Westminster Latina vying for CU board nomination in upcoming primary election

After Colorado created its new congressional district — District 8 — the timing and opportunity to run for a seat on the University of Colorado board of trustees seemed perfect for Yolanda Ortega.

She had spent more than 30 years working in higher education before serving on various boards related to education in Colorado. So the role seemed like a natural fit when she found herself thinking “What happens next? »

“I want to continue to be active in higher education,” Ortega said. “Just as a member of the (Auraria Board of Directors) and working my whole life, I’m just not ready to stop. I live in the right place at the right time.

Ortega is one of two Democratic candidates vying to be nominated in the upcoming primary election to earn a spot on the November general election ballot for the CU Board of Regents’ 8th congressional district.

Ortega moved to Denver in 1972 and began working at Metropolitan State University, Denver, formerly Metropolitan State College, Denver, as a secretary, and 30 years later retired as vice president of student affairs.

“I loved my career in higher education, especially on the Auraria campus, because it offered so much work experience,” she said.

Ortega said that after her retirement, she was appointed by the governor to serve on Auraria’s board of directors and had served there for six years. Besides that, she is also involved in community organizations such as Firefly Autism and the Denver Latino Commission.

“I’ve always brought a sense of community (to the roles I’ve held),” she said. “I want to bring that perspective (to the council), so that when there is a decision to be made about policy, we can include the perspectives of grassroots organisations. They are the ones who have the links with the communities.

While working for Metropolitan State University, Ortega said she enjoyed the daily interactions she had with students. She loved learning from them and hearing their stories.

If elected to the board, she said she would prioritize those same connections.

“I want to keep hearing from the students,” Ortega said. “It’s such a diversity of thought, and it’s inspired me to be a better administrator.”

Prior to her application, Ortega said she had not had the opportunity to work with many rural students or families. Over the past few months, she has learned a great deal about the concerns rural families in District 8 have with higher education in Colorado. During these interactions, she thought deeply about the question “Why CU?”

“You dig deep and find that (rural students) really want to have a degree that will help push that dream forward,” she said. “That’s our challenge: to find ways to meet students where they are and provide them with these opportunities. Higher degrees increase your economic potential. It’s about exploring their dream, their future.

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