Chef Manny Washington—Orlando Fire Department’s finest chef

“Chef Manny” 11141778_377244982472413_4444921235404832610_nhas been cooking since he was eight. He started with desserts–in fact, the first thing he learned to cook was southern staple sweet potato pie. Next he graduated to sides, and finally to main dishes.

He learned from his grandmother, then his mother and his father, also a firefighter (in Miami).

He’s best known for his appearance on national cooking shows, which he’s been doing for only a year. (Since August, 2015, when he first appeared on Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen.) The one thing that scared him the most about competition cooking? Plating. “Firefighters don’t require plating; they just want good tasting food.”

With all this cooking, you’d think he majored in something culinary, but Washington, it turns out, is kind of a science geek. From Valencia, he got an AS in Emergency Medical Services. From there, he went on to UCF, where he got a BS in Chemistry Education, with a minor in Emergency Management. “My favorite class was Organic Chemistry I with Dr. Eric Crumpler (west campus). By far one of the hardest classes I have ever taken, but I love how I get to take an acid naturalization and apply it to work.”

He is an engineer/paramedic with the Orlando Fire Department, stationed at Fire Station 1 (downtown). mc7_706-16-15-lobsterelim_0313_hires2He works on the Hazardous Materials team, which works with everything from gas spills to weapons of mass destruction.

How does he balance his career as a firefighter with this new “career” as a part time gourmet chef? Due to their schedule (24 hours on, 48 off) he has the time to do live food demos, private dinners, and even cook for other fire stations nationwide. His favorite thing to cook is skirt steak with chimichurri sauce, white rice, black beans and caramelized plantains. Did we mention he’s from Miami?

You can follow Chef Manny at @chefmannyfd on Facebook, Instagram, Twittter and YouTube.

 

 

Laura Sessions–professor of chemistry

Our latest in our series about endowed chairs at Valencia this year.

 

“HoDr. Laura Sessionsw can we prepare students for the challenges of STEM (science/technology/engineering/math) careers?” This is the question Professor Laura Sessions asked while creating “meaningful internship experiences” at the Lake Nona campus with her Lockheed Martin Chair in Science this year.

She adds “I am currently interested in improving the learning experience for students in the science laboratory. The Lockheed Martin Chair in Science 2015-16 has allowed me to investigate best practices for training students in research skills and to create an internship program for a first cohort of five students in spring 2016.”

The intent of this program is to help students better understand the process of science, and the mindset and skills required to do research. Students will receive training in key laboratory skills through interaction with faculty members, through the use of tutorials, and, ultimately, by addressing a research question. Students with these skill sets are more likely to find internships in research labs.

Students will be able to attend the Florida Academy of Sciences Conference on March 19-21, 2016 at the University of South Florida, thanks to funding from the Lockheed Martin Chair in Science from the Valencia Foundation.

 

“One student, Shannon Finner, has already been working in the laboratory with me this fall. She is optimizing

Dr. Sessions and Assistantship Student Shannon Finner Discuss an Infrared Spectrum in the Lake Nona Chemistry laboratory, fall 2015.

Dr. Sessions and Assistantship Student Shannon Finner Discuss an Infrared Spectrum in the Lake Nona Chemistry laboratory, fall 2015.

the recrystallization solvent for purifying a Diels-Alder adduct that students make in the Organic Chemistry 1 class at Lake Nona’s campus.”

Dr. Sessions adds, “In the long term, I hope to create a sustainable program for scientific inquiry by students at the Lake Nona campus. I would like to create an interdisciplinary team, bringing together students and faculty from chemistry, biology, and our new biotech program, so that students can experience authentic scientific research and leave Valencia with real world skills.”

Dr. Sessions is professor of chemistry at the Lake Nona campus.  She was born and raised in Winter Park,and attended the University of Florida, obtaining a B.S. in Chemistry with a minor in French. Dr. Sessions then attended Dartmouth College, where she studied organic polymer synthesis and nanoparticles. After receiving her Ph.D., Dr. Sessions was very happy to move back to warm, sunny Florida. She taught as an adjunct at Palm Beach Community College (now Palm Beach State College) for three years while performing various duties for the South Florida Science Museum including science educator, grant writer, and, eventually, education director. Dr. Sessions joined the full-time faculty at Valencia College in 2010 and successfully completed the tenure track in 2014.

Dr. Sessions is married to Dr. Hampton Sessions, also a chemist, who studies medicinal chemistry at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in Lake Nona.  They have two adorable children: Evelyn, aged 5 and Henry, aged 3.

