alumni networking – the osceola county connection

Osceola CampusSome months ago, Valencia’s alumni executive board met with college president, Dr. Sandy Shugart. As a result of this conversation, and feedback from fellow alums, the alumni board turned their focus to networking opportunities, an initiative driven by the Learning and Growing committee.

Under this new direction, the alumni association hosted a networking reception on West Campus in partnership with the Heart of Florida United Way last year. The event was a great success and left alumni in Osceola County with just one question: What about us?

“Now everyone wants one!” says Barbara Shell, alumni relations director at Valencia.

The Osceola alumni networking reception will be held on Thursday, Oct. 10 from 6 – 8 p.m. on Osceola Campus.

Barbara shares that having an event in Osceola is exciting because the campus has changed so dramatically and alumni get to see all the new development, including the new Building 4 that cements the partnership between Valencia and UCF on Osceola Campus. Building 4 is the largest building on any Valencia campus. In addition to classrooms, the four-story building houses the campus library, bookstore, 10 science labs, 18 classrooms, math and computer labs, the campus cafeteria and a coffee bar.

Attendees of the networking reception will have a chance to check it out in person on the 10th, the event will be held there and refreshments will be provided.

Osceola alumni see this event as another step to their ultimate goal, starting their own Valencia alumni chapter. The first step was the 5K Run Walk for Heroes on Saturday, Sept. 7. The event was part of the September 11 memorial events at the campus and raised more than $8,000 for the Rotary Club of Lake Nona’s September 11 Memorial Fund, which supports Valencia scholarships for emergency responders at Osceola Campus.

12,000 students take classes at our Osceola Campus, a number that campus president, Dr. Kathleen Plinske, hopes to grow with the help of our best ambassadors – alumni.

“We’re working hard in Osceola County to move the needle on our college-going rate. Osceola County ranks 57th in 67 counties in the state of Florida in terms of the percentage of high school graduates that enroll in college. In our effort to promote a college-going culture, we’d like to highlight some of our notable Valencia alumni who live and work in Osceola County. I hope that students in our elementary, middle, and high schools learn of these amazing Valencia alumni, and recognize that Valencia is a great start to any career. Valencia alumni have gone on to become doctors, lawyers, fire chiefs, bankers, teachers, business owners and public servants. I would like for students in Osceola County to recognize that they can accomplish anything that they set their minds to, and Valencia is a great place to start to achieve their dreams.”

Dr. Plinske wants to build a strong relationship with alumni in the area and is encouraging our former students to reach out and reconnect with Valencia. Input is requested from a variety of professions and careers so if you or someone you know is an alum, having completed a degree or certificate program, living or working in Osceola County, please contact Laura Oldroyd at 407-582-4101.

And after making that call, there is one more you need to make – your RSVP call for the Oct. 10 networking reception! Please call 407-582-3426 or email alumni@valenciacollege.edu by Friday, Oct. 4 so we know you are coming. The evening promises to be a chance to get back to campus and meet other previous students. Bring plenty of good Valencia stories to share!

checking up on the dental hygiene program

DentalHygieneReunion015October is homecoming month for Valencia with a number of events scheduled to bring alumni back to campus, including the 35th anniversary Valencia dental hygiene program reunion on Saturday, Oct. 12.

Valencia College’s dental hygiene program was established in 1977 and graduated its charter class of 23 students in 1978. The graduates of the program are employed as clinicians, educators and public health hygienists. Numerous graduates have continued their education in dental hygiene, dentistry, education and public health.

The reunion celebration offers graduates a chance to stay connected to the program. One alumna takes that connection a step further, by offering generous scholarship funding. Megan Warlow is a 1989 graduate of the program and provides scholarship dollars to those who are following in her footsteps.

Emily Anderson is a 2012-2013 recipient of that funding. She found out about the opportunity through the dental hygiene program director, Pamela Sandy. Without this assistance, she would not have been able to return to college.

Emily plans to continue schooling and obtain a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene. She wants to be active in the American Dental Hygienists’ Association and support the work to increase the scope of practice for dental hygienists in Florida.

Beyond the dollars, the greatest gift she received from the scholarship was the confidence to go after what she wanted. “I feel like I have a team of cheerleaders in my corner,” she describes, declaring that she feels obligated to succeed and pay it forward.

And she already is paying it forward, seizing an opportunity that presented itself at a First One campaign event for the foundation. It was there that Emily met a young man who was the eldest of 12 siblings whose life had a rough start with a teenage mother and trouble around every corner. He shared that sometimes he gets lonely and wants to give up on his dream of education.

