fall fee payment deadline: august 16, 2013!

Valencia Foundation

The 2013-14 fall fee payment deadline is vastly approaching!

Term charges and payments are due by August 16, 2013 in order remain enrolled in your fall classes.

If you haven’t already, there’s still time to apply for 2013-14 Valencia Foundation scholarships! 

The Valencia Foundation offers a number of privately funded scholarships that are donated by organizations and individuals interested in supporting Valencia’s students.

By completing one scholarship application, our foundation will then try to match you to any of our scholarships to which you qualify for. Per review & donor confirmation, should you receive a scholarship, thank you note submissions are required as a the final steps in awarding students Valencia Foundation scholarships.

Our application is available yearlong for the 2013-14 academic year. Scholarship funding is awarded as they come in to the first set of applicants that qualify for them.

Apply today for your chance to earn a Foundation scholarship!

Most scholarships offered through the Valencia Foundation require a student to demonstrate need by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Valencia encourages all students to complete the FAFSA early each year and has a priority deadline of November 15th for the upcoming academic year. To complete your FAFSA application, visit: http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/

 *In order to complete the 2013-14 Valencia Foundation scholarship application, visit: http://valenciacollege.edu/finaid/Scholarship_bulletin.cfm

*For more information on Valencia College’s important dates and deadlines, visit the Business Office’s website at: http://valenciacollege.edu/businessoffice/important-deadlines.cfm

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womens executive council 2013 scholarship applications due august 10, 2013! apply today!

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

building bridges to success

The Valencia College Bridges to Success program is responsible for working with diverse populations to assist with the post-secondary transition from enrollment to graduation.

Students often balance their academic course work, family responsibilities and personal life. Bridges students are provided an educational environment that supports their success and provides academic services, programs of interest and mentoring that benefit this diverse student population.

On July 26, the Bridges to Success mentor program IMAGES (Influential Men Applying Gifts and Employing Strategies) gathered in support of Valencia students: those who are the first in their family to attend college.

These IMAGES members joined the Bridges First One online fundraising team and created their team webpage: http://firstone.kintera.org/bridges

These IMAGES members joined the Bridges online fundraising team and created their First One team webpage: http://firstone.kintera.org/bridges

Bridges to Success at Valencia works with ethnically diverse populations to:

  • assist with post-secondary transition from application to enrollment and graduation
  • assist the college in creating an educational environment that supports the success of these students

For more information on the Bridges to Success program at Valencia College, please contact:

John Stover, Bridges to Success Program Manager
Student Services Building, West Campus
jstover@valenciacollege.edu
1800 S Kirkman Rd., Orlando, FL 32811-2302

spotlight story – donald gibson

Donald Gibson
“I truly try my best to enjoy every single day no matter how tough it gets or how bad it is.” And after meeting Donald Gibson, I can certainly attest to that fact.

Donald currently works at Valencia as a VA certifying official. He helps veterans and dependents of veterans, making sure they are accessing their education benefits and assisting with obstacles that might hinder their educational journeys.

It is a job he eyed when he was a work study student, a position funded through the VA. He found out that his VA benefits would be running out the same month that his supervisor was retiring. He approached his supervisor and told her, “I want your job. How do I get it?” Stunned at first, once she realized he was serious she did everything in her power to teach Donald everything she could. He made the transition and is very proud of the work he does at Valencia and especially proud that he gets to help his fellow veterans.

Donald joined the Marine Corps in order to access the GI Bill and go to college. He was told by his parents at an early age that they were not going to be able to help him finance college. He was good in school but hit some rough spots in high school and education took a second seat to life. At 15 he was responsible for all of his expenses – food, clothing, etc. At 18 he was told that he needed to live on his own, so with 6 months until high school graduation, he found a place of his own and worked to pay for it. Despite all of this, he did manage to graduate high school. Thinking back on that time, Donald says, “I was not necessarily ever anti-school, I was just a teenager trying to juggle a full-time job and going to school full time and it was difficult for me.”

He started attending Valencia, the first in his family to attend college, but soon life happened again. He was not successful at accessing his GI Bill funds and ended up thousands of dollars in debt. He soon found himself unable to continue his education.

Time passed and the Post 9/11 GI Bill was introduced. This version paid the school directly and gave him much needed peace of mind. He applied for benefits and was part of the inaugural group of scholars to attend college using this bill.

