Monthly Archives: October 2019

Kelsey Visser Helps Faculty Develop Peace and Justice Pedagogy in Community of Scholars — Faculty Highlight

By Wendy Jo Moyer

Kelsey Visser, part-time faculty, New Student Experience and Peace and Justice Institute (PJI) project coordinator and facilitator, is helping our faculty members develop and refine their practice of peace and justice pedagogy through a PJI and Faculty Development course — Community of Scholars.

Kelsey began coordinating the course in spring 2019, following the lead of Professor of Speech and PJI Academic Coordinator Michele Lima, who designed and launched the program in 2017, and Part-time Education Faculty and PJI Academy Coordinator Lauri Lott, who co-facilitated it with her in 2018 — both whom Kelsey credits for her success leading this program today.

The 25-PD hour course offers seven, two-and-a-half-hour sessions on topics, including nonviolence, civil discourse, ways of knowing, sustainability, belonging and connection, and restorative practices. Each session includes advanced reading, an open discussion on the reading and then an active-learning activity to utilize in the classroom.

“What I think is beautiful about the program is that the Peace and Justice Institute started as a reading circle,” Kelsey explained. “That’s how the Principles for How We Treat Each Other came about. With Community of Scholars, we’re going back to our roots to read together and learn together as faculty and peace and justice practitioners.”

As Kelsey facilitates, she continues to learn as well. “I love learning myself, so I feel like every time I read a book, I think of it in a whole new way through the community. That’s the intention of Community of Scholars. We’re all learning and contributing to the learning environment, which is something we want to do in our classrooms too. We are modeling what an inclusive classroom could look like.”

Describing the program as an active — rather than a passive — program for people who want to learn together and build a relationship together, Kelsey added, “If you want to deepen your own understanding of peace and justice and want a solid base of knowledge in the peace and justice field, this program is for you.”

For those faculty who’d like to further develop their skills following Community of Scholars to nurture an inclusive, caring and respectful environment in their classrooms and on campus, they may continue their studies to earn the Peace and Justice Practitioner Certification. Community of Scholars is the first requirement for the 57-PD hour certification, followed by three Faculty Development courses in learning-centered teaching practices and three Faculty Development courses in inclusion and diversity. For a Peace and Justice Practitioner Certification planning document that lists all required courses and electives, click here.

The Peace and Justice Practitioner Certification program culminates with a capstone, which Kelsey also leads. During the capstone, faculty members implement a peace and justice practice in their classroom. Throughout the capstone project, Kelsey meets regularly with the participants regarding their progress and to provide support. At the end of the semester, all participants present their project findings to the capstone cohort, prior to being awarded the Peace and Justice Practitioner Certification.

“It’s amazing to see what some people come up with,” she said. “Some want to redo their whole course, and others will take one discussion post out of the whole semester and really make it focused on the Principles for How We Treat Each Other, civil discourse, empathy or whatever they decide is impactful for their students.”

If you’re interested in participating in Community of Scholars — whether just the 25-PD hour course or to launch your studies for the 57-PD hour Peace and Justice Practitioner Certification — the next cohort will begin Monday, January 20, 2020. Register in the Valencia EDGE by clicking here.

If you have questions about Community of Scholars or the Peace and Justice Practitioner Certification, visit your campus Center for Teaching/Learning Innovation.

Do you know a faculty member doing great work? Or, perhaps you’d like to share the work you’re doing? Send the colleague’s (or your) name to us at and include Faculty Highlight Nomination in the subject line of your email. We might just feature your colleague (or you) as an upcoming Faculty Highlight.

Monthly Archives: October 2019

Canvas Update — Plagiarism Reporting Tool

A Message from Geni Wright, Director, Online Teaching and Learning

Starting Saturday, November 16, 2019, faculty will see changes to the way plagiarism reports are displayed in the Canvas Gradebook. For course assignments with the Unicheck plagiarism tool enabled, the similarity score is indicated by icons in the Gradebook. Currently, colors blue, green, yellow and red identify the level of similarity within the document. The Canvas Gradebook will now display the similarity by both color and shape.

