congratulations valencia alumnus mikhail elliott ’10!

Congratulations Valencia alumnus Mikhail Elliott ’10! As the Valencia College 2010 recipient of the prestigious Jack Cook Kent Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, Mikhail went on to graduate from the University of Tampa and now …has earned a master of science degree in development economics and policy from the University of Manchester in the U.K. Mikhail currently resides in London and is seeking employment there in economic policy/consultancy or economic research. Mikhail is also a proud member of Valencia’s Association of Honors Alumni, a.k.a. AHA! You can join him by indicating your interest when you complete your new or updated online membership form:



a night of celebration!

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


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



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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.


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.

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.


(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.


(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.


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.


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.”


tedxorlandosalon at valencia!

tedAnnouncing TEDxOrlandoSalon’s next meeting on Wednesday, August 6, 2014.
Hope you can come!

When: Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Where: Valencia College Osceola Campus, Bldg 4, Rm 105
1800 Denn John Lane
Kissimmee, FL 34744
Email us:
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New! Book exchange! Bring a book, take a new one home. (Please remember to take unclaimed books home with you.)

Two TED Talk videos will be shown, each followed by a discussion break; the event program is determined by vote.

What we have planned for our next meeting:

  • Sarah Jones: What does the future hold? 11 characters offer quirky answers
  • Wendy Chung: Autism — what we know (and what we don’t know yet)
  • Mellody Hobson: Color blind or color brave?
  • Amy Webb: How I hacked online dating
  • Stanley McChrystal: The military case for sharing knowledge

TEDxOrlandoSalon meets every other month at Valencia College locations. A typical meeting draws approximately 50 smart, interesting, engaged people. Some will be regulars and some will be newcomers. Some choose to eat during the event, others choose not to. Two TEDTalk videos are shown, each followed by a discussion break. The event program is determined by vote, and discussions are open-ended.

TEDxOrlando is a one-day conference featuring live speakers. Please stay tuned for details.

Code of Conduct
TEDxOrlando and TEDxOrlandoSalon are about the exchange of meaningful ideas and deep discussion, not selling. Opportunities do sometimes result from contacts made at our meetings and we encourage that. However, we ask that you refrain from using TEDxOrlando or TEDxOrlandoSalon primarily as a platform for promoting yourself, your personal political or religious views, your business, or your organization.

TEDxOrlando and TEDxOrlandoSalon operate under license from TEDx, a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share ideas worth spreading. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks videos and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x=independently organized event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.

TED is an annual event where some of the world’s leading thinkers and doers are invited to share what they are most passionate about. “TED” stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design — three broad subject areas that are, collectively, shaping our future. And in fact, the event is broader still, showcasing ideas that matter in any discipline. Attendees have called it “the ultimate brain spa” and “a four-day journey into the future.” The diverse audience — CEOs, scientists, creatives, philanthropists — is almost as extraordinary as the speakers, who have included Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Frank Gehry, Paul Simon, Sir Richard Branson, Philippe Starck and Bono.

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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.

a closer look: 2+2+2 architecture program model

Student project
guest author: John P. Ehrig, FAIA, LEED AP, vice president, CASE project manager, HHCP/Architects Inc.

As a New Jersey transplant to the Sunshine State, I began my career in architecture at the University of Florida, graduating with a bachelor of architecture degree. I have been involved with American Institute of Architects for over four decades, first as a student and later serving in various positions throughout the Institute. In 1993, I became the youngest Florida architect to be elected to the AIA College of Fellows. After I moved to Orlando in 2000, I served as president of AIA Orlando in 2001 and that’s where the story about the 2+2+2 architecture program begins.

As background to AIA Orlando’s relationship with Valencia, in 2002, one of our members, CT Hsu, FAIA who was also a member of the Valencia Foundation board of directors, approached the chapter with the idea of joining forces in fundraising efforts to benefit both the chapter and Valencia Foundation’s scholarship program. As discussions unfolded, Valencia’s Geraldine Gallagher made a presentation to the AIA Orlando board of directors about joining forces and as they say, “The rest is history.” Over the past 12 years, AIA Orlando has been a part of generating over $240,000 for the foundation creating a strong connection between the chapter and the college.

Central Florida architects had been talking about having an architecture school in Orlando for decades and the last big push was way back in the 1970s. At that time, creating a new school or program required legislative approval as well as approval of the Florida Board of Regents.

In the fall of 2007, the AIA Orlando chapter, created an Educational Task Force (ETF) to spearhead this effort. During this time frame we discovered that Dr. Shugart was an “architect at heart.” I heard him say once “had he not gotten into education he would’ve wanted to be an architect.” CT Hsu and Alan Helman, FAIA, told Sandy about the work of the ETF in trying to get a professional degree program here in Orlando and he said he would try to assemble the right people to discuss the possibilities.

Around that time Valencia had worked out an “articulation agreement” with the University of Florida – School of Architecture where students would graduate with an associate of arts in architecture and would go right into upper division as juniors without skipping a beat. This was important to me because when I transferred to UF, I transferred in as a junior but I had to start over in all my design coursework. Ultimately it took me six years to get a five-year degree because of that “transfer gap,” something I did not want to see happen to students today.

