Help Us Identify Distinguished Graduate 2016!

The Valencia Alumni Association needs your help!


The application process for the Mary Smedley Collier  Distinguished Graduate 2016 Award is in full swing.  Along with the distinction that comes with being selected, the Distinguished Graduate 2016 will serve as the keynote speaker at both the morning and afternoon Commencement ceremonies this year and will receive $2,000. We know from experience that many of our eligible students are too humble to see themselves in this role.

This is where you come in.

Don’t let your candidate slip by.  If you know an eligible applicant, please encourage them to apply today.  The deadline for accepting applications is February 19, 2016.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS: -Must have a minimum overall 3.5 GPA.

-Must be nominated by a member of the Valencia faculty or staff.  (The nomination letter is required as a part of the online application packet the student submits.)

-Must graduate during the academic year in which the scholarship is awarded. This includes Summer ’15, Fall ’15 and Spring ’16 terms.

-Must be available to attend both commencement ceremonies on May 8th and give their commencement speech at both.


Please contact the Alumni Relations office for more information at or 407-582-3217.


Join us for A Night of Celebration

You are invited to the Valencia Alumni Association’s
 “A Night of Celebration” event.

Please join us as we celebrate this year’s
Distinguished Alumni Award recipients.

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1 week to the big day- let’s make some noise!




What: #DollarsforScholars is Valencia College Foundation’s end of year campaign.

Why: #DollarsforScholars will make the difference for many students to get the education they’ve always wanted.

When: Starting with #GivingTuesday, a national day of giving, on December 1 through the end of the year.

How: Donate any amount. Take an unselfie.  Spread the word.



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Featured Alumnus — Melvin Scott ’11


By Joy S. Jones

“I am a legacy at Valencia. There’s been a Melvin Scott in a custodial supervisor position for the past 40 years,” said Melvin Scott, Jr. His father and namesake, Melvin Scott, Sr., held a custodial supervisor position prior to him.

Before assuming the role in 2011, Melvin had worked a stint at Valencia years ago but left after custodial management offers in corporate settings proved to be more lucrative. All along, he wanted to complete his college degree, but the demands of work and responsibilities of life got in the way. Finally in 2003, the lack of career fulfillment he was experiencing ran its course, and he left the job, not working for three full years. It was in that space of time that he hatched a plan to return to Valencia.

“I knew I could get my education funded, plus I’m a veteran, so I returned to Valencia and completed my B.S.B.A. (Bachelor of Science in business administration) in 2011,” he said.

Melvin gives credit to John Letterman, managing director, plant operations for supporting his growth and career opportunities.

“Melvin Scott is a supervisor who cares about his people. He takes the time to ensure that all personnel are up to date on the many changes that occur within their field of expertise. Plus, he is the type of supervisor who mentors. He makes it part of his commitment to visit and check with his personnel no matter which shift they work. He’s a supervisor that helps light the path in one’s career!”- Derrick Hilton, security field supervisor

“Once I got my degree, I told John what I was hoping to do career wise, and he said, we have something for you right here.”

John’s support left an indelible mark on Melvin in terms of his management style, and he tries to pay it forward. Melvin encourages his team members, whom he refers to as “ambassadors,” to avail themselves of the numerous professional development benefits that Valencia provides.

“I am an example for my staff. We frequently have how-high-can-you-go conversations,” he said. “Plus, many of them are using the benefits to educate their children and families. I sign quite a few papers (tuition waivers) for my team’s kids who are attending school here.”

Still he shared that peoples’ perceptions of custodial work are often unenthusiastic at best.

“It’s often a thankless job; however, this has been a very fulfilling position for me. People just think of cleaning rooms and floors when they think of janitorial work,” he said before citing the numerous contributions made by his ambassadors with pride:

“We received the Energy Heroes Award for practices that saved West Campus a whopping $71,000. When it comes to the sustainability program, we do things to minimize our footprint through the use of Earth-friendly products and water minimization.” Melvin pointed out that through better technology, the department no longer uses water to strip floors, for example. With 850,000 square feet of floor space under management, it’s easy to see how those sound practices easily add up to ‘good’ all around.

“We also partner with Patti Riva and the Energy Education Program and have done demonstrations for the Association of Florida Colleges Association, showing how we are reducing our footprint. We are way ahead of the curve in terms of how we do our jobs.”

Noting that the custodial department is the largest department in plant operations, Melvin said, “We have 46 people — 92 sets of eyes — so we also see a lot before other people do. We also partner with security. Our team is a group of ambassadors, and that’s what we try to instill.”


He also credits upgrades in technology for enabling much greater departmental efficiencies.

“We do online training for custodians now and use state-of-the-art equipment. We also do event and classroom setups. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that involves collaborating with departments collegewide,” he said.

Perhaps one of the greatest examples of that collaboration is the logistics setup of President Barack Obama’s visit.

“I was on the detail when President Obama came and worked a lot with the Secret Service and security. That was a great experience.”

Melvin is happy to now be serving on a committee that is looking to replace the maintenance computer management system and will supersede Master Link. The more robust system that they are eyeing will put work orders at each employee’s fingertips.

“I love technology. It’s all about efficiency as a plant operations department, and increasing the quality of the environment for the students to do their best is what it’s all about. We’ve been involved with a lot of positive change that all contributes to students having the best experience possible!”

A U.S. Air Force veteran, Melvin completed an Associate in Arts degree in business administration at Valencia and is still recuperating from the bad knees he got, so often on them praying to complete his Bachelor of Science in business administration from Columbia College in human resources management.

Valencia Graduates Working to Pay it Forward!

Rebecca East Campus

Meet this year’s Mary Smedley Collier Distinguished GraduateRebecca Nash! Rebecca and her fellow graduates invite Valencia faculty and staff to help them meet their challenge to raise $5,000 or more before Commencement on May 9th. Their Legacy Class Gift will support future students through scholarships.

Please consider joining their legacy with your support!

Donations can be made:

By credit card: Visit . Completely fill out the form, decide a gift amount that is right for you, and click submit.

Or by cash or check:  Drop off your cash or check donation in any amount at the Alumni Relations office (407-582-3426) in the District Office or mail to: Valencia Alumni Relations, 1768 Park Center Drive, Orlando, FL 32835, or mail intercampus to DO-41.


Brad Pierce: relishing life and enjoying every second of the ride


When it comes to the corporate world, Brad Pierce will do just about anything to differentiate his enterprises from the competition.

When it comes to his charitable and Valencia Foundation work, that passion and work ethic are just as visible; however, his ambition to “stand out” changes immensely.

“I find that when nobody cares who gets the credit, a whole heck of a lot gets done,” Brad says.

brad-pierce-orlando-floridaThat philosophy is firmly embedded in Brad’s commitment to Valencia Foundation. He credits fellow board directors Larry Walker and Patrick Buffa for convincing him that – despite his busy schedule – being a part of the Valencia Foundation would benefit him and Valencia students.

“There was something about Patrick that made me feel that he was a guy I can trust,” Brad explains. “I’m very appreciative of Patrick to this day for giving me that nudge when I figured I couldn’t fit one more morsel of activity into my days … because honestly Valencia has been one of the most fulfilling, rewarding, amazing organizations to be involved in.”

Brad recognizes he is a small piece of a larger team, but he wants to ensure his contributions allow the foundation to thrive for years to come.

“It has been an honor to be a part of the everyday business and discussion. I feel like giving my input, thoughts and ideas always is valued by the other people there,” Brad says. “I relate a little better to the student population, as a lot of my employees are from Valencia and from UCF. I’m a different generation than many, and that provides a little bit different perspective.”

That is Brad’s diplomatic way of pointing out he is a bit younger than others in the room.

Having the perspective of youth also leaves him hungry to learn from those who have been serving the foundation for multiple years. Brad plans to expand his expertise in the intricacies of the foundation’s work, including donor recruitment and investment management, which require more time to master.

“If I don’t start learning how to do those things from the people who are right now leading the board, in five to 10 years – when I’ve moved up the chain, and a lot of our board has retired – that could be problem,” Brad explains.

His eagerness to help make and build a strong unit is evident. Brad realizes it takes a group of diverse people with different sets of talents to succeed in the long run.

“What I would like to be remembered for is looking back at our whole team and saying that whole group made a difference,” Brad adds.

Reviewing Brad’s resume, one might wonder when he has any time to sleep with all the ventures he manages. From E-Commerce, restaurant equipment and supplies, computer programming and web development to his avid aviation career, Brad diagnoses himself as ADD because he always has to be moving and jumping to the next adventure.

“I don’t want to ever sit on the sidelines, I want to be in the game,” Brad explains.

haiti-relief-flight-arrival-smallThe same can be said for his work with the different charities he supports. His work with Angel Flight Southeast, whose mission is to “arrange free flights so children and adults can have access to the far-from-home doctors that can save their lives,” grants him an opportunity to put his piloting skills to work helping people in life-or-death situations.

Brad’s aviation expertise benefited the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) in a relief mission to Haiti that donated $100,000 in medical provisions, as well as school supplies, clothing, musical instruments, toys and other items for residents. He is set to make another trip to the country later this year.

“I don’t have the desire to give to things as a passive donor. I want to be part of these amazing stories,” Brad says. He acknowledges the necessity of two types of donors: the ones who write checks quietly behind the scenes and the ones who deploy funds into action and outcomes.

After graduating from Winter Park High School, Brad attended Valencia College. That decision gave him the chance to continue working to develop his family’s local business, Restaurant Equipment World (REW), which has been around for nearly 40 years. By the time he completed Valencia, he had earned two pilot’s licenses and finished his aviation training.

“It worked out really well. To some degree I wasn’t ready to go off to another school,” he adds.

haiti-relief-flight-walking-self-pic-smallBrad enrolled at Florida State University’s School of Business, where he earned a marketing degree. He commuted from Tallahassee to Orlando on weekends to work at REW, where he was transitioning a local, smaller business into what is today a digital enterprise with more than 220 web sites and 330,000 products. The company was the first in the industry to embrace the online marketplace and currently receives millions of hits per month to its network of web sites. The company serves more than 100,000 customers in all 50 states and 110 countries,.

“When I came back here from college, Day One in the business, I already had a decade of experience, not only with REW, but developing what the business was going to become,” Brad explains.

He carefully balances his family life with wife, Lori, and their twin boys.

Whether today’s venture is business, charity, family or pleasure, Brad recognizes that success requires serious effort. But that doesn’t mean overlooking the opportunity that unexpectedly emerges: “When opportunity comes to you, don’t just disregard it. You never know which one of these can be life changing.”

Frank Shala is a Valencia College journalism student.

calling for alumni class notes for Vitae magazine!

Social Media PostCheck out the current edition of the Vitae magazine.

lace up for student scholarships!

Social Media Post Aug 14

Online Registration or Mail In Registration

after-hours wine and cheese reception



alumni magazine available online

vitae-cover-news-siteValencia alumni…read all about them! The most recent issue of our alumni magazine, Vitae, is available online. Read it here.

winter blessings

This holiday season is a special time of year, one when we focus on friends and family; our gifts express generosity and love to those we care about.

This winter I’m reflecting back on the blessings received in 2013.  There have been many in my life including travels, new family members, additional professional accomplishments, budding friendships and visits to and from long time friends.

One of the most profound blessings is the work I do for the Valencia  and the students that are served because of our mission.

Valencia students are more determined than ever to improve their opportunities in life, and perhaps change the future of their family for generations.  This is where your generosity makes a huge difference.

I have witnessed how our student’s lives are impacted by the kindness of our donors. Without foundation scholarships, many would not be able to attend college. Your support continues to make a tremendous difference in the lives of these students.

This holiday season is a special time of year, one when we focus on friends and family; our gifts express generosity and love to those we care about.

If you are considering extending your generosity and want to make a difference in the lives of others this year, please consider a donation in support of Valencia College and the students we serve.

If you wish to make a donation please visit us online at and click on >>Give Now for our secure website.  You may also send your contribution to Valencia Foundation 190 S. Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL 32801. Checks dated on or before December 31, 2013 will be marked as a 2013 donation.

I trust that you will give as generously as you can to provide the opportunity for a life-changing learning experience for a Valencia students.

And I wish many blessings to you and your family in the New Year.

Happy holidays!

ingredients in chef’s stellar career

Chef SimonHard Work, Dedication Are Ingredients in Chef’s Stellar Career – Linda Shrieves Beaty

Today, Russ Simon is a  a globe-trotting chef, a man who dashes from London to Los Angeles, from Singapore to Las Vegas, opening new restaurants for celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck.

But 13 years ago, Simon was a business management major at the University of Central Florida student, enjoying fraternity life, when he realized that his future career path wasn’t going to make him happy.

So Simon, who’d grown up in Davie, Fla, as the eldest of four kids, signed up for culinary classes at Valencia.  He already felt at home in kitchens, having served as the chief cook when his parents weren’t at home.

At Valencia, Simon spent his first semester cooking in the small cafeteria kitchen on East Campus, and was in the first class of students to move into the new culinary facilities on West Campus that fall.  Simon, along with chefs Ken and Pierre and the students in the class, unpacked the new pots and pans and stocked the new kitchen. To this day, Simon loves a new kitchen, with shiny new equipment.

“I think that’s why I love opening new restaurants – I think it dates back to that,” says Simon, laughing.

At the same time that he began taking culinary classes, Simon also started working at Wolfgang Puck Express in Downtown Disney. The small, fast-casual restaurant, which made pizzas and roast chicken and quick meals, proved to be the perfect proving ground for a hard-worker willing to learn.

“While I was working in the Express, I was basically going through all the basic (culinary) classes, learning sauces, pastry, garde manger,” Simon says.  “Then at nighttime, I’d go to this restaurant and work in a very high-volume environment — and I could see where the skills I was learning during the day would pay off.”

It was also the start of a very happy and lengthy relationship between a budding chef and his employer.  Soon, Simon was promoted to work as a cook in the Wolfgang Puck Café at Downtown Disney – a sit-down restaurant where he would learn more about sauces and soups and a wider variety of kitchen skills.  It was time, he says with a laugh, to start doing “big-boy cooking.”

Before long, he was helping to open new Wolfgang Puck Express and Bistro locations around the country.  So in 2004, when he met Puck in person – and the famous chef asked where Simon would like to work — the recent Valencia grad had a ready answer: Spago Beverly Hills.

“If I was going to go anywhere, that’s where I wanted to go – to Los Angeles to give it a shot,” he says.  During Simon’s tenure there, the executive chef won a James Beard award and the Beverly Hills Spago earned a two-star Michelin rating.

Since then, Simon has been jet-setting around the globe, opening a Spago in Colorado, a new steakhouse, CUT, in Las Vegas, then to Singapore to open a CUT there, followed by a stint in London, where he opened a new CUT in a boutique hotel. And there have been more forays in Los Angeles, where he helped open a new Puck restaurant in the renovated Hotel Bel Air.

Over the years, he has worked with famous chefs, including Daniel Boulud, Santi Santamaria, Mario Batali and Thomas Keller.

“I was very fortunate,” says Simon, who’s 35. “A lot of times, I happened to be in the right place at the right time. My hard work had something to do with it, I worked hard, but so did a lot of other guys.” In fact, he says, he and a band of other cooks who started with him as line cooks at Spago in Beverly Hills are now executive chefs and chefs de cuisine throughout the fast-growing company.

Now he’s back in Las Vegas, now at the helm of Postrio, a 15-year-old Italian themed restaurant that the Puck group operates in the Venetian hotel. And now Simon is reaching out to Chef Ken Bourgoin and Chef Pierre Pilloud, to see if there are any young, hard-working chefs on the rise, who would like to work in Las Vegas.

“We’re looking for new talent,” says Simon, ” and I thought I’d call Chef Pierre and see what kind of talent is there.”

For for students seeking career guidance, Simon dispenses some simple advice: “At the end of the day, hard work does truly pay off. If you take the time not to just study and learn, but spend time in the kitchen to perfect our craft, it will pay off.”

preparing for tomorow’s generations

When economic prospects look dismal it’s natural to focus on short-term, rather than long-term, goals. Our foundation board is committed to keeping both horizons in our line of sight so that we can serve today’s deserving student and prepare for tomorrow’s generations. 

We imagine a community in which family finances
never stand in the way of earning a college education.

As you plan for your family’s future, I invite you to use our new web site tools at, which may spark some creative thinking about how to maintain your legacy forever.

  • Make a bequest pledge that costs you nothing during your life.
  • Give a contribution that provides you lifetime income.
  • Preserve your estate for your heirs and provide years of income to Valencia.
  • Convert surplus life insurance coverage into an endowment.
  • Donate appreciated securities and realize larger tax savings than if you had used cash.

We welcome your feedback on our new online resources, designed to help you chart your charitable intentions, which can be found at If you would prefer, our foundation team would be delighted to meet with you to discuss your philanthropic objectives and to explore how you and your family can benefit.

P.S. If you have already made Valencia Foundation a planned giving priority please let us know so that you can become a founding member of our new Legacy Society. Feel free to contact Donna Marino, CFRE at (407) 582-3128 to learn more.

note from the “Tina’s Heart” scholarship committee

The endowed scholarship created in memory of Valencia student Christine “Tina” Collyer will begin distributing to Valencia College students in 2014.  Family and friends of Tina celebrated her memory in the following letter that thanked community members and contributors of this learning legacy.

Thank you so much for your donation to Tina's Heart Scholarship. Your generosity made this scholarship possible. Most donations came through the 2011 and 2012 Tina's Turn Out events at Lake Eola, the support of Valencia's Alumni Association, and through the 2013 graduating class at Valencia College. We are so very grateful to all of you.We are happy to announce that the Tina’s Heart Scholarship in memory of Tina Collyer is now endowed!

Starting in 2014, Valencia will award one scholarship every year to a freshman student who will attend Valencia. EVERY YEAR!!! Although the specific criteria for eligibility to receive the scholarship has not been finalized, it will be awarded to a student who has participated in the Fire Department Explorer program and wants to pursue a career as a firefighter/EMT.

The Orlando Fire Department Explorer program was at the center of Tina’s heart, and she inspired the Explorers that she guided through the program. Tina’s legacy will live on in our memories and this scholarship will extend that legacy to future Explorers!

Thank you so much for your donation to Tina’s Heart Scholarship, as your generosity made this scholarship possible. Most donations came through our 2011 and 2012 Tina’s Turn Out events at Lake Eola, through the Valencia Alumni Association, and through the 2013 graduating class at Valencia College. We are so very grateful to all of you.

Please celebrate Tina whenever you think of her – when you take a walk around Lake Eola, or when you hear a fire truck, or just whenever you think of her crazy antics.

With heartfelt thanks,

The Tina’s Heart Scholarship Committee
Janice Collyer, Bill Collyer, Shannon Omark, Suzanne Rhodes, Barbara Shell, Randy & Genie Tuten

P.S. If you would like to provide input on the eligibility and selection criteria prior to the 2014 Scholarship season, please contact Shannon Omark at or Suzanne Rhodes at prior to March 1, 2014.

Christine ”Tina” Collyer’s lifelong dream of becoming a fire fighter was ignited by an AS degree in Fire Officer Technology, an AS in Emergency Medical Service Technology and a certificate in Paramedic Technology from Valencia Community College. In January of 1996 she joined the Orlando Fire Department and also served as Paramedic and instructor for the department and citizens of Orlando.

Tina was the Explorer Advisor for many years and proudly served on the Honor Guard. Her contributions to the Orlando community extended as a volunteer with Burn Camp, Dream Flight, and the Winnie Palmer Secret Santa.

