Free Discount Program Membership!

The Valencia Alumni Association has teamed up with Abenity to offer our alumni and friends a free membership to the Valencia Alumni Rewards and Discounts Program.

blog

Spring break is almost here. Find great savings through OrlandoVacation.com and save up to 35% on your vacation rentals through your Abenity Discount Program!
http://discounts.abenity.com/perks/vendor/orlandovacation

Log in or create your courtesy account here: https://valenciaalumrewards.abenity.com/perks/support/login

TEDxOrlando 2015

September LIVE Ted Talk

We’re very pleased to announce that TEDxOrlando will return Saturday September 12 to the beautiful, historic Garden Theatre in Winter Garden.

At TEDxOrlando, an exceptional group of thinkers and doers from across Central Florida come together to experience an exciting, interdisciplinary program of short talks given in the celebrated TED format.

Tickets will go on sale to you beginning June 1 — because you are among our most valued supporters. Tickets will be announced to the general public on June 12.

We’re especially excited about this year’s event and hope very much that you’ll join us.

In the meantime, we welcome you to let friends and family know about TEDxOrlando, share your “idea worth spreading,” check out our volunteer opportunities, or participate in a TEDxOrlandoSalon event.

oh what a night!

Thank you for joining us at the Valencia Alumni Association’s first inaugural
“A Night of Celebration” event to network and celebrate our

Distinguished Alumni Award 2014 recipients:

(pictured L to R): R. McGill, K. Adams, W. Colwell, J. Kimberly, K. Walker, F. Beltrán
Post elbast Pic
Post Eblast

desk
Check out the photos from this year’s amazing event!

a night of celebration!

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

desk

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

Info

try

linkedFB icon

 

kudos to desiree quinto! desiree graduated from valencia in 2011 and from ucf in 2012. and on she goes!

635490083143120828-grad

By: Adam Rhodes, Central Florida Future

Imagine finally getting that job offer that has seemed so far away for so long. Now imagine getting it on national television.

For Desiree Quinto, a 2012 UCF graduate, that was her reality on Oct. 13, when, after two long years of job hunting, she was offered a job as a discovery specialist for her dream company, Birchbox, on Good Morning America during a segment about college graduates struggling to find work.

“I love the transparency there and the culture of the office,” Quinto said of the company. “CEOs are walking around, sitting side-by-side with their employees and getting to know [them]. There’s so much inspiration and room for growth. Ever since I walked in, I knew it was where I wanted to work.”

While Quinto was sure of her desire to work for Birchbox, she had no idea about the outcome of that Good Morning America segment.

“I had no idea,” Quinto said. “Even [that] morning I had no idea that was happening. I got in there at 5 a.m. and couldn’t be near TVs or have my phone.”

Even before she graduated UCF with an interdisciplinary studies degree, Quinto said she had been applying to places in New York City in hopes of moving there after graduation.

During her time at Valencia College, and then UCF, Quinto immersed herself in volunteer and non-profit work.

At Valencia, she became a member of the Model United Nations. Then at UCF, she made the dean’s list a handful of times and became a member of the Nonprofit Management Student Association and the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Through those organizations, Quinto was able to become a certified nonprofit professional.

It’s that nonprofit experience that Quinto said made her competitive in the job market.

Even with that competitive edge, Quinto said, she still had trouble landing a job, despite getting relatively far with several interviews. Since graduation in December 2012, Quinto had been in South Florida working at a Mexican restaurant, Baja Cafe Dos.

But that’s all about to change as she makes her journey to her dream city.

As a Birchbox discovery specialist, Quinto will work directly with customers either over the phone or online through social media and email.

“She really showed us that she cared about the customer experience and what it really means to work with a customer and give them a great experience,” said Melissa Enbar, director of recruiting and talent development for Birchbox. “She showed us she was curious and asked a lot of questions. She was interested about the job in the company.”

