student pin up highlighted in valencia vitae

PinUP

Ryan Dey assembles his project for UCF’s pin-up review.

Valencia architecture students pin up their work–and their hopes for admission to architecture school. — By Linda Shrieves Beaty

The temperature in the room is rising. So is the level of stress and excitement. Architectural models, foam board and pins are scattered all over the floor at Valencia’s Special Events Center. Nearly 80 architecture students are painstakingly pinning their favorite models, sketches and paintings to a 4-foot-by-8-foot board. For the students, the boards represent more than a three-dimensional portfolio of their work.

These are their tickets to architecture school. How well they present their work on those boards—known as pin-ups—is crucial. Their admission to architecture school hangs in the balance. The excitement in the room is palpable. So is the exhaustion.

“We haven’t slept in, like, three days,” said Valencia architecture students Angel Almanzar, 19, and Juan Diaz, 20. Working side by side, they have been fueling themselves with energy drinks like Monster and 5-Hour Energy.

Held at Valencia’s Special Events Center on April 17 and 18, the UCF “pin-up” is an annual ritual for Valencia’s graduating architecture students. Valencia students who want to be admitted to the University of Central Florida’s architecture program present their best work—and then display it for a team of judges who will decide which students get the 38 seats in next year’s junior class at UCF.ShowtimeBut the Valencia students are not alone at the pin-up. Students from 10 other colleges and universities are also competing, just as eager to get admitted to the UCF architecture program. At UCF—and at architecture schools around the country—admission to the upper division (or junior and senior classes) in the architecture program is limited. This year, more than 80 students are competing for the 38 seats in the UCF program. Last year, only 44 students applied for admission to UCF’s architecture program, so the competition is getting stiffer, says Lynn McConnell Hepner, associate dean of UCF’s College of Arts & Humanities.

And that’s just the beginning. When the Valencia students take their work to the University of Florida’s pin-up—held only a few days after UCF’s—they’ll face even more competition.

“It’s competitive, but that’s a good thing,” says Valencia architecture professor Allen Watters. “The competition is a friendly competition and it brings out the best in the students.”

At the UCF pin-up, students have seven hours to pin-up their boards. When the doors to the Special Events Center open at noon, students stream in, carrying the models and work they’ve done during their first two years in architecture design classes.

They also come bearing tools—scissors, X-Acto knives and lots of pins—for pinning their models and work to the large foam boards, which will be the canvas that holds all their work.

“It’s always been a fantastic event,” says Watters, who gets excited by the energy the students generate. “There’s always been a lot of excitement, but the event gets better each year.”

Mauricio Zamora and Sara Ramirez at pin up. They are part of nearly 80 architecture students who painstakingly pinned their favorite models, sketches and paintings to a 4-foot-by-8-foot board to create a three-dimensional portfolio of their work.

Mauricio Zamora and Sara Ramirez at pin up. They are part of nearly 80 architecture students who painstakingly
pinned their favorite models, sketches and paintings to a 4-foot-by-8-foot board to create a three-dimensional portfolio of their work.

While other students are buzzing around the room, Paola Munoz, 21, is busy in one corner, carefully pinning models and sketches up on her board. “I think I got about four hours of sleep last night,” says Munoz. “I was up until 5 a.m. figuring out how and where to pin everything.”

There are many rules, both written and unwritten. The top quarter of the board must be devoted to work done in a student’s first year, so that judges can see the students’ progression. And though they don’t have to, most of the students display their best work at eye-level to attract the judges’ attention.

But it’s tricky, says Valencia student Chris O’Beirne, who is working next to Munoz. “You can’t have too much white space, but you don’t want too much clutter,” says O’Beirne, 22.

Like many of Valencia’s architecture students, Munoz took a circuitous route to architecture school. She started her college career at UCF as an engineering major. When she discovered she didn’t like engineering, she transferred to Valencia to study architecture. “I wanted to do something more creative,” she says. “Besides, it runs in the family,” she adds, noting that her uncle is an architect in Ecuador and her cousin is currently studying architecture too. While Munoz wants to attend UCF—and hasn’t applied elsewhere—Juan Diaz is aiming for admission to the University of Florida’s architecture school. So when he takes apart his pin-up board, taking down the models and sketches and artwork, he’ll drive to Gainesville and start all over again the next day, for UF’s pin-up. “For me, this is more of a practice for UF,” Diaz said. But the process—the nights without sleep and the madness of producing a 3-D portfolio in a matter of hours—is nerve wracking.