Below is an overview of the new changes:

  • Error icon: the submission could not be submitted to the plagiarism service; please resubmit from SpeedGrader
  • Solid red circle icon: the similarity score is higher than 60%
  • Red half-filled circle icon: the similarity score is between 20% and 60%
  • Green circle checkmark icon: the similarity score is between 0% and 20%
  • Clock icon: the submission is being processed by Unicheck


To view the actual percentage for a student’s submission, click on the assignment cell, and the grade detail tray will open, displaying the icon and similarity score percentage.

If a student submits multiple files, the grade detail tray will display the highest originality score. There will be a message indicating that the submission includes plagiarism data for multiple attachments, which can be viewed in SpeedGrader. SpeedGrader displays each individual file and the originality report for each file.

If you have any questions about these changes, please visit a Center for Teaching/Learning Innovation to meet with a faculty developer/instructional designer.

Monthly Archives: October 2019

Faculty Governance Update — October 2019

A Message from Stanton Reed, President, Collegewide Faculty Association

As part of my faculty challenge that I shared during Academic Assembly, I am excited that I’ve finished my first book, the New York Times Bestseller, “How to be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi. Now I will pass this thought-provoking book to Faculty Association Past President John Niss to read. I look forward to discussing the ideas presented with John and whomever he decides to share the book with next.

Per my challenge, I’ve also visited several deans — and brought them some goodies — to ask them how I can grow and flourish as a professor. What amazing feedback I received! I’ve also had a blast visiting several student events on our campuses.

If you’re unfamiliar with the challenge I’ve mentioned above, here’s a reminder. To help foster personal connection, improve yourself professionally and assist the College with building equitable teaching practices as we work toward a more inclusive and equitable community, I’ve challenged each of you to:

  1. Read a book on equity, inclusion and connection, sign your name in the book when you finish, and then send the book to a colleague with a request to do the same. I encourage you to engage with each other about the book.
  2. Reach out to a student to engage with that student or attend a student event.
  3. Initiate a conversation with your dean to participate in development outside of the annual review process.

If you’ve started on the challenge, how’s it going? Have you had any aha moments? I’d love to hear from you on your progress at or 407-299-5000, extension 4224.

Here are some quick Faculty Council updates from our Thursday, October 10, 2019, meeting:

Sustainability Mission, Vision and Objectives 
Vice President of Business Operations and Finance Loren Bender, Executive Vice President and Provost Kathleen Plinske, Assistant Vice President, Facilities Planning and Real Estate Development Jose Fernandez and Director of Energy Conservation and Sustainability Carrie Black joined us to share Valencia College’s mission, vision and objectives for sustainability. They are as follows:

  • Mission: Promote and execute operational practices in the service of environmental, economic and social responsibility, while effectively communicating and educating about the significance of these practices for people and the planet.
  • Vision: Serve as a role model in our community by accomplishing sustainability goals.
  • Objectives: Obtain carbon neutrality, reduce waste the College generates and improve on water quality and conservation.

Additionally, Edie Gaythwaite was introduced as the College’s first faculty fellow in sustainability to implement and enhance collegewide faculty development opportunities that support the integration of sustainability in the curriculum and co-curriculum. To read about Edie and the role, click here.

Program Learning Outcomes Assessment
Assistant Vice President of Teaching and Learning Wendi Dew and past President of the Faculty Association John Niss shared the background and process for Program Learning Outcomes Assessment (PLOA), as well as the draft PLOA model. There are three defining characteristics of the new model:

1. Course-level assessment mapped to program outcome and/or General Education outcomes

2. Biennial Assessment Cycle

Year 1: Review outcomes, develop assessment plan and implement assessment
Year 2: Review results, develop improvement plan and implement improvement

3. Assessment Coordinating Team

With a new support structure and increased flexibility in assessment methods, the new model intends to meet two outcomes:

  1. Stakeholders are engaged in a reflective process related to professional practice and student learning outcomes.
  2. Pedagogical, curricular and co‐curricular changes are made in response to and in alignment with assessment results.