And then life dealt another blow. His father was electrocuted by a power line and almost passed away. He moved in with Donald, who not only served as his caregiver, but found himself paying for some of his actual medical care, he estimates $9,000 over two years. During this time, being a care provider and working full time, Donald remained a full-time student and had a 3.8 GPA.

It was a foundation scholarship that helped Donald during another one of life’s troubling moments – a $1,000 scholarship just as his VA benefits were running out. He often wonders if those funds saved him from having to drop out again.

Donald admits that his story may not be typical, and that his first-generation experience has included a lot of struggles. But he recognizes that he is farther along than others, “I’m getting ready to purchase my first home. Even with minimum wage jobs I always made sure that I took care of what I needed to take care of.”

He is able to put things in perspective, and credits Valencia in his life. “One of the biggest things to learn is that if you have goals, you have to understand there is going to be those unknowns that you can’t really plan for, but you have to be able to manipulate and work with them. And that is why I love Valencia so much, as a student and as an employee, because they understand, they truly understand life does happen. And they don’t hold it against you, they actually help you try to manipulate and maneuver those obstacles that get thrown in your way.”

And in his job, he is part of Valencia’s helping hand, providing service to fellow veterans. It is a population that is growing, with more than 2,000 students using VA benefits on an annual basis. Summer enrollment was the highest that he’s ever seen with 900 veterans using their benefits.

When asked how he remains so positive, even in the face of challenges, he shares that he has a good support system. “Me and my mom have an amazing relationship,” he shares. Some may question their relationship based on his strict upbringing, but he shares the truth is actually far different than people may assume. She knew him better than he knew himself and realized that he was the type of person who needed to go out into life and experience things on his own, even hardships. And he also cites his faith with reassuring him that everything happens for a reason and this is God’s plan.

His positive energy is not contained, it spills over to those close to him. He is a mentor to his cousin, who is also a first-generation student and currently attending Valencia. He identifies with the struggle of other first-generation families, struggles they may not have needed to go through if they were able to make more money with a college education.

He also mentors a young man that his aunt and uncle took into their home. The young man’s mother struggled with substance abuse and his aunt and uncle offered a stable and loving environment. Donald will tell you that this young man is “one of those people who has so much potential but doesn’t know how to tap into it.” To make sure this young man realizes that potential, he paid the $35 registration fee for him to go to Valencia and helped him fill out the FAFSA. But the support doesn’t end there: “I will be taking time to walk him through the system, to make it easy for him, so he doesn’t get overwhelmed and lost and confused. He doesn’t have people like that in his life that can help him walk through it because nobody he knows, not one person, has ever been to college.”

After meeting with him, I can definitely say that Donald Gibson is someone you would be grateful to have in your corner. The foundation is in the midst of our First One campaign and I find myself thinking about something Donald said at the very end of our chat. First time in college stories aren’t always about college. Donald’s story certainly shows that, sometimes life happens and how you get through it makes you stronger and wiser than before.

discussion on philanthropy – dr. kathleen plinske

This issue is dedicated to our First One campaign, and a celebration of first-generation students. For this month’s discussion on philanthropy, I am checking in with another first-generation college student, Dr. Kathleen Plinske, campus president at Osceola.
Dr. Plinske

Dr. Plinske had a distinctive high school experience, essentially moving out of home at 14 to attend a public, residential high school in Illinois, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA). Growing up, there was always an expectation that she would go to college, and attending that high school was a game changer for her because such a large percentage of the graduating class went on to college. It also instilled in her early the concept of philanthropy and giving back. “When you are a student at the high school, they instill in you that the education you are given is a gift from the people of Illinois and the expectation is that you are going to make a difference in the world and give back for that gift you were given.”

The blessings continued for her as she went on to Indiana University and received a merit-based full scholarship which covered not only tuition, room and board but also undergraduate experiences like study abroad opportunities. She graduated with bachelor degrees in physics and Spanish and got a job at her hometown community college. She immediately started working on her master’s degree in Spanish, and they allowed her teach in the evenings while also working full time. She remembers that being a very neat experience – teaching, being a student and working as college support staff all at one time.

She got her master’s from Roosevelt University in Chicago and started a doctoral program at Pepperdine University in Malibu. It was a hybrid program that required attendance for a week at a time and the rest of the coursework was online. She would save and use her vacation time from work in order to attend classes.