The articulation agreement was working and students that were graduating from Valencia were heading off to Gainesville and elsewhere. Everything was going along fine except the openings in the upper division for transfer students were dwindling year after year. Competition was exceptionally tough because of the program’s notoriety. So, the task force believed it was time for a creative solution. We knew the university wanted to increase their focus on urban design in their undergrad and graduate programs. The ETF also knew that UCF had indicated an interest in creating an architectural program in the past.

So as things were starting to evolve the ETF developed a list of things that we wanted in a program and generated a formal White Paper. This paper included what the profession would do to help move this effort forward; like providing adjunct professors, employing students as interns in local offices and securing additional funding to support the program.

We called Dr. Shugart and said, “Here’s what we’d like to do.” And he said, “I’ll set up a meeting in a couple weeks to see where this may go.” Then one day I got a phone call inviting me to a meeting consisting of people from UCF, UF and Valencia. On meeting day, Dr. Shugart made some opening remarks and immediately looked at me and said, “Okay John, you asked for this meeting, what do you want to discuss?” This was the opportunity and audience I needed to present the white paper and openly discuss the need for an architectural program in Orlando.
Student project2

The current scenario was a student would go to Valencia and get a two-year degree then they’d apply to UF or other colleges. They were accepted at major universities across the country and once they received their degree, they would very seldom return to Orlando. So our goal was very selfish – keep the talent here in Orlando. We wanted the ability for students to get an education here, complete their internship here and stay here to design their professional life in Orlando where they started.

We knew that there was a really good working relationship between Valencia and UCF in several programs involving the DirectConnect to UCF program, so that was our roadmap. And if something could be worked out with UF to obtain a two-year graduate program that was all we needed for the professional degree. UCF became the critical link to what would be a unique architectural program with three separate institutions, hence the 2+2+2.

There are always up and downs in anything new but, the bottom line for the most part is we have the consistently strong Valencia portion with the first two years, we now have the third class of graduates from UCF, and this year we graduated our first class of UF students. Sixteen walked the stage in Gainesville on May 3 and of the 16 graduates, nine went through the 2+2+2 right here in Orlando.

Read the Valencia News article on the first 2+2+2 architecture grads

I know Sandy is a Christian leader and I appreciate his direction and passion in this entire effort. There are some things that we humans try to manage and manipulate to get what we want but, there are so many things that have occurred that I know are not “coincidences”. Too many things “fell into place” at just the right time for us mortals to take the credit for it. For instance the funding for the studio space in Building 9, the building of the UCF Joint Use Facility, UF’s support of the Orlando program, and the talented students that had the faith in signing up for a program with no previous track record, just to name a few.

The Orlando architectural program is now a proven, new educational model.

This year you have the special opportunity to support the 2+2+2 program through AIA Orlando’s 25th annual golf tournament June 20, 2014 at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes. Non-members can play for $175 and sponsorships start at $250. Here is a link to more information.

association of honors alumni transfer scholarship


Student volunteers from the Honors Program will be working hard selling roses at Valencia’s Commencement this Saturday to raise funds to support the Association of  Honors Alumni Transfer Scholarship.  Donations to support their work and the scholarship can be made online .


Student art exhibition and award ceremony: April 18

Digital MediaThis week the Anita S. Wooten Gallery will be hosting their annual Student Art Exhibition. This show will include a variety of works from Valencia East Campus students who are studying Digital Media, Graphic Design, and Studio Fine Art. To celebrate the students success there will be a reception and award ceremony on Friday April 18, 2014.

This is event is open to the public. We encourage students, faculty, staff, family and friends to come see what some of the talented students here at Valencia has to offer!  The show will run from April 18 –  May 22, 2014.

The reception will begin at 6:30pm and run until 8:30pm. The award ceremony will begin at 7:30pm. Food and beverages will provided.

For more information and to see some of the work that will be at the show please visit the galleries Facebook page,

Location: Anita S. Wooten Gallery, 701 N. Econlockhatchee Trail, Orlando, Florida 32825

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.

orlando magic vs new orleans pelicans game discount tickets!

orl vs no

Don’t forget to purchase your discounted
Valencia Homecoming Orlando Magic vs. New Orleans Pelicans
tickets by 
Monday, October 21st!

Check out full details on the event flyer by following the link below:

aha is hosting another exciting luau for alumni!

luau 3

Tomorrow night The Association of Honors Alumni (AHA) will host their 4th Annual Luau. This wonderful networking event will not only be fun, but will include tropical food and beverages, music, games and much more! Casual or tropical dress recommended!

This year’s event will be held on Valencia College West Campus, Special Events Center Bldg. 8, from 7-9 pm.
Suggested Donation $10.00.

ALL donations will support the Honors Alumni Transfer Scholarship; Marleina Ubel was this year’s 2013 recipient. Donations can be made online at

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.


