Colin Archibald – “Big Data” is not ready for Valencia

Professor Colin Archibald, computer programming professor, used part of his University Club of Orlando Chair in Advanced Computer Technology this year to explore the world of “big data.”

“In this project colinarchibaldwe explored the emerging field of big data. Also called data analytics, and closely related to other emerging fields in computing, such as predictive analytics and business intelligence. Big data is not a well-defined field of study. In fact, most of what is called big data is really the rebranding of well-known mathematics. The new part is that we have data being collected from many different sources, including from a myriad of internet-connected devices.”


Dr. Archibald attended an intensive three-day course during the Christmas break. This course was offered by Learning Tree International, and called Introduction to Big Data. This was a very valuable course – although what was learned wasn’t what was expected!

One of the most valuable lessons was that the computer science department has determined that “the wme-and-earl-1eek long, intensive, boot-camp style courses are not the most effective way to learn this material”; they chose to go a different route, and purchase some online video courses that would help people in the computer science department learn this new technology. One plus is that taking the courses on an ad-hoc basis means that they can take these courses as needed and as time allows, without disrupting their usual day-to-day teaching.

A series of several video courses were purchased instead, making it a very high learning-value. Additionally, they generated some interesting discussion among the advanced students. One student did his project for the honors program on “big data” (Correlation or Causation).

Although the original objective was to create a course for Valencia programming students in big data, that proved to be a bit beyond the reach of faculty and students at this time.  Dr. Archibald says “We’ll keep an eye on it. When it is a bit more solid, and a lot less ‘hype,’ we’ll have another look at whether it should be part of the curriculum.”


Mayra Holzer (Speech): intercultural traditions

eva-perons-grave-1“The purpose of my sabbatical work was to allow me to cultivate my intercultural competence and to become a more competent global citizen and educator.” Mayra Holzer, professor of speech, used her Rhymer F. Maguire Jr. Endowed Chair in Communications to that end.

Through her sabbatical, she “sought personal and professional renewal and development,” in large part by immersing herself in the culture of Argentina. While in Argentina, she visited museums, cultural and historical monuments, and was able to experience their food, music and community.

In addition to full immersion in the culture, she participated in a variety of professional development activities in the area of intercultural communication. She received personalized training in intercultural communication through Iceberg Inteligencia Cultural Iceberg, an international organization that promotes multicultural understanding and global competency for effective intercultural communication in professional acasa-rosada-2nd educational settings, specializing in Latin American cultures.

“My overseas experience enriched my world view in general, and my multicultural approach to education in particular.” Through her travels to Buenos Aires, Argentina, she was also able to re-connect with her Hispanic heritage, was able to practice her Spanish language skills, and learned about a new culture in a country she had never visited.

While on sabbatical, she worked on internationalizing her curriculum for SPC1017 (Interpersonal Communication) and SPC1608 (Fundamentals of Speech), with a strong emphasis on the impact of culture on communication styles. Upon her return she created two INZ toolkits (SAGE) for SPC1017 and have submitted a request to offer an internationalized course as part of Valencia’s Global Distinction Program. She has also developed a workshop to be offered in the 2016 fall term during Global Peace Week. The workshop is titled “Cultural attributions and their impact on communicating with others.”


Diane Dalrymple–enhancing information literacy

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The Freeda Foreman Chair in Collaborative and Creative Problem-Solving has been beneficial to both faculty and students at Valencia College. “The process of collaboration between myself, a librarian on east campus, and east campus composition faculty and administration was rewarding and insightful. The endowed chair offered me the opportunity to work with the east campus dean of communications (Dr. Linda Neal) and the composition division chair (Randy Gordon), which I have not had the chance to do in the past,” Diane Dalrymple, east campus librarian, says about her current project.

She brought to these administrators the concept of using a standardized test to measure the level of a Valencia student’s information literacy. In addition, Dalrymple met with classroom faculty who volunteered to offer the test through their classes to describe the test and to answer any questions or concerns they had.

This project was a larger-scale attempt to measure a general education student learning outcome than the assessment tools the librarians have been recently employing. Students polled after taking the tests related that they found the questions very enlightening.

One student responded, “I just do research. I really don’t think about how I do it. Maybe I should.” Another student added, “This was hard. I usually just go to Google to find what I need. I never knew there were special places to go for special facts.”

The results from the test showed that Valencia College students scored above average on understanding economic, legal, and social issues related to information. That is, their understanding of copyright and plagiarism is a much higher level than at comparable schools.

The areas where Valencia student need to improve are in retrieving and evaluating sources. Future students will benefit from these assessment results because faculty and librarians now know where we need to focus our efforts in teaching information literacy.

“My conversations with Dean Neal and Professor Gordon were very enlightening to me. I personally had to think about aspects of program assessment that were new to me because of discerning questions about the standardized testing raised by Dean Neal and Professor Gordon. Their questions included what type of results would be received from the testing, were the results actionable, and were the results linked to particular students in particular classes.”

The questions related to application will be answered in future conversations between the librarians as a group and fellow faculty members and administrators interested in using this type of assessment tool. Currently, future conversations have been scheduled with Dr. Laura Blasi and the Valencia College
Librarians Assessment Committee. The hope is that with the support of Dr. Blasi and the
Assessment Committee to be able to offer open sessions for faculty where the results of the test can be presented and robust conversations can be continued. Some of the assessment changes have been implemented already, and the results of the test as a whole will be shared with classroom faculty this fall.

“This project took a village to accomplish and it will take a village to determine where we go from here.”

Andrew Ray, program chair AS built environment programs

1M3A0100 %281024x683%29 (2)Professor Ray is using the Hubbard Construction Company Chair in Technical and Engineering Program for study abroad scholarships.

The Hubbard Construction Chair supports educational programs in building construction, drafting and design, land surveying, and other technology areas. These funds will provide scholarships to allow students in the above programs to participate in a study abroad trip to visit renewable energy facilities in China during summer, 2016. Professor Ray also plan to escort students to Germany/Switzerland in 2016, but the opportunity arose to join Jennifer Robertson’s business students on a 10 day trip to Beijing and Shanghai in July, 2016, to see renewable energy production and accelerated/automated construction techniques.

 “My personal interest in sustainable energy production, including solar, wind and geo-thermal power, spans almost 40 years; the thesis for my Master of Architecture involved creating software and graphics to analyze energy usage in historic buildings.”

The sabbatical Professor Ray completed during fall semester, 2015, included visits to all cities along the path of the proposed trip that Professor Deymond Hoyte and he plan to lead in summer, 2017. “This ‘dry-run’ allowed me to research each site, obtain tourist maps and be able to provide background information to students before and during the study abroad trip.”

The sabbatical itinerary through 29 countries also included visits to a solar plant east of Berlin, geothermal springs and sustainable indoor greenhouses in Iceland, as well as many stops to document various solar and wind power facilities wherever accessible.

Pre-trip meetings with students will focus on popular forms of renewable energy (photovoltaic and thermal solar, wind, geo-thermal, and biofuels), the sociopolitical support of renewables by some governments within the European Union and China, with background on the specific sites they will visit. This will also include an introduction to the culture and people of China for the 2016 trip, and Germany and Switzerland for 2017, and basic language phrases. Since the trip will include students in Built Environment programs and also students taking business courses at Valencia, the cross-discipline approach should foster unique perspectives and discussions. Assessments will include journals and reflection papers on the projects visited and insight gained from the cultural experience.

Study abroad experiences are life-changing for students, opening them to global perspectives, and providing insight into alternate solutions to systemic issues. Most students in the Built Environment program have previously undertaken research on issues related to sustainability, completing an oral presentation on a “green” topic to their classmates. Report topics include the alternate power generation methods and current construction practices featured on this trip, but also include garden roofs; this is the major amenity of an apartment building they will visit in Darmstadt with the students. In addition, students will be exposed to state-of-the-art technologies used in China and Europe, as well as traditional construction techniques predating anything built in the USA.

Professor Ray has been involved in the Central Florida design and construction community for many years. After graduating with a Master’s in Architecture from Texas A&M, he moved to Fort Myers, FL, and was involved with historic preservation and commercial projects while completing his internship. Upon becoming a registered architect, he moved his family to Orlando in 1990, founded Array Design and started teaching at Valencia in 1991. A past president of the local chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute, and former Construction Manager with Habitat for Humanity, Mr. Ray enjoys travel and learning about construction. His wife, Alison, is also an architect, and they have two sons, Alex and Tony.


Pamela Sandy, professor of dental hygiene

Another in our series on the endowed chairs.

Pam 2015Pamela Sandy, RDH, BS, MA, professor of dental hygiene and dental hygiene program chair, is using this year’s Ira Vinson Henderson Chair in Nursing and Allied Health grant to revitalize the curriculum and calibrate faculty in the dental hygiene program.

Ms. Sandy participated in the Academy for Academic Leadership’s Institute for Allied Dental Educators with the goal of acquiring the skills of a master educator with the ADEA/AAL Institute for Allied Health Educators. The program is a series of five live online ninety minute sessions, and was attended by  Valencia full-time faculty Robin Poole and Rebekah Pittman;  Valencia adjunct faculty Natasha Cook and Danielle Driscoll;  and Valencia senior lab manager, Tiffany Baggs.

The series she selected was titled “Revitalizing Curriculum and Calibrating Faculty,” which included faculty calibration, creating a flipped classroom, designing hybrid courses, curriculum design, and management.

The AAL goals for this class included

  • Creating a flipped classroom: giving an overview of the flipped classroom, identifying advantages and role of faculty as facilitators and applying the concepts by combining the basic sciences with clinical care, including utilization of evidence-based learning, cases and reflective exercises.
  • Curriculum design and management, discussing curriculum mapping and how mapping relates to student assessment, and comparing curriculum mapping and course sequencing for optimal student success.
  • And, finally, faculty motivation, including team-building and applying motivational techniques to better engage peers in an effort to motivate fellow faculty.

In addition, one of her goals—and two of the goals for the class—was to explore other methods for faculty calibration FDHA 2012(calibration is faculty being on the same “page” during clinical evaluation of students; it is developing and adhering to a set of guidelines for student evaluation) in the clinical setting and to assist faculty in designing hybrid courses which will keep the dental hygiene curriculum current. To that end, two faculty completed another course in community dental health to refresh their skills in teaching the course and to enhance course content.

 Dental hygiene student learning can be positively impacted by faculty who are skilled at using the flipped classroom concept and are competent in designing learning activities in an online environment.”

Most of the faculty have been using the flipped classroom concept for several years, and the course gave them some additional ideas for technologies and learning activities they could use in their classes.

In all, the sessions drove the instructors’ learning and impact on the classroom immensely. “It was,” says Ms. Sandy, “a very successful session.”




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.


Christy Cheney—professor of student life skills and Jocelyn Morales—counselor

Christy Cheney and Jocelyn Morales are using their University Club of Orlando Chair in Humanities to defray the costs of study abroad for students (and counselors) in The Uncommon Scholar: REACH Study Abroad 2016 – Italy program.

The REACH (Reaching Each Academic Challenge Head On) program is a cohort-based learning community at the Osceola campus designed to support and guide students through their first 21 college credit hours. Students are nominated by their high school counselors because they demonstrate the work ethic and desire to succeed in academics, but require college readiness skills and support to begin their college career. Most REACH students question if college is right for them and are typically the first in their families to pursue a college degree.

“While certainly many of our students face financial challenges in earning a college degree, a study abroad experience benefits REACH students on a greater level as they have not only had to overcome financial barriers, but also academic obstacles, as well,” says Professor Cheney. Through integrated lessons, co-curricular programs, and fundraising for the Osceola community, students build strong connections with faculty, classmates, and the learning support service providers to help them succeed in college.

The REACH experience continues to be an invaluable opportunity for students who didn’t think college was an option for them. The Valencia Foundation Board will provide students with additional scholarship funds to experience globalized learning through a study abroad program to Italy in 2016 with an experienced Counselor to provide strategies to address personal challenges and support throughout the study abroad program.

We will provide REACH students with the opportunity to experience globalized learning through the study abroad program to Italy in July, 2016. Through Service Learning or Humanities, students will earn college credit while immersing themselves in the rich cultural contributions of Italy.

The vast majority of REACH students are the first in their family to attend college, and are on financial aid with minimal exposure to life outside of Osceola County. An opportunity to travel abroad is a dream that seems unattainable due to financial challenges, as well as having the experience to be away from their families. The endowed chair will fund additional scholarship dollars to support financial need as well as support a Valencia counselor to assist students in adjusting and acclimating to the global experience.

Prior to traveling, REACH students and the traveling counselor will participate in required meetings to discuss expectations and concerns, and learn about how to transition to the culture/country of Italy. Students will reflect through journal writing to share pre-departure plans on preparing for their trip as well as throughout their trip. Through journal reflections, students will be able to express their excitement, fears and new experiences with the support of the SLS and counselor. Faculty will participate in on going open-discussions before, during and after the study abroad experience to ensure full support and guidance for all REACH students.

Professor Cheney teaches the New Student Experience course. She says “I will have built strong connections and relationships with REACH students in the fall of 2015; therefore, my role in addition to Jocelyn’s role will help students to successfully adjust and study abroad.”

Professor Cheney teaches at the Osceola campus. She has worked with REACH students since 2010.

Ms. Morales teaches at the east campus, where she has worked with REACH students for approximately 20 years.

Robert McCaffrey—professor of digital media technology

rob_blackProfessor Rob McCaffrey is using the Sue Luzadder Chair in Communications endowment to purchase integrated media touchscreens to assist students who want to use the technology to write journalistic stories and produce video content in support…and then have a medium through which to produce it.

The Digital Media program has been working with colleagues in Communications on ways to update the classes in which our students produce periodic articles on current events (formerly ‛College Newspaper’). In spring, 2015, we began a special topics course called ‛Integrated Media Production,’ in which the students are required to write journalistic stories and produce photos, audio and videos to help support the written articles.

“I will use this endowed chair to purchase interactive touch screen monitors that could be placed on stands around campus to display this journalistic work. The ultimate goal would be to eventually have a permanent outlet for the writing and media created by students, as well as strengthen the campus community by creating a reliable source of local news,” says Professor McCaffrey.

As part of this project, Professor McCaffrey will also work to fully understand the workflow for producing content for interactive touchscreens.

The money from the chair would be used to purchase one or more large-format, interactive monitors, such as would pinapple_shootallow viewers to call up specific content, turn audio on or off, or interact with content like 3D digital maps or simple games. These monitors could be mounted for temporary display on stands, or (working first with OIT, plant operations, marketing and the campus president’s office) could be permanently mounted around campus. The screens would be used to loop current student articles and media projects. Content would originally be created by students in digital media classes, but the intent would be to eventually have content from any applicable communications or media production course added to the screens.

His goal will be to have the screens in place around campus by end of summer 2016, and at least 30 minutes of high-quality, student-produced, topical content installed on the monitors. “I’ll assess the success of the learning by the quality of the writing and media I’m able to get students to produce, and by whether the faculty, staff and students in my program area have learned how to produce effective content for touchscreens.”

He adds, “I teach in a media production area and have used social media sites for years to display student content. It’s useful to inspire students by showing off their work on a world-wide platform like

YouTube, but those platforms must be sought out, and often students don’t get to see how their work is received by the people around them. By having a local outlet for student-produced projects on campus, it’s my hope that students will be further inspired and pushed to do even higher-quality work, knowing that what they produce might be shown on-campus and that they might become personally known for what they are producing.”  One of their outlets currently is a blog.

Professor McCaffrey is the program director for Digital Media (for the past seven years or so), and last year taught a pilot class of Integrated Media Production—a mixture of College Newspaper and media production classes. Courses met synchronously on East and West Campuses and communicated with each other using Google Hangouts for real-time video conferencing and Trello boards for online organization of story pitches, research, writing and publication.

He teaches primarily at the east campus and is the faculty advisor for interns in the digital media program.



Diane Dalrymple–librarian: testing the test

ALA Prof Photo 1Diane Dalrymple, Librarian, east campus, is using this year’s Freeda Foreman Chair in Collaborative and Creative Problem Solving to solve a problem of an unusual sort: to explore the question of whether a standardized test, Project SAILS (Standardized Assessment of Information Literacy Skills), will work to gauge the literacy skills of Valencia students.

The test is planned for spring, 2016, and at that time, she will administer the test in collaboration with the East Campus English faculty.

The goal is to find a test that will analyze critical thinking information literacy skills by testing eight skills sets based on standards created by the Association of College and Research Libraries.

 “My personal learning outcome is to evaluate the potential application of Project SAILS (a summative information literacy assessment tool designed to analyze students’ abilities to locate, evaluate, and effectively use information from diverse sources) to measure Valencia student’s information literacy skills,” says Ms. Dalrymple.

 The goal of this project is to find and implement an effective method of testing students for their oDalrymple Portrait (1)perational information literacy (IL) skills as required by general education outcomes. Project SAILS tests for eight information literacy (IL) skill sets developed from the Association of College and Research Libraries Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. SAILS will provide Valencia’s cohort group IL knowledge level results on skill set scores, score by majors and class standing. SAILS will also compare Valencia’s average cohort scores to scores of similar types of institutions to Valencia. Scores from all institutions that tested in the same time period are used to create a benchmark file. Valencia’s average cohort scores will finally be compared to the benchmark scores.

 “For the past four years, as an Assessment Planning Team Leader for the library, my primary focus has b
een on developing appropriate tools for IL program level assessment. Students must learn how to analyze information with respect to its legitimacy and applicability. They need to become adept at discovering appropriate information sources, evaluating the information, and crediting its source.” All very important skills as more information is available, and with the increasing accessibility of online sources, many of which may or may not be, of useful provenance.

“The ability to choose and use information correctly is more than just a crucial academic skill. It is part of Valencia’s vision to inspire individuals to excellence and to instill an innate expertise for problem solving.”


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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Karen Cowden, professor of reading/EAP

Karen CC7E88DD3-E859-4DB4-BF52-A1F5DDA7DDAFowden is a professor of reading whose William C. Demetree Jr. Foundation Chair in Education for Special Needs is directed at “How to Build a Premier Learning Culture for Special Needs Students of the Orlando Community.”

The endowed chair will provide funds for Professor Cowden to research and visit special needs institutions/college(s) and capitalize on her expertise by focusing on the educational environment which best provides access and opportunities for special needs students and provides an inclusive learning culture.

In addition, this summer, Professor Cowden attended the A.H.E.A.D. (Association on Higher Education and Disability) National Conference.

The sessions included topics such as “How Disability Rights are Actually Civil Rights,” “Ways to Engage the Entire College Community in Serving Special Needs Students,” “Helping Faculty Learn How to Make Materials Accessible,” and more.

“Over the three days in July in the beautiful city of St. Paul, Minnesota, I truly did learn the diverse perspectives of serving students with special needs, and was surprisingly one of only two faculty members engaging in the conference experience.  Being able to attend this conference not only showed me that we have a long way to go in building bridges between our faculty and special needs support teams, nation-wide, but also that I am encouraged with our work thus far at Valencia College in creating a visionary college experience for the future,” says Professor Cowden.

“I believe if we can learn from other institutions (and other sources) how building a suitable learning structure to serve special needs students at the community college level that is comparable as is afforded at a private, special needs institutions, Valencia College will have provided the Orlando community and the students’ quality learning opportunities.”

The work of Professor Cowden’s endowed chair goes well beyond her delivery of engaging faculty trainings through2D236EE6-A2C6-4689-8F72-C148DD3EF387 the “1-2-3 Captioning is Easy” or “Hands-On Accessibility” courses (in partnership with Stephanie Crosby, Assistant Director of Special Needs Services and Chris Cuevas, Technical Support Specialist with Special Needs Services).  She has partnered with Deborah Larew, Director of the O.S.D., to serve on the newly-formed “Accessibility Advisory Committee,” a college-wide gathering of stakeholders from various roles in the college that are interested in enhancing and expanding the services to special needs students/staff.

Additionally, she has partnered with Dr. Falecia Williams and the “Learning Day” planning team to use some of the endowed chair funds for an honorarium, which would be awarded to the keynote speaker focusing on disability rights and engaging the community collaboration that the college provides for all citizens at this year’s west campus “Learning Day.” As always, Karen continues to promote cross-discipline collaboration and hospitality by organizing a “Lunch and Learn with the Office of Students with Disabilities (O.S.D.)” in the fall term and a “Dinner and Learn with the Office of Students with Disabilities” in the spring term, which brings together all staff/faculty and the staff from the O.S.D. for a meal and active learning experience that covers current trends and topics in special needs services.

Professor Cowden earned her master’s degree in elementary education at UCF with a specialty in reading and her bachelor’s degree in communication with a minor in journalism and public relations at Florida State. She teaches English for Speakers of Other Languages, College Preparatory Reading, “1-2-3 Captioning is Easy,” “Hands-On Accessibility,” “Facilitating Online Learning,” and “Teaching in Our Learning College” at the West Campus.

“We really value the faculty collaboration from Professor Cowden and the endowed chair grant. She has understood and furthered O.S.D. goals far beyond what we could have done without this faculty champion. In particular I’d like to mention that she has taken her outcomes further than Special Needs. She has applied what she has garnered from this experience into best teaching practices for the diverse student body. She clearly delights in sharing this ah-ha moment with other faculty members. This is not about disability for Karen; it is about accessibility for all students,” says Dr. Larew.


Colin Archibald, professor of computer programming

ColinArchibaldYou’ve heard about it, maybe even work with it. But what IS Big Data, and how is it useful?

Colin Archibald, professor of computer programming, is using his University Club of Orlando Chair in Advanced Computer Technology to investigate using Big Data to possibly create a course in Big Data.