Friends and family are honoring Tina’s commitment to learning and her giving spirit with a scholarship in her honor.  The family wanted to create hope with Tina’s Heart marking one year since Tina’s passing in October 2008.

For more information about the efforts of this committee in memory of Valencia Grad Tina Collyer please read the blogs In memory of Tina Collyer and The results are in: Tina’s Turnout for scholarships.

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 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!

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 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.

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.

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.

first one efforts support first generation college students

New Campaign Seeks to Raise Scholarships for First-Generation College Students – by Carol Traynor

Valencia Foundation has launched a fund-raising effort to help first-generation, low-income students pursue a college education. The “First One” campaign takes advantage of Florida’s First Generation Matching Grant Program that maximizes state dollars for students through a dollar-for-dollar match of private contributions.

First One Kickoff

To share your “first” or show your support through a donation, go to or

“For first-generation students, a college degree not only transforms their lives, but alters the trajectory of their families for generations to come,” said Geraldine Gallagher, Foundation president and CEO.

During the 2011-12 school year, more than 29,000 Valencia students were the first in their families to go to college.

The campaign, which lasts from July 1 to August 9, seeks to raise $100,000 in private donations with a $100,000 state match. Students who qualify will be eligible for a scholarship of up to $2,000 to help offset the costs associated with college, including tuition, books and supplies, that cannot always be met with state or federal aid alone.


First-generation student and Valencia graduate Donald Gibson shared that he was the first person in his family to graduate from high school, not just college.

At a kick-off event held yesterday, first-generation student Donald Gibson, 31, told the crowd assembled that he was the first person in his family to graduate from high school, not just college. After graduating from Poinciana High in 2000, he spent five years in the military and later enrolled in college.

“I got my first-generation scholarship right as my GI Bill was running out. If it weren’t for that, I probably would have had to drop out my last semester,” Gibson said.

Finances are just one of the obstacles many first-generation students face. Joyce Romano, Valencia’s vice president of Student Affairs, shared the story of a student she met who drove to Valencia’s Osceola Campus six times before she could muster the courage to get out of her car, go inside the building and apply.

Romano herself was the first in her family to go to college. “I didn’t think of law school. I didn’t think of being a doctor. I didn’t think of owning a business. I didn’t think people like me did such a thing,” she said. “That’s another restraint for people who are first-

generation: they don’t know what things are possible.”

The First One campaign makes use of social media and peer-to-peer outreach and invites others to share how they were the first one to do “something.”


Available state funds are contingent upon matching contributions from private sources on a one to one dollar basis.

The First Generation Matching Grant Program (FGMG) is a need-based grant program available to degree-seeking, resident, undergraduate students who demonstrate substantial financial need, are enrolled at Valencia College, and whose parents have not earned baccalaureate or higher degrees.

Available state funds are contingent upon matching contributions from private sources on a one to one dollar basis.

To share your “first” or show your support of first-generation students through a donation, go to or

share your first …. help someone become a first

Your first day of college, your first road trip or your first born -- show your story with a First ONE profile picture and help spread the word on Facebook, or use one as an avatar wherever you share.

One’s life is full of firsts — first steps, first day of school, first car, first kiss. They only happen once, yet they stay with you forever. Now, you have the opportunity to help someone else have a first that will last a lifetime — becoming the first person in their family to go to college. And, with dollar-to-dollar matching on donations, you can make twice the impact.


Show your support with a First ONE profile picture.

Your first day of college, your first road trip or your first born — show your story with a First ONE profile picture and help spread the word on Facebook, or use one as an avatar on Twitter, WordPress or wherever you share.

Download an avatar — right click and select “save image as” on a picture below.



watch graduation live


Click here on May 4 at 10 a.m. to watch Valencia College graduation live!

Valencia College’s Commencement Ceremony will be streamed live on Saturday, May 4 at 10 a.m. and will last about two hours. Limited technical support will be available at 407-582-1872.

Watch live on May 4 at 10 a.m. – click here!

2012-2013 Valencia Commencement Program

Please note: The broadcast will only be viewable until the ceremony’s conclusion. No other video recordings of the ceremony will be made available.


alumni spotlight: Michael Dippy ’89

The plight of homeless individuals and families troubled Valencia graduate Michael Dippy.He recognized that their circumstances prohibited them from obtaining basic personal identification cards required to get a job or enroll in college.

But unlike most, he was willing to forgo his career to make a remarkable difference in their lives and futures.

Dignity was created to help the disadvantaged in Central Florida overcome the difficulties of obtaining the personal identification that is crucial to enabling them to become self-sufficient. Visit for more information or to volunteer.

Dignity was created to help the disadvantaged in Central Florida overcome the difficulties of obtaining the personal identification that is crucial to enabling them to become self-sufficient. Visit for more information or to volunteer.

He founded and now serves as executive director of IDignity, a non-profit charity that provides hands-on assistance to Central Florida’s poor and disadvantaged in Central Florida, allowing them to overcome the identification that is crucial to enabling their self-sufficiency. IDignity provides the documents required to apply for employment and college, access most homeless shelters, vote, seek help from many social service agencies, open a bank account, cash a check and rent housing.

After graduating from Valencia, Dippy graduated from the University of Florida with an architecture degree. He worked for eight years in this field but found himself drawn to a greater purpose.

Named by the Orlando Sentinel as the 2010 Central Floridian of the Year, Michael issued a challenge to our neighbors: “I hope that others will be encouraged to do even more to make our community a better place for all. I suggest that you find something that bothers you, maybe a societal injustice or an ongoing problem or an unmet need, and then do all you can to try and solve it. Each of us can make a positive impact on our community, in our own way. The reward will be greater than the effort.”

Michael found the treatment of the homeless unacceptable and soon took action. In 2003, he assisted in the development of the local chapter of Family Promise, which provides food, shelter and support services for homeless families. In 2006, he joined Project Homeless Connect, which symbiotically combines vital agencies working to serve the homeless during one-day events.

But he had a more extraordinary vision of partnership and service, launching IDignity in 2008.The need for such a program was recognized by members of five downtown churches which had been unable to access such a service. Exhaustive research led to this inventive new organization, which now works with the DMV’s Florida drivers license department, Orange County Health Department’s birth certificate office, Veterans Affairs and the Social Security Administration. IDignity also provides legal counsel and trouble-shoots the difficult task of obtaining out-of-state birth certificates.

Since May 2008, IDignity has hosted monthly triage at downtown’s Orlando Rescue Mission and has since expanded to Sanford. Each day-long collaboration serves about 225 clients. Since its inception, IDignity has provided life-changing identification to more than 7,000 Central Florida clients.

Michael’s work has not gone unnoticed. He also was designated a “Local Hero” by Bank of America and awarded the 2012 Community Service Award from the RAFMAN Club (Retired Air Force, Marine, Army and Navy). He serves as outreach chair for the First United Methodist Church of Orlando.

In December 2011, Valencia Foundation staff volunteered for IDignity. “Spending just a day at IDignity was a moving experience that revealed how a simple identification document could make an enormous difference in the life of an individual,” says foundation president Geraldine Gallagher. “I think it was life-changing for all of us to experience the exuberance of the IDignity clients who received their hard-earned ID cards, something you and I take for granted.”

Michael and his team of staff and volunteers were committed to help every person who walks through the door, she explains. “We witnessed tears of joy, a spring to their step, a newfound self-respect, and such a look of hope from those who received their documents that day.It is the same experience I have with our student scholarship recipients. They held their heads a little higher, ready to take on the road ahead, simply because someone believes in their worth and is willing to invest in their futures.”

Follow Up: On November 14th 2012, Michael Dippy and IDignity were honored as one of four recipients of the Manhattan Institute's Richard Cornuelle Award for Social Entrepreneurship. This esteemed national designation is awarded each year to individuals whom are leading efforts to solve significant social issues.

Follow Up: On November 14th 2012, Michael Dippy and IDignity were honored as one of four recipients of the Manhattan Institute’s Richard Cornuelle Award for Social Entrepreneurship. This esteemed national designation is awarded each year to individuals whom are leading efforts to solve significant social issues.

a closer look – valencia’s culinary management program

Ken Bourgoin's Culinary classMany dream of donning a white chef’s coat and for those in Central Florida, Valencia offers the only two-year degree-granting culinary program in Orlando. Valencia’s unique program is housed in the Walt Disney World Center for Hospitality and Culinary Arts. Opened in 2002, this 61,000 square-foot facility contains dual-purpose classrooms/banquet rooms, a high-tech demonstration kitchen with 20 fully equipped student workstations and a state-of-the-art production kitchen.

The program cultivates winners. Trina shared her love of competing in the story above, and she is part of a talented, award-winning team. The student culinary team won the gold medal representing Valencia and the state of Florida at the Culinary Regional Competition in 2011.

Program chair Chef Pierre Pilloud started his career at Valencia in 1996 as a curriculum writer for the then newly formed hospitality institute. In his time at Valencia, he has been acknowledged locally, recognized as a Top Chef in 2006 by the Central Florida Restaurant Forum magazine, and nationally, nominated for the American Culinary Federation National Culinary Educator of the Year in 2004.

Chef instructor Kenneth Bourgoin, 2010 Southeast Regional Chef Educator of the Year, took a few moments to share with us just what makes Valencia’s culinary management program so special. “We are not training these students how to be cooks, we are training them on how to be chefs that are great cooks. We teach what the industry demands, and believe it or not, the industry demands for you to be passionate about what you are doing and to have a positive attitude in everything you do in the kitchen. When you have that, you are apt to do better and promotions happen quicker. We will teach you how to learn for life!”

The culinary management track at Valencia will cost a student between $8,000 and $9,000. While this is a bargain, especially when compared to other local programs that can run in upwards of $40,000, cost is still a prohibitive factor for some of our current and would-be students.

The good news is that there are plenty of scholarship opportunities available through Valencia Foundation. Students need only fill out one application and they are reviewed for hundreds of potential scholarships. Scholarships like the Michael Jon Dreams and Passions Scholarship, started by Sandy Bove in honor of her brother, a graduate of Valencia’s culinary program. Other scholarships for culinary students include the Clara A. Walsh Scholarship. Ariana Costas is a recent recipient of the Clara A. Walsh Scholarship. She graduates in May 2013 and credits Valencia with helping her to master the necessary skills needed for the workforce. She chose culinary management because she loves to cook and believes cooking is one of her callings. If she could meet the person responsible for her scholarship, she would explain how important education and “my craft” are to her. “I am beyond grateful. I would even cook for them!”

Perhaps the best advertisement for a program at Valencia is its graduates. Through our wonderful alumni connections, we were thrilled to speak with Dawn Viola. Dawn received her certificate in culinary management in Spring 2011 and also has a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from UMass, Dartmouth. She is currently working on her master’s in holistic nutrition.

Dawn’s work has appeared in a variety of print and online publications such as,,,, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Dessert Professional magazine, The Orlando Sentinel and Edible Orlando magazine, and been published in several cook books. She has appeared on Food Network, Cooking with Emeril, Martha Stewart Radio and is a frequent guest chef on Fox News and The Daily Buzz.

Dawn is currently the executive chef and kitchen director at Second Harvest Food Bank. In order to better meet the needs of the community, Second Harvest built a 100,000 square-foot facility and within that building is the 2,000 square-foot commercial kitchen, the Darden Foundation Community Kitchen. Dawn oversees the prepared meal services program, in-house catering program and the culinary training program. The training program serves 20 students with rolling admission every eight weeks.

Dawn chose Valencia’s culinary program for cost and convenience. The program worked well with her schedule and allowed her to be a part-time student while working part-time. It was also the most affordable program in the area accredited by the American Culinary Federation.

“Valencia’s culinary program provided me with an outstanding foundation and support system that has allowed me to excel in my career.”

Be sure to follow Dawn on social media and enjoy her recipe for lavash crackers below.

On her blog:
On Facebook:
On Twitter:

Dawn Viola’s lavash crackersDawn Viola - lavash2
(This recipe is adapted from Valencia’s Baking II Class with instructor Jason Stricker.)
Lavash is a Middle Eastern-style flatbread that is rolled thin and baked in clay ovens. The softness of the bread depends on how thin it’s rolled. In stores, you’ll see a thicker, softer version often used for sandwich wraps. My favorite way is rolling paper thin and baking until nutty and crisp. And with the simple ingredients, it’s an easy and quick dough to make and bake.

Yields: approximately 24 crackers
Prep time: 10 minutes + 32 minute rest
Cook time: 7 minutes
Allergy information: soy-free; contains wheat, gluten
Fancy equipment: standing mixer with dough hook, mister

1 lb. all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 ounces olive oil
7 ounces warm water
coarse salt, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, fennel seeds, black pepper (optional)

In the bowl of a standing mixer with dough hook attachment add water and oil. Add flour, salt and baking powder. Mix three minutes on medium speed until smooth; if mixture is dry, add 1/2 teaspoon of additional water at a time until a smooth ball forms. Remove dough from mixing bowl. Wrap dough in plastic wrap; refrigerate 30 minutes or until ready to bake.

Preheat oven to 325 F.  Remove dough from refrigerator; divide in half. Stretch each piece of dough over the back of a sheet pan; edges should be hanging off the sides. Let stand two minutes; trim edges flush with pan. Using a mister, lightly spray dough with water or oil; sprinkle desired toppings (coarse salt, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, fennel seeds, black pepper).

Place pan in oven. Bake seven minutes or until lavash is light golden brown and crisp. Remove pan from oven; let stand five minutes. Break lavash into small pieces. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store lavash in an air-tight container up to three days.

philanthropy – different definitions, same message

At the Aspen Institute dinner in early November, billionaire David Rubenstein pointed out that “Philanthropy means loving other people, not rich people giving away their money.”

In truth, it is a word with a highly personal connotation for many. We decided it would be interesting to see what members of our Valencia community think. What is your definition of philanthropy? Why is it important to support Valencia scholarships?

First, we immediately discovered that people usually don’t fit in just one group: they are faculty and retirees who are donors, donors and partners who are alumni and so on. Second, we found that people welcomed the opportunity to share on this topic and we received so many great responses. Instead of compiling them all into one story, we will feature them in a series of articles and bring you a few perspectives in each newsletter.

The foundation has enjoyed a relationship with the Women’s Executive Council (WEC) for many years. The current president of WEC, Deanna Snyder, an alumna from 1985, felt Valencia’s impact at an early age. She shares how Valencia fit so well into her life-plan and core principles. “To serve others, that has been my guiding beacon for the past several decades.  It started while I was in high school. The field of science and medicine intrigued me. As a young girl, I wanted to be nurse.  Not just any nurse, but a caring nurse that could change the lives of those who crossed my path. As I did my research, I discovered that Valencia had an outstanding nursing program, both clinically and academically. It is one thing to be ‘book smart,’ but it is another thing to have compassion. One of my favorite quotes is from John Maxwell, ‘People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.’ My instructors at Valencia infused both into my training and my soul.  I am grateful and thankful to be a Valencia nursing graduate.  Over the years, my career has led me down different paths, but I always stay true to my mission of serving others.”

Deanna Snyder

Deanna Snyder

Her work with WEC helps to define philanthropy in her life and giving back through their scholarship program greatly enhances the lives of recipients in our local community. “To me, philanthropy comes in many forms, but it all has a common thread of unselfish giving. It is the desire of WEC to empower and embrace and serve women in Central Florida.” And she acknowledges the wonderful circle of giving that result from scholarships. “These scholarships are key turning points in the lives of these remarkable women. Their stories of triumph and success lead them to be philanthropic members of society and thus the giving circle never ends.”

Hannah Wickham

Hannah Wickham

The foundation also shares a wonderful partnership with Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Orlando. In addition to a scholarship endowment, CREW also donates proceeds from their annual golf tournament to support their scholarship, which is targeted for female students who wish to pursue a career in commercial real estate with a degree in accounting, architecture, business administration, construction, engineering, law or real estate.

Hannah Wickham has been involved with the CREW board for the past two years as the director of the annual golf tournament She works at Brasfield and Gorrie and is also involved with NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association; Frederick Leadership Initiative; United Way and Habitat for Humanity.

So what is Hannah’s definition of philanthropy? “Philanthropy is being connected to your community and feeling the need to give back – volunteering time, donating funds and offering knowledge and perspective – and doing what you say you are going to do.”

She believes it is important to support scholarships because it helps bring females into the commercial real estate industry, here in Central Florida and even outside the state. “There is a great opportunity to develop long careers in this industry and the scholarship gives these young ladies a chance to understand the importance of education, as well as their future opportunities within our community. Valencia is an outstanding educational facility that provides so much to their students and so much back to our surrounding communities.”

The foundation relies on our board members a great deal. They are our advocates, donors and advisors. It is an honor for us to work with this league of extraordinary men and women, and while we are privy to enjoy the fruits of their labor, it is interesting to find out the motivation behind the movement.

Lori Sims has been a Valencia Foundation board member for approximately 11 years and the chair of the finance committee for 6 of those years. She attended a community college in her local town and that experience made her understand the value that a community college can provide.

She became involved with Valencia because she has a deep passion for education. She is a steadfast supporter of our college and foundation and a member of our president’s giving circle. Lori and her company, CliftonLarsenAllen LLP, can always be counted on to offer backing when we have our signature A Taste for Learning fundraiser. And Lori recently answered a call for funds for special 2+2 scholarships for Valencia and UCF students through the Johnson Foundation Scholarship, donating a sizeable personal gift.

Lori Sims

Lori Sims

Her definition of philanthropy is “a desire to improve the material, social and spiritual welfare of humanity, especially through charitable activities. For me personally, philanthropy goes far beyond providing monetary contributions to charities. I strive to provide not just financial support, but also my time and talents to those organizations which need my help and for which I have a passion.”

The importance of scholarships really hit home with Lori when she had the “privilege” of reviewing scholarship applications. “Every single applicant has a compelling story and an intense desire to complete their education. For those less fortunate that can use some additional financial support, it is critical that our community do what we can to make it possible for those desiring a higher education to fulfill their dreams.”

Thank you Deanna, Hannah and Lori. We look forward to next month’s discussion!

valencia sga leaders send appreciation

Valencia College student government association presidents recently sent thankful words to community members who donated in support of Valencia College students through a contribution to Valencia Foundation.

Valencia SGA thanks to donors_Page_1

“Please accept our appreciation for your generous support and thank you for opening access to college in our community!”


“Our peers are bright, motivated and often balancing work, family and community commitments. All Valencia students greatly benefit from the support they receive, no matter how large or modest the scholarship.”

The note was signed by student leaders from Valencia College area campus locations:
Jose Abastido, Osceola Campus; Mike Acevedo, East Campus; Andrew Johnson, Winter Park Campus; Evan King, West Campus; and Paula Santos, Lake Nona Campus.

Valencia SGA thanks to donors

sweating it out to support valencia student scholarships

The Valencia Alumni Association continues to build its team as it gears up for its 8th Annual Valencia 5K Run, Rock & Roll scholarship fundraiser on Valencia’s West Campus on Saturday, March 30th.

This year’s 5K funds will once again support criminal justice, firefighter and EMS student scholarships at Valencia in honor of former Alumni Association board member, Justin Harvey.

Over 300 Valencia supporters came out last year where they ran, walked and rolled their way to raising more than $7,000 in student scholarship funds.  The race brought together Valencia alumni and employees; students, including those from Valencia’s Criminal Justice Institute, Paralegal, Respiratory Care and Bridges programs; as well as community participants, many of them from local law enforcement agencies. An energetic team of students and instructors from Boone High School’s criminal justice program also participated in the race for the first time.

Discover the many ways you, your organization or someone you know can invest in Valencia students’ pursuit of higher education as part of the Valencia 5K team.  For more information about 5K sponsorship and other opportunities, contact the Alumni Relations office at or call 407-340-3426.