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!

young money live: financial literacy week

Financial Literacy Week Presents “Young Money Live
Monday, April 8 at 9:30am to 3:00pm
East Campus, Bldg 5, Room 112 & Great Hall
701 N Econlockhatchee Tr.Financial Learning

Along with special sessions like Young Money Live, Student Financial Learning Ambassadors promote financial literacy and responsible money management through peer-to-peer skillships and by presenting at campus events.

Many of the Ambassador presentations occur in the classroom through Valencia’s Student Success course, which is a class teaching strategies for success in life and college and is an appropriate platform for introducing the topic of financial responsibility.

It is with the support of USA Funds over the last 2 years that the Financial Learning Ambassador program has grown and expanded college-wide.

Mounting student debt to cover rising college costs is creating a challenging environment for a number of students pursuing a college degree. A college degree is an avenue to financial success and long-term stability and most college graduates experience more stable employment, higher income, security through assets, and an overall better quality of life than non-graduates.  One mechanism to work toward higher graduation rates and lower default rates is by way of financial literacy strategies and initiatives like the USA Funds supported Financial Learning Ambassadors at Valencia College.

mentor program provides 49 high school students with full college scholarships


A college education can be life-changing – “a golden ticket to a better future” – and it’s a dream that’s about to come true for 49 graduating Orange County high school seniors.

On Thursday, Feb. 28, Take Stock in Children of Orange County awarded $30,000 college scholarships to 49 students who have participated in the organization’s unique mentorship program for five years.

At a ceremony held at Full Sail University, community leaders, volunteers, corporate sponsors and mentors — as well as the Orlando Magic dancers and the Magic mascot Stuff — cheered for this year’s high school seniors – the first group of students to graduate from the program.

Each graduating senior will receive a 2+2 Florida Prepaid $30,000 scholarship from the Orange County Take Stock in Children program, paid for by corporate sponsors. The scholarship pays for two years at any Florida community college and two years at one of Florida’s state universities. Altogether, the 49 students will receive $1.47 million in college scholarships.

“This opportunity from Take Stock in Children and our community partners is your ‘golden ticket,’ students, and your new door,” Elisha Gonzalez, executive director of Take Stock in Children of Orange County, told the graduating seniors. “Open it, and run. Run and enjoy the journey.”

In addition to the graduating seniors, 25 new middle-school students were inducted into the program, bringing the number of participating students to 150.

Take Stock In Children is a statewide initiative that helps underserved children succeed. The mentorship program starts when the children are in seventh grade. All are academically promising students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds: Some have parents who’ve been in jail; others have parents who have struggled with addiction, while many have been raised by single moms who are struggling to keep their families afloat financially.

Take Stock In Children provides volunteer mentors, early intervention and long-term support. If the children meet with their mentors weekly, keep their grades up and stay away from drugs and alcohol, they will earn a four-year college scholarship.

For scholarship recipient Cristian Rivera, the program has been “a powerful experience.” Cristian’s mentor, Orlando Magic executive Lucas Boyce, helped Cristian get his driver’s permit by letting Cristian practice driving his Jeep Cherokee. Boyce bought Cristian’s first suit, his own business card and taught him the art of making small talk.

Cristian’s goal is to work at Disney in a management position. He plans to start his college education at Valencia College and then study business management at the University of Central Florida.

Take Stock in Children was started in 1995 and has been successful in other parts of Florida. Valencia College brought the program to Orange County in 2008, thanks to a $1 million gift from the Florida Citrus Sports Foundation and another $1 million donation from Mears Transportation. Full Sail University was also one of the first sponsors to sign on.

Other sponsors include: Orlando Magic, the Martin Andersen-Gracia Andersen Foundation, the Haddock Foundation and the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation.

Speakers at this year’s event included: Steve Hogan, CEO of Florida Citrus Sports; Garry Jones, president of Full Sail University; Dr. Barbara Jenkins, superintendent of Orange County Public Schools; Bill Sublette, school board chairman, Orange County Public Schools; Bob Kodzis, Flight of Ideas Inc.; and Dr. Sandy Shugart, president of Valencia College.

Guests at the event included: Bo Outlaw, Orlando Magic Community Ambassador; Nancy Robbinson, Orange County Public Schools board member; Susan Fernandez of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s office; Jill Mickle of Florida Citrus Sports Foundation; Deb Mears of Mears Transportation; Linda Landman Gonzalez, vice president of community relations for the Orlando Magic and former president of the Valencia College Foundation; Stephanie Allen, executive director, Orlando Magic Youth Foundation; T. Picton Warlow, vice president of the Martin Andersen-Gracia Andersen Foundation; Alberto Fierro Garza, Mexican consul; Orange County Commissioner Jennifer Thompson; and Daisy Lynum, city commissioner, City of Orlando.

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

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:

valencia, ouc partner to help employees earn degrees

Sometimes the path to a college degree isn’t always a straight road.

For Rich McCoy, the route to his Valencia degree took him through disaster zones, construction sites and two decades of work.

But last fall, the Orlando Utilities Commission employee earned his associate in science degree in industrial management, thanks to a new partnership between Valencia and OUC.