Aside from Quinto’s curiosity and people skills, Enbar also said she stood out thanks to the research she did about the company.

“She was really knowledgeable about Birchbox,” Enbar said. “She did her research on what we do and how we do it.”

This coming weekend, Quinto is able to finally live her dream of living in New York City as she moves to Queens to start her position as a discovery specialist at her dream company.

College Night Sign-Up for Students

The 2014 Orange & Osceola County College Night programs for the state of Florida will be hosted at Valencia College. We are excited to share this opportunity with you.

Mark your calendars: College Night is Coming! Bring your students, the parents, grab some friends, and get your questions answered about college, and we’re not just talking about Valencia!

  • Start the college search process up close and personal
  • Visit with representatives from colleges and universities located across the country
  • Gather local and federal information regarding grants & scholarships

Sign-up online to attend College Night 2014:

College Night, Osceola CampusCollege Night Sign-Up
Valencia College
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
6:00-8:00pm (EST)

College Night, West CampusCollege Night Sign-Up
Valencia College
Thursday, October 9, 2014
6:00-8:00pm (EST)

Tips for attending College Night

If interested in bringing a group of 15 or more students please contact the Assistant Director of Transitions Planning, La’Tasha Graham: Lgraham18@valenciacollege.edu

Click here or view the list below for colleges that attended in 2013.

CollegeNightGraphic

  • Yale University
  • Florida State University
  • Columbia College, SC
  • Columbia College, FL
  • Cornell University
  • University of Notre Dame
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
  • Texas A&M University at Galveston
  • United States Air Force Academy
  • Universal Technical Institute
  • University of Alabama
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • Rice University

 

  • Ringling College of Art and Design
  • Rollins College
  • Rutgers University
  • Adventist University of Health Sciences (formerly Florida Hospital College)
  • Ana Mendez University
  • Anderson University
  • Armstrong Atlantic State University
  • Asbury Theological Seminary
  • Ashford Universtiy
  • Aveda Institute
  • Barry University School of Law
  • Belhaven University
  • Belmont Abbey College
  • Bethune-Cookman University
  • Binghamton University- State University of New York
  • Catawba College
  • Clark Atlanta College
  • DeVry University
  • Drexel University
  • Eckerd College
  • Education Foundation of Osceola County
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
  • Everest University
  • Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising
  • Florida A&M University
  • Florida Atlantic University
  • Florida Gulf Coast University
  • Florida Institute of Technology
  • Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy at UCF
  • Florida International University
  • Florida Memorial University
  • Florida Polytechnic University
  • Florida Southern College
  • Full Sail University
  • Georgia Southern University
  • Grand Canyon University
  • Morehouse College
  • Hawaii Pacific University
  • Herzing University
  • International Academy of Design and Technology
  • Jacksonville University
  • Johnson & Wales University
  • Johnson University Florida
  • Keiser University
  • Lenoir-Rhyne University
  • Liberty University
  • Lincoln Technical Institute
  • Lynn University
  • Mech Tech Institute
  • Monroe College
  • National Aviation Academy
  • National University
  • New College of Florida
  • North Carolina State University
  • North Carolina Weleyan College
  • Northwood University
  • Nova Southeastern University
  • Oglethorpe University
  • Orlando Tech
  • Palm Beach Atlantic University
  • Penn State University
  • Piedmont College
  • Polytechnic University of P.R./Orlando Campus
  • Purdue University
  • Queens University of Charlotte
  • Radford University
  • Reinhardt University
  • Saint Leo University
  • Savannah College of Art and Design
  • Seminole State College of Florida
  • Southeastern University
  • St. Joseph’s College, NY
  • St. Petersburg College
  • Stetson University
  • Stevens Institute of Technology
  • Stonehill College
  • Strayer University
  • State University of New York College at Cortland
  • Technical Education Center Osceola
  • The Art Institutes
  • The Baptist College of Florida
  • The Ohio State University
  • The University of Mississippi
  • The University of Tampa
  • The University of the Arts
  • Thomas University
  • Trinity College of Florida
  • Troy University
  • Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine
  • UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
  • Union University
  • University of Central Florida
  • University of Cincinnati
  • University of Connecticut
  • University of Florida
  • University of Florida/Mid-Florida Research & Education Center
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • University of Medicine and Health Sciences, St. Kitts
  • University of North Florida
  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Phoenix
  • University of South Alabama
  • University of South Florida
  • University of South Florida Saint Petersburg
  • University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee
  • University of West Florida
  • United States Coast Guard Academy
  • Valdosta State University
  • Warner University
  • Warren Wilson College
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Webster University
  • West Virginia Wesleyan College
  • Winthrop University
  • Workforce Central Florida