Campus forums are being hosted for model feedback through Tuesday, December 3, 2019, and work on model revisions is taking place through the end of the term. Valencia will host a faculty summit in January and then present the finalized PLOA model to the Learning Council in January 2020.

Past President Release Time
With the growth of Valencia College, greater involvement of our Faculty Association leaders grows year after year as we fulfill our role as the faculty voice of the College. As as result, the Faculty Association past president’s responsibilities have grown, as the person in the role serves as the Learning Council co-chair and on work teams and committees. Due to those additional responsibilities, the Faculty Council was asked for feedback on changing the release time for the past president from one release to two releases.

The Faculty Council did not have concerns with this change; however an amendment to the constitution requires a vote from Faculty Association members with a quorum of 50%. Watch for an email to vote on past president release time in mid-November.

Help Identify the 2020 Distinguished Graduate
The Valencia College Foundation needs our help to identify our 2020 Mary S. Collier Distinguished Graduate, who will serve as the keynote speaker for our commencement ceremonies. We know from experience that many of our eligible students are too humble to see themselves in this role, so please encourage eligible, praiseworthy students to apply. This year, the student will need to collect two letters of recommendation from two separate Valencia faculty or staff members in order to be considered. The application will open on Monday, November 4, 2019. For details, click here.

Microsoft Teams
Managing Director of Campus Technology Services Jamie Rost shared with the Council how the software Microsoft Teams — a chat-based, flexible workspace that allows teams to work together in one window — can help faculty enhance teamwork and collaboration. Teams creates a centralized place for chats, messages, meetings and files and can be accessed via computer or mobile devices. Read The Juice and The Grove for a Microsoft Teams series starting in November.

Hispanic Heritage Month
In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Council recognized the contribution Ellen Ochoa made as the first Hispanic woman to go to space when she served on the nine-day STS-56 mission aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 1993. She also served as Johnson Space Center’s first Hispanic director.

The Council also recognized Professor of Chemistry and East Campus Faculty Council Vice President Angelica Vagel for her service and contributions to the East Campus Chemistry department and applauded the work and impact that our Hispanic faculty have on our students.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at or 407-299-5000, extension 4224.

Monthly Archives: October 2019

Help Identify the 2020 Distinguished Graduate

The Valencia Foundation needs your help to identify the 2020 Mary S. Collier Distinguished Graduate, who will serve as the keynote speaker for our commencement ceremonies.

We know from experience that many of our eligible students are too humble to see themselves in this role, so please encourage eligible, praiseworthy students to apply by providing them with a letter of recommendation. The student is responsible for applying, and he or she will include your letter of recommendation as part of the application packet.

In past years, our Distinguished Graduates have been non-traditional students like 2019 Distinguished Graduate Dalton Joseph, a son of Haitian immigrants, who fell in with a gang of young men who broke into homes; Jehojada Merilan (2018), a first-generation American; and Rula Khalaf (2017) who moved from the Middle East in search of a better future. These are the students who inspire our mission, who tell our story and empower others to overcome whatever challenges they face. These are the students who tell their peers, “We don’t settle; we succeed” and who demonstrate the power of commitment and dedication.

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Must have a minimum overall 3.5 GPA.
  • Must have two letters of recommendation from two separate Valencia faculty or staff members. (When the student applies, he or she must include a faculty or staff letter of recommendation as a part of the online application packet. We recommend providing the student with a digital/electronic letter of your letter of recommendation when you encourage the student to apply and he or she agrees.)
  • Must graduate during the academic year in which the scholarship is awarded. This includes summer 2019, fall 2019 and spring 2020 terms.
  • Must be available to attend all commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 3, 2020, and give a commencement speech at each ceremony.

The application will open on Monday, November 4, 2019. Students can apply online by visiting the Valencia Foundation website and clicking on the red Student Log-In button. After entering their Atlas username and password, students will be redirected to the Distinguished Graduate application. The deadline for students to apply is Friday, January 31, 2020. Don’t let this opportunity to recognize a deserving student slip by.