McCoy wasn’t new to the college scene. He started at Valencia several years after high school, working nights at United Parcel Service, while spending his days in classes at Valencia. But when he landed a job at OUC in 1992, he couldn’t juggle the classes and a full-time job that included many hours of overtime.

“Once I started working, it took so much of my time,” McCoy said. Just training to become a line technician was arduous; OUC’s rigorous line tech program takes about eight years to complete. Meanwhile, McCoy’s family was growing. As a dad and a full-time employee, he didn’t have time to squeeze college courses into the mix.

“The thing about this job is we’re on call 24-7. If a storm arises, or an emergency comes up, we get called in,” McCoy says.

In addition, Orlando’s once booming construction business kept McCoy and other OUC employees working lots of overtime hours. But when the recession put the brakes on the construction business, McCoy found himself with more free time. So two years ago, when Valencia and OUC unveiled a program that would allow OUC employees to earn college credits for the on-the-job technical training they receive, McCoy jumped at the chance.

Shortly after OUC announced the program, McCoy and other OUC employees came to see Valencia advisers to find out how many credits they’d need to graduate. McCoy was surprised to learn he only needed to take six classes.

Still, he had reservations. He hadn’t been in college for nearly 20 years. So he and a colleague, Glen Massari, decided to try taking one class, a computer science class, to see how they did.

As luck would have it, disaster struck during his first semester. In April 2011, a band of killer tornadoes hit Cleveland, Tenn., and McCoy and other OUC teams were sent to Tennessee to help restore power. Determined to turn in a class project, McCoy worked on his laptop during the drive up to Tennessee. Once there, he emailed his Powerpoint presentation to the professor, and though communication was difficult, he called his professor from the hotel to make sure he’d received the project.

Undeterred by the interference of Mother Nature, McCoy plowed on, taking one class at a time. Eighteen months later, he earned his associate in science degree in industrial management, becoming the first of the 10 linemen in the program to graduate. With a degree in hand, McCoy and OUC’s line technicians will have more opportunities to advance into management positions.

As for McCoy, the program’s first graduate, he’s not sure whether he’ll eventually go to the University of Central Florida to earn a bachelor’s degree. For now, he’s happy to have graduated with an associate in science degree.

“As with any degree, it always benefits the person, no matter what the degree is in,” he said. “But I’m happy to have that piece of paper. And if it opens doors for me later, so much the better.”

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

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.

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

words of appreciation from faculty member

Valencia College professor James May was recently recognized by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as the 2011 Florida Professor of the Year and is the 2011/2012 University Club of Orlando Chair in Advanced Computer Technology recipient.

In the note below Dr. May shares his gratitude to the Endowed Chair program, provides a ‘taste of technology’ and explains the advancements this program has provided for Valencia students.

Every year I like to do a little something to thank the Valencia Foundation and an organization who sponsors Valencia’s endowed chair program. This year my gratitude is extended to the University Club of Orlando. The video below is just a small sample of what I am working on this year thanks to the University Club of Orlando Chair in Advanced Computer Technology.

Through this endowed chair I have been able to purchase supplies and learn more about how to use green screening technologies to develop authentic, open source content for students. For example, this year while in Washington for a conference, I visited the National Archive and learned about a letter written in broken English to the then president of the United States by a young Fidel Castro.

In the letter, Fidel requests a “10 dollars bill U.S.” from the president.  This letter is now a combination Grammar & Writing assignment for students, infused with history and much more, and thanks to the green screen technology I can introduce these grammar and history concepts from the steps of the National Archive.

Using technology from a previous endowed chair, I am able to make videos and close caption them (please note that during the first 5 seconds of the video below, that you can chose to switch to a captioned version by clicking on the link inside the interactive YouTube video).

Later this semester, I will also have the ability to add a picture in picture American Sign Language interpreter to the lesson so that I can better reach another population of students. In fact, a large part of this endowed chair work for the rest of the year deals with working to make content more ADA compliant.

Long story short, I want to say thank you. Endowed chairs really make a difference in the work I can do for my students.

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.

follow one student’s career path to the world of museums

When Jeffreen Hayes graduated from Oviedo High School, she moved on to the University of Central Florida to major in chemistry. Her goal? To become a pharmacist.

It would have been a good plan, but there was one problem: Hayes wasn’t passionate about chemistry.

So she took some time off to consider her options, and turned to Valencia.

Here, she signed up for humanities classes and soon discovered her true love: humanities and art. After taking a class with the late humanities professor Philip Bishop, she asked him what kinds of jobs she might be able to get with a degree in humanities. “He said I could do a lot of things. I could be an art critic or work in a museum,” Hayes recalls.

Thanks to a number of internships – including one she landed while at Valencia – Hayes is on her way to her dream job as a museum director.  

Hayes’ journey began at Valencia, where college staffers helped her land an internship at Orlando Museum of Art. There, her primary job was to lead tours of the museum’s African and pre-Columbian art galleries, primarily for elementary school children. In addition, museum staffers asked her to research an African-American artist, Kerry James Marshall, who had an exhibition coming up at the museum. “They wanted help figuring out how to reach out to the African-American community,” Hayes said. “I was supposed to research him and his work and come up with ways to engage the community.”