Even the professors, most of who went through the same process as undergraduates, remember pin-up vividly. “You didn’t sleep for weeks beforehand,” says Valencia professor Jennifer Princivil. “This was Show Time. If your board didn’t sing, forget it.”

Adds Professor Christine Daelo: “This process is extremely nerve-wracking. Even if the air conditioning is cranked down to 30 degrees, you can feel the heat in the room.”

Valencia’s reputation heats up

The day after the students finish pinning their work to their boards, the judges—local architects and architecture professors at Valencia, UCF and UF—converge on the Special Events Center to score the students’ work. Judges hand out scores from 1 to 10 for each board.

“I look at the density of the board, meaning almost the entire board is covered, the work is pretty well laid out and the content is interesting,” says Daelo. “I always look for ones that are doing something different. Are they experimenting with different materials, for instance?”

The pin-up process even attracts former students, eager to see what this year’s crop of graduates has produced. This year, one of the visitors is Charles Green, who graduated from Valencia’s architecture program in 2011 and is graduating from UF’s architecture program in May. Now he’s headed to the University of California- Berkeley for graduate school. Green applied to Harvard, MIT, Columbia University, University of Florida and Washington University in St. Louis, as well as Berkeley for graduate school—and was thrilled to get into Berkeley. He—and many other Valencia graduates who’ve been accepted to top-flight graduate schools—is proof that Valencia’s architecture program is producing excellent students.

“I strongly believe in Valencia’s program,” said Green, 23, who transferred to Valencia after growing frustrated in an engineering program at the University of South Florida. “Wherever students want to go after this—whether it’s UF or UCF or Berkeley—Valencia gives you a good base of design knowledge. The work here is comparable, if not better than, UF.”

As Valencia students spread out to architecture schools around the country, they are discovering that word about the program is spreading. At the University of Michigan—one of the top architecture schools in the country—professors are offering encouragement to applicants from Valencia. “Some of our students went up there and the professors were raving about them because they already have two Valencia students there who are doing quite well,” said Valencia professor Kourtney Baldwin.

“They already know the reputation of our program.” Here in Orlando, the architecture community is supporting—and noticing—the progress at Valencia’s program. “I’ve been to three pin-ups now and I think that the quality of the work for pin-up is improving,” said Dr. Frank Bosworth, director of the University of Florida’s Citylab architecture program, an Orlando master’s level program that has partnered with Valencia and UCF. Bosworth believes the

Valencia program is maturing rapidly, thanks to contributions from Orlando’s well-established architecture community and the value of the 2+2+2 partnership between Valencia, UCF and UF. The partnership doesn’t guarantee Valencia students admission to UCF and UF, but is a transfer agreement that ensures a student is taking the right classes for a seamless transition. The growing maturity of Valencia’s architecture program, says Bosworth, is demonstrated at pin-up events and by the large number of Valencia students being admitted to the University of Florida’s architecture school. “Getting into the University of Florida is not easy. It requires a certain level of attention to detail, and to the quality of the work,” Bosworth says. Meanwhile, back on the floor of the Special Events Center, the Valencia students are relieved to finish their pin-up boards, but anxious to hear the results.

Jamie Connell, for instance, has applied to UCF and the University of South Florida architecture programs. And though she has already been accepted to USF’s program, she’s waiting to hear from UCF. “I really love Orlando and would like to stay here,” says Connell, 22. But whether she lands at UCF or USF, she’ll be content. “There’s a lot of competition every year because there are only a few seats available. Architecture is a competitive program.”

new vitae magazine is out!

DSC_0761

Graduate Susannah Jo Snavely ’11 is featured in the Class Notes section on page 29. Susannah is majoring in Human Resources Management at the University of Central Florida, preparing to graduate with a B.S. in August 2013. After graduation, she hopes to continue in Human Resources full-time at Regal Marine Industries, her employer of almost three years.

An avid world-traveler, she recently expanded her trip portfolio to include a week in Ireland and two visits to Washington, D.C. with her brother, Valencia alum John Snavely. She also discovered a passion for politics, and devoted her free time last fall to promote Gov. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign with the Republican Party of Florida.

Check this and more out! 

womens executive council 2013 scholarship application is now available! apply today!

 

Throughout the year, Women’s Executive Council (WEC) raises money for Women’s Executive Council’s Scholarship & Endowment Funds Through corporate sponsors and direct donations.  These funds provide scholarships to women attending Valencia Community College, University of Central Florida, Rollins College and Seminole State College of Florida.  Our scholarships have provided a turning point in the lives of the many young women we have embraced. Through our financial support, we have encouraged their personal growth, self-improvement, professional development and leadership skills.  Since 1987, the Women’s Executive Council has awarded $118,600 in scholarship funds to women in Central Florida.