She then progressed through a number of positions at McHenry County College and ultimately ended up serving as interim president, and from there she came to Valencia. But it wasn’t a full stop at Valencia, she continued her educational journey and received her MBA from the University of Florida in December 2012.

Doing all of this as a first-generation student offered a unique set of circumstances. She remembers her first semester, she was convinced she was failing all her courses. She remembers having conversations with her mom, should she drop out? Am I college material? And her mother wanted to help but didn’t know how to advise her, having not been in that position. But her mother gave her some wonderful advice: Just stick it out for this first semester and then we’ll see how you do and go from there. It turns out Dr. Plinske had straight A’s, and continued having straight A’s, she just didn’t have a thermometer to gauge how she was doing.

She brings these experiences to her job at Valencia and it is especially helpful at Osceola, where she cites having a very high percentage of students that are first generation. “I can empathize with what they are going through and I understand the importance of really uplifting them. I understand what they are feeling and what their fears might be and what type of support they might need, and just being understanding of what they are going through and how big a deal it is for them and for their families to be the first ones to go to college.”

Dr. Plinske is a firm believer in the power of scholarships, they open a door to a future that might not be possible. For her, she knows that her life and career path would have been much different had she not been afforded additional opportunities and one opportunity impacts the next, which impacts the next and so on.

And on the subject of first-generation students, she is just as passionate, “A contribution to this campaign that supports scholarships for first-generation students will have long-lasting impact on our world that we might not even be able to imagine.” Supporting the First One campaign helps support a student who one day may cure cancer or be president of the United States, the possibilities are endless. “We don’t know our impact ultimately in the end and I think that is what is so exciting about supporting student scholarships.” Without the catalyzing effect of higher education, these talents could remain untapped and unrealized.

Dr. Plinske made a very generous donation to the campaign, a $1,000 gift in memory of her father. Osceola’s student government president approached her and asked if she would support their First One fundraising team. They were shocked when she said yes. She knew she wanted to make a gift to honor her father and his support. She tells a wonderful story about when she was in high school. Every Friday, after work, he would drive to her high school to pick her up and then drive her back on Sunday. She was so homesick, without those weekends home she may not have made it through school.

On the subject of philanthropy, she believes “that unto whom much is given, much is expected.” It was a philosophy she developed in high school and every day a quote from astronomer Carl Sagan, his words on the wall at school, served as a reminder: IMSA was a gift from the people of Illinois to the human future. So from a very early age, the expectation to give something back to make a real difference in the world was introduced to her. “Each of us has unique gifts that we can share – time, treasure and talent – and it is our responsibility to make the best use of our gifts to make the world a better place.”

Would you like to join Dr. Plinske and support education in our community? You can, through our First One campaign. With this campaign, we are trying to raise $100,000 for first-generation scholarships. 100 percent of every dollar raised will go directly to scholarships and gifts received by Aug. 10 are eligible for a match through a challenge grant, bringing our impact to students to $200,000!

It’s not too late to start your own fundraising team, or you can support another team or make a general donation. Join us today at www.valencia.org/FirstOne

a closer look – a conversation with dr. joyce romano

Dr. Romano and Barbara Shell at the First One kick-off

Dr. Romano and Barbara Shell at the First One kick-off

I learned that Valencia’s vice president of student affairs, Dr. Joyce Romano, was a first-generation student when she spoke at our First One campaign kick-off celebration. After hearing her words, I was interested in learning more. Hers is a first-generation student story set against the women’s movement and the changes of the 70s.

She was a good student in high school and counts herself lucky that she had friends whose families were college oriented because her family was not. Her parents lived very simply, there was no savings account, much less one for college.

Her father was born in 1910 and her mother in 1916. When she was 17, Dr. Romano’s mother told her that a girl didn’t need a college education. And she was right, speaking from her life model – women grew up, got married, had children and did not work outside the home. Looking back, Dr. Romano also thinks that this sentiment was shared because “she felt really bad that she couldn’t pay for it and I had to struggle on my own.”

Dr. Romano started to save for college early, babysitting when she was 12, getting a job at 16, working every summer, sometimes two jobs at a time. She worked very hard and saved every dime. “My friends used to beg me to go out with them but I would tell them no, I already spent my $5 this week.”

She was always a saver and always oriented toward college. She went to college before all the federal financial aid programs were available, so she paid her own way and took out a small loan from her hometown bank. She also had two or three different jobs on campus and feels those were an enrichment part of her education.

