Andrew Ray, program chair AS built environment programs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Richard Gair, professor of Holocaust studies and reading

Rich_smallRichard Gair used his Abe and Tess Wise Endowed Chair in the Study of the Shoah this year to travel to Poland, an important part of his Holocaust studies.

The title for his project is “Discovering Fragments of Jewish Life in Poland,” and it was Professor Gair’s intent to spend nearly three weeks in that country, spending his time talking with local historians, officials and museum staff.

“I also toured four Nazi death camps, studying and photographing them,” Professor Gair says. The towns on his travel agenda were Lodz, Chmielnik, Auschwitz, Rzeszow and Lublin. “In each location I made day trips to the sites and smaller villages.” Moreover, he explored the archives in places like Auschwitz.

The purpose of his stay? To visit, study and photograph key sites of Nazi persecution, ghettos and Nazi death camps, and to study and photograph fragments of Jewish life that once existed in Poland to deepen his understanding of that time. He also planned to examine the archives and exhibits at Auschwitz-Birkeneau to enhance his teaching and to help him plan future study abroad trips to the camps.RichardGair

He met with local historians to learn first-hand about the lives of Jews in the towns, and—perhaps most importantly, he deepened his scholarship to enrich all his Holocaust knowledge and teaching. The trip added a new perspective to what he understands about Jewish life in Poland then. It will also help him to add new components to future study abroad trips he leads.

As Professor Gair visits these places, he’ll be adding a wealth of new knowledge and experience to his professional background as a Holocaust educator and representative for Valencia in his role as a member of the Florida State Task Force on Holocaust Education. The photographs, videos and knowledge will all be infused into his classroom teaching of his Holocaust course, as well as his annual Holocaust study abroad trip.

Students have told me that when I can integrate my own experiences visiting, studying at the sites we study, it adds a level of authenticity to my teaching,” Gair says.  The pictures and videos from the trip will be shared in class, along with interviews he conducts with a historian or others. “By showing students the remnants of Jewish life, as small as they may be, they will further appreciate the magnitude of the Holocaust and its effect on a culture that has vanished.”

Videos from his trip can be found at https://vimeo.com/album/3516403

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steve Myers–professor of biology

 

Steve Myers with...a cobra.

Steve Myers with…a cobra.

The title of this piece almost ended up “Steve Myers, professor of biology and world traveler extraordinaire.” He’s been to India, Guyana…

Steve Myers is using his Valencia Foundation Board Chair for Interdisciplinary Studies to explore South Asia with an eye toward learning more about its biodiversity. “South Asia” he says, “is a biodiverse area with a large human population. The Western Ghats of India is a well-known ecological hot spot, home to eighty-four amphibian species, sixteen bird species, seven mammals,” and 1,600 flowering plant species, all of which are unique to the area, and found nowhere else on earth.

Let that sink in for a moment. All of these species are unique to this area.

“The conservation and preservation of this unique area is of global importance. Students would benefit from observing conservation efforts used by researchers at the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station (ARRS) in a field biology setting. They would have the opportunity to explore and understand the hurdles of conservation in a developing country, how those differ from regulations in the states and abroad, and what effect such governance has on the ability to sustain and preserve these endemic species.”

During his next study abroad project, Myers hopes to research policies and procedures used for preservation and

Steve Myers helps students...with a crocodile? No danger here...

Steve Myers helps students…with a crocodile.

proliferation in India, and with help from his traveling students, compare them with those of the developed world, “and explore how sharing and adapting these ideas may serve to help us all, globally.” He continues, “being that global sustainability is at the forefront of our environmental concerns, I feel it is important to explore cross cultural differences between our conservation practices and those of the western world with those of the developing world.”

His project is planned for March 3–15, 2016 in Chennai, India.

In the past, his travels have taken him to other parts of India, Guyana and Venezuela. His students have gone on to work in the field of conservation and field biology.  He has also several students go on to participate in various research programs, internships and apprenticeship programs at colleges throughout the US and abroad.

“My hope is to inspire students to think about the world around them, how our actions affect nature, and what steps we can take to preserve the environments around us,” says Myers.

Professor Myers teaches at the East campus.

 

spotlight story: valencia alum and board member brad pierce and angel flight of southeast mission to save lives

Brad Pierce, Valencia Alum and Valencia Foundation board member, and the Angel Flight Southeast, a charitable flying company, continue to use their passion of flying to provide urgent medical aid to those in need. Reflecting on a recent trip to Miami to bring a young girl in Orlando to two needed organs, Brad shares: “I pulled into the airport knowing it was game day, this flight would be among the most important I’ve ever flown in my life.  Every aspect of this mission needed to be performed flawlessly.  I did a quick (yet thorough) pre-flight of my Turbo Cirrus SR22 Aircraft and determined everything was in a safe condition for a flight.  Moments later my passengers arrived – a courageous young woman and her caring father. I typically do more coddling of new passengers before taking flights, explaining every aspect of the flight to ease their comfort level. Tonight was different however, we were racing time which was an expiring commodity so there was only time for the necessary safety briefing.  Before starting the engine however, the father turned to me and simply said “thank you” as he extended his hand. I looked at him and replied, “I’m happy to help – my job tonight is to get you to Miami quickly and safely – yours is to relax and enjoy the flight.”  With those quick sentiments exchanged, it was “go time”.

Quickly, Brad started the engine, checked in with air traffic control and was cleared for takeoff. In the pursuit of a potential resolution, the moods of the passengers changed. The passengers shifted from worry to positivity as they got closer and closer to their destination. With a smooth flight, gentle landing and an exchange of words of gratitude, the young girl was quickly rushed to the operating room where the doctors performed her transplant. In a dash to get his passengers to Miami safely, Brad took a breath, reflected and prepared for lift off from Miami to Orlando. Reminiscing on the moment, he shares: “I took a moment to catch my breath before my return flight to Orlando. I chatted with the fantastic mission coordination staff from Angel Flight Southeast who are the ones whom really made this all possible. I gave them a thorough briefing on the details of the mission performance including expressing my gratitude for all that they do each day. A short while later, I was lifting off once again, a bit lighter with no passengers, but with a heart filled with joy. The flight back to Orlando was smooth and allowed for reflection of all that transpired over the past few hours.  The special nature of this mission really began to sink in. Although I was no longer using the MedEVAC call-sign, air traffic control provided extra courtesy as a returning Angel Flight and allowed me to return home quickly which was appreciated.”

Above the actual contribution of being able to lend support to this cause, person in need and mission, Brad walked away with a bigger life-changing lesson: keeping hope. “As I reflect back on this flight, I can’t help but to think of the profound effect it had on my life.  I thought I was simply giving these passengers help in a time of need – the reality is they were giving me a lesson in life that no amount of money can buy.  They inspired me to look beyond the little problems in everyday life and to realize the things that are truly important.  Success is about having a good attitude, believing in yourself and being appreciative for what you have in life.  Keep up the hope no matter how dire the situation and good things will come to you.  This life lesson was the best Christmas gift I could have ever received,” he shares.

Encouraged by Brad and Angel Flight Southeast, we are inspired by you. Thank you for sharing!

To read more about this wonderful story, visit Brad’s blog at http://www.bradim.com/2013/12/15/flying-an-angel-flight-to-help-save-a-life/