SAVE THE DATE! See you on Saturday, March 30th!


valencia college alumni association scholarships are going electronic

The first of several electronic Valencia College Alumni Association scholarships for students, the Bill Castellano Civic Leadership Scholarship, was launched just last week and 13 students have already begun their online applications. The deadline to submit applications is midnight on Monday, December 3rd.

The Bill Castellano Civic Leadership Scholarship is awarded each year to a student who exhibits leadership skills and an overwhelming desire to become a future civic leader in memory of Bill Castellano. Professor Castellano’s ability to encourage students to share their true talents for the common good of their community is his legacy. He was a guiding force for students and the Valencia College family for over 40 years. In remembrance of his outstanding contributions to our community, this scholarship allows those who will never have the opportunity to meet him the ability to carry on his passion and love of government and true civic leadership.

As one of the first students to attend Valencia College, Bill always took an active interest in government and his community. From serving in the Student Government Association and as a founder of the Valencia Alumni Association after graduating, to retiring as one of the most admired and respected government professors, he always challenged the next generation he met to rise and meet the challenges of the man who inspired him to be a true civic leader.

Tax deductible donations to the Bill Castellano Scholarship can be made online at Castellano Scholarship Donation. Please select the scholarship from the drop-down box in the “Designation” field.

Veteran Gabriel Nickle (pictured below) from the West Campus was the 2010 recipient. Amy Walker from Valencia’s East Campus was the 2011 recipient.


Left to right: Dr. Ruth Prather, former Provost of East and Winter Park campuses; Gabriel Nickle, Bill Castellano Civic Leadership Scholarshi​p 2010 recipient; Michael J. G. McLaughlin​, Valencia Alumni Association President; Barbara Shell, Community/​Alumni Relations

2012 valencia homecoming update


To kick off Valencia College’s 2012 Homecoming, Team Valencia joined other members of the Central Florida community to raise funds to help make a difference in the lives of families living with Spina Bifida.  The Spina Bifida Association of Central Florida’s 2nd Annual Walk-N-Roll Fundraiser event took place on Saturday, October 27th at Blue Jacket Park in the Baldwin Park area of Orlando.

Valencia College was a supporting sponsor for the event.


Valencia Homecoming 2012 wrapping up. Still time to get your $20 discounted UCF Homecoming game tickets for this Sunday’s game.For Tickets visit:

alumni spotlight: richard crotty

Richard Crotty, Toni Jennings, Pam Crotty

Mayor Richard Crotty at A Taste for Learning with Toni Jennings and his wife Pam Crotty.

Alumni Spotlight – Richard Crotty

Like many Central Floridians, Richard Crotty’s parents moved to Orange County to seek a better life for their family. His dad took a job with defense contractor Martin Marietta in 1960 when Richard was in sixth grade, and Richard and his four brothers were raised in South Orlando.

Richard Crotty is a product of Orange County Public Schools, where he graduated from Oak Ridge High. Upon graduation, he took a job on the assembly line at Martin Marietta. He aspired to obtain a college education, so, after working a few years, he began taking classes at Valencia. He put himself through school working two different jobs driving delivery trucks.

Richard is a living example of the success individuals can achieve through flexible educational opportunities provided at two-year colleges. His own words best demonstrate the opportunity he realized through Valencia: “A four-year college simply was not practical at the time that I enrolled in Valencia. I was working two jobs, but managed to squeeze in enough time for classes. The college gave me the academic foundation I needed to move on and graduate from University of Central Florida. Later, as a state legislator, my interest in being prime sponsor of Florida’s pre-paid tuition plan came, in large part, as a result of my experience at Valencia. Valencia was there for me when I needed it. Without the learning and growing experience of Valencia, I seriously doubt that I would be where I am today.”

One of Valencia’s early graduates in 1970, he graduated from Florida Technological University (FTU), a member of the charter class, in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree in public administration and communication. The next year, Richard was selected to the Florida Legislative Staff Internship Program, where he completed a graduate executive program in public administration. He worked on the Senate staff and completed his service as a member of the U. S. Army Reserve, serving in a military police unit. Upon his return to Orlando, Richard launched a successful career in sales and management consulting. For the next three years, he consulted for cities across the country under a grant from the U. S. EPA. He is credited with saving cities millions of tax dollars by improving the efficiency of their solid waste collection systems. Recognized as an up-and-coming leader for his work in our community, Richard was selected for the first Leadership Orlando class at the age of 27. By age 30, he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives.

He served in the Florida House for 12 years. His accomplishments were many, but the ones he is most proud of involve his passion for education and his love for the community that provided him and his family a better way of life.

In 1990, Richard ran for Florida Senate and was elected overwhelmingly. During his years in the House and Senate, Richard was known as a reformer and consensus builder. His first legislation changed the name of FTU to UCF. Rep. Crotty was prime sponsor of a bill creating the first U. S. prepaid college tuition program in America, which allows parents to purchase a college education for their children well before they go to college. The Florida Prepaid College Tuition Program gives families hope of a college education and the financial ability to make it a reality. He also sponsored the Rios-Martinez Act, which guaranteed that sexual predators of children would not get early prison release.

In 1992, he won election as Orange County’s Property Appraiser and was re-elected in 1996 and 2000. As property appraiser, he is credited with using state-of-the-art technology to maximize efficiency and provide higher levels of service to the citizens of Orange County. He managed 127 staff and a budget of $8 million and was responsible for assessing the value of approximately 320,000 pieces of property, valued at $43 billion. And while property appraiser, Richard attended the executive program for state and local government at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

On January 8, 2001, Florida Governor Jeb Bush appointed Richard to succeed Mel Martinez as Orange County Chairman – he took the official oath of office on January 24, 2001.

Richard T. Crotty served as Orange County Mayor from 2001 to 2010. (The title changed from county chairman to county mayor in 2004.) While mayor, he was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the county government, overseeing nearly 7,300 employees with an annual budget of $3.4 billion.

During his tenure, he focused on transportation, schools and the economy. He helped drive the plan to fund the new Amway Center, the Dr. P. Phillips Performing Arts Center and the renovation of the Citrus Bowl. In spite of many large-scale accomplishments, Mayor Crotty considers his most significant achievement to have stewarded Orange County through the preparation for, response to, and recovery from three major hurricanes in six weeks during the summer of 2004. And in spite of those many large-scale achievements, he remains humble and was quoted as saying that he wanted “to leave the place better than I found it” as he transitions from public service to private life.

Richard’s awards include the Distinguished Alumnus and Distinguished Service Award from UCF and the Leroy Collins Distinguished Alumnus award from the entire Florida Community College System. Richard is most proud of the Allen Morris Award, bestowed on him by a secret vote of House colleagues as the most effective member of his party. During his tenure as Orange County property appraiser, he was ranked the No. 1 property appraiser in the nation with the Distinguished Assessment Jurisdiction Award. He also received the Public Information Award.

Mayor Crotty takes every opportunity to promote Valencia and his relationship as one of the first graduates. It is prominently listed in his bio and emerges frequently in public speeches and personal conversations. He is also a donor, having funded an endowed scholarship in honor of his parents. He also expanded a Valencia / UCF Two-Plus-Two scholarship with a major gift to Valencia Foundation. Richard has also pledged to help increase available transfer resources for Valencia graduates.

Through it all, Mayor Crotty has shown himself to be a true public servant, caring about and serving those in his community. And even now, education remains an important objective. He was recently appointed to the Board of Trustees for UCF. And his commitment to education is as strong today as it ever was. In an interview, he shared that he is concerned that qualified students are being shut out of educational opportunities because of rising tuition prices. “I think it is important to keep our eye on the ball. We have to strike that appropriate balance to strive for excellence but make sure that access is there.”

And Richard Crotty himself stands as a perfect example of that balance: someone who achieved greatness, because of the access and opportunities afforded him at a community college.

valencia alumni association moves forward


The Valencia Alumni Association Leadership Board guides the planning and activities of the association. Members represent the diversity of Valencia College and build enthusiasm for college and association programs, provide opportunities for involvement, and recruit new members and volunteers. Association president Michael J.G. McLaughlin ‘03 and leadership board members recently elected committee chairs to coordinate a broad array of activities/programs for the upcoming year:  Zia Ansari ’10, Membership; Julie Bennett ’00, Learning and Growing; and Marcy Porter ’05,  Fundraising.  Contact the Alumni Relations Office for more information and to get involved.

revisiting Valencia’s economic impact

Wondering how much value Valencia brings to the area?

The independent economic impact study shows Valencia’s economic value amounts to more than one billion dollars a year. For every dollar students invest in tuition, they will see a $5.60 increase in their lifetime earnings.

2011-12 distinguished graduate selected

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

class of 2012 giving back as they move forward

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5K: family of first responders encourage participants

Dear Officers, Deputies, Firefighters, Family & Friends,

Throughout the years, we have lost many Law Enforcement Officers, Deputies, and Firefighters both in the line of duty and after their service. While many of these Officers, Deputies, and Firefighters have not been acknowledged we would like to recognize these fallen heroes in the Valencia College Annual, Run Walk and Roll 5K. Not only have they protected the citizens and streets of our communities, some may have also given their lives.

This year, we would like to honor and recognize Charles “Charlie” Edwards of Orlando Police Department, ILona Edwards of Orlando Police Department, Brandon Coates of Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Michael Callin of Orange County Sheriff’s Department and Christine “Tina” Collyer Firefighter of Orlando Fire Department.

The family, friends, Brothers and Sisters of Law Enforcement would be honored to have you, as well as your family and friends, to participate in honoring these fallen heroes. The race will kick off March 31st at 6 p.m. at Valencia College West Campus! Please see Valencia 5K flyer regarding race registration, background about the fallen heroes, and race flyers. We ask of you to please print out the Valencia 5K flyer and post them around your department to help increase participation in honoring our Officers, Deputies, and Firefighters.

If you can participate, please sign up and spread the word. All of this year’s funds from Valencia’s 5K go to public safety scholarships at the college.

If you have Law Enforcement, fire and EMT contacts, please pass this on to them. We hope to have record participation this year. Also, please send throughout the department and agency for I do not have everyone’s email addresses.

Registration for the Valencia 5K is on the following web site:

The registration for the 5K is on the right side of this site. Hope to see you there.


Emily Edwards

alumni association 5k run, walk and roll

The Mayo Clinic cites many benefits of walking, including:

  • Lower LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol)
  • Raise HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol)
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce risk of or manage type 2 diabetes
  • Manage weight
  • Improve mood
  • Stay strong and fit

Additionally, research shows that regular walking can be as beneficial to your heart as more strenuous exercise.

On March 31, Valencia’s alumni association offers a great way to get some exercise and support scholarships, with their Alumni Association 5K Run, Walk and Roll. This year’s event is in memory of Justin Harvey and will support criminal justice, firefighter and EMS scholarships at Valencia.

The 5K (3.1 mile) course will take participants through Valencia’s West campus, located at 1800 South Kirman Road, Orlando. Participants and guests can also enjoy refreshments, children’s arts and crafts and much more.

More information can be found at And whatever your reason for participating, there’s a great benefit – helping someone go to college!

student shares her gratitude

I would like to say THANK YOU so much for sponsoring this trip as a scholarship donor. I can’t express enough how much I am truly grateful for this wonderful opportunity to be a part of something so amazing here at Valencia such as the study abroad program. This will be an experience that I will be happy to share with not only my family but to my friends, current and future classmates.

Coming from a single parent household and being the oldest of 5 kids I have never had the opportunity that I have now to travel, I’ve always had to work to help my mother provide for my other siblings so there was never any time or room for me to explore or to enjoy going on vacations.

Again, I am truly thankful for this opportunity, this is the confidence that I needed to push me to continue to work hard. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

A. Austin
2011/12 Study Abroad Scholarship Recipient

alumni 5k | march 31, 2012

Please join us for the 2012 Alumni Association Run, Walk & Roll 5K!  Whatever your reason for participating, there’s one great benefit—helping someone go to college.  Please visit here for 5K Registration and Details.

Join in as those of all ages and physical abilities come together for the Alumni Association’s annual Run,Walk and Roll to raise scholarship funds and other assistance for Valencia students. Participants and guests can also enjoy refreshments, children’s arts & crafts and much more (please see agenda below).

This is a 5K (3.1 mile) course through Valencia’s West Campus, located at 1800 South Kirkman Rd., Orlando, FL 32811.  Note:  Entrances to West Campus will be closed at 5:50 p.m.  please arrive before that time.

5K Registration and Details

 Links:Agenda: 5K Course Map USATF Certified
Driving Directions
5:00 p.m. Registration opens
West Campus, University Center
Bldg 11, Room 106
6:00 p.m. 5K Run, Walk & Roll Starts
Parking in lot G
Entrances to West Campus will be closed at 5:50 p.m.
Please arrive before then.
AFTER RACE Kids Fun Run & Crafts FREE
(Under 10 only)
For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Valencia’s Alumni Relations office at 407-582-3219 or email

The 2012 Alumni Association’s Run, Walk & Roll 5K  in memory of Justin Harvey will support Criminal Justice, Firefighter and EMS Scholarships at Valencia College.

student showcase recital tomorrow

On Tuesday, Feb. 7, there is a student showcase recital at the Performing Arts Center on Valencia’s East Campus. The recital starts at 7:30 pm and is free of charge and open to the public. This recital will feature some of Valencia’s most outstanding student performers on piano, sax, trumpet and voice.

About Valencia’s music program
Since 1975, Valencia’s music program has been dedicated to the idea of inspiring future performers by providing students with musically trained faculty and an expanding array of resources and experiences to enrich, stimulate and develop gifts in and outside the classroom.

Valencia’s music program leads to an associate in arts degree.

Students in the program master the fundamentals of performance and build on career opportunities by weekly participation in one of a dozen ensembles.

Students at Valencia get more opportunities for solo work and conducting than at many four-year schools where upperclassmen often get primary roles.

Valencia Foundation offers music-specific scholarships including the Instrumental Music Scholarship, Valerius-Vance Scholarship and Ferrigno Family Scholarship.

Music program students enjoy the resources of Valencia’s East Campus fine arts center, including instrumental and choir rehearsal halls, a library/listening, a MIDI/electronic piano lab and a 550-seat performance hall.

Valencia graduates can be found in many outstanding American music schools including Berkeley, New World School of the Arts, Stetson, FSU, UF and USF. Others now perform with leading symphony orchestras. 

Still others went on to have major recording careers. 

Three famous pop groups have members who received their training in Valencia’s music department:

  • Howie Dorough of the Backstreet Boys
  • Chris Kirkpatrick of ‘N Sync
  • David Perez, Brody Martinez and Raul Molina of C Note

what is the aspen award?

Valencia College was recently awarded the inaugural Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.  This award is based on student performance and graduation data collected by the U.S. Department of Education.

Colleges recognized by the Aspen Prize serve as models and laboratories for identifying practices that can elevate community college education. This is extremely meaningful to the 6 million students who rely on the nearly 1,200 community colleges nationwide, particularly students who are under-represented in higher education.

Walter Isaacson serves as the president and CEO of the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan educational and policy studies institute.  The Aspen Institute board of trustees is made up of high-level individuals from the public and private sectors and include Madeleine K. Albright, Michael D. Eisner, Henry Louis Gates Jr., David Koch and Condoleezza Rice just to name a few. 

In selecting Valencia as the best community college in America, Aspen officials noted that over half of the college’s full-time students graduate or transfer within three years of entering the school, a rate significantly higher than the national average (51 percent versus 39 percent).

At a time when data show an increasing number of students nationwide are not ready for college-level work – and that the U.S. has slipped to 12th globally in the percentage of young adults who hold at least an associate degree – Valencia is experiencing rising graduation rates among all students, including minorities.

  • Valencia has experienced dramatic increases in graduation rates among college-ready African American students, nearly tripling in the last decade from 15.4 percent to 44.3 percent today.
  • Graduation rates for college-ready Hispanic students have similarly impressive gains, jumping from 38.7 to 45.5 percent in the last decade.

Because community colleges also train students for the workforce, Aspen judges focused on the college’s workforce training programs and the likelihood of graduates landing jobs. They noted that Valencia graduates “are employed at rates higher than graduates from any of the other 10 Aspen Prize finalists. This is especially impressive given the region’s unusually high unemployment rate and low job growth rate.”

This is not the first time that Valencia has made national news. In November, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching named Valencia ESL professor James May the 2011 Florida Professor of the Year. May was one of only 27 state professors selected to represent the most outstanding undergraduate instructors in the country.

In 2009, Valencia won the inaugural Leah Meyer Austin Institutional Student Success Leadership Award for helping minority students succeed. In 2007, the New York Times named Valencia as one of the nation’s leading community colleges, and in 2001, Valencia was chosen by Time Magazine as one of the nation’s best schools at helping first-year students excel.

got compassion?

Valencia will host a series of activities next week, January 23rd – 26th  based on the work of internationally acclaimed scholar of religion, Karen Armstrong and her book, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life. 

The program schedule offers a unique opportunity to join Valencia colleagues and expose yourself to subjects like Socratic dialogue, compassionate listening, ahimsa, the Buddhist notion of non-self, Islam, Ayurveda, self-leadership, peacebuilding, meditation and mindfulness.

 Valencia’s Peace and Justice program also host a Multifaith Forum with Imam Musri, Rabbi David Kay and Father William Holiday discussing the relevance of religion in the 21st Century on Wednesday afternoon from 1:00-2: 15 PM.   All events will be held on East in 3-113 and are free and open to all.

In addition, Osceola and West Campuses will host Agnes Umunna, Liberian radio host and author of And Still Peace Did Not Come.  A free and public film screening of Pray the Devil Back to Hell, hosted by the HEROS club will take place on West Campus in the Special Events Center, building 8 on Thursday evening from 6:30-9:00 PM.  The discussion following the film will be led by Ms. Umunna.

The community, Valencia Students faculty, staff, alumni and friends are invited to these events .  The schedule of events is available through the link below.  If you have questions, please feel free to contact the Peace and Justice Office at 407-582-2291 or

 For the full schedule of events, visit online at:

orlando declares monday ‘valencia college day’

Orlando Declares Monday ‘Valencia College Day’

In honor of Valencia College winning the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the Orlando City Commission on Jan. 9 paid tribute to the college that has been recognized as being the top two-year college in the nation.

“They were not named one of the best community colleges in the nation, but the best, number one community college in the entire nation,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said, proclaiming that Jan. 9 would be recognized as Valencia College Day in the city of Orlando.

Last month, Valencia was named the winner of the inaugural Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence at a ceremony held in Washington, D.C. The award comes with $600,000 in prize money.

During Monday’s city commission meeting, Dyer and members of the commission said the nation is finally discovering what they’ve known for a long time: the excellent reputation of Valencia.

“Congratulations to Valencia College,” said Commissioner Samuel B. Ings. “It was Valencia Community College when I was there and graduated from Valencia in the 1970s. It was really great that the Aspen institute recognized the great things they’re doing.”

Ings noted that Valencia prepares a lot of minority students for the job market and helps them find employment as they near graduation. “They really do move a lot of students along, particularly African-Americans,” Ings said.

Several members of the Valencia College staff attended the city commission meeting to hear Mayor Dyer read the proclamation, including Valencia President Sandy Shugart, who  said his staff was deeply proud of the honor awarded by the Aspen Institute, and equally proud to be serving the Orlando community.

“A great college like Valencia College is only as good as the community we’re in,” Shugart said. “We’re grateful for that honor and that support.”

