In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, observed every year from September 15 – October 15, we will highlight Hispanic colleagues who share how their culture has shaped them and inspired their careers. Today we introduce you to Yovankha Untracht.
Yovankha (“Yova”) Untracht, Manager, Training Center Administration, is often the first face of Atlas for those coming to the Miami Training Center.
Warm, welcoming and ready to assist with a smile, anyone who has met Yova, according to Jeff Carlson, Senior Vice President Flight Operations, “has found a friend, a problem solver and an important Company resource.”
Jeff added, “In the 22 years Yova has been here, she has been fully committed to supporting others in the Atlas family.”
“I suppose it’s in my DNA,” said Yova. “Dominicans are very happy and friendly people. We love to make connections and our family and friends are very important to us.”
In addition to a love for aviation, the family-like work environment at Atlas is what keeps Yova here.
Atlas is only Yova’s second job. She started in the hospitality industry in New York City. A former boss recruited Yova and a few of her colleagues to come work in the travel department at Atlas.
“Once I started, there was no looking back for me,” recalled Yova. “I found the industry so exciting and the people were absolutely the best. It was clear to me that this was a team of people that always worked together to accomplish the mission at hand.”
This “perfect fit” led to Yova being part of opening the Global Control Center in 2001 when the Company moved to its Purchase headquarters and it was also behind the opportunity to transfer to the Miami Training Center in 2004. Today Yova reports into Jeff Carlson and is responsible for several processes that pertain to our crew members.
Picking up and moving like this might be overwhelming and disruptive to some, but moving for opportunity wasn’t new for Yova.
Yova was only 15 years old when she left the Dominican Republic to move to the United States. Her parents moved first, got settled and then brought Yova and her brother over to start a new life in New York.
“The Dominican Republic is a beautiful country. I had a very nice upbringing, a happy childhood, filled with wonderful memories and friendships during my formative years that have withstood the test of time,” explained Yova. “My parents wanted more for me and my brother. They wanted us to be exposed to different cultures, different ways of thinking and they wanted us to have access to every possible opportunity. My parents brought us to the United States because they believed living here would provide us with more opportunities and the tools to help us succeed.”
Today, Yova is still inspired from this commitment to family.
“I am very proud to be Hispanic,” said Yova. “Family is of the utmost importance to me, as is upholding my roots. Exposing my daughter to Spanish right away was non-negotiable. We have a fully bilingual household and after 20 years my husband is close to being fluent.”
She continued, “It was very important to me that I taught my daughter that it does not matter where you come from; when you work hard you can achieve anything. She has grown up learning to always remain true to the morals and values she received at home, just as I was taught.”
While Yova appreciates Hispanic Heritage Month, she celebrates the history of her culture and ancestors all year long.
“From cherished Sunday family dinners featuring Moro de Habichuelas (Dominican rice and beans) and Sancocho (a very Dominican soup/stew) to celebrating and dancing to Merengue music and folklore, my background and culture are present in my family’s daily life at home,” said Yova.