As Megan Warlow was the cheerleader for Emily, she became the cheerleader for this young man, sending him the link to apply for scholarships and offering to be that friend in need when the going gets tough.

She credits the scholarship with helping to shape this outlook. “It has created a momentum that carries me and affects all those around me.”

She realizes that scholarships are a blessing that can help dreams become a reality and have a positive effect on the community. “I feel that the more skilled and educated people become, the more they contribute to making our society better as a whole. Often without the support, many talented individuals will not reach their full potential because they cannot afford to go to college.”

Jessica Alexander is another 2012-2013 recipient. She is finishing up her core classes, currently with a 4.0 GPA, and she hopes to find “a job that I love” after graduation.

She was referred to the online scholarship application through the Answer Center at the college. “When I saw the foundation scholarship, I figured I would give it a shot.”

And quite a shot it was. “Amazing!” she recounts. The scholarship surpassed anything she could imagine and provided almost a year’s worth of schooling for her.

Like Emily, Jessica comments that the financial burden is what keeps so many people from getting a degree. Thanks to her benefactor, she has peace of mind and can focus on her studies.

She thinks that scholarships are important because they reassure students that they are headed in the right direction. “All students have a time when they wonder if they are on the right path and when you receive a scholarship, it makes you feel like you are in the right place.”

And after graduation, expect to see both of them at reunions and alumni functions. Jessica says, “I will definitely keep in touch with the dental hygiene program. I have had such a great experience so far at Valencia. This year has changed me so much and I know over the next few years I will grow even more. I will always have the relationships and experiences to take with me.”

From Emily, “I definitely plan to keep in touch with the dental hygiene program after I leave. My entire experience with Valencia has been about making connections and feeling like part of a family committed to helping everyone succeed. At each event I have attended, I have seen the dedication that alumni have shown to their alma mater and I know that I will want to do the same!”

For all interested in the October reunion, the event will be held from 2 – 5 p.m. at the Special Events Center on the college’s West Campus. Please RSVP by Oct. 7 to 407-582-3426 or alumni@valenciacollege.edu.

a closer look: valencia’s paralegal program

paralegalAs Valencia’s alumni relations efforts continue to grow, certain disciplines develop their own alumni followings and host receptions that provide professional networking opportunities, as well as a great chance to catch up with former classmates.

This is the case for the paralegal program, which is hosting an alumni reception on Thursday, Oct. 24 from 6 – 8 p.m. in the auditorium of Valencia’s Criminal Justice Institute.

As the legal system becomes more and more complex, lawyers are increasingly turning to qualified paralegals to provide essential support services. The paralegal is one of the lawyer’s most valuable resources, performing substantive legal work delegated and supervised by the lawyer, including assisting with trial preparation and real estate closings, drafting legal documents and performing research.

Students in Valencia’s AS degree program in paralegal studies develop a strong background in many areas, including civil litigation, real property, business organizations, legal research and legal technology. Students also gain an understanding of the ethical framework within which they work and can effectively analyze and communicate in these areas.

Students may choose to specialize in two areas, litigation or transactional, and can work for lawyers in myriad of institutions, including firms, banks, corporations and government agencies.

Approximately 35 percent of program graduates transfer to an institution offering a baccalaureate degree. For students who choose this route, the program at Valencia has an articulation agreement with UCF and Valencia graduates may transfer to UCF’s BA or BS in legal studies program. There is also an articulation agreement with Florida Gulf Coast University, offering students a chance to complete an online bachelor’s degree in legal studies.

The program provides many ways to prepare students for the job market, beginning in PLA 1003, Introduction to Paralegal Practices and Ethics. In this class, the students are required to prepare a resume, cover letter and references. A guest speaker is also invited to provide information regarding the current job market and hiring tips. Students are encouraged to attend a free seminar sponsored by the Central Florida Paralegal Association that addresses the topic of resumes.

Program director, Wendy Toscano, is an important resource for the students. Upon request, she will meet with a student individually, review their resume and assist them in job searches. Students are also supported by the college’s Career Center, which provides resume writing assistance, mock interviews, career counseling and reference materials related to the paralegal profession and law school.

In their final year of studies, students will take PLA 2192, Legal Research and Theory III: Capstone. In this class students will create a portfolio of their assignments completed through the program. This portfolio can be used to showcase work during a job interview. Students are also required to prepare an updated resume, cover letter and reference list, as well as participate in a mock interview with a career counselor. This course also affords the opportunity to job shadow with local attorneys and paralegals to experience law firm culture.