Scholarship Value: $1,972

Deadline: August 10, 2013

Eligibility:

  • Registered for at least 12 credits at University of Central Florida, Rollins College (including Hamilton Holt School evening), Valencia College, or Seminole College. Consideration will be given for academic hours with full-time employment.
  • 3.5 GPA and must be on educational path to a professional degree.

How to Apply:

Mail all required documents to:
WEC Scholarship Committee
P.O. Box 2895
Orlando, Florida 32802

For more information, rules, and requirements, please emailcommunications@wecOrlando.com

hispanic business council scholarship opportunity!

If you haven’t already, there is still time to apply for the Hispanic Business Council Scholarship! Apply today for a chance to receive scholarship funding for the 2013-14 academic year!  

The Hispanic Business Council’s mission is to provide leadership, education, networking and marketing opportunities for Hispanic businesses located in the Central Florida area.

This scholarship was created by the HBC to assist Hispanic business students living in Osceola County. Two full-time scholarships in the amount of $2,000 each and two part-time scholarships in the amount of $1,000 will be awarded for the upcoming 2013-14 year.

Scholarship requirements:

Apply today by completing your 2013-14 Valencia Foundation Scholarship Application.

Additional scholarship details as well as other scholarship opportunities can be found at: http://valenciacollege.edu/finaid/Scholarship_bulletin.cfm

the progress energy scholarship has a new name! apply today for the duke energy scholarship or renewal!

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If you haven’t already, apply today for the Duke Energy (formerly Progress Energy) scholarship today!

Duke Energy continues to boost access to female students who are pursuing a career in the engineering field.

This scholarship awards $4,275 annually for 2 years at Valencia and 2 years at the University of Central Florida! 

Scholarship requirements:

  • Female students 19 years or older
  • Majoring in Engineering
  • Enrolled full-time (12 credit hours or more)
  • Maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher
  • Resident of Orange or Osceola county
  • Applied for FAFSA at: http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/

If you were awarded the Duke Energy Scholarship in the 2012-13 academic year, you may qualify for a scholarship renewal. 

In order to renew your scholarship, please contact Jen Bhagirath at (407) 582-3154 or via email at: jbhagirath@valenciacollege.edu in order to obtain further information on the scholarship renewal process. 

For additional information, please visit the Valencia College – Scholarship Bulletin Board at: http://valenciacollege.edu/finaid/Scholarship_bulletin.cfm

way to go crew!

crewlogoCommercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Orlando had a successful golf outing on May 10. Net event proceeds from the event were $16,186.91. Funds raised at this event go to support the Commercial Real Estate Women Scholarship, designed for students studying in the fields of accounting, architecture, building construction, engineering, drafting and design, pre-law/paralegal studies, real estate and marketing. In all, CREW Orlando golf outings have raised $113,000 for student scholarships.

We send CREW a job well done, thank you for being our partner and helping students realize their dreams!

women’s executive council scholarship opportunity!

Womens Executive Council 2013 scholarship application is now available! 

Throughout the year, Women’s Executive Council (WEC) raises money for Women’s Executive Council’s Scholarship & Endowment Funds Through corporate sponsors and direct donations.  These funds provide scholarships to women attending Valencia Community College, University of Central Florida, Rollins College and Seminole State College of Florida.  Our scholarships have provided a turning point in the lives of the many young women we have embraced. Through our financial support, we have encouraged their personal growth, self-improvement, professional development and leadership skills.  Since 1987, the Women’s Executive Council has awarded $118,600 in scholarship funds to women in Central Florida.

Scholarship Value: $1,972

Deadline: August 10, 2013

Eligibility:

  • Registered for at least 12 credits at University of Central Florida, Rollins College (including Hamilton Holt School evening), Valencia College, or Seminole College. Consideration will be given for academic hours with full-time employment.
  • 3.5 GPA and must be on educational path to a professional degree.

How to Apply:

Mail all required documents to:
WEC Scholarship Committee
P.O. Box 2895
Orlando, Florida 32802

For more information, rules, and requirements, please emailcommunications@wecOrlando.com

are you a female engineering student? apply today for the duke energy scholarship!

Duke Energy (formerly Progress Energy)  is boosting access to female students who are pursuing a career in the engineering field.

