Monthly Archives: June 2020

Featured Colleague: For Larry Fox, Working Hard Has Paid Off

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

By Claudia Zequeira

Larry Fox, manager, courier services, learned the meaning of hard work in his native West Virginia, where his family members grew the very food they put on their table.

“If we didn’t grow it, we didn’t eat,” he said. “But it was a great upbringing. You could run around in the country all day and be safe.”

That work ethic got him noticed at Valencia College, where he started in 1998 as a shipping clerk at a campus bookstore. In between, he briefly left the College to work as a locksmith and in sales.

Larry returned to the College in 2011 as a part-time delivery courier. Today, he manages a team of 12 couriers who do their best to ship, receive and deliver packages collegewide. Among the items shipped are lab materials, computer equipment and mail.

More recently, and as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, his department helped send art supplies to students who needed to complete their work online. In addition, he helped send more than 1,000 laptops to students, a monumental effort undertaken by the College to ensure equity among those without access to resources.

“It was all done in less than a month’s time, and we have more coming. Students are really appreciative of that,” said Larry of the effort, an accomplishment of which he is proud.

Their next push will be delivering textbooks to Disney Aspire students.

And that’s just what he loves about working at Valencia, an atmosphere that he described as collaborative yet “not corporate.”

“I like that all these departments can come together so that students can be successful,” he said. “It’s different from every place I’ve worked for. It’s a very positive atmosphere.”

He is also inspired by the College’s mission.

“I think Valencia signifies that no matter what walk of life you come from, you can get resources and an education,” he said. “It’s a safe environment for any students to come and pursue their educational goals.”

Valencia, he said, is also a place that encourages growth. He said he was able to improve his skills thanks in part to his supervisor, Paul Rooney, assistant vice president, operations, who he described as being “very supportive.”

He also mentioned that Valencia’s professional development opportunities are a good reason to work here. Specifically, he mentioned PIVOT 180, a leadership training program that Paul encouraged him to pursue.

“I had just transitioned into the manager role [when I did PIVOT],” he said. “It helped me develop skills and helped me realize the skills I needed and the kind of leader I wanted to be.”

Paul, meanwhile, praised Larry for being “a true ‘team player,’ and a strong leader of our Courier Services Department.”

He also commended Larry for his “can do” attitude during the pandemic and his work ethic in general.

“Larry is not afraid to go above and beyond to assist all members of the College,” said Paul. “I routinely receive thank you notes and praise about his willingness to assist others. Larry is a true asset and we are very proud to have his professionalism, dedication, loyalty and expertise as he serves as our courier services manager.”

Larry graduated from high school in West Virginia and moved to Orlando in the 1990s. In his free time, he loves spending time with his grandchildren, who are one and two years old. Larry also enjoys the outdoors and playing flag football with friends.

In addition, he has a door-to-door ministry which, since the pandemic started, has focused its work on mailing letters of hope and encouragement.

Know of someone who embodies one of Valencia’s Values (learning, people, diversity, access or integrity), who has been an employee for one year or more? 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: June 2020

Employee Development and Training

This month and next, take advantage of the following employee development opportunities that Valencia offers for employees.

Yoga and Meditation

Date: Every Friday
Time: 1:30 – 2 p.m.
Location: Zoom

Mental health and physical fitness are connected, and that’s what makes yoga an excellent offering during these dynamic times. Join Human Resources Specialist Karen Han for Yoga and Meditation on Fridays at 1:30 p.m. Karen is a group exercise instructor with a degree in exercise science and certifications in Tabata, TRX, Pilates, bootcamp, Barre, RYT 200 and strength and conditioning. You may attend once or weekly. Register in the Valencia EDGE. 

To view additional course offerings, visit the Valencia EDGE.

For a list for a list of free training resources outside of Valencia College, click here.

For assistance with the registration process or requesting an in-demand session, please email or call the HR4U helpline at 407-299-5000, extension HR4U (4748).

Monthly Archives: June 2020

Don’t Miss the PJI Circle at the Next East and Winter Park Town Hall

Monday, June 8, 2020

A Message from Wendy Givoglu, Interim President, East and Winter Park Campuses

Greetings East and Winter Park Campus Community,

As we enter into the second week of June, we continue to process our feelings and experiences relating to systemic racism and its impact. The tragic deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, among so many others, have precipitated our individual and collective agency to write, read, respond, converse and act, on the topic of racial equity in our community, country and here at Valencia.