“’Big Data’ is a new form of data processing that allows us to see trends and correlations in very large sets of data.  Some are calling this new research area ‘Data Science.’  The volume and lack of structure of Big Data prevents the use of traditional software development tools.  New methods of applying statistical processes on large data sets are emerging as a discipline within computing.   There is a shortage of talent in this area, and companies are limited by this,” according to Professor Archibald.

Data comes from almost everything we do now.  How frequently do you change the channel before you decide to watch a particular TV show?  There is a company trying to learn something from that data right now.  Your location, and movements as monitored by the smart phone in your pocket, are somehow valuable to some business, even if it’s only to present a more appropriate advertisement to you while you’re on Facebook.  Although there is room for nefarious uses of big data, most of it is business trying to find correlations that impact their bottom line.  Some will be very small, and might not be too meaningful.

Did you know that all the grocery stores run out of Poptarts when a hurricane is in the forecast?  Correlations and IntelAndroidcausations are very different.  It is not likely that a hurricane will come because the stores run out of Poptarts.  Although that one is easy to identify the ‘cause’ in the correlation, it’s frequently not obvious.  Many health-related studies, especially with the result “you should shouldn’t eat XYZ” are now considered to have been wrong and are referred to as “correlation” studies.  New methods in processing larger and more complex data sets may have widespread implications, not only in business, but for our well-being.

The endowed chairs are proposing to investigate the addition of Big Data Programming to the AS Computer Programming and Analysis curriculum at Valencia within the next two years (currently planned as a special topics course in the fall of 2016). If this is viewed as valuable to the curriculum, it will be added as a permanent course in the AS Computer Programming.

To facilitate that, they’re planning on Dr. Archibald and Professor Jerry Reed attending some short courses to study the techniques and programming languages used specifically for Big Data.



Alumni Update from Cece Burns, ’13

Chacoryia “Cece” Burns, Valencia’s 2013 Mary Smedley Collier’s Distinguished Graduate is currently a Broadcast Journalism major at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU). Those of us that have read Cece’s triumphant story and may have also had the privilege of meeting such a kind spirit know that she has manage to persevere through all odds. She has proven that if you put your mind to it you can accomplish any goal.

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Cece shares “Recently, I’ve become the weather anchor for FAMU TV News-20 which broadcast live to over 8,000 Comcast viewers in the north Florida and south Georgia area. I am a Gospel Radio Personality for WANM 90.5 FM “The Flava Station” which airs on Sunday’s from 8am-11am. As I continue with my journey as a reporter, I plan to continue to work with FAMU TV News 20 as the lead desk anchor as well as intern for a local news station and print journalism company until my graduation on April 30, 2016. After that I plan to either move to Orlando or stay in Tallahassee and pursue a Masters in Fine Arts in Production as well as become a Multi-Media Journalist (MMJ) for a local news station or become a local Gospel Radio Personality.”



“My advice to the students is to continue to strive for your dream. Never let anyone deter you from being what you want to be in life. And also always volunteer and get internships in your profession. Be persistent and always be kind to others because you never know who you will meet and who will take you to the next level.”

Cece is a positive role model and is constantly giving back to the community, whether it be volunteering for children’s church or serving on the Transfer Student Association. Her story encourages us all.


Cece is doing big things and is truly an amazing Valencia Alum….Way to represent!

Check out Cece’s story here


Yasmeen Qadri, professor in the teacher education program

This is another in our series of posts on this year’s endowed chairs.


Dr. YasQadrimeen Qadri is a tenured professor in the teacher education program at Valencia College. She specializes in multicultural education, peace education, conflict resolution, and diversity. With her partner, Anna Saintil, professor of student life skills, Qadri plans to use their Dr. P Phillips Foundation Chair in Education for the Physically Challenged Award to adopt the TeachLive Lab along with 43 other campuses, including the College of Education and Human Performance at UCF.

“Most of the future teachers may well serve in high tech, richly diverse, and creative classrooms at the future Creative Village in Downtown, Orlando, or may be in any of our nation’s digital schools,” says Qadri. “The endowed chair will enable our teacher education program to focus on advancement in technology, build pathways to exceptional and early childhood education, and strengthen our partnerships with the community.”  Digital schools (Colonial High School), special needs schools (UCP of Central Florida), richly diverse schools (Lawton Chiles Elementary), and early childhood providers (Horizons Child Care & Learning Center), have opened many doors of opportunities to the futur
e educators. “Not only are our students learning the best teaching practices in the above schools, but they are also contributing hundreds of service learning hours in these schools,” adds Qadri.

Additional goals include developing a 1-credit course in Exceptional Education (required by new certification rules) and increasing enrollment in Valencia’s new Early Childhood Education program, Special Needs program, and they hope to collaborate with the future Sign Language Bachelors and Deaf Education Program.

Professor Qadri teaches at the East Campus.


Craig Rapp, professor of hospitality and tourism management

Another in our series of blog posts on endowed chairs

craig-rapp11 Final CropCraig Rapp, professor of hospitality and tourism management, loves to hang out with students. So much so, that his Central Florida Restaurant Association Chair in Restaurant and Food Service Management grant this year is going to taking them to the 2016 National Restaurant Show in Chicago.

The show, held in May, will give students a taste of the “real world” of restaurant management, in preparation for their future careers. He says, “[the NRA] annual international trade show … is one of the largest and most impactful hospitality shows in the world; one that anyone entering the hospitality field can benefit from.” He continues, “for many, this will be the first time students are able to connect classroom learning to the industry.”

In addition to the students’ learning, traveling to Chicago will allow Professor Rapp to learn about the latest industry trends and technology, and meet and network with some of the world’s most influential hospitality industry leaders in the world. This, in addition to break-out sessions and workshops that will help him to plan curriculum and enhance the classroom experience once he returns to Valencia. He’ll be able to witness culinary competitions amongst some of the top chefs in the world, tour some of the finest hotels, and experience some of the best restaurants that Chicago has to offer.

In addition, he plans to have the students traveling with him report on their involvement (two, 250-word essays on Maitland 2015 3the break-out sessions they attend). The experience will also help students begin to practice their own professional development by learning about the latest industry trends and technology, and meet and network with some of the world’s most influential hospitality industry leaders in the world.

 “The trip to the Chicago restaurant Show is a great benefit to students of hospitality here at Valencia College and it opens many doors,” he says.

Professor Rapp has been with Valencia College since 2008, teaching classes such as Introduction to Hospitality Management, Supervisory Development, Hospitality Management and Food & Beverage Cost Control. Born in Edison, New Jersey, he moved to Florida in 1996 to attend Florida International University’s School of Hospitality Management. It was there that he completed his bachelor’s degree in hospitality management and a master of science in hotel and food service management.

He is married to Jessica Rapp, and they have three children: Zachary, Lillian, and Madelyn.

He teaches at the West Campus.



Elizabeth Wanielista, professor of office and medical office administration

Next in our series about the endowed chair projects.

ElizaBetty head shotbeth (Betty) Wanielista is a professor in the department of office and medical office administration at the East Campus. As we all know, medical office administration is a field that is—even more than most—changing rapidly.

Professor Wanielista is using her grant from the John and Florence MacLeod Chair in Business to upgrade the medical office administration program at Valencia. She says, “The medical office is rapidly changing. Electronic health records, ICD-10 coding and scribes are being added to the medical environment.” ICD-10 coding is used by medical professionals to receive reimbursement for services rendered. Scribes accompany doctors and input the doctor’s findings into a tablet/computer to be transcribed and placed in the patient’s medical records.

As a result, Professor Wanielista has identified the medical office administration program as an area that needs to be reviewed for potential new courses. “I plan to visit and interview individuals in medical facilities to find out what new technology and duties have been added for a medical employee.”

To that end, she also planned to attend a conference in October and visit medical facilities.

“Over the course of this evaluation, I’ll also obtain information on what software and hardware are used by medical employees. I’ll investigate duties of medical employees at the front desk and in the back office.”

Professor Wanielista will secure information on use of transcriptionists in medical offices and investigate soft skills needed by medical employees. She will also acquire knowledge of the use of electronic health record software—a huge issue as both the population ages and the use of computers becomes more widespread.

The outcome of her exploration will be the presentation of potential curriculum to the OST Advisory Board for review and comment. (The OST Advisory Board is the Office Systems Technology Advisory Board, which meets twice a year to keep Valencia faculty abreast of the needs of the outside world and informs Valencia faculty of the technology used and the skills needed in future employees.)

The development of curriculum materials for the medical office administration program to be presented to the OST faculty and the curriculum committee.

Professor Wanielista adds “students will benefit from the updated medical office administration program by entering the workforce with knowledge of current software, hardware and useful skills that are relevant to what the employer is seeking.” In other words, the result of her project will be students who are better prepared for the “real world” they’ll face.

Professor Wanielista has been with Valencia since 1994.

Dr. Suzanne R. Salapa, chair, department of dance

ssalapa-1354396170_140 (1)The latest in our series on endowed chairs.

For her endowed chair project this year, Dr. Suzanne R. Salapa is using her Universal Orlando Chair in Arts and Entertainment grant to invite the Nikolais/Louis Foundation for Dance residency.

She explains: “Each year for our Spring Dance Concert, we bring in a choreographer/reconstructor for a week- to 10-day residency to teach a piece that is performed at the Spring Concert.

“This is a tremendous honor for the dance program and Valencia, as we count it an honor to work with some of the biggest names in the concert dance profession: Isadora Dance Ensemble; Martha Graham Dance Company; Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Jose Limon/Limon Dance Company; Shapiro and Smith Dance and others. The opportunity gives our dancers, who are pursuing an associate’s degree in dance performance, real life experience and a direct connection to the professional world while they are in school.”

This year, the reconstructor is Alberto del Saz, and the piece is the critically acclaimed “The Pond.”

The renowned artists of the Nikolais/Louis Foundation for Dance Residency will come to Valencia in January 2016. Classes and rehearsals will introduce both dancers and faculty to the ispring dance concertnnovative and diverse choreographic approach unique to Alwin Nikolais/Murray Louis’ versatile and well-respected repertory.

Valencia College’s arts in dance performance degree majors will locally debut “The Pond” at the 2016 Valencia Dance Spring Dance Concert, Friday and Saturday, at 8 p.m. March 25 and 26, in the East Campus Performing Arts Center, 701 North Econlockhatchee Trail, Orlando, Florida 32825. Tickets are available at (Click the icon on the top right that says, “BUY TICKETS”).

_MG_3102Dr. Salapa has had a varied career with such organizations as the Annandale (Virginia) Dance Theater, the Washington Ballet, Maryland Youth Ballet and Columbia City Ballet. She received her bachelor of science degree from Shenandoah University and completed her master of fine arts in dance degree from Florida State University. She earned her doctoral degree in education at the University of Central Florida. In the summer of 2014, Dr. Salapa participated in the internationally recognized program Dance for Parkinson’s Disease®.  A collaboration between the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Brooklyn Parkinson Group has designed this dance teacher training model to encourage creativity and movement exploration for those with Parkinson’s disease. Professor Salapa also teaches the bi-monthly Movement as Medicine dance class at Florida Hospital Orlando.

James Inglis, program director hospitality/restaurant management: taking a trip of a lifetime

jim-inglis22 (1)

Another post in our series on endowed chairs and what they’re up to. Meet James Inglis.

James Inglis’ endowed chair project this year, funded by the Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association (CFHLA) Chair in Hospitality Management, is to take 16 students to New York City to The Hotel Experience in November (previously The International Hotel Motel Restaurant Show).

“The [Hotel Experience] in New York City is one of the premier industry events in the United States. Over 1,800 vendors are there with their individual booths showcasing the latest industry technologies, products and services. We also do restaurant and hotel tours while we are there and attend breakout sessions in conjunction with the show. These are very educational, and the students can sign up to attend any of the topics that interest them,” Inglis says.

“The students are required to attend at least one breakout session while at the show; they then write a paper on the session and include a brief overview of the topic and specific issues discussed,” he adds. The students are also required to write an additional reflection for the Student Government Association (SGA) as part of the travel requirements. Students also speak to their classes when they return, highlighting various events that took place and any observations that relate to the learning outcomes for the course.

Professor Inglis has been leading similar trips for more than 14 years now. Many of the students have very limited travel experience and most have never been to NYC before. For the most part, the students couldn’t afford the room rates or partake of the restaurant meals Inglis and his team have negotiated. “There is always a tour of a hotel and kitchen and introduction of managers and kitchen personnel,” Inglis adds. So even the food is educational.

In all, for many of these students, the trip is a once in a lifetime – or a first in a lifetime – chance to be exposed to experiences they can’t have in Orlando (as great as those may be).

This is in addition to the other work that Inglis does.

He is on two boards of directors: One is the local hotel association, CFHLA, and the other is the local restaurant association, FRLA. He has been on the boards for more than 14 years, participating in such events as the Downtown Food and Wine Fest for the seventh year in a row. Last March, he and another professor, Craig Rapp, worked the Wine and Dine on 9, a VIP event, at the Bay Hill Golf Tournament.  As Inglis puts it: “This semester alone we are volunteering for 12 events in the community. It’s a tribute to the students and the leadership that we can get this type of participation.

Professor Inglis was born in New York City, so this is a bit of a return home for him – to the Jacob K. Javits Center, which is where the show is being held. He is the program director for the hospitality and restaurant management programs at Valencia’s West campus. With degrees from Paul Smith’s College in New York, Florida International University and Webster University, from which he holds a master’s degree in business, he draws on a lifetime of experience for his courses and his volunteer work.

What’s next for the program? Well, Inglis says the school has just hired a new faculty member to take the lead for the Osceola campus program—now they’re able to offer the same degree program in Osceola that they offer at West campus. In addition, they keep expanding the West campus program—they just added a new “beverage lab.”

Cheers to the new program and the trip of a lifetime for the students in his care.

Heith Hennel, professor of information technology: lightboards to light the way to the future

This is the second in our series introducing this year’s endowed chairs. 

This year’s winner of Valencia Foundation’s Dr. P. Phillips Foundation Chair in Free Enterprise wants to build heith-hennel09lightboards for his students: “I am really interested in seeing how technology can be leveraged to increase business efficiency and produce better products, as well as making our daily lives easier to manage.”

Great, you say. What’s a lightboard?

Professor Hennel explains, “Imagine an invisible board between you and your students. You teach facing your students. They see you and somehow everything you write hangs in the air, magically inverted so it is readable from their perspective. You can even project and interact with content on the invisible board between you.

“In information technology, there is more and more pressure to flip learning. The lightboard is the cutting edge tool teachers can use to produce flipped content. In fact, it is so new that it can’t even be bought in stores; it has to be built. Currently, only a handful of universities have it.”

Hennel’s view is that “Valencia should be a leader in bringing this technology to community colleges.” He’d like to create a lightboard challenge—similar to the “Ice Bucket challenge”—to challenge teachers in other disciplines to create cutting-edge, flipped content for their classrooms and students.

He intends to partner with Valencia’s Circles of Innovation team to spread the word about the technology and invite others to create flipped content via a lightboard challenge. “As teachers use the device and record their own flipped content, they will be able to openly challenge colleagues and friends at the college to use the tool to create their own flipped learning content. The Circles of Innovation team has indicated that they would like to feature this work on the Circle of Innovation Website and possibly even do a Circles of Innovation session around the topic.”

Rio Teachers

Professor Hennel, in Rio de Janeiro.

The entire goal here is to ensure that our current courses in Information Technology are kept up to date.

Hennel explains, “As more and more schools and programs move to online, hybrid and flipped content, we need to stay ahead of the curve. This tool will help provide teaching in a new way that will better engage today’s learners. But this tool doesn’t only benefit students in IT; the challenge will open up the technology to teachers across the college and across disciplines.”

An enthusiastic UK basketball fan, Professor Hennel was born in Lexington, KY. He served in the US Navy from 1994 to 1999. His master’s degree is from the University of Maryland, and he also holds two graduate certificates from the University of Illinois in systems security and information assurance. His wife, Teresa, was his high school sweetheart and he has two children, Sydney, 5, and McKenzie, 8.

“I am really interested in internationalizing the curriculum across disciplines to see how we can create a great global experience for our students. I am also really interested in providing students with a chance to experience another culture while studying abroad.  I will be taking students to London this year.  In past years, I have taken students to Barcelona, Madrid, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janiero and the Dominican Republic.”

Professor Hennel has been teaching at Valencia since August 2003.



Start FIT at Lake Nona

BSLM Promo 2

Florida Tech is now offering a Bachelor’s degree in Logistics Management for students with an AA or AS! Classes accommodate working professionals by meeting once a week from 5:30-8:30pm at Valencia’s Lake Nona Campus. For more information, visit or contact Lauren Remenick at

Endowed chairs at Valencia: Olga Vazquez, M.S., and the Health Academy

This is first in a series about the professors who recently were awarded endowed chairs at Valencia College.

Olga Vazquez


Olga Vazquez, professor of biology, spends a lot of her time hanging around fifth graders.

No, that’s not how she spends her free time, although with a 9-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl at home, one could be forgiven for thinking that was a possibility.

Actually, it’s a big part of her Valencia Foundation endowed chair project.

Armed with a bachelor of science, and a master’s in microbiology and molecular biology from UCF, Professor Vazquez heads up the Health Academy, an educational awareness program designed to supplement the fifth graders’ biology content. It includes learning about healthy lifestyles and gives students a chance to get excited about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics careers.

The project particulars include taking Valencia College student volunteers to mentor Lawton Chiles Elementary School children. Vazquez says she chose fifth graders, not only because she was following the guidelines of the Anatomy Academy at UCLA, but also because kids of that age are “mature enough to grasp the biology content behind the activities while being conscious enough to influence their families.”

Twitter screen shot of the opening of Health Academy

Twitter screen shot of the opening of Health Academy


The Valencia students teach the LCE students about making healthy food choices, and inspire them to consider STEM, allied health, or education careers. The elementary students will share their newfound knowledge with family and community members.

They’ll also develop anatomy and physiology hands-on activities.

Part of the hoped-for outcome is to use the experience to encourage education majors at Valencia to become STEM teachers “by training them in the fields of anatomy and physiology,” Vazquez says. In addition, they’ll learn how to work with youngsters.

The Health Academy mirrors the Anatomy Academy, which was founded by Jonathan Wisco at UCLA (now with Brigham Young University), she says. He developed the idea of teaching fifth graders nutrition and health.

Wisco’s work inspired Vazquez to reach out to her community and teach science at the same time. She expanded the original activities to call it Health Academy. This is the first such organization of its kind in Florida.

This is Vazquez’s second term with her project. She still keeps in touch with several of the mentors from last spring—three are interested in participating again. She plans to continue Health Academy for several more terms and to expand the project to additional elementary schools.

One memorable experience from last year includes a student who, after seeing the difference between smokers’ lungs and non-smoker’s lungs, was immediately encouraged his grandmother to stop smoking.

Prof. Vazquez is married to Rafael Vazquez and has two children in elementary and middle school. Her children have both attended Lawton Chiles. She has been teaching at Valencia since 2008.

The Health Academy

Amazing Discounts for You!

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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 grad doing big things!

Carmi May 15 Post

Carmidaris Rivera-Vega ’13 graduated from Valencia College with an Associates in Arts in General Studies. She was accepted at the University of Central Florida in summer 2013 as a business major.

On May 9th, Carmidaris graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelors of Arts in Business Administration (B.A.B.A.) a Minor in Health Services Administration and a 4.0 GPA. Carmidaris earned Cum Laude distinction and was the only B.A.B.A. student graduating with honors!

While studying at Valencia College, Carmidaris was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and while at UCF she was a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society.

In March 2013, Carmidaris joined the Valencia College family working as an Accounting Tutor and Front Desk Assistant at the Osceola Campus. Currently, she holds a full-time position as an Accounting Clerk at the Valencia College Foundation.

“What you learn becomes a part of who you are! For this reason, I thank God, my family, Valencia College and the University of Central Florida for being a part of the platform that supports who I am today. In my opinion, there is a single path to success and we build our own. Keep building yours by looking up and following the sky. And yes! That’s right! Our path is endless because there is nothing more rewarding than to keep achieving an entire life.” – Carmidaris Rivera-Vega

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.


The McLoughlins: Everyone deserves a second chance


Throughout 60-plus years of marriage, George and Viola “Vi” McLoughlin have led long, successful lives. What they are most proud of, though, are the opportunities to help provide college access for students, especially those that might not have had a chance otherwise.

George, 94, and Viola, 91, have been retired for nearly 30 years, but their impact is still felt throughout the Valencia community. The scholarship that is in their name is a special one.

george and viola

George and Viola with Geraldine.

The George and Viola McLoughlin Scholarship has been especially tailored to meet the needs of the non-traditional student, especially an individual who may not qualify for other, more restrictive programs. Such applicants include those with a checkered academic record, recovering substance abusers, homeless people, survivors of domestic or sexual abuse, mid-career workers looking to upgrade or retool, single parents, and those seeking re-entry to society after incarceration.

They seek to serve deserving individuals who don’t have a safety net and need just one more shot to succeed.

“It seems that for the majority of scholarships available, you have to be a part of a certain group, a certain degree path,” George says. “There aren’t many that help kids who need a second chance.”

Both George and Vi have strong roots in education. George taught at Valencia for 16 years, from 1969-1985. George started when the school was only in its third year of existence, and he jokes that the school was still in portable buildings. Viola was a Seminole County elementary school teacher, and eventually advanced to assistant principal at Red Bug Lake Elementary.