If you are:

  • Female
  • 19 years or older
  • Currently enrolled in an engineering program, with a 3.0 GPA or higher
  • Live in Orange or Osceola counties
  • Have documented financial need

You may qualify for the 2013-14 Duke Energy Scholarship.

This scholarship awards $4,275 annually for 2 years at Valencia and 2 years at UCF!

The Duke Energy Scholarship is renewable! If you were awarded the Duke  Energy (formerly Progress Energy) Scholarship in the 2012-13 academic year, you may qualify for a scholarship renewal. You must meet all original requirements and be enrolled full time in an engineering-degree seeking program.

In order to apply, visit: https://valencia.scholarships.ngwebsolutions.com/CMXAdmin/Cmx_Content.aspx?cpId=466 and submit your 2013-14 Valencia Foundation Scholarship Application.

Your Valencia Foundation Scholarship Application may also be considered for any additional scholarships to which you may qualify for. These scholarship selections are based on donor discretion.

In order to renew your scholarship, please contact Jen Bhagirath at (407) 582-3154 or via email at: jbhagirath@valenciacollege.edu in order to obtain further information on the scholarship renewal process.

For additional information, please visit the Valencia College – Scholarship Bulletin Board at: http://valenciacollege.edu/finaid/Scholarship_bulletin.cfm

hispanic business council scholarship opportunity!

The Hispanic Business Council’s mission is to provide leadership, education, networking and marketing opportunities for Hispanic businesses located in the Central Florida area.

This scholarship was created by the HBC to assist Hispanic business students living in Osceola County. Two full-time scholarships in the amount of $2,000 each and two part-time scholarships in the amount of $1,000 will be awarded for the upcoming 2013-14 year.

Scholarship requirements:

Apply today by completing your 2013-14 Valencia Foundation Scholarship Application.

Additional scholarship details as well as other scholarship opportunities can be found at: http://valenciacollege.edu/finaid/Scholarship_bulletin.cfm

please take a moment of silence for former valencia student and veteran

christian

PV 2 Christian Anthony Clausen V

Clausen, V, PV 2, Christian Anthony “” 24, of Orlando, Florida, passed away Thursday, June 6th, 2013 in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He is survived by his wife Samantha; parents, Chris and Terry; sisters, Kayla and Annie; grandparents, Chris and Julia Clausen, Dorothy Lee and the late Arthur Lee, and numerous family members and friends. He is a graduate of University High School then attended Valencia Community College. He went on to serve in the US Army where he received numerous awards including three Army Achievement Medals, the Global War Terrorism Award, Korean Defense Service Award, and the Overseas Service Ribbon. His hobbies included hunting, fishing and skateboarding, baseball, cross country, music, cooking, boating and wakeboarding. He was raised in a traditional Cajun household; he loved all things in the Louisiana culture, including the New Orleans Saints and especially the LSU Tigers. He was an amazing young man and will be greatly missed by many. In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to be made in his name to the Wounded Warrior Project, PO Box 758517, Topeka, KS 66675. The family will receive friends on Saturday, June 15th from 9-11 AM with a service to be held at 11 AM at Osceola Memory Gardens Funeral Home, St. Cloud, interment to follow at Mount Peace Cemetery, Saint Cloud, with full Military Honors. Arrangements under the direction of Osceola Memory Gardens Funeral Home, 2000 13th Street, St. Cloud, FL 34769; (407)-957-2511. www.OsceolaMemGds.com.

Published in the Orlando Sentinel on June 13, 2013

endowed chair sparked recent TEDx ValenciaCollegeLive

TEDxValenciaCollegeLiveStudents

Valencia’s East Campus recently hosted TEDxValenciaCollegeLive.
This photo of Valencia College students and faculty made an appearance on the TED global stage in Scotland during the TEDGlobal 2013 Live Stream.

Dr. James S. May, Professor of English as a Second Language, expresses his appreciation for the 2012-2013 Maguire Family Teacher Endowed Chair:

“It is with the support Valencia Foundation and the Maguire Family Teacher Endowed Chair, that Valencia College was able to take part in the recent global collaboration as part of TEDGlobal 2013 Live Stream.

Valencia students, faculty and staff  had the opportunity to experience these enriching TED talks, presented in time-delayed simulcast from the TED Global in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Last February, thanks in large part to the Valencia Foundation and the Maguire Family Teacher Endowed Chair, I had the honor of attending TEDActive2013. There, I experienced the true power and wonder of TED. An outcome of the endowed chair was this participation with TEDGlobal 2013. “

Valencia Foundation Endowed Chairs for Learning Leadership program has been established to recognize and promote academic excellence at Valencia College. The program honors outstanding members of the Valencia teaching faculty and provides resources needed for advancement of instruction at Valencia.