For many, internships are a key experience when deciding a future career and life path. The paralegal program does provide an intern course as an elective. A member of the paralegal program faculty is responsible for placing, monitoring and evaluating the internship. Valencia paralegal students have interned with the state attorney’s office, working closely with the assistant state attorneys. Students have also interned with local law firms, small and large, as well as solo practitioners.

The program is supported by a strong advisory committee. The committee provides meaningful guidance, job shadowing, internships and jobs, funds for book scholarships and other program needs. They also help with the most important factor in getting a job – networking. Wendy Toscano states that bringing the alumni together with current students and the advisory committee is a great way to learn about job opportunities and recent developments in the paralegal arena.

Wendy expands on the importance of alumni in the equation: “Program alumni are one of our primary sources regarding paralegal job opportunities in the Central Florida legal community as well as current trends affecting the paralegal career. They are also living, breathing examples of the quality of Valencia’s paralegal studies program.”

There is something else that provides assistance to our paralegal students, and Valencia students in all disciplines – scholarships. Scholarships lead to more graduates, which strengthens our alumni base and leads to all of these great networking and reunion events.

One day soon, Melixa and Katie will be proud alumni sharing their stories and serving as the embodiment of how education can change the trajectory of a life.

Melixa is currently unemployed and has a child with severe learning disabilities, but she says she will continue to fight for their future. It is a future that will involve more education as she would like to transfer to UCF to complete a bachelor’s degree. Her dream is to go to law school and one day have the initials JD behind her name.

Flattered and blessed, that is how Melixa feels about her scholarship support. Her first reaction to the scholarship news was to laugh out loud and say, “Thank you all!” She feels the faculty at Valencia is doing a superb job and she is proud to say that she is a Valencia student.

To the generous donors, she says, “God has provided angels disguised as scholarship benefactors. Again, my children and I say thank you for investing in our future. I will do the same for others when the time comes.”

A very special benefactor offered assistance to Katie, Helen Von Dolteren-Fournier, Esq. Helen is a past president of the Valencia Foundation board and one of our most treasured friends. Her generosity knows no bounds and students like Katie reap the rewards of that philanthropy.

Katie is a single mom with four children and this is her first time in college. There was a problem accessing her financial aid and she found herself struggling to pay for two semesters. She hopes getting a degree will improve her life and her children’s. “I want to show them I can, and will, succeed.”

Come share your success and mix and mingle with fellow paralegal graduates on the 24th. RSVP to 407-582-3426 or alumni@valenciacollege.edu by Oct. 21.

Note: Paralegals cannot give legal advice, represent a client, or provide legal services directly to the public, except as permitted by law.

2013-14 ime becas scholarship available now!

IME Becas Scholarship

Are you a first generation Mexican-American student in college? Apply today for the IME Becas Scholarship!

The IME Becas Scholarship is dedicated to providing support to students who are first generation in college students that identify themselves as Mexican-American or Mexican immigrants.

Students must:

  1. Complete the 2013-14 Valencia College Foundation Scholarship found here: http://valenciacollege.edu/finaid/Scholarship_bulletin.cfm
  2. Complete the 2013-14 FAFSA Application
  3. Be a first generation in college student
  4. Mexican-American or Mexican immigrant
  5. Demonstrate financial need

If you qualify, apply today by completing the IME Becas Scholarship application found at https://valencia.scholarships.ngwebsolutions.com/CMXAdmin/Cmx_Content.aspx?cpId=466

putting a human face on genocide

Valencia’s Peace and Justice Institute brought Carl Wilkens to Valencia campus through a $2,000 grant from the United States Institute of Peace, which was matched by a $2,000 donation from Orlando-based ShuffieldLowman Attorneys & Advisors.

One Person Can Make a Difference: Recalling Lessons from Rwanda

  • By Linda Shrieves Beaty

When the genocide in Rwanda began in 1994, Carl Wilkens found himself facing a terrible dilemma.

A Seventh-Day Adventist aid worker, Wilkens had lived in Rwanda for four years, building schools and starting his young family there. But as the violence between the majority Hutus and the minority Tutsis erupted, and the killing began to engulf the country, the U.S. embassy urged all Americans to get out of the country.

