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Barnes Graduates in the First Cohort of the Doctorate of Community College Leadership Program

This story is taken from the Spring 2013 issue of the Points of Pride newsletter published by University Advancement and Marketing. The annual edition features some of the talented and driven graduating students who have demonstrated a drive to succeed by doing their best work and taking full advantage of their time at Ferris. 

Extended and International Operations: 

Yolonda Barnes

Hometown: Big Rapids

Yolanda BarnesDegree: Doctorate in Community College Leadership (Master of Science in Higher Education Administration, Ferris, 2004; Bachelor of Science in Religion, Central Michigan University, 2001)

She is: A member of the first cohort to graduate from the three-year doctoral program designed to help train the future leaders of community colleges. She is a senior advancement officer for annual giving in University Advancement and Marketing at Ferris, a wife and mother of two girls.

Awards and honors: NAACP Life Member, Who’s Who Among American College Graduate Students

Campus and community: Ferris’ Diversity and Inclusion Planning Committee

Point of Pride: “Ferris has a long and illustrious history and a vibrant academic environment which includes the new Doctorate in Community College Leadership.  FSU’s greatest source of pride is its  people — the faculty, staff, students and alumni who are working to advance society and improve lives both at home and abroad.”

What inspired her to pursue this degree: Being surrounded by opportunities to learn new things.

Yolonda earned a master’s degree while working full-time, an achievement that has served her well. She began to wonder if a doctorate would be as helpful and discussed it with her husband, Kevin, who supported her while she worked on her master’s.

“People ask me quite often how I do it – have a full-time-plus job, be a wife and a mom of two, and pursue a doctorate degree. The answer is simple and complex: Take it one day at a time, know your priorities and use a support system.”

The DCCL program is designed to meet the needs of full-time working adults, an opportunity Yolonda called perfect for her.

“People talk all the time about work-life balance, as if your life is either balanced or not. But that’s not the way it works for me. First, I have more than two things that I’m juggling. Sometimes my job requires a bigger share of my focus and attention. Sometimes it’s my family. And at times, it’s been my studies. When that happens, the other parts of my life get less. But I always try to keep in mind that it’s my family that really matters, and it’s my job that pays the bills.

“I’ve been really fortunate so far. When I really need to focus on one, another one doesn’t also need my utmost attention right then. The hardest part is having to give up family time to get my studies done.  But that’s where it is helpful to have a supportive husband or spouse.”

Her plan:  To enjoy the fruits of her labor and catch up on much-needed family time.

“My family has sacrificed a lot for the last three years while I have been in school. My husband makes a great wife.”

The future: “I hope that my degree enables me to make a contribution to the body of knowledge in my specific field of expertise.”

Advice for students: “Set attainable goals and achieve them.”

What she likes most about Big Rapids: “The small-town atmosphere and how community-orientated people are.”

A passion: Knowledge

One word that best describes her: Fun

Favorite Big Rapids restaurant: Schuberg’s Bar & Grill

Favorite season: Summer

Favorite place to travel: Key West, Fla.

Favorite movie actress: Bette Davis

No. 1 on her bucket list: To skydive