valencia nurses rock!


This team of Valencia Nursing Student Association (VNSA) leaders was among many nursing students and faculty at the Valencia Nursing Luncheon on December 12th. The luncheon, proudly supported by the Valencia Alumni Association, was held in celebration of our nursing students who would be graduating the next night at their Nursing Pinning Ceremony – transitioning from Valencia nursing students to nursing alumni at long last!

All Valencia graduates are invited to join the Valencia Alumni Association. Membership is free and offers opportunities to network and support our students.

aawcc fall event focuses on strengthening relationships


At the American Association for Women in Community Colleges (AAWCC) fall event on November 15, attendees learned about developing strong relationships from Orlando Magic Community Relations Manager Latria Leak.

Leak manages the Orlando Magic community outreach programs, is responsible for establishing and maintaining relationships with local community program leaders and multicultural chambers, and helps develop strategies to maximize existing and new corporate partnerships through cause-related marketing.

Leak’s presentation focused on establishing and strengthening relationships by setting SMART (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Results-Oriented, and Timely) goals to help layout a plan for career or family life. Leak also discussed the importance of not only initiating relationships with others, but actively maintaining and cultivating relationships by taking the time to follow up, check in, and continue developing the relationship.

In addition to the presentation by Leak, participants networked with other employees from different areas of the college and participated in a silent auction. Donna Marino, coordinator of donor relations for the Valencia Foundation, said “100% of the proceeds were donated to the Foundation and earmarked for the AAWCC Valencia Chapter Scholarship.”

The AAWCC is committed to equity and excellence in education and employment for women in community, junior, state, and technical colleges. To join the Valencia Chapter of AAWCC, please submit your completed membership application to Sherri Dixon, treasurer, at mail code DTC-1.

Source: Elisa Mendes, Valencia College

ucf awards valencia president honorary doctorate

sandydoctorate2-1024x682Dr. Sanford C. “Sandy” Shugart, was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Central Florida at UCF’s Dec. 14 commencement ceremony, in honor of his contributions to Central Florida’s education community.

Dr. John C. Hitt, UCF’s president, presented Shugart with a Doctor of Humane Letters, saying that Shugart’s “exceptional leadership at Valencia College has transformed the lives of tens of thousands of students and created a national model for higher education.”

Shugart also served as the commencement speaker for the graduation ceremonies for the College of Arts and Humanities, College of Graduate Studies, College of Sciences, College of Undergraduate Studies and the College of Nursing.

“My message to the class of 2012 is: Be careful. Your work could form you, deform you, transform you,” Shugart told the graduates. “When you look back on the trajectory of your career, wouldn’t you want it to be a journey rather than a rat race?”

More than 4,700 students were expected to participate in graduation ceremonies on Dec. 14 and 15.

Shugart is the president of Valencia College, which was named the nation’s top community college in 2012 by the Aspen Institute.

During his 12-year tenure, Valencia has pioneered changes that have resulted in dramatic improvements in student learning and graduation rates. Today, Valencia is ranked third among the nation’s colleges in the number of associate degrees awarded.

In 2006, Shugart worked with Hitt to create DirectConnect to UCF, an innovative transfer program that guarantees admission to UCF to students who earn their associate degrees at Valencia and three other local state colleges.

Today, that program is recognized as a national model – both as a successful transfer program and one of the most affordable ways to earn a bachelor’s degree. DirectConnect has also been recognized for increasing bachelor’s degrees for minority students. In October, Valencia’s DirectConnect to UCF program was selected by Excelencia in Education, a Washington, D.C.-based organization, as America’s top program for increasing academic opportunities and success for Latino students at the associate level.

Shugart earned his Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts in Teaching, and his doctorate in education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Before taking the presidency of Valencia in 2000, Shugart served as president of North Harris College in Houston, and Vice President of the North Carolina Community College System. He is also a published author, poet and musician.

Source: Marketing and Strategic Communications, Valencia College; Valencia News;

legislative update: a plan to double the number of FL college graduates

Legislative Update

Florida state colleges unveil
ambitious plan to be best in the nation

Shugart: Florida state colleges unveil ambitious plan to be best in the nation

When the state legislature convenes, legislators will receive a new, headline-grabbing proposal from the presidents of Florida’s 28 state colleges: A four-year plan that will double the number of college graduates in Florida by the year 2020.