Dyer said the Aspen recognition is valuable to the city’s business leaders too. In a recent meeting to discuss economic development efforts in the city of Orlando, business leaders said one key to the city’s future growth will be having well-educated students and college graduates, Dyer said. “They talk about education being one of the most critical components,” Dyer said. He noted that Valencia College has a wide curriculum, offering 700 courses each semester, and that the college “produces more associates degrees each semester than any other community college in the nation.” These courses, Dyer said, “link students to well paying jobs” both in Orlando and other parts of Florida and the nation.

Commissioner Daisy W. Lynum also noted that those courses have first-rate reputations as well. “It’s real good to stand for intelligence and brilliance in education,” she said.

valencia named top in nation

Valencia Named Top Community College in Nation.

The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program announced Monday that Valencia College in Orlando, Fla., is the nation's top community college and honored four

Valencia Named Top Community College in Nation

Monday, December 12, 2011 – By Carol Traynor

Valencia Wins 2011 Aspen Prize for Focus on College Completion, Job Preparation

Valencia College learned today that it won the inaugural Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. Announced in a ceremony held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., the award comes with $600,000 in prize money.

“It is such a privilege to represent my colleagues and the hundreds of community colleges across the country that have done amazing work for years and years,” said Dr. Sanford Shugart, president of Valencia College. “The whole country is looking to us these days, it seems. The nation has discovered that we have this unique instrument at hand. We are institutions where excellence is not defined by exclusivity.”

“This award embodies the idea that community colleges are incredibly important; important to the future of this great country, of course, important to our education system and our economy,” said Richard Riley, former U.S. Secretary of Education and former governor of South Carolina.  “The prize is also highlighting which community colleges best show us the way to moving beyond extraordinary access to exceptional levels of student success. That’s something we need all community colleges to do nationally.”

In a competitive year-long process, the Aspen Institute, along with a panel of some of the biggest names in higher education, selected Valencia and four runners-up from a preliminary list of 120 “top” community colleges in the nation, based on student performance and graduation data collected by the U.S. Department of Education. The runners-up include community colleges from around the country, including Miami-Dade College, Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown, S.D., Walla Walla Community College in Walla Walla, Wash.,  and Western Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah, Ky.

“Valencia College has proven that devotion to assessment yields results,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program. “The college is an engine for employment in Central Florida, and a model for the country.”

“Community colleges are America’s best kept secret,” said Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden and a community college professor. “Excellence happens every day in community college classrooms and campuses across this country…Congratulations to Valencia College and all the finalists. Your commitment to your students is an inspiration to all of us.”

In selecting Valencia as the best community college in America, Aspen officials noted that over half of the college’s full-time students graduate or transfer within three years of entering the school, a rate significantly higher than the national average (51 percent versus 39 percent).

At a time when data show an increasing number of students nationwide are not ready for college-level work – and that the U.S has slipped to 12th globally in the percentage of young adults who hold at least an associate degree – Valencia is experiencing rising graduation rates among all students, including minorities.

  • Valencia has experienced dramatic increases in graduation rates among college-ready African American students, nearly tripling in the last decade from 15.4 percent to 44.3 percent today.
  • Graduation rates for college-ready Hispanic students have similarly impressive gains, jumping from 38.7 to 45.5 percent in the last decade.

Because community colleges also train students for the workforce, Aspen judges focused on the college’s workforce training programs and the likelihood of graduates landing jobs. They noted that Valencia graduates “are employed at rates higher than graduates from any of the other 10 Aspen Prize finalists. This is especially impressive given the region’s unusually high unemployment rate and low job growth rate.”

This is not the first time that Valencia has made national news. In November, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching named Valencia ESL professor James May the 2011 Florida Professor of the Year. May was one of only 27 state professors selected to represent the most outstanding undergraduate instructors in the country.

In 2009, Valencia won the inaugural Leah Meyer Austin Institutional Student Success Leadership Award for helping minority students succeed. In 2007, the New York Times named Valencia as one of the nation’s leading community colleges, and in 2001, Valencia was chosen by Time Magazine as one of the nation’s best schools at helping first-year students excel.

Valencia’s innovations include:

  • LifeMap, launched in 1998, empowers students to chart their own paths through college to achieve career and life goals through connections with advisors, faculty, staff and interactive tools.
  • Supplemental Learning, which bolsters traditional courses with small-group study sessions, led by a student who has already successfully taken the class. Since 2006, almost 32,000 students have taken SL courses – one of the largest scale learning experiments to ever take place in a U.S. community college.
  • Bridges to Success, which offers disadvantaged high school students free tuition if they enroll in Valencia immediately after high school graduation, keep their grades up and participate in Bridges activities.
  • DirectConnect to UCF, which has streamlined the admissions, financial aid, advising and transfer processes for Valencia students continuing their education at UCF.

Founded in 1967, Valencia College operates six campuses and centers in Central Florida’s Orange and Osceola counties, offering credit and continuing education programs. The college has more than 70,000 students and more than 80,000 students have earned degrees at Valencia since its founding.

Click here to view the full media kit.

nursing professor susie boatman forehand retires

Valencia Nursing Professor Susie Boatman Forehand Retires

After 35 years of hard work and dedication, we would like to announce the retirement of Valencia nursing professor Susie Forehand (she began at Valencia November 11, 1976).  Susie has been an advocate for quality nursing education all of her life. At Valencia, Susie’s dedication to students is exemplified in her contributions to nursing. She has educated and nurtured thousands of students who have gone out into the community to serve with her same dedication, preparing numerous men and women for a career in nursing.

Many will tell you that Susie is a hard professor, but she says she just expects the best from her Valencia students. Her students have been given a gift of an education that they will never forget. Many graduates return to see Susie and say, ‘thank you for teaching me how to be a great nurse.’  Susie’s commitment to excellence and service continue and will forever remain her legacy at Valencia College.

In lieu of gifts or an elaborate retirement celebration, Professor Susie Boatman Foreman requested donations to support current and future nursing student scholarships at Valencia. Should you wish to make a contribution please visit online at:

Her nurturing character has extended over many years.  In the early 1960s Susie participated in the Civil Rights movement during the Dr. Martin Luther King era of peaceful protest.  In our own Orange County, Susie participated in passive marches, sit-ins and demonstrations that untimely resulted in “black & white” signs removed and local lunch counters open to serve all patrons.

She continued to explore new cultures by traveling the world and covering five continents in 11 years.  These visits to Hong Kong, Spain, Greece, Mexico and England expanded her passion for inclusion.  In addition, her travels have extended to six countries in Africa: Nigeria, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Senegal, and the Congo.

Susie’s good work has been recognized within our community through a number of awards including Nursing Excellence, Nursing Educator Award, Instructor of the Year and nominations as Woman of the Year.  Although Susie Forehand is retiring, her commitment to nursing students at Valencia College will continue with your support.

In lieu of gifts or an elaborate celebration, Susie requested donations for current and future nursing student scholarships at Valencia.

We hope you will join us in honoring Susie’s milestone with a contribution reflecting her commitment to educating future nursing professionals at Valencia College.

Should you wish to make a donation please visit us online at:

reading by poet Paul Guest canceled

Sadly, our poet Paul Guest had to cancel – his caregiver has a family emergency and is unable to travel with him to Orlando this weekend, and Paul was unable to find a suitable replacement.  We are attempting to find a good date to reschedule this event in the spring.

We will let you know when the event has been rescheduled.

etch your name in someone’s future

You are invited to create a memory! Click here to purchase your engraved brick and etch your name in Valencia's legacy.

Help lay the foundation for a student’s future!

The sale of personalized engraved bricks are available to anyone who wishes to create a lasting memory. 

These bricks will be embedded in the entry courtyard of the newest Valencia Osceola Campus building 4 once construction is complete.

The cost of a personalized memory brick is $100.  The proceeds from these courtyard-bound bricks will used to support scholarships for Osceola Campus students of Valencia College.

For more details or to place your order, please visit

grainger is one of five finalists for the best partnership award

We wanted to share some exciting news.

Grainger is one of five finalists for the “Best Partnership” award, one of the prestigious U.S. Chamber of Commerce Corporate Citizenship Awards that recognizes companies that make a positive difference in society. Grainger and the American Red Cross were nominated for the Ready When the Time Comes™ volunteer program. 

Today there are 14,000 trained volunteers from more than 460 organizations and businesses across the country who serve as Red Cross emergency responders.

The nomination for the Best Partnership Award reflects their deep commitment to the Ready When the Time Comes™ program and emergency preparedness.

We are reaching out to partners in hopes that you will consider the opportunity to help garner national exposure for this volunteer program. For additional information on the volunteer program, visit Ready When the Time Comes™

The winner is selected by popular vote and voting ends on October 28, 2011. We encourage you to take a minute to view the strong partnerships nominated and then cast your vote at:

valencia homecoming

With a variety of activities during the month of October on multiple campuses, as well as special off-campus outings in the community, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to connect with fellow Valencia alumni, retirees, faculty, staff, students and friends. Chances are good that you will be able to find at least one you can’t resist!

Wednesday, October 12

  • Valencia Alumni Association Networking Reception & Idea Exchange
    West Campus Special Events Center, Bldg 8
    6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. —  Networking Reception
    RSVPs Encouraged

Thursday, October 13

  • Valencia’s Student Development Celebrates “Spirit Day” (Matador Day)
    • West Campus: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., SSB Patio
    • Osceola Campus: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Clock Tower
    • East Campus: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., Mall Area
    • Winter Park Campus: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., Student Lounge & Courtyard
    • Lake Nona Campus: 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., Room 408 Atlas Lab/Student Lounge
  • Popcorn Flicks in Central Park featuring “The Fly” 8-10:00 p.m.  Bring your blanket or chair to enjoy the movie under the stars in Central Park in downtown Winter Park.  Free popcorn. Rain date will be Oct. 27th.  Free.

Friday, October 14

  • Valencia College Allied Health Fair
    West Campus (outside tables located near cafeteria, SSB and AHS), 10 am – 2 pm. Learn about the health care programs offered at Valencia.  Laboratory tours every hour, free popcorn and snow cones.  Free. Allied Health
  • Latin Night in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month Osceola Campus, 7-10 p.m. Entertainment, food, dancing. Free for Valencia students; $5 for non-students. Directions

October 14 through November 6

  • Little Shop of Horrors
    Book and lyrics by Howard Ashman; Music by Alan Menken; Produced by TheatreWorks Florida.
    Seymour loves two things: a beautiful, way-out-of-his-league girl named Audrey and interesting, unusual plants. As a down and out floral assistant, he never dreamed that discovering an exotic plant with a mysterious craving for fresh blood would turn him into an overnight sensation! Little Shop of Horrors is an affectionate rock-n-roll spoof of 1950s sci-fi movies that will have you laughing and dancing in your seats.
    Advance purchase tickets for Oct.14-Oct.23 – performances $17 with Promo Code VALENCIAHOMECOMING

Wednesday, October 19

  • Reception and presentation by Dr. George Lopez of Notre Dame Univ. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies
    East Campus, Bldg 6 Room 110, 1-2:15 p.m. Directions
  • Reception, Dinner and Conversation with Dr. George Lopez of Notre Dame Univ. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, Private event

Friday, October 21 Campus Locations

  • Fine Arts Faculty Exhibit Opening Reception
    East Campus Building 3 Atrium
    6:30-8:30 pm, Free
  • Monster Ball – “No Tricks Just Treats” Halloween Event  
    Osceola Campus 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Loud music, food, drinks, scary characters, fun!   Entry donation of $3 to benefit the American Cancer Society.
  • “The Drowsy Chaperone” opening night – musical comedy
    Music and Lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, Book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar. Winner of many Tony awards in 2006, this magical musical will transport the audience to the dazzling musicals of the 1920’s as the musical literally bursts to life in the living room of a die-hard musical theater fan! 
    East Campus Performing Arts Center – Curtain time: 7:30 p.m.
    Discounted tickets available online at  @ $6 with Coupon Code: VALENCIAALUMNI

Saturday, October 22

  • Memory Walk – Walk to End Alzheimer’s
    8am-registration begins
    9 am-walk begins
    For more details and to join Team Valencia, visit

October 22 through 23rd

  • Enzian’s Second Annual Haunted Swamp Walk of Terror
    The walk is a chilling tour through 2,000 feet of natural woods behind the Enzian Theater. Featuring original characters, spine- tingling theatrics and impressive decor, attendees will experience nail-biting fun and anxiety as they fall prey to hidden scare traps and surprises around every turn of their tour. Admission is $6 when purchased in advance, $8 day of the event and free for Enzian Film Society members. 8p.m. – 1a.m.  For tickets and more information, visit

Sunday, October 23rd

  • Bright House Networks Calle Orange Festival
    10 blocks of downtown Orlando are closed for the largest event in Central Florida! Now in its 14th year, Bright House Networks Calle Orange Festival features five stages of Latin America’s biggest and best performers! Music variety will appeal to the American Hispanic as well as those from the Caribbean, Central and South America! Enjoy authentic food delicacies from Hispanic countries and all types of entertainment including a block just for kids!

Thursday, October 27

  • “Wagner’s Music and Anti-Semitism in Film” presented by Professor Matt McAllister as part of the East Campus Humanities Speaker Series 
    Opera has remained relevant within popular culture primarily via its use in film and ironical deployments constitute one of its most sophisticated uses.  The Nazi party’s use of music during its reign and the stigma that Wagner’s music in particular suffers from as a result will be discussed as well as the circumstances that allow for music to be read ironically in film.
    Valencia’s East Campus Bldg. 6 Room 110, 1-2:15 p.m.
    Contact Nichole Jackson at for more information.  Free. Directions

Saturday, October 29

  • UCF Homecoming Game vs Memphis Tickets $15 ($10 savings) for seats in the north end zone. Get an optional PATCH for just $2 more. Game Time is 4 p.m.   UCF football tickets can be purchased by calling the UCF Athletics Ticket Office at (407) 823-1000 or email

October 29 through 31st

  • Enzian’s Second Annual Haunted Swamp Walk of Terror
    The walk is a chilling tour through 2,000 feet of natural woods behind the Enzian Theater. Featuring original characters, spine- tingling theatrics and impressive decor, attendees will experience nail-biting fun and anxiety as they fall prey to hidden scare traps and surprises around every turn of their tour. Admission is $6 when purchased in advance, $8 day of the event and free for Enzian Film Society members. 8p.m. – 1p.m.  For tickets and more information, visit

the results are in: tina’s turnout for scholarships

Remembering Tina Collyer. At the event Fire Chief John Miller (pictured here) spoke to friends and family and honored their commitment to keeping Tina's spirit of service alive.

Tina’s Turn Out was established by friends and community members in memory and celebration of Tina Collyer’s life.  With the proceeds from the inaugural Sept. 24th walk, the Tina Collyer scholarship has reached $9,400 and is almost half way toward becoming a perpetual scholarship. 

Tina Collyer, a Valencia graduate and an Orlando firefighter, had a passion for helping young Explorers fulfill their dreams of becoming firefighters.   Once endowed, the Tina’s Heart scholarship will be earmarked for students, especially Explorers, who wish to certify as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) at Valencia College. 

The EMT-Paramedic Program is designed for students who are interested in providing pre-hospital emergency care to acutely ill or injured patients. A stumbling block for many is the expense of completing the EMT program. 

Help us with the next steps.  Please contribute in memory of Tina Collyer and to help future EMT students.  You can contribute online at, just click on Give Now and make a donation. 

If you would prefer to mail a check, write ‘In Memory of Tina Collyer’ in the memo field, and send to: Valencia Foundation, 190 S. Orange Ave., Orlando, FL 32801.

Thank you, in advance, for your consideration.  Every gift, no matter how large or modest, will make a difference to our students.

Honoring Tina Collyer, community members create a scholarship in her honor.
Thank you to all who participated. Every gift, no matter how large or modest matters! You can still support future EMT students in memory of Tina Collyer by visiting and click on ‘Make a Donation’

More photos from this event are available on Facebook via Valencia Alumni Association or click here

Valencia named top 10 finalist of community college contest

Valencia College math tutor Marisela Rey helps Valencia student Deidre Dungee

By Denise-Marie Balona, Orlando Sentinel
12:05 a.m. EDT, September 13, 2011

Valencia College today was named one of 10 national finalists for a big new award — the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, which comes with prizes totaling $1 million.

The award seeks to spotlight community colleges with a track record for excellence that will ultimately become models for the rest of the country. Community colleges, which serve nearly half of all college students, are a main focus of President Obama’s plan to boost the nation’s number of college graduates.

One other Florida school — Miami Dade College — was selected as a finalist from among the 120 institutions in the competition.

The schools were chosen based on high performance and their improvements in graduation rates and other indicators of student success.

For example, Valencia students graduate or transfer to other higher-education institutions at a rate of nearly 12 percent above the national average, college officials said.

Last year, 94 percent of Valencia nursing graduates passed their national exam, surpassing the state and national averages.

Community College Week magazine recently ranked Valencia No. 1 in the country for the number of associate degrees awarded.

Valencia’s president, Sandy Shugart, said being a finalist for the Aspen Prize is an affirmation of his faculty’s hard work.

“For more than 15 years, Valencia has been deeply focused on improving student graduation and learning, and we have begun to see extraordinary results in the last five to six years, especially,” he said. “The whole country is interested in those results.”

The $1 million in prize money will be awarded in December. The winner will receive $700,000. The rest will be split among three runners-up. or 407-420-5470

Copyright © 2011, Orlando Sentinel

our take on: Valencia College’s national award

Head of the class

Valencia College doesn’t have a football team, but it has cracked a more meaningful national ranking.

Valencia — with six locations in Orange and Osceola counties and more than 70,000 students — has been named one of 10 finalists for the $1 million Aspen Prize, a national award recognizing “community college excellence.” Only one other Florida school, Miami Dade College, made the top 10.

The Aspen Prize winner will be named in December. Meanwhile, Valencia’s president, Sandy Shugart, has been invited to the White House next week to discuss his ideas about education with other community college leaders and Obama administration officials.

Shugart has a good story to tell. Valencia’s overall graduation rate is almost three times the rate at other large urban community colleges. Its graduation rates among African-American and Hispanic students have risen sharply over the past decade.

The White House has been highlighting community colleges in the president’s plan to “out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.” They’re a more affordable option than universities for high-school graduates to prepare for the working world, and for the unemployed to gain new job skills.

Valencia began offering some four-year degrees this year, but its primary focus is still its two-year associate’s programs. Its success in that area, good enough to turn heads nationally, makes Valencia a real asset for Central Florida.

Copyright © 2011, Orlando Sentinel

fall musical at valencia: the drowsy chaperone

This magical performance will transport you from the living room of a die-hard musical theater fan into a dazzling 1920’s theratical musical.   

This musical-within-a-play is anything but drowsy! Get your tickets online now.

7:30 p.m. curtain – October 21, 22, 27, 28, 29
2:00 p.m. curtain – October 23 and 30

In 2006 The Drowsy Chaperone, a homage to jazz musicals, won the Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score with many featured actors/actresses nominated.   

Click Here To Purchase Tickets

For more information about Valencia’s 2011-2012 Arts Season please click on the image above or visit:

bird’s eye view: professor wins coveted prize for photo

Jack Rogers, East Campus geology professor, won the grand prize in a photography contest sponsored by WildBird magazine, one of two national birding magazines in the country.

Rogers said his winning image of a sandhill crane was taken on the edge of a retention pond near a friend’s house in southeast Orlando.

“I found them along the pond’s edge, the parents digging for food and the chick (known as a colt) following along waiting to be fed,” said Rogers. “The shot captures the moment when the colt is flipping a mole cricket to better get it into position to swallow.”