Date: Thursday, June 11, 2020
Time: 11 a.m.
Location: Zoom

I personally have tremendous gratitude for leaders from Valencia’s Peace and Justice Institute (PJI), who will join us for this week’s Thursday, June 11, 2020,  town hall, which will be an opportunity to gather as a community for a facilitated healing circle. As described by PJI, the purpose of “…this metaphoric circle is to build resilience within and among us during these trying times. Each one of us has a story to tell about how we are walking through these challenging days…these safe spaces are created to remove blaming and shaming and to welcome honest, open sharing of our personal experiences, struggles and triumphs.”

My hope is that creating the time together on Thursday for mindfulness, personal reflection, sharing (for those who are comfortable) and listening with one another, we can better understand ourselves, our students, each other and the communities we serve. In turn, the space can move us toward healing as well as positive actions to address systemic racism on our campuses and in our community.

I hope to see you at our June 11 Town Hall PJI Circle on Zoom. I look forward to our further individual and collective conversations.

Monthly Archives: June 2020

What Do You Do? Pandemic Edition

Friday, June 5, 2020

A Message from Kathleen Plinske, President, Osceola, Lake Nona, and Poinciana Campuses

This week, we’re traveling virtually to the Poinciana Campus, where Garret Gaudens, instructional lab supervisor, spends his days guiding students through the writing process, remotely now, of course. Michael Robbins, professor, English, says, “He does phenomenal work, particularly in teaching tutors a ‘hands-off’ approach that focuses on having the students edit and revise (and brainstorm).”

To read about what Garret does, click here.

Monthly Archives: June 2020

Reflections and an Invitation

Friday, June 5, 2020

A Message from Kathleen Plinske, President, Osceola, Lake Nona, and Poinciana Campuses

Before diving into the “business as usual” portion of the “Week in Review,” I wanted to pause for a moment to reflect on how difficult the last few months have been. From the most recent violent expressions of systemic racism and oppression, to the loss of several of our beloved campus colleagues, to the anxiety associated with the pandemic and the new stressors associated with working from home, it is completely understandable to feel overwhelmed. Many of us are experiencing grief, anger, mourning and a deep sense of loss.

If we were on campus, our natural instinct would be to gather together to support one another. Yet, we’re physically separated from one another. However, that doesn’t mean we have to face these challenges alone.

We have scheduled “Region Gatherings” via Zoom for next week. There will be no agenda — rather, they will be opportunities for those who are interested to come together, share what is on our minds, listen deeply to one another, and find strength and support in one another.

Date: Monday, June 8, 2020
Time 2 – 3 p.m.
Location: Zoom  

Date: Tuesday, June 9, 2020
Time: 8 – 9 a.m.
Location: Zoom

Date: Thursday, June 11, 2020
Time: 7 – 8 p.m.
Location: Zoom

In addition, our Peace and Justice Institute (PJI) hosts a series of weekly healing circles that create a safe space for conversation and allow participants to find support and strength in one another. To learn more about the PJI Circles, please visit this article in The Grove.

Furthermore, our Employee Assistance Program is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and provides confidential support at no cost. For more information about our Employee Assistance Program, including how to access support, please review this flyer.

Finally, please don’t hesitate to reach out. In addition to your direct supervisor, our campus leadership is available to you, including me. If you’d like to set up a time to connect via phone or Zoom, please don’t hesitate to email me. I would welcome the opportunity to connect.

Monthly Archives: June 2020

In Memory of Bob Rogers

Friday, June 5, 2020

A Message from Kathleen Plinske, President, Osceola, Lake Nona, and Poinciana Campuses

With a heavy heart, I pass along news of the loss of Bob Rogers, professor, political science at the Osceola Campus. Bob passed away on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. He inspired thousands of students in his government and international politics courses during his time at Valencia.

Bob also made an impact on his colleagues, whether remembering his hall mates at Christmas with a card and a personal note, as Stanton Reed, Faculty Association president and professor, business and accounting, can attest, or chatting about BMWs with a fellow owner, as James McDonald, former dean of Career and Technical Programs and current director of the Bachelor of Applied Science in Business and Organizational Leadership (BASBOL) program, recalls. James says, “I was able to learn a bit from him about his past during our walk to Building 3 in the mornings. I am so heartbroken that he has passed.”

Kinyel Ragland, professor, political science, shared the following memories:

When I first began as an adjunct at Valencia in Osceola, during the fall of 2011, I was sent by the dean of social science, Dale Husbands at the time, to sit in on Bob’s classes. The first time I sat in his U.S. Government class, I immediately witnessed the skills and techniques he used to engage students. He presented visuals, spoke with the students, and encouraged them to ask questions and discuss content.

