Monthly Archives: October 2020

Now Accepting SEED Applications for Spring 2021 Cohorts

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Applications for the upcoming spring 2021 Valencia SEED cohorts are currently being accepted.

SEED, an acronym for Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity, is an international project, founded 30 years ago by Dr. Peggy McIntosh of Wellesley College. SEED utilizes a cohort-based, monthly seminar model with the intention of creating gender fair, multiculturally equitable and globally informed educational spaces and workplaces.

SEED values all voices and experiences and recognizes diversity in its many forms. These forms include, but are not limited to, traditionally thought of categories such as race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender identity and expression, age, sexual orientation or ability. They also include categories like military service, position classification, primary campus, introversion/extroversion, length of service at Valencia College, family structure or political affiliation.

SEED differs from other diversity programs in that its leaders do not lecture. Instead, they lead their own colleagues in experiential, interactive exercises, and conversations often stimulated by films and readings.

The seminars deepen participants’ understanding of themselves, expand their knowledge of the world and point the way to making schools more inclusive.

Successful completion of the cohort program can earn faculty members up to 28 professional development hours recorded on Valencia professional development transcripts.

The spring 2021 SEED I and SEED II cohorts meet over Zoom every-other-week and have approximately four hours of homework over the semester. There are day and evening options for SEED I and SEED 2.

Please keep in mind that in order to participate in SEED 2, you must first successfully complete SEED 1. If you would like to apply, please have a conversation with your supervisor about your interest before completing the application.

Valencia views SEED as a professional development opportunity that can positively influence one’s cultural competence and is committed to determining a reasonable way to incorporate the time into your work schedule.

To view SEED cohort dates and to apply, click the button below.

The deadline to submit an application is Monday, November 16, 2020.

For more information, visit the National SEED Project website. If you have any questions about SEED at Valencia, please contact Celine Kavalec, professor, English, and PJI academic coordinator, at or Shara Lee, campus director, faculty and instructional development, at

Monthly Archives: October 2020

Emails Encourage Students to Prepare for Spring Term

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

In an effort to help our students feel confident and prepared to continue their education, Valencia College has proactively notified students about our plans for the Spring 2021 term. 

On Thursday, October 8, 2020, all currently enrolled students received a student provost update to alert them that our spring course schedule would look similar to the fall and that the majority of our courses would remain online. To view a sample of this email, click the button below:

Then on Friday, October 23, 2020, our Student Affairs team emailed all active students to help them prepare for spring registration.

There were three versions of this email — one for students working toward an associate degree, one for students working toward a bachelor’s degree and a third for students who we’re encouraging to take the PERT, Valencia’s college-readiness assessment.

All three versions included the student’s registration date, guidance to make sure they are selecting the right courses and information on the Course Schedule Search tool to plan their schedule in advance. The email also featured information about our Virtual Answer Center and Virtual Advising Center, which both continue to be essential resources for our students as they navigate in a remote environment.

To view a sample email, click the button below.

Monthly Archives: October 2020

Faculty Highlight: Andrea Rediske Uses Hands-on Activities to Engage Students

Andrea Rediske holds the microbe plushies she uses to teach her microbiology class, all while wearing one of her 20 costume wigs she uses to keep her Zoom sessions fun. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

By Claudia Zequeira

Bacteria plushies? Check.

Foam swords? Check.

Zombie outfits? Check.

If you’re wondering who might need all these items to get their point across, look no further than Andrea Rediske, professor, biology.

Andrea, who teaches microbiology and human anatomy and physiology at Valencia College, uses a combination of hands-on activities to engage her students in very concrete and memorable ways.

For her microbiology class, for example, Andrea has brought several virus and bacteria plushies to the classroom, which she then assigns to students tasked with researching how they function in order to learn how infectious disease works.

“I introduce them to their microbe, and then they have to find information about them … what it does, what it looks like under the microscope, any recent outbreaks,” she said. “This makes it more relatable and more fun.”

Before the coronavirus moved all her classes online, Andrea also hosted a series live-action, role-playing battles (LARP). In these mock events, all of which took place outdoors, students had to act out the roles of certain organisms found in the body.

