Community Profile: Heather Yaden (April 2022)

Heather Yaden (she/her/ella & they/them/elle), Learning Specialist, Disabled Students' Program/DSP TRiO-SSS

Headshot of a smiling person with short light hair and glasses, in front of lush greenery.

What does your program, unit, or division do on campus?

The Disabled Students’ Program (DSP) “[equips] disabled students with appropriate accommodations and services to achieve their individual academic goals. We are dedicated to supporting disabled students and collaborating with the campus community to remove barriers to educational access and embrace the University’s values of equity and inclusion.” from the DSP’s Mission Statement

Describe your job in five words:

Student-driven, equity-oriented, dynamic, expanding, fulfilling

Why Berkeley?

I am honored to work at a public institution with such a rich history of disability advocacy and activism. I get so much joy sharing the stories of Berkeley’s Independent Living Movement with new students and seeing them recognize their own places in that history.

Over your career, what are some of the things that have helped you move to the next level and to new opportunities?

Working and problem solving collaboratively helps me to improve my own processes and develop stronger, more innovative ideas. I’ve also been exposed to many new people, projects, and career opportunities through these collaborations.

What is the best advice a mentor has given you in work, life, or beyond?

In my first year teaching high school, a mentor advised me to, “slow down and celebrate small victories.” I still struggle with the slowing down part, but I try my best to acknowledge small wins and highlight what is going well. I put this into practice with students. Celebrating their victories reminds me to celebrate my own.

What motivates you to do your best work?

I am motivated by the idea that doing my best work lends itself to the larger mission of building a more inclusive and equitable campus culture. I believe that all students have the right to academic support that honors diverse forms of learning and communication, and I hope that providing these services helps to chip away at the equity barriers that exist in Higher Ed. On a smaller scale, I cultivate motivation by reflecting on the types of work tasks that excite me or give me energy. I try to schedule in small chunks of time to do those tasks throughout the week - particularly at the end of more difficult days.

What’s the weirdest job you’ve ever had?

One of my first jobs was flipping burgers at a local baseball stadium in high school. This is maybe only “weird” if you know me - I don’t think I’ve watched a sporting event since.

What is an interesting or little-known fact about you?

I have a side career as a florist and love getting creative with flowers!

What are you most looking forward to this year?

This year I’m looking forward to spending more time with family and friends.