Rogers used a Sony DSLR camera with a 400-millimeter telephoto lens to bring the viewer up close. As the grand prize winner, his photo appears in the September/October issue of WildBird which is on newstands now. He will also receive a pair of Zeiss binoculars.

Rogers has dabbled in bird and nature photography most of his life, but took it up seriously when he moved to Florida eight years ago to teach at Valencia.

“I like to use my photography to share with others the beauty of our natural world and hopefully lead them to consider the value of preserving it,” Rogers said.

His images have been published in Florida Wildlife Magazine, National Wildlife Magazine, and a variety of other publications, including a National Geographic book on bird coloration that came out last year. You can find some of his published prize-winning images here:

Rogers also regularly donates his images to conservation organizations such at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, the Florida Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Society.

In addition to geology, Rogers teaches a course on nature photography which is offered in the spring on the East Campus. The course includes four field trips where his students practice in the techniques they learn in the classroom. Examples of the students’ work is now on display around the East Campus.

Source: Carol Traynor, Marketing and Strategic Communications

valencia graduate shares words from peru

Ana De La Rosa graduated from Valencia in the spring of 2008. While at Valencia she participated in an alternative spring break program with Habitat for Humanity, served as an active member of Amnesty International and completed the Introduction to Peace Studies course.

Ana is currently in Peru with the Peace Corps and writes about recent experience to her Professor Penny Villegas …

“It has been a little while since I have written and felt like it was time to share. This last week I had the opportunity to go on one of the most amazing and rewarding trips of my life. I live in the northern coast of Peru, where it is hot and poor and most other volunteers live in the Andes and middle of Peru where it is cold and poor. The highest reported number of new HIV and AIDS cases is not only on the coast but in my actual district.

We have five high schools we work with in the area and we train young health promoters to teach their peers about the realities of HIV, AIDS, Dengue, and Malaria. The program has been running successfully on the coast for going on 6 years so the rest of the country is trying to adapt the peer to peer education model. Another volunteer and I had the opportunity to take one health promoter from each school, two teachers and a school principal to Ancash, Peru. It is two bus rides and 22 hours away from us. Before my service two volunteers had brought a group of the kids from Ancash to Tumbes and so now it was our turn to pay them a visit. The trip was covered by PEPFAR- the U.S. President’s AIDS fund-since our youth went there with teaching modules, skits and ideas for the new up and coming peer educators in the Sierra. These kids had never left home for more than a day trip to the beach- let alone seen snow. It was wonderful sharing this 7-day experience with them. They got to go to museums and stand at the base of the biggest mountain in Peru.

They did a live television interview talking about the importance of sex education and helped train the kids from Ancash. It was a great exchange of culture and knowledge and I am so lucky to have been a part of it. I have a classroom in Minnesota I am pen-pals with and I cannot wait to send them pictures from this trip. The cultural exchange possibilities go on and on!

Ana de la Rosa Valencia 2008

About the Peace Corp in Peru:  Volunteers in this South American nation work in the areas of youth and community development, environmental and agricultural conservation, health, water sanitation and hygiene promotion, and business development. Many Volunteers working on HIV/AIDS prevention and care receive support from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program. Volunteers are trained and work in Quechua and Spanish.

valencia is again top producer of associate degrees in nation

For the second year in a row, Valencia Community College ranks first in the nation in the number of associate degrees awarded by a community college. The ranking was published on Monday by Community College Week.

The report was compiled using preliminary data from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics and focused on degrees conferred during the 2009-2010 academic year. In that year, Valencia awarded 6,303 associate degrees, including 2,650 earned by minority students.

“Valencia’s focus on improving student success, particularly in the critical first year of college, is paying off,” said Valencia president Sanford C. Shugart. “The rankings also underscore the role Valencia plays as the primary entry point to a college education in our region.”

Also noteworthy, the college ranks second in the number of degrees awarded to Hispanic students and third in the number awarded to African Americans.

Aside from overall associate degrees conferred, Valencia ranked high across a number of academic disciplines: first in the number of degrees awarded in general studies, 9th in registered nursing and 18th in engineering technology.

Valencia offers three types of degrees: the Associate in Arts (A.A.), Associate in Science (A.S.) and the Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree. The A.A. degree parallels the first two years of a four-year bachelor’s degree. In Florida, graduates with an A.A. degree are guaranteed acceptance as juniors into the state university system.

A long-standing partnership between Valencia and the University of Central Florida has contributed to Valencia’s transfer rate, considered to be among the highest in the country. DirectConnect to UCF guarantees Valencia grads acceptance and accelerated admission to the university. Since the program’s inception in 2006, approximately 45,000 students have indicated that they are DirectConnect to UCF students.

On July 1, Valencia will drop “community” from its name and become Valencia College. Starting in August, it will expand its offerings to include several bachelor’s degrees.

Source:  Carol Traynor

a midsummer nights dream

For its final play of the 2010-2011 theater season, the Valencia Character Company will present William Shakespeare’s classic comedy, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

For its final play of the 2010-2011 theater season, the Valencia Character Company will present William Shakespeare’s classic comedy, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Showtimes are June 9-11 and June 16-18 at 7:30 p.m. and June 12 and 19 at 2 p.m.

Silly, magical, funny, romantic and mystical, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is one of the Bard’s most often produced plays. It follows the adventures of four young lovers and a group of amateur actors who are manipulated by the fairies inhabiting a moonlit forest. Valencia’s interpretation will be fairly traditional, exploring love as a sometimes-irrational facet of life that often seems beyond our control.

Ticket prices are $10 for general admission and $8 for students, seniors and Valencia staff and alumni. Tickets are free for Valencia students.

To purchase tickets please visit:

valencia students wins addy

Valencia Community College students and five Orlando organizations and took top place at American Advertising Federation’s Annual ADDY award ceremony in Miami on May 1.

A graphic design student, Jaclyn Steinberg, took top place at the American Advertising Federation’s District Addy Awards. Jaclyn’s winning entry, a 1950s-style anti-smoking campaign, goes on to compete at the national show in San Diego June 4. Our fingers are crossed that she’ll win! Another student, Brian Nutt, won a silver Addy award for a logo design.
Gold Addy winners were: Acropolis, Disney’s Yellow Shoes Creative Group, Florida Hospital, Red Rocket Studios, Universal Orlando Resort and Jaclyn Steinberg, students at Valencia Community College.

For a complete list, click here.

The winners move on to the national competition in San Diego June 4.

Full article at Orlando Business Journal
Read more: 6 win district gold ADDY awards | Orlando Business Journal

distinguished grad wins prestigious $30,000 award

Steven Crist came to Valencia looking for a second chance at a college education.

He got it, and much more.

Crist, the college’s 2011 Distinguished Graduate, has been selected to receive the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship for up to $30,000 a year for three years.

The highly competitive scholarship is awarded to the nation’s top community college students who have financial need. It is intended to cover a significant share of educational expenses for the final two to three years necessary to achieve a bachelor’s degree – including tuition, living expenses, books and required fees.

Crist is one of 60 scholars selected this year to receive the award, out of a pool of hundreds of applicants from 17 different states.

Another Valencia graduate, Mikhail Elliott, who is studying economics at the University of Tampa, won the award last year.

Crist delivered the commencement address at Valencia’s graduation on May 7, where he received his Associate in Arts degree. He is still weighing his options about where to transfer. He plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and after that, law school. He wants to help the disadvantaged.

Those who know the 27-year-old Midwest native marvel at his energy, organizational skills and goal-setting prowess.

He will readily tell you he was not always in such control of his life.

Ten years ago, Crist was in high school in Ohio and feeling aimless. On his 18th birthday, he dropped out and began a nearly year-long journey of self-discovery that included stints of homelessness.

Seeing no future on the path he was on, Crist gathered up his courage, earned a GED and enrolled at Ohio State University. It turned out to be a rocky transition. He didn’t do as well as he had hoped and was again confronted with the question of what to do next.

One day, he spotted a recruitment flyer on campus. It was from Disney, which was looking for interns. Crist leapt at the opportunity and was invited to come down to Orlando.

As Crist puts it, this was a chance to hit the reset button on his life.

Over the next few years, Crist parlayed his internship into a full-time job. He worked as a concierge at exclusive attractions and later rose in the ranks in guest relations, attending to the needs of visiting VIPs.

Crist says exposure to the Disney culture was life-changing. He found a new self-confidence and learned about the importance of goal-setting.

When Crist decided it was time to go back to school, Disney was supportive. Crist chose Valencia based on its reputation for smaller class sizes and personalized attention.

He thrived.

Crist was steered toward honors-level classes by advisers who knew he wanted to pursue a career in law. He won leadership positions in some high-profile student organizations and maintained a 4.0 GPA while working in a job that demanded as many as 30 hours a week.

Mixed in with that were countless hours of informally advising other students on how to navigate the college and succeed in their studies.

Soon after arriving at Valencia, Crist told his advisers that he wanted to make a difference at the college that had nurtured and encouraged him and taught him the importance of giving back.

How does he think he did?

“I did well in the areas where I could get involved,” Crist said. “The key was becoming invested in Valencia, getting involved. I wanted to leave Valencia a better place for those who come after me.”

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is a private foundation dedicated to helping young people of exceptional promise reach their full potential through education. The Foundation’s Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship is the largest private scholarship for two-year and community college transfer students in the country.

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

a history-making day

Years of hard work came to a close on Saturday for the graduating class of 2011.

With 1,050 students and thousands of guests in attendance, it was the largest commencement ceremony ever in Valencia’s 44-year history.

The event was also historical for another reason: this year’s commencement marked the final one for Valencia “Community” College; come July, the college will change its name to Valencia College.

“This is bittersweet for us,” said Valencia President Sanford Shugart.

Packed into the Silver Spurs Arena, the graduates listened to commendations from the chair of Valencia’s District Board of Trustees, Raymer Maguire III, and from representatives of the college’s leadership and alumni.

Rob Stio, an Honors graduate who plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in international affairs, received a $5,000 Hites Foundation Scholarship as well as a transfer scholarship to Rollins College Hamilton Holt School.

The prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, which provides up to $30,000 per year, was awarded to the distinguished graduate, Steven Crist.

In his commencement address, Crist saluted the support he received from friends and from the director of the Honors program, Valerie Burks, while also challenging the institution to give students more of a voice in administrative decision-making.

“Valencia has successfully positioned itself as a viable and valuable alternative to attending a four-year college for the freshman and sophomore years,” Crist said.

“As a result, you have many bright, young minds walking your halls every day, with a wealth of knowledge, and even criticisms to contribute to your institution,” he said. He went on to encourage college leaders to “give those students a voice…even if it makes you uncomfortable.”

When at last, an hour into the ceremony, the president took the podium and said, “Will the candidates for degrees please stand?”, the students sat motionless for a moment until Shugart added, “That would be you,” eliciting laughs from the crowd.

The new college grads exited the arena to sunny skies and a Lynx bus parked nearby that had been imprinted with their names as well as the names of 7,200 others who graduated from Valencia throughout the 2010-2011 academic year.

The bus which read, “The 2011 Valencia Grads are Going Places. Congrats!”, was quickly surrounded by students and their families as they searched for and pointed out their graduate’s name and posed for photos.

“We are going places, so that’s kind of cool,” said Stio.

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

valencia graduation: live webcast on may 7

Valencia Community College’s 2011 Commencement Ceremony will be streamed live on Saturday, May 7 at 10 a.m. and will last about two hours.

Visit the graduation countdown and webcast location online at:

Limited technical support is available at 407-582-1872.

Please note: This broadcast will only be viewable until the ceremony’s conclusion. No other video recordings of the ceremony will be made available.

student gives thanks!

As a student from a single-parent household, with an immigrant parent, paying for school is a big concern of mine. Without the aid of outside funds such as scholarships and grants, I would not be able to dedicate the majority of my time to achieving academic excellence. Instead, I would have to work a full-time job to earn money to go to school and support my other expenses that stem from adulthood. I am grateful to be a recipient of your scholarship, and your assistance has motivated me to continue to reach for my goals.  

T. Harvey
2010/11 Scholarship Recipient

traditions! class songs and class support

2010-2011 Class Songs & Class Support

Raise Your Glass
I Made It

This year three, yes 3, songs have been selected to play at commencement – celebration at its best after the years of hard work! Plug in and preview Firework, Raise Your Glass, and I Made It here!

A 2nd tradition is continued this year: current students along with past alumni are working together to help future Valencia students attend college.

Any gift to support students, no matter how large or modest will help a future Valencia Student! You have many ways to contribute to the 2010-2011 class gift – in any amount!

  • Drop off your cash or check donation in any amount at the Alumni Relations Office (407-582-5483) on West Camppus in the Special Events Center – Building 8
  • Have card will travel? Make a credit card donation of any type by filling out the online form.
  • Just the text – feel free to text VALENCIA to 20222 to make a $10 one-time donation that will appear on your next phone bill.
  • Or donate $10 at and enter your phone number – don’t forget to reply YES on your cell.

Your help with the student effort is needed and appreciated!

Text VALENCIA to 20222 to donate $10. Or visit and simply enter your cell phone number. Donations will be applied to Valencia’s Student Government Association Scholarship. Visit for more details.

A one-time donation of $10.00 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your prepaid balance. All donations must be authorized by the account holder. All charges are billed by and payable to your mobile service provider. Service is available on most carriers. Donations are collected for the benefit of Valencia Community College by the Mobile Giving Foundation and subject to the terms found at Messaging & Data Rates May Apply. You can unsubscribe at any time by texting STOP to short code 20222; text HELP to 20222 for help.

you hold a student’s future in the palm of your hand

Scholarships make a tremendous difference in ability of students to attend college. This year Valencia current students along with past students from the Alumni association are working together for a class gift to help future Valencia students attend college.

Your help with the student effort is needed and appreciated!

Text VALENCIA to 20222 to donate $10. Or visit and simply enter your cell phone number. Donations will be applied to Valencia’s Student Government Association Scholarship. Visit for more details.

A one-time donation of $10.00 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your prepaid balance. All donations must be authorized by the account holder. All charges are billed by and payable to your mobile service provider. Service is available on most carriers. Donations are collected for the benefit of Valencia Community College by the Mobile Giving Foundation and subject to the terms found at Messaging & Data Rates May Apply. You can unsubscribe at any time by texting STOP to short code 20222; text HELP to 20222 for help.

valencia featured in community college times

Geraldine Gallagher, president and CEO of the Valencia Foundation, was interviewed for the March 3 article, “Finding New Funding Streams in Hard Times,” in Community College Times. Read the story here.

restaurant sponsors for A Taste for Learning

Please visit for tickets and event information. If you wish to turn the event into a sparkling weekend, reserve your room with a special Taste for Learning rate.

Thank you just doesn’t seem like enough when restaurants come with decor, fresh signature dishes, supportive staff and nothing but enthusiasm for scholarships. Thanks to our restaurant sponsors that have already commited to this year’s A Taste for Learning!

– Rosen Shingle Creek
– Fiorella’s Cucina Toscana
– P.F. Chang’s China Bistro

I know that we are greteful for their continued support of our mission, and look forward to the many goodies that they will provide this year.

If you or someone you know is interested in being a restaurant sponsor, please contact Valencia Foundation at (407) 582-3150 or See you there!

take stock means a chance at college

On Thursday, Feb. 3, Take Stock in Children of Orange County will hold a ceremony to recognize and celebrate its new and returning student participants, as well as their parents, mentors and community and corporate sponsors.

The event will take place at 10 a.m. in the Special Events Center (Bldg. 8 on Valencia Community College’s West Campus, located at 1800 S. Kirkman Road in Orlando.

This year, 24 seventh-grade students from local middle schools will be inducted into the program, bringing the total number of participating students to 108.

Take Stock in Children is a statewide initiative that helps underserved children succeed, starting at age 12, by providing college scholarships, volunteer mentors, early intervention and long-term support. High standards, parental involvement and community support are crucial to the program’s success.

“The generous support of Take Stock in Children by founding partner Florida Citrus Sports Foundation and Mears Transportation has enabled us to scale the program up at a time when others are cutting back,” said Valencia President Sandy Shugart. “This will have a huge impact on our community.”

Just last week the Orlando Magic Youth Fund, a McCormick Foundation Fund, awarded a grant of $100,000 to the Valencia Foundation in support of Take Stock in Children.

Attending Thursday’s ceremony will be:  Commissioner Daisy Lynum, City of Orlando; Bill Sublette, Joie Cadle and Nancy Robbinson, Orange County School Board; Commissioner Lui Damiani, Orange County Government; Ron Blocker, superintendent, Orange County Public Schools; John Newstreet, regional director, office of U.S. Senator Marco Rubio; Bill Dymond, president, Florida Citrus Sports Foundation; Steve Hogan, CEO, Florida Citrus Sports; Linda Landman Gonzalez, Orlando Magic and Valencia Foundation chair; Betsey Bell, executive director, Orlando Magic Youth Foundation; T. Picton Warlow IV, Martin Andersen-Gracia Andersen Foundation; and guest speakers Adonal Foyle, former Magic player and director of player development for the Orlando Magic, and Tom Stroup, SWAT commander and host of the NBC reality series “School Pride,” which tells the stories of communities coming together to renovate their aging and broken public schools.

This year’s inductees include students from Howard Middle School (Selena Acevedo, Brook Bonner, Jacob Davis, Mahagony Davis, Daylees Guzman, Quiniya Howard, Destiny Lane, Jacob Mclemore, Mallorie Paulk, Natalie Raphael, Irene Rodriguez, Trinh Tran, Asia Watson, Devon Watson and Tia Williams); Lee Middle School (Umesha Beckwith, Taymel Christian, Jacob Henderson, Briana Murphy and Alaysia Sims); and Lockhart Middle School (Briana Campbell, Kevin Diaz, Robert Massaline and Anthony Swingle).

Valencia Community College brought Take Stock in Children to Orange County in 2008. The first class of student participants is now in the tenth grade and will graduate from high school in 2013.

Since 1995, Take Stock in Children has impacted the lives of more than 17,600 deserving students in the state of Florida, providing more than 9,000 high school graduates with full college scholarships.

To volunteer as a mentor, provide a tax-deductible contribution or to obtain more information about Take Stock in Children of Orange County, please contact 407-582-3336 or

Source: Marketing & Strategic Communications

wine sampling to benefit valencia and ucf students

Visit for tickets and event information. If you wish to turn the evening into a sparkling weekend, reserve your room with a special Taste for Learning rate.

A Taste for Learning, April 2, 2011 at Rosen Shingle Creek is our second  joint philanthropic event between Valencia Community College and University of Central Florida. 

Vintners from around the around the globe bring their finest wines and spirits, local donor chefs fire up the grills to provide their best cuisine, and hundreds of supporters gather for an evening of fellowship and shopping for gifts, trips and experiences. The formula unites partners who donate every product for the event, including the venue, media, décor, food, wine and auction items.

The result? 100 percent of all sponsorships, tickets and auction receipts will go directly to scholarships and is eligible to earn dollar-for-dollar match through the state of Florida First Generation in College matching grant program, doubling a donor’s investment.

Please join us by inviting friends and colleagues, sponsoring a table and contributing auction items.

Become a Sponsor    
Become  a Service-In-Kind Sponsor   
Become a Silent Auction Gift-In-Kind Sponsor

Tickets are now on sale! Check out or call 407.582.3128 for more details.

facc – hall of fame

Victor Collazo is serving in his 16th year as the Student Development Coordinator and Student Government Advisor at Valencia Community College West Campus. As a community college graduate (Daytona Beach) he understands the importance of co-curricular activities on the lives of students. Victor contributes to the development and education of the students through his workshops at the local, district and state wide meetings. The students know him as a presenter who will never bore them and they always leave having learned something they can use in life. Some of his workshops are: “The Leadership Secrets of Santa Claus”, “The FISH! Philosophy”, “Eat that Frog” and “The Fred Factor”.