The pair began their scholarship in 1997 and together they have provided countless students that second chance to pursue something bigger than they imagined possible. Their philanthropy includes daughter, Priscilla, who helps choose their scholars. The support and willingness to help their students is something that emerges when you hear the McLoughlins share stories of lives they have touched.


George and Vi with their daughter Priscilla, who has taken up the philanthropic mantle.

A Persian student brought them an authentic rug when he returned from vacation in his homeland after George helped him find a car to get to school. A Vietnamese couple walked to the McLoughlin home in Maitland with a full, home-cooked meal after George anonymously bought them a Christmas tree.

“I hope that anybody that goes into education goes in with a sense of mission,” George says with emphasis. “The students I taught were really a pleasure, especially the first wave of them.”

“We both started in life very serious about our religion,” Viola adds. “We can relate with students and families who never thought of going to college.”

George was the first in his family: He earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Boston University and a doctorate in education with a minor in music education from the University of Kentucky. When George was teaching at Asbury College, Viola decided to start college at age 40.

Viola had earned a secretarial degree and worked as an executive assistant. She would eventually earn her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Asbury and her master’s degree in education from Rollins College.

“One thing that’s changed in the last 30 to 40 years is that kids didn’t necessarily grow up with the idea of going to college,” George explains. “But today the opportunities are there if kids will take them. “All the students have to do is try,” his bride quickly chimes in.

Both George and Vi know that sometimes individuals just need that little push, that nudge to get them going. They preach on the opportunities that exist and the people and resources available to help those who are willing to put forth the effort.

“The best advice is to say, ‘yes.’ Things will come along, certain opportunities, and you just have to say ‘yes,’” George adds. “Basically the only thing we ask is that our students are capable of doing their work, and that they be motivated.”

The couple is so proud of the work Valencia president Sandy Shugart has done to maintain Valencia’s focus on students, something George says sometimes lacks at the bigger colleges and universities. They believe the philanthropic foundation has been set for their mission to continue for years to come.

Vi jokes that she nearly forgot to share the most important factor to longevity: “When people ask us what have we done to live a long, healthy life, all I can think of is that we did live rather simply – out of necessity at times, but we don’t have expense taste. It’s the simplicity. It has its beauty.”

To learn more about the McLoughlin family, please visit this article, which appeared in the Valencia Foundation annual report.

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

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New York Times Applauds Valencia’s Efforts to Cut Student Loan Default

While addressing the nation’s growing student loan debt — and the troubling default rate at some colleges — The New York Times editorial board recently applauded Valencia’s efforts to reduce the number of students who default on their loans.


Valencia students who received both Pell Grants and loans defaulted at a rate of 19 percent — compared with 26 percent across all of the colleges in the study and at only a slightly higher rate than their more affluent classmates. The same was true for students who took remedial course work versus those who did not. The overall default rate for the colleges in the study was 22 percent.


See below for the full article or visit online at:

New federal rules that penalize colleges for excessive student loan defaults offer a powerful incentive for schools to educate students on the complexities of the federal student loan program, including the crucial fact that they can delay or make partial payments if they get into financial trouble. Keeping loan default rates low, a new study of nine community colleges shows, is not rocket science: Schools can do it.

Colleges with default rates of 30 percent or higher in any given year are now required to develop a plan for keeping more students on track to repay their loans. Beginning in September, institutions that reach or exceed the 30 percent for three consecutive years will lose eligibility for both the federal loan program and the Pell Grant program, subject to appeal. This places schools with runaway default rates at risk of having to shut down.

The new rules provide important protection for students for whom default can mean a shredded credit history that makes it difficult for them to buy cars or homes and even shuts them out of jobs. The rules also protect taxpayers, who are on the hook when a loan goes bad.

Some colleges argue that the regulations unfairly target and penalize schools that serve “high risk” populations like the poor and young people who need remedial help. A study of nine community colleges carried out by the Association of Community College Trustees and the Institute for College Access and Success, a nonprofit research group, rebuts that argument.

The study suggests instead that default levels for students of all descriptions depend importantly on the quality of the academic support and counseling they get from the schools. Valencia College in Florida is held up as an example of a school that does this well. Valencia students who received both Pell Grants and loans defaulted at a rate of 19 percent — compared with 26 percent across all of the colleges in the study and at only a slightly higher rate than their more affluent classmates. The same was true for students who took remedial course work versus those who did not. The overall default rate for the colleges in the study was 22 percent.

Valencia’s mandatory orientation process shows students from the beginning what it takes to succeed and what services are available to help them. The school also keeps in touch with delinquent borrowers, explaining important options like income-based repayment.

The most important predictor of default is whether a student completes the academic program. Across all campuses in this study, students who graduated defaulted at a rate of just 9 percent, as opposed to 27 percent for those who left college before receiving their degree. This means schools need to keep an eye on and intervene with struggling students before they get overwhelmed and drop out.

Identifying and reaching out to students with academic problems, counseling all students on their rights and obligations under the various loan programs — these are important tools for preventing defaults. But what is likely to persuade colleges to deploy these tools in the first place is the threat of losing federal aid if they do not.

after-hours wine and cheese reception



Faculty and staff giving at Valencia

why-i-give-banner-270x60The Faculty and Staff Giving Committee is excited to announce three students were awarded the Student Opportunity Scholarship for 2014/2015. This is only scholarship to be solely funded by faculty and staff contributions in support of the students they serve.  Christina Funk received the primary scholarship with Valencia students Michaela Decker and Gerald Jones also receiving modest scholarships.

Thanks to “Why I Give Where I Work”  new pledges, renewal gifts and annual donations, our Valencia faculty and staff are part of nearly $100,000 in annual contributions to the Valencia Foundation.

Valencia Employees are asked to consider donating in support of Valencia and the students we serve through payroll deduction or to make a one-time gift, you may use the secure online “Why I Give Where I Work” donation location at

The Valencia Foundation would like to send special recognition to co-chairs Josh Murdock and Diana Ciesko for their leadership during the campaign and to the 2014 ambassadors (pictured below): Andrew Becker, Chris Borglum, Ken Carpenter, Wendi Dew, Isabel Hagan, Jonathan Hernandez, Erich Heintzelman, Pat Lee, Donna Marino, James May, Rob McCaffrey, Mia Pierre, April Raneri, and past chair Katie Shephard.

2014 Faculty and Staff Giving Committee Members

Volunteer ambassadors of the faculty and staff giving committee encourage colleagues to consider committing support of Valencia College and the students they serve by making a contribution to the Valencia Foundation.

Scholars, music and scholarships…

On July 25, a collection of musically talented faculty, staff, and friends–-fondly called The Rogue Scholars–-have found a way to utilize what they have, talent and time, to raise funds for student scholarships at Valencia.

On July 25, a collection of musically talented faculty, staff, and friends–-fondly called The Rogue Scholars–-have found a way to utilize what they have, talent and time, to raise funds for student scholarships at Valencia.

Scholar, poet and educator Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, once said “Give what you have; to someone it may be better than you dare to think.”

On July 25, a collection of musically talented faculty, staff, and friends–-fondly called the Rogue Scholars–-have found a way to utilize what they have, talent and time, to raise funds for student scholarships at Valencia.

Please consider supporting these talented scholars and their musical efforts by attending the live rock ‘n roll sing along show.

When:  Friday July 25, 2014 at 7 pm

Where:  Valencia College Osceola Campus Building 1 Auditorium

Donation:  Give what you can. Perhaps a $5 contribution at the door of event?

What to expect:  Live rock ‘n roll sing along family friendly interactive show with the Rogue Scholars.  We will be playing your favorite songs through the decades.  There will be opportunities for you to bid and sing with the band!

Proceeds:  All proceeds benefit Valencia Foundation through the Jane Dewey/Monty Bilyue Emergency Healthcare Services Scholarship.

This scholarship was established to honor the memories of two individuals who spent their professional lives helping others in critical healthcare situations. It will provide tuition assistance to Valencia students seeking Nursing or EMT/Paramedic degrees.

To our Rogue Scholar friends I say thank you for what you have – both your time and your talents are appreciated!

For more information, please check the Rogue Scholars on Facebook at

Unsung heroes: Patti Riva


Patti Riva is the operations manager of Valencia’s Energy Education program. Serving in this newly created position since July 1, 2011, she has focused on identifying energy conservation opportunities and making adjustments, without compromising comfort.


Patti Riva

When asked what she likes most about her new role, Patti replied, “I’m learning new details each day about energy education and potential for savings. I never imagined I would be climbing stairs to the ‘penthouse’ area to conduct an audit on our air handler units or walking across roof tops to gain entry to another area to view air handles.”

Through her work with the Energy Education program, Patti has been trained on facility and technology issues, specifically HVAC systems (heating, ventilation, and air condition), lighting and data implementation. At Academic Assembly, Dr. Shugart reported that the college’s air conditioning systems are saving $900,000 a year and an estimated 1 million gallons of water. He shared his thoughts that, “there’s another million dollars to be saved, but it will be through behavioral change, the little habits that we can change.”

Patti reinforces this and states, “the premise of the program is that it is our program. It’s not mine. It’s not yours,” she continues, “It’s our program. We can make a difference. We can capture savings that will ultimately benefit our students and us.”

Patti Riva

Patti Riva

Before serving as the operations manager of the Energy Education program, Patti was the evening/weekend manager of the Credit Department at Winter Park, and prior to that, the program manager for the Displaced Homemaker program. She holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and a Bachelor of Arts in public relations and psychology from the University of Alabama.

Patti has acquired several fond memories of Valencia over the years, including performing as a Blues Brother with Professor Jean Marie Fuhrman, working with AAWCC to coordinate a Career Development Day for students, and having students return after graduation to let her know that they’ve secured a job or gotten married. For these reasons and more, Patti expressed that it is “a privilege and joy…working at Valencia.”

Here is a link to the original Grove article.


Chara Young, CMP, PHR, is the director of organizational communication at Valencia College.

2014-2015 endowed chairs

Congratulations to the 35 tenured faculty members who have been awarded a 2014 – 2015 Valencia Foundation Endowed Chair for Learning Leadership.

The Endowed Chairs for Learning Leadership program recognizes and promotes academic excellence at the College through honoring outstanding members of Valencia’s teaching faculty. In contrast to endowed chair programs at four-year institutions that aim to attract preeminent researchers, our program recognizes and supports Valencia faculty by providing resources needed for the advancement of instruction.
cat1 Jean Marie Fuhrman: Freeda Foreman Chair in Collaborative and Creative Problem-Solving

Richard Gair: Abe and Tess Wise Endowed Chair in the Study of the Shoah

Yolanda Gonzalez: Howard L. Palmer Chair in Foreign Languages
Albert Groccia: Raymer F. Maguire Jr. Chair in Mathematics

Mayra Holzer: Patricia Havill Whalen Chair in Social Sciences

Brian Macon: Lockheed Martin Chair in Mathematics

Kevin Mulholland: University Club of Orlando Chair in Humanities

Robin Poole: Wayne Densch Chair in Geriatrics

Lana Powell: John and Florence MacLeod Chair in Business

Jeremy Russo: Bank of America Chair in Business Management

Dimas Sanchez: Bank of America Chair in Business
Richard Sansone: Sue Luzadder Chair in Communications

Brenda Schumpert: Lockheed Martin Chair in Science

Irina Struganova: Lester N. Mandell Chair in Natural and Physical Sciences

cat2 Category II Recipients:
Joan Alexander: University Club of Orlando Chair in Advanced Computer Technology

Irma Berner Bell: South Chair in Communications and Engineering Technology

Karen Cowden: William C. Demetree Jr. Foundation Chair in Education for Special Needs
Suzette Dohany: Walt Disney World Chair in Film Technology
Edie Gaythwaite: Harry J. and E. Mary Hobbs Teaching Chair in Nursing

Lisa Gray: Dr. P. Phillips Foundation Chair in Free Enterprise

Heith Hennel: SunGard Endowed Teaching Chair in Computer Science
Deymond Hoyte: Valencia Foundation Board Chair for Interdisciplinary Studies

James Inglis: Central Florida Hotel and, Lodging Association Chair in Hospitality Management

Chris Klinger: Tupperware Corporation Chair in Community Quality

Adrian Manley: Valencia Foundation Board Chair for Interdisciplinary Studies

James McDonald: Cliff and Daisy Whitehill Chair in Legal Studies
Sarah Melanson: Rhymer F. Maguire Jr. Endowed Chair in Communications

Bonnie Oliver: SunTrust Chair in Economic Development and, Business Education
Pierre Pilloud: Hunton Brady Architects Endowed Chair in Hospitality Management

Yasmeen Qadri: Dr. P. Phillips Foundation Chair in Education for the Physically Challenged
Craig J. Rapp: Central Florida Restaurant Association Chair in Restaurant and Food Service Management
Andrew Ray: Hubbard Construction Company Chair in Technical and Engineering Programs

Jolene Rhodes: Raymer F. Maguire Jr. Teaching Chair

Suzanne Salapa: Universal Orlando Chair in Arts and Entertainment

Pamela Sandy: Ira Vinson Henderson Chair in Nursing and, Allied Health

Valencia employees give back

why-i-give-logoValencia’s faculty and staff giving campaign is underway and in full swing. Last week, the Foundation sent information regarding this year’s “Why I Give Where I Work” campaign with Valencia colleagues who expressed the reasons why they choose to give.

Scholarships change lives.

Our goal is that each student who comes through our doors will be able to fulfill his or her dream of earning a college degree. As the data shows, those who complete a college degree and work full time, earn an average of $17,500 more than those with a high school diploma only, according to a recent Pew Research Study.

Additionally, Valencia’s associate in science graduates boast 95 percent job placement, even in this economy, and starting salaries average $43,385.

So it’s no wonder that Patti Riva, operations manager, energy education, says that she gives because “investing in Valencia will bring a brighter future for all.”

Reasons Valencia College employees give where they work:


Employees can be a part of this movement simply by completing the Payroll Deduction form — it’s that easy.

Sharing the Reasons

Valencia invites other employees to share why they choose to give by leaving a comment below.

If you have questions or would like more information on the campaign or how you can support the “Why I Give Where I Work” campaign, feel free to you may contact Valencia Foundation donors stewardship manager Donna Marino at or any of the faculty and staff giving ambassadors located at


Valencia employees share “Why I Give Where I Work”

Valencia employees make a big difference in our student’s lives!

Many Valencia College employees support students inside and outside the classroom. It was Sir Winston Churchill that said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

There are many reasons to contribute to Valencia Foundation, below are a few Valencia employees  who shared “Why I Give Where I Work.”


Gustavo Morales, professor, geology, West Campus:

I give because I like to support all the fantastic work my colleagues do.


James Thomas, professor, English, East Campus:

I give because I know exactly where my money goes: to help deserving students.

laurie-halftone-180w Laurie Youngman, manager, employee support:

I give because I believe in Valencia’s mission and want to show how strongly.


Donna Sovern, administrative assistant in the math office on Osceola Campus:

I give because Valencia is a community of helpers, and I love helping our students.

Share your passion for learning and student success! Help our faculty and staff support those students who need it most. Please visit and click on Make a Donation.

You can join the team of almost 300 Valencia colleagues and give today. Simply complete the Payroll Deduction form to start your giving legacy.

If you have questions or would like more information on how you can support the “Why I Give Where I Work” campaign, contact Diana Ciesko, professor, psychology, or Josh Murdock, instructional designer — the Faculty and Staff Giving Committee Chairs, or Donna Marino, CFRE, manager, donor stewardship.

Want to share why you give to Valencia College? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

“Why I Give Where I Work” is a part of the faculty and staff giving campaign that was designed by a team of Valencia employees and honors the commitment of faculty and staff to student success while seeking to provide additional resources for faculty, staff and students who work together to realize educational goals. This campaign is focused on sharing the good work of the Valencia Foundation and encouraging faculty and staff participation based on individual interest and willingness to contribute. A faculty or staff member should not, at any time, feel pressured or compelled to give to the foundation.

notes from the world classroom, endowed chair series

guest author: Richard Gair, reading professor, East Campus
I attended the CENTROPA Summer Academy for Teachers, held in Berlin, Germany. The idea for attending the academy was that they use a unique approach to Holocaust education. While many institutions focus more on the horrors of what the victims went through, CENTROPA focuses on their lives before and after the Holocaust.

Many survivors have voiced concern that their identity is often tied to the fact that they are a survivor. They say the Holocaust does not define who they are. They had beautiful, rich and fulfilling lives before the horrors occurred. Likewise, they have rebuilt their lives with offspring and often many grandchildren, which they say is their greatest revenge against the Nazis. With that in mind, CENTROPA fanned out across Europe to find survivors who were willing to tell their stories. Instead of video recording their testimony, as most institutions do, they asked these survivors to tell their stories and show pictures of their families as they spoke. Recorders wrote down or audio taped their testimony, focusing on their life in the Jewish community before and after the Holocaust.

Using this material, CENTROPA works with educators to build instructional lessons for teachers to use, and places all information on their website. The philosophy is quite simple. “Nobody teaches teachers better than other teachers.” Through this process, the beauty and fabric of Jewish culture in these countries is expressed.

Students can then make their own video projects similar to the ones CENTROPA has on their website. Instruction in basic movie making with Windows Movie Maker or Apple iMovie is on the CENTROPA website in the form of video tutorials and a sample project.

Teachers can submit student or class projects that use the CENTROPA model for placement on their own website. This approach appealed to me because it was a chance to develop instructional strategies and content that focus more on life rather than death. The Holocaust as a whole is a difficult subject to teach in any case due to the sadness and horror that is such an integral part of it. Here was an opportunity to show more of the other side in my course and encourage students to pursue that line of thought in their required projects.

Those same tutorials are now on my website. Upon my return from Berlin, I added a new option for the final project in my Holocaust course syllabus: To use the CENTROPA material and style to create an original video slideshow telling the life-family story of a survivor in the CENTROPA archives and databases. A few of my students did video projects for their final in the fall. They can be viewed on the “Student Video Showcase” page of my website which is This spring, several students will also be making similar videos which will go online when they are completed. Students are required to meet with me as they plan so I can guide them and suggest ways to make sure it is done well.

The endowed chairs are important and we at Valencia are quite blessed to have such a resource. They offer us an opportunity to hone our skills, further knowledge of our craft, and regenerate and broaden our commitment to the profession and thus directly influence student learning through better scholarships and teaching. The benefactors, as always, are the students sitting in our classrooms. The chairs give us an opportunity to enrich the already rich environment that Valencia is known for. It adds a dimension to our “learning centered approach” that the normal budgetary funds cannot cover. It adds to our skill set and makes us the leaders we are in the world of community colleges. I am so proud every single time I am a recipient of an endowed chair. My face lights up and I truly get excited with the new opportunity it provides me. Words are not adequate to express my deepest gratitude to Valencia Foundation and administration of the college for giving me the opportunity to be reborn each time my project is accepted for a chair.

Oenophiles, wine aficionados and spirit connoisseurs : Taste for Learning May 17th is for you!

An evening of food, wine and spirits paired with an auction to benefit scholarships and medical education.
An evening of food, wine and spirits paired with an auction to benefit scholarships and medical education.

An evening of food, wine and spirits paired with an auction to benefit scholarships and medical education.

Save the date! Taste for Learning is scheduled for May 17, 2014. All oenophiles, wine aficionados and spirit connoisseurs welcome.

For those who are new to Taste for Learning, this is an evening of food, wine and spirits paired with an auction to benefit scholarships and medical education. The event marks the continuation of joint philanthropy efforts with Orlando Health and Valencia College foundations.

Vintners from around the world will donate and pour their finest wines, thanks to ABC Fine Wine & Spirits. With hundreds of wines available why would you miss this event hosted at the luxurious Rosen Shingle Creek?

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

100 percent of each dollar given for tickets, auction items and sponsorships goes to its intended purpose . Every item is donated – from the gourmet food to the international wines poured by their own vintners, and from the advertising to the decor.

An evening of food, wine and spirits paired with an auction to benefit scholarships and medical education.

For sponsorship opportunities please contact Donna Marino at 407-582-3128.

endowed chair series

It started with a simple request to 2013-2014 endowed chair recipients, please provide further explanation of your endowed chair project. The response was amazing, growing to a series of articles over the next few months.

Valencia faculty is top notch and no question they always strive to provide the very best environment for our students. The role of faculty can be critical in a student’s educational journey. Inside Higher Ed featured an article in August 2013, “Majoring in a Professor,” that found a correlation between choosing majors and experience with faculty in that field. A good instructor can garner interest for a certain major and likewise, a negative faculty experience can cause a student to drop a field of study.

Valencia’s endowed chair program seeks to fund projects that enhance student learning. Understanding more about these projects offers a glimpse at what innovative things faculty are doing in and out of the classroom.

Dr. Debra Hollister, psychology professor, was awarded the Freeda Louise Foreman Chair in Collaborative and Creative Problem Solving. Dr. Hollister’s goal was to design a method to best help students choose a path to reach their personal, career and professional goals. Assessments that help students evaluate their personal goals and learning outcomes are available.

Dr. Hollister shares that often, a college student thinks that a career path or major will be immediately decided on the first visit to a classroom. She knows that is not always the case, and students may not understand what type of degree they need, the cost of that degree or even where the degree is offered.

She shares, “As an instructor, it is important to me that the students in my classes are well prepared to be successful in the next class they take. They may not understand how each discipline relates to other classes at the college or how important the information may be for them to learn. Enabling each student to explore career options may help them make better decisions regarding future plans of study and prepare them to make the transition from student to employee.”

Dr. Debra Hollister

Dr. Debra Hollister

Dr. Hollister notes that students who have a career plan tend to be more focused in their classes and understand the importance of learning, leading to less frustration and greater motivation. These students acknowledge that class selection and studying is part of the larger picture and will lead to long-term career success.