Sign-up online to attend College Night 2014:

College Night, Osceola Campus
Valencia College
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
6:00-8:00pm (EST)

College Night, West Campus
Valencia College
Thursday, October 9, 2014
6:00-8:00pm (EST)

If interested in bringing a group of 15 or more students please contact the Assistant Director of Transitions Planning, La’Tasha Graham: Lgraham18@valenciacollege.edu


Accommodations Information:

If you have any other disability that prohibits your participation in this event, please contact the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD). OSD contact information can be accessed on their website at http://valenciacollege.edu/osd/

valencia alum louis gray ’98 making a difference

From “the Projects” to Gray’s Project: A Profile of Louis Gray
By Bonnie Beth Silvestri, JD, Director of Strategic Communications

Louis Gray is the Office of Community Engagement and Partnerships “go-to” person in USF Registrar’s Office, helping OCEP fulfill its mission to support the service-learning curriculum on campus. Gray, the Registrar’s Office’s Academic Services Administrator, has been working behind the scenes, under the leadership of his supervisor Tony Embry and USF Registrar Angela Debose, coding each service-learning class offered on campus in Banner, the university’s administrative information system.

Mark-Church-black2

Once the courses are coded, students are able to easily find service-learning offerings in OASIS; and OCEP can calculate the number of service-learning course sections and students enrolled. During the last academic school year, there were 188 sections of service-learning courses coded in the system, and over 4,000 students enrolled in these courses, which is a significant increase thanks to outreach efforts by OCEP and the Registrar’s Office.

And, it is no surprise that OCEP can count on Gray to help with these efforts, because he “gets it,” and he lives it. A natural connector, Gray said, “I’m the type to bring the community together.”

To that end, Gray started a Tampa-based nonprofit called G.R.A.Y.S. Project Inc. (Granting At-Risk Adolescents and Youth Sustainability), to provide the kind of support system for young people that he wished he had growing up in the Lake Mann Housing Project in Orlando.
Lake-Mann-OPD-sign

Through his eponymous nonprofit, Gray devotes evenings and weekends to tutoring young people of all ages with their schoolwork and to helping high school students with their college entrance exam preparation. Gray’s Project also partners with Second Chance Center for Boys & G3 Life Applications to provide tutoring, life coaching, and ACT Test prep to the local high school students.

Soon, he plans to expand the reach of Gray’s Project to Orlando to strengthen his partnership with Orlando’s Parramore Kidz Zone, one of eleven sites to receive a Promise Neighborhood Grant through the National League of Cities, in conjunction with the White House’s black male achievement initiative. Parramore Kidz Zone is a model program in an historically black neighborhood that has been making a difference. Additionally, the local Housing Authority has requested that he return to his roots in Lake Mann to tutor and mentor the youngest residents at its onsite Kids Café.

Grays-Project-2-usf

(USF student volunteers with Gray’s Project)

He mused, “the projects…think about that word,” while remembering his childhood in Lake Mann.  His first eighteen years living in government-subsidized housing, often referred to as “the projects,” was challenging. There was a police presence there, but he called it a “mirage.” He said, it was more about “getting to know you to arrest you,” than to protect and serve the residents.