There was just one problem, Carl Wilkens told audiences at Valencia this week. The Wilkens family — Carl, his wife Teresa and their three small children –  employed two Rwandans: a housekeeper and a young man who was their night watchman. Both were members of the Tutsi tribe, whose members were being hunted down and killed by members of the majority Hutu tribe and its government.

Wilkens figured he had two choices: Leave the country and try to sneak out his two employees, which the U.S. embassy had forbidden, and which he felt might risk his family’s lives if  they were caught at the border. Or, he and his wife could leave their home in Kigali, and let their employees hide out in their home. Unfortunately, Wilkens knew that the Hutus would quickly find their employees and kill them.

In the face of such dreadful choices, Wilkens came up with a different solution.

He sent his wife and children to neighboring Burundi, and he chose to stay in Rwanda — where he could shelter his employees and other Tutsi friends.

“When Plan A is unacceptable and Plan B is equally unacceptable, I’d encourage you to stop and look for a Plan C,” Wilkens told the Valencia students and staffers at his speeches.

Wilkens, the only American who stayed during the bloody genocide that claimed more than 800,000 lives, managed to save the lives of his employees — and he’s credited with saving the lives of hundreds of others, including children in nearby orphanages.

During the 100 days of nonstop killing, Wilkens went out into the bloody streets of Kigali, faced down soldiers and civilians armed with AK-47s and machetes, and bargained with Hutu government officials to let him help the children.  Before long, he found himself dealing with men who were ordering the slaughter of thousands of people.  He was uncomfortable with the idea, but a Tutsi friend and pastor suggested it. “He said, ‘Carl, if you really want to make a difference, you have to form a relationship with the people in power,’ ” Wilkens recalled.

So Wilkens  met with Col. Tharcisse Renzaho, the governor of Kigali. Renzaho gave Wilkens a travel permit that would allow him through roadblocks to provide food and water to children in orphanages. When Wilkens asked for a truck to deliver the materials, the colonel provided one. Later, after the violence ended and the Rwandan people drove out the extremist government, that colonel was arrested and tried for his crimes.

Yet the incident taught Wilkens a lesson. “I want to focus on the power of relationships to make a difference,” said Wilkens.

Peace, he said, depends on it. “How are we going to build world peace? Through friendships.”

Wilkens stayed in Rwanda for another 18 months after the genocide, as the country began to heal. In 2011, Wilkens released his first book, “I’m Not Leaving,” which is based on tapes he made to his wife and children during the genocide. Today, he is the director of World Outside My Shoes, a nonprofit based in Spokane, Wash. Wilkens now spends much of his time traveling around the country,  telling how his experiences puts a human “face” on genocide,  showing students that  perpetrators, victims, and resistors will not soon be forgotten, and teaching participants how one person really can make a difference.

Valencia’s Peace and Justice Institute brought Carl Wilkens to campus through a $2,000 grant from the United States Institute of Peace, which was matched by a $2,000 donation from Orlando-based ShuffieldLowman Attorneys & Advisors.

are you a 2012-13 duke energy (formerly progress energy) scholarship recipient?

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

thank you femmes de coeur

Sending appreciation to Femmes de Coeur (Women of Heart) for the recent $5,000 donation to Valencia Foundation. This generous contribution is earmarked to support Valencia College nursing students through the Femmes de Coeur Endowed Nursing Scholarship.

In addition to Valencia College Nurising program, Femmes de Coeur also contributed to Florida Hospital College of Health and Sciences, Seminole State College and UCF College of Nursing.

FemmesDC

apply today for the kissimmee utility authority (kua) scholarship!

The Kissimmee Utility Authority (KUA) Scholarship: 

Founded in 1901, KUA (www.kua.com) is Florida’s sixth largest community-owned utility providing electric and telecommunication services to 170,000 residents in five Central Florida counties.

In the past year, KUA has financially supported more than 250 community projects and activities. Notable projects included the “Flee to be Free” child abduction awareness program, voter registration drives, student scholarships, holiday gift drives and free swimming lessons for families unable to afford them.

KUA’s mission statement: To provide reliable and economical services to our customers while partnering with the community and the environment.

The KUA scholarship is available for the 2013-14 academic year to students who: 

  • Complete the 2013-14 Valencia Foundation Scholarship Application
  • Graduate high school with a 2.0 GPA or higher
  • Maintain a 2.5 GPA during their time at Valencia
  • Attend Valencia’s Osceola Campus
  • Is the son or daughter of a KUA employee for more than one year

Don’t let another minute pass by, apply TODAY!