The plan, which has been dubbed Florida First, calls for Florida’s state and community colleges to lead the nation in job placement, affordability and accountability. Florida First also calls for the state’s public colleges to be the nation’s best at accelerating students, through partnerships with high-schools and universities.

The idea grew from discussions that state college presidents, including Valencia College president Dr. Sandy Shugart, had with Gov. Rick Scott earlier this year. To pay for the changes, the college presidents will ask for a 35-percent increase in state funding during the next four years.

“I think [legislators] will probably blink when they first see the pricetag,” said Shugart. “But it’s not a one-year price-tag.”

To be first in the nation in job placement, the proposal includes investing in programs that need workers, including careers in science, technology, engineering, math, and health and life sciences.

The state colleges would also promise to hit certain benchmarks on graduation rates and certificate awards. Those that don’t would see a 10 percent cut in their state funding.

To remain affordable, Florida state colleges would tie tuition increases to rises in the cost of living—so tuition increases would not outpace the rate of inflation.

“We think in Florida we have an opportunity to establish ourselves as the best college system in the country,” said Shugart. “We’re very close now.” Half of the state’s twoyear colleges were among the 120 colleges in the running for the 2013 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence—and two, Santa Fe College in Gainesville and Broward College in Fort Lauderdale—are finalists. Valencia won the inaugural Aspen Prize in 2011.

Florida’s two-year colleges already have a three-year graduation rate that’s nearly double the national average. In Florida, 38.2 percent of community college students earn their associate degrees in three years, while nationally, only 20.4 percent of community college students graduate in three years, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

For updates throughout the legislative session, go to

Reposted from Vitae Issue 10

two valencia college alums tie the knot!


High school sweethearts and Valencia alumni Andrew Harmic ’08 (computer science) and Dana Wagner ’09 (graphic design) were married on October 13, 2012.  After Valencia, Andrew attended UCF where he received his BS in Computer Science. He is currently working as a Systems Engineer for Coleman Aerospace in Orlando. Dana is currently working as a freelance graphic designer.

If you are also a Valencia graduate with exciting news, please share at

they’re all heart: behind the scenes at valencia’s cardiovascular technology program

Inside the cardiac catheterization classroom at Valencia College, Professor Polly Keller spends her days trying to stump her students.

The students, who are studying to become cardiovascular technicians, are learning how to help cardiologists perform life-saving procedures – putting stents in patients’ arteries, inserting catheters and balloons and implanting pacemakers.

And because they have patients’ lives in their hands, Keller pushes her students hard.

Using a computerized mannequin, she simulates the worst possible scenarios that a student might encounter when trying to help a patient with heart problems:  A patient who’s allergic to the contrast dye injected into his veins; a patient who goes into anaphylactic shock; a patient who starts hemorrhaging during a procedure;  or a patient whose kidneys begin to fail.

“Our goal is to simulate every complication they’ll encounter in a hospital,” says Keller, professor of cardiovascular technology. “We want them to be prepared for every scenario.”

For students in the program, the instructors’ scenarios are a challenge. “We love problem-solving,” said Nalini Ghisiawan, a second-year student who transferred from the University of Florida into Valencia’s CVT program “We love hands-on work.”


And it’s that kind of problem-solving attitude that students need to excel as a cardiovascular technologist, Keller says.  While many of the students in the program started out as nursing majors, they gravitated toward CVT for different reasons.  Some decided that nursing wasn’t for them, while the more technically-oriented work of a CVT fit their personalities better. Some are adrenaline junkies – excited by the prospect of working in an environment as demanding and fast-paced as an emergency room.

Oria Marrero, 27, was working at an Orlando cardiology group, scheduling patient surgeries, when she decided to go back to college. In anatomy class, she knew that becoming a cardiovascular tech suited her – especially when her class began studying different organs. “When they teach you the different organs, the heart was the only one that I really found cool,” she says. “I’m not attracted to the lungs and other organs.”

It’s high-stress and hard work, but the students who stay in the program tend to be detail oriented (though some may describe themselves as “anal”), and visual learners. They are also happy to be studying and preparing for a career that will keep them busy – and challenge them every day.

