Yvette Espinosa

Yvette Espinosa teaches Biology at South Mountain Community College.

Yvette Espinosa began her journey at South Mountain Community College in 2006. Professor Espinosa recalls her first day at SMCC as being in disbelief that she obtained the job of becoming a teacher. In her first few years teaching, she discovered the inequalities SMCC faced when it came to poorly outfitted classrooms. According to Professor Espinosa, the Chemistry and Biology classrooms are not “college standard,” so she has made it her mission to fight for better resources for her students.

One of Espinosa’s proudest achievements at SMCC was the diversity she helped create in the biology majors program. Espinosa knew she was making a positive impact when she was interviewed by the University of Wisconsin since SMCC has the highest rate for success for underrepresented 1st generation students in the nation. Professor Espinosa continues to share the same impact in all her classes. Now in her 14th year, SMCC continues to be Professor Espinosa’s home and community 

Encouragement for the new generation 

When she was a student herself, Espinosa struggled in class, particularly in Biology! She passed the class with a C, which was something she was not used to. It did discourage her a bit, but she reminded herself that even though she got a C in that class, she knew she tried her hardest and worked really hard for that grade. There are students that work extensively in a class and others who get discouraged. Those students who do not put the work in, will not always succeed. However, the students that show that that course matter will be willing to put the effort in and succeed. Among the meaningful pieces of advice that she mentioned, there was a very important phrase that stood out. Yvette Espinosa said that we, as the community of South Mountain Community College, needed to start acknowledging what the SMCC Campus does for us. SMCC educates students in need, from different ethnicities, and the unrepresented students in the community. As part of South Mountain, we need to be empowered and speak our minds, just as she does. 

*Future Video Clip: “Encouragement to the new generation” (59:12-1:02:24) here* 

Historical context 

Espinosa is passionate about the history of South Mountain Community College. While researching his history of the school, Espinosa discovered that the South Phoenix community had a lot to do with the founding of the college. The creation of SMCC provided opportunities that community members never had before. This tradition of looking out for the betterment of the community has inspired Espinosa to dedicate her career to doing the same. She strives to create inclusive education programs that mirror the dedication it took for groups like La Raza Unida to fight against racism in the mid to late 60s. With the contributions made by Yvette Espinosa and those like her, South Mountain’s strong foundations in community support continue.

*Future Video Clip: 23:30 – 24:45 South Phoenix Community request a college be made to the governing board “Why does this community need a college” here* 


NarratorYvette Espinoza
BirthdateSeptember 17, 1979
Place of OriginTucson, Arizona
Place of ResidencePhoenix, Arizona
OccupationBiology Professor and South Mountain Community College
Interview DateOctober 19, 2020
Interviewed byFaculty Researchers: Summer Cherland and Travis May
Story Written byStudent Researchers: Alberto Minero, Crystal Cruz, Miles Bower, Daisy Espinosa, Daisy Pineda
Faculty Co-Author: Summer Cherland
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