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

 

first one campaign success

First One GroupThanks to grassroots support, Valencia gathered $203,746 in scholarships for students who are the first in their families to attend college. That total includes our dollar-for-dollar match through a challenge grant; 100 percent of this money will go directly to students.

Top internal fundraisers were: Paula Pritchard, dean of nursing, Annmarie Coco Wise, purchasing agent, Katie Shephard, speech professor, Brenda Jones, facilities specialist, David Hosman, student life skills professor, Amanda Kern, graphics technology professor, Rob McCaffrey, graphics technology professor, and Josh Murdock, instructional designer.

The top Valencia alumni teams were led by Michele Nichols (Generation One), Julie Bennett (Gladiators in Wingtips) and Zia-ur-Rehman Ansari (Team Zia).

Foundation board members Rebecca York and Sue Foreman and foundation director emeritus and alumnna Sarah Kelly helped the team surpass its goal.

The most productive internal teams were graphic design, nursing, purchasing and OIT. These fearless internal philanthropy warriors were led by many, including Kristy Pennino and Ariane Dicarlo.

Kudos to Jason Dodge and the Valencia Volunteers team for their commitment, enthusiasm and heart.

Our thanks to each of you for, once again, putting students first.

new partnership connects parramore residents to nursing careers

The first ten students to benefit from this program began their Practical Nurse training at Orlando Tech last week. At the same time, they also began pre-requisite courses at Valencia for the nursing program.

The first ten students to benefit from this program began their Practical Nurse training at Orlando Tech last week. At the same time, they also began pre-requisite courses at Valencia for the nursing program.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orlando Commissioner Daisy Lynum and officials from area hospitals and schools launched an ambitious plan today to bring new job opportunities in health care to low-income residents of West Orlando.

Speaking at Orlando Tech, Mayor Dyer said the city’s growing biomedical and healthcare industry offers the “opportunity for nearly 30,000 jobs and $7.6 billion of economic impact in the next 10 years.”

The Orlando Medical Careers Partnership is designed primarily to help Parramore’s residents take advantage of those high-paying job opportunities by equipping them with the skills they need to become future nurses, doctors, medical assistants and lab technicians.

Led by the city’s Blueprint Employment office, other partners in the project include Valencia, Orlando Tech, the University of Central Florida, Florida State University, Orange Country Public Schools, Florida Hospital, Orlando Health and Workforce Central Florida.

Last week, the first ten students to benefit from the program began their Practical Nurse training at Orlando Tech and at the same time, also began their pre-requisite courses at Valencia for the nursing program. After a year, they will enter an accelerated nursing program at Valencia that will allow them to earn their Associate in Science degree in nursing and take the exam to become a registered nurse.

“We offered them a pathway that allows them to reach their potential,” said Falecia Williams, president of the college’s West Campus where the program will be offered.

Students will have a dedicated advisor, faculty member and tutoring, as well as clinical training opportunities with the three hospital partners. Workforce Central Florida will cover the costs for tutoring.

“Once you get ‘RN’ behind your name, the number of opportunities will just multiply,” said Ebony Thompson, one of the students involved in the program. “That’s what I’m looking forward to.”

spotlight story: valencia board member takes a life-changing journey

Brad with planeSometimes the journey is not just about the destination. Valencia Foundation board member Brad Pierce found that out when he took a recent trip to Haiti. Describing some parts as “hell on earth,” he was nevertheless impacted by his journey.

Brad Pierce, Valencia alum, has been interested in flying from a young age. He saw a helicopter take off as a part of a tour near International Drive and was hooked. He worked for that tour company at the age of 16, doing sales and learning to fly. At 18 he decided to get his pilot’s license and he has been soaring the skies ever since.

Even early on, he used his talents for good, volunteering for Angel Flight. Angel Flight is a nonprofit organization of pilots, volunteers and friends that arranges free transportation to medical treatments. He still volunteers his time with Angel Flight and recently transported a baby to Miami for eye surgery.

It was this philanthropic sense of using his gifts and talent to make the world a better place that took him to Haiti. He came across a post from Dr. Richard McGlaughlin (Doc McG) on the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association website. Doc McG and fellow pilot, Luke Lyson, were looking to raise some money, buy medical supplies, and enlist a group of volunteers to fly a relief mission to Haiti. His post ended with the profound sentiment: “We will make sure you get down and back safely. You may not come back quite the same.”

