Alumni Spotlight Stories

Yolanda Evangelista-Wynne, M.S. '14 Teaches the Next Generation of Human Resources Professionals

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In recent years, Yolanda Evangelista-Wynne, M.S. ’14, had been making the rounds at college job fairs, often receiving invitations from professors who wanted her to speak to their classes.

Evangelista-Wynne, a Human Resources business partner and talent manager for RNN TV / FiOS 1 News, decided to take it one step further. The idea seemed natural. She had been talking to all these classes, so why not teach one?

“It’s very fulfilling to stand there and give [the students] real-life scenarios, to give them a scenario of an HR professional and a hiring manager and what will be expected of them once they step out into the workforce,” mentioned Evangelista-Wynne, who is an adjunct professor at Mercy College teaching Introduction to Human Resources Management. “So, I dabbled into the thought and reached out to Mercy and said I completed my degree here, I regarded the program highly when I was here, and I’d like an opportunity to pay it forward.”

 Evangelista-Wynne possesses over 20 years of experience in Human Resources, having entered the field shortly after receiving her bachelor’s degree in communications from Iona College. After a few positions in the industry, she decided to take the next step and pursue a graduate degree.

 “You can grow in so many different facets of HR. However, you need that degree with the work experience,” Evangelista-Wynne said. “I realized the only way to really punctuate the experience at some point in my career would be to start that master’s, and in conjunction with the work experience, really find out what my niche and my specialty would be for the long term.”

While researching graduate programs, Mercy’s stood out to her, reflecting what she was exposed to in the work force. Evangelista-Wynne enrolled in 1994, but not after making it through the selection process.

 “I actually had to present in an interview. I had to write an essay. I also needed letters of recommendation,” she recalled. “To me, it was pretty buttoned up, which was impressive to me because I thought, ‘Wow, they’re just not expecting anyone. This is serious.’

 “There was a selection process and that attracted me because it helped me feel that competitiveness, and I wanted to get in even more so.”

 Putting in fifty- to sixty-hour weeks in a full-time job and taking breaks to attend to various life events meant Evangelista-Wynne did not complete her degree until 2014. She has noticed how the program and students have changed in the twenty-year period between starting and finishing her master’s degree. One thing, Evangelista-Wynne noted, was that students today are starting graduate programs younger and with less work experience.

 “When I started the program – it was maybe rolled out just a few years earlier – there was a requirement of having been in a related field or having direct HR exposure and experience,” she said. “I think that helped me along the way … because I was able to know the different facets of HR and learn more about them.

 “Now, I think the challenge the students have is they’re starting out in the graduate programs a lot younger, pretty much right after undergrad. I think coming into the classroom and thinking about what HR is and truly understanding what it is, is a challenge.”

 She teaches students by combining her life experiences with role playing, and she finds it makes a difference in how the students discover Human Resources.

 “I do a lot of mixture of elements in the classroom with role playing with mock interviews, role playing with employee relations, manager/employee scenarios, as well as videos of current companies and HR representatives,” Evangelista-Wynne explained. “I think it gives them a very strong picture of what HR is all about that they may not have had on day one of class.”

 Mercy College has played a major role in where Evangelista-Wynne is today, and she recognized the importance of that.

 “I’m playing the role of employer, to recruit graduates, but I’m also an employee as an adjunct,” she said. “I think I have the best of both worlds, and I’m really content with the position and the connection I have with Mercy.”