As faculty and staff, we must seek out these students, offer them our support and champion their perseverance. In doing so, we cannot only lift them up but highlight their efforts to others who, amidst their own struggles, require inspiration to succeed.

If you know of a student who would make a great Distinguished Graduate Candidate, please consider sending him or her a personal invitation to apply. Click here for an invitation template.

If you have any questions about the application process, please contact Elvin Cruz, administrative manager, foundation scholars, at or 407-299-5000, extension 3154.

Monthly Archives: October 2019

Valencia Faculty Explore High-impact Practices During Recent Conference

By Aaron, Bergeson, Faculty Developer/Instructional Designer

This past September, Valencia College faculty members, including Professor of Speech Edie Gaythwaite, Professor of Student Life Skills Christy Cheney, Professor of Psychology Melonie Sexton and Professor of Political Science Heather Ramsier attended the National Society for Experiential Education (NSEE) conference to learn more about various high-impact practices. This annual conference focuses on experiential education on programs like service learning, internships, undergraduate research and study abroad.

Two sessions in particular stood out to Edie, who is also the faculty fellow for sustainability. In one session, participants explored five critical-thinking methods through the lens of Kolb’s learning cycle, and in another session, they discussed a cross-discipline service-learning project designed by a drawing professor and a professor of rhetoric, wherein the students were to produce maps and blogs based on the experience.

The keynote speaker, Michael True, senior associate of talent development and marketing at Messiah College, challenged the audience to consider opportunities beyond internships and to reflect on the value to the student of allowing them autonomy to select what would suit the student. An example he posed illustrated a service-learning initiative focused on the discipline in place of an internship in the discipline.

Melonie, who is also Valencia’s undergraduate research faculty coordinator, said this resonated with her.

“Generally, when people think about this type of educational program, they automatically think about students in the workplace,” she said. “However, there are many other ways for students to gain real-world experience that provide the professional skills that employers are looking for.”

Some of the high-impact practices that Valencia supports include learning communities, study abroad, service learning, alternative breaks, internships, honors and undergraduate research.

The next NSEE conference will be held Monday, September 21 – Wednesday, September 23, 2020, in Salt Lake City, Utah. To learn more about the NSEE, click here.

Monthly Archives: October 2019

Provost Update — October 2019

A Message from Kathleen Plinske, Executive Vice President and Provost

In this month’s Provost Update, I share reflections from our campus forums on student outcomes and equity and extend an invitation to join a Focused Inquiry Team on Equity-Minded Practices or a work team charged with developing the College’s online strategy.

Reflections on Our Student Outcomes Forums and Equity
Thanks to the nearly 200 faculty and staff who attended one of our recent campus forums on student outcomes. Your input will be shared with our Learning Council and will shape our work related to improving student learning and moving toward equity in student outcomes, including our goal to increase the five-year graduation rate to 50% for students of all races and ethnicities.

I was delighted to hear of the myriad efforts across all of our campuses to make students feel welcome and to connect them with resources they need to be successful. For example, I heard from many professors that they have made a commitment to learn each of their students’ names early in the term. I heard from professors who are leveraging the “Message Students Who …” tool in Canvas to send personalized messages to students, both celebrating students who are doing well and offering support to students who may be struggling. I heard about advisors proactively reaching out to students early in the term to check in and ensure that they have everything they need to be successful.

In sum, I observed a group of dedicated professionals who are committed to creating the conditions so that all students at Valencia have the opportunity to be successful and who are thinking deeply about issues related to equity. I heard many questions about equity, and how and why it differs from “treating every student the same.” I also heard concerns such as, “if I make an exception for one student, I have to make it for every student,” and questions about how to address a student’s unique needs without it “setting a precedent.”