Soon 32 volunteers and 15 aircrafts took to the skies with $100,000 in medical supplies, plus school supplies, clothing, musical instruments and toys. The group convened at Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport and then headed for Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
haiti-relief-flight-cite-soleil-house-small

Arriving safely, the group boarded buses and traveled to the heart of Cité Soleil, one of the poorest and dangerous slums in the Western Hemisphere, and made the first stop at St. Mary’s Hospital. It was here that he was introduced to the St. Luke Foundation for Haiti, led by Father Rick Frechette, who lives by the mantra: “Do the next right thing and something good will come of it. Next day, do it again.”

The foundation (http://stlukehaiti.org/) is a Haitian run organization started by Father Frechette and an inspired group of young Haitian leaders. Programs focus on providing medical care, humanitarian aid and employment opportunities to the least served Haitian communities.

The group battled rainy weather and moved on to St. Damien Pediatric Hospital, a facility that also included an orphanage. “Upon driving through the front gates, I knew this was a very special place,” shares Brad. “A place where children could feel safe, secure and comfortable while getting much needed care.”

From there they headed to St. Luc Family Hospital, the site of the gastroenterology lab that Doc McG built. Brad was impressed. “Here we are in the middle of a third world country and there’s a fully functioning hospital complete with an intensive care unit and operating rooms. It’s incredible to think of all the effort that went in to building such capable facilities where they’re able to treat conditions that previously would have been death sentences.”

The trip ended on a very somber note, the group attended a funeral for several that had passed away the day before. It was an emotionally wrenching experience, but Brad was moved by the respect and honor given to the dead.

Throughout the trip, it seemed as though this father of two young boys was most moved by the children he witnessed and encountered. There was the boy in the slums, playing alone with rocks in the rain. The two small children who interacted with the group and the larger group of children who posed for pictures and followed behind the bus when they left, waving goodbye. And there was the young boy at the orphanage. Brad engaged him by playing an improvised game of catch with a shoe.
haiti-relief-flight-st-mary-group-walking-small

The story is emotional and would be depressing were it not for something else that Brad found on his trip – hope and kindness. “I was overwhelmed with emotion, saddened by the things I’d seen, yet inspired by the acts of kindness and good work that’s been done to change the country for the better.” And he was a part of that good work. In the end, he was able to smile, “knowing there was hope for the future of these resilient people.”

When he is not flying around the world doing good, Brad serves as president of Restaurant Equipment World, a leader in the restaurant equipment sales and installation business for over 35 years. The company is known on an international scale. In fact, it was Brad’s international work that gave rise to another company, Critical Supply World, a general procurement supply company that specializes in quick and reliable delivery to the “most troubled” regions of the world.

To keep up with Brad and his travels, visit his personal blog, Brad in Motion (http://www.bradim.com/).
haiti-relief-flight-return-bahamas-small

discussion on philanthropy

This month we are going full spectrum, featuring both a donor and scholarship recipient perspective.

Patti Riva is a true friend of Valencia Foundation. She has been an active donor for 15 years. She is a planned giving donor and member of the Legacy Society as well as a member of the Jeffersonian Society (formerly the President’s Circle).

Born in Orlando, this Florida native attended University of Hawaii for her master’s degree and also worked there for six years. She then moved on to Los Angeles and worked at the University of California for ten years.

She came back to Florida in 1996 and became a Valencia employee in 1998, working in the marketing department coordinating the production of the continuing education course booklet. She then secured a position overseeing a grant funded program for single parents, followed by her role as evening/weekend manager for the Winter Park campus. In July 2011, she began a new adventure as operations manager, energy education with a focus on energy savings college-wide.

Her definition of philanthropy is simple: “As part of my job and how I hope each day of my life allows, I would define philanthropy simply as helping make a positive difference for someone or some group.”

She feels it is important to support Valencia scholarships as it is all about giving back. “I always say we are in ‘this’ together. ‘This’ represents so many aspects – the Valencia family, my own friends and family; and yet however one defines ‘this,’ we do it together. It’s exciting to see what a difference a scholarship can make for someone,” she says. It shows that someone believed in them and cared enough to invest in their future. “What do we know about their circumstances? How big of a difference did this make for them? What message does it send to their family and friends about how you are valued and we gladly support you? I can’t say enough about the value of giving.”

