It is hard to believe that my friendship with Yvette Frisby began over 15 years ago. We first met while serving on the education committee of the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. I knew immediately that Yvette was one of those people who valued the importance of education. In fact, her life story is one where education plays a central role not only in her career, but how she gives of her time and talent. Soon after, we had lunch together and I can say with the utmost pleasure that the rest is history. Since 2004, Yvette has been a member of the Advisory Council, a BOLD Women’s Scholarship donor, and a beloved faculty member in the One Day Program and The American Women’s College. She was the 2016 recipient of Bay Path’s Distinguished Teaching Award for Adjuncts. Yvette has also made an impact on Bay Path in other ways. She inspired attendees at the Inaugural 2017 President’s Gala with her dance to the song “Rise Up,” dedicated to Bay Path’s adult women students. She had a personal goal of raising $1,000.00 in advance voting in support of scholarships for the Gala. Well, she went out on Facebook and had her own mini-fundraising campaign. By the end of the Gala evening, through her own efforts and votes from the Gala attendees, Yvette raised $4,871 dollars! In 2018, Yvette was our emcee for the Women’s Leadership Conference. It quickly became apparent that Yvette had star power. And Yvette is one of the leaders of the Springfield community. Everyone seems to know her. She has served as a board member of the Girls Scouts, Human Services Forum, and Square One, and is a member of the Black Leadership Alliance. She was also appointed by the mayor to be the Commissioner of the Springfield Cultural Council. But she is most proud of being a reader in the Springfield School Volunteer Read Aloud Program. In 2017, I was proud to bestow on Yvette the President’s Award. It is given to an individual, non-alumni, who has done much to serve the University and the community, and who has been an inspiration to me. Carpe Diem!
Could you share a bit about your life journey and career?
I am a proud native of Springfield, MA, raised by my dad, a Springfield police officer, and a stay-at-home mom. For the most part, I am a product of the Springfield public schools. After graduating from the High School of Commerce, on the advice of the guidance counselor I went to work at MassMutual as a secretary. I credit my time at MassMutual with instilling in me a great work ethic. After five years at MassMutual, I interviewed for a position as a secretary at the Urban League of Springfield. I have been there ever since. Through the years I have held the positions of executive assistant to the president, coordinator of youth and education programs, director of administration, and now my current position of senior vice president of administration. It was when I was coordinating youth programs that I realized that if I’m talking to young people about careers and college, I needed to be a role model. I enrolled at Springfield College’s School of Human Services weekend program and completed my undergraduate and graduate work in human service administration, organizational management, and leadership. I did all this while working full time and being a single parent. What are the highlights of my journey or what I believe molded me? In my opinion, here are my answers and they are:
1) raised by my awesome parents who gave me such a great upbringing;
2) being the middle child of five siblings;
3) having been bullied in middle school which led to my parents putting me and my brother in Wilbraham Monson Academy. I was the only girl in the class of 23 boys! I was thankful for my brother in the class as well!
4) completing my graduate school project on the “Lack of Self-esteem in Adolescent African-American Girls” which led me to my passion;
5) teaching at Bay Path University;
6) receiving the Bay Path University President’s Award from Dr. Carol Leary;
7) accepting the Women of Excellence Award from Urban League of Springfield.
What are you most proud of in your career?
I am most proud of the fact that in my work I have found something that touches the lives of so many people each day. I have worked at the Urban League for the past 34 years, and I often say that my role is to make sure that all our staff have what they need to effectively get their jobs done. I also oversee youth and education programs at the League. Whether I am creating programs that develop young people socially and academically or I’m teaching a course at Bay Path that empowers women and helps them to see their full potential, at the end of the day I am grateful that in my work I am fulfilling my passion.
What is one regret that you have in your career?
Honestly, I have no regrets! I may have started my career a little later than some, however, I was busy raising two amazing human beings. Everything that I have done in my life has prepared me for where I find myself today.
What advice would you give to students at Bay Path who are setting out on their own life journey?
The best advice that I would give is that they understand that life is a journey; with successes and challenges, plans to be made and changed, doors to be opened and closed, and so many lessons to be learned. Live and pay attention. Every day. And while you set goals for yourselves, the goal is not just to get there, but to enjoy the journey. And it’s also important that you realize what is your true passion and make it the business of your life’s purpose and work. Remember to just breathe! You’ll get there!