a note of thanks

This letter is to express my sincere gratitude for your generous offer for academic funding. I was overwhelmed with delight and appreciation when I learned that you selected me from countless other students to receive this scholarship. I have never been considered for such an award and your charity affirms my hard work and determination. Philanthropy such as yours is very humbling and commendable.

I currently hold a 4.0 grade point average, and am about to start my fourth semester at Valencia College. I take my studies very seriously – ambitiously pursuing knowledge and success. Once I complete my associate of arts: general studies degree, I intend to continue my education at the University of Central Florida. Thanks to your support, I can maintain my grades worry-free.

By awarding me the Marie Blount Scholarship, you have eased my financial encumbrance and allowed me to continue to focus solely on my studies. You have inspired me to not only continue striving for success, but also to help others as much as possible. I hope one day to use the knowledge and success I gain from my academic endeavors to help students and the community. Once again, I earnestly thank you for your generosity.

Dustin Hope

2011-12 distinguished graduate selected

Shardeh Berry, Single Mom and Honors Student, Will Address a Record Crowd at Commencement By Carol Traynor

On Saturday, May 5, an estimated 1,260 graduates will receive their associate degrees as Valencia College celebrates its 43rd spring commencement at the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee.

Twenty-four-year-old Shardeh Berry, who was named the 2011-12 Distinguished Graduate by the Valencia Alumni Association, will give this year’s commencement address. In addition to being a full-time honors student and single mom to two small children, Berry has found the time to serve her fellow students. She is vice president of the West Campus Student Government Association representing almost 20,000 students, and has held leadership roles with numerous clubs and organizations.

“Valencia students are not people who have carefree lives,” says Shardeh, who will graduate with an honors certificate.  “We have jobs, children or people who are depending on us. But I want all students to know that you can be involved and being involved will change your life. I’m a better speaker and I’m better at time management than I used to be. And I have made friendships that will last forever.”

Berry plans to attend the University of Central Florida, where she wants to study international relations and ultimately work at the United Nations, focusing on human rights.

This will be the college’s first commencement as Valencia College, having changed its name from Valencia Community College last July. To honor the occasion and the graduates, the college posted the names of more than 8,000 students who graduated this school year on a Lynx bus with the message: “Congrats Class of 2012.” The bus will be parked just outside the arena for graduation photos of the students and their families. (For a photo of last year’s bus, click here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/myvalencia/5710557915/)

Valencia is ranked first in the nation among all community colleges in the number of associate degrees awarded, second in the number of associate degrees awarded to Hispanics and third in the number awarded to African Americans.

Valencia’s overall graduation rate is nearly three times that of similar, large urban public community colleges as defined by the U.S. Department of Education. In the last decade, graduation rates for college ready students increased at Valencia by almost ten percent to 44.8 percent from 35.9 percent after four years.

Commencement exercises will take place at 10 a.m. at Silver Spurs Arena, Osceola Heritage Park, on U.S. Hwy. 192 in Kissimmee. The ceremony can be viewed live at http://valenciacollege.edu/graduation/live.cfm.

endowed chairs celebrate and share innovative work

Update provided by The Grove, Valencia College.

On Wednesday, April 11, the 2011-2012 Endowed Chairs for Learning Leadership recipients gathered at the Grand Bohemian hotel in downtown Orlando with members of the Valencia Foundation’s Board of Directors for dinner and a celebration of the faculty’s innovative work.

As the endowed chair projects draw to a conclusion, the winners came to share their results with the Foundation board and receive cords to be worn with their academic regalia at the upcoming commencement ceremony on May 5.

The evening’s program featured remarks from the Foundation board president, Linda Landman Gonzalez (vice president of community relations and government affairs for the  Orlando Magic), who praised the faculty for their strong focus on testing new ideas designed to engage students and aid in their success.

The faculty presentations showcased the impact of the endowed chair funding on their ability to implement new strategies in the classroom and were a small representation of the 28 chairs awarded last year totaling $119,600.