Valencia student Fleck Cadeau has been on the receiving end of this giving as a foundation scholarship recipient. Fleck has always been fascinated with the unknown and drawn to science. With the goal in mind of becoming a doctor, he chose to major in biomedical science, which combines his passion for science with his interest in medicine. His short term goal is to earn an undergraduate degree from UCF and then gain entrance to medical school, hopefully at UCF’s College of Medicine. His long term goal is to become a licensed surgeon working at one of Orlando’s hospitals.

Fleck Cadeau

Fleck Cadeau

He takes a global view of philanthropy. “My definition of philanthropy is showing compassion for your fellow human being; whether it is through donation, volunteering or just making steps towards improving life for others who are less fortunate. I believe that through philanthropy, we are able to care for and help improve parts of the world that have less than we do. For example, when we donate money and nourishment to poverty-stricken countries we are helping improve these countries with philanthropic acts.”

He believes it is important to support scholarships as they provide aid to students who are in need and serve as accolades for students who have persevered and excelled throughout their educational journey. He uses himself as an example, not being from an affluent background made it difficult to afford school. He found himself working a lot, “which complicated my education because now I had to balance work and school. However, with the help from the scholarship I received, I am able to work less and place greater focus on school.”

Fleck feels that supporting education will benefit Valencia as a whole. “When Valencia awards scholarships to deserving students it indicates to that individual that his/her hard work actually does pay off. This trend will filter to the rest of the school’s population, increasing performance in education.”

This month gives us interesting perspective from two active audiences at the foundation – the student who has big plans for the future and the benefactor who makes it all possible.

a closer look – valencia’s first one campaign

Our First One campaign ended on Aug. 31 with $200,495 raised for student scholarships. This amount includes the dollar-for-dollar match that is the result of a challenge grant. 100 percent of the amount will go directly to scholarships for those that are the first in their families to attend college.
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We’ve had a lot of fun during the campaign, reaching out via social media and tracking progress on WWW.VALENCIA.ORG/FirstOne.

Keith Houck, Valencia’s vice president of operations and finance, was the top fundraiser with $2,254 raised. And coming in second with $1,289 was donor Sarah Kelly.

There was some competition between Osceola campus president, and first-generation scholar, Dr. Kathleen Plinske, and West campus president Dr. Falecia Williams and both made the top fundraiser honor roll. And kudos to our very own Donna Marino!

Valencia alumna Michele Nichols and foundation board member Sue Foreman also made the list. And there was a strong showing among Valencia faculty and staff: Dr. Paula Pritchard, Annmarie Wise, Katie Shephard and Carol Millenson all made the list of top 15 fundraisers.

Foundation board member Rebecca York joined forces with Sue Foreman and their One Valencia team was at the top!

There were top teams throughout Valencia, including ones from the leadership team, West campus, graphic design, nursing, purchasing and OIT. Student government rallied and raised $1,105, surpassing their $500 goal.

You were introduced to Patti Riva in the above story and now you know she and Carol Millenson were behind the top producing AAWCC Prima team. Valencia retirees had a strong showing with $655 raised.

Professors Diana Ciesko and April Raneri joined top fundraiser Katie Shephard for the Speak Up team and Valencia’s very own house band, Rogue Scholars, raised $479.

Valencia alumni teams filled out the rest of the top 15 teams with Julie Bennett and the Gladiators in Wingtips team and Team Zia led by alumnus Zia-ur-Rehman Ansari.

Another great thing about the campaign was hearing all the “first” stories and meeting some of our first-generation students. This campaign afforded all of us at the foundation a chance to learn more about those we work with and the students we serve, truly a valuable outcome of the First One campaign.

Last month we learned that Dr. Kathleen Plinkse, Osceola campus president, and Dr. Joyce Romano, vice president of student affairs, were both first-generation students. This month we hear from Belen Caba, assistant director of admissions and records at Osceola campus, and Debra Hodges, associate professor of speech and instructional assistant for the Writing Center on West campus.

Belen was the first in her family to obtain a degree beyond high school. She completed her bachelor’s degree in business administration, while at the same time managing a business and raising three children with her husband. She recently obtained her MBA with a specialization in information technology. Both of these accomplishments are very proud moments in her life.

Belen grew up in an urban community, where it was a struggle to make ends meet and the dangers of violence and drugs were always present. She credits her mother with making her the person she is today and instilling in her the belief that “education will take you farther than you can see.”

She feels she is living proof of that sentiment and through her work today, she hopes to spread that same passion for learning. She feels this passion and zest regarding education is especially important when students are facing what seem to be insurmountable obstacles. “I always tell them that working toward this goal is hard, but the rewards of completing a degree are worth it in the end.”