Although Hayes was growing increasingly interested in art – and a potential career as a curator – her dad wasn’t happy about the idea. A retired military man, he wanted to know how she was going to find a job. But she had a plan.

After graduating from Valencia, Hayes transferred to Florida International University in Miami, to finish her undergraduate degree in humanities. There, she got a work-study job in the campus museum – and learned more hands-on museum work. “It was a really great experience,” she said. “I learned how to describe objects, I learned the database system.” She also learned about an internship program in New York City, sponsored by an organization for women in the arts.

Upon graduation from FIU in December 2000, Hayes packed her bags and headed to Washington, D.C., where she worked for the federal government’s General Services Administration in the department’s art and architecture program. Her responsibilities included asking artists and galleries to send their proposals for various building projects. 

She continued at that job for two years, before heading to Howard University in D.C. to earn her master’s degree in art history. At Howard, she landed even more internships – at the National Gallery of Art and the Library of Congress. It’s a path she encourages students to follow.

“I think the most important thing about the internships I’ve done was that they helped me find my niche,” Hayes says. “I learned, for instance, that I didn’t want to be a registrar — the person in charge of taking care of the collection,” who catalogs the works and coordinates the schedule. Instead, she discovered she liked researching the artists and their work and talking to them. “The internships allowed me to fine-tune my interests and really find my niche. My strategy was to work in as many different institutions in as many different positions as I could,” she said.  But at the end of her many internships, she knew she wanted to be a museum curator.

Hayes has already had a taste of that, having worked as an interim curator at the University of Delaware and as associate curator at the Hampton University Museum in Hampton, Va. Now working full-time on her doctoral dissertation at the College of William & Mary, she will soon head to the Birmingham Museum of Art, where she’ll be doing a post-doctoral fellowship.

 “I love what I do and I think that if you’re really passionate and if you’re willing to put forth the work, you can do it. But you have to be willing to do the work. You can love being an actress, but if you’re not willing to do the legwork, it’s not going to happen.”

She also advises students to find mentors and stay in touch with them. “I asked for help all along the way. I think that’s something a lot of younger people do not do,” she said.

Often, she said, it’s as easy as asking someone in the business if they have time for a cup of coffee to chat about how they got started. And after you’ve established that friendship, stay in touch. Hayes updates her mentors and friends in the art world about her moves, from one job to another.

“You would be surprised at the lifelong relationships you will have with these people. I am still in touch with the people I reached out to 10 years ago,” Hayes says. “Those people who’ve been instrumental in my life, I always let them know what my next step is. It shows them: Look, this is what you helped me accomplish.”

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

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

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;

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;

houston, we have a valencia intern

Designing a mission to Mars may have helped Dolores Petropulos land in a place that once seemed equally far out – the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Now, the Valencia computer programming student is in Houston for a 15-week paid internship at NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

There, the 55-year-old Petropulos is working on the development and testing of software that can navigate and control the next generation moon lander.  At the end of her internship, Dolores will make a final presentation to technical staff in the Johnson Space Center engineering directorate, the team responsible for providing engineering design, development, and test support for space flight programs.

“This is the next generation moon lander,” says Dolores, of the project she’s working on. “It’s pretty cool stuff. It’ll be used on a robotic mission.”

Dolores’ journey to Houston really began last summer, when she read a college-wide email encouraging Valencia students to apply for NASA’s National Community College Aerospace Scholars program.  “It sounded interesting,” she says.  “It was an online class and you had to develop a mission to Mars in it.”

Based on her work in the online class, NASA offered Dolores a trip to the Johnson Space Center in October 2010. There, teams of community college students from across the country competed to create a robotic Mars rover that could, among other tricks, pick up a rock out of a water obstacle.  “Our little rover won the competition,” Dolores said. “Everybody else’s broke down at least once.”

That trip to Houston inspired Dolores – and ignited in her a new passion for robotics. “Once I won the trip to Johnson Space Center, and I got to see the next generation of space vehicles, the next generation rover, it got me very excited and made me realize that was the way I wanted to go,” she says.

When NASA officials encouraged the community college scholars to apply for internships with the space agency, Dolores checked it out – and sent in her application. Although she wasn’t selected for a spring internship, she learned over the summer that she would be going to Houston for the fall semester. The internship also comes with a $9,000 scholarship that she can apply to her living expenses.

Now Dolores is temporarily living in a Houston apartment furnished with mail-order furniture from Wal-Mart and an inflatable mattress – but she’s continuing to pursue her dream.

 “I was looking at the business end of computers, not something like this,” she says. ”When I first started at Valencia, I never thought I’d end up being a rocket scientist.”

This isn’t the first time Dolores has been a pioneer. After graduating from Valencia in 1974, Dolores joined the Orlando Police Department – and became one of 12 women on the force of more than 500 officers.

Even that took a leap of courage. Dolores’ parents didn’t finish high school — and her father didn’t want her to attend college. But Dolores went anyway, and graduated in 1976 with an associate of science degree in criminal justice. “My dad was adamant that I not go, but it was a choice I made and I told him that I hoped he would understand,” she says. “Later on, he ended up being very proud of me and what I accomplished.”