Graduates of the two-year program earn $22 to $25 an hour or about $60,000 a year upon graduation. And last year, 100 percent of the program’s graduates found jobs – most working in catheterization labs at Central Florida hospitals.

“People in this field are constantly learning something new,” says Keller. “The equipment’s always changing.”

During the two-year program, students not only take classes and practice in Valencia’s cath lab, but they also must spend at least 800 hours working in cardiac cath labs at area hospitals. These “clinical rotations” allow students to learn at the side of other cardiovascular technicians and cardiologists.

As CVTs, they work side by side with cardiologists.

And, just as a caddy anticipates what golf club a golfer wants, the CVT anticipates what the cardiologist will do next – and is ready with the correct catheter or guide wire or equipment.  “At that table, you’re like husband and wife,” says Marrero.

And eventually, cardiologists often turn to CVTs for advice. “They earn respect from the physicians.  There will come a point when a cardiologist will turn to them and say, ‘How does Doctor So-and-So do this?’” says Keller. “They ask the CVTs because the CVTs perform these procedures all day long, every day.”

The respect from the physicians is gratifying, but it’s the joy of seeing the patients – before and afterward – that excites these students.

Moise Louis, also in his second year in Valencia’s CVT program, says there’s no greater feeling than watching a patient perk up within minutes after a stent is placed. Someone who has been drained of color and is listless often feels better – and looks better —  immediately after blood begins flowing through what was once a blocked artery.

“That’s what’s so wonderful about this field,” he says. “And patients and their families thank you for saving their lives.”

Source: Linda Shrieves Beaty, Marketing and Strategic Communications, Valencia College; Valencia News;

2012-13 valencia foundation scholarship recipient: deborah karim

The Student Opportunity scholarship is provided by the Faculty and Staff at Valencia College. Faculty and Staff members donate generously to provide our students with scholarships dedicated to the costs of their tuition, fees, books and materials. Their generosity, dedication and effort to support our students has gifted 9 students for 2012-13 academic year.

Deborah Karim, presently a sophomore in the Electronics Engineering program at Valencia College, is one of the 2012-13 Student Opportunity scholarship recipients. Currently, Deborah holds a 3.57 GPA and has participated in a variety of volunteer projects, such as: Give Kids the World Village, Valencia Volunteers, Valencia Honors, UCF Camp Connect. Currently, she is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) that provides her with the opportunity to volunteer within her field of study. In her free time, Deborah enjoys volunteering at Habitat for Humanity, Greater Chatham Alliance E-Volunteer where she gathers crime statistics to better her community and Chicago Women in Trades where she assists socially and economically disadvantaged women prepare to re-enter the workforce.

In addition to her degree in Electronics Engineering Technology, Deborah will also earn her A.S. in Engineering Technology and Hospitality Management. In 2008, Deborah experienced the hardship of being laid off from her position as a commercial electrician apprentice within the construction field.

“It is a very sobering experience to admit that for the first time since the age of 16, I am not able to support myself and cannot find a job. My solution is education as the method of choice to escape poverty and that is why I went back to school. I chose electronics and computer engineering courses because I want to learn the latest technology, sustain myself through employment and then show others in similar circumstances how to do the same. I am a very active student and volunteer. Furthermore, I strongly believe in giving back to the community. Even though my own resources are limited and dwindling, I know there are many others worse off than me. I am carrying a full-time course load but still take advantage of extracurricular and volunteer opportunities provided by Valencia College.”

Deborah is also the editor and contributing creative non-fiction writer for Valencia’s Phoenix Magazine. Within a team of editors, she is currently assisting with selecting fiction, non-fiction, and poetry submissions for the upcoming years publications.

“My volunteer work gives me more pleasure than any paid job I have ever held because I know I am making a positive difference in someone’s life. I am positive by nature and have become more efficient as I try to overcome my current obstacles to progress. Because of my public service and customer services skills, I can teach or help others, particularly the invisible poor in our society, to survive through education and technology. I will be able to show others how they can reach inside and explore their own creativity in order to sustain themselves in society.” Deborah Karim

The Valencia Foundation partners with many generous donors who are excited to contribute to the education of the leaders of tomorrow, such as Deborah. If you haven’t already, there is still time to apply by visiting: applying for the 2012-13 Valencia Foundation Scholarship Application.