Students pretending to be B cells — which make antibodies — and T cells — which can kill bacteria — whack at other students pretending to be viruses and bacteria with foam swords, all in an effort to help cement knowledge about the body’s immune system.

Last spring, as her anatomy classes transitioned online, Andrea enlisted her sons, 15 and 13, to perform in her Zombie Autopsy lecture (and yes, they were dressed as zombies and acted accordingly). In this lecture, Andrea also dresses as a scientist from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This particular lesson required students to examine how certain parts of the brain affect bodily functions, such as mobility and hunger (Zombies are known to stagger in their quest to eat humans, said Andrea).

“The brain can be really overwhelming because it has so many different parts and they do so many different things,” she said. “This just livens up the whole learning [experience] … I usually get positive feedback from students.”

Outside the classroom, Andrea also hosted a lecture on poop — yes, you heard that right — that helps illustrate how the brain and the gut interact and the impact gut bacteria have on our lives. She sometimes takes these mini-lessons to the tutoring center at East Campus, where she normally taught pre-COVID, but has also shared her knowledge during events such as Valencia’s Learning Day.

Andrea has a bachelor’s and master’s in microbiology from Brigham Young University, in Utah. She also holds a doctorate in science education from the University of Central Florida.

The daughter of two chemists, Andrea, who started at Valencia as an adjunct instructor in 2001 and is a now a tenured-track professor, shared she uses these teaching approaches because she believes them to be conducive to learning.

“I think it’s so effective because it brings this kinesthetic approach,” she said. “It’s fun because they [students] get a sense of how it actually works. It’s one thing to explain it in the class to actually pretending you’re a bacterial cell trying to infect a healthy cell.”

Since coronavirus reached the United States, causing Valencia to close its campuses, Andrea shared what other instructors have shared as well: that it is harder to engage students virtually. But that does not keep her from trying.

Andrea continues to use her virus and bacteria plushies in her virtual lectures. And lately, she has also gotten into the habit of wearing colorful wigs to keep students’ attention. She also has recorded, along with another professor, all of the labs that accompany her microbiology class to demonstrate important concepts.

Despite current challenges, she conceded the coronavirus has brought added interest in microbiology and on the importance of maintaining good hygiene.

“COVID has had a very positive impact on microbiology because we can directly apply what we’re learning,” she said. And I think all of us are now much more aware of how to wash our hands correctly….If you want to find a silver lining, that’s it. I have a much more attentive audience, if nothing else.”

If you’re a microbiology or anatomy and physiology professor and would like to use any Andrea’s activities in your classes, contact her at or 407-299-5000, extension 2167.

Monthly Archives: October 2020

Using the Valencia EDGE to Notify You When a Course Is Available

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

By Sally Leslie, Campus Director, Faculty and Instructional Development, and Stacy Robinson, Coordinator, Faculty and Instructional Development

Have you ever attempted to register for a Faculty Development course but there were no available sessions? Did you wish you could receive a notification when sessions would be offered again?

Well, there is a fix for that! By using the Interest Tracking feature in the Valencia EDGE, the system will alert you when the course you want becomes available.

To use this tool, follow these simple steps:

First, navigate through the Valencia EDGE directly to the course (using either the course number or title):

Step 1: Log into Atlas.

Step 2: Click on Access Valencia EDGE, halfway down the page.

Step 3: Use the Search bar in the upper right side of the screen and enter the course number or title.

Step 4: Confirm the course details and if there are available sessions.

Step 5A: If there are no available sessions, click the red Notify Me button.

Step 5B: If there are available sessions, you will see the red Select a Session button with a drop-down arrow. Click the drop down arrow and select Notify Me of New Sessions.

Step 6: Use the location box to select your desired location(s) or use the check box at the bottom to select availability for any/all locations.

*Helpful tip: Email notifications sent are based on a new session available at the location(s) you selected. As many of our current courses are listed online, selecting the check box at the bottom: Notify me when sessions are scheduled at any location is the best way to get notified of any new session available for the desired course. If you choose to select a location from the location box option, also select Off Campus to receive notifications for online sessions. 

*To select a specific campus location, use the selection box as shown above then click the blue cross next to the facility/ campus name. You may select multiple locations and Off Campus for the best options.