At Valencia College the endowed chair program recognizes and supports the Valencia faculty. In contrast to endowed chair programs at four-year institutions, which aim to attract preeminent researchers, Valencia Foundation endowed chairs fund a faculty proposed learning experiences.

These proposals that supports the mission, vision, and values of Valencia College and has a connection to student learning.  Endowed chairs also provide funding for projects that enhance learning-centered activities and/or foster professional development departmentally, college wide, within a discipline, or within the central Florida community.

Additional photos of Valencia’s day-long event are posted online.

welcome back – admission fee waived for former students at open house

http://valenciacollege.edu/return/

Former Valencia students, attend a Welcome Back Open House event and meet with representatives from admissions, advising and financial aid to find out everything you need to know about coming back to Valencia.

Students drop out of college for lots of reasons: Work. Family. Bills.

But if you dropped out of Valencia College at some point, it’s a great time to pick up where you left off.

That’s because Valencia is currently offering former students a financial incentive to come back to college: Attend one of Valencia’s Welcome Back Open House events and Valencia will not charge the $35 admission fee.

At the Welcome Back Open House, representatives from admissions, advising and financial aid will be on hand to answer questions.  In addition, a $500 scholarship will be awarded at each open house. Former Valencia students will be entered to win.

The open house events will be held:

■ Thursday, June 20, from 6 to 8 p.m. in Building 11 on Valencia’s West Campus, 1800 S. Kirkman Road, Orlando;

■ Tuesday, June 25, from 6 to 8 p.m. in Building 5 on East Campus, 701 N. Econlockhatchee Trail, Orlando.

To RSVP for the open house events or learn more about re-enrolling, please visit www.valenciacollege.edu/return

If you cannot attend the open house events, but are interested in returning to Valencia, you can ask for an advisor to contact you. For more information, go to http://valenciacollege.edu/return/contact.cfm

welcome back – admission fee waived for former students at open house.

financial aid event scheduled this summer

Valencia College is hosting their biggest financial aid event on June 13. Students and parents can receive expert help to complete the free application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) form for college funding.

FAFSAFRIDAY

Osceola Campus
East Campus
West Campus

June 13, 2013
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Atlas Lab – Building 2, Room 131

» Driving Directions
» Campus Map
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June 13, 2013
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Atlas Lab – Building 5, Room 213

» Driving Directions
» Campus Map
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June 13, 2013
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Building 11, Room 133

» Driving Directions
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celebrating student achievement!

LOVELYNE

Meet Lovelyne Toussaint, one of this year’s recipients of the Alumni Association Student Scholarship.  Lovelyne is one of the many students that were recognized at the 2013 Alumni Achievers Reception hosted by the Valencia Alumni Association.  Please enjoy this excerpt from this wonderful student’s thank you letter to the association:

“Thank you so much for investing in my education.  It means the world to me that you have chosen to help me succeed. I am a first generation Haitian American student and my education means everything to me. My parents did not have the chance to attend college but still managed to create a comfortable life for me and my three little sisters; I want to make them proud. My educational goals include graduating from Valencia College and attending the University of Central Florida. There I plan on majoring in Technical English Communication for my undergraduate and graduate degrees. My career goals include writing technically for a prestigious company, publishing books, doing research, and later teaching English at a College or University.

I believe that one of the greatest things in life any human being can accomplish is learning to love and help others. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of some very special individuals. One day I dream of being able to give back and help others achieve their dreams, just like you are helping me with this donation. My father often says that a leader does not create followers, they create leaders; that’s the type leader that I want to be. I believe that my career path in writing and communications will graciously allow me to help and connect with others. Words cannot express how much this means to me, thank you so much for your donation and God Bless.”

women’s executive council scholarship available now!

Womens Executive Council 2013 scholarship application is now available! 

Throughout the year, Women’s Executive Council (WEC) raises money for Women’s Executive Council’s Scholarship & Endowment Funds Through corporate sponsors and direct donations.  These funds provide scholarships to women attending Valencia Community College, University of Central Florida, Rollins College and Seminole State College of Florida.  Our scholarships have provided a turning point in the lives of the many young women we have embraced. Through our financial support, we have encouraged their personal growth, self-improvement, professional development and leadership skills.  Since 1987, the Women’s Executive Council has awarded $118,600 in scholarship funds to women in Central Florida.

