Yolanda White ’92

Yolanda (Smith) White ’92 published her first story in fourth grade. With cardboard, notebook paper, a pencil, some crayons and a few staples, she turned an alligator tale into a book, and got hooked on storytelling.

Bound to be a writer, she majored in journalism at Franklin College and flourished as a newspaper reporter for five years after graduating college. At the point when daily deadlines, late nights and weekend editions were no longer a fit for the lifestyle she wanted, she figured out how to transfer journalism skills to other industries, including non-profit and agency work. Public relations (PR) is where she found her niche.

Yolanda Smith WhitePR keeps White connected with her love of storytelling, and challenges her to reimagine the narrative in different ways. As she puts it, “There’s never a dull moment. One day, I’m writing remarks for an executive, creating a communications plan or meeting with others to strategize. The next day, I’m standing in front of a community group talking about my company or answering media questions. That same week, I’m with a camera crew shooting a video. Then, I’m working behind the scenes ensuring a large-scale celebration for associates is executed according to the plan.”

The variety keeps White professionally energized and driven to learn and adapt. It’s no coincidence her role with Honda Manufacturing of Indiana accelerated from team leader in 2015 to corporate affairs unit manager three years later.                                                                  

Today, she oversees Honda’s Indiana communications team and the PR agencies they collaborate with on projects across North America. She also is the local point-person for executive, crisis and human resources communications. She continues to harness the power of storytelling for work and fun, such as making TikTok videos with her teenage son.

While attending Franklin College, White studied with a variety of mentors who helped shape her career and life. “In the Pulliam School of Journalism, my mentors were Bill Bridges and Jerry Miller (also my academic adviser). Whether they were teaching Basic Reporting or Media Law, or advising The Franklin or The Wellhouse literary magazine, they were excellent teachers who brought to their instruction the context of having had long careers in journalism before academia. They were passionate, knowledgeable and true champions of the student press. I loved their classes! Outside of journalism, definitely David Carlson (philosophy and religion), Kathy Carlson (English) and Emily Stauffer (English). They took students under their wings and made the time to work with us on issues related to race, diversity and inclusion on campus. They were always fair and lived by the lessons they taught. I always appreciated that about them,” she said.  

In addition to on-campus learning, White found her internships were very impactful. “Before I graduated, I completed three, which were key in helping me confirm my love for and skill as a writer and communicator. Not only do internships provide valuable hands-on experience outside the classroom, internships can be life-changing. I’m a strong proponent of that kind of learning.”

Hands-on educational experiences and faculty members who go above and beyond are the hallmarks of a Franklin College education.  


Adapted from story by Amy (Kean) VerSteeg ’96, Editor, Franklin College Magazine