Students are offered many different assessments, the first being a career exploration inventory that enables the student to see where their interest might be. There are also assessments covering learning style and organizational abilities. These assessments are done largely on the student’s own time, completion and a positive outcome is dependent on a student’s drive and determination.

As a complement to these assessments, Dr. Hollister hosts a speaker series, featuring professionals whose careers span various fields. Speakers have included lawyers, engineering researchers, civil engineers, psychologists, higher education administrators, finance majors, business managers, doctors, professional sports athletes and entrepreneurs. She asks the following of all speakers: What did it take for you to get where you are?

On the subject of endowed chairs, Dr. Hollister says, “Endowed chairs are a great resource because they provide funding to enable an instructor to offer opportunities in a classroom that may not be offered any other way. The funds allow an individual instructor to go ‘above and beyond’ what can be provided ‘budget wise’ in the classroom.”

When you think about study abroad excursions, the mind might conjure up images of art and literature. For Melissa Schreiber, professor of biology, different ideas comes to mind, in the fields of health and biology. Professor Schreiber received the Chesley G. Magruder Foundation Chair in Nursing and Allied Health. The endowed chair gave her the chance to take students abroad to learn about infectious disease, public health and epidemiology in Panama.

The students and Professor Schreiber visited an indigenous tribe known as the Embera. They were able to meet with the tribe’s botanist and discuss treatment of chronic and infectious disease by using medicinal plants and herbs.

Jennifer Robertson, director of Valencia’s study abroad and global experiences (SAGE) program, told Professor Schreiber that the foundation offered endowed chair opportunities to help fund international trips. For more on the SAGE program, check out this November 2013 article.

Professor Schreiber explains why these offerings are so valuable. “Study abroad is important so students can experience foreign cultures, learn other language phrases and understand global issues. My students learned about the importance of surveillance, prevention and treatment of infectious disease in a tropical, developing country.”

Their studies took them to research centers, a hospice center, the Embera tribe, hospitals, the ministry of health, UNAIDS and a university in Panama. She feels that these endeavors gave students an understanding of microbiology and epidemiology that far outweighs what could be gleaned from a textbook.

Valencia students visit the Embera tribe

Valencia students visit the Embera tribe

Look for more updates next month.

5.17.14 food, wine and spirits to benefit scholarships and medical education

On Saturday, May 17, from 7pm to 10pm at  Rosen Shingle Creek vintners from around the world will donate and pour their finest wines, thanks to ABC Fine Wine & Spirits. Hundreds of wine and spirits options will be available. Please join us by inviting friends and colleagues, sponsoring a table and contributing auction items.

On Saturday, May 17, from 7pm to 10pm at Rosen Shingle Creek vintners from around the world will donate and pour their finest wines, thanks to ABC Fine Wine & Spirits. Hundreds of wine and spirits options will be available. Please join us by inviting friends and colleagues, sponsoring a table and contributing auction items.

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!

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.

two valencia administrators nominated for don quijote awards

Don Quijote AwardsTwo Valencia College administrators have been named finalists for the annual Don Quijote Awards, which are presented by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando and the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund of Florida Inc.

Each year, the Don Quijote Awards recognize business excellence and outstanding professionalism in Central Florida’s Hispanic community.

Elisha Gonzalez, executive director of Take Stock in Children of Orange County, was nominated as Professional of the Year. “To be recognized by both the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is an enormous honor,” said Gonzalez. “Growing up in Mexico City in a large family, I learned at a young age that everything is possible if you work together and for the greater good. I am committed to Valencia College and our community. I believe that economic development, education opportunities and top-caliber arts and culture offerings should be available to all citizens. I am proud to serve in Central Florida on various boards where collaboration and participation is the norm. I am humbled and proud to be a Don Quijote finalist and to be in the company of such accomplished Hispanic business and professional community leaders.”

Dr. Kathleen Plinske, president of Valencia’s Osceola Campus, was nominated for being a champion for the Hispanic community. At Valencia’s Osceola Campus, 42 percent of the students are Hispanic and Dr. Plinske has worked with the Osceola County schools and Osceola Education Foundation to increase the college-going rate for students in Osceola County.

“I can think of no greater honor than to be recognized as a finalist for the Don Quijote Hispanic Community Champion Award,” said Dr. Plinske afterward. “While not Latina by birth, through my studies of Spanish, travels to Latin America, and work in Central Florida, I truly feel embraced by and part of the Hispanic community.

“As a first-generation college student, I was blessed to receive a scholarship to study Spanish, including the opportunity to study in Mexico. The opportunity to learn Spanish and explore the rich cultural heritage of Latin America was truly a gift, and I can think of no better way to give back than to help our Spanish-speaking families learn about the importance of higher education and help the dream of going to college become a reality for our students.”

The awards will be presented on Dec. 7 at Disney’s Epcot Pavilion.

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

violin instructor’s fermata: legacy through music

Pennsylvanian music lover Doris Paisley took a chance on young Neal Phillips when she agreed to teach the preschooler violin. Neal became her youngest student ever.

Doris Paisley’s life was dedicated to performance violin. She joined the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra at the age of 15, where she played a total of 40 years and achieved first violin. Doris was a graduate of State Teachers College at Indiana, now Indiana University of Pennsylvania, with a B.S. in education. Her passions were education and music.

When Doris Paisley passed away in 2011, Valencia faculty member Neal Phillips found a way to honor his childhood violin teacher: by providing scholarship funds for musically inclined students to attend college.

Last week, two Valencia College students each received a $1,000 Instrumental Music Scholarships in memory of Ms. Doris Paisley. Both students have a passion for music; the scholarship funds will provide students the resources to explore their love of music while at Valencia and still afford core classes.

Pictured here are students Melody Cook and Jim Reyelt. They are joined by Neal Phillips (wearing a violin tie in honor of Doris Paisley) and Troy Gifford, program director and music professor at Valencia College.

Pictured here are students Melody Cook and Jim Reyelt. They are joined by Neil Phillips (wearing a violin tie in honor of Doris Paisley) and Troy Gifford, program director and music professor at Valencia College.

Pictured here are the first students to receive the Doris Paisley scholarship: Melody Cook and Jim Reyelt. They are joined by Ms. Paisley’s former student and Valencia professor Neal Phillips (wearing a violin tie in honor of Doris Paisley). Pictured also is Troy Gifford, program director and music professor at Valencia College.

sage – study abroad opportunities at valencia

SAGEmainPageBannerValencia students can experience the soul-changing study abroad experience through Valencia’s Study Abroad and Global Experiences (SAGE) program. Scholarships provide access to those who might otherwise be sidelined by finances.

The mission of SAGE is to prepare students to live, work, and collaborate effectively in a global community by providing learning experiences that promote an understanding of cultural diversity, increase language acquisition and fluency, and develop intercultural competency.

What used to be about learning a foreign language in a “real” setting has grown to produce students who are much more reflective about their career path and how that path fits into the world community.

And an October Chicago Tribune article about Stacie Berdan’s book, “A Student Guide to Study Abroad,” says that those skills learned during international study can have lasting effects in the workplace as well, helping set the world traveler apart from their peers in the search for employment.

The SAGE process is started by a faculty member who would like to incorporate a study abroad component in their course. Faculty do research and select a destination that will best meet the course learning outcomes. Jennifer Robertson, director of SAGE, encourages faculty to do a survey prior to finalizing their proposal to ensure that the location is of interest to students.

Even with scholarship support, these programs can be costly. Currently, the committee expects to approve ten to 12 programs each year, but this will depend on the level of scholarship funding available. Interest and faculty involvement in SAGE is growing, but the reality is the program can’t afford to fund all of the expected 18 proposals for the upcoming year.

The SAGE office is currently accepting applications for 2014 short-term study abroad programs to England, India, Brazil, China, Germany and France, Poland and France and Belgium.

Trips to Italy, Panama and Italy and Greece have closed the application process and are scheduled for February and March of 2014. Chef Pierre Pilloud is leading the tour to Italy where students will have the opportunity to learn about various Italian cooking techniques at the Apicius Center School of Hospitality in Florence, Italy.

Biology professor Melissa Schreiber will take students to Panama City to learn about public health awareness in Panama related to infectious disease. Students will attend lectures at the USMA University and spend time at a UNAIDS facility, as well as spending time with patients and their families at a hospice center and local hospitals.

Professors Tammy Gitto-Kania and Caroline Cully are heading up the trip to Greece and Italy. This humanities course will examine dominant areas in Greco-Roman culture as expressed through government, art, literature, music, philosophy and religion.

Jennifer cites funding support as an integral factor in student involvement. “I have found that if students do not have scholarship dollars then they do not participate.”

To make sure that more programs would run and be successful, the SAGE committee decided to award bigger scholarships to fewer students. Even with the $1,700 scholarships, students can still incur costs for a study abroad experience. It is a fact that keeps Jennifer and her staff always on the search to identify new funding sources for the program.

It is an effort that is most worthwhile and students reap the benefits of a successful SAGE program. Jennifer says, “There is a lot of research already published on the benefits of study abroad, and they have been able to conclude that study abroad increases a student’s ‘global-mindedness’ to sum it up in just a few words. While we cannot really create ‘global citizens’ with just one short-term study abroad experience, these programs open up the minds of our students to the unlimited possibilities that are out there. They come back with a whole new perspective on life and are forever transformed.”

Additionally she shares that study abroad has been linked to higher retention and graduation rates.

Danielle McArdle traveled to Beijing and Shanghai to learn about business in China and feels that she learned so much while she was there. “Study abroad opportunities are important because they broaden your perspectives and open your mind to the fact that the world you live in is not just your immediate surroundings but the whole world.”

Sharon Chacon is a student on Valencia’s Osceola Campus and she traveled to England for a leadership course. She feels it was an incredible experience that allowed her to expand her horizon and immerse herself in a different culture. She says the course changed her life.

“I feel that this study abroad experience and similar opportunities are important because they allow us to grow as people in areas of communications, relations and personal knowledge.” And she echoes the remarks of the Chicago Tribune, citing that study abroad sets her apart from her peers and looks “amazing” on college applications – to have explored beyond America and shown the responsibility and skillfulness required to function in another country.

Sharon is grateful to the scholarship donors who made her trip possible. “The fun and memories I made, along with the friends and partnerships I made in England are priceless. The knowledge and opportunities granted by their donations allowed me to grow as a young adult as well as providing information and experience in the real world. All these things aren’t something that can be taken from you and they will live forever in your heart and mind, thus making the thank you never-ending and completely sincere!”

For more information, you can find SAGE on YouTube:

You can also join the Valencia College Study Abroad group on Facebook:

art in teaching: new exhibition showcases work by artist and professor

The exhibition, titled “Demo’d: Art in Teaching,” showcases a body of more than 150 works created by Andrew Downey, who teaches drawing, printmaking and design at Valencia.

Viewers are likely to experience visual overload when first entering the gallery, but they’ll also see a vast and energetic range of demos created over time – as well as a body of work emanating from the art of teaching.

Last night opened the exhibition of artwork by artist and Valencia professor Andrew Downey.  The gallery will display his work free and open to the public through Oct. 18 at Valencia College’s East Campus, in the Anita S. Wooten Gallery.

The exhibition, titled “Demo’d: Art in Teaching,” showcases a body of more than 150 works created by Downey, who teaches drawing, printmaking and design at Valencia. An installation of works in various stages used as class demonstrations, the pieces in this exhibition have never been seen outside of the classroom.  Some date back as far as ten years while others are only several days old.

The Anita S. Wooten Gallery is located in Building 3, room 112, on Valencia’s East Campus, 701 N. Econlockhatchee Trail, Orlando.

The gallery is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information, please call 407-582-2298 or 407-582-2268.

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.

discussion on philanthropy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fleck Cadeau

Fleck Cadeau

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

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

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

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

a closer look – valencia’s first one campaign

Our First One campaign ended on Aug. 31 with $200,495 raised for student scholarships. This amount includes the dollar-for-dollar match that is the result of a challenge grant. 100 percent of the amount will go directly to scholarships for those that are the first in their families to attend college.

We’ve had a lot of fun during the campaign, reaching out via social media and tracking progress on WWW.VALENCIA.ORG/FirstOne.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bianca Maldonado

Bianca Maldonado

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

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

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

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

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

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

first one: college team leaders share their stories

The First One campaign only has a few weeks left to raise $100,000 in scholarships for first generation students. The best part is that the $100,000 raised by August 31 will be doubled by a matching grant.

So far the community has contributed over $47,000 (and that does not include the match)!

Josh, Amanda and Lisa are doing their part for the First One Campaign by sharing their ‘firsts’ and leading a team – how can you help first generation college students?

This  fundraiser is a grassroots effort spearheaded by faculty, staff, students, alumni and other friends  – please consider getting involved today!

Josh, Amanda and Lisa are doing their part for the First One Campaign by sharing their ‘firsts’ and leading a team – how can you help first generation college students?

  • Lead – Consider being a team leader! You can have fun with your friends setting up a team with a ‘fun’ name online at, and then begin inviting others to join your team. Many templates, (for example a “join my team” email template) are available to make this an easy process.
  • Join – Not one to lead a team? Well, you can volunteer with one of the already established teams – simply click on the team name you would like to join and click “join team”.
  • Share – Get involved by spreading the word about the First One campaign, and share your “first” story to inspire others. Change your Facebook profile pictures and/or Twitter avatar in support, and invite others to do the same (#firstone). You can visit the Facebook ONE page for over 20 awesome options of profile pictures to choose from.
  • Donate – If you’d like to make a donation, visit the First One donation webpage, and click “give now”.

For more information and ways you can contribute to the First One campaign, contact Donna Marino, donor relations manager, at or extension 3128.

spotlight story – donald gibson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

discussion on philanthropy – dr. kathleen plinske

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

a closer look – a conversation with dr. joyce romano

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

faculty and staff giving committee award 5 student scholarships

Valencia’s Student Opportunity Circle Scholarship — the first scholarship created solely with donations from faculty and staff —  awards 5 student scholarships for academic year 2013-2014.

Special thanks to Valencia’s faculty and staff committee ambassadors for their work diligently screening and reviewing scholarship applications from deserving students.

This scholarship is the direct result of Valencia’s annual Faculty and Staff Giving Campaign, designed by a team of Valencia faculty and staff.

Valencia Faculty and Staff campaign ambassadors offer their support of First One.  Valencia established the First One campaign to help first generation college students, those that are first in their families to attend college.

Valencia Faculty and Staff campaign ambassadors offer their support of First One. Valencia Foundation established the First One campaign to help first generation students, those that are first in their families to attend college, with scholarship support.

At the quarterly meeting on July 19th, the faculty and staff committee ambassadors also committed their individual time and resources in support of Valencia’s First One campaign.

Valencia Foundation launched First One as a fund-raising effort to help first-generation, low-income students pursue a college education.

The First One campaign provides the opportunity to give another first by helping a student go to college. For more information on First One please visit:

For more information on Valencia’s faculty and staff committee please visit:

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

online fundraising campaign for first generation scholars

In whatever way you are able to pitch in, we are grateful. The students you serve are grateful. The deserving First Ones will be ecstatic.

In whatever way you are able to pitch in, we are grateful.
The students Valencia serves are grateful.
The deserving First Ones will be ecstatic.

Were you the first person in your family to attend college? If so, we’d like to hear your story and share it as an inspiration for our students and our donors.

Valencia has launched its first online fundraising campaign called First One. This short-term grassroots effort is spearheaded by faculty, staff, students, alumni and other community supporters.

We’re looking to gather $100,000 from our friends, which, quite frankly, is an ambitious initial effort. But think about the impact your efforts will have on individual lives!

Gifts raised by August 31, 2013 are doubled by a matching grant! This means that once we reach our fundraising goal, we’ll be able to provide $200,000 in scholarships to deserving students who are among the first ones in their families to attend college.
Here’s how you can play an important part:

• Share your story! Please email a few paragraphs to

• If you use social media, please temporarily change your avatar to one of our nifty First One pictures, which you will find here. (Your friends will ask questions.)

• We welcome your gift, which can be made by credit card by clicking here.

• To make a donation by check, please send it to: Valencia Foundation at DTC-1 with First One in the memo line. We’ll be sure it counts toward the online campaign and that it is matched.

• To amplify your reach and impact, consider creating a team you can manage at WWW.VALENCIA.ORG/FirstOne. If, for example, you have nine other team members and each raises $250, your impact will be $2,500 x 2 = $5,000 for scholarships!

• If you’d rather use your mad social media skills to spread the word about the First One campaign far and wide, please click here.

• Visit WWW.VALENCIA.ORG/FirstOne to start a team or make a donation today. For more information on the campaign, contact Donna Marino  at or Barbara Shell or call 407-582-3150.

In whatever way you are able to pitch in, we are grateful. The students you serve are grateful. The deserving First Ones will be ecstatic.

Through this campaign – and every day on campus – you are transforming lives and families.

Thank you.


Geraldine Gallagher, CFRE

President and CEO

Valencia College Foundation

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.



endowed chair sparked recent TEDx ValenciaCollegeLive


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

sending appreciation to faculty and staff

You may soon see Valencia employees on campus sporting a new piece of Valencia flair: the gold Valencia Foundation lapel pin.

This lapel pin is given in appreciation to those faculty and staff members who are “Giving Opportunity” to Valencia students through payroll contributions to the Valencia Foundation

This lapel pin is given in appreciation to those faculty and staff members who are “Giving Opportunity” to Valencia students through payroll contributions to the Valencia Foundation

This lapel pin is given in appreciation to faculty and staff members who are “Giving Opportunity” to Valencia students through payroll contributions to the Valencia Foundation.

Employees who contribute by payroll deduction can select which scholarship they would like to support. These scholarships may reflect discipline, organization affiliation, or in memory of a colleague.

Others Valencia employees support Valencia’s Student Opportunity Scholarship, the first scholarship created and funded solely by faculty and staff for the students they serve.

For a full list of scholarships please visit the Valencia Foundation website.  If employees wish to contribute by semi-monthly payroll deductions please download the application here.

The Valencia Foundation would like to send special thanks to Katie Shephard and Josh Murdock who lead the 2012-2013 Faculty and Staff Committee!

If you are interested in serving as a faculty and staff campus ambassador please contact Donna Marino, manager of donor stewardship for Valencia Foundation at 407-582-3128 or email

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.


philanthropy – different definitions, same message

Professor Ed Frame

Professor Ed Frame

This month, we get a Valencia faculty perspective on philanthropy and scholarships. Professor Ed Frame has been a professor at Valencia for 16 years. Prior to that, he taught at the University of Wisconsin and at a university in Malaysia.

He is a professor of humanities on the West Campus and also teaches Asian humanities. And he even teaches in avatar form, conducting honors mythology for Valencia’s virtual campus, Second Life. He also leads an honors trip overseas during spring break. Recently, 18 students traveled to Paris with him and Professor Gustavo Morales and next year’s international trip will be to London.

Professor Frame's classroom in Second Life

Professor Frame’s classroom in Second Life

Professor Frame is a member of the honor’s council, the SAGE committee and he serves on several ILP review groups. SAGE stands for Study Abroad and Global Experiences. Valencia offers international study abroad opportunities for students, as well as a number of international professional development opportunities for faculty and staff. Photos from these trips and experiences can be found on Flickr. An ILP is an Individualized Learning Plan, a tenure candidate’s professional development plan.

He has served his local community through the Rotary Club of Pine Hills and the Rotary and Kiwanis clubs of Clermont, and his good works have even been felt across continents. After receiving his bachelor’s degree, Professor Frame served as a member of the United States Peace Corps involved in community development on the island of Borneo. The experience helped shape his ideas concerning the need to provide equal opportunities to all members of society. It is an idea that has lived on in his family – his daughter taught in Tanzania as a member of the Peace Corps.

“Philanthropy to me is anything we give – time, money, etc. – to help individuals improve their own self-esteem. Most important of all is the giving to help further education.”

In addition to his generous support of Valencia Foundation, he also works with African students, something he started doing with his wife when his daughter taught in Tanzania. When visiting, he was able to set up a continuing education program, similar to our DirectConnect program. He enlisted the support of local churches in Clermont and Hope College in Michigan, where his sister is a professor, and the program continues today. Seven students have been sponsored, with the entire cost of their education or technical training subsidized, and one student is now working on a doctorate degree. They also have purchased books for classes and provided funds to build a physics lab, including equipment, in the village where his daughter taught.

“These are students from villages that would never have had the opportunity to continue their education. I believe that often an individual can do more than an organization in terms of making a difference in the world.”

When asked about the importance of supporting scholarships, Professor Frame again refers to the opportunity an individual has to make a difference. “Valencia scholarships are extremely important in our community because a relatively small amount of money can make a major impact on the educational opportunities available. We are not a $55,000 per year school where major scholarships are needed. It is an opportunity for an individual donor to give funds that go directly to the community and make a difference. It is important to me that 100 percent of the monies donated go for scholarships.”

Thank you Professor Frame for reminding us that each individual and each gift counts so very much.

spotlight story – lynn desjarlais

When foundation board member Rich Maladecki talks, people listen. Rich is a longtime supporter of Valencia Foundation and president and CEO of the Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association (CFHLA). So when he told us about Lynn Desjarlais, a former CFHLA intern who is now a career program advisor at Valencia, we decided to see just what it was that made this industry leader speak so highly of her.

Her enthusiasm is immediate and contagious. We jump right in and learn that Lynn graduated from Valencia in 2007 with a degree in hospitality and tourism management, which is now what she advises for. She then moved on to UCF and the Rosen College of Hospitality Management and received her bachelor’s degree.