Victor is actively involved in leadership positions at the District and State level of the Florida Junior/Community College Student Government Association and the Florida Association of Community Colleges especially the Student Development Commission. He has also served his alma mater, University of Central Florida on several alumni boards. Victor is the recipient of many special honors and achievements such as:

  • Dr. Debra Hay Distinguished Service Award for the FACC Student Development Commission
  • A scholarship has been endowed in his name through the Valencia Community College Foundation.
  • Named an Honorary member of the Chi Epsilon Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa
  • Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities Outstanding Service Award

Victor truly exemplifies a Servant Leader and is providing extraordinary leadership for the Valencia Volunteers. He is one of the first on board whenever a crisis happens, be it local or worldwide such as Hurricane Katrina and the Haitian Earthquake. “Victor has a servant’s heart from which he contributes to others every day” according to Dr. Joyce Romano, Vice President for Student Affairs at Valencia.

James “Jay” Galbraith, Vice President of State and Industry Affairs for Sea World Parks and Entertainment, discovered his passion for politics and respect for democratic engagement while earning his AA degree from Indian River Community College in 1988.

Jay’s involvement in the Campus Coalition Government as the Athletic representative caused him to change his chosen path from professional golf to politics. Once involved at the campus level, Jay quickly became involved at the District and State levels being elected the District V Coordinator and assuming his role on the Florida Junior Colleges Student Government Association (FJCSGA) State Executive Board. Jay proposed FJCSGA have a conference to deal with legislative issues. The proposal was put on the shelf for a number of years. Jay was ahead of his time in that his idea was eventually adopted by FJCCSGA (yes another C for Community was added) changing their conference format and now holds the November Presidents Assembly and Legislative Conference. Jay continues to give back to the Student Government division presenting workshops through the years. In April 2010, Jay was the keynote speaker for the “Rally in Tally”.

 After graduating from Indian River, Jay enrolled at Florida State University where he became involved in the Student Government Association and the College Republicans. While at FSU, he was involved in a number of political campaigns. After graduation from FSU, he spent time working for Congressman Michael Bilirakis of Clearwater.

 Professionally Jay has worked in government, education and for non-profit organizations. He lives in Orlando with his wife Carrie and their four children: Denny, Sara, Faith and Josiah. He continues to have the community colleges at heart serving on the Valencia Community College Foundation Board. He is actively involved in his community giving back thorough his church, the Foundation for Orange County Public Schools, Visit Florida Government Affairs Committee, and others.

Jay is a creative visionary with a heart to serve.

q & a: valencia foundation

Wonder how Valencia Foundation supports Valencia Community College?  Below are frequently asked questions and answers.

Have a question about the Valencia Foundation not answered here?   Please feel free to reach out:
Donna Marino, Valencia Foundation
407-582-3128 or 407-582-3150

the search for a nonviolent future: author michael nagler to speak at valencia

How can we foster peace in our families and our world?

Michael M. Nagler, a professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley and internationally recognized scholar on the subject of nonviolence, will offer some suggestions during a free lecture at Valencia Community College’s East Campus on January 25 at 1 p.m.

In light of recent events in Arizona, where violence marred the lives of so many, the topic is a particularly timely one.

Prior to the lecture, the college will host a reception in the atrium of Bldg. 3, followed by a book signing. The East Campus is located at 701 N. Econlockhatchee Trail in Orlando.

Nagler’s book, “The Search for a Nonviolent Future,” which received a 2002 American Book Award, explores the history of nonviolence and attempts to offer alternatives to confronting violence—both for individuals and societies as a whole.

The event is being presented by the University Club of Orlando Endowed Chair, the East Campus Humanities Speakers Series, and the Peace and Justice Initiative.

To read more Valencia news, please go to

Source: Carol Traynor, Marketing & Strategic Communications

free event: duality-paintings of Chris Kahler

Examples of Chris Kahler paintings, biography and exhibitions from

Examples of Chris Kahler paintings, biography and exhibitions from

Students, friends, community members, alumni and family are invited to view the paintings of Chris Kahler and share in a lecture by the artists.  The exhibition, Duality, is housed at Valenica’s Anita S. Wooten East Campus Gallery.  The reception is free and open to the public on January 21, 6:30-8:30pm.

Valencia is pleased to bring the paintings of Chris Kahler, Professor of Painting and Drawing at Eastern Illinois University.   A review of his work was featured in the magazine Art in America.   

If unable to make the Gallery opening please consider visiting the exhibit from Jan. 21 – March 11, 2011.   

For more information on Valencia's Arts and Entertainment offerings please visit:

congrats to Valencia culinary and pastry students

Congratulations to all of our Valencia Culinary and Pastry Students who participated in the ACF State Competition this year at the Restaurant and Lodging Show (September 12-14). Valencia was well represented and we are proud of everyone! Thank you to all of the Chef’s that helped coach our students and let them shine!

Individual Student Pastry Category: Jessica Laconis, 1st place, gold medal; Rosanda P. Williams, 2nd place, silver medal; Alexia Votaw, 3rd place, bronze medal, Caitlin Shelby, certificate; Claudia (last name unknown), certificate.

Junior Team Competition: 3rd place, silver medal – Jill Holland (Captain), appetizer; Michael Smith, salad; David Santiago, entrée; Rosanda P. Williams, dessert; Amanda McGlothlin, alternate.

Professional Category-Signature Beef Competition: Jill Holland, 6th place, silver medal; Amanda McGlothlin, certificate.

Again, Congratulations to all that participated!

Source: The Bulletin, Tuesday October 4, 2010

enjoy the music of Carousel

The Valencia Character Company will kick off its 2010-11 theater season with the classic, award-winning musical, “Carousel,” with book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and music by Richard Rodgers.

“Carousel” tells the story of mill worker Julie Jordan and her ill-fated love affair with carnival barker Billy Bigelow. The tale is told with the help of a brilliant score of music which includes the songs, “If I Loved You,” “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and the delightful “June is Busting Out All Over,” among others. Composer Richard Rodgers deemed the score his personal favorite of the many he created.

The musical opens on Friday, Oct. 22, with additional performances on Oct. 23, 24, 28, 29, 30 and 31. Curtain time is at 7:30 p.m. for Thursday, Friday and Saturday performances and at 2 p.m. on Sundays.

 The performance on Saturday, Oct. 30 will be American Sign Language interpreted, and there will be a special section of seating reserved for the hearing impaired.

 All performances take place at the Performing Arts Center on Valencia Community College’s East Campus, located at 701 N. Econlockhatchee Trail in Orlando.

 Ticket prices are $12 for general admission and $10 for students, seniors and Valencia staff and alumni. For reservations and further information, please call the Box Office at 407-582-2900. Tickets are also available online at Season tickets for 2010-11 are still available, and can be purchased at the Box Office.

 Valencia’s Artistic Director, Julia Allardice Gagne, will direct the production, with musical direction by Alan Gerber and Tim Hanes and choreography by Lesley Brasseux Rodgers.

For the first time, the resident Valencia dance company will be performing in a Valencia musical. They, with Ms. Brasseux Rodgers, will be recreating some of the original choreography by world renowned and groundbreaking choreographer, Agnes DeMille.

Source: Valencia Marketing & Strategic Communications

a message to Valencia from NASA

Christian Pinto Rey wanted to send Valencia a little message on the space shuttle Atlantis. Christian, a former Valencia engineering student started an internship with NASA – and wanted to leave his mark regarding the two schools that have taken him to incredible heights!

Christian has moved on to Embry-Riddle and is currently studying Aeronautical Engineering. We wish you the best of luck, Christian. Keep reaching for the stars!

valencia to offer bachelor’s degrees

The Florida State Board of Education backed Valencia Community College’s move to offer bachelor degrees for the first time in the school’s 43-year history.

The state also granted Seminole State College’s request to add four more bachelor’s degree programs.

Valencia plans to offer bachelor’s degrees in radiologic and imaging sciences and electrical and computer engineering technology. The college still needs approval of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which is expected in December, before it can launch the program that it is targeting to launch in the fall of 2011.

“This is an important evolution in our programming mix, not a shift in our mission,” said Sandy Shugart, president of Valencia. “These programs are in high demand by our students and lead to well paying jobs in the stable industries of health care and high technology.”

Seminole State can now begin offering bachelor’s degrees in architectural engineering technology, business information management, construction and information systems technology. The college’s first four-year degree, a bachelor of applied science in interior design, began classes in January. The new programs will be offered beginning in August 2011 with applications accepted through June 15.

“These new baccalaureate degrees are designed to enable Central Floridians to have greater access to programs leading to high-demand careers,” Seminole State President Ann McGee, said in a prepared statement. “This is part of our mission as the region’s newest state college.”

Valencia is offering programs that the University of Central Florida discontinued in July 2009 because of state budget cuts. Several of Seminole State’s new programs also evolved from UCF’s cuts.

Employer demand for workers trained in the programs is expected to be strong, with 801 projected job openings by 2014 in the field of radiology and imaging and 215 for electrical and computer engineering in Orange, Osceola, Lake Sumter and Seminole counties, according to Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc..

Angela Kersenbrock, Seminole State’s dean of career and technical education, said careers in business information management and information systems technology are among the fastest growing in the region. Businesses and community leaders voiced their support for these degrees and nearly all of the executives surveyed thought it was important that these degrees be offered locally.

Of the 28 schools in the Florida College System, 19 now offer four-year degrees. Most target high-demand careers facing a shortage of qualified applicants. Colleges must show the state a need for the degrees and explain how they plan to pay for these new programs.

Read more: Valencia to offer bachelor’s degrees – Orlando Business Journal

valencia to host college night 2010

College Night 2010 will provide an opportunity for high school and college transfer students to scope out their options for the future.

More than 100 admissions representatives from colleges and universities across the country will be present for this two-night event, which will be held at Valencia Community College.

Students can receive information on everything college related, from admissions requirements to financial aid, degrees and programs and campus housing.

College Night 2010 will be held Tuesday, Oct. 5 on Valencia’s Osceola Campus and Thursday, Oct. 7 on Valencia’s West Campus. Both events run from 6-8 p.m. and are free and open to the public.

Last year’s representatives hailed from universities including Yale, Cornell and the University of Florida, as well as local schools including Valencia, University of Central Florida, Rollins, Florida Southern and Stetson. There were also representatives from the United States Air Force and military academies.

Valencia’s Osceola Campus is located at 1800 Denn John Lane in Kissimmee. The West Campus is located at 1800 S. Kirkman Road in Orlando.

For more information please visit or contact 407-582-2330 or

Source: Marketing & Strategic Communications

quick look back with our appreciation

Monday, Aug. 30 is the start of a new academic year at Valencia. We welcome our new freshman class as we take a look at images from last year. We wish all students great success, wonderful connections, and a lifetime of learning.


valencia to unveil monument to fallen law enforcement officers

Valencia staff, students, and invited guests will dedicate a Law Enforcement Memorial at the Criminal Justice Institute (CJI) on Wednesday, August 18. The memorial was built and donated by Basic Law Enforcement Class 2010 after an exhaustive fund raiser.

Many public safety buildings and complexes around this country have installed law enforcement memorials. This memorial will honor the men and women in criminal justice that have made the ultimate sacrifice and serve as a daily reminder that many officers may have lost their lives in the line of duty, but they will never be forgotten.

Valencia’s memorial will be dedicated in honor of two officers who died recently on July 21. Although Officer Carl Smith from the Orlando Police Department and Deputy Craig Heber from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office died of natural causes, this ceremony serves as a reminder of their loyal and faithful service in law enforcement. Members from both families will attend this event to officially dedicate the memorial.

The ceremony will start in the CJI auditorium at 6 p.m. and will end at the unveiling of the stone monument just outside the auditorium entrance at 6:30 p.m.   Numerous representatives from the local criminal justice community are expected to attend.

The mission of the Criminal Justice Institute (CJI) at Valencia Community College is to prepare criminal justice officers to protect and serve.  The institute offers a world-class learning environment in its 77,000 square foot, state-of-the-art training facility.

The institute is certified by the Florida Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission to deliver all Commission-approved curricula to law enforcement, correctional, and correctional probation officers in Florida.  With primary responsibility for the criminal justice agencies in Orange County, the CJI is a regional training center that serves over 45 organizations; including state law enforcement agencies, Department of Corrections, Department of Juvenile Justice, numerous county, municipal, regional and international agencies.

Source: Lucy Boudet, Marketing and Strategic Communications

rogue scholars benefit concert

The Rogue Scholars is having a Rock N Roll Sing Along benefit concert for a Valencia Foundation scholarship (see scholarship details below). 

PLEASE COME OUT AND SUPPORT CHARITY AS WELL AS ENJOY A GREAT SHOW!!  Also, please invite your friends, family, and even people who are not your friends.  Just tell random people on the street.

 WHEN:  Friday July 23 at 7:00 pm

WHERE:  Valencia Community College Osceola Campus Building 2 Auditorium

 DONATIONS:  Tickets will be a $5 donation minimum each person at the door and there will be snacks and water for donations.  (Sponsored by Phi Theta Kappa)

 WHAT TO EXPECTED:  A Rock N Roll live music sing along benefit concert for charity.  The music is by the Rogue Scholars (Facebook:  Rogue Scholars Band).  It will be Rock N Roll through the decades including Elvis, Beatles, Aerosmith, Matchbox 20, and much more. 

 ANY QUESTIONS:  E-mail:  Al Groccia at

DETAILS on the Scholarship:

The Dewey-Bilyue Scholarship
This Valencia Foundation scholarship is named in memory of Jane Dewey and Monty Bilyue. They both spent their professional lives in emergency healthcare services as a nurse and paramedic, respectively. Jane Dewey was a graduate of Valencia’s nursing program. When fully endowed, the Dewey-Bilyue scholarship will provide tuition assistance to students pursuing a degree or certification in nursing, EMT, or paramedic programs.

a grateful grad

A Grateful Grad, by David Urena ’09, for VITAE Magazine, Summer/Fall 2010

Rejected. The one word that flashed across my mind after being denied acceptance into the University of Florida. I didn’t apply to any other colleges. UF had the best architecture program in the state, and I had placed all my hopes into getting in.

So after graduating from Lyman High School, when most of my friends went off to college, I stayed behind in Altamonte Springs. I transitioned from a part-time to full-time employee at Panera Bread, where I worked throughout high school. In a year’s time, I was promoted to middle management. Although the pay was very little for the workload I had, I stuck with it hoping an upper management position would open up. However, when new management came in, the restaurant underwent downsizing, and I was the first one out. Rejected again.

I was 19, hopeless and confused. I wondered what I would do next in life. Reluctant to give the workforce another try, I mustered just enough money and courage to take courses at Valencia Community College. Although I enrolled part-time, every class engaged my interests and challenged my curiosity. Along the way, I met fascinating classmates, worked a few great jobs, including a land development-drafting job, and was inspired by the best faculty and staff around. I want to especially acknowledge and thank a few people:

 • Richard H. Weinsier, Director of the Math Support Center
While working as a tutor in your Math Support Center, I met several fascinating people and made a new family in all of you.

 • Leesa L. Sward, Professor of Biology and Environmental Science
Your Biology of Human Sexuality course was both enlightening and entertaining.

 • Thomas S. Zurosky, Professor of Chemistry
Attending your Chemistry II course was like being in a laboratory and comedy club at the same time – not every chemistry student can say that!

 • Areej Zufari, Professor of Humanities
You were the only non-literature professor who took an intrinsic interest in my writing. The passion I hold for creative writing is still very strong, mainly due to your encouragement.

 • James L. Chase, Professor of Economics
You are the first Renaissance man I have ever met, and I was fortunate enough to be your student.

 • Merton A. Hollister, Professor of Physics
You are a brilliant thinker who challenged me, through the instrument of Physics, to view the world in different perspectives.

 • Chris D. Borglum, Professor of English
You infused an appreciation for literature I would not have had if it were not for your zealous instruction.

 • Richard L. Russell, Professor of Mathematics
I followed you through seven different mathematics courses, including a sit-in for self-enrichment! I am minoring in mathematics, in large part, due to your impact on my mathematical interests.

 • James D. Lang, Professor of Mathematics
Your calm, collected teachings resonated strongly in my mathematical reasoning and, for that, I have a firm understanding of multivariable calculus today.

 • Patsy G. Buckley, Professor of Student Success
You played an important role in my transition from a good high school student to a great college student through the very first course I took at Valencia: Student Success.

Eventually, I found enough courage and hope to reapply to the University of Florida. This time, I was accepted into a program I was more passionate about: civil engineering.

I hope my story can be one of many that will help and inspire anyone who got rejected and felt like giving up.

Again, my warmest thanks go to those mentioned above for making Valencia a better place to start.

Photo courtesy of David Urena

meet valencia’s 2009-10 distinguished graduate


Kim Do was the president of the Alpha Phi Zeta chapter of Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society and has been recognized for her academic excellence, community service and student leadership.


 Dream big and have courage to take on big roles. Do not pass on an opportunity to be a leader in your school or community.
               -Kim Do, 2009-10 Distinguished Graduate


Academic excellence, community service and student leadership have earned Kim Do the honor of being named the 2009-10 Distinguished Graduate by the Valencia Alumni Association. 

Born in Vietnam, Kim moved to the United States with her family when she was just nine years old. While her father had his own business back home, he gave it up and took a minimum-wage position here in order to provide Kim and her younger sister the opportunity for a U.S. education. His efforts were not in vain.

Kim quickly adapted to her new life, overcoming culture shock and learning a new language in order to make friends and succeed in school. Now, as a graduating Valencia student, she holds a 3.64 GPA and has earned a reputation for her involvement around campus and within the community.

As president of the Alpha Phi Zeta chapter of Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society on the Osceola Campus, Kim wanted to inspire other students to become active as well. To increase membership, Kim promoted the group, hosted orientations for new members and developed a rewards program for participation. Under her leadership, the group’s number of active members has nearly tripled.

“Kim really wanted to improve the chapter and make a difference in our college and community,” said Albert Groccia, mathematics professor and PTK advisor. “She really believes that phi Theta Kappa is a wonderful opportunity for students to learn how to communicate, become leaders and help the community.”

Through PTK, Kim has led many community service initiatives. She has helped to organize bake sales, car washes and cookouts to raise funds for Relay for Life, and has volunteered with several organizations, including BASE Camp Children’s Cancer Foundation, Give Kids the World, Second Harvest Food Bank and Florida’s Nature Conservancy.

“It’s important for me to give back,” Kim said. “Because I have been given opportunity, I want to pass that on. It’s almost like a rent you pay – giving back to those around you and to the community.”

During her time at Valencia, Kim has also served as the parliamentarian for Phi Theta Kappa, as the treasurer for the Student Government Association, and as historian for the Honors Student Advisory Committee. She has been named to Valencia Dean’s List, the National Dean’s List and the 2008-09 All Florida Academic Team. She is the recipient of Phi Theta Kappa’s High Star Achiever Award and was nominated for 2009’s Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.

Kim graduates from Valencia with an Associate in Arts degree focused in biology. She plans to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry and is currently awaiting admission to University of Notre Dame, University of Central Florida and Florida State University. Kim’s ultimate goal is to become a plastic surgeon so that she can help children with birth defects.

As she leaves Valencia, Kim continues to encourage other students to get involved.

