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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Professor spreads laughter for generations to come

Associate+Professor+Dr.+Mary+Esther+Huerta%2C+Lecturer+Yolanda+Reyes%2C+and+Assistant+Dean+Dr.+Ruben+Garza+enjoyed+the+treats+and+company+at+%26%238220%3BPaletas+and+Platicas%26%238221%3B+during+HSI+week.

Associate Professor Dr. Mary Esther Huerta, Lecturer Yolanda Reyes, and Assistant Dean Dr. Ruben Garza enjoyed the treats and company at “Paletas and Platicas” during HSI week.

Yolanda Reyes had the type of laugh that people remember. It was the type of laugh that flooded the halls, could be heard from doors down, made people smile from far away and spread into any room she was in. By the time she made it into the room, she was guaranteed to know everyone’s name.
Reyes, a lecturer in the College of Education’s Curriculum and Instruction Department, was on her way to campus Feb. 17 when she was involved in a tragic fatal car crash. She will be missed dearly by the students who will pass on her knowledge for years to come.
Reyes will be honored at three separate memorials: the College of Education will hold a memorial specifically for students in the department from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. from March 6 in UAC 124; the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Avenue, in Austin will hold a memorial at 2 p.m March 8; and she will also be honored at the Bobcat Pause Memorial with a reception at 5:15 p.m. and the ceremony at 6 p.m. April 8 in the LBJ Student Center Ballroom.
Before teaching at Texas State, Reyes was an assistant principal at Bonham Pre Kindergarten for two years and previously worked as a kindergarten teacher. Reyes was affectionately known as “Profesora Reyes” by her students and was well-loved by both students and faculty.
Aubree Kitchen, interdisciplinary studies junior, said she was in Reyes’ first class of the day the morning when she didn’t show up. The students waited in the class, as it was unlike Reyes not to show up and wrote messages wishing Reyes was okay on the classroom board before they left.
“She was so wise and she had a lot to share with us but she also encouraged us,” Kitchen said. “She wanted us to be amazing teachers.”
Kitchen said Reyes was joyful with everyone and will live on through her students, and their students as well.
“She was a great light in this world and so many people have been affected by her life,” Kitchen said. “I hope I make her proud someday when I finally get to be a teacher.”
Jodi Holschuh, chair of the Curriculum and Instruction Department, said Reyes had plenty of close friends in addition to her colleagues, including people in the biology department, custodial staff and everyone who worked at The Den.
“She knew everybody’s name,” Holschuh said. “It’s kind of amazing how many people she touched.”
Holschuh said Tim Kinard, associate professor in the Curriculum and Instruction Department, will teach Reyes’ classes for the rest of the semester and one professor at the Round Rock campus even volunteered to come out of retirement to substitute her class.
Holschuh said Reyes was able to make friends in all walks of life through her hobbies and had an unforgettable laugh.
“It was big (and) booming,” Holschuh said. “She honestly had the best laugh I’ve ever heard.
Reyes was a Hays County Master Naturalist and had 717 volunteer hours at various nature organizations around central Texas. She was a very active employee at the entry kiosk at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildlife Center and loved being in nature.
Minnette Marr, conservation program manager at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, said Reyes had a way of making people feel welcome, was an advocate for local government and reminded everyone to vote.
“She was a good friend,” Marr said. “I just felt so lucky to have someone that I could really talk to about important ideas in a very honest way.”
Taylor Seibel, early childhood education senior, said Reyes defied all stereotypes of a scary professor and made her feel like she could be herself.
“I’ve never had a professor that just cared so deeply and passionately about her students and about everything that we’re doing,” Seibel said. “She knew specific stuff about our lives, not just like she was coming to teach us about reading and ESL.”
Reyes’ students and colleagues memorialized her office door, 3034 in the education building, with flowers, notes, chocolates, memories and a whiteboard filled with messages. Seibel said Reyes’ impact could be seen by the amount of students who came to pay their respects.
“I was really happy that everyone had really special memories of her,” Seibel said. “She was so much more than our early education teacher; she put so much of her life into making people happy.”
All three memorials are open to anyone who wishes to attend. According to her obituary, Yolanda would have appreciated donations to the Wildflower Center or to the ACLU.
The Counseling Center is a free and confidential resource all currently enrolled students experiencing grief can utilize and it also holds group grief counseling.

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