Step 7: Once you have selected your desired location(s), you will return to the previous screen and click the red Submit button at the bottom right of the screen.

And that’s it! All you need to do is wait to receive an email when a new session has been created with the details based on the selections you chose.

If you have any questions about using this tool, please contact a member of your Faculty Development team, and we will be happy to help.

Monthly Archives: October 2020

Help Identify the 2021 Distinguished Graduate

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Office of Alumni Relations needs your help to identify the 2021 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.

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.

For example, our 2020 Distinguished Graduate Tamyia Paul was accepted to six different colleges and universities but selected Valencia because it matched her personality and made her feel safe and comfortable. Prior to attending Valencia, Dalton Joseph (2019), a son of Haitian immigrants, fell in with a gang of young men who broke into homes but later turned his life around by working hard and earning a GED. And Jehojada Merilan (2018) was a first-generation American whose parents came to the United States from Haiti to have a chance at a better life.

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Must have a minimum overall 2.5 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 2020, fall 2020 and spring 2021 terms.
  • Must be available to attend all commencement ceremonies and give a commencement speech. Information on our 2021 commencement will be shared at a later date.

The application will open on Monday, November 2, 2020. Students can apply online by visiting the Valencia College 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 29, 2021. 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, director, philanthropic programs and recognition, at or 407-299-5000, extension 3154.

Monthly Archives: October 2020

Student Development Offers Tools for Online Student Engagement

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Student Development team has been hard at work developing new, innovative opportunities for online engagement that can be used by faculty and staff to connect with our students during this period of remote learning. Below you will find a list of a few of the online engagement platforms that can be used to promote student engagement and connection.


Engage is the online platform that Student Development uses to support student engagement and involvement at the College. It can be used for a variety of purposes, but most departments/groups use it as a way to promote events and activities to students who are interested in their programming.

Engage allows for faculty to provide information on various co-curricular programs to a “captive audience” of students who have signed up to use the site and receive information on the numerous engagement opportunities provided at the institution. Want to create an Engage page? Reach out to your Student Development campus lead for more information.


The Student Development team is excited to present the opportunity to faculty to author or co-author an article with a student to be published online in the Student Development newsletter “Emergence.” The online newsletter is designed to highlight student stories, student expression (artwork, poems, etc.) and the various engagement opportunities occurring across the College. To view copies of the newsletter, click here and then select the Student Development newsletter folder, where you may download past issues.

If you have any student stories, forms of expression or engagement opportunities that you would like to see highlighted in the newsletter, please send them to or your Student Development campus lead, and we would be happy to include them in future editions.


This fall, Student Development launched a Discord server for students and student organizations to communicate and interact from a remote setting with their friends and peers outside of the classroom. This includes open forums for discussions, hangouts, voice chats, playing games, joining events and more.

Student Development also hosts a virtual office space for students to reach out about events and co-curricular opportunities throughout the semester. Faculty members who would like to set up a virtual meeting/engagement space for their classes or student organizations can contact their Student Development campus lead for more details.

If you have any questions related to these virtual engagement opportunities, please feel free to contact the collegewide Student Development team at

Or you may contact your Student Development campus lead:

East and Winter Park Campuses
Charles Ensminger, director, student development
407-299-5000, extension 2038

Osceola, Lake Nona and Poinciana Campuses
Nelson Sepulveda, director, student development
407-299-5000, extension 4159

West and Downtown Campuses
Joshua Austin, director, student development
407-299-5000, extension 1486

Monthly Archives: October 2020

Save the Date: Spring Semester Roadmap for Reopening Town Halls

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Mark your calendar and plan to attend an upcoming town hall for updates on what to expect for this spring semester.

As we continue with our Phase 2 Roadmap for Reopening plans for the Spring 2021 term, you are invited to join Vice President of Organizational Development and Human Resources Amy Bosley to learn more about our plans to reopen a few more of our facilities on campus and expand some of the existing on-site program offerings and courses for the spring term. All faculty and staff — those currently working on campus and those working remotely — are encouraged to attend an upcoming town hall to get answers to questions and information specifically addressing on-site and remote operational procedures and protocols.