(Reprinted from Association UpdateSummer/Fall 2010 VITAE Magazine Issue 6)

gifts of stock for students

If you're considering a major gift to the Valencia Foundation or planning your end-of-year gift, a gift of public company stock to charity provides two major benefits. First, there is a charitable deduction for the value of the stock. Second, the charity does not pay tax on the sale of the stock and you, therefore, bypass the capital gain.

What will the market do this year? Perhaps the best answer is, “It will go up and down.” Stock returns vary to a significant degree each year. However, long-term stock returns have been reasonably substantial.

Between 1990 and 2010, the average stock return was about 6%. While there was a very substantial increase during 1990-2000 and decreases during 2002 and 2008, the total return over two decades was approximately 6%.

Longer holding periods have generally resulted in higher total returns. The total stock return for seven decades between 1940 and 2010 was in excess of 10%. Returns for long periods of time have paralleled this amount.

You can select to support education in our community! Because many stocks have increased in value over time, you may hold stocks with substantial appreciation.  If you’re considering a major gift or end-of-year gift, a gift of public company stock to support education through the Valencia Foundation provides two major benefits. First, there is a charitable deduction for the value of the stock. Second, the charity does not pay tax on the sale of the stock and you, therefore, bypass the capital gain. 

Click here for a video and example of this process.

Two fairly common reasons for making a substantial gift of stock are that you may have sold an appreciated asset with a large capital gain or you have good income. If you have a large gain or substantial income, you may want to offset that gain or income with a charitable deduction through a gift of stock. Because you receive both the charitable deduction and a bypass of capital gains tax, there is a double benefit for your gift of stock.

How to Make a Stock Gift

If you would like to make a gift of stock to support students through the Valencia Foundation, please call 407/582-3150 for assistance or to have your questions answered about this process.

Most stock is held in an account at a brokerage firm. Relatively few people now wish to hold the actual certificates in their safety deposit box. If you hold actual certificates, you may mail the certificate and a signed stock power in separate envelopes to the charity. Because most stock is held by the brokerage firm, the stock is transferred directly from the account at the brokerage firm to an account for the charity.

Source: © Copyright 1999-2010 Crescendo Interactive, Inc.

student receives jack kent cooke scholarship

Mikhail Elliott, a 21-year-old student from Valencia’s West Campus, has been selected to receive the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship for up to $30,000 a year for three years.

The highly competitive scholarship is awarded to the nation’s top community college students who have financial need. It is intended to cover a significant share of educational expenses for the final two to three years necessary to achieve a bachelor’s degree – including tuition, living expenses, books and required fees.

Elliott is one of 40 scholars selected this year to receive the award, out of a pool of hundreds of applicants from 17 different states.

Elliott graduated from Valencia on May 8, receiving his Associate in Arts degree. He is still weighing his options about where to transfer, but is considering the University of Tampa. He plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in economics, with a focus in labor economics so that he can one day help to curb the financial problems in his native country of Jamaica.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is a private foundation dedicated to helping young people of exceptional promise reach their full potential through education. The Foundation’s Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship is the largest private scholarship for two-year and community college transfer students in the country.

Source: Melissa Tchen, Marketing & Strategic Communications

foundation f.a.q for you


FAQ's for you!

Want to know more about the Valencia Foundation and how we support Valencia Community College?  F.A.Qs for you are provided so you can be one of Those-in-the-Know.

What is the Valencia Foundation?
The foundation is a separate, not-for-profit, IRS approved 501(c)(3) corporation chartered in 1974 to provide financially for the educational needs of Valencia that cannot be met through state aid or student tuition income.

What does the Valencia Foundation do?
The office coordinates campaigns that help Valencia Community College provide a range of benefits, including scholarships, new technology, facilities, faculty improvements, and special programs. Nearly 60 community leaders volunteer generously of their time, talent, and resources by serving on the board of directors.

Can I tell the foundation how to spend my money?
Yes, you can tell our foundation how to utilize your donation by making a restricted gift.   *Please see the next question and answer for more information about restricted and unrestricted gifts.

What is the difference between a restricted gift and an unrestricted gift?
If you make a restricted gift, also known as a designated gift, you can direct your contribution to a specific scholarship, academic program, or any other special need. If you make an unrestricted gift—one with no restrictions on its use—you give Valencia the ability to apply funds where students need them most, including taking advantage of unexpected opportunities and meeting unforeseen challenges.

Will I receive tax benefits for my gift?
Yes, in most cases, the college’s supporters can deduct gifts from their taxes. Besides making direct, one-time contributions, you may also want to consider the long-term tax and estate-planning benefits of giving through annuities, trusts, and other financial tools.

Can I make a gift in honor or memory of someone?
Yes. As a tribute to a friend, colleague, mentor, family member, or anyone else, you can give in a person’s name.

How can I double or even triple my contribution?
Check with the human resources office at your company to see if it offers a matching funds program. More than 1,200 corporations have programs that match employees’ gifts to organizations like Valencia Community College.

What is a planned gift?
A planned gift is an arrangement to make a contribution to the Valencia Foundation, usually in the future. Annuities, trusts, and bequests in a will are examples of planned gifts. For more information, please visit our planned giving website at or contact Donna Marino at (407) 582-3128.

What is an outright gift?
An outright gift is an immediate, direct contribution, usually consisting of cash, real estate, or securities. 

Are there any advantages to making an outright gift?
Yes!  In fact, the advantages of making an outright gift are many… Valencia now offers more than 50 pre-major associate of arts, over 100 associate in science and applied science degrees and certificate programs: most programs lead to immediate entry into the workforce.

When you make an outright gift of cash, property, securities, or other assets to the Valencia Foundation,

  • You provide instant assistance to the college and gain an immediate tax deduction.
  • You usually get a charitable deduction for the full cost of the gift in the year you make it.
  • It’s an easy, efficient way to support a cause you believe in.
  • There are no complex financial documents to fill out.
  • You get the satisfaction of offering direct financial help that furthers Valencia’s mission of reaching out to potential students and providing affordable, accessible learning opportunities.
  • You receive other benefits depending on the type of gift: cash, real estate, or appreciated securities.

Because most Valencia Foundation benefactors make an outright gift of cash, the foundation has established several convenient ways for you to provide that support, including a check or credit card.

Are all gifts useful?
Yes, gifts of all amounts are deeply appreciated no matter how large or modest. Added to other gifts, any one gift combined has a large impact. Any gift demonstrates your concern for educational excellence at Valencia.

Can I make a gift online?
Yes. It’s quick, easy and secure through our online registration form at Make a Donation.

What is an Annual Fund?
An Annual Fund is a yearly campaign that raises resources for student scholarships and college programs and establishes a vehicle for Valencia to broaden its base of support. The rental income from the foundation’s real estate investments cover most of the foundation’s operating and fund-raising expenses, ensuring that 100 percent of donations are used exclusively for our donors’ intended purpose.

What is the Capital Campaign?
The Capital Campaign is a special campaign for new investments in people, programs, technology, and facilities for Valencia.

Where can I get more information?
Contact the Valencia Foundation at 190 S. Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32804; (407) 582-3150 or by emailing the foundation at

dmarino orig posting 09/09

nursing graduate fulfills lifelong dream

On May 5, when Pamm Danley-Piester walks across the stage during the pinning ceremony for Valencia’s 85 nursing graduates, she will fulfill a life-long dream.  The 43-year-old mother of three always longed to work in nursing, a profession that makes a tangible difference in people’s lives

Like so many women, Pamm’s dreams were derailed after marrying young and raising her three boys, Trevor, Brandon and Brent, now 28, 20 and 17.  A satisfying career in medical transcription didn’t extinguish her dream.  Like most who are drawn to nursing, Pamm is motivated by a deep desire to help others.

“My mom was the neighborhood nurse,“ explains Pamm. “She took care of everybody. Both of my parents instilled a sense of caring for others and giving back. My husband Jerry and I live by that value and have passed it on to our children.”

In 2006, with her youngest son nearing high school age, the St. Cloud resident summoned the courage to rekindle an old dream and enrolled at Valencia.  Its nursing program is recognized as one of the finest anywhere.  In the most recent exam required to become a registered nurse (National Council Licensure Examination), Valencia graduates had a higher pass rate than both the state and national average with a whopping 92.92 percent pass rate for first-time takers.

Pat Woodbery, director of Valencia’s nursing program, underscores the support available to students like Pamm. “Nursing is a very difficult program but the camaraderie students share helps them go through each step together.  It can be tackled in manageable chunks.”

Pamm worried that she would be the oldest student in her classes. She worried that after so many years away from school, math would prove too difficult.

“The professors at Valencia are phenomenal,” says Pamm who quickly realized that life experience gave her a unique perspective on health care.

In 2004, Pamm’s terminally ill mother moved in with her family. The skill and gentleness with which hospice nurses tended to her mother had a profound impact on her and the entire family.  She now wants to specialize in geriatric care.

“My faith grows stronger, as I get older, that what gets us through life is not what we can get but what we can give,” says Pamm. It took almost four years to complete the requirements for her degree.

Pamm isn’t done yet. She plans on enrolling in the University of South Florida online program and has her sights set on a bachelor’s degree in nursing and then a master’s degree. Ultimately teaching is where she hopes to make her mark.

Her more immediate goal is a position with Florida Hospital where she did several clinical rotations. Pamm also worked at St. Cloud Hospital, the Council on Aging, Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies and Arnold Palmer Hospital.

Her advice to anyone thinking of going back to college after a long delay in their studies is to realize they can do it. “Don’t be afraid to pursue your dream,” says this new Valencia nursing graduate whose fear of math proved unfounded.  In her last semester, Pamm earned an A in statistics.

Nursing Graduate Fulfills Lifelong Dream.

valencia class of 2009/2010


CLICK HERE to donate

CLICK HERE to make your class gift donation.

Breaking new ground:
1st Class Song & 1st Class Gift


The class of 2009/2010 has started a legacy that will live on and challenge future graduation classes with another first: the creation of a Student Class Gift.  Graduating students have challenged each other to make a donation for future student scholarships.  The Valencia Alumni Association will support these efforts by matching the donations up to $2000!!!

Donations of any amount are accepted by students, parents, faculty, staff and loved ones.  Graduating students are encouraged to become a ‘perfect 10’ with their $10 donation.  Credit cards are accepted online at: 

 The campaign runs through the end of April and closes with a special check presentation at the May commencement ceremony by this year’s Distinguished Graduate selected through the Valencia Alumni Association.  

Check out for the class song and more online Class Gift donation information. 

It’s gonna to be a great graduation and a good, good time! 

For the first year ever, the graduating class has replaced their traditional exit recessional march with a song selected by student class leaders.  All the tradition of commencement with an ending pop of flavor to celebrate!

message from osceola sga president, franklin velez

As a veteran of the United States Marines, I did not know much about issues that students have throughout their time in college. Valencia Community College Osceola Campus was the first college where I was a full-time student and was allowed  the college environment. My experiences while at Valencia were very eye opening.

As the President of the Student Government Association (SGA), I have had to tackle many issues to include helping students find the resources to assist them in paying for tuition and much more. Due to the current economic status, many students said finances were amongst their highest concern. Knowing this, the Osceola Campus SGA had put together two job fairs for the students. Due to the hard work and dedication of the SGA, we were able to attain 20 vendors, who hired over 150 students.

These Osceola Campus job fairs have received much recognition including 1st place for Exemplary Practice in our Florida Junior Community College Student Government Association (FJCCSGA). We have had many other events throughout the 2009-2010 school year which have educationally enlightened students, alleviated stress for many of our students, and have personally assisted our students in their day to day living. Events that we have had on our campus include the Holiday Festivities Bash, job fairs, Cram Jam, Hob Knob, and much more. I believe that we have succeeded in our attempt to be representatives for the students, advocate for the students, and have many services for the students.

I am very proud to say that I have humbly served our students as the Valencia Community College Osceola Campus SGA president. I hope that we have been able to reach out to many of you and make a difference in your lives, as you all have made a difference in ours. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors!

Franklin Velez
Valencia Community College
Osceola Campus
Student Government Association, President

inspirational alumni blog revisited

Laura and Dr. Shugart

In November, we shared with you a wonderfully inspirational blog, the “Holdin Out for a Hero” blog written by Laura (Valencia alumna, 2006).

In Laura’s words:

I’ve decided to write a blog that will chronicle my search for a spokesperson for people with the condition that I have, spina bifida. It is the #1 cause of paralysis in children in America. It is also more common than muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and cystic fibrosis combined.

But, why should you even care about this blog? Well, the fact of the matter is that while taking folic acid can help prevent having a child with spina bifida, there is no known cure for it, and my goal is to encourage people to get the conversation going about spina bifida, and how we can all help people through research and quality of life programs.

Laura recently updated her blog with a beautiful salute to Dr. Shugart.

March 2, Laura writes:

I remember shaking his hand, and then as we took our seats at the table in the boardroom, I nervously clicked on my tape recorder and sat, poised and ready to jot down whatever he said, word for word.

Before asking any questions, I began with a brief explanation that I had done a little research about him.

“Did you Google me?” he asked. I laughed a little shyly, but immediately relaxed considerably. This was no stuffy school principal who was holding my “permanent record.” This was a classy, sophisticated, yet laid-back guy who, in spite of the title, was “down” with the students. He knew us…

…All that being said, as he is an exceptional leader in the college arena (leading one of the top five community colleges in the nation!), and since his support, though demonstrated through our brief encounters, has been instrumental to my success as a student and as a journalist, I think it’s safe to say Dr. Shugart is a hero all around…

…What amazes me most about him though is that he seems to treat each student at Valencia (and alumni, too) as if he or she were the student that matters most…

Please take a moment to check out Laura’s piece about the person that leads Valencia Community College today.

We thank you, Laura!

valencia alumni annual 5K

5th Annual Valencia 5K - March 21, 2010. In memory of Justin Harvey

Registration is open for friends of all ages and physical abilities to take part in the Alumni Association’s annual Run,Walk and Roll to raise scholarship funds for Valencia students on March 21, 2010. Participants and guests can also enjoy refreshments and younger guests can gather for children’s arts & crafts.

5K (3.1 mile) course through Valencia’s West Campus, located at 1800 South Kirkman Rd., Orlando, FL 32811 Driving Directions

6:45 a.m. Registration opens, University Center, Bldg 11, Room 106
7:30 a.m. 5K Run, Walk & Roll starts
AFTER RACE Kids Fun Run & Crafts FREE (Under 10 only)

For event details & to register online visit:

Registration Form by mail (type online then print)
For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Valencia’s
Community Relations office at 407-582-2946 or Email.

Whatever your reason for participating, there’s one great benefit—helping someone go to college.

valencia alumnus commissioned for portrait of condoleezza rice

Photo credit:

Valencia Alum Colin Boyer presenting portrait to Ms. Condoleezza Rice (photo

On Monday, Feb. 8, Kissimmee resident Colin Boyer, 19, an alumnus of Valencia and current student at Ringling College of Art & Design, presented former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with a comissioned portrait of her, during a talk she gave at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota. 

Colin attended Valencia in 2008 as a dual enrolled student, while simultaneously earning his diploma from Celebration High School.  Colin’s talent shined at Valencia when three of his artwork pieces were accepted to be a part of Valencia’s student art show; all three won awards with one as Best in Show. 

The college credits earned while a duel enrollment student at Valencia provided Colin sophomore status at Ringling College of Art & Design.  

You can view some of Colin’s work at this site:

For information on Ringling’s Town Hall lecture series go to:

15th annual valencia film celebration

The 15th Annual Valencia Film Celebration will take place on Friday, Feb. 12 and Saturday, Feb. 13 in the Performing Arts Center of Valencia Community College’s East Campus. This year’s showcase will feature a variety of award-winning shorts, as well as the final-cut world premiere of “Just Another Day.”

Opening night, Friday, Feb. 12, starts off with live music and dance performances from Wolfgramm Entertainment – South Pacific Luau. Valencia student shorts program #1 will begin at 7 p.m.  The feature film of the evening will be “H2O Extreme,” which follows the life of Austin Roberts, a young man forced to choose between his love of hockey and his passion for water skiing. He faces several obstacles but embraces his true passion and enters in an H20 Extreme Challenge where intense water ski stunts, performed by the some of the worlds greatest skiers as they take over the big screen.

The film was shot at Cypress Gardens and was directed by Bill Scharpf in conjunction with Valencia Community College’s Film Program.  The film stars Chris Carmack (“The OC,” “Desperate Housewives”), Rider Strong (“Boy Meets World”, “Cabin Fever”), Nikki Griffin (“The OC”), Tad Hilgenbrink (“Disaster Movie,” “American Pie: Band Camp”) and John Schneider (“Smallville,” “The Dukes of Hazzard”).

Hip-Hop for Haiti, Sat., Feb. 13, partners Valencia with Yéle Haiti, Wyclef Jean’s organization, to raise money for the recent earthquake victims. Shorts program #2 will begin at 7 p.m. followed by the screening of “Just Another Day”, directed by Academy Award nominee Peter Spirer (Rhyme and Reason, Beef I-III…).

Just Another Day”, stars Wood Harris (The Wire, Next Day Air, Remember the Titans) as a successful rapper, A-Maze, and Jamie Hector (The Wire, Heroes, Max Payne) portraying Young Eastie, an up and coming rapper struggling to break into the music business.  The film follows a day in the life of hip-hop artists as they overcome the ups and downs within the music business. Additional cast members include Trick Daddy, Lil Scrappy, Ja Rule, Petey Pablo, and Big Daddy Kane.

General admission tickets are $5 for Friday and $10 for Saturday.  All proceeds from Saturday’s Hip-Hop for Haiti night will be donated to Yéle Haiti.  Valencia Community College students, staff, and faculty are admitted free with a valid ID. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. To purchase tickets by phone, contact the Valencia Performance Arts Center Box Office at (407) 582-2900. The East Campus Performing Arts Center is located at 701 N. Econlockhatchee Trail in Orlando.

Each year the Valencia Film Celebration showcases a variety of short subject films and feature-length films produced by the film program’s students in collaboration with film industry professionals. For a sample of some of the shorts and feature films, please visit our website at,

SOURCE:  Valencia Marketing and Strategic Communications

osceola art festival

Want ideas for your upcoming valentine weekend?  Take the family, friends or just your sweetheart and come browse over 140 professional artists, enjoy live entertainment and munch on festival food fare. 

The 43rd Osceola Arts Festival is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, February 13 & 14, 2010 at Valencia’s Osceola Campus

Presented by Osceola Center for the Arts, this event is free and open to the public! 

Valencia Community College, Osceola Campus
1800 Denn John Lane Kissimmee, FL 34744
Located off of Hwy 192
Between St. Cloud & Kissimmee, Florida

The Festival will be open from 10am until 5pm on Saturday, February 13th and from 10am until 4pm on Sunday, February 14th.  Valencia’s Osceola Campus is located on Hwy 192 about one mile east of Orange Blossom Trail.  Parking and admission are free.

poet steven dunn open reading

Acclaimed poet Stephen Dunn will visit Valencia Community College Winter Park Campus

This Thursday, January 28, acclaimed poet Stephen Dunn will visit Valencia Community College Winter Park Campus to give a reading from his latest book “What Goes On: Selected and New Poems.”  

The free and open reading will take place at Valencia’s Winter Park Campus, located at 850 W. Morse Boulevard, in room 225 from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m., followed by a book signing and sale until 2:45 p.m.

The Poetry Foundation describes Dunn’s work as being “concerned with the anxieties, fears, joys, and problems of how to co-exist in the world with all those who are part of our daily lives.”

