The McLoughlins: Everyone deserves a second chance

BY FRANK SHALA

Throughout 60-plus years of marriage, George and Viola “Vi” McLoughlin have led long, successful lives. What they are most proud of, though, are the opportunities to help provide college access for students, especially those that might not have had a chance otherwise.

George, 94, and Viola, 91, have been retired for nearly 30 years, but their impact is still felt throughout the Valencia community. The scholarship that is in their name is a special one.

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George and Viola with Geraldine.

The George and Viola McLoughlin Scholarship has been especially tailored to meet the needs of the non-traditional student, especially an individual who may not qualify for other, more restrictive programs. Such applicants include those with a checkered academic record, recovering substance abusers, homeless people, survivors of domestic or sexual abuse, mid-career workers looking to upgrade or retool, single parents, and those seeking re-entry to society after incarceration.

They seek to serve deserving individuals who don’t have a safety net and need just one more shot to succeed.

“It seems that for the majority of scholarships available, you have to be a part of a certain group, a certain degree path,” George says. “There aren’t many that help kids who need a second chance.”

Both George and Vi have strong roots in education. George taught at Valencia for 16 years, from 1969-1985. George started when the school was only in its third year of existence, and he jokes that the school was still in portable buildings. Viola was a Seminole County elementary school teacher, and eventually advanced to assistant principal at Red Bug Lake Elementary.

The pair began their scholarship in 1997 and together they have provided countless students that second chance to pursue something bigger than they imagined possible. Their philanthropy includes daughter, Priscilla, who helps choose their scholars. The support and willingness to help their students is something that emerges when you hear the McLoughlins share stories of lives they have touched.

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George and Vi with their daughter Priscilla, who has taken up the philanthropic mantle.

A Persian student brought them an authentic rug when he returned from vacation in his homeland after George helped him find a car to get to school. A Vietnamese couple walked to the McLoughlin home in Maitland with a full, home-cooked meal after George anonymously bought them a Christmas tree.

“I hope that anybody that goes into education goes in with a sense of mission,” George says with emphasis. “The students I taught were really a pleasure, especially the first wave of them.”

“We both started in life very serious about our religion,” Viola adds. “We can relate with students and families who never thought of going to college.”

George was the first in his family: He earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Boston University and a doctorate in education with a minor in music education from the University of Kentucky. When George was teaching at Asbury College, Viola decided to start college at age 40.

Viola had earned a secretarial degree and worked as an executive assistant. She would eventually earn her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Asbury and her master’s degree in education from Rollins College.

“One thing that’s changed in the last 30 to 40 years is that kids didn’t necessarily grow up with the idea of going to college,” George explains. “But today the opportunities are there if kids will take them. “All the students have to do is try,” his bride quickly chimes in.

Both George and Vi know that sometimes individuals just need that little push, that nudge to get them going. They preach on the opportunities that exist and the people and resources available to help those who are willing to put forth the effort.

“The best advice is to say, ‘yes.’ Things will come along, certain opportunities, and you just have to say ‘yes,’” George adds. “Basically the only thing we ask is that our students are capable of doing their work, and that they be motivated.”

The couple is so proud of the work Valencia president Sandy Shugart has done to maintain Valencia’s focus on students, something George says sometimes lacks at the bigger colleges and universities. They believe the philanthropic foundation has been set for their mission to continue for years to come.

Vi jokes that she nearly forgot to share the most important factor to longevity: “When people ask us what have we done to live a long, healthy life, all I can think of is that we did live rather simply – out of necessity at times, but we don’t have expense taste. It’s the simplicity. It has its beauty.”

To learn more about the McLoughlin family, please visit this article, which appeared in the Valencia Foundation annual report.

Frank Shala is a Valencia College journalism student. 

calling for alumni class notes for Vitae magazine!

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Check out the current edition of the Vitae magazine.

calling for alumni class notes for Vitae magazine!

Social Media PostCheck out the current edition of the Vitae magazine.

lace up for student scholarships!