Professor Kitty Harkleroad’s project focused on helping dental hygiene students learn about techniques and tools to prevent physical injuries commonly associated with the repetitive processes and awkward postures required to thoroughly clean a patient’s teeth. Her project created opportunities for students to experience a pre-class, yoga-stretching routine, and allowed her to purchase tools with larger diameters to prevent repetitive motion injuries and saddle stools that will enhance posture, preventing back and shoulder injuries. Harkleroad and her students produced a clever video (see below) to highlight the results of the endowed chair award.

Brenda Schumpert, professor of biology, and Suzanne Salapa, professor of dance also presented results from their endowed chair awards, and other recipients were seated with Foundation board members to exchange project ideas and share results.

Endowed Chairs for Learning Leadership are funded through donations to the Foundation specifically for the purpose of supporting faculty in developing their practice. Donors frequently specify the types of projects, individuals, topics, and/or programs they wish to directly support with their donation.

Chairs range from supporting a particular discipline such as the Sue Luzadder Chair in Communications or the Raymer F. McGuire Jr. Chair in Mathematics, to supporting a specific population such as the Abe and Tess Wise Endowed Chair in the Study of the Shoah. Each year in April or May, a faculty-elected committee (supported by the office for employee development) reviews the applications using a rubric to select the Endowed Chair for Learning Leadership recipients.

The 2012-2013 Endowed Chair for Learning Leadership applications were due on April 9 and the peer review committee will meet later this month to select the recipients.

faculty and staff give-up-a-cup in support of the students they serve

Valencia College faculty and staff have launched an internal campaign to raise scholarships and college program funds. This year they are asking colleagues to “give up a cup” for Valencia students.

Valencia Foundation provides vital support to students and to the college through scholarships, endowed teaching chairs, and program support. Last year, faculty and staff donations grew by 39 percent. This year the campaign ambassadors would like to involve more faculty and staff in payroll contributions.

Primary focus of the committee is to share the good work of Valencia Foundation and encourage faculty and staff participation based

The campaign principles, taglines, and clever graphics were designed by college staff and faculty to provide support for the Valencia students they serve.

on individual interest and willingness to contribute. This is a grassroots effort lead by the hearts and volunteer time of the campaign committees. A faculty or staff member should not, at any time, feel pressured or compelled to give to the foundation.

The clever ‘give up a cup’ slogan and ‘have you left your mark’ logo were created by staff. These taglines really highlight how little drops of support, from multiple contributors, can collect into huge assistance for a Valencia student.

Feel free to visit the “Give Up a Cup” donation site online at: www.valencia.org/fsg/

Under the leadership of the campaign chairs Katie Shephard and Patti Riva the campus committee members have contributed their resources, relations and fond regard in support of the Valencia students they serve. Many thanks to the Valencia College staff and faculty campaign ambassadors: Chris Borglum, Clarence Canada, Diana Ciesko, Kimberly Finley, Brian Macon, Donna Marino, Josh Murdock, Mia Pierre, Denny Rogers, and Jorge Soto.

valencia talent showcase

Valencia and the Association of Florida Colleges (AFC) are hosting the “Valencia Talent Showcase” on Thursday, April 26, from 7 to 10 p.m. The showcase will be held at Valencia’s East campus performing arts center. The East campus is located at 701 N. Econlockhatchee Trail, Orlando, FL 32825.

Tickets are $2 for AFC members, $5 for non-members and ages 10 and under are free. All proceeds go to AFC scholarships and Valencia Foundation.

starting the week on a thankful note

I am writing to express my sincere gratitude to you for giving me the opportunity to make my career goals more accessible and for granting me the financial aid needed to continue with my education. I was thrilled to learn of my selection for this honor and I am deeply appreciative of your support.