He has authored 16 different books including “Different Hours,” which won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for poetry. In addition to his own books, Dunn’s work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Nation, The New Republic, The New Yorker, The Georgia Review, and the American Poetry Review.

Dunn has worked as an advertising copywriter, an editor and a professor of creative writing. Since 1974, he has taught at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, where he is Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing. 

Visions & Voices was launched in 2002. This Distinguished Artist Series is the brainchild of Dr. Sanford C. Shugart who wanted to find a way to invite world-class poets, songwriters and artists from across the country and around the world to Valencia to share their work with students, faculty, staff, and the community. 

Artists not only give a public performance, but also interact with students in an intimate master class. Visions & Voices has established a reputation as one of the best ways to see nationally known artists in Central Florida.

Source: Valencia Marketing & Media Relations


Visit the Anita S. Wooten Gallery at Valencia East Campus

The Anita S. Wooten Gallery at Valencia Community College East Campus is exhibiting the work of UCF professor Laine Wyatt from January 22, 2010 to March 12, 2010. 

The  opening reception is tonight, Friday January 22, 2010 from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.  It is a free event with refreshments and an artist lecture at 7:30 p.m. 

The exhibition Obsession/Compulsion consists of photographs and installations referencing women’s relationship with clothing. Hope to see you all here.

valencia night with the magic

Valencia friends, alumni, staff, family and students are invited to take part in Valencia Night with the Orlando Magic!
Don’t miss your chance to see the 2009 Eastern Conference Champion Orlando Magic on Sunday, March 28th @ 6:00 pm.  Watch All-Stars like Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis take on the Denver Nuggets!
Join us as Orlando Magic battle the Toronto Raptors on Wed, Dec. 16 @t 7:00 pm

Valencia Night with the Orlando Magic!

  • Orlando Magic vs. Denver Nuggets 
  • Weekend game ticket $25
  • + $2 for pre-game reception
  • Call to reserve your Valencia seat @ (407) 916-2531 or download a registration form here

We’d love for you to join the Valencia Alumni Association and Valencia Chapter of FACC for the optional pre-game reception to meet and mingle with friends.  A cash beverage bar will be provided.  Hurry, reception space is limited to the first 60 people!

See you at Valencia Night with the Orlando Magic! 

This special offer is brought to you by the
Valencia Alumni Association
and Valencia FACC Chapter.

best in show

Valencia’s Vitae alumni magazine won “Best in Show” at the Florida Association of Community Colleges (FACC) Institutional Advancement Awards in the “colleges with more than 10,000 FTE” category.

 This magazine is truly a team effort. Congratulations to everyone who works so hard to create this very special publication!

 Click here to see this award winning magazine. The next issue of Vitae is due out mid-January.

 Valencia’s other publications also received awards with a first place tie in the brochure category for its internship and placement brochure (combined FTE) and a second place tie for the Skillshops class schedule (more than 10,000 FTE).

 All the awards were presented at the FACC’s 60th anniversary convention in November.

 Members of Valencia’s faculty and staff also received awards:

Region 3 – Unsung Hero Award: Joe Nunes

Cameron Hall Practitioner Award 2009: Dr. Joyce C. Romano

2009 Learning Support Exemplary Award: Joshua Murdock, manager of learning support services (West Campus); presentation title: Learning Summit

Career and Professional Employees Commission Exemplary Practice Award finalists: Phil Graves and Josh Murdock; program: Universal Design: Blending Accessibility with Availability in Assistive Technology


valencia magic night

Join us as Orlando Magic battle the Toronto Raptors on Wed, Dec. 16 @t 7:00 pm

Valencia Alumni & FACC gather to watch Orlando Magic battle the Toronto Raptors on Wed, Dec. 16 @ 7:00 pm

Valencia friends, alumni, staff, family and students are invited to take part in Valencia Night with the Orlando Magic!  Don’t miss your chance to see the 2009 Eastern Conference Champion Orlando Magic battle the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, December 16, 2009 at 7:00 P.M. at the Amway Arena. 

Ticket info is online with details on an optional Valencia pre-game reception that will take place in the suite level overlooking downtown Orlando. After the game, a group picture will be taken on the court.

See you at Valencia Night with the Orlando Magic!

a great valencia alumni blog

Please be sure to take a moment to check out this inspirational and insightful site:

Here, in her own words, Laura (Valencia alumna, 2006) shares why she started her blog and the important goal she hopes to accomplish:

I’ve decided to write a blog that will chronicle my search for a spokesperson for people with the condition that I have, spina bifida. It is the #1 cause of paralysis in children in America. It is also more common than muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and cystic fibrosis combined.

But, why should you even care about this blog? Well, the fact of the matter is that while taking folic acid can help prevent having a child with spina bifida, there is no known cure for it, and my goal is to encourage people to get the conversation going about spina bifida, and how we can all help people through research and quality of life programs.

So, if you’re interested, please share this link with people you know. Spina bifida is a lot more common than you may think.

 Today Laura celebrates her 23rd birthday – Happy birthday and we all wish you the very best!

alas, alumni welcome!

Join or update us today!Did you know that annual alumni membership is absolutely free at Valencia?

Please take a moment to reconnect and get involved with exciting Alumni Association benefits and events.  We invite you to fill out the membership registration form online today!

Already a member?   Please complete the alumni class notes online. We’d like to know what you’ve been doing: new job, new degree, new adventure, new babies . . . all stories are welcome!

making strides at urban flats

You are cordially invited to attend a happy hour full of free flowing wine and food, all the while benefiting a great cause:  American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

acsPlease join Valencia Community College and the Valencia Volunteers at Urban Flats in downtown Orlando from 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. on Thursday October 29th

Everyone is welcome to enjoy Urban Flat’s normal Happy Hour OR purchase a $20 ticket at the door which includes the following:

–  all you care to drink wine or non-alcoholic beverages
–  all you can eat food: flat breads, salad, dessert

$15 from every ticket goes to American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer!

Wait, there’s more:
* Advance ticket purchases will receive a free drink/cocktail coupon (yes, wine is free).  Contact Becca Shevlin at or 407-582-5567.
*  Free parking in the Plaza Parking Garage: Urban Flats will validate
* Drawing for Orlando Magic basketball signed by the 2009 team and  $100 gift card to Club 23, Back Room, or Mako’s with drawing at the end of the night.

in memory of tina collyer

tina2Scholarship in memory of Valencia student Christine “Tina” Collyer: Tina’s Heart

Christine “Tina” Collyer’s lifelong dream of becoming a fire fighter was ignited by an AS degree in Fire Officer Technology, an AS in Emergency Medical Service Technology and a certificate in Paramedic Technology from Valencia Community College. In January of 1996 she joined the Orlando Fire Department and also served as Paramedic and instructor for the department and citizens of Orlando.

Tina was the Explorer Advisor for many years and proudly served on the Honor Guard. Her contributions to the Orlando community extended as a volunteer with Burn Camp, Dream Flight, and the Winnie Palmer Secret Santa.

Friends and family are honoring Tina’s commitment to learning and her giving spirit with a scholarship in her honor.  The family wanted to create hope with Tina’s Heart marking one year since Tina’s passing in October 2008. 

If you wish to make a donation to the Tina Collyer Memorial Scholarship, Tina’s Heart please visit and click on Make a Donation.

valencia grad to be published in literary anthology

Jared Silvia, a Valencia Community College graduate from the Winter Park Campus, has been selected to have his creative writing published in Phi Theta Kappa’s 2009 edition of “Nota Bene,” the society’s literary honors anthology.

 Silvia was one of 15 Phi Theta Kappa members nationally to have his work chosen for publication. Two of his short stories, “Uncle Benny” and “The Boxer,” will be published. For “Uncle Benny,” Silvia will be awarded a $500 Reynolds Scholarship. He is one of four students nationally to win the scholarship this year.

 Silvia graduated from Valencia in spring 2009. He is now attending Rollins College and is majoring in English with a minor in creative writing. His work has also been published in “Mosaic,” the literary journal of Valencia’s Winter Park Campus.

 Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society is the honor society of two-year colleges. It is the largest honor society in higher education with 1,250 chapters on college campuses in all 50 of the United States and throughout the world.

 “Nota Bene,” recognizes outstanding writing of Phi Theta Kappa members and demonstrates to the literary public the academic excellence and commitment to scholarship found at two-year colleges.

 SOURCE: Marketing & Media Relations; Valencia Community College; 407-582-1778;

valencia student featured on cnn special

 RSVPValencia Student to be Featured on CNN Special, “Latino in America”

Orlando, FL – Valencia Community College student Carlos Robles will be featured in the documentary, “Latino in America,” which will debut Oct. 21 and 22 on CNN and CNN en Español. Robles’ story will air on the 22nd.

The two-night, four-hour documentary, hosted by correspondent Soledad O’Brien, examines the growing diversity of America, exploring Latino-American culture through personal stories. Several U.S. communities, including the Puerto Rican community in Orlando, are featured.

Robles, who was a police officer in Puerto Rico, aims to become a sheriff with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. However, he is worried that his struggles with English may keep him from his dream. To work on his language skills, he is enrolled in Conversational English courses through the Center for Global Languages at Valencia Enterprises, the continuing education division of Valencia Community College. CNN followed his progress for eight weeks, documenting his class work and gaining insight into his life in Orlando.

Students from Puerto Rico make up nearly 10 percent of the Conversational English courses at the Center for Global Languages.

Valencia’s service to the Hispanic community is also noteworthy in the following ways:

• Hispanics account for almost 27 percent of the 50,000 degree-seeking students at Valencia.

• Because enrollment exceeds 25 percent Hispanic, with at least half coming from lower-income families, Valencia is a federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution.

• Valencia ranks 3rd among the nation’s two-year institutions for the number of associate degrees awarded to Hispanics (up from 5th in 2008).

“CNN Presents: Latino in America,” reported by Soledad O’Brien, premieres Oct. 21 and 22 at 9 p.m. (EST) on CNN and on CNN en Español. For more information, visit

SOURCE: Marketing & Media Relations; Valencia Community College
To read more Valencia news, please go to

corking good time

corking good timePlease take a gander at this local article that highlights the upcoming Taste for Learning event benefiting 2+2 scholarships for Valencia and UCF. Sentinel Food Editor Heather McPherson shares info about A Taste for Learning, put on by the UCF Foundation and the Valencia Foundation. The Oct. 17 event is at Rosen Shingle Creek. Tickets are $125 per person or $200 per couple and the money raised will help fund scholarships. Visit for information.

For those who cannot attend, the article continued: “there is still an opportunity to help and feel good about the bottles piling up in the recycle bin. Through the end of December, drop off pulled corks at Save the Corks! containers at participating ABC Fine Wine and Spirits locations. Through a partnership with Nomacorc and Terracycle, ABC Fine Wine and Spirits will donate 2 cents for each cork recycled. ”

Posted using ShareThis

red chair affair

ValenciaRedEvery wanted to have a theater experience – onstage?  You can! 
The upcoming Red Chair Affair, Central Florida’s start to our cultural season, is hosting an online auction to kick off the event.  You’re invited to check the Valencia Red Chair package online! Winning bidders will receive a fab Red Chair and a pair of season tickets to the Valencia Character Company 2009-2010 Theatre season.  To sweeten the deal, the auction winner also receives an onstage experience as an asylum inmate in full costume for one performance of Marat/Sade!

Valencia Character Company 2009/2010 Season includes: Lucky Stiff, The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Chareton under the Direction of Mansieur de Sade, world premiere of a new play, student directed One-Acts, and Almost Maine.

We encourage you to check it out, place a bid, and check back often!

class notes: our valencia graduates

Ron G. Sword III

Ron G. Sword III

RON G. SWORD III 2007, 2009

Ron is a member of The Institute for the Advancement of the Aural Arts (IAAA), an international visiting group of seven musicians and educators who present concerts, master classes and workshops based on the most
contemporary musical thinking on a worldwide basis. Ron’s company, Sword
Guitars, builds guitars in microtonal tunings. His second book, titled
“Tricesimoprial Scales for Guitar,” is available through IAAA Press.


Corina graduated cum laude from the University of South Florida in May 2009 with a degree from the College of Business Administration. She works as a financial coach in Tampa and is in the process of opening up her own family financial service business later this year.


David recently became a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP). He also recently graduated from the University of Florida Levin College of Law and is currently studying
for the Florida Bar exam.


Laura is currently working on her Master of Science degree in nursing administration through the Indiana University School of Nursing while working as the clinical manager for the Emergency Department at
Community Hospital North in Indianapolis, Ind. She has been happily married for 10 years and is the mother of three children ages 8, 6, and 4.


Nancy will graduate with a master’s degree in reading education from the University of Central Florida in August. She holds certifications in reading, elementary education and early childhood, and hopes to teach at Valencia in the future.

For information on how other Valencia graduates are doing pick up a copy of the Summer/Fall 2009 VITAE.

chorus groups seek new members

Valencia Community College’s ensemble and chorus groups are looking for new members for the fall term. Opportunities are available to all students, staff, faculty and community members.

 There are three opportunities available:

 Voices of Valencia

Now in its 13th year, the Voices of Valencia is a musical group for singers of all levels. The group performs all over Central Florida, including at theme parks and convention centers, and every so often they record an album. This holiday season, the group will continue building its very own production, N.O.E.L. (Night of Everlasting Light) with music arranged by Derric Johnson (creator of Epcot Candlelight Processional and Voices of Liberty). Anyone can join Voices of Valencia and no auditions are required. 

 To be a part of this group, participants must register for the Valencia course MUN 1311, CRN # 11221. Members will receive one hour of college credit. The course costs $87.36. Seniors over age 59 and dual-enrollment students can join for free. The group will meet every Tuesday night, beginning Sept. 1, at 7 p.m. on Valencia’s East Campus, located at 701 N. Econlockhatchee Trail in Orlando.

 West Campus Choir

Valencia’s West Campus now has a music ensemble of its own. The West Campus Choir (formerly known as the Valencia Chamber Chorus) offers its members a chance to be a part of some holiday shows in the Central Florida area, including the Epcot Candlelight Processional. No auditions are required.

 To join the chorus, participants must register for the Valencia course MUS 2930, CRN #14882. Members will receive one hour of college credit. The course costs $87.36. Seniors over age 59 and dual-enrollment students can join for free. The group will meet every Thursday night, beginning Sept. 3, at 7 p.m. on Valencia’s West Campus, located at 1800 South Kirkman Road in Orlando.

 Valencia A Cappella Chorale

The Valencia A Cappella Chorale is seeking members for its premier a cappella group, Intone. Intone’s musical style is characterized by a unique variety of lush vocal harmonies and its high-energy patriotic and holiday numbers. Intone has been a regular in the local resorts (including Disney) convention centers, conferences and other venues over the years. 

 Those interested in joining must have music skills and a great work ethic. Auditions are required. For more information about this group or any other, please contact Mr. James Jones at 407-582-2340 or

Source: Melissa Tchen, Marketing & Media Relations (407-582-1778;, Valencia News and Information – August 13, 2009


community by Dr. Sanford Shugart
President, Valencia Community College
 Vitae, Summer/Fall ’09

Many of you have been reading about community colleges in Florida adding bachelor’s degrees to their programs, changing their names to “college” or “state college,” and other issues swirling around the future of our system. In the last issue of Vitae, I promised an update on these issues with a focus on Valencia’s direction.


First, it is important to note that Florida is, in fact, under-built for undergraduate education. As far into the future as I can see, the metropolitan areas in central and south Florida will have significantly more demand for freshmen seats than supply. This is a result of improving school performance over the past decade leading to more graduates and an even larger percentage of high school graduates prepared for and seeking admission to college. In addition, the burgeoning regional universities (UCF, USF, FIU) that were nearly open door a decade ago are filled to undergraduate capacity and managing demand as they always have, by raising admissions standards. Thus at UCF, where more than 70 percent of applicants were accepted for admission just 10 years ago, only 45 percent are today. This situation has created very real access challenges in these several metropolitan areas, challenges not seen in the rural areas of North Florida, the Panhandle, or even Southeast Florida.

Meanwhile, the number of Florida community colleges offering a few bachelor’s degrees in occupational areas such as teaching, nursing, and applied technologies has steadily grown since 2000. These programs were intended to meet very specific needs that were unlikely to be met by universities, not to signal a break from the traditional mission and programs of the best community college system in the country; many, however, including me, considered these programs to have been the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent, a “slippery slope” on which “mission drift” would be difficult to manage, a conclusion now hard to avoid.

By last spring, some 14 colleges out of the 28 had either added one or more bachelor’s degrees or signaled their intention to do so, while strange new names were appearing – Daytona State College, Northwest Florida State College, etc. Then, pretty much out of the blue and without consultation with the State Board of Education or the community colleges’ Council of Presidents, a bill appeared in the legislature attempting to break up the system into two tiers comprising 20 or more community colleges and some three to nine “state colleges.”

The bill was full of special interest, some of which you have read in the press, and was deeply divisive within our college system. In the end, some of the worst thinking in the bill was blunted and two task forces were created to recommend further details on the new Florida College System. They met through the year and presented their findings to the legislature at just about the time the issues surrounding the now resigned speaker of the house, the bill’s sponsor, were unraveling.

At present, a bill has been introduced in both the House and the Senate to round out the details of the new system. It is my hope that it will retain the character of our system – one college system, not two; serious governance and oversight of limited bachelor’s degrees by the State Board of Education; one funding formula with bachelor’s degrees funded at no advantage over associate degrees; and serious limits on the percentage of one’s enrollment that can come from the upper-division programming, a way of guarding the core mission of the community college. The next few weeks will tell if the state’s policy leaders can get us back on track.

“The college is what the students experience, no more and no less.”

Valencia’s Future Regarding Bachelor’s Degrees

So what may be in Valencia’s future with regard to bachelor’s degrees? As I have often said to my colleagues around the state and country, “The college is what the students experience, no more and no less.” So we always ask, “What do we want our students to experience?” As access to the freshman class at UCF began to be seriously constrained, especially for place-bound local students, we asked just this question. Our answer was that our first preference for our students was unfettered access to the whole range of established degrees at UCF.  You see, offering degrees of our own would consume all of our discretionary resources for years to come, and even after 10 years might provide only 15 or 20 degree options.

So we opted to push our relationship with UCF, signing an agreement guaranteeing all Valencia graduates with an A.A. degree admission to UCF and calling for UCF to bring dozens of new degree programs to our campuses. We call this program “Direct Connect” and will celebrate a milestone in this partnership this fall by opening a 100,000-square-foot university center on our West Campus to serve upward of 5,000 upper-division and graduate students.

Is this working? Frankly, this may be the most powerful partnership of its kind in the world. Valencia currently has more than 27,000 students in Direct Connect (compared to 2,700 statewide in community college bachelor’s degrees) with rapidly expanding options for bachelor’s degrees in business, accounting, education, nursing, and engineering. In Fall 2010, the upper division of the region’s first architectural design degree will be added exclusively at Valencia in partnership with UCF. And for the first time, Valencia and UCF are working together to generate major philanthropic support to 2+2 scholarships.

Will Valencia ever add its own bachelor’s degrees and change its name? Ever is a long time, and actually our agreement with UCF permits the offering of bachelor’s degrees should a clear need arise. I hope, however, that this would be a very rare occurrence and that any such decision would be made together in the spirit of our deep partnership. Should the state’s naming conventions change, I suppose we’d study the matter to determine, again, what is in the best interest of our students, but personally I’d hate to lose the word “community.”  It says so much about who we are — all of us, including you, our alumni.

(Reprinted from CommunitySummer/Fall 2009 VITAE Magazine Issue 4)

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Valencia Foundation group

Valencia Foundation group