Social Media Post Aug 14

Online Registration or Mail In Registration

american association of community colleges outstanding alumnus award 2015

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If you know of a Valencia graduate who meets ALL of these criteria, please submit their information to Barbara Shell, Director of Community and Alumni Relations by Friday, August 15th.

 ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA

1. Attended Valencia for at least 30 semester hours or 45 quarter hours.

2. Has notable achievements in career field.

3. Has specific philanthropic or public service activity that supports the community and/or college.

4. Has achieved recognition at a national level.

5. Provides inspirational impact.

College Night Sign-Up for Students

The 2014 Orange & Osceola County College Night programs for the state of Florida will be hosted at Valencia College. We are excited to share this opportunity with you.

Mark your calendars: College Night is Coming! Bring your students, the parents, grab some friends, and get your questions answered about college, and we’re not just talking about Valencia!

  • Start the college search process up close and personal
  • Visit with representatives from colleges and universities located across the country
  • Gather local and federal information regarding grants & scholarships

Sign-up online to attend College Night 2014:

College Night, Osceola CampusCollege Night Sign-Up
Valencia College
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
6:00-8:00pm (EST)

College Night, West CampusCollege Night Sign-Up
Valencia College
Thursday, October 9, 2014
6:00-8:00pm (EST)

Tips for attending College Night

If interested in bringing a group of 15 or more students please contact the Assistant Director of Transitions Planning, La’Tasha Graham: Lgraham18@valenciacollege.edu

Click here or view the list below for colleges that attended in 2013.

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  • Yale University
  • Florida State University
  • Columbia College, SC
  • Columbia College, FL
  • Cornell University
  • University of Notre Dame
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
  • Texas A&M University at Galveston
  • United States Air Force Academy
  • Universal Technical Institute
  • University of Alabama
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • Rice University

 

  • Ringling College of Art and Design
  • Rollins College
  • Rutgers University
  • Adventist University of Health Sciences (formerly Florida Hospital College)
  • Ana Mendez University
  • Anderson University
  • Armstrong Atlantic State University
  • Asbury Theological Seminary
  • Ashford Universtiy
  • Aveda Institute
  • Barry University School of Law
  • Belhaven University
  • Belmont Abbey College
  • Bethune-Cookman University
  • Binghamton University- State University of New York
  • Catawba College
  • Clark Atlanta College
  • DeVry University
  • Drexel University
  • Eckerd College
  • Education Foundation of Osceola County
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
  • Everest University
  • Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising
  • Florida A&M University
  • Florida Atlantic University
  • Florida Gulf Coast University
  • Florida Institute of Technology
  • Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy at UCF
  • Florida International University
  • Florida Memorial University
  • Florida Polytechnic University
  • Florida Southern College
  • Full Sail University
  • Georgia Southern University
  • Grand Canyon University
  • Morehouse College
  • Hawaii Pacific University
  • Herzing University
  • International Academy of Design and Technology
  • Jacksonville University
  • Johnson & Wales University
  • Johnson University Florida
  • Keiser University
  • Lenoir-Rhyne University
  • Liberty University
  • Lincoln Technical Institute
  • Lynn University
  • Mech Tech Institute
  • Monroe College
  • National Aviation Academy
  • National University
  • New College of Florida
  • North Carolina State University
  • North Carolina Weleyan College
  • Northwood University
  • Nova Southeastern University
  • Oglethorpe University
  • Orlando Tech
  • Palm Beach Atlantic University
  • Penn State University
  • Piedmont College
  • Polytechnic University of P.R./Orlando Campus
  • Purdue University
  • Queens University of Charlotte
  • Radford University
  • Reinhardt University
  • Saint Leo University
  • Savannah College of Art and Design
  • Seminole State College of Florida
  • Southeastern University
  • St. Joseph’s College, NY
  • St. Petersburg College
  • Stetson University
  • Stevens Institute of Technology
  • Stonehill College
  • Strayer University
  • State University of New York College at Cortland
  • Technical Education Center Osceola
  • The Art Institutes
  • The Baptist College of Florida
  • The Ohio State University
  • The University of Mississippi
  • The University of Tampa
  • The University of the Arts
  • Thomas University
  • Trinity College of Florida
  • Troy University
  • Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine
  • UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
  • Union University
  • University of Central Florida
  • University of Cincinnati
  • University of Connecticut
  • University of Florida
  • University of Florida/Mid-Florida Research & Education Center
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • University of Medicine and Health Sciences, St. Kitts
  • University of North Florida
  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Phoenix
  • University of South Alabama
  • University of South Florida
  • University of South Florida Saint Petersburg
  • University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee
  • University of West Florida
  • United States Coast Guard Academy
  • Valdosta State University
  • Warner University
  • Warren Wilson College
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Webster University
  • West Virginia Wesleyan College
  • Winthrop University
  • Workforce Central Florida