Scholarship Value: $1,972

Deadline: August 10, 2013

Eligibility:

  • Registered for at least 12 credits at University of Central Florida, Rollins College (including Hamilton Holt School evening), Valencia College, or Seminole College. Consideration will be given for academic hours with full-time employment.
  • 3.5 GPA and must be on educational path to a professional degree.

How to Apply:

Mail all required documents to:
WEC Scholarship Committee
P.O. Box 2895
Orlando, Florida 32802

For more information, rules, and requirements, please emailcommunications@wecOrlando.com

hispanic business council scholarship opportunity!

The Hispanic Business Council’s mission is to provide leadership, education, networking and marketing opportunities for Hispanic businesses located in the Central Florida area.

This scholarship was created by the HBC to assist Hispanic business students living in Osceola County. Two full-time scholarships in the amount of $2,000 each and two part-time scholarships in the amount of $1,000 will be awarded for the upcoming 2013-14 year.

Scholarship requirements:

Apply today by completing your 2013-14 Valencia Foundation Scholarship Application.

Additional scholarship details as well as other scholarship opportunities can be found at: http://valenciacollege.edu/finaid/Scholarship_bulletin.cfm

spotlight story: elizabeth fulcher

Elizabeth Fulcher

Elizabeth Fulcher

This story started easily enough, a colleague sent me a story idea about one of Valencia’s great students who was doing good work and gaining recognition through Phi Theta Kappa, Valencia’s honor society. I met with the student, Elizabeth Fulcher, and after our discussion I realized this story was about so much more. It is about starting over but never giving up, a story about leaving a wonderful legacy through scholarships and a powerful tale about bullying and what can be done to stop it.

At the center of it all is Elizabeth. So let’s start with a little bit about her and then see where the story takes us.

Elizabeth Fulcher is currently a sophomore working to get her associate in science in paralegal studies. She plans to continue on at UCF and get a bachelor’s in legal studies, taking the transactional path of litigation to be a paralegal.

Elizabeth actually started her post-secondary education at Winter Park Tech studying court reporting. The program was downsized and at the same time, she had an accident and required back surgery. The surgeon told her to pick a sedentary job. She decided to completely start over at Valencia. “I remember I was lying in bed after surgery and I said to myself, ‘I’m going to Valencia.’ So I got up the next day and I took my time and I went to the registration office. They told me what they needed and I got it all taken care of. I just started slowly and I had to do remedial courses but so what? It will pay off in the long run.”

She acknowledges it was difficult to completely start over but says that it made her stronger and made her have more self-discipline. “Things happen, but I can pick myself back up.”

Soon she was approached by Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) and she was inducted as a member of the Alpha Gamma Omega chapter. She became involved with the “Honors Study Topic.” Every two years there is an “Honors Study Topic” and it is a theme for which essays for awards and projects are done to develop and create activities, experiences and service. The theme during Elizabeth’s involvement was called “The Culture of Competition.” Her and her fellow PTK contributors called it the anti-bullying project. They felt that bullying has a direct effect on competition and is particularly relevant to the college student population, who might be bullied for being smart or acting different.

Their investigation and research led to two things. First, they proposed a buddy system for children transitioning from middle school to high school. Each middle school student would be linked to a high school student who would be their resource and offer guidance. Additionally, they found an anti-bullying application for tablets and smart phones that would make reporting bullying much easier. To raise funds for their project, they held a prom for those who never got to go to their traditional prom. While a largely social event, it still supported their anti-bullying campaign by offering a prom for those who may have felt too scared or out of place to attend their high school prom.

The group worked with a few schools, but in the end the schools did not want to use the app due to increased liability issues. But Elizabeth didn’t stop, she spoke with Sheriff Demings and he gave her some insight on who to contact. She also wrote to the National School Board Association and the Florida Department of Education, as well as Representative Joe Saunders and Representative Darren Soto. Representative Soto did respond favorably to her idea, and during our chat she reminded herself to follow up with his office.

Elizabeth worked so hard for this effort because for her, this was a personal battle. She suffered at the hands of a group of “mean girls” and found that reporting it did little to stop the problem. Things escalated from verbal abuse to physical harm and she dropped out of school in 12th grade and got her GED. The project “had a big impact on me because I would recount the days that I was affected…it just brought back a lot of memories and I was so adamant, I just wanted to do something about it.”

Although Elizabeth is reluctant to admit she is a role model, which she most certainly is, one doesn’t have to look far at all to find people who will praise just how awesome she is. Professor Keith Malmos is the advisor for Elizabeth’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter. Right off the bat he shares, “She’s very appreciative and very modest but she is an amazing student and deserves what she gets.”