Lynn Desjarlais

Lynn Desjarlais

She met Rich when she was a student at Valencia. “He walked into one of my classes at Valencia after Professor Inglis invited him in. He said, ‘Hi, I’m Rich Maladecki and I have an internship opportunity. You need to go apply, you can get a scholarship.’ I thought, a scholarship, sure!”

She applied and received the internship, and CFHLA scholarships, and was soon spending every Friday from August to December at CFHLA, assisting the special events director and taking part in the annual hospitality gala. After her internship, she kept in touch with everyone at CFHLA and 6 months later, Rich offered her a full-time job, which she accepted, leaving Universal Orlando Resort after nine years.

She worked with Rich for a few years and then her life changed, she was pregnant with twins. She dropped down to part time and eventually decided she needed to stay home on a full-time basis. Her desire for more education soon took over and she went back to school. She also re-entered the workforce, working in hotels, which was then her passion.

She was working her way up in the industry, promoted to assistant front office manager. It was exactly where she wanted to be, but she realized that the 50-plus hour workweek was just not manageable with two young children. The career program advisor position was offered at Valencia and she felt it was a perfect fit – who better to guide students than someone who had been in the industry and been through the programs at Valencia and UCF/Rosen? She is now the advisor to about 1,000 students studying hospitality/tourism, culinary, baking/pastry or restaurant management.

Her dedication to her job and passion for students is remarkable, even more so when you learn she’s only been an employee since January. She develops individual plans for each of her students, tailored to their area of study and catalog year. It is a living document that can be updated by the student as they complete classes each semester.

When asked about merging her hospitality background with the fields of education and leadership, she shares that, “You want to grow other people and teach them. I want to teach them how to do this for themselves. In the hotel industry, everyone wants things customized and you have to listen to your client. Well, the students are my clients so I need to listen to them or else I am not going to be helping them or effective whatsoever.”

And it was something Rich taught her – network, network, network – that has also made her so valuable to Valencia. Lynn seeks out relationships with other departments that will benefit her students. All of her students must do an internship, so she made sure to reach out to Carmen Diaz in the internship and workforce services office. Recently she began seeing a lot of veterans, so she joined the VA committee to see how she can help them more. She’s reached out to UCF, connected with her program chairs, dean and other advisors. Anything she can do to provide better service to our scholars, she will do.

The path to an education can sometimes be bumpy; students can question their path, maybe even wanting to drop out. In the truest sense of the word, Lynn can empathize with these struggling students. Her first experience at Valencia did not go as planned, the program she chose was not a good fit and it took her leaving school and getting honest with herself before she came back to be a success in the hospitality field. She tells students, “this is very important, you need to own this and you need this degree because the world is too competitive.”

She is able to relate to students and share common experiences: “I can say you know what, I had that same problem with that math class and here is what helped me. I don’t think there is any shame in saying that you didn’t do well in something that you weren’t meant to do well in. You can shine in something you are good at.”

Even now, as she continues her studies to get a masters, she understands the hardships of a student. “I understand what it is like, it’s hard. There have been plenty of times, like when I was in school last night until 9 p.m. and I haven’t seen my kids all day…but you can’t quit, or else what are you here for?”

So what is Lynn here for? Well, in the long term she is getting her masters in management and leadership so that she can teach and bring her experiences full circle. She wants to continue on and eventually get her PhD. “Well,” she says, “you never stop learning.”

And now? Well, now she continues to be an amazing resource for her students. She is an integral part of the process here at Valencia, stewarding our students’ education and making each student strive to be the best.

Rich Maladecki sums it up so well. “In the workplace, Lynn is dedicated to excellence. She is a hard working professional, striving to be the best she can be. Lynn is personable and understands that customer service is imperative to success.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Thank you, Rich, for introducing us to Lynn, she is a shining example of stellar service and a devotee of lifelong learning!

kicking off the 6th brazilian film festival

For free show times and locations, please visit:

Valencia College will kick off its 6th Brazilian Film Festival on April 5. To view trailers, get directions and learn more about the films, please visit:

Admission to the film series is free. All films will be shown in Portuguese with English subtitles. Each showing will be held at 7 p.m., and will be preceded by a reception at 6:30 p.m.

 “Gonzaga: From Father to Son” (De Pai pra Filho): 7 p.m., Friday, April 5, West Campus, Building 3, Room 111 Audience members 12 years and up.

“Heleno”: 7 p.m., Monday, April 8, Osceola Campus, Building 1 Auditorium. Audience members ages 17 and up.

“The Clown (O Palhaco)”: 7 p.m., Tuesday, April 9, West Campus, Building 3, Room 111. Audience members ages 14 and up.

“Two Rabbits (Dois Coelhos)”: 7 p.m., Thursday, April 11, West Campus, Building 3, Room 111. Audience members ages 16 and up.

 “Margaret Mee and the Moonflower”: 7 p.m., Friday, April 12, West Campus, Building 3, Room 111. This film is not yet rated, but is deemed appropriate for all ages.

To view trailers, get directions and learn more about the films, please visit:

2013-14 grainger tools for tomorrow scholarship

Grainger - For the ones who get it done.

2013-14 Grainger Tools for Tomorrow Scholarship

Are you studying Electronic Systems, Heating/Air Conditioning, Plumbing, Pneumatics, Welding, Automotive, Construction, Facilities Maintenance or other Industrial Trades? 

You may qualify for the 2013-14 Grainger Tools for Tomorrow Scholarship! Apply Today!

Since 2006, the Grainger Tools for Tomorrow Scholarship program has helped technical education students across the country realize their educational goals. This scholarship recognizes outstanding students with a $2,000 scholarship and customized Westward toolkit upon successful completion of the student’s technical education program.

All applicants must provide the following:

  • One letter of recommendation from a professor, teacher, advisor, or military first line supervisor.
  • A list of clubs, activities, accomplishments, leadership roles held and years involved, including those related to their field of study or military job experience.
  • An essay of 200-300 words on why the student chose to study technical education, how their achievements and/or leadership roles have helped them grow individually and their future goals within the technical field.
  • Submit a Transcript showing a 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale.
  • A completed Grainger application.
  • Be enrolled in 12 credit course hours per semester and in the final year of study from Electronic Systems, Heating/Air Conditioning, Plumbing, Pneumatics, Welding, Automotive, Construction, Facilities Maintenance or other Industrial Trades.
  • Honorably separated from U.S. Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard).
  • All required documents must be submitted no later than 5:00 PM April 1, 2013 to Susan Ambridge, please call 407-582-1168 or for more information.

Grainger Application

Grainger Tools For Tomorrow Scholarship Program

All About Grainger

**The scholarship is not transferable to another institution. The scholarship monies must also be used by the student within 24 months.**

Grainger employees and their immediate family members are not eligible to apply. Applicants must be United States citizens or legal residents at select community colleges.


spring break 2013

540781_10151527616326303_758722549_nThe Valencia College Foundation and Valencia College will be closed March 4-8 for Spring Break. Students are invited to check Atlas for answers to many of their questions during this time.

Atlas is Valencia’s online system that allows students to receive e–mail and check information in student records using a secure personal identification number.

If you wish to make a donation to student scholarships this spring , please visit our secure donation site online at and click on Give Now: Make a Donation or you may also send your contribution to Valencia Foundation 190 S. Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL 32801.

Best wishes for a happy, safe and relaxing spring break.


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.

spotlight story

To know Gloria Hines and her daughter Trina Gregory is to feel like family. You can immediately tell that Gloria is fantastic at her job, as a counselor on West Campus. And with her chef coat on and poised attitude, Trina is ready to take the culinary world by storm. Indeed, she has already made quite a mark on the local food scene.

Gloria Hines and Trina Gergory

Gloria Hines and Trina Gergory

They have many things in common – they were both returning later-in-life students and juggled the demands of school as a single mom. Both have a special place in their heart for Valencia and for both, giving back is a way of life.

Gloria started her Valencia experience as a student, beginning in 1981 as a returning student. She finished her degree in 1985 and then moved on to Rollins, where she received her bachelor’s degree in organizational communications and a master’s degree in mental health counseling. She was hired at Valencia in 1991, when she was in her master’s program, starting her career as an advisor.

Her days are anything but typical, but each day is full of interaction with our students.

She hopes to retire in December or January and the first thing she wants to do is take a drawing/painting class at East Campus from Nancy Jay. She also wants to keep her counselor roots and go into private practice part time.

Gloria also plans to once again be involved with Valencia’s alumni association. She was a former president of the association and an active board member for years. In addition to our alumni chapter, she plans to be active in the Hamilton Holt School alumni chapter for Rollins.

It wasn’t just Gloria’s relationship with Valencia that drew her daughter Trina here, although that was certainly part of the equation. Right out of high school, Trina went to Rollins to study music.

She ended up in the spa business for 17 years. From there, she went into the real estate business, but it wasn’t her passion. She tossed around many ideas and thought, “Oh, you know, someone might pay me to cook for them.” And so began her culinary career.

She investigated other culinary programs but was soon sold on Valencia. She was impressed by the amazing lineage of expertise that Chef Pierre had, as well as Chef Ken, calling them the “best mentors for this program” anyone could ask for. She jumped in as a student and soon began competing. She got very involved with the Culinary Arts Student Association, serving as the community service officer in 2010-11 and president in 2011-12.

She competed for two years, earning three silver medals and one gold. Her team was the state champions for 2012 and represented Florida at the regionals for the American Culinary Federation.

Her love of competing and the close bonds she formed with her team members were part of the reason she continued her culinary education at Valencia and in May she will walk at graduation and be awarded three degrees – culinary management, baking and pastry management and restaurant management.

Trina has unique perspective on being a later-in-life student. She saw herself among students that were where she wished she would have been, “because now they’ve got 20 years to be where I have to be right now.”

Her ‘all in or nothing’ attitude worked and she is already making a name for herself in the local culinary scene. She is the exclusive provider of pies for PomPom’s Teahouse and Sandwicheria in downtown Orlando and does private and community events, offering drinks to dessert for groups of 25 or less. She also does private, in-home instruction, offering an education on things to keep in your pantry, spices and seven basic things that you can prepare just about any meal with.

In conversation, Gloria will proudly ask Trina to share the meaning behind her business name, Se7en Bites. Five years ago, Trina had gastric bypass surgery. She lost 187 pounds and has kept it off for five years and so that seven bites, it represents what she eats at an average meal. “It’s significant because those seven bites have to be the most magnificent bites of food that I put in my mouth. One of my philosophies when I’m presenting food isn’t about the quantity, but the quality. If you are fulfilling all of your body’s needs and that taste sensation where you’re getting your salty, your sweet, your sour, your bitter…you are fulfilling all of the desires your body is looking for and you’ll be satisfied and won’t need to eat as much.”

She credits her ‘Grammy’ with teaching her how to cook and instilling that passion and love for cooking, and it is a passion that she has passed down to her six-year-old son. “Oh yes, he tells me all the time he’s going to be a chef too!”

Service and scholarships are also an important current in this family. As a student, Trina received the Michael Jon Dreams and Passions Scholarship and the McCall/Wieckowski Families Scholarship. She remembers crying with happiness and excitement at the news, having been living off of student loans and anxious to have some relief and help make ends meet. Trina also gives back to the community and has been involved with the Orlando Gay Chorus and volunteers with Equality Florida and the Human Rights Campaign.

And then there is Gloria, who believed so strongly in scholarships and opportunity that she established the Frank and Carlene Hines Legacy Scholarship. “One of the things that was really close to my heart was making sure that other returning students, single parents especially, have the opportunity to have scholarships.” She freely admits that without her parents’ help, she wouldn’t have made it to where she is today and she established the scholarship as a way to remember them and to repay them for all the hard work they did all their lives.

With both Gloria and Trina, there is a truly caring nature and a call to give back and share with the community. Gloria offers this insight: “My dad always said, ‘I don’t care what you do in life as long as you do it with a good name.’ If you dig a ditch, make sure it is the best ditch you can dig and it is the same thing for giving back to the community. I don’t care what you do as long as you do it with a good name. So we’ve always just stuck with that. And it feeds your soul, when you can give back to other people. I think that’s real important. And to see people that need help and maybe they would never get it if you didn’t do something.”

In the near future, Trina hopes to open a place of her own, with the premise of a supper club and incorporating her love of music. She envisions an “eclectic spin on grandma’s cooking, but elevated and a little more formal.” In the meantime, be sure to stay connected with her through social media:

nursing faculty and students perform 26 acts of kindness

Nursing Faculty and Students Perform 26 Acts of Kindness in Memory of Newtown Shooting Victims By Linda Shrieves Beaty AreYouIn

How many Valencia College nursing students and faculty members does it take to change the world?

Apparently, not many.

That was the lesson that nursing faculty delivered this January and February as they urged students, staff and faculty members of the nursing department to participate in a unique public-service event.

Every year on Learning Day — which was held on Feb. 8 this year — Valencia College staffers perform some type of community service –  work that ranges from landscaping in local parks, to walking dogs at a no-kill shelter, or volunteering in area schools. But this year,  members of the nursing faculty had a different idea. They decided to perform 26 Acts of Kindness, part of a national movement to reach out and help fellow Americans.

The idea came from NBC news correspondent Ann Curry. In the days after the shootings of 26 children and teachers in Newtown, Conn., she tweeted this idea:  “What if? Imagine if everyone could commit to doing one act of kindness for every one of those children killed in Newtown.” Her idea quickly gathered momentum and 26 Acts of Kindness was born.

At Valencia, Kim Laughman, along with a handful of other nursing faculty members, discussed different ways they could honor the victims and families. “We thought, ‘What would happen if we let everyone in the Nursing Department know that we wanted to perform 26 Acts of Kindness to show support for our own community. Would they want to join us?’ ” said Tommi Graves, another nursing professor.

The response, says Graves,  was overwhelming. For three weeks, 26 full-time nursing faculty members and adjunct faculty, along with staff members and nursing students collected hundreds of donations.  By Learning Day, their cars were full of goods to deliver.

  • Food was collected for Pooky’s Pantry, a food pantry for Valencia College students in need of a meal.
  • Salad dressing was collected for the Orlando Union Rescue Mission.
  • VNSA (Valencia College Nursing Student Association) wrote letters and valentines to soldiers serving overseas.
  • Coupons were clipped and donated for military families to use in military PX stores.
  • Clothes and coats were collected and sorted for the Union Rescue Mission and the Orlando Coalition for the Homeless.
  • New and gently used socks & shoes, and clothes were bagged up for Park Place Adult Behavioral Center.
  • Board games, craft materials, & books were boxed for Park Place Children’s Behavioral Center.
  • Blankets, towels and pet supplies were gathered for the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Orlando.
  • Nursing students put donation jars in nursing classrooms and collected change for Shepherd’s Hope, a Central Florida medical clinic that relies on donations and volunteers to provide health services for people without health insurance.
  • Handmade blankets, cookies and valentine baskets with “sock cupcakes” were made  for Crossroads Nursing Home in Davenport.
  • A valentine-card distribution chain was coordinated to deliver Valentine’s Day cheers to nursing home residents at another center.
  • Toys, books and children’s clothing were collected and sorted for the Methodist Children’s Home in Sanford.
  • VNSA collected food for the Community Food and Outreach Center to be dispensed to low-income families in the Michigan Avenue area in Orlando.
  • Peace books were gathered to be distributed to different organizations.
  • Paper products were collected for Matthews Hope, a homeless outreach program in Winter Garden
  • A mysterious donor made and delivered many cupcakes to the nursing teams on West Campus and staffers at Florida Hospital South’s cardiac unit, where many Valencia nursing students do clinical and practicum rotations. .

“This experience,” said Graves, “reminded us that it is important to remember that it doesn’t take a ‘Learning Day’ to show acts of kindness and generosity.”

For Paula Pritchard, Valencia’s nursing dean, the outpouring of support was no surprise.

“Our faculty are very giving; they always give to the community, and our students are always the first to volunteer for any type of community service,” Pritchard says. “That’s really the heart of nursing. And I think the spirit of Valencia and the philosophy of the institution absolutely lives and breathes within the students and faculty of our division.”


Source: Written by: Linda Shrieves Beaty,

faculty update on endowed chair projects

January 4, 2013: Valencia College Endowed Chair faculty share with donors and administrators an update on their 2012-2013 projects.

January 4, 2013: Valencia College Endowed Chair faculty share with donors and administrators an update on their 2012-2013 projects.

Valencia faculty, administrators, distinguished professors and scholars gathered on January 4, 2013 to provide mid-year project updates and an overview of endowed chair proposals.

The Endowed Chairs for Learning Leadership program has been established to recognize and promote academic excellence at Valencia College. The program honors outstanding members of the Valencia teaching faculty and provides resources needed for advancement of instruction at Valencia. In contrast to endowed chair programs at four-year institutions, which aim to attract preeminent researchers, this program recognizes and supports the Valencia faculty.

For more information on Valencia Foundation’s 2012-2013 Distinguished Professors and Distinguished Scholars please visit our past  blog titled “Endowed Chairs for learning leadership at Valencia.”

Valencia Foundation: Planned GivingIf you would like more information on endowed chairs for learning leadership, student scholarships, academic programs or creating a legacy planned gift please contact Donna Marino at 407.582.3128.

faculty artwork exhibit

There is still time to catch Valencia’s 2012 Selected Fine Arts Faculty Exhibition, running through Dec. 14 at the Anita S. Wooten Gallery.


The exhibition features the works of members of the college’s art department faculty. The artwork represents a wide range of media, including sculpture, ceramics, drawings, photography and paintings.

Participating artists include: Courtney Canova, Michael Galletta, Rima Jabbur, Grazyna Kleinman, Allan Maxwell, Jackie Otto Miller and Camilo Velasquez.

The faculty exhibition has been held annually since 1975, when Valencia was founded.

The gallery is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The gallery is located at Valencia College’s East Campus, Building 3, 701 N. Econlockhatchee Trail, Orlando. For more information, call 407-582-2298 or 407-582-2268.

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:

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.

we have a winner

This past Friday, we gathered at the Crowne Plaza Dowtown Orlando to celebrate one of our own. Foundation CFO/COO, Michelle Matis, was honored as part of the 40th Annual Women’s Achievement Awards. The luncheon is hosted by the Women’s Executive Council, founded by Dot Ellis in 1972 to involve women in executive and professional positions who are committed to physical and cultural improvements of Central Florida through the recognition and development of businesswomen.

Michelle was awarded in the category of business. Under her guidance as CFO, Valencia Foundation’s endowment has grown to be one of the strongest among all community colleges nationwide.

Well deserved – congratulations from the foundation team!

global peace film festival comes to valencia

To celebrate International Peace Day, which is September 21, Valencia College will partner with the Global Peace Film Festival to present free screenings on multiple campuses. Valencia is offering three selections from this year’s festival. Please come out and join us. All faculty, staff and students are invited to attend. The three films that will be shared are as follows:

1. Khaati Suun (Pure Gold)
Thursday, September 20, 2:30 p.m.
East Campus, 3-113

2. Opening Our Eyes
Thursday, September 20
East Campus, 7:00 p.m., Room 3-113
West Campus, 7:00 p.m. Building 8

3. Booker’s Place: A Mississippi Story
Friday, September 21 at 7:00 p.m.
Winter Park Campus, Room 225-226

These events are made possible by the support and partnership of the West Campus H.E.R.O. Club, Study Abroad and Global Experiences (SAGE), East Campus student development, and thePeace and Justice Initiative (PJI). For more information

valencia’s president appears on jobs panel at GOP convention

RNC Panel112

Valencia College president, Dr. Sandy Shugart, participated in a high-powered panel discussion on jobs creation on Aug. 29 at this year’s Republican National Convention in Tampa. The debate, sponsored by The Huffington Post, was livestreamed on NBC News video.

To access video from the event, follow this link:

wine and winners – vino and vittles

At the September 15 international wine sampling and silent auction the venue, the libations, the scrumptious treats and silent auction items are donated.  So, 100% of every dollar you give for tickets, sponsorships and auction items goes to support learning!

get started

In honor of the first day of class, please enjoy this video:


new valencia east & winter park president begins aug. 6

Dr. Stacey Johnson Named New President of East, Winter Park Campuses

Stacey Johnson, currently the vice president of academic affairs at Palo Alto College in San Antonio, Tex., has been named the president of Valencia College’s East and Winter Park campuses.

At Palo Alto College, Johnson served as chief instructional officer for the college of 9,300 students. Prior to that, she served as the dean of arts, humanities and social sciences. Johnson started her career in community colleges in public relations, where she served as director of marketing and assistant to the president of Palo Alto College.

Johnson earned her doctorate in educational administration from the University of Texas at Austin, where she studied in the university’s Community College Leadership Program.

Outside of the college community, Johnson is perhaps best known as a champion fencer, a two-time national college champion in fencing and served as a member of the United States’ 1980 Olympic fencing team.  She has continued her service to the Olympics by serving on the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Board of Directors from 1996 to 2004, and was elected to the USOC Executive Committee for 2003-2004.

In addition, Johnson served as president of the U.S. Fencing Association from 2000 to 2004, and was the first woman in the organization’s 125-year history to serve four terms as president.

While in San Antonio, Johnson also founded the “Dreams for Youth” San Antonio Sports Foundation, which received a $1 million grant from the U.S. Olympic Committee for its work in serving 100,000 children.

Johnson will start her new job at Valencia on Aug. 6. She will replace Dr. Ruth Prather, who recently retired as president of the East and Winter Park campuses.

The East Campus is located at 701 N. Econlockhatchee Trail, Orlando, and serves 20,000 students. The Winter Park Campus is located at 850 W. Morse Blvd. in Winter Park, and serves 3,300 students.

smart phone access to college information

Valencia has created a new mobile app for Android and iOS devices that can provide access to college information.

