Alumni Spotlight: Yolanda, EdD, “Sharing Will Bridge Better Outcomes to Your Goals”


Yolanda is a December 2022 graduate of Aspen’s Doctor of Education in Leadership and Learning program, specializing in K-12 Educational Leadership. Yolanda’s passion for education led her to get creative and find innovative ways to impact her students’ learning. Check out Yolanda’s inspiring story!


“When initiating my doctoral degree in 2018, I found myself with a 2-year-old daughter, Meredith, and a 9-month-old baby boy, Armando. I was in my 12th year of teaching in Puerto Rico, and I found myself leaving our home along with my husband after it was hit by Hurricane Maria and relocating to Texas. Once settled in Texas, I had doubts about my decision to begin a doctoral program, wondering if I was making the right choice. I was inspired by my two children Meredith and Armando and my desire to see a change in the education system. I understood that obtaining a higher degree would offer me a wider array of professional opportunities that would guide me to a future my kids would be proud of and be part of. I already held a Bachelor’s degree in English and a Master’s in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL), and I realized that the doctoral program offered at Aspen University would complement my journey in education, this time as a leader; I could be part of the change I was seeking to see in education, not only through a leadership role, but also through knowing how to impact my students in their learning process as well.

Aspen University has helped me grow professionally. I have had the opportunity to develop and refresh new teaching strategies along with my growth in leadership skills within an educational setting. I became the researcher, the facilitator, the organizer, the analyst, and the main pole to hold all the pieces together, accomplishing my goal with my dissertation: The Effect of Reader’s Theatre Curriculum on Identified ESL Students’ Fluency and Comprehensive Growth. As a teacher, there is a commitment to help students overcome struggles and to look for ways in which they engage in and enjoy the learning process; my dissertation helped satisfy that commitment. I observed that students I encountered in both Puerto Rico and Texas were struggling with reading.

In 2020, I returned to Puerto Rico right before an earthquake occurred on the island and right before the worldwide lockdown with COVID-19. I did not give up. It was not easy, but it made me stronger. These stones that hit me hard in unimaginable ways, did not stop me from continuing; they gave me, in some way, therapy. I concentrated on something I loved, education, after a long day dealing with reality. As I continued completing my courses and my research, not only did the students improve as ESL learners, but they also became more motivated, setting aside their fear of speaking English. The participants of my research improved in reading comprehension and fluency. The gains have led me to move beyond the scope of my dissertation and begin talking to other ESL teachers. I am currently a professor and part of the English faculty at a high school in Puerto Rico. I have begun to create a workshop that I could use to train other educators outside my school, utilizing the concepts from my dissertation as a supplemental strategy within the Puerto Rico Department of Education. Today I am representing the public school system through the PR TESOL organization and contributing with other colleagues on student success initiatives. I was also able to publish my dissertation in the Puerto Rico TESOL Research Journal in November 2023.

Níkos Kazantzákis once said that “teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite the students to cross; then having facilitated their crossing joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own”. This quote represents what I feel an educator should be, a facilitator who provides guidance and tools, teaches students how to use those tools, and gives them the space to create their own tools throughout their learning process. Being able to know my students and looking for ways to improve their learning motivated me to begin my journey with my dissertation at Aspen University. I’m continuing to impact my students in creative ways through my participation in the Puerto Rico chapter of Poetry Out Loud, a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry for recitation competitions for high school students across the country helping students master public speaking skills and build self-confidence for students interested in reciting poetry.

Some advice I would like to share with other Aspen students is to continue striving for more. Share your knowledge. Help others along the way. Sharing will bridge better outcomes to your goals; in any profession, sharing makes teamwork stronger and together we can reach for more!”

Yolanda is an example of how amazing and dedicated faculty can make an impact in the lives of their students. Aspen University’s faculty are here to support you through your doctoral journey! We are excited to see what you can achieve through your own dissertation research!

Find Your Program
Find Your Program
Tell Us About Yourself
Request Your Information

By clicking the Submit button above, I represent that I am 18+ years of age, that I have read and agreed to the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy and agree to receive email marketing and phone calls from Aspen University. I understand that my consent is not required to apply for online degree enrollment. To speak with a representative without providing consent, please call 1-800-373-7814.

Thank You for Your Interest

An Enrollment Advisor will contact you shortly to introduce you to Aspen University and help you understand the programs and payment options available.

You can also start the free application right now.