And as a testament to her modesty, it was Professor Malmos who filled me in on all the accolades Elizabeth has achieved through Phi Theta Kappa. She won an Elaine Turner Service Award through her Alpha Gamma Omega chapter. The anti-bullying essay was submitted to the Florida region for awards and helped her chapter receive a Distinguished Chapter of the State, recognizing the top 10 in the state. The chapter also submitted a Distinguished Member Award application on Elizabeth’s behalf and she won regionally and also won national recognition as a distinguished member.

Elizabeth credits her dad and her sister for helping to instill the drive to succeed. Her father told her, “Get a good education, you can take it anywhere you want.”

But for Elizabeth, it was her setbacks that really got her mindset focused on herself, not just because someone else says that education is important. “I truly feel in my heart if you don’t learn you are not doing anything. Success has no age limit and learning does not end at college. Learning is infinite in my opinion. Life is an education.”

In talking with Elizabeth, it is clear that the camaraderie and fellowship of PTK means a lot to her. “It’s just amazing how nice they are. I never knew people were that kind and caring and I’m so glad they graced my path.”

It was through Phi Theta Kappa that she learned about the Justin Harvey Alpha Gamma Omega Scholarship. She submitted an essay for consideration and was ecstatic when she found out she received the scholarship. She was moved by Justin’s story and incorporated how he inspired her in her winning essay.

I too was very moved when Elizabeth and I met and I decided to find out more about this wonderful young man and the legacy he left.

Justin’s mother, Sharon Skoloski, is a professor at Valencia in the social science department. She recounted stories of a young man who was successful but very humble, extremely talented and generous but quiet about his good deeds. Professor Skoloski remembers Thanksgiving, when dinner would have to wait until Justin returned home from feeding the homeless. “He would load up his car and just hit the road for different areas of Orlando and hand out dinner to the people on the railroad tracks or wherever they might be on the street so that they could have Thanksgiving dinner. That was my son.” And it wasn’t until after he passed that she found out the true extent of his gifts to others: There was the time he saved a friend during a river excursion and the many times he would take a homeless person to dinner while in downtown Orlando.

Justin graduated from Valencia in 2005 and continued on at UCF to study sports medicine. But his involvement with Valencia was not over; he served on the board of directors for Valencia’s alumni association.

Justin Harvey

Justin Harvey

He spearheaded efforts to start Valencia’s 5K event. Unfortunately, he passed away before the first event, but the event is still held each year and his memory is a part of each one. Also due to his good work and in the spirit of partnership, it is because of Justin that UCF’s sports medicine students are involved with the 5K event.

Justin was a classic violinist. He played since kindergarten and won many state awards in both Florida and West Virginia. While he had no problem performing in front of large audiences, he sometimes became shy when his mother would ask him to play for family or friends. “Truly, really humble,” Sharon remembers.

Justin was in Phi Theta Kappa and so was his best friend, Abeer Abdalla. Abeer wrote an article about Justin that shares even more of his community involvement and good deeds. He was committed to living the ideals of servant leadership and served as senator of membership for the Alpha Gamma Omega chapter of PTK, the same chapter Elizabeth is involved in now. He was recognized as a Fall 2004 Distinguished Officer, a Spring 2005 Distinguished Officer and the Fall 2004 Officer of the Semester.

While at Valencia, Justin was named a 2004 Coca-Cola Scholar and was most proud of winning the 2004 Florida Region’s Original Music Composition Award. And the support he gave to the local community was above and beyond, serving as a longtime volunteer for the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, Habitat for Humanity, Harbor House, Project Graduation and the National Kidney Foundation.

It was through the efforts of Phi Theta Kappa and the alumni association that the Justin Harvey Alpha Gamma Omega Scholarship was named and endowed. Sharon says, “It is an honor every semester to give out that scholarship.”

Sharon loves being an educator and interacting with Valencia students and as a professor she knows the importance the foundation and scholarships can make. She is grateful that the college remembers Justin’s legacy and considers it “an honor for me that Valencia carries it on as they do, so I’m always very grateful for Valencia.”

In putting this all together, I am struck by the humble nature of both Justin and Elizabeth. They both do good without needing accolades or recognition, and it is these quiet leaders that can change the world. Justin certainly did in the time he was here and Elizabeth is a wonderful representative of his spirit and legacy. I am honored to have been able to share their stories.

discussion on philanthropy

In light of the recent tornado and devastation in Oklahoma, I want to take a detour from our usual “Philanthropy, different definitions, same message” discussion. The foundation had the wonderful opportunity to host fundraising expert Kay Sprinkel Grace for a day of networking and workshops on May 1. In her morning session, she shared a model that showed philanthropy as a large circle and it is based in values. Development is within that circle and it uncovers shared values, and fundraising is within that, giving people opportunities to act on their values.