With this new app, those with Apple’s iPhone or an Android phone (or other Apple devices, such as the iPad) can access the faculty and staff phone directory, campus maps, safety alerts, news and events, Twitter, photos and videos.

Valencia students can use this resource for secure access to course schedules, account balances, and grades using their Atlas username and password.

Download this free Valencia Mobile app from either the Apple App Store or the Google Play Shop.

For more information, please visit:


endowed chairs for learning leadership at valencia

Valencia educators are encouraged to remain current and continually improve discipline knowledge. The endowed chair program at the Valencia Foundation, with support and resources from many community partners, provide Valencia faculty the opportunity to examine the effectiveness of their teaching, counseling, librarianship and assessment techniques as they influence student learning.

Valencia Foundation is honored to have the support of our dedicated individual and corporate partners. Valencia College and our students benefit from the kindness of philanthropic individuals, corporations and organizations that are deeply rooted in our community.

Endowed Chair Recipients (2012-2013)

Rachel Allen: Patricia Havill Whalen Chair in Social Sciences

Suzette Dohany: Sue Luzadder Chair in Communications

Yolanda Gonzalez: Howard Palmer Chair in Foreign Languages

Debra Hollister and Brian Macon: Freeda Louise Foreman Chair in Family Resource Development

Mabel Machin: John and Florence MacLeod Chair in Business

Julia Nudel: Lockheed Martin Chair in Math

Bonnie Oliver: Bank of America Chair in Business

Robin Poole: Chesley G. Magruder Foundation Chair in Nursing & Allied Health

Marva Pryor: Bank of America Chair in Business Management

Richard Sansone: University Club Chair in Humanities

Brenda Schumpert: Lockheed Martin Chair in Science

Irina Struganova: Lester N. Mandell Chair in Natural and Physical Sciences

Elizabeth Wanielista: Wayne M. Densch Chair in Geriatrics

Joan Alexander: University Club Chair in Computers

Kenneth Bourgoin: HuntonBrady Architects Endowed Chair in Hospitality Management

Ralph Clemente: Walt Disney World Chair in Film Technology

Steven Cunningham: Dr. P. Phillips Foundation Chair in Free Enterprise

Kitty Harkleroad: Ira Vinson Henderson Chair in Nursing and Allied Health

Deymond Hoyte: SunTrust Teaching Chair in Economic Development and Business Education

Jim Inglis: Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association Chair

Chris Klinger: Tupperware Worldwide Chair in Community Quality

Ilyse Kusnetz: Eugene & Jessie Drey Endowment of English Speaking Union

Pamela Lapinski: Harry J. and E. Mary Hobbs Teaching Chair in Nursing

Adrian Manley: Raymer F. Maguire Jr. Endowed Chair in Communications

James May: Raymer F. Maguire Jr. Teaching Chair

Pierre Pilloud: Central Florida Restaurant Association Chair in Restaurant & Food Management

Andrew Ray: Hubbard Construction Company Chair in Technical and Engineering

Suzanne Salapa: Universal Orlando Chair in Arts and Entertainment:

Pamela Sandy: Chesley G. Magruder Foundation Chair in Health & Life Science

new study: valencia boosts local economy by $1 billion a year

A Press Release from Valencia’s Marketing and Strategic Communications Department

Orlando, FL – At a time when Florida’s unemployment rate is 9.4 percent and public funding for higher education is being cut, a new study finds that Valencia College boosts the economy of Orange and Osceola counties by $1.05 billion a year.

The study, conducted by Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc. (EMSI) on behalf of the college, calculated the college’s total economic impact, based on the 70,000 students enrolled at Valencia, and includes alumni earnings, student spending and expenditures related to college operations.

The impact study also examined the college’s return on investment, for both students and taxpayers.

  • For students, every dollar spent on tuition today increases a student’s future income by $5.60, according to the EMSI study.
  • For Florida taxpayers, the rate of return on their investment in the college is 8.9 percent, outperforming nearly all private investments’ return on the dollar.

Valencia, the 17th largest employer in the region, has become an economic engine for Central Florida, generating close to 3,000 jobs and spending $231 million a year on buildings, salaries, services and supplies.

In addition to the impact of students currently enrolled at the college, the study found that Valencia’s graduates contribute $781.7 million in earnings, spending and savings to the region’s economy each year.

To understand Valencia’s economic impact on its two-county region, compare the college’s $1 billion impact to that of the University of Florida (UF). In 2011, an economic impact study found that UF’s impact on the statewide economy was $8.76 billion – and $2.9 billion of that was attributed to the Shands Hospital system and UF physician practices.

“Valencia is a billion dollar gem. We hope the independent study will help the community understand what an asset Valencia actually is to the region,” said Valencia Board of Trustees Chair Bertica Cabrera Morris.

Trustees, along with Valencia President Sandy Shugart, are calling on business and community leaders to join the college’s efforts to increase public and private investment in Valencia.

“We encourage business leaders to get involved with the college and become a part of its success. Seek Valencia interns. Hire the college’s graduates. Serve on industry boards. Support the foundation. It all fuels our local economy and makes a real difference,” added Cabrera Morris.

Valencia stands out as a model of efficiency compared to its peer colleges around the state. Based on data gathered by the Florida Department of Education for the 2011-2012 school year, Valencia has lower funding per FTE (full-time equivalent) than its sister two-year colleges – and yet Valencia consistently produces more graduates and more students who are earning technical certificates.

Valencia was named the best community college in America for 2011/12 when it won the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. The Aspen Prize was the first national recognition of extraordinary accomplishments at a community college. Valencia won the honor for an overall graduation rate nearly three times that of similar, large urban public community colleges. In addition, Valencia had the highest job placement rates at 95 percent, and the most productive transfer program in the country, because of its partnership with the University of Central Florida (UCF).

Valencia plays a key role in educating the region. Of the graduating high school seniors in Orange and Osceola counties, almost twice as many start their college careers at Valencia as at all other state universities combined. And, today, that’s the new “normal” among college students. Only 25 percent of America’s college students are full-time students, living away from home. Seventy-five percent of current college students are part-time students, juggling families, jobs and school.

At Valencia, 39 percent of the students are focused on learning specialized skills that prepare them for the workforce through the college’s Associate in Science (A.S.) programs or Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degrees. To produce graduates who are ready to hit the ground running, the college works closely with 400 area businesses to tailor the curriculum to meet the needs of the workplace.

In some technical areas, such as nursing and allied health, Valencia graduates make up a large percentage of the local workforce. Valencia’s RN program supplies many of the nurses to local hospitals and is highly regarded for its quality. In 2010, for example, 94 percent of Valencia’s nursing graduates passed the national registered nursing exam – a higher passing rate than the state and national average.

That specialized training is reflected in the graduates’ earnings. Valencia’s Associate in Science and Associate in Applied Science degree graduates earn on average an annual salary of about $43,385 in their first year after graduation – more than double that of a high school graduate and $7,839 more than a bachelor’s degree graduate from UCF in their first year out of college, according to the latest data from the Florida Education and Training Placement Information Program (FETPIP).

In addition to preparing students for the workforce, Valencia offers a two-year A.A. program that prepares students to transfer to an upper-division college or university – at half the cost of tuition at the state’s four-year universities.

And, thanks to DirectConnect to UCF, an innovative partnership between the University of Central Florida and area members of the Florida College System that began in 2007, Valencia students who earn an associate degree are guaranteed admission to UCF’s upper division. Through DirectConnect, Valencia has become an “on ramp” to a four-year degree. In 2011, 22 percent of all UCF graduates started their college careers at Valencia.

Also helping the local economy is the fact that Valencia is attracting more students from outside Orange and Osceola counties. Since DirectConnect began, the number of students moving to the area grew from 14,967 to 21,134, a 34.5 percent increase. These students rent apartments, purchase goods and services, and stay in the area to attend UCF and build their lives here.

Click here to get the economic impact facts.

The full report, “Economic Contribution of Valencia College,” is available on the Valencia News website.

New Study Finds Valencia Boosts Local Economy by $1 Billion a Year

endowed chairs celebrate and share innovative work

Update provided by The Grove, Valencia College.

On Wednesday, April 11, the 2011-2012 Endowed Chairs for Learning Leadership recipients gathered at the Grand Bohemian hotel in downtown Orlando with members of the Valencia Foundation’s Board of Directors for dinner and a celebration of the faculty’s innovative work.

As the endowed chair projects draw to a conclusion, the winners came to share their results with the Foundation board and receive cords to be worn with their academic regalia at the upcoming commencement ceremony on May 5.

The evening’s program featured remarks from the Foundation board president, Linda Landman Gonzalez (vice president of community relations and government affairs for the  Orlando Magic), who praised the faculty for their strong focus on testing new ideas designed to engage students and aid in their success.

The faculty presentations showcased the impact of the endowed chair funding on their ability to implement new strategies in the classroom and were a small representation of the 28 chairs awarded last year totaling $119,600.

Professor Kitty Harkleroad’s project focused on helping dental hygiene students learn about techniques and tools to prevent physical injuries commonly associated with the repetitive processes and awkward postures required to thoroughly clean a patient’s teeth. Her project created opportunities for students to experience a pre-class, yoga-stretching routine, and allowed her to purchase tools with larger diameters to prevent repetitive motion injuries and saddle stools that will enhance posture, preventing back and shoulder injuries. Harkleroad and her students produced a clever video (see below) to highlight the results of the endowed chair award.

Brenda Schumpert, professor of biology, and Suzanne Salapa, professor of dance also presented results from their endowed chair awards, and other recipients were seated with Foundation board members to exchange project ideas and share results.

Endowed Chairs for Learning Leadership are funded through donations to the Foundation specifically for the purpose of supporting faculty in developing their practice. Donors frequently specify the types of projects, individuals, topics, and/or programs they wish to directly support with their donation.

Chairs range from supporting a particular discipline such as the Sue Luzadder Chair in Communications or the Raymer F. McGuire Jr. Chair in Mathematics, to supporting a specific population such as the Abe and Tess Wise Endowed Chair in the Study of the Shoah. Each year in April or May, a faculty-elected committee (supported by the office for employee development) reviews the applications using a rubric to select the Endowed Chair for Learning Leadership recipients.

The 2012-2013 Endowed Chair for Learning Leadership applications were due on April 9 and the peer review committee will meet later this month to select the recipients.

faculty and staff give-up-a-cup in support of the students they serve

Valencia College faculty and staff have launched an internal campaign to raise scholarships and college program funds. This year they are asking colleagues to “give up a cup” for Valencia students.

Valencia Foundation provides vital support to students and to the college through scholarships, endowed teaching chairs, and program support. Last year, faculty and staff donations grew by 39 percent. This year the campaign ambassadors would like to involve more faculty and staff in payroll contributions.

Primary focus of the committee is to share the good work of Valencia Foundation and encourage faculty and staff participation based

The campaign principles, taglines, and clever graphics were designed by college staff and faculty to provide support for the Valencia students they serve.

on individual interest and willingness to contribute. This is a grassroots effort lead by the hearts and volunteer time of the campaign committees. A faculty or staff member should not, at any time, feel pressured or compelled to give to the foundation.

The clever ‘give up a cup’ slogan and ‘have you left your mark’ logo were created by staff. These taglines really highlight how little drops of support, from multiple contributors, can collect into huge assistance for a Valencia student.

Feel free to visit the “Give Up a Cup” donation site online at:

Under the leadership of the campaign chairs Katie Shephard and Patti Riva the campus committee members have contributed their resources, relations and fond regard in support of the Valencia students they serve. Many thanks to the Valencia College staff and faculty campaign ambassadors: Chris Borglum, Clarence Canada, Diana Ciesko, Kimberly Finley, Brian Macon, Donna Marino, Josh Murdock, Mia Pierre, Denny Rogers, and Jorge Soto.

generosity times ‘tree’: committing to sustainability, creating environmental stewards and reducing carbon foot print

Arbor Day Foundation, Toyota Donate 100 Trees to be Planted at Valencia

Students and faculty at Valencia College West Campus will be planting 100 trees on Valencia’s West Campus on Mar. 29, as the college celebrates being named a Tree Campus USA.

Valencia College is one of seven Tree Campus USA participants hosting a tree-planting this year. The Tree Campus USA program honors colleges and universities promoting healthy urban forest management and engaging the campus community in environmental stewardship.

The tree-planting event will start at 10 a.m., with student volunteers checking in to receive their T-shirts, hats and gloves. At 10:30 a.m., a ceremony will be held with representatives from the Arbor Day Foundation, Valencia College and the Florida Forest Service.

The trees, which are all native to Florida and packed in 15- and 30-gallon pots, were donated by the Arbor Day Foundation and Toyota to celebrate the college’s commitment to tree care and sustainability.

Following the West Campus ceremony at 10:30 a.m., students, staff and volunteers from the college and Arbor Day Foundation will plant a variety of trees in four parts of campus:

  • Winged elm and Southern red cedar trees will be planted on the southern and western sides of buildings to reduce the buildings’ energy use
  • Longleaf pine trees will be planted in the open fields near Kirkman Road for sandhill restoration
  • Southern slash pines will provide screening and habitat near the south entry road to the college
  • And a wide variety of native trees will be planted near Lake Pamela, an area that will serve as a living laboratory for educational use

“We at Valencia are deeply honored to have been named a Tree Campus USA and to have been chosen to receive such a generous donation from the Arbor Day Foundation and Toyota,” said Dr. Sanford Shugart, Valencia College president. “We take seriously our goal of educating the whole student and we believe that includes teaching our students to be stewards of the environment.”

Valencia is one of 674 colleges and universities that have signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, with a goal to reduce the college’s carbon footprint 25 percent by the year 2025. Planting trees is one strategy to help Valencia achieve that goal.

Valencia College achieved the Tree Campus USA designation by meeting the required five core standards for sustainable campus forestry: a tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance and the sponsorship of student service-learning projects.

Valencia is the only two-year college to receive a tree-planting grant this year – and it’s just the second community college to receive the grant since the Tree Campus program began in 2008. The other colleges receiving grants this year are Purdue University, University of Colorado, Colorado State University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and University of Illinois, Chicago.

The tree-planting is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in conjunction with the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, with support from Toyota.

During 2011, the Arbor Day Foundation and Toyota helped campuses throughout the country plant 30,000 trees, and Tree Campus USA colleges and universities have invested more than $22 million in campus forest management. More information about the Tree Campus USA program is available at

Valencia’s West Campus is located at 1800 S. Kirkman Road, Orlando.

trustees move forward on campus, scholarships, and innovation funding

The work we do is truly rewarding.

Know what to do with a $600,000 prize?  Valencia College invested the recent award right back into the students they serve!

At the Feb. 21 Valencia College Board of Trustees meeting the funds were approved for student scholarships and project innovations for improving student learning.

Last December Valencia College was awarded the $600,000 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.  From the total prize, $250,000 will be used as matching funds for the Johnson Family Foundation to partially underwrite 2+2 scholarships for students in the Direct Connect to UCF program.

Every dollar given by Valencia to this fund will be matched by both UCF and the Johnson Scholarship Foundation. Recipients of the scholarship will be deemed “Johnson Scholars.” Throughout their college careers they will have special program requirements that emphasize leadership development.

The remaining $350,000 from the Aspen Prize will be matched with $750,000 from other sources to create a $1.1 million fund to support team-led projects to improve student learning, completion, placement in jobs and success in transfer.

For more information please visit the recent press release online.


Trustees Vote to Move Forward with Apopka Campus, Create New Scholarship, Innovation Funds

By Linda Shrieves Beaty, Valencia College

At its Feb. 21 meeting, Valencia College’s District Board of Trustees took preliminary steps toward creating a new campus in Apopka, and voted on how to spend the $600,000 award the college received for winning the 2011 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, which is given to the top community college in the nation.

The college was named the winner of the inaugural Aspen Prize in December, and the trustees voted to divide the prize money into two efforts – one that will provide scholarships and another fund that will encourage faculty members to come up with innovative programs that help students complete college, get placed in jobs or transfer to other institutions to complete their four-year degrees.

Of the $600,000 prize, $250,000 will be used as matching funds for the Johnson Family Foundation to partially underwrite 2+2 scholarships for students in the Direct Connect to UCF program.

Every dollar given by Valencia to this fund will be matched by both UCF and the Johnson Scholarship Foundation. Recipients of the scholarship will be deemed “Johnson Scholars.” Throughout their college careers they will have special program requirements that emphasize leadership development.

The remaining $350,000 from the Aspen Prize will be matched with $750,000 from other sources to create a $1.1 million fund to support team-led projects to improve student learning, completion, placement in jobs and success in transfer.

In other action, Valencia’s board of trustees approved a nonbinding letter-of-intent to accept a donation of land for its proposed Apopka campus. The letter of intent is the first step in the process of accepting a land donation. The proposed donor, Rochelle Holdings, is developing Kelly Park Crossings, a 624-acre development that is set to include shops, offices and homes.

Also at the board meeting, Valencia College President Sandy Shugart announced to the trustees that that Florida Institute of Technology, a private technological university in Melbourne, Fla., will provide $150,000 annually in scholarships to be awarded to 10 Valencia students who plan to attend FIT.

The college’s board of trustees also made history at this meeting when they elected Bertica Cabrera Morris as their chairwoman, making her the first Hispanic woman to lead the board of trustees in the college’s 44-year history.

Cabrera Morris owns and operates a public relations and governmental affairs consulting firm based in Orlando that represents Fortune 500 companies.

At the same meeting, the board elected Maria Grulich Toumazos as its vice chair. Grulich Toumazos serves as administrator of the Osceola County Economic Development Department.

The eight-member governing board welcomed two new members at its February meeting: Guillermo Hansen and Fernando Perez. They, along with members Lewis Oliver, III, Jerry Buchanan, Lori Kifer Johnson and Jo Quittschreiber, are appointed by the governor to direct the college’s policies

fafsa frenzy february (cont…)

More and more students need financial aid to pay for college. Simplifying the process is the purpose of a month-long event dubbed FAFSA Frenzy February. Valencia’s financial aid experts will assist students one-on-one with filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA, whether they are first-time applicants or are reapplying for next year.

Those students who complete their FAFSA on site are also eligible to enter a drawing to win one of three laptop computers. Attendance at Valencia is not required to participate in the event or the drawing.

FAFSA Frenzy events have been scheduled for the following locations and dates:

Feb. 22, 1 p.m. – 7 p.m., East Campus, Bldg. 4, Rm. 122

There are a number of documents students will need to bring with them, including a social security card, driver’s license and proof of 2011 income. If they are dependents, they will need to bring the same information for their parent or guardian.

For details and to register visit

This event was made possible with support from Valencia’s Student Development office, Bank of America and USA Funds®, a nonprofit organization that helps American families benefit from postsecondary education.

Valencia participates in most federal, state, and local financial aid programs, awarding over $192 million each year to students. Approximately 54 percent of Valencia students receive financial aid. Among those students is the largest enrollment of Bright Futures recipients among Florida State Colleges.

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

valencia’s learning day – personal perspective

Each year, all of Valencia’s campuses close for faculty and staff Learning Day. This year’s event was on Friday and we had the opportunity to do something really special.

We were given the opportunity to give back to the community. Every member of Valencia’s faculty/staff chose from a variety of options from organizations around Central Florida. One could read to children, help plant a garden, work to fight hunger, interact with seniors – and many more options.

I volunteered at Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. About 20 of us from Valencia showed up Friday morning at their warehouse location on Mercy Drive. I helped out in the office for a bit, assisting with an event mailing, and then headed out to the warehouse to help sort food. Donated goods come to the warehouse on pallets. Everything is examined and then sorted into categories. Even though there was no direct client contact, it was easy to visualize these goods making it to the tables and pantries of those who need assistance.

After our morning of service, we all convened at Valencia’s West campus for lunch, music and a celebration for winning the Aspen Prize and our continued good work!

About Second Harvest:
Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida is a private, nonprofit organization that collects and distributes donated food to more than 500 nonprofit partner agencies in six Central Florida counties: Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia.

Their vision is a hunger-free Central Florida and their mission is to fight hunger in Central Florida. On their Web site, they list four guiding principles:

  • Providing access to food and other grocery products to meet the need;
  • Promoting and supporting the development of our partner agencies’ ability to fulfill their missions;
  • Mobilizing leaders and communities by bringing visibility to the invisible problem of hunger and poverty;
  • Developing more holistic and county-specific solutions to hunger in Central Florida.

For more information about Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, please visit

They also have a blog at

women behind liberia’s peace movement inspire students and faculty

The scenes were heartbreaking. Little boys carrying guns, bragging about how many people they’d killed. Children on crutches, missing limbs that had been chopped off by soldiers. Women recounting how their husbands were killed and their daughters raped by soldiers.

All were victims of a civil war that raged in Liberia for 14 years. The war engulfed the nation and destroyed families — until ordinary women banded together to demand peace.

More than 150 students, faculty and members of the public gathered at Valencia’s West Campus on Jan. 26 to watch and discuss ”Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” an award-winning documentary that tells the gripping account of a brave group of women whose sit-ins and demonstrations finally led to peace for their war-torn country.

The leader of that movement, Leymah Roberts Gbowee, was one of the three women who won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. Gbowee helped organize the women’s Mass Action Campaign, which started in one community and spread to over 50 communities across Liberia. They dressed in white T-shirts and white headbands and confronted warlords, demanding peace. They sat in the sun and rain in markets and on the sides of roads, demanding that leaders listen. 

When peace talks in nearby Ghana stalled, the women protesters surrounded the building, linking arms and refusing to let the different parties leave until they hammered out an agreement. Finally, after more than two years of protests, President Charles Taylor was exiled and the West African nation elected a new president,  Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first female president in Africa.