Spring Semester Roadmap for Reopening Town Halls

Date: Tuesday, November 17, 2020
Time: 4 – 5 p.m.
Location: Zoom

Date: Thursday, November 19, 2020
Time: 9 – 10 a.m.
Location: Zoom

Date: Thursday, November 19, 2020
Time: 3 – 4 p.m.
Location: Zoom

Date: Friday, November 20, 2020
Time: 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Location: Zoom

As shared in the October Provost Update, the majority of our Spring 2021 term courses will remain online with a limited number offered on our campuses. Approximately 50 additional courses in a face-to-face or mixed-mode format will be added to the schedule, with most courses and services continuing to be offered virtually.

The town halls will be your opportunity to ask questions you may have and is our opportunity to share what we know and to listen and learn more about your experiences working in Phase 2.

For questions about the town halls, contact Organizational Development and Human Resources at, or call the HR4U helpline at 407-299-5000, extension HR4U (4748).

Monthly Archives: October 2020

Schedule a Virtual Financial Education for Your Class

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

If you feel like your students could use a boost in real, practical, financial skills, Addition Financial — Valencia College’s preferred financial institution — is available to join your online classroom to teach a virtual lesson.

One of the credit union’s experts will join your group via video chat to teach about the topic of your choice. The credit union offers a variety of lessons perfect for college students including:

  • Basic Banking;
  • Budgeting;
  • Avoiding Debt;
  • Credit Scores; and
  • Saving for Retirement

Financial education is available for all classes, departments and clubs at no cost.

If you would like more information, please contact Richard Barbari, Addition Financial community engagement and partnership relation manager, at

Monthly Archives: October 2020

Featured Colleague: Claudine Bentham’s Own Journey Informs Her Current Role

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

By Claudia Zequeira

Claudine Bentham, faculty director, Teaching/Learning Academy, remembers the time when, while in her second year of college, she almost dropped out. She had just had her first child and was trying to juggle motherhood with the academic rigors of school.

On top of all that, and partly as a result of being a first-generation college student (Claudine is the New York-born daughter of Haitian immigrants), she was nagged by the feeling she didn’t belong there.

“I was on the verge of dropping out,” said Claudine. “But I experienced support from one of my teachers who had faith in me. And it is my hope that I can do the same in terms of the work that I do as a director, so that instructors can have empathy and provide support for students who are like me and make an impact on people.”

As faculty director of the Teaching/Learning Academy (TLA), a role she assumed last year, Claudine and her TLA team have a direct impact on how teaching unfolds at Valencia College.

Among her primary functions is helping faculty going through the five-year tenure-track process navigate it successfully by providing them with support and guidance.

She also works closely with deans — a pivotal part of faculty support and development — and oversees a team of collegwide faculty members who help facilitate TLA courses and mentor instructors.

Courses offered by the academy are meant to support professors to improve their pedagogy, acclimate to the Essential Competencies of a Valencia Educator and produce an action research project meant to deepen student learning.

“My essential goal is to help them not just as educators, but as leaders. My goal is to be intentional in creating ways for our tenure-track faculty to develop leadership skills throughout the program using the lens of an equity-minded practitioner,” she said.

At Valencia, where she started in 2008 as a developmental reading adjunct instructor, Claudine is most proud of being part of the Teaching and Learning team in helping to design new equity-minded courses for the academy, which will be infused with the College’s next Strategic Impact Plan goals, all of which center on equity.

“Learning ways to be an equity-minded practitioner is work that I’m passioned about,” she said. “It’s also challenging because I have a lot to learn, and I know I will fumble along the way.”

She also mentioned she enjoyed being a faculty development faculty fellow at the Center for Teaching/Learning Innovation at the West Campus. Claudine is also proud of her work as a participant in the Continuous Assessment Responsive Engagement program (C.A.R.E.), an early alert system meant to identify struggling students, and of being a former LifeMap mentor.

Both experiences, she said “helped me tremendously in terms of my engagement with students, made me become more empathetic and aware of the needs of my students … and it’s what I based my doctoral dissertation on.”

Claudine mentioned she has chosen to stay at Valencia, in part, because of the many development opportunities it offers employees and the relationships she made over the years. In addition, she considers Valencia to be her home and family.

“There’s an amalgamation of things that I love here,” she said. “But a key thing is that they have accepted me for who I am. I am able to bring my real self to the work.”