Sign-up online to attend College Night 2014:

College Night, Osceola Campus
Valencia College
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
6:00-8:00pm (EST)

College Night, West Campus
Valencia College
Thursday, October 9, 2014
6:00-8:00pm (EST)

If interested in bringing a group of 15 or more students please contact the Assistant Director of Transitions Planning, La’Tasha Graham: Lgraham18@valenciacollege.edu


Accommodations Information:

If you have any other disability that prohibits your participation in this event, please contact the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD). OSD contact information can be accessed on their website at http://valenciacollege.edu/osd/

valencia alum louis gray ’98 making a difference

From “the Projects” to Gray’s Project: A Profile of Louis Gray
By Bonnie Beth Silvestri, JD, Director of Strategic Communications

Louis Gray is the Office of Community Engagement and Partnerships “go-to” person in USF Registrar’s Office, helping OCEP fulfill its mission to support the service-learning curriculum on campus. Gray, the Registrar’s Office’s Academic Services Administrator, has been working behind the scenes, under the leadership of his supervisor Tony Embry and USF Registrar Angela Debose, coding each service-learning class offered on campus in Banner, the university’s administrative information system.

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Once the courses are coded, students are able to easily find service-learning offerings in OASIS; and OCEP can calculate the number of service-learning course sections and students enrolled. During the last academic school year, there were 188 sections of service-learning courses coded in the system, and over 4,000 students enrolled in these courses, which is a significant increase thanks to outreach efforts by OCEP and the Registrar’s Office.

And, it is no surprise that OCEP can count on Gray to help with these efforts, because he “gets it,” and he lives it. A natural connector, Gray said, “I’m the type to bring the community together.”

To that end, Gray started a Tampa-based nonprofit called G.R.A.Y.S. Project Inc. (Granting At-Risk Adolescents and Youth Sustainability), to provide the kind of support system for young people that he wished he had growing up in the Lake Mann Housing Project in Orlando.
Lake-Mann-OPD-sign

Through his eponymous nonprofit, Gray devotes evenings and weekends to tutoring young people of all ages with their schoolwork and to helping high school students with their college entrance exam preparation. Gray’s Project also partners with Second Chance Center for Boys & G3 Life Applications to provide tutoring, life coaching, and ACT Test prep to the local high school students.

Soon, he plans to expand the reach of Gray’s Project to Orlando to strengthen his partnership with Orlando’s Parramore Kidz Zone, one of eleven sites to receive a Promise Neighborhood Grant through the National League of Cities, in conjunction with the White House’s black male achievement initiative. Parramore Kidz Zone is a model program in an historically black neighborhood that has been making a difference. Additionally, the local Housing Authority has requested that he return to his roots in Lake Mann to tutor and mentor the youngest residents at its onsite Kids Café.

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(USF student volunteers with Gray’s Project)

He mused, “the projects…think about that word,” while remembering his childhood in Lake Mann.  His first eighteen years living in government-subsidized housing, often referred to as “the projects,” was challenging. There was a police presence there, but he called it a “mirage.” He said, it was more about “getting to know you to arrest you,” than to protect and serve the residents.