The one-hour documentary, which has won a string of awards at film festivals around the world, is an uplifting look at how ordinary people can band together to change the world.

After watching the 60-minute documentary, students and members of the public participated in a discussion led by Agnes Kamara-Umunna, a Liberian radio host and author of the book, “And Still Peace Did Not Come: A Memoir of Reconciliation.”

Umunna, whose visit was part of a three-day residency called “Conversation on Compassion,” served as a statement taker for the Liberia Truth and Reconciliation Commission after that country’s brutal civil war. In Liberia, she works with the child soldiers who were co-opted to fight in the war — but who have been rejected by their families and much of Liberian society. They are victims too, said Umunna.

Many now live on the streets of Monrovia, homeless, doing drugs and drinking alcohol, though Umunna has built a center in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital, to help them. “I talk to them, one-on-one,” she told the audience. “It’s hard…. Because these kids are ex-fighters, nobody wants to donate money to help them.”

Although Liberia has made progress, she warned the audience that the peace there is fragile. ”We are sitting on a time bomb right now. There is real tension between the presidential candidates,” Umunna said. (Because no candidate received a majority of the votes in the presidential election held in October, a run-off election was held in November — and president Sirleaf won the runoff, but the results have been contested by her opponent.)

For audience members, the film was touching and inspiring. ”These women were heroes,” said Valencia student Juanita Islam. “I don’t know if I could have done that.”

But the discussion, and the failure of the West to intervene in a war that ravaged the country, was eye-opening to many. ”We say that Hitler and Stalin and Mussolini could not happen today,” said Valencia student Kris Boodooram, “but why didn’t anyone stop these men (in Liberia)? This happened in this millennium.”

The event was sponsored by Valencia’s Peace and Justice Initiative, the Global Peace Film Festival and the West Campus Human Empathy & Rights Organization.

Source: Linda Shrieves Beaty

npr story has a valencia connection

Valencia’s Lisa Macon featured in NPR story about worker retraining.

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.

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.

Smoke-Free Campus Coming in 2012

Following an announcement last summer, Valencia College is moving forward with plans to go smoke-free on all its campuses by August 2012. Several other Florida colleges and universities, including the University of Florida in Gainesville, have enacted smoke-free policies, meaning they don’t allow students, employees or visitors to smoke anywhere on school grounds. The University of Central Florida (UCF) is considering taking similar steps.

“I hate to interfere in people’s private lives and habits, but secondhand smoke affects everyone,” said Valencia President Sandy Shugart in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel.

The college will spend the next eight months preparing students, faculty and staff for the change in policy, and has launched a communications effort with the theme,  “Share the Air.”

The Share the Air campaign includes campus banners, ashtray decals, printed informational materials and a new website, among other things.  Valencia, in partnership with the Quit Smoking Now program, is also providing free on-campus quit-smoking programs for students, employees and members of the community who wish to kick the habit.

In November, student groups at all four campuses held events in conjunction with the America Cancer Society’s Great American Smoke-Out, an event that challenges people to stop smoking cigarettes for a day, hoping their decision not to smoke will last forever. The students used the occasion to introduce the college’s new smoke-free policy with a focus on health and nutrition (“Smoke a turkey, not your lungs” was the fun theme of Winter Park Campus’ event).

To see a video of the East Campus festivities and hear the views of smokers and non-smokers alike on the college going smoke-free, click here:

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Source: Carol Traynor, Marketing & Strategic Communications

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.

academically motivated students apply here

The new James M. and Dayle L. Seneff Honors College at Valencia will launch Fall of 2012, offering four distinct paths to an honors degree.

Students are being asked to aim higher.

This program is for students who want more from their college experience—more challenges, more opportunities and more connections with fellow students and great professors. The Seneff Honors College is for those with a deep passion for learning.

  • overseas trips
  • special scholarships
  • recognition at commencement

Valencia offers this and more, all in a setting that nurtures the whole individual.

Admission information will be available December 2011.  For more information please visit the James M. and Dayle L. Seneff Honors College website or contact Director Valerie Burks at

professor james may receives national honors for top professor in florida

A Passion for Technology and Teaching Earns National Honors for Top Professor in Florida

A Valencia College professor is being recognized today by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as the 2011 Florida Professor of the Year.

James May teaches English to speakers of other languages, but he has developed his own style – using technology to get beyond language barriers and help students learn.

“I guess I’ve always liked technology,” May said, “but I have never really believed in using technology for technology’s sake. Ask a language teacher and you will hear, ‘Truly acquiring a language requires interaction.’ As social networking sites, blogs, wikis, video-sharing sites and smart technology proliferated, so too did my ability to interact with my students. And I have found that, in addition to being more interested, my students read and write better as a result.”

The U.S. Professors of the Year program, administered by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), salutes the most outstanding undergraduate instructors in the country – those who excel as teachers and influence the lives of their students.

A total of 27 state winners and four national winners will be honored at a reception today at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

“We’re thrilled that Dr. May was named Florida Professor of the Year,” said Ruth Prather, president of Valencia’s East Campus, where Professor May teaches. “His students do extraordinarily well. He’s a credit to Valencia and to his fellow faculty.”

May has had an extraordinary year. He won the Excellence in Technology award by the Association of Florida Colleges, taking first place. And last November, May was honored by the Florida Association of Community Colleges as their 2010 Professor of the Year.

Valencia is one of the nation’s largest and most celebrated two-year colleges. In September, the school was named one of 10 finalists for the million-dollar Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, which rewards the best and most innovative community college in the nation. Valencia is also 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.

MEDIA KIT with video, B-roll, supporting material

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:

a toad that rolls down hills to escape foes is among the discoveries of visiting biologist

Learn about the unusual creatures of the South American rainforest discovered by Dr. Bruce Means, when he lectures at Valencia College’s East Campus on Tuesday, November 1 from 1-2 p.m.

Means’ presentation, titled “Wild, Wild Lost Worlds of South America: Exploration, Discoveries, Secrets,” will include the discovery of a biodiversity hotspot on previously unexplored mesas called “tepuis” in Venezuela and Guyana. These table-top mountains are where Means has found numerous frogs, giant earthworms (named Andiorrhinus meansi after Means), and terrestrial crabs new to science, including the tumbling pebble toad that curls into a ball and hurtles itself down the side of a mountain to escape its predators.

To scientists, though, Means’ most exciting discovery is an entirely new family of frogs that occupies a critical link between those frogs that lay aquatic eggs that hatch into gilled larvae (tadpoles) and the several families of frogs that lay eggs that develop directly into froglets.

Means has published four books and 270 scientific research papers, and has authored articles that have appeared in Natural History, National Geographic, International Wildlife, National Wildlife, BBC Wildlife, South American Explorer and other natural history magazines. He co-produced and starred in eight documentary films for National Geographic Explorer, BBC Television and PBS. He is currently executive director of the Coastal Plains Institute and Land Conservancy based in Florida and an adjunct professor at Florida State University.

Following the free presentation, Means will hold a book signing with copies of his “Stalking the Plumed Serpent and Other Adventures in Herpetology,” “Priceless Florida” and “Florida Magnificent Wilderness: State Lands, Parks and Natural Areas” available for sale.

The event, sponsored by Student Development, will take place in the Performing Arts Center on the college’s East Campus, which is located at 701 N. Econlockhatchee Trail in Orlando. For more information, please call Steve Myers, Valencia professor of biology, at (407)582-2205.

The tumbling pebble toad can be seen in this feature story from BBC-Earth News:

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

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 professor: learn to appreciate and embrace diversity

What does a diverse student body mean to teachers and to colleges?

Professor John Scolaro, who has taught humanities at Valencia for 22 years, answers that question in an essay published in The Orlando Sentinel. Well done, professor!

My Word: Teachers must appreciate diversity

 By John Scolaro, September 27, 2011

 After teaching 22 years at Valencia College’s West Campus, I am more excited now than I have ever been about the prospects of the students I teach and see every day.

 Students deserve the utmost respect from their teachers. They are, as the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber once said, developing beings. By this he meant that every student is an untapped reservoir. The teacher’s task, then, is to invite his or her students to share their experiences based on genuine interaction. As Buber said: “It means that the teacher shall face his pupils not as developed brain before unfinished ones, but as being before beings, as mature being before developing beings. He must really face them, that means not in a direction working from above to below, from the teacher’s chair to the pupils’ benches, but in genuine interaction.”

 Teaching, in other words, is a lot more than simply dispensing information from above; it is more often the result of genuine dialogue. In fact, without dialogue between teachers and their students or between students and their peers, the transfer of ideas is dead. The root meaning of the Latin word for education, educare, is to “draw forth.” Students must be invited to speak.

 Finally, the diversity among students these days is obvious. College-wide, we now have an enrollment of close to 60,000 students. Our students represent diverse cultures, languages, and religious and economic traditions. This constitutes a formidable challenge of the highest order.

 As teachers, we need to appreciate diversity. Its absence leads to what a former student called unidimensional thinking, or the idea that everything should be filtered through the prism of our own world view in order to gain credibility.

 If teachers and students maintain this closed view of others, we will continue to perpetuate the intolerance, racism, and disrespect for others so common in American culture today. The better route is to accept the world as a human kaleidoscope infused with mystery. We must learn to appreciate diversity.

 Since students are imbued with unlimited potential, we teachers must find a way to inspire and honor them. To honor the uniqueness of our students today is more necessary now than ever before.

 John Scolaro of Orlando is a professor of humanities at Valencia College.

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

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

news from Russia

Steve Cunningham, professor of ESL and English is currently in the Russian Federation as a Fulbright Scholar, lecturing at the Orsk Humanities and Technology Branch or Orenburg State University.

“After almost two days of travel with a nine hour layover in the Moscow airport, I arrived in Orsk, Russia, at 2:00 in the morning on Friday, September 30th.  The head of the Institute’s English department, Marina, and her husband were there to welcome me, and move me into my room at the student dispensary.  What is a student dispensary, you wonder?  So did I.  I thought it was going to be a student dormitory.  It is far from it.  The dispensary is actually a facility where students can live while they are being treated for minor medical problems, and it also has guest rooms for special guests.  I am in one of the guest rooms, and it more like being in a hotel than a dorm.  My room is not huge, but it has a comfortable bed, a stuffed arm chair, a private bath, refrigerator, a radiator heater, and a 13″ color TV with rabbit ears.  The only thing I’ve noticed missing so far is a laundry facility, so I’ll be washing my clothes in the sink and drying them on the radiator – a very workable solution.”

To find out more about this post and Mr. Cunningham’s other Russian adventures, visit his blog at

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

valencia announces new initiatives at academic assembly

What’s up for the coming year at Valencia?

Administrators are urging faculty to find ways to cut textbook costs for students, the college will urge faculty and staff to adopt energy-saving habits, and the college will go smoke-free on all its campuses by 2012.

Those new initiatives — along with the addition of 31 new full-time tenure-track positions – were announced by Valencia President Dr. Sanford Shugart at Valencia’s annual Academic Assembly. In addition, Shugart said he will begin holding regular online conversations with 36 Valencia students who’ve been handpicked to provide the president with input on the college experience. 

Financially, the upcoming year will be a challenging one for Valencia College,  but one that the college can weather,  Shugart told the assembled faculty.  “So far, we’ve managed to navigate through the budget area rather well,” Shugart said, but he warned that the coming year will be tight  and it’s unlikely that the college will hire many new faculty members next year.

Because rising textbook prices are students’ highest expense after tuition, Shugart urged faculty members to work together to find solutions — whether that means collaborating to write textbooks, using textbooks that can be rented, or agreeing to use the same textbook, which would reduce the resale price of the book.   

Some faculty members are already working toward that goal. Biology Professor Robert Gessner has written his own textbook for his microbiology classes – and by using Powerpoint presentations and extensive notes that he provides to the students in lieu of a textbook, he has cut the students’ book costs for his microbiology class from $240 to about $90.

Shugart also announced the launch of a new video contest for students, with the winners receiving free tuition. The contest, which will launch on Sept. 1, invites students to submit videos about their lives and their college dreams  — why they chose Valencia, why they want to attend college, how they’ve struggled and been motivated to continue. The videos will be submitted and viewed on Valencia’s Facebook page, with students voting for their favorites via Facebook. A team of judges will select five winners from the top 10 vote-getters — and on Nov. 15, five winners will be named. Each will receive free tuition for the remainder of their Valencia careers — up to 60 credit hours.

Among the other changes that Valencia students, faculty and staff will see in the coming year:

  • The college is continuing its push to go green. By Earth Day 2011, the college had recycled 1 million pounds of paper, cardboard, plastic and metal. Changes already undertaken in the college’s air conditioning systems are saving $900,000 a year and an estimated 1 million gallons of water a year.  Next, the college is asking students, faculty and staff to start changing their behavior. ”We think there’s another million dollars to be saved, but it will be through behavioral change, the little habits that we can change,” Shugart said. 
  • Valencia is launching its new James M. & Dayle L. Seneff Honors College and expanding the honors program on all campuses.
  • Inspired by the popular TEDTalks videos available online, Valencia will create a series of 4-minute videos that tell the stories about the work that individual professors are doing.
  • Although this is the final year of a three-year, $743,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the college’s Developmental Education Initiative will continue to research the best ways to provide remedial education and support for students who aren’t ready to tackle college coursework. The goal is to increase the number of students who graduate from college — particularly those who come from low-income homes. 
  • Valencia continues to expand – adding a new campus at Lake Nona, a new building at the Osceola campus and a new building on the West Campus, which will house Valencia’s continuing education division.  Valencia is also exploring new sites in Apopka and Poinciana, as well as a potential location at Horizon West in west Orange County.
  • The college will decentralize some of its academic operations, giving campus presidents more authority to innovate.  “Our capacity to innovate is being limited by our size,” Shugart said. “The people who’ve been trying to nourish innovation are finding it immensely difficult to coordinate with 19 deans.”

Source: Marketing & Strategic Communications


valencia award winning faculty and staff

The video below highlights Valencia Foundation Endowed Chair and National Institute for Staff & Organizational Development (NISOD) award winners. 

Congratulations to each Valencia College Faculty and Staff for above and beyond efforts to support and enhance the student experience at Valencia! 


Valencia educators are encouraged to remain current and continually improve discipline knowledge. With these endowed chairs, our faculty are given the opportunity to examine the effectiveness of their teaching, counseling, librarianship and assessment techniques as they influence student learning.

 Congratulations to the following Distinguished Professors and Scholars, who have been awarded a 2011-12 Valencia Foundation Endowed Chair for Learning Leadership:

 Category I

Rachel Allen: Patricia Havill Whalen Chair in Social Sciences
Deidre Holmes DuBois:  Sue Luzadder Chair in Communications
Richard Gair: Abe and Tess Wise Endowed Chair in the Study of the Shoah
Claudia Genovese-Martinez: Lockheed Martin Chair in Mathematics Albert Groccia:  Raymer F. Maguire Jr. Chair in Mathematics
Debra Hollister and Brian Macon: Freeda Louise Foreman Chair in Family Resource Development
Deymond Hoyte:  Bank of America Chair in Business Management
Richard Sansone: University Club of Orlando Chair in Humanities
Brenda Schumpert: Lester N. Mandell Chair in Natural and Physical Sciences
Patricia Smith: Lockheed Martin Chair in Science
Betty Wanielisat:  Chesley G. Magruder Foundation Chair in Allied Health Yasmeen Qadri: Wayne Densch Chair in Geriatrics  

Category II

Colin Archibald:  SunGard Endowed Teaching Chair in Computer Science
Mary Beck:  Maguire Family Teacher Endowed Chair
Ralph Clemente: Walt Disney World Chair in Film Technology
Steven Cunningham: Tupperware Corporation Chair in Community Quality Corinne Fennessy: William C. Demetree Jr. Foundation Chair in Education for Special Needs
Debbie Hall:  Dr. P. Phillips Foundation Chair in Free Enterprise
Kitty Harkleroad: Ira Vinson Henderson Chair in Nursing and Allied Health Jim Inglis:  Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association Chair in Hospitality Management
Ilyse Kusnetz: Dr. P. Phillips Foundation Chair in Education for the Physically Challenged
James May: University Club of Orlando Chair in Advanced Computer Technology
Pierre Pilloud:  Central Florida Restaurant Association Chair in Restaurant and Food Management
Lana Powell:  SunTrust Chair in Economic Development and Business Education
Suzanne Salapa:  Universal Orlando Chair in Arts and Entertainment
Pam Sandy and Robin Poole: Chesley G. Magruder Foundation Chair in Health and Life Sciences
Michael Shugg:  Jessie and Eugene Drey Endowment of the English-Speaking Union/Central Florida Branch Chair in English and Humanities
Nicole Spottke: Raymer F. Maguire Jr. Endowed Chair in Communications

fall semester begins aug. 29; classes still available

More than 42,000 students will return to college classrooms at Valencia College on Monday, Aug. 29, when the fall semester begins.

But the number of students enrolled this fall will likely rise, because students who register late may be able to start classes in October.

Whether they start in August or October, this will be the first incoming class to enter as students of Valencia College. The college changed its name on July 1, dropping the name Valencia Community College.

The semester also launches two new bachelor’s degree programs, the first offered at Valencia. Students can now earn their bachelor’s degree in Radiologic and Imaging Sciences or a bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology.

Both degree programs will be based at Valencia’s West Campus on Kirkman Road. However, all of the bachelor’s coursework in radiologic and imaging sciences will be online, except for the practicums.

In addition to the two new bachelor’s degrees, Valencia is offering a new Associate in Science degree in Business Management, Marketing and Administration.

And for parents aggravated that their son or daughter didn’t register in time for fall classes, here’s good news. It’s not too late to sign up for Valencia’s “Flex Start” classes – which start on Oct. 5 and Oct. 22.

“Flex Start” classes are typically eight to 10 weeks long. The fall semester, by contrast, lasts 16 weeks. For more information on “Flex Start,” go to

Source: Marketing & Strategic Communications

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’s new bachelor’s degree programs

Valencia will, for the first time, offer bachelor’s degree programs starting in Fall 2011. Students on a specific career track can transfer into programs that lead to:

Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology

Concentrations in computer systems, electrical/electronic systems and lasers and photonics.

Valencia College, Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering program was developed in partnership with local engineering professionals and incorporates the same state-of-the-art equipment found in the research and development departments of major companies. That way, you’ll be prepared to meet both industry demands and employer expectations by the time you graduate. And with small class sizes of only about 22 people, you’ll get the same individual instruction and support that students have come to expect from Valencia.

Bachelor of Science in Radiologic and Imaging Sciences

Concentrations in computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging and quality management.

Valencia College, Bachelor of Science in Radiological Imaging Sciences program is accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT), Valencia’s bachelor’s program is designed to help you meet industry demands and employer expectations. Thanks to our partnerships with local healthcare providers, this program was designed to meet the local workforce needs and can provide placement for you to conduct your practicum. In addition, this program is especially ideal for working professionals, since all courses, except for the practicum, are offered online


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

student life at valencia college

Clubs and Organizations

Clubs and Organizations

Valencia offers more than 60 groups, clubs and organizations, including clubs for movie, book, art and animal lovers, clubs for African-American, Latino, Caribbean and Muslim students, career interest groups, student government and Valencia Volunteers. We also offer intramural sports and campus fitness centers for aspiring athletes and those who just want to stay in shape.

Campus Activities
Campus Activities

From film festivals to music and dance concerts, plays, guest speakers and cultural events, there’s always something happening on Valencia’s campuses.

The biggest student event is Matador Day, a festival held each fall. A long-standing tradition, this fun-filled event features music, food, games and contests. (Little known fact: the matador is Valencia’s mascot.)

Student Life

Around Town

Year-round sunshine, local theme parks and nearby beaches have made Central Florida a vacation destination – and a great place to live. As a Valencia student, Disney, Universal, Islands of Adventure and SeaWorld will practically be in your backyard, along with more than 5,000 restaurants and shopping destinations like Mall at Millennia, Florida Mall and the outlet stores.

For a more local experience, there’s also downtown Orlando, which is home to unique arts venues and a thriving music scene. If sports are your thing, you can cheer on the UCF Knights at their new football stadium nearby the East Campus or catch a Magic game at the completed Amway Arena in downtown Orlando.


art exhibition pays tribute to gallerys namesake

The Anita S. Wooten Gallery at Valencia College’s East Campus will host a memorial exhibition titled, “Friends of Anita S. Wooten Exhibition,” beginning Friday, June 17, with a reception from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The collection will be on exhibit through August 5.

The exhibition will feature the work of Victor Bokas, Eric Breitenbach, Rocky Bridges, Michael Galletta, Cicero Greathouse, Nancy Jay, Mitchell Long, Robert Rivers and Que Throm.

Valencia Professor and artist Anita Wooten was well-known throughout the Central Florida arts community before her death from cancer in 2001. Wooten’s soulful work reflected the hopes, anxieties and fears of her decade-long battle against the disease.

The exhibit and reception are free and open to the public.

Summer gallery hours are Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to 12 noon.

The gallery is located in Building 3 on Valencia’s East Campus at 701 N. Econlockhatchee Trail in Orlando.

For information, call 407-582-2298 or 407-582-2268. For a schedule of upcoming exhibitions, visit

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

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:

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.

remembering fallen heroes

Valencia’s Criminal Justice Institute (CJI) hosted a memorial service on April 27 to honor Orange County Deputy Brandon Lee Coates who died in the line of duty last December.

Deputy Coates attended basic recruit law enforcement training at CJI in 2006. His wife, Orange County Deputy Sheriff Virginia Coates, is also a graduate of the program.

