Our KPBSD Nurse Yoly in Seward, Alaska, is featured in Alliance for a Healthier Generation, and shares additional life insights with KPBSD!
Did a specific person influence or
inspire your career path?
“My mother was and is my rock. She died in her early 40s with kidney and heart failure. I visited her in hospitals and a kidney dialysis center. I watched nurses work and take care of my mother, and I knew then that is what I wanted to do as a career.”
Have any life obstacles helped you to learn or persevere?
“I was born in a rural town in the Philippines. We lived off the land and sea and were very poor. My mother wanted a better life for me and education was her answer. I still believe in education as an equalizing factor for people. My education and career as a nurse has allowed me experiences to travel the world and help people in a meaningful way.”
“My mother wanted a better life for me and education was her answer. I still believe in education as an equalizing factor for people.“Nurse Yoly
Is there a part of your work that helps you know you are in the right place at this time in your life?
“Covid-19 has brought the world to its knees. It has been a year of unrelenting challenges for everyone. I never thought I would be able to offer rapid testing in my schools which provide Covid test results in 20 minutes. I am so inspired by the many brilliant minds that have worked to bring us these tools and to be a very, very small part of the solution has been fulfilling in my daily work.”
What advice would you give to your younger self, or a K-12 student?
“I definitely would say to my younger self “Don’t worry so much.” In terms of students, my “frequent flyers” are unfortunately the ones that are struggling in school for a variety of reasons i.e. mental and physical health issues, lack of resources, poor relationships and support to name a few. I listen to them, offer support and the most important give them hope that they will find a way to be resilient through the tough times.”
Thank you Nurse Yoly!
Alliance for a Healthier Generation highlights Yolanda Ifflander, School Nurse, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District during Celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Centering Love at one of America’s Healthiest Schools
“As a Pacific Islander woman, I feel like I have had to earn inclusivity and equity, tooth and nail.”– Yolanda Ifflander
Growing up on the rural island of Olongapo in the Philippines, Yolanda remembers the joy of three generations of women sitting around a table laughing, chopping vegetables for family meals while children played nearby. These meals, prepared from local foods, nourished Yolanda’s health, cultural identity, and sense of belonging.
“I wouldn’t trade my upbringing, and I carry on this lifestyle in Alaska today,” Yolanda explains. “Simple things such as family and fresh food are core values for me to stay healthy and well.”
The opportunities and challenges facing the next generation–particularly young people of color–are top of mind for Yolanda. As a parent and a school health professional, Yolanda embodies the inclusivity and community care that defined her childhood in Olangapo.
In 2015, thanks to the dedication of Yolanda and her colleagues, Seward Middle School in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District was named one of America’s Healthiest Schools by Healthier Generation. After three decades of service to her school community, she is nearing a well-earned retirement. Until then, she will continue working to improve policies and practices that impact the health and well-being of KPBSD students and staff.