In addition, she values the fact Valencia offers a caring environment for employees and students alike. By way of example, she mentioned her own daughter, who graduated from Valencia in 2017.

“It’s been a resounding thing with my students and then my daughter solidified it,” she said. “Students feel like Valencia cares … Valencia really cares about the individual, the teaching and also preparedness.”

Claudine was awarded tenure as a professor of reading in 2014. Prior to that, she worked in the field of education for more than 15 years in various capacities, including as an after school reading instructor at Thomas Giordano Middle School 45 in New York City, and as a middle school teacher at Horizon Middle School in Kissimmee.

She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the College of New Rochelle, a Master’s in Education with a specialization in reading and literacy at Walden University and a doctoral degree in higher education and policy studies from the University of Central Florida.

In her free time, Claudine loves to run — she has run a full marathon and several half marathons — as well as sing in her church choir, where she is also studying to be a pastor.

She cherishes being a wife and a mother of four loving children, and she also enjoys spending time with her family.

Know of someone doing great work at the College, 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: October 2020

Austin Channing Brown Discusses Social Justice During Inclusive Excellence Speaker Series

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Author, media producer and public speaker Austin Channing Brown wrapped up a series of Zoom conversations as a part of our Inclusive Excellence Speaker Series that centered around the Black experience at predominantly white institutions and offered suggestions on the work of racial justice ahead.

In one of the talks, held on Thursday, October 22, 2020 at 2 p.m., Austin opened the discussion with a history of her own awareness about race at the many institutions she attended. She also discussed her impetus for writing the best-selling book “I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness.”

“This book is really just me trying to name what it is that makes women of color feel so different. Because it can be really hard to name,” said Austin.

A Q & A ensued, and Austin went on to answer a question about overcoming feelings of bitterness and the perils of it when doing the work of racial and social justice. She called for us to be honest about the institutions we have created and the existing obstacles that are preventing the success of minorities.

As an example, she mentioned a school she attended in Chicago that took pride in welcoming racial minorities but did little to support them while there, leading to high dropout rates among first-semester students of color.

“I think all of us have to be honest about the institutions that we have created,” she said.

In regards to bitterness, which she referred to as a response to injustice that “makes sense,” she warned against it.

“My concern with becoming bitter … is that bitterness eats away at you more than it eats away at the institution,” she said. “That bitterness becomes consuming and creates very little space for change, for transformation, for hope.”

“My hope would be is that before you get to bitterness, that you would be able to name the source of your anger and what you can do about it. If there isn’t anything you can do about it, I highly recommend leaving … If the choice is between better or bitter, I want you to choose better,” she said.

Austin went on to talk about the importance of recognizing that each experience with oppression is unique and that we must be as aware of our own oppression as we must be of the privileges we each enjoy. In addition, we must recognize that certain people experience more than one source of oppression based on race, gender and other markers, a theory known as intersectionality.

When Vice President of Organizational Development and Human Resources Amy Bosley, who helped moderate the Thursday afternoon event, mentioned the College’s recent effort to revamp its recruitment practices, Austin said institutions should not rely too much on the concept of company “fit” if they are serious about diversifying their workforce.

“What most white people mean by [fit] is: Do I want to have lunch with them on my lunchbreak? Do they feel familiar? Do we have the same things in common?” she said. “That framework produces the same people over and over and over again, and it does not create space for diversity to live, let alone to thrive.”

“What white institutions need to begin to do is begin to name the cultural elements that have made them white,” she added.

Austin also said employees should be able to critique the institutions they work for with the understanding those critiques come from “a place of love.”

In regards to recruitment, Austin also mentioned some business and hiring consultants are now recommending that the workforce be diversified “in batches” to prevent against the alienation of employees who may find themselves to be the only person of color in a given department.

On the question of what white employees can do to support Black colleagues, Austin said:

“It’s huge to have white allies,” she said. “It could make the difference between someone staying at school or leaving.”

She added that allies support colleagues both by intentionally becoming educated on racism and by spending time with them. Allies are also people who are willing to challenge detrimental policies.

“I personally deeply believe that racial justice; the pursuit of racial justice should be a multiracial campaign,” she said