Donna Marino, donor stewardship manager at Valencia Foundation, announced at the ceremony that a memorial scholarship fund had been established in memory of Coates. An initial gift of $500 was made by students now enrolled in the same class that Coates once was.

Numerous law enforcement officials from central Florida, along with Deputy Coates’ widow and mother, Debbie Griffin, attended the ceremony.

Inscribed in a memorial monument that stands at CJI were these words:

“This monument is dedicated to the valiant men and women that have selflessly given their lives to protect the innocent and preserve the American way of life. We honor the valor in their hearts and the fortitude they showed in the face of death. As recruits at this academy, we strive to walk the path they have laid before us. To be as brave, chivalrous, and have the same courage under pressure. We celebrate their lives, their sacrifice, and the hope they inspired in us all.”

CJI’s ceremony was the first of many local, state and national law enforcement ceremonies that occur each May to honor officers who have died in the line of duty.

To make a donation to the Brandon Lee Coates Memorial Scholarship Fund, please visit Valencia Foundation’s Web site at

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

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.

valencia students are programming champs of intercollegiate competition

Valencia’s computer programming students took on students from Seminole State College and  Brevard and Lake Sumter community colleges at the first annual Intercollegiate Computer Programming Competition held in late March.

Gabriel Arvam from Valencia won first place and a $500 prize by being the first to solve four programming problems. The competitors could choose their language from amongst C, C++, Java, C# or Visual Basic.

“When I first saw the problems, I was afraid that nobody would be able to solve any of them in the time they had,” said Colin Archibald, computer programming professor at Valencia East Campus. “They were very challenging.”

Competitors were presented with four programming problems and given just three hours to complete as many as they could. Winners were determined by the number of problems solved and the total time taken.

A second Valencia computer programming student, Brent Richardson, took second place and received $250. The third place plaque and a $100 prize went to Jonathan Lundstrom from Seminole.

The team trophy was won by Valencia.

Archibald said, “We had a large team at the competition, and the more advanced students won the prizes, but the students who are earlier in their studies gained some valuable experience in the competition, and we should have an even stronger team next year.”

Professional software developers from AAA, Clear Channel and Lockheed Martin served as judges. Additional support and prize money came from EA Sports and Disney.

The competition, which took place at Seminole State College’s Lake Mary campus, was organized and hosted by Seminole Professor Dick Grant and was partly funded by a National Science Foundation grant.

The NSF grant had been awarded to UCF and the four participating colleges (Seminole State, Brevard, Valencia and Lake Sumter community colleges). The main goal of the grant is to create a new educational pathway—the Bachelor of Applied Science in Software Development. This UCF degree is designed for graduates of the partnering schools’ Associate in Science Computer Programming and Analysis degree programs. The new bachelor’s program is expected to begin offering classes this fall.

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

bachelor’s degrees come to valencia

Valencia launches its own bachelor’s degree programs for the first time in its history this fall, with electrical and computer engineering technology and radiologic and imaging science. They add to an already strong presence of bachelor’s programs offered through UCF’s regional campus at Valencia. They also are in high demand by Valencia students and lead to well-paying jobs in stable industries—health care and high technology.

Similar bachelor’s degrees had been offered by the University of Central Florida until July of 2009, when budget cuts forced the university to eliminate the programs. The B.S. in Radiologic and Imaging Sciences will offer concentrations in Computed Tomography, Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Quality Management. The degree will primarily be offered through online courses for the flexibility they offer to working health-care professionals.

The program aligns with associate degree programs in Diagnostic Medical Sonography and Radiography already offered by Valencia. The B. S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology will have concentrations in Computer Systems, Electrical/Electronic Systems and Laser and Photonics. It aligns with the A.S. in Electronics Engineering Technology and the A.A. in Engineering. The curriculum prepares graduates for engineering occupations related to electrical/ electronics, computer systems, digital electronics, digital and wireless communication and lasers and optics.

Reprinted from Valencia Vitae, Spring 2011

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.

valencia’s got talent

The American Advertising Federation’s Orlando chapter recently recognized local advertising talent and excellence in advertising with its annual ADDY awards. Winners in the student competition, selected from more than 40 entries included eight Valencia students from the Graphics Technology program: Laura Murillo, Best of Show award; James Smith and Iliana Perez, Special Judges Award; Paula Latorre, silver and a Special Judges Award; and Brian Nutt, Jaclyn Steinberg, Stephanie Gault and Brandon Lohaus, silver medal.

learning day: valencia employees give back to the community

More than 1,000 Valencia Community College employees collectively undertook a massive public service project Friday as a way of giving thanks for the community’s ongoing support.

It was all part of Learning Day, an annual event in which all college campuses are closed and faculty and staff gather to focus on the college’s learning-based mission.

Traditionally, activities have been campus-based and involved a variety of activities.

This year, employees started the day off by gathering under one roof — UCF Arena — for a rare convocation.

Attendees heard from distinguished alumni about how Valencia helped shape their lives:

Eddie Ruiz, principal of Jackson Middle School. Ruiz received his AA degree in 1999 and went on to graduate from UCF two years later. He is currently in the doctoral program at UCF. Before becoming a principal, he worked as a science teacher. He was a finalist for Orange County Teacher of the Year in 2006. Note: He attended Jackson Middle as a teen.

Abeer Beshir Abdalla, a 2005 Valencia grad — also named that year’s Distinguished Graduate – who works as a writer and communications specialist in Washington, D.C. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UCF. She is also a former president of Valencia’s Alumni Association.

Francis Angibeaud Montjen, a Cameroon native who earned an AA degree from Valencia in 2002. Since moving to the United Kingdom, he’s received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southampton and is currently working on a master’s degree in finance and banking at Queen Mary University in London.

Following the convocation, employees jumped on buses for a ride to Moss Park in southeast Orlando.

Their mission: spruce the place up for the enjoyment of the entire community.

At the park/campground, employees:

– Widened and mulched the Bear Island Nature Trail.

– Replaced old guide poles and filled potholes.

– Cleaned up landscaping at the park’s entrance, removed invasive plants and cleared vegetation in certain areas to enhance sight-lines.

– Raked volleyball courts and filled with new sand.

– Cleaned playground equipment.

– Cleaned and refinished picnic tables, fire rings and grills.

Valencia teamed with Hands on Orlando, a nonprofit group that connects volunteers with service projects, to organize the Moss Park clean-up.

Valencia President Sandy Shugart thanked employees at the end of the day, saying he liked the idea of a collective service learning project because it presented the rare opportunity for employees of the far-flung college community to come together in one place. 

Choosing a public park as a focus instead of splintering across different projects had deep meaning too, he said.

“A park is great because it represents the community,” Shugart said.

For more information:

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

valencia closed feb 11

All Valencia campus locations will be closed for Learning Day on Friday, February 11th.

Learning Day is a college-wide event designed to provide an opportunity for Valencia employees to come together and collectively focus on Valencia’s learning-centered mission. Learning Day 2011 will be unlike any Learning Day we have ever had. For the first time, this year we would like to extend an invitation to all part-time and adjunct employees to attend this day of learning, service, and celebration. You won’t want to miss this opportunity reconnect, lend a hand, and celebrate Valencia’s commitment to being an extraordinary learning community.

For more information please visit online:

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!

free tax help for low-income residents

IRS-trained tax preparers will be available to assist members of the community with their 2010 tax returns and electronic filing at Valencia Community College. Through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, low- to moderate-income individuals and families (incomes of $60,000 and below), students, the elderly, the disabled and those who don’t speak or read English well can receive free tax assistance and electronic filing on the following dates:

 East Campus – Feb. 12 & 26, Mar. 5 & 19, Apr. 2 & 9, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Bldg. 7, Rms. 113/117

Osceola Campus – Feb. 4, 18 & 25, Mar. 4 & 18, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Bldg. 3, Rm. 330

Volunteer tax preparers will provide assistance with completing the 1040EZ, 1040A or 1040 forms, along with schedules A, B, EIC and 2441 (childcare deduction). Any other returns must be approved in advance by calling the appropriate contact person at the location you plan to visit (listed below).

Those interested in getting tax help are asked to bring the following:

–        All W-2s, W-2G and social security amounts

–        1099s, 1099R, Interest and Dividend Statements

–        Documentation to show other income

–        Total paid for daycare provider and daycare provider’s tax ID number

–        Copy of last year’s return if available

–        Social Security cards for you, your dependents and/or spouse

–        Driver’s license or photo identification for you and your spouse

–        Proof of bank account for direct deposit of refund (e.g., voided check)

For more information, contact Walter Martin at the East Campus at (407) 582-2849 or, or Mabel Machin at the Osceola Campus at (407) 582-2291.

Valencia’s East Campus is located at 701 N. Econlockhatchee Trail in Orlando. The Osceola Campus is located at 1800 Denn John Lane in Kissimmee.

Source: Carol Traynor

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

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.

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:

el osceola star features provost kathleen plinske


The bilingual newspaper El Osceola Star interviewed Osceola Campus Provost Kathleen Plinske in their current issue that introduces four new community leaders in education, health care and government.  Read the article, available both in Spanish and English, in this week’s  El Osceola Star.

and the Exemplary Practice Award goes to…

Valencia VP Wins Exemplary Practice Award for Fiscal Stewardship

Keith Houck, vice president of Administrative Services for Valencia Community College, received the 2010 Exemplary Practice Award from the organization of Community College Business Officers at their Annual International Conference on November 15 in South Carolina.

The award was based on Valencia’s demonstrated excellence, under Mr. Houck’s leadership, in addressing ten key business imperatives that resulted in reduced costs, improved efficiencies and new sources of income. As a result, Valencia was able to generate more than $3 million a year in operational savings and added more than $400,000 a year from new revenue sources.

“This was really a team effort that could not have been accomplished without everyone’s assistance,” Houck said, who oversees the college’s business, financial and information resources, as well as facilities management.

The CCBO is made up of business officers and other professionals from community colleges across the U.S. and Canada.


Source: Marketing and Strategic Communications, Carol Traynor, 407.582.1015,

a flurry of free concerts for the holidays

Valencia Community College’s East Campus performing arts students will close the year with an array of concerts between now and mid-December. The cost gives music lovers even more reason to rejoice—admission is absolutely free.

Dec. 2 – Winter Choral Concert at 7:30 p.m., Performing Arts Center

Valencia’s premier 50-member concert choir along with the Valencia String and Contemporary ensembles will perform a wealth of classic, contemporary and seasonal works. Showcased will be John Williams’ deeply moving score for “Schindler’s List,” performed by the choir with violin soloist David Bathen. Other featured works include music from “Wicked,” “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” “Peter Pan,” Handel, Brahms, Emerson and Dello Joio.

Dec. 5 – Ensembles Program at 2:30 p.m., St. Michael’s Church

Valencia’s choir will perform works by Handel, Brahms, Emerson and Dello Joio, as well as selected carols and madrigals. The Valencia String Ensemble will perform “Water Music” by Handel, Vivaldi’s “Autumn” score from “The Four Seasons” with violin soloist Sam Mugnolo, “Serenade in E Minor” by Elgar, and the theme from “Schindler’s List.” St. Michael’s Episcopal Church is located at 2499 N. Westmoreland Dr. in Orlando.

Dec. 9 – Fall Symphonic/Jazz Band Concert at 7:30 p.m., Performing Arts Center

Featuring performances by Valencia’s Wind Ensemble, Jazz Lab Band and Brass Ensemble in an eclectic concert of styles and sounds, including brass classics by Hassler, Gabrieli, Mozart and Joplin, modern pieces by Bartok and Gustafson, and traditional Christmas carols. Highlights include Eric Whitacre’s “Ghost Train,” a contemporary piece that depicts a supernatural machine that roars out of the night through forgotten towns and empty canyons, and two contrasting yet beautiful ballads by Path Metheny and Henry Mancini.  The Jazz Band will also perform two foot-tapping Buddy Rich classics “Dancing Men” and “Basically Blue,” Count Basie’s “Cute,” and the Sammy Nestico classic “Freckle Face.”

Dec. 10 – Fall Opera/Theatre Workshop at 7:30 p.m., Black Box Theater

Valencia vocal students showcase their lyrical range with a variety of selections from the worlds of musical theater and opera. A production of “Hansel and Gretel” makes up the first half of the show, followed by selections from “Young Frankenstein,” The Fantasticks,” “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” “bare: a Pop Opera,” “The Life,” “Tick, Tick…Boom!” and “Little Women.”

Valencia’s East Campus is located at 701 N. Econlockhatchee Trail in Orlando. For more information, contact us at 407-582-2340 or visit

2010 professor of the year

Professor May, FACC 2010 Professor of the Year

Valencia professor James May has been honored by the Florida Association of Community Colleges as their 2010 Professor of the Year. The FACC award recognizes the top community and state college professors for teaching effectiveness and style, innovative methods and ideas, and professional development.

Professor May, who teaches English as a second language at Valencia’s East Campus, was one of three state finalists who gave oral presentations at the FACC’s annual convention in Jacksonville last Thursday. May’s winning presentation titled, “Agreeing to Disagree: The Scarier Side of Subject Verb Agreement,” humorously illustrated the challenges of helping non-native speakers grasp the conflicting rules governing subject-verb agreement (he lives, but you live, for example).

“Dr. May proved to be the top choice for each judge,” said Heidi Marshall, vice chair for the FACC Faculty Commission and organizer of the competition. “His engaging presentation offered a fresh approach to teaching subject/verb agreement and demonstrated his expertise in his field.”

Rather than relying on students’ passive viewing of lectures and other materials, May has excelled at facilitating interactive information sharing and collaboration in his classrooms using everything from webcam and You Tube videos, to Google Docs, to content specifically formatted for cell phones and iPods.

Professor May even created a website ( where he teaches other instructors how to incorporate new technologies into their classrooms.

Source: Marketing and Strategic Communications
Carol Traynor, Assistant Director

building named for paul mears sr.

At a ceremony held last week, Valencia celebrated a $1 million gift from the Mears Transportation Group in memory of Paul Mears Sr. to support educational opportunities through the Orange County Take Stock in Children program. In honor of Mears, the college renamed its West Campus Student Services Building the Paul Mears Sr. Student Services Building.

“My father always believed that a good education and hard work were the great equalizers in our society,” said Paul Mears Jr. “In today’s world, that’s still true, but sometimes it helps if the pathway ahead is a little clearer. We are pleased to help clear that path for those students participating in this program.”

Paul Mears Jr. and his wife, Deb, Valencia Foundation board member, believe the Take Stock program reflects the values his father engendered by offering a mentoring relationship, a hand-up and a guaranteed college education based on academic and personal successes through junior high and high school.

Among the dignitaries attending today’s ceremony at the West Campus were Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Mayor-Elect Teresa Jacobs, Orlando commissioners Daisy Lynum and Samuel Ings, and Orange County Commissioner Bill Segal.

Take Stock in Children’s local effort is administered by Valencia in collaboration with Orange County Public Schools. The statewide initiative helps underserved children succeed by providing early intervention, volunteer mentors, long-term support and college scholarships. High standards, parental involvement and community support are crucial.

As part of the program, each student receives an individual timeline and success plan that span from seventh grade through high school graduation. Students and parents sign a covenant to maintain solid grades and remain drug and crime free. Mentor meetings help children to focus on their schoolwork and their educational dreams.

Take Stock seeks to transform the futures of individual students – and our greater community –by providing low-income children with a 2+2 Florida Prepaid college scholarship and a mentor in the effort to help them stay in school, earn a high school diploma, graduate from college and enter the workforce.

Since 1995, Take Stock has impacted the lives of more than 17,600 Florida youngsters, providing 9,000 high school graduates with full college scholarships. This year, 20 local seventh-graders will be inducted into the Orange County program, bringing the total number to 106. The first class of Valencia participants will graduate from high school in 2013.

In addition to the gift, Mears employees have volunteered to meet with a student at his or her school once a week. Mentors work with one student for an entire school year and may opt to stay with the student through graduation. Every new volunteer receives orientation and support before being matched with a student.

“The most important advantage an employer can have in today’s marketplace is the availability of an educated workforce,” Paul Mears Jr. explains. “That’s why I believe, and my father believed, that our business community in Central Florida has such high stake in the education of our young people.”

Valencia president, Sanford C. Shugart, said in his comments today that “there is nothing that works like a real opportunity,” referring both to the Take Stock program and to Mears Transportation, a company that has provided employment opportunities to many in the community for 71 years.

“This generous gift from Mears will provide meaningful support to financially-disadvantaged children who dream of attending college,” Shugart said.

The partnership and philanthropy offered by organizations like Mears Transportation Group has helped ensure that Valencia is able to meet urgent needs for scholarships.

“We are so fortunate to have Valencia Community College in our backyard and the talented and dedicated staff of teachers and administrators leading the way,” Paul Mears Jr. adds. “But most of all, we are proud of the students who work hard every day, many in the face of adversity, who know and are committed that the pathway to a brighter future is education.”

For information on the Take Stock program, contact Elisha Gonzalez-Bonnewitz, director of Take Stock in Children for Orange County, at or (407) 582-3336. To learn more about Mears Transportation Group, please visit

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

legal issues for the community college

The Community College Conference on Legal Issues is a dynamic three-day conference that addresses the complex issues, current trends, and legal matters unique to community colleges.  

Participants will engage with experts in the field targeted to Community College concerns.  Areas include:

  • Campus safety and emergency preparedness
  • Recruitment and hiring practices
  • Discrimination and harassment
  • Considerations of race and diversity factors
  • Student privacy issues
  • Intellectual property
  • ADA compliance
  • Employee relations
  • Social networking

This conference is designed to give knowledge updates on the constantly evolving laws that impact community colleges.  Scheduled for January 30 – February 1, 2011 at at the Gaylord Palms Resort, this event will provide information on a diverse range of legal issues.

For more information please contact Valencia’s Meeting Planning Services:

a how-to book by two Valencia professors

 Valencia Professors Write a How-To-Book for Young People Interested in Entering the Healthcare Field 

“Heads Up: Successful Strategies for Planning a Career in Health Care,” by Valencia Community College professors, Dr. Linda Speranza and Dr. Diane Reed

Have you always wanted to be a nurse? Or maybe you envision yourself as a radiologist or an EMT. If so, you could start preparing for your dream career as early as middle school with the help of a new book, “Heads Up: Successful Strategies for Planning a Career in Health Care,” by Valencia Community College professors, Dr. Linda Speranza and Dr. Diane Reed.

The 77-page pocket sized book serves as a resource for middle school and high school students (and their parents) who are interested in pursuing careers in the health care field. It provides 20 chapters, each filled with valuable tips that range from investigating the many career options within health care to which classes to take while in high school.

“One big thing that we realized was that teens were taking any kind of -ology class,” said Reed. “Things like ecology and theology are rigorous, but they’re not going to help you in the health sciences.”

Reed is an allied health professor and has been an adjunct clinical instructor at Valencia for 10 years and Speranza has been a nursing professor for 34 years. Much of the advice that they incorporate into their book came from experience gained through a grant-funded program called Pathways Into Nursing (PIN).

The PIN program, which existed from 2002 to 2005, was geared toward helping Hispanic and other minority students get on the path to becoming professional nurses. Valencia worked with students from Gateway High School, Osceola High School and Cypress Creek High School, providing qualified participants with guaranteed admission into Valencia’s registered nursing program.

“After the grant ended, we thought the book was a logical next step,” said Speranza. “We realized that a lot of parents and school guidance counselors want to help their child or student [start preparing for medical careers] but don’t know how.”

Both authors stress that the most important thing is to start the process early. They recommend that students begin the career investigation process as early as middle school. With increasing educational costs and academic requirements for admission to colleges and universities, having a clear career direction can save time and money.

Dr. Diane Reed is an experienced delivery room nurse, a clinical nursing instructor, a professor of allied health, and a career and retention strategist. She has more than 10 years of professional teaching experience in the classroom and online and more than 10 years of career planning and retention experience with middle school, high school and college students. She is also a career planning consultant for the Orlando Magic. She is currently working toward a master’s degree in nursing and health care informatics.

Dr. Linda Speranza is a nationally certified family nurse practitioner. In addition to teaching full-time at Valencia, she practices part-time in emergency departments at Bartow Regional Medical Center and Central Florida Regional Hospital, as well as in a private family practice urgent care clinic. She was recently appointed to a four-year term with the National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice.

Published by Tate Publishing, “Heads Up: Successful Strategies for Planning a Career in Health Care” is available in paperback for $8.99. It can be purchased online at or

Source: Melissa Tchen, Marketing & Strategic Communications; 407-582-1778;

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



Are you or someone you know interested in attending Valencia? Perhaps you’re asking yourself, why Valencia?

Well, let’s see…

  • Valencia’s tuition is 40% less than a state university’s.
  • Valencia is the #1 producer of associate degrees in the U.S.
  • Average starting salary for our A.S. and A.A.S. grads is $44,680.
  • Valencia is accredited by the Southern Association for Colleges and Schools.
  • More than 50,000 students attend Valencia each year.

The Valencia Difference

At Valencia, you’ll get the same quality education available at a state university, only at about half the cost. And, with smaller campuses and classes, you’ll get more support along the way. You’ll also have the flexibility to take classes when and where you want – day, night or weekend at any of our four campuses, or online. And with Flex Start, courses are starting all the time. Then, when you’re finished, you’ll be ready to go straight into a high-skill, high-wage job or transfer to a four-year university as a junior with guaranteed admission.

How’s that to start?

Click here to learn more about student life, get answers to some of our most frequently asked questions, meet some of our faculty and to schedule a campus visit.

We look forward to seeing you on campus!

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