Cataño headshot

IMPERIAL — Imperial Valley College’s Interim Associate Dean of Institutional Effectiveness, Equity and Student Success Yolanda Cataño has been honored by two education organizations for her work on behalf of college students, according to a press release.

She was one of two recipients of the American College Personnel Educator’s Voices of Inclusion Award and also was one of five honorees recently recognized by the California College Personnel Association. Cataño received the CCPA’s award for Outstanding Dedication to Equity and Social Justice.

Windi Sasaki, ACPA director of Equity and Inclusion, wrote in Cataño’s notification letter, “While it has always been clear that our field has many professionals who are committed to equity, inclusion, and social justice, and many who use the professional positions they hold to increase learning, access, and feelings of community, we selected you this year because of the way you use your voice — your strength, expression, and advocacy.”

Born in Mexicali, Cataño was raised primarily in Imperial County and graduated from Central Union High School. 

She joined the IVC staff in the fall. Cataño is a third-year doctoral candidate in San Diego State University’s doctorate in education CC Lead program. She received both a master's degree in Sociological Practice and bachelor’s degree in Women’s Studies at California State University San Marcos. She upholds a commitment to “paying it forward.” 

Cataño also is the first in her family to reach this level of education.

As a Latina, first-generation student, and professional, she said she understands the complexity of navigating systems of higher education. She is passionate about serving students, particularly those who have faced insurmountable challenges to reach their goals. 

She has been getting to know her new IVC community and is working toward building existing efforts to support students’ experiences and outcomes, knowing that IVC and the whole community have played a role in their success.

“I am humbled to have been nominated and selected for both awards,” Cataño said. “I want to thank Imperial Valley College and our President, Dr. Martha Garcia, for giving me this opportunity. I always share the same sentiment when I share my story with others: ‘school saved my life.’”

She added, “I truly believe in the power of education and the ways in which it directly benefits our community. These wins are not just my wins, they are also a reflection of those who came before and those who will come after. I am honored to serve this community that has given me so much.”  

Cataño has held multiple positions that have strengthened her work around grant writing, teaching, and research. Most recently, Cataño was a graduate research affiliate for the Community College Equity Assessment Lab and worked on large-scale equity reports for California community colleges.

She is also a board member for the Imperial Valley LGBT Resource Center, where she supports all grant-writing efforts along with all program and center activities administered at the center. 

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