During her years on the force, she struggled with the timed tests required for promotions.  She practiced writing reports and memorized the law, but couldn’t pass the tests.  Jealous of other officers who’d earned their four-year degrees, Dolores began talking to a Valencia counselor about returning to college in 1991.

Dolores confided in the counselor, telling her what she hadn’t told others – that she’d had problems taking promotional tests while on the force. The counselor suggested she get tested for a learning disability, and when Valencia’s Office of Student Disabilities tested her, Dolores finally discovered the root of her problems. She has dyslexia – which means her brain doesn’t properly process symbols such as letters and numbers.

Armed with knowledge about her learning disability, Dolores began taking remedial math classes, one at a time, while continuing to work on the police force. With the help of tutors and professors, she gradually worked her way through the math curriculum, up to Calculus 3.  But she was sidelined in 1997 when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease, cancer of the lymphatic glands.

Even cancer couldn’t stop her.  Although she waited until 2009, when she’d retired from the police department, Dolores returned to Valencia, eager to study computer programming.  Determined to understand her disability and make the most of it, Dolores now regularly seeks out tutors or pops into professors’ offices to ask for help.

“All you have to do is go to the math lab and say the name Dolores,” said one of her professors, Hatim Boustique. “Everybody there knows Dolores.”

Other students tell Dolores that she’s got something they haven’t. But Dolores  and her professors say that’s not true.

“She’s a normal student – as far as performance,” says Boustique, who teaches computer programming and analysis. “She is not a quitter. If she does not understand something, she will live in your office. She used to come to my office hours, every single hour.  I gave her my full attention. If she does not understand something, she will stay and stay and stay until she understands it.”

For Dolores, who plans to attend Rollins College in fall of 2012 to finish her bachelor’s degree, Valencia will always be a special place. That’s because the college recognized her abilities when others didn’t, she says.

“It’s amazing that when I graduated from high school, I barely passed,” she says. “To see me now in Phi Theta Kappa, and being part of the honors program, is unbelievable.  The educational system in the public schools had actually failed me. Coming to Valencia was the best thing I ever did – both then and now.”

Dolores will return to Orlando in December and complete her dual degrees, an associate of science in computer science and an associate of arts degree in general studies.  Then she’ll transfer to Rollins. But she won’t forget Valencia.

“Valencia gave me my accomplishments that I have today and, for that, I’m very grateful,” she says. “I’m not saying they gave it to me on a silver platter. I had hard courses and very hard professors. But I’m finding and learning a lot of new things about myself, even at this stage in life.”

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

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

student thank you’s – study abroad

Through the SAGE Office (Study Abroad Global Experience), the foundation offers scholarships for study abroad opportunities. Here are two thank-you’s from students who recently traveled to China:

“I would like to thank the SAGE program for additional financial support provided for my study abroad class to China. The trip was very educational and gave me a new perspective on how business is conducted in foreign countries. It has inspired me to start looking into employment opportunities abroad. I cannot express how thankful I am for everything.” –Erich  

“I want to thank you for awarding me a one thousand dollar scholarship. Because of your kind courtesy, I was able to travel to China by airfare and stay two weeks in two amazing cities, Beijing and Shanghai. I will definitely recommend this scholarship program to anyone who needs financial assistance in their hope to study abroad.

Over my stay in China, I got to visit some remarkable sites! The Great Wall of China, that being my favorite site, was absolutely incredible! The view of the gorgeous mountains and never-ending wall was exhilarating to see! I also visited The Temple of Heaven, The Forbidden City, Fengjing Ancient Town, Yonghe Gong (Buddist temple), Huangpu River, etc.

I learned a lot about Chinese culture and their ways of doing business thanks to the guest speakers, lectures and historical sites visited. China has taught me to be a holistic thinker and more appreciative of life. We can’t focus our attention on one thing, we have to look at the whole picture.” –Sasha

disney to share management secrets with local professionals

Disney Institute is bringing its renowned Disney’s Approach to People Management program to Valencia College on Thursday, May 26. Sponsored by Valencia College, the full-day event will teach area professionals how to train, develop and retain skilled employees who understand and convey the values of their business to achieve positive economic results.

“This is a rare opportunity for local business professionals to participate in a Disney Institute experience in Central Florida,” said Jeff James, vice president for Disney Institute. “It’s a day of Disney training that will offer dozens of easy-to-implement, proven ideas that can help businesses large and small thrive.”

Disney’s Approach to People Management will give participants an insider’s look at the Disney approach to selection, training, retention and communication, all of which build a strong, positive corporate culture. Participants will learn how Disney instills pride and ownership in employees and how any organization can inspire and motivate its own employees.

“In an era where everyone is competing for business and market share, a competent, motivated workforce isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity,” James said. “This program is made for organizations looking to recruit, retain and manage the best talent they can find.”

The Disney Institute learning experience is unique in the world of training. More than business theory, the program highlights proven Disney business practices that are easily adaptable to organizations in any industry. Engaging content is presented in an entertaining fashion, providing participants with tools that can literally transform their organizations.