She was interested in psychology so she chose that as her major, receiving her bachelor’s degree and going on to receive her master’s in counseling psychology. She then went to the University of Kansas and received her doctorate by the time she was 31.

She was planning on being a therapist, working in community mental health, but a job opportunity changed her plans and set the course for her future. The job was in Residence Life and the men she worked with were extremely inclusive, treating her not as a graduate student, but as a professional. When she finished her master’s degree they offered her a full-time job with the office. And it was in this realm of student affairs and student activities that she built her career.

She came to Valencia as coordinator of student development on West campus. A few years later, then college president Dr. Gianini revamped student services as a result of feedback he got through the 1993 SACS reaccreditation process. She took an interim role in the new organization in 1994. Soon, she championed her own cause and pushed for a job search, with no guarantee she would get the job, and became a college administrator. She was in that position for nine years and when senior administrator Dr. Hooks retired, Dr. Shugart made her interim vice president of student affairs. She went through another search process and after about 9 months, she was named as vice president of student affairs. That was almost ten years ago.

She admits that even when she went to college, she had no idea she would be doing what she is doing now. It brings her back to her first-generation experience, “When you are a first-generation college student, your ideas of what is possible are so limited because you just don’t know what you don’t know.” Even in her career, she admits that it never crossed her mind to be a doctor, engineer, lawyer or pilot.

Part of this view was due to being the first in her family to attend college and part of it was the women’s movement. Dr. Romano went to school when times were changing for women, their roles in life – home and work – were moving toward what we may take for granted today. Dr. Romano admits that she is definitely a product of the women’s movement and the women she met on campus and saw as role models were the real leaders of the movement. These were the days of Betty Friedan, founder and first president of the National Organization for Women, speaking on campus. Dr. Romano recalls her resident assistant when she was a freshman. She would get everyone together to go to speeches or programs, either on her campus or at nearby Cornell University. People were acknowledging barriers and having conversations about it. The feminist perspective was gaining momentum and was enormously eye-opening. “That’s definitely what my college education gave me,” she says.

Asked why she feels college is so important, Dr. Romano is quick to reply, “It expands your sense of yourself and what is possible. It expands your view of the world and what is in it and what people are in it and what opportunities are in it.”

And she says one thing that students don’t understand when they start, and she didn’t understand, is that it is a process. “Learning is a process. It’s a true development so it is not just a collection of 20 courses that you take to get a degree.” She feels it is much more, following a concept of Gestalt psychology, “that the whole is bigger than the sum of the parts.” It is not an additive process, she shares, more of a multiplying process where you build on experiences that just get bigger and bigger and sets you up to be a curious person in the world.

Dr. Romano did something wonderful during her remarks at our campaign kick-off. She presented foundation president Geraldine with a check to endow the Cliff Romano Scholarship.

She had a few reasons to establish the scholarship and one led back to her dissertation tribute. In it, she wrote that she regrets that her parents did not have the opportunity for a higher education as she did, and that it was simply a matter of the time they were born, it had nothing to do with intellect or curiosity. Indeed, she shares that both her parents were very curious. And her husband’s parents have a similar story. Neither were college educated, although his father went to the community college in his area after he retired and got an associate degree, becoming involved in the theater department. It is an artistic trait that she says runs in her husband’s family. It really is fitting that it is the Cliff Romano Scholarship because they are both first-generation college students. The scholarship also offers a wonderful way to pay tribute to the memory of these four parents, leaving a legacy that will last a lifetime.

She admits that, given the simple way her parents lived their life, she was surprised there was any money to inherit. She felt very strongly that she wanted to take the funds and pay it forward to help people like her parents get an opportunity. She chose Valencia Foundation because she feels that under Geraldine’s leadership, the foundation is humble and focused on serving the students. And she also loved the fact that here, at Valencia, $25,000 can make a remarkable difference in the lives of our students. When people hear or think about philanthropy, they might assume that you have to be a billionaire to be able to do something. But she proves that wrong and says, “It feels pretty good to be able to make a difference in someone’s life.”

And she brings it all back to her first-generation experience and how college changed her world view. Somebody like me could actually establish a scholarship? Dr. Romano proves that yes, someone like her and her good works can have a lasting effect on Valencia students. And she feels that through the scholarship, it is her parents, still giving her opportunity that she never felt that someone like her would ever have.

apply today for the hispanic business council scholarship!

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