In celebration of Women’s History Month, the College of Humanities is spotlighting a few of our most dedicated and long-serving faculty and staff members who operate behind the scenes in various roles and are part of the essential fabric behind the work we do. This week, meet Yvonne Bourgeois, who’s worked for the College of Humanities for six years as web services and IT operations manager.
Q: The National Women’s History Alliance, which spearheaded the movement for March being declared National Women’s History Month, sets the theme each year. In 2023, it’s “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories.” We have selected you for your role and length of service to the college. Can you briefly describe your role in your own words?
A: I am the web services and IT operations manager for the College of Humanities. I work with and coordinate projects for a team of IT professionals handling everything from desktop support to keeping the college’s 80+ websites up and running. I am also in charge of the Language placement and proficiency exams for all incoming students.
Q: Are there any women who have been particularly influential in your life or career?
A: Honestly, my mother. My mom has always been one of the most capable people I know, taking on grad school while working full time and raising me. My mother and grandmother are also highly skilled and prolific artists. As a woman who has always worked in male-dominated industries and hobbies, I have never felt held back by my gender. I think that’s because I was raised without ever being told “that’s not for girls” which allows me move in spaces where, while I may not be unwelcome, there is little encouragement for women to participate. Growing up, I was always encouraged to pursue any skills I wanted to learn and to look and dress however I wished. So I definitely feel like I had a strong female role model encouraging me to be whatever I wanted to be from day one.
Q: What’s your favorite part about working for the College of Humanities?
A: Cliche as it is, the people. Everyone at COH is great. Getting to interact with faculty and staff from all over the world is always interesting, and helps me regularly get perspectives from outside my standard social “bubble”. I also get to work in an IT unit that has a much higher number of women than is typical for the industry, so I feel like I am in a really unique environment here. I believe there is a strong culture here supporting a healthy work/life balance for everyone at COH, and I really like spending time with my coworkers because even when we have a lot going on everyone manages to have a good attitude. The people here have been a really positive influence on me and I have grown a lot working with them.
Q: Is there anything you would like to share about your interests or life story that others may not know?
A: I studied entomology and plant science in college, and used to run the butterfly exhibit and be the orchid horticulturist at the Tucson Botanical Gardens. I never expected to find a home doing IT management for people in the humanities! I am very passionate about food production, and am always doing some project like curing olives harvested on campus, making cheese, and working towards producing 100 percent of the meat and animal products from my home farm (where I also get to run farm equipment like a skid steer and an excavator!).