Gray’s work is completely self-funded, but he also relies on the help of others to keep his programs going. “When you give, give, give, people go above and beyond.”

Gray has enlisted a corps of volunteers, including twelve USF students and ten working professionals, to tutor and mentor young people.

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(Gray’s parents)

He credits his parents with giving him the support and structure that kept him on the forward trajectory that eventually led him to earning his MBA and working in academia. He said, “Family is key. Studies show family support and structure in the house [determine whether] you succeed or fail in life.”

He said that his father, who worked as a sharecropper as a child and drove a truck throughout his adult life, was home every night with his ten children. Gray’s dad told his son stories of working hard in the fields, only to get “scraps” from the owners of the farm. This made him wary of the predatory lending schemes often marketed to minority communities and informed his decision to raise his family in government-subsidized housing.

Gray is the youngest and his family refers to him as “baby boy.” He said, “We had to be in the house by the time the street lights came on or we would get in trouble.” He said that his father was both stern and playful with the large and loving family.

His mother, who worked as a housekeeper, and his father valued family dinners, getting eight hours of sleep, and a nutritious breakfast every morning before school. He said that wasn’t the case for many of his contemporaries who were often allowed to stay out late and/or would go to school hungry, which made it difficult for them to concentrate in school.

As part of his school district’s efforts to integrate the local school system, Gray attended middle school eight miles away and high school ten miles away from his home. He said, “I really think it was successful. It broke down a lot of barriers, [e.g.,] how you relate to different races as you get older.”

He was an enterprising young person, starting a small candy store and a cookie and juice stand marketed to other children. He believes he had an “internal drive to overcome his situation.”

Even with his family’s support, however, he realizes that in many ways the deck was stacked against him. He said that his lens was always “that’s just the way it is.”

After graduating from high school, he said he “stumbled across a job at Valencia Community College delivering mail from campus to campus.” He got free tuition, so he started taking one or two classes at a time over a fourteen-year period and obtained an Associate of Arts degree. Then, he completed his Bachelor of Arts at Columbia College, Orlando branch, and went on to earn an MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management, while working in different administrative roles at Valencia Community College. In 2012, shortly before finishing his MBA, he began working at USF.

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Gray said he has seen “so many struggles in our country and how people just gave up and settled.” Gray’s Project, he said, is designed “to uplift, give promise and hope to all individuals.”

“I look like them,” he said; and he tells them, “I’m from where you are.” He hopes to inspire young people, “not to say, look at me, I’ve got so much, but [to show] what you can be if you stay focused.”

Gray takes time away from his own family to work with local children, which can be difficult. But as soon as he reaches them, and connects with them, it makes it worthwhile. When they ask, “Mr. Louis, are you coming back next Saturday?” he knows he is making a difference in their lives.

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In addition to his work mentoring and tutoring, Gray educates young people about the “school-to-prison pipeline.” When children are expelled, the rate of those going to prison increases tremendously. He said that he wants young people to be aware that they need to be very careful; because discipline can be meted out in a biased way impacting minority communities.

Gray is also very active on campus, including serving as the Vice Chair of the Student and Presidential Advisory Committee on Black Affairs (COBA), which advises the President on matters affecting Black faculty, staff, and students of the University.

In the fall, Gray plans to begin a Post Master’s Leadership in Higher Education graduate certificate with a goal of working toward a PhD.

He will also begin teaching Academic Foundations; and he plans to add a service-learning component into the course. Students will be able to volunteer with Gray’s Project or with the Moffitt Center.

He will incorporate his strong will to persevere into the course. “That will be a story that I can share with incoming students.”

To learn more about how you can get involved, go to Gray’s Project.  For more about the Parramore Kidz Zone, click here.  For more on the school-to-prison pipeline, click here for “Demanding Zero Tolerance for Florida’s School- to-Prison Pipeline.”

 

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