I am a nursing major with hopes of becoming a registered nurse. I plan to pursue my doctoral degree in nursing upon graduating from Valencia College. I am currently starting the first semester of nursing and plan to graduate in the fall of 2013. After graduation, I will attend University of Central Florida to earn my graduate degree and become a nurse practitioner. Thanks to you, I am one step closer to that goal.

By awarding me the foundation scholarship you have lightened my financial burden which allows me to focus more on the most important aspect of school, learning. Your generosity has inspired me to help others and give back to the community. I appreciate the great job that all scholarship donors like you do every day, which is making an individual’s dreams come true.

– Laura Cordoba

class of 2012 giving back as they move forward

Fellow Valencia soon-to-be grads and alumni members have challenged the class of 2012 to leave a legacy for future Valencia students.

This year Student Development, in partnership with the Valencia Alumni Association, has created a student-centered giving campaign – the 2012 Legacy Class Gift to support student scholarships.

The student Legacy Class Gift encourages donations of $20.12 in honor of the graduating class of 2012 to support future Valencia College students.

The Challenge: Provide $5,000 for scholarships from graduation class to future students.

The Bonus: If the graduation class meets its goal, the Alumni Association will give a gift of $1000 which bring the total to $6,000.

The Incentive: All donors to the 2012 Class Gift will receive an Alumni Association lapel pin. For those donating $20.12 in honor of their graduating year will receive a limited edition legacy t-shirt.

Want to Help? It’s as easy as 1-2-3.
1) Visit http://valenciacollege.edu/alumni/classgift/
2) Completely fill out the form, decide a gift amount that is right for you, and click submit.
3) Enjoy the warm fuzzy feeling in knowing you have helped raise money for scholarships.

rafman club scholarship banquet

This past Saturday, a few of us at the foundation had the welcome pleasure of attending the 17th Annual RAFMAN Club Foundation and Valencia College Foundation Scholarship Banquet. The event was at the First Baptist Church of Orlando with Rev. Palmer Powell serving as mistress of ceremonies. The silent auction and raffle began at 6 p.m. and the program got underway at 7 p.m.

After dinner was served, guests were treated to an amazing poetry reading, “Polls,” written and performed by Shelby Birch, Mt. Pleasant M.B. Church and senior at Dr. Phillips High School. Her poem so moved guest speaker, Mayor Buddy Dyer, that he invited her to perform it at an election celebration later in the week. RAFMAN president, Mr. George Jordan, introduced the honorable Buddy Dyer. He shared the good news of our community, and gave special recognition to Valencia for being named the best community college in the nation!

Michael Dippy, executive director of IDignity received the RAFMAN Club’s 2012 Community Service Award. Dr. Martha Williams of Valencia’s Black Advisory Committee spoke about the Valencia experience.

And then it was on to the scholarship awards! Two scholarships were awarded, to Maxsill Gracia and Martravia Reed. Maxsill is pursuing her associate degree at Valencia and plans to continue her education in the field of fashion. Martravia is pursuing her A.S. in criminal justice and will go on to pursue a bachelor’s degree in that field. It was a pleasure to share a table with these students and their families. Getting to know them a little better, it was easy to see why they were chosen as recipients. They both spoke eloquently of their goals and seemed ready to take on all the wonderful opportunities that the future holds.

The Retired Air Force, Marine, Army, Navy Club Inc., better known as the RAFMAN Club, began in 1974 as a social organization for retired servicemen. Though its membership is not limited to retired military men, the 19 members of the RAFMAN Club include veterans of the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Members of the RAFMAN Club seek to provide faith, love and charity to the community; represent themselves as participants in an elite group; and share their military experiences with others. The RAFMAN motto makes their mission clear: Men striving together to make a better community for all concerned.

The RAFMAN Club is now a non-profit organization with a 501(c)3 that will help them better serve the Orlando area.

A special thank you to club president Mr. George Jordan and scholarship chairman Mr. Arthur Jarvis, and to all the members of RAFMAN Club. We appreciate your partnership in awarding scholarships to Valencia students!