Posted Nov. 8, 2019 — When faculty or students have a question about something in the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies, they turn to Yonelly Gutiérrez — the “go-to” person with the answer for just about everything.
Gutiérrez, a Katy native who graduated this year with a master’s degree in higher education from the University of Houston College of Education, said she enjoys working behind the scenes as a program manager for ELPS. She works closely with program directors to plan courses and book classrooms each semester, manages the ELPS Twitter account and handles event planning for the department.
She also serves as a board member for the UH Hispanic Alumni Association and as a mentor for Las Comadres, a program that pairs first-generation Latina students with a faculty or staff member to help them navigate college and feel connected to the UH community.
Learn more about Gutiérrez’s career path and what she loves about being a program manager in the Q&A below.
How did your journey with the ELPS department begin?
During my first year of graduate school, I gained experience in student affairs and wanted to gain new experiences in academic affairs during my second year. I started as the graduate assistant in the ELPS department and then had the opportunity to continue working as a full-time program manager after I graduated.
Describe the difference between working with students and faculty.
Working with undergraduate students requires you to take more of an advisor role. A common phrase heard in the student affairs world is to “meet the student where they are at.” You have to remember that a student has a life outside extracurricular activities and academics. Faculty have a life outside of work, too, but students are still discovering who they are and who they want to be during college.
What does a typical day at work look like?
My day usually starts with a bike ride (from the parking lot!) to open the office. After waking up the printers and starting a pot of coffee, I check my email and prioritize requests. There are three main program areas within the ELPS department that I am responsible for, and each program area has course schedules, student rosters and events that need coordination. I am constantly looking ahead to see what events and deadlines are coming up so I can plan accordingly.
How has this position helped you in your professional development?
I have the privilege of supervising two wonderful work-study students and an amazing graduate assistant, giving me the opportunity to practice the type of leader I want to be. Being surrounded by amazing educational leaders who give me the leeway to learn as I go has really helped my professional development. I am grateful to have started my higher education career at the University of Houston.
What is it about being a program manager that you enjoy?
I’m a really detailed oriented person so it’s fun for me to put together this big puzzle that is managing the course lists and event planning.
What else do you love about your job?
I love the department and the people I work with! I believe you should be in a place where you like to work and I’m fortunate the people I work with make it feel like home.
As a board member for the UH Hispanic Alumni Association, what are your responsibilities?
I get to help with everything. Right now, I’m chairing the annual Loteria Night Fundraiser. I’m super proud of it because it’s the first event I’ve had to seek sponsors for.
You’re stuck listening to one artist for the rest of your life. Who would it be?
Kings of Leon.
Do you have any pets?
I have three dogs: two pit bulls and a lab and Great Dane mix.
Now that it’s finally starting to get chilly and Halloween just passed, let’s talk spooky: What’s your favorite horror movie?
— By Alberto Huichapa