And it is not just in the workplace, on the home front too she promotes education, and it has worked. One of her children will be completing a degree in civil engineering this fall and another has a goal of being a computer engineer.

She credits education with getting her where she is today. “If it were not for my pursuit of higher education, I could not have made it to the position I currently have. I could not be in a better place to help the next generation attain the goal of being first in their family as I was. I hope to serve as a role model to others that education is attainable no matter your circumstances.”

Debra Hodges grew up in a family of five children, four girls and a boy. Her earliest memories were of the joy she experienced at school. Her favorite doll was “Suzy Schoolteacher,” with a little student desk, chalkboard and chalk. Though her sister was five years her senior, it was Debra who was always the teacher when they played school.

Her parents were proponents of higher education and Debra heard their message. While her sisters and brother dropped out of high school, Debra was determined to continue her education and become an educator.

It was at church when she was just 9 years old that she chose her school. The famed concert choir from Trevecca Nazarene University performed and she whispered to her father, “Daddy, I want to sing in that choir when I go to Trevecca!”

And she did. She graduated from high school a year early and auditioned for the concert choir at Trevecca Nazarene University, a small, liberal arts college in Tennessee. She traveled and performed with the choir in eight countries in Europe and throughout the southeast United States.

She completed college with honors after just three years and immediately began to pursue her master’s degree in preparation to teach college. She received the coveted master’s degree and remains the first in her family to gain a higher education.

She happily shares that her daughter is a Valencia alumna who went on to receive her degree from UCF. Debra is hopeful that her daughter will continue on with her education. “Who knows, maybe she will achieve a doctorate!”

Belen and Debra certainly paved the way for their children. Valencia students Taisha and Bianca had to navigate their journey on their own. They agreed to share their stories so that we can better understand the true impact of investing in first-generation students at Valencia.

Taisha Imani is expected to graduate in May 2014 with a degree in medical office administration. She wants to start her career immediately and is open to the possibility of continuing her education to advance in her profession.

As to why she chose Valencia, she says, “Valencia is an amazing school that gives many people, young and old, the opportunity to seek a degree and better their lives.” She is also grateful that tuition rates have stayed constant, unlike other institutions that have raised costs over the last few years. “I don’t know of any other school that cares about their students that way.”

She is the first in her family to go to college and acknowledges that is important. She sees herself “breaking the cycle of poor education in my family and hopefully beginning a new one that my children will follow.” She hopes to make life better for her family and wants to be a role model for her children so that they too will pursue a higher education. Her actions reinforce the belief that education is important and valuable in life.

She feels that scholarships are important because, simply put, college costs money. Not everyone can afford it and there are so many that may not qualify for financial aid. She echoes the sentiments of both Patti and Fleck from the story above, it is not just the gift of funds, but the fact that someone cares. “Scholarships, in my opinion, not only help out students financially, but it tells the student that someone believes in them and wants to invest in their education without any expectation of having to pay it back.”

Bianca Maldonado is also a first-generation student. She chose Valencia “because of all the great things I heard about it.” Even though they did not attend college, her parents raised her with the belief that she would have a higher education. “Even when I was younger, going to college was always something that was planned for me.”

Bianca Maldonado

Bianca Maldonado

Her father is very successful now, but she admits it was hard for him to get to that point without a college degree. Now she serves as an inspiration to the younger generation of her family. They can look up to her and say, “I can go to college too!”

Bianca will graduate in the summer of 2014 with an AS degree in nursing. She plans to go on to UCF and attain her bachelor’s degree.

She has met many other Valencia students who struggle with paying for education, working more than one job and juggling family responsibilities. She feels that scholarships offer a sense of relief and it is a great achievement to be chosen. “It makes you feel that all of the hard work that you have been doing is for a reason and someone out there thinks you are doing a great job.”

I asked both Bianca and Taisha what they would say if they could meet their scholarship benefactors. For all of you who donated to the First One campaign, these words are for you.

“I would tell them how grateful I am for the opportunity. This scholarship has offered me a way of focusing on my studies and not on how I am going to pay for it, so thank you!” – Bianca

“I would tell the kind people who donated the scholarship money how thankful and appreciative I am that they chose to donate this money for my future. I would let them know that they have not only invested in helping my life, but also the lives of my three small children. Their generous support will help me to be the role model I so desperately want to be, to show them that no matter where they come from or what people say, you can always make something of yourself if you put in the work and dedication.” – Taisha