New student trustee hopes to inspire others to succeed at STCC
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Yanira Aviles recalled feeling overwhelmed with emotion when she found out her fellow students elected her to serve as Springfield Technical Community College’s newest student trustee.
“I cried,” the Springfield resident said. “My hard work paid off.”
As a voting member of the Board of Trustees, Aviles will have the opportunity to work with President John B. Cook and weigh in on long-range planning and fiscal oversight at STCC. She will meet regularly with 10 other trustees who were appointed by the governor. Her one-year term started in July.
Aviles is not taking the responsibility lightly. She sees herself as an advocate for students who come from a background like hers. They might be the first in their family to go to college. They might have thought higher education was not for them because they couldn’t afford it or because someone told them they’re not “college material.”
She hopes to show them STCC represents an affordable option that paves the way to a successful career. Aviles is on a mission to inspire students who have faced barriers.
“I’m trying to help them,” she said. “I came from the bottom. I didn’t come here with somebody patting me on the back. I didn’t come with scholarships. I came with what I had, and I didn’t have anything.”
Originally from Puerto Rico, Aviles received her commercial driver’s license and took a job as a long-haul truck driver. She had been driving 18-wheelers for over a dozen years when she decided to come to STCC in her mid-30s for Adult Basic Education Services. She took courses to prepare for the HiSET, or high school equivalency test. As a single mother with five children, she wanted to find a better life.
I came from the bottom. I didn’t come here with somebody patting me on the back. I didn’t come with scholarships. I came with what I had, and I didn’t have anything.Yanira Aviles, STCC Student Trustee
“Driving a truck wasn’t ideal for me and my kids. It wasn’t something I wanted to do anymore,” Aviles said. “I wanted to be able to maintain my family on my own and have a stable income.”
Having passed her HiSET exam in 2016, Aviles enrolled in the liberal arts/general studies degree program at STCC.
One of her professors at STCC, Theresa Shea, described Aviles as “a highly motivated student from day one.”
“Yanira exhibits leadership qualities. She was always prepared and was kind to her fellow classmates,” Shea said. “She has a powerful voice, and she’s learning how to use it.”
Aviles hopes to graduate in spring 2020, and then transfer to a four-year university or college and continue with her education. Her goal is to earn a bachelor’s degree and then a master’s degree. “There is no limit in the things I know I can accomplish,” she said.
Aviles works part-time at STCC in Student Financial Services as an advisor to students seeking financial aid – a job that is a good fit given her background. She had received financial help that allowed her to finish her first semester free of charge.
Some of the programs Aviles turned to for support at STCC include:
- Center for Access Services (CAS), which provides a range of free support for eligible students, including grocery assistance, emergency housing options, utility assistance, health insurance and more.
- TRIO Student Support Services, which helps students in adjusting to the college environment and prepares students for the transition either from college into a career or from STCC into a four-year college or university.
“If it wasn’t for STCC’s programs, I don’t think I’d be here,” Aviles said. “I want to help other students so they know about the opportunities here at STCC. I want to make sure they get the education they need and deserve. I’m looking out for their needs and their interests, and I hope that I’m able to make a difference.”
Interested in applying to STCC? Visit stcc.edu/apply or call Admissions at (413) 755-3333.
About Springfield Technical Community College
Founded in 1967 and located on 35 acres of the Springfield Armory National Historic Site, STCC is a major resource for the economic vitality of Western Massachusetts. As the only technical community college in Massachusetts, STCC, a designated Hispanic Serving Institution, offers a variety of career programs unequalled in the state. STCC’s highly regarded transfer programs in business, engineering, liberal arts, science and technology continue to provide the most economical options for students pursuing a four-year degree. With an annual enrollment of about 7,000 day, evening, weekend and online students, STCC is a vibrant campus rich in diversity.
For more information about STCC, visit www.stcc.edu. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@S_T_C_C) and Instagram (@stccpics).
Jim Danko, (413) 755-4812, firstname.lastname@example.org