

She enjoyed helping students with difficulties while she was in junior high and high school. In 1986, she moved to Texas, and she began her college career on NE Campus in 1988. She worked in General Dynamics’ engineering department and transferred to Texas Woman’s University in 1991.

Through a TWU internship, she worked for the Federal Aviation Administration’s human resources division. One employee who was deaf  wanted help on communication.

“He wanted to start a class for sign language through the FAA program,” Hughes said. “He conducted them. I assisted him in setting it up and helped with doing the marketing for the class.”

She graduated from TWU in 1994 and got her master’s at Texas Christian University three years later. She began working as the director of TCU’s Ronald McNair Program at Texas Christian University in 1997. It is a federal TRIO program aimed at helping those with disadvantaged backgrounds navigate toward getting graduate degrees.

“It was there I realized I wanted to help people with resources, underrepresented individuals,” she said. “I wanted to prepare students for graduate school. My biggest desire is to help them succeed under their definition of success, see the possibilities of whatever their dream is.”

In 2009, she started working in TCC’s district Office of Grants Development. From there, she was referred to Pathways’ then-coordinator Jan Miller to assist NE students. After Miller retired, Hughes took over and currently works with educational service departments for the Pathways program.

“I’m a part of the department. I check on the students, supplies, other departments on campus.” Hughes said. “Ms. Miller was an advocate for people with disabilities, students who have been overlooked and need an opportunity to experience life on a college campus.”

Hughes modified the Pathways program and created three sections of interest: college, career and enrichment. She teaches her students about the workforce and prepares hands-on training in the classroom. She collaborates with two programs, REACH and Come Read with Me, which both help those with disabilities. She is also a member of the Association on Higher Education and Disabilities.

“She serves as an advocate for the families and the students in the program. She identifies limited resources, researching every resource, and can get a referral to just about anything,” said industry education services coordinator Debra West.

Hughes collaborates with others to get things done, Parrick said.

“She’s a real team player, works well with our entire department,” Parrick said. “She will volunteer for anything for whatever they need.”

She also was the first of her family to graduate from college. Hughes enjoys movies like Steel Magnolias and Fried Green Tomatoes because of the lessons she has learned from the warm-hearted characters.

“They’re real,” she said. “What you see is what you get. Learn from one another, fellowship, willing to learn. Be excited and not afraid to dream.”

Donate to The Collegian

Your donation will support the student journalists of Tarrant County College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Collegian