Program registration is $399 per person. The registration fee includes continental breakfast, luncheon and workshop materials. For more information or to register, call 407-582-6688 or visit

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

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;

wine sampling to benefit valencia and ucf students

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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;

local transportation pioneer offers college access to local children

The Mears Transportation Group pledged $1 million to Valencia Community College in memory of Paul Mears Sr. to support educational opportunities through the Orange County Take Stock in Children program.

Valencia will celebrate and rename its West Campus Student Services Building in honor of Mears on Nov. 16. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer will be among the speakers at a dedication ceremony that morning.

“My father always believed that a good education and hard work were the great equalizers in our society,” says 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.

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 86. 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.

Local unemployment rates signal challenging times, and economic uncertainties loom large. The increasing costs of tuition and books can conspire to make college unaffordable for individuals looking to build better lives for their families.

“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, Dr. Sanford C. Shugart, points out that college enrollment increased by more than 11 percent this fall, significant growth not supported by state funding. Valencia sought resources to help close the affordability gap. Financial aid awards more than doubled in the past three years, growing from less than $40 million in 2006-07 to an estimated $109 million in 2009. Foundation disbursements have tripled within five years.

“This generous gift from Mears will provide meaningful support to financially-disadvantaged children who dream of attending college,” Shugart explains.

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 recognition ceremony, 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

The West Campus is located at 1800 S. Kirkman Rd. in Orlando.

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

two valencia students selected to NASA’s aerospace scholars program

Valencia Community College sophomores Denise Rudy and Delores Petropulos, who attend the college’s East Campus, have been selected to travel to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston October 20-22, 2010, to participate in a three-day on-site event.

They were selected as two of 89 community and junior college students from across the nation to be part of the National Community College Aerospace Scholars program. Students completed four Web-based assignments during the school year, maintaining a 93 average to qualify for the experience.  They will apply what they have learned during the year to work with NASA engineers.

Thrilled to learn of her selection to the NASA program, Rudy, a 4.0 grade point average student who took a ten-year detour through the workforce, proves it’s never too late to pursue a dream. “I’m starting to really believe that the sky is nowhere near the limit and that anything is possible,” she said. Rudy now has her sights set on applying to Cal Tech and Stanford as well as UCF. She plans to pursue her academic interests in geophysics and aeronautical engineering.

Petropulos, another non-traditional student, also has dyslexia. “I have to work harder than a lot of the students, but it has made me cherish these accomplishments a lot more,” she said. A computer programming student at Valencia, Petropulos has been inspired by the NASA program to pursue a career in robotics programming, perhaps in aerospace or within the medical field.

The program is a three-day on-site event at Johnson and offers students from across the nation the opportunity to interact with each other as they learn more about careers in science and engineering. While at Johnson, students form teams and establish fictional companies interested in Mars exploration. Each company is responsible for developing a prototype rover, designing a line drawing of the rover, and forming the company infrastructure including budget, communications, and presentations. The experience at Johnson includes a tour of facilities and briefings by noted NASA employees—including astronauts.

National Community College Aerospace Scholars is a program based on Texas Aerospace Scholars, originally created by the state of Texas in partnership with NASA and the Texas educational community. Both programs are designed to encourage community and junior college students to enter careers in science and engineering and ultimately join the nation’s highly technical workforce.

With this program, NASA continues the agency’s investment in educational programs that attract and retain students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, disciplines critical to NASA’s future missions.

For additional information, please contact Deborah Hutchings, National Community College Aerospace Scholars program manager at 281-483-8623 or For more information, please visit their website.

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

summer music camps end on a high note

There are plenty of middle and high school students who would have been perfectly content to spend their summers lounging by the pool or in front of the TV – then there were those who wanted to jam.

Those students found themselves right at home at the Rock and Roll Camp and Jazz Camp offered at Valencia Community College’s East Campus this summer.

Led by professional musicians and educators, both camps gave students a musical outlet where they could jam with each other, hone their talent and gain performance practice.

Jazz Camp Director, Jarritt Sheel, started the camp in 2008 as a way to reach out to students who were interested in jazz but needed more exposure to it.

“It’s an area that a lot of kids are interested in but they don’t hear that, they don’t see that at home because it’s not on TV – it’s not on MTV, it’s not on VH1,” said Sheel.

At the camp, students learn about jazz improvisation, history, theory and performance techniques through jazz clinics, jam sessions and faculty and student performances. The five-day camp costs $250.

The Rock and Roll Camp began in 1997 as an outreach to students who were taking guitar, bass, drum, keyboard or voice lessons already but wanted to collaborate with others to form bands and perform together.

The camp gives students a taste of the entire music process, from creating and rehearsing to performing. Activities include instrumental classes, band rehearsals, clinics and guest performers. At the end of camp, all students perform together in a final concert. The camp is offered in two sessions through the summer and costs $320 per week.

“You get to form bands and get to do what you really want to do, you know, what you’ve always dreamed of doing – you get to play up on stage, gigging and everything – it’s just totally awesome,” said Zack, a student at the Rock and Roll Camp.