Coincidentally, between forums, I wrestled with a similar question. I am teaching a graduate course at Pepperdine University this term. It is a mixed-mode course, with two face-to-face meetings (Friday evening and all-day Saturday) and the rest of the course delivered online. The face-to-face meetings are critically important because part of my assessment of student learning occurs through presentations that the students deliver during our class sessions. However, after arriving in Los Angeles for our September face-to-face meeting, I received a message from one of my students indicating that she had been placed on mandatory bed rest by her doctor the night before; she asked if she could participate in the class via videoconferencing. My initial thought, my knee-jerk reaction, was, “If I allow this student to attend class via videoconferencing, I’ll have to do it for everyone else.” However, after a few seconds of reflection, I realized that I could modify that thought to, “If I allow this student to attend class via videoconferencing, I’ll have to do it for everyone else who is on mandatory bed rest.”

In this instance, equality would have meant insisting on treating everyone the same (if you aren’t able to attend in person, you are unable to participate in the face-to-face meeting); equity meant creating the conditions so that all students, inclusive of their unique needs, had the opportunity to succeed.

If you feel compelled to make an exception for a student but feel constrained because of the concern that “you’ll have to do it for everyone else,” consider if there might be a qualifying statement you can add to that phrase to become more comfortable rendering the unique personalized response that would best meet the needs of the individual student in question. If you’re unsure about how best to respond to a student’s request, please feel free to reach out to your dean, your supervisor, or your colleagues. There often aren’t simple answers to the complex challenges our students face. And, sometimes, there are absolutely justifiable reasons why we are unable to accommodate students’ requests for exceptions. But I’m hopeful that we can continue to push our thinking beyond the oft-used stopping point of “if I do this for one student I’ll have to do it for everyone;” I believe our work toward equity in student outcomes depends on it.

We have one more campus forum scheduled for Friday, November 1, 2019, from 1 -2 p.m. at the Downtown Campus in UnionWest, Room 303. Please join us if your schedule allows and feel free to continue our conversations by emailing me.

Equity-minded Practices: Focused Inquiry Team
Another common question that I heard during the forums was, “I want to work toward more equitable student outcomes, but what would this mean I would actually do differently?” There are a number of efforts underway across the College to enhance our capacity to advance equitable student outcomes that you’ll hear more about in the coming months and will be invited to join.

For example, one opportunity is to participate in the Focused Inquiry Team on Equity-Minded Practices recently commissioned by our Learning Council. One of the hypotheses identified last fall related to the conditions that affect student learning and student outcomes at Valencia was, “Some students may benefit from more diverse pedagogical approaches to create a more inclusive learning environment that fosters a sense of belonging.”

At its September meeting, the Learning Council commissioned an Equity-Minded Practices Focused Inquiry Team to support the curation of current work that may inform a collegewide definition of equity and equity-minded practices and to better understand what data may assist in monitoring our progress. If you are interested in serving on this work team, which will begin meeting this fall, please email Isis Artze-Vega, vice president, academic affairs, at

Online Strategy: Planning Team
At Valencia, nearly one third of our course sections are being taught online this term, and nearly half of our students are enrolled in at least one online course. Online courses have long represented a means of advancing our mission of access to education, affording students the chance to take courses while working or having outside obligations. To lay the groundwork for the development of an online strategy, the senior team commissioned the development of an Insight Paper that provided an overview of our online course offerings and enrollment, data associated with student interest in the online modality and student success data. Following a discussion of this paper among senior team in September 2019, it was determined that a critical next step is the formation of a work team, charged with formulating an online strategy, to be shared with senior team in mid-spring 2020. If you are interested in serving on this strategy team, please email Isis Artze-Vega at the aforementioned email address.

As always, if you have any questions or would simply like to share your thoughts or ideas, please don’t hesitate to reach out directly to me at

Monthly Archives: October 2019

Faculty Development Courses Offered to Help You Serve Our Underserved Student Populations

The 21st-century college student population is the most diverse in our nation’s history, characterized by intersections of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, family composition, age and economic status. Research shows that diversity can increase self-awareness, promote creative thinking, enhance social and cognitive development, and prepare students to navigate a diverse workforce.

At Valencia, we strive to be inclusive of populations historically omitted from dominant discourse and media on diversity and equity; these are our underserved students. Below are some valuable courses which you could consider taking in support of our underserved populations.

  • INDV2256: Meeting the Needs of Military Students — Would you like to better support the military (both active and veteran) students in your classroom? This course offers practical advice on identifying military student concerns and how to access appropriate resources to meet their needs.
  • INDV3251: Creating an Environment for Inclusive Excellence — The diversity of our student perspectives grows each year, and the ways in which we create successful learning environments subsequently evolves. This course will engage you with ideas and scenarios to help you create an environment inclusive of all learners while in consideration of individual differences.
  • INDV2257: Engaging Historically Underrepresented Students in STEM — This course will provide faculty with knowledge and tools to better serve their students through inclusive strategies. More inclusive curricula have been shown to increase the numbers of historically underrepresented students choosing, and ultimately succeeding in, STEM fields.

To learn more about the courses listed above, please visit the Valencia EDGE or click on the hyperlinked course title. For more information on how to navigate the Valencia EDGE, click here. If you would like assistance with registration, visit your campus Center for Teaching/Learning Innovation.

Monthly Archives: October 2019

Featured Colleague: Valencia is Adrian Aleem’s Future

By Wendy Jo Moyer

Growing up, Adrian Aleem, Continuing Education administrative manager, accounting, never thought college was a part of his future. But after enrolling at Valencia College and now working here for 12 years, it’s apparent college really was in his future.

“I didn’t really think of college,” he explained. “I always just wanted to work and make money, but thankfully I had support from my sister to put things in perspective. She put me on a path to make sure I obtained a degree. And without that degree, I wouldn’t have landed my last two Valencia positions.”

Adrian first came to Valencia as an East Campus student and quickly obtained a work-study role in the East Campus Atlas Lab. After three years in the Atlas lab and earning his Associate in Arts, in 2010 he joined the East Campus Business Office as a business office specialist. This was especially exciting for Adrian as he transitioned from part-time work to his first full-time job.

“My wife and I had just had our first baby and, prior, I was in and out of small jobs,” he noted. “Finally getting that position set the pace for having a family and place of our own.”

Natasha Bonds, business office coordinator, explained that Adrian was a tremendous asset to the Business Office. “He matriculated from a work-study student to a knowledgeable specialist successfully learning the department’s policies and procedures,” she said. “His friendly personality allowed him to build useful work relationships throughout Student Services … I am proud of Adrian’s accomplishments as well as his efforts in pursuing professional goals.”

After 12 years on the East Campus, in September 2019, Adrian joined the Continuing Education team on the West Campus in his current role, administrative manager, accounting.

“Continuing Education (CE) Operations is excited to have Adrian as part of our team,” said Adrian’s new supervisor Judy Jackson, director, business operations. “As CE administrative accounting manager, he is responsible for providing accounting support and client billing for the division. He has over 10 years’ experience in finance and accounting and already has contributed tremendously to our current processes. His analysis, efficiency and attention to detail is an asset to our department.”

Although he explains that his new role is behind the scenes, so he’s not speaking with students daily, it’s the students that inspire Adrian to continue his work at Valencia.

“Everyone has a story to tell,” he reflected. “I’m inspired by the stories of where students come from and then how they’ve built themselves up to where they are now. Yes, they may trip and fall, but they don’t give up and keep pushing.”

Not only does he have a new role to energize him, but he’s excited to be continuing his education in Valencia’s Bachelor of Applied Science in Business and Organizational Leadership. As a family man — he and his wife have two sons and a daughter — he loves that the program provides access to study for a degree entirely online.

Beyond his busy family life, working and studying, in his little bit of free time, he enjoys watching anime, movies and Netflix; playing PC and mobile games, especially Call of Duty: Mobile and Summoners War; and listening to music including rap, hip hop, R&B and some alternative rock.

Know of someone who embodies one of Valencia’s values (learning, people, diversity, access or integrity), who has been an employee for at least one year? Send the colleague’s name to us at He or she might be one of our featured colleagues, subject to supervisor’s approval.

Monthly Archives: October 2019

New IT Ticketing System Coming Soon; Volunteer to be a Tester

A Message from Patti Smith, Chief Information Officer

As shared on Tuesday, October 15, 2019, the Office of Information and Technology (OIT) is transitioning to a new help request and ticketing system. The current tool, Samanage, will be slowly phased out in stages and a new platform called TeamDynamix will be launched.

Beginning on Friday, November 1, 2019, TeamDynamix will be launched in parallel with Samanage, to kick-start the soft launch and Stage 1 of the transition. Please note: The target timeline to fully transition to TeamDynamix has changed. A full and final cutover from Samanage is planned for Monday, December 2, 2019.

Volunteers are Needed
During this transition, OIT would like faculty and staff members to volunteer as TeamDynamix (TDX) early adopters/testers. Testers will be provided the TDX client portal URL by OIT and asked to use it instead of Samanage, which will still be in place, to submit tickets. Volunteers will be asked to provide feedback on their experience via the OIT Home Page “Feedback” button. OIT will monitor that feedback daily and review feasible changes to be implemented.

If you are interested in volunteering, contact the OIT Service Desk at this week and let them know that you’d like to participate in the launch of TDX as an early adopter/tester. Volunteers will be provided access to TDX as early as Monday, November 4, 2019.

During the soft-launch stage, Friday, November 1 – Sunday, December 1, 2019, the current Samanage system will continue to be used by anyone who has not volunteered to be an early adopter. OIT will manage tickets in both systems.

Stay tuned for updates via email, in The Juice newsletter and on The Grove as we move forward with the transition to TeamDynamix. If you have questions or feedback, please feel free to contact me at or 407-299-5000 extension 5411.

Monthly Archives: October 2019

Spotlight on Undergraduate Research — Madison Granduke

Valencia College has developed an undergraduate research initiative — based on nationally recognized models — that expands opportunities for students to partner meaningfully with faculty members to pursue a specific course of research. As most community colleges only offer undergraduate research as a very small boutique opportunity for a few students, Valencia has become a leader in community college research. Last year, hundreds of Valencia students worked in one or more modalities of research. This is vital for students exploring STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) -related professions through transfer, both to better discern their purpose and pathway, and to have experiences comparable to their peers at the university to which they transfer.

With this initiative underway, we will share with you the success of our students’ undergraduate research through a new bi-monthly series — Spotlight on Undergraduate Research.

Student Madison Granduke hopes to one day earn a Ph.D. in marine science, so that she can conduct research on jellyfish and other invertebrates. In order to gain research experience, she started right here at Valencia College, where, as part of the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP), she spent four months working on a research project with her faculty mentor, Dheeraj Verma, professor, biology.

She conducted her research, “Analysis of Extremotolerant Tardigrade Genome for Potential Applications in Medical and Agricultural Fields” to gain knowledge about extremotolerant abilities of tardigrades (how tardigrades — or water-dwelling, eight-legged, segmented microanimals — tolerate extreme conditions), so that the information can be utilized in agricultural and medical fields.

Tardigrades harbor genes that can provide tolerance against various diseases, so her aim was to analyze the tardigrade genome for genes that could impart resistance to diverse types of stresses and to generate models of proteins encoded by tardigrade-specific genes and study them. In addition to protein modeling and analysis, Madison also used data mining to explore past research on the topic.

From her research, Madison found several stress-related genes — some of which are specific to the tardigrade — a very rare occurrence. With further research, these genes could prove to aid in things like extended vaccine storage and transportation, organ transportation and the creation of drought-tolerant plants.

“More research is, of course, required,” she explained. “My next step of testing if tardigrade genes can be used in the medical and agricultural fields is to see how tardigrade proteins function in model organisms.”

Appreciative of the experience that Valencia offered her, she said, “The research allowed me a chance to hone my skills and offered great experience for my future in the STEM field. I was able to refine my presentation skills and share my hard work with others just as interested as I was.”

“Doing research like this was a great, hands-on way to learn more about your field and to discover new ideas,” she added.

Madison plans to transfer from Valencia to the University of South Florida in spring 2020 to complete a bachelor’s degree in marine biology.

For questions about Valencia’s undergraduate research initiative, contact Melonie Sexton, professor, psychology, at or 407-299-5000, extension 5632.