 

 

bloom n grow scholarship

Bloom N Grow Scholarship

The Bloom N Grow Scholarship, an affiliate of Florida Federal Garden Clubs, Inc., was organized by a group of West Orange County women sharing a common interest in gardening and horticulture. The purpose of this scholarship is to support educational opportunities for students who have an interest in gardening and horticulture. All applicants must meet these requirements:

  • Must be Enrolled Full-Time or Part-Time.
  • Preference for graduates of West Orange High School.
  • Must be enrolled in Horticulture Science, Landscape or Horticulture Technology

The scholarship will pay toward tuition, books and fees. To apply please complete the Valencia Foundation Scholarship Application found HERE.

Apply TODAY!

bloom n grow scholarship

Bloom N Grow Scholarship

The Bloom N Grow Scholarship, an affiliate of Florida Federal Garden Clubs, Inc., was organized by a group of West Orange County women sharing a common interest in gardening and horticulture. The purpose of this scholarship is to support educational opportunities for students who have an interest in gardening and horticulture. All applicants must meet these requirements:

  • Must be Enrolled Full-Time or Part-Time.
  • Preference for graduates of West Orange High School.
  • Must be enrolled in Horticulture Science, Landscape or Horticulture Technology

The scholarship will pay toward tuition, books and fees. To apply please complete the Valencia Foundation Scholarship Application found HERE.

Apply TODAY!

they’re all heart: behind the scenes at valencia’s cardiovascular technology program

Inside the cardiac catheterization classroom at Valencia College, Professor Polly Keller spends her days trying to stump her students.

The students, who are studying to become cardiovascular technicians, are learning how to help cardiologists perform life-saving procedures – putting stents in patients’ arteries, inserting catheters and balloons and implanting pacemakers.

And because they have patients’ lives in their hands, Keller pushes her students hard.

Using a computerized mannequin, she simulates the worst possible scenarios that a student might encounter when trying to help a patient with heart problems:  A patient who’s allergic to the contrast dye injected into his veins; a patient who goes into anaphylactic shock; a patient who starts hemorrhaging during a procedure;  or a patient whose kidneys begin to fail.

“Our goal is to simulate every complication they’ll encounter in a hospital,” says Keller, professor of cardiovascular technology. “We want them to be prepared for every scenario.”

For students in the program, the instructors’ scenarios are a challenge. “We love problem-solving,” said Nalini Ghisiawan, a second-year student who transferred from the University of Florida into Valencia’s CVT program “We love hands-on work.”

 

And it’s that kind of problem-solving attitude that students need to excel as a cardiovascular technologist, Keller says.  While many of the students in the program started out as nursing majors, they gravitated toward CVT for different reasons.  Some decided that nursing wasn’t for them, while the more technically-oriented work of a CVT fit their personalities better. Some are adrenaline junkies – excited by the prospect of working in an environment as demanding and fast-paced as an emergency room.

Oria Marrero, 27, was working at an Orlando cardiology group, scheduling patient surgeries, when she decided to go back to college. In anatomy class, she knew that becoming a cardiovascular tech suited her – especially when her class began studying different organs. “When they teach you the different organs, the heart was the only one that I really found cool,” she says. “I’m not attracted to the lungs and other organs.”

It’s high-stress and hard work, but the students who stay in the program tend to be detail oriented (though some may describe themselves as “anal”), and visual learners. They are also happy to be studying and preparing for a career that will keep them busy – and challenge them every day.

Graduates of the two-year program earn $22 to $25 an hour or about $60,000 a year upon graduation. And last year, 100 percent of the program’s graduates found jobs – most working in catheterization labs at Central Florida hospitals.

“People in this field are constantly learning something new,” says Keller. “The equipment’s always changing.”

During the two-year program, students not only take classes and practice in Valencia’s cath lab, but they also must spend at least 800 hours working in cardiac cath labs at area hospitals. These “clinical rotations” allow students to learn at the side of other cardiovascular technicians and cardiologists.

As CVTs, they work side by side with cardiologists.

And, just as a caddy anticipates what golf club a golfer wants, the CVT anticipates what the cardiologist will do next – and is ready with the correct catheter or guide wire or equipment.  “At that table, you’re like husband and wife,” says Marrero.

And eventually, cardiologists often turn to CVTs for advice. “They earn respect from the physicians.  There will come a point when a cardiologist will turn to them and say, ‘How does Doctor So-and-So do this?’” says Keller. “They ask the CVTs because the CVTs perform these procedures all day long, every day.”

The respect from the physicians is gratifying, but it’s the joy of seeing the patients – before and afterward – that excites these students.

Moise Louis, also in his second year in Valencia’s CVT program, says there’s no greater feeling than watching a patient perk up within minutes after a stent is placed. Someone who has been drained of color and is listless often feels better – and looks better —  immediately after blood begins flowing through what was once a blocked artery.

“That’s what’s so wonderful about this field,” he says. “And patients and their families thank you for saving their lives.”

Source: Linda Shrieves Beaty, Marketing and Strategic Communications, Valencia College; Valencia News; http://news.valenciacollege.edu