Gray’s work is completely self-funded, but he also relies on the help of others to keep his programs going. “When you give, give, give, people go above and beyond.”

Gray has enlisted a corps of volunteers, including twelve USF students and ten working professionals, to tutor and mentor young people.

lm14

(Gray’s parents)

He credits his parents with giving him the support and structure that kept him on the forward trajectory that eventually led him to earning his MBA and working in academia. He said, “Family is key. Studies show family support and structure in the house [determine whether] you succeed or fail in life.”

He said that his father, who worked as a sharecropper as a child and drove a truck throughout his adult life, was home every night with his ten children. Gray’s dad told his son stories of working hard in the fields, only to get “scraps” from the owners of the farm. This made him wary of the predatory lending schemes often marketed to minority communities and informed his decision to raise his family in government-subsidized housing.

Gray is the youngest and his family refers to him as “baby boy.” He said, “We had to be in the house by the time the street lights came on or we would get in trouble.” He said that his father was both stern and playful with the large and loving family.

His mother, who worked as a housekeeper, and his father valued family dinners, getting eight hours of sleep, and a nutritious breakfast every morning before school. He said that wasn’t the case for many of his contemporaries who were often allowed to stay out late and/or would go to school hungry, which made it difficult for them to concentrate in school.

As part of his school district’s efforts to integrate the local school system, Gray attended middle school eight miles away and high school ten miles away from his home. He said, “I really think it was successful. It broke down a lot of barriers, [e.g.,] how you relate to different races as you get older.”

He was an enterprising young person, starting a small candy store and a cookie and juice stand marketed to other children. He believes he had an “internal drive to overcome his situation.”

Even with his family’s support, however, he realizes that in many ways the deck was stacked against him. He said that his lens was always “that’s just the way it is.”

After graduating from high school, he said he “stumbled across a job at Valencia Community College delivering mail from campus to campus.” He got free tuition, so he started taking one or two classes at a time over a fourteen-year period and obtained an Associate of Arts degree. Then, he completed his Bachelor of Arts at Columbia College, Orlando branch, and went on to earn an MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management, while working in different administrative roles at Valencia Community College. In 2012, shortly before finishing his MBA, he began working at USF.

Capture

Gray said he has seen “so many struggles in our country and how people just gave up and settled.” Gray’s Project, he said, is designed “to uplift, give promise and hope to all individuals.”

“I look like them,” he said; and he tells them, “I’m from where you are.” He hopes to inspire young people, “not to say, look at me, I’ve got so much, but [to show] what you can be if you stay focused.”

Gray takes time away from his own family to work with local children, which can be difficult. But as soon as he reaches them, and connects with them, it makes it worthwhile. When they ask, “Mr. Louis, are you coming back next Saturday?” he knows he is making a difference in their lives.

1

In addition to his work mentoring and tutoring, Gray educates young people about the “school-to-prison pipeline.” When children are expelled, the rate of those going to prison increases tremendously. He said that he wants young people to be aware that they need to be very careful; because discipline can be meted out in a biased way impacting minority communities.

Gray is also very active on campus, including serving as the Vice Chair of the Student and Presidential Advisory Committee on Black Affairs (COBA), which advises the President on matters affecting Black faculty, staff, and students of the University.

In the fall, Gray plans to begin a Post Master’s Leadership in Higher Education graduate certificate with a goal of working toward a PhD.

He will also begin teaching Academic Foundations; and he plans to add a service-learning component into the course. Students will be able to volunteer with Gray’s Project or with the Moffitt Center.

He will incorporate his strong will to persevere into the course. “That will be a story that I can share with incoming students.”

To learn more about how you can get involved, go to Gray’s Project.  For more about the Parramore Kidz Zone, click here.  For more on the school-to-prison pipeline, click here for “Demanding Zero Tolerance for Florida’s School- to-Prison Pipeline.”