Both Rock and Roll Camp and Jazz Camp have concluded this summer, but will be offered again next year. For more information, please visit

SOURCE: Valencia News,

faculty and staff honor colleague

Expressing their gratitude for Helen Clarke's magnanimous contribution to T/LA, colleagues donated funds to the Valencia Foundation in her honor. Helen will have the opportunity to designate her favorite Valencia scholarship or program as the recipient of these contributions!

Valencia Community College faculty and staff recently honored Teaching/Learning Academy director Helen Clarke for her years of commitment to the program.   

At a May 26 reception over $1050 was presented to Helen with the opportunity to designate her favorite Valencia scholarship or program as the recipient of these contributions! 

The Teaching/Learning Academy, a community of practice, supports new professors, counselors, and librarians as they develop Individualized Learning Plans, a fundamental phase of the tenure process designed to assist tenure candidates to expand and improve their professional practices and students’ learning. TLA provides support on pedagogy, course design, student development, and professional portfolio development. 

Expressing their gratitude for Helen Clarke’s magnanimous contribution to T/LA, colleagues donated funds to the Valencia Foundation in her honor. Helen will have the opportunity to designate her favorite Valencia scholarship or program as the recipient of these contributions!  

Many thanks to Helen Clarke for your years in the Teaching/Learning Academy.  We wish you the best as you return to your first professional love. . . teaching!    

Note:  contributions in Helen’s honor are still being accepted through a secure online process, if you wish to make a contribution please designate your donation is in honor of Helen Clarke.

dual enrollment q & a

What is Dual Enrollment?
Dual enrollment gives a high school junior or senior a jump start on a college education, even allowing students to complete a college degree while simultaneously earning a high school diploma. In addition to saving time, students also save a lot of money with free tuition and fees and, for some, free textbooks.

Is it right for everyone?
In a word, no. The Dual Enrollment Program is an opportunity to take courses at the college level, so the amount of work necessary to succeed is usually much greater than in high school courses. Because dual enrollment courses become part of a permanent college transcript, students must commit to doing the work required or risk jeopardizing future college plans.

Who is eligible?
Any high school rising junior or senior in Orange or Osceola County with a 3.0 unweighted grade point average for all of high school work can apply.

How does one apply?
Complete the Dual Enrollment Application. It may be accessed at the site listed below. Submit the application to an Answer Center, to the Dual Enrollment Office, or to the counselor at the students high school. Students must also provide assessment scores from either the ACT, SAT, or CPT placement test at time of application or shortly thereafter.

For more information feel free to browse this years student handbook located at: 

PDF  Dual Enrollment Student Handbook 2009 – 2010       

PDF   Past Year Dual Enrollment Application for review
(students are required to submit hard copy only; no separate Valencia application required)


From left to right: Rich Maladecki, President CFHLA, Jim Inglis, Program Director, Hospitality & Tourism and Restaurant Management and Donna Marino, Manager Valencia Foundation.

Congratulations to Professor Jim Inglis and the hospitality students on receiving $8,500 from CFHLA for the Hospitality Program. This marks the 10th year in a row that CFHLA has donated substantial funds to the program with a portion going towards supporting the Front Desk Lab on West campus, a hotel-style lab that features front desk guest software.

In addition to the grants, each semester the CFHLA recruits several current Valencia Hospitality students to intern at the corporate office of the association. This intership provides an opportunity for students to network with industry professionals and to participate in numerous industry and community events.

Source: The Bulletin, Monday, December 7, 2009

college night

College Night 2009 will provide an opportunity for high school and college transfer students to scope out their options for college. More than 100 admissions representatives from colleges across the country will be present for this two-night event, which will be held at Valencia Community College. Last year’s representatives hailed from universities including Yale, Cornell and the University of Florida, as well as local schools such as Valencia, University of Central Florida, Rollins, Florida Southern and Stetson. There were also representatives from the United States Air Force, Military and Naval Academies. Students can receive information on everything college related, from admissions requirements to financial aid, degrees and programs, and campus housing. College Night 2009 will be held Tuesday, Oct. 6 on Valencia’s Osceola Campus and Thursday, Oct. 8 on Valencia’s East Campus. Both events run from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. and are free and open to the public. Valencia’s Osceola Campus is located at 1800 Denn John Lane in Kissimmee. The East Campus is located at 701 N. Econlockhatchee Trail in Orlando. For more information please go to or contact 407-582-2330 or

Source: Melissa Tchen, Marketing and Media Relations
Valencia Community College



welcome to second life

Valencia has been busily acquiring property to help accommodate our burgeoning student population. You probably know that we’re planning for new campuses in southeast and southwest Orlando. But the real estate I’m referring to is virtual and resides on Second Life, where the college has a building and is in the process of buying another.

I visited Second Life, and to be perfectly honest I haven’t quite wrapped my brain around it yet. Of course I’m not the target demographic. But it’s intriguing to watch learning change with each new wave of technology. I’ve read about SL over the past few years, as virtual real estate moguls amassed real dollars. I’m not sure if the recession has hit the online real estate market. (For details on the SL campus, see the very end of this post.)

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