When a natural disaster hits, I think people many miles away, even across continents, are affected because here is a community of people who have had some pretty basic values taken from them – shelter, food, even the loss of family and friends. In Oklahoma parents are without children, families are missing loved ones, homes and schools have been decimated, beloved pets are displaced from their loving homes and families. We rally at times like these perhaps because we can’t fathom what it would be like to have what we value destroyed, or if we’ve been through a similar experience, we heartbreakingly empathize, but for whatever reason we look for ways to help. Fundraising and opportunities for support are a natural extension of this global grieving process because it allows us to act, to actively take part in helping to rebuild community.

The foundation received an email from community friend Mark Brewer, president and CEO of Community Foundation of Central Florida. He shared that those wishing to support recovery work in the Oklahoma City area can contribute to a fund at their fellow community foundation, the Oklahoma City Community Foundation.

Contributions to the Oklahoma City Tornado Recovery Fund can be made online at OCCF.ORG. Oklahoma City Community Foundation will use contributions to its Tornado Recovery Fund for the greatest needs of those impacted by the storms as well as schools and charities that are damaged. Their foundation has also encouraged contributions to the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army in its region for immediate shelter and emergency needs.

And a quick internet search brought up the Central Oklahoma Humane Society who is working with Oklahoma City and Moore to assist in efforts to receive, assess and shelter displaced and injured animals.

a closer look – femmes de coeur and let us entertain you

What started out as a fundraising group for the American Heart Association has grown into a wonderful group that raises important nursing scholarship funds for local areas colleges and universities.

The group started as Coeur de Coeur in 1980 and raised more than $2.5 million for the American Heart Association. They reorganized in 1998 as Femmes de Coeur (Women of Heart) and have raised another million dollars for local charities. The group is made up of 50 members who are women volunteering time and sharing a common goal to serve the needs of the community. Part of their uniqueness is that they partner with existing organizations to accomplish their mission. The sharing of resources allows Femmes de Coeur to provide help to a larger community audience.

Each year, Femmes de Coeur hosts an event, Let Us Entertain You!, a dance challenge full of dancing and music. Funds raised at the event go to support Adventist University of Health Sciences, Seminole State College, UCF College of Nursing and Valencia College. The event features a professional dance show including a dancing challenge by local celebrities. Additionally, faculty from each participating school are paired with a dance professional for the challenge.

People vote with their dollars and competitors do quite a good job fundraising and collecting donations. These donations, as well as the judges’ score, produce the winners of the celebrity and faculty dance challenges.

The current president of Femmes de Coeur, Judy Conrad, shares how the event was created. Six years ago she was the event chairwoman and wanted to include all of the four teaching colleges in their fundraising efforts. Judy and her co-chairs, Doris Holiday and Betty Wilson, were ballroom dancers and after the popularity of televised dance competition shows, they decided to approach some of the professionals in the dance community and the event was launched. The faculty challenge was added in the second year.

Not to brag, but Valencia seems to produce some great talent. For the past four years, our dancing divas and dudes have been the ones to beat! Past winning competitors include Dr. Paula Pritchard, dean of nursing, Manny Ramos, professor of nursing, Dr. Mike Bosley, executive dean at Lake Nona Campus and dear foundation friend and donor Dean Maguire.

This year’s event was held on June 2 and our competitor was interim dean of science on West Campus, Dr. Bob Gessner. He was chosen as a result of his friendship with Valencia’s nursing division and their dean. “Paula asked if I could dance and I said of course.”

But he didn’t know it was ballroom dance, which he had never done before. He credits his dance pro, Jennifer Caminas, with helping him get competition ready. “It has been a lot of work, but the time has been well spent doing this for our nursing division and for the scholarships this will fund for our nursing students.”

Last year, Valencia’s nursing students were so touched by Femmes de Coeur generous $12,500 donation that they did the photo below, “You have our heart.” Those funds are earmarked to support Valencia College nursing students through the Femmes de Coeur Nursing Endowed Scholarship. We add our thanks to that, Femmes de Coeur is an organization made up of women who bring great help and hope to our community and we are so happy for our long-time partnership.
Nursing Students

And in breaking news…Valencia continues the winning streak! Last night, Dr. Gessner was crowned as this year’s winner. Congratulations and keep dancing!