After the class was dismissed, he took the time to sit with me to explain his teaching techniques while also describing what it was like teaching at Valencia. Some of his advice included, “Decide on what is best for the students. Keep in mind that you cannot teach the whole book: there’s 18 chapters in it. What do you think the students need? What is most important for them to be productive citizens?” I also remember him saying, “Teach with passion and always be empathetic to students. You will encounter students who have various issues, so try to understand what they may be going through.” I visited his class two times afterwards and each time I observed different ways of teaching. The advice that he gave is what I still use in the present.

Our last conversation was prior to Spring Break, and we talked extensively about needing rest. He also spoke about his daughter and her success at her place of business, like all proud fathers do. Our encounters were always pleasant, as he usually expressed interest about my well-being and the well-being of my spouse and children. His demeanor was always calm and delightful, always willing to hold a conversation! It was a great pleasure being his colleague. He will be missed!

Please keep his daughter, Kelly, and his family, friends, and colleagues in your thoughts and prayers. We will celebrate Bob’s life as soon as we can be together again face-to-face.

Monthly Archives: June 2020

Provost Update — June 2020

Friday, June 5, 2020

A Message from Kathleen Plinske, Executive Vice President and Provost

As we continue to experience grief, mourning and anger about the recent expressions of systemic racism and oppression, and as we respond to Dr. Shugart’s call to make space for challenging conversations in which we listen deeply and vulnerably to one another, I thought it important to share two College resources that might be helpful to you:

  • PJI Circles – Our Peace and Justice Institute (PJI) hosts a series of weekly healing circles that create a safe space for conversation and allow participants to find support and strength in one another. To learn more about the PJI Circles, please visit this article in The Grove.
  • Employee Assistance Program – Our Employee Assistance Program is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and provides confidential support at no cost. For more information about our Employee Assistance Program, including how to access support, please review this flyer.

As we strengthen our commitments to work toward equity in student learning and outcomes, I will continue to share resources that may help to inform our work. This week, I am pleased to share a thoughtful article written by a Valencia leader, Isis Artze-Vega, vice president, academic affairs, who encourages us to use this moment to channel our outrage and disillusionment into action. As she advises us to look inward and do our homework, you might find this article about being antiracist from the National Museum of African American History and Culture as a useful resource.

Update on CARES Act Emergency Grant Aid

You may have seen the article in Tuesday’s edition of The Juice that described that our Board of Trustees approved our plans to distribute at least $13.8 million in emergency grant aid to students who incurred eligible expenses due to the disruption of campus operations caused by the coronavirus.

In order to be eligible for Round One funding, students must:

  • Be enrolled at Valencia College in a degree or certificate program in spring 2020 and/or summer 2020 [specifically the applicant must be registered in at least one full-term, H1 or TWJ course in summer 2020 (courses that started on Monday, May 4, 2020) and/or have been registered in at least one course in spring 2020]
  • Have a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) certificate, or have completed homeschooling
  • Be a U.S. citizen or national, permanent resident or eligible noncitizen
  • Not be in an exclusively online degree program (Bachelor of Science in Nursing)
  • Have submitted a 2019-20 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

More than 27,500 eligible students received an Atlas email on Monday with instructions on how to apply for emergency grant aid; more than 11,000 of them have already submitted an application and will receive an emergency grant of up to $750.

Degree-seeking students enrolled this summer who are not eligible and cannot become eligible for a CARES Act emergency grant were notified about an opportunity to apply for emergency aid through the Valencia Support Fund, which has been made available by the Valencia Foundation and other College funds.

As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions, comments, or concerns.

Monthly Archives: June 2020

Valencia Employees Share Impressive Home Gardens

Thursday, June 4, 2020

A Message from Wendy Givoglu, Interim President, East and Winter Park Campuses

We salute all the employees who have shared the results of their green thumbs over the last few weeks. Please enjoy these beautiful pictures and hats off to Coordinator of Academic Affairs Susan Howard, Staff Assistant I Vanessa Trejo, Professor of Education Jane Maguire, Academic Advisor Isabelle Saint Joy, Coordinator of Teaching and Learning Academy Annie Marion and Assistant Director of Organizational Communication Wendy Jo Moyer for sharing their pictures.

For the July Campus Concentrate, we are seeking a summary and pictures of your do-it-yourself (DIY) projects you have accomplished while working from home. This can include any indoor or outdoor projects. We are excited to see what you have been up to, so please send all information to Susan Howard at by Friday, June 12, 2020. Thanks to Annie Marion for the creative suggestion.

Monthly Archives: June 2020

Student Assistance Programs Available

Thursday, June 4, 2020

A Message from Wendy Givoglu, Interim President, East and Winter Park Campuses

In these unprecedented times, there are many assistance programs available that are helpful to students and their family members. Students can view community resource information regarding:

  • Internet and Wi-Fi access
  • Jobs and unemployment
  • Rent, housing and evictions
  • Food
  • Utilities
  • Mental health support

If a faculty or staff member is made aware of a student who is struggling in any area, please complete the Counseling Referral Form or have the student complete the Counseling Support Form.

Once a form is received, a counselor will reach out to the student, assess his or her needs and provide appropriate institutional or community-based resources and support. Additional funding may be available to eligible students in need.

Monthly Archives: June 2020

East and Winter Park Campuses Host Awards Ceremonies for Students

Thursday, June 4, 2020

With the close of the Spring 2020 term, both East and Winter Park Campuses have hosted virtual awards ceremonies to celebrate the term’s and our students’ successes.

East Campus

East Campus Student Development hosted its first Virtual Awards Ceremony from Wednesday, April 29 – Friday, May 1, 2020, by celebrating the nominees and winners on Instagram and Facebook.

Student Development traditionally hosts an awards ceremony at the end of each spring semester to honor the students, programs and registered student organizations during that academic year.

This year, administrators including Interim President of East and Winter Park Campuses Wendy Givoglu and Dean of Students Joe Sarrubbo participated by recording videos that thanked the students, faculty and staff for their hard work and dedication.

Nominated by their peers, advisors and colleagues, the Student Development Awards Ceremony identifies student and employee nominees and winners in seven categories. The winners included:

  • Student Excellence Award in Service – Abigail Adeyeye, Transitions Planning
  • Student Excellence Award in Leadership – Nicole Marsden, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship
  • Student Excellence Award in Academics – Rainia Boukari, Student Leader
  • Outstanding Advisor of the Year – Agatha Shaw, professor, mathematics Math Club advisor
  • Organization of the Year – Valencia International Club
  • Program of the Year – Future Medical Professionals and the American Medical Student Association for their “Health and Wellness Fair”
  • Collaborative Program of the Year – Latin American Student Association and Fearless Leaders Stand-Out Step and Dance Team for their “Hispanic Heritage Month Music Festival”

Other recognitions included:

  • Valencia Volunteers Distinction – Amy Sanabria and Dayane Vazquez
  • 2020 All-Florida Academic Team – Melva Camacho, Joanel Colon, Jason McCormick, Rachel Phillips, Sheina Senat, Arsene Landry Tatke, Jennifer Tolliver and Natalie Ulate
  • Valencia LIVE Student Leader Teams – Departments of Transitions Planning, Orientation, Atlas Access, Student Development, Financial Learning Ambassadors and Answer Center

To culminate the awards celebration, more than 40 students, faculty and staff joined Student Development in a trivia and virtual dance party on Friday, May 1, 2020.

Special thanks to Student Development Program Specialists Brandon Rodriguez and Julie Wehmeyer for their coordination, content and implementation of the event.

Winter Park Campus

Each year, the Winter Park Campus also recognizes students who have demonstrated a commitment to outstanding character and academic performance at the Annual Excellence in Learning Awards Ceremony. On Friday, May 1, 2020, 11 students received an Excellence in Discipline award and one student was awarded the inaugural Outstanding Student of the Year award.

Due to the pandemic, the traditional evening program was integrated into a virtual celebration. Faculty members provided videos recognizing the students they nominated.

Excellence in Discipline Award winners and Outstanding Student of the Year included:

  • Anatomy and Physiology – Julia Behler and Lady Arsenio
  • Communication – Tamyah Young
  • English – Julian Drake, Stephanie Keenan and Clayton Benson
  • Humanities – Tori Colbert
  • Algebra – Catherine Gardner
  • Biology – Alessandra Collu
  • Psychology – Kaleigh Herz
  • Social Sciences – Gabriella Franco
  • Outstanding Student of the Year – David Morgan

In addition, Executive Dean Terri Daniels congratulated all graduating students and recognized the student leaders through a video recording. Student leaders recognized included:

  • Wellness Ambassador – Kaitlynn Prather, Brett Harrison and Rosario Medina Castro
  • Campus Activities Board – Eddy Brito and Gonzalo Sepulveda
  • Atlas Lab – Eve Vazquez and Jade Lopez
  • Financial Literacy Ambassador – Trinity Nuesca and Johanna White

“These leaders inspired, created and executed campus programming for their fellow students throughout the year and through this transition,” Terri said

The Winter Park Learning Awards Celebration video was posted across multiple social media platforms. To celebrate all these amazing students, the Winter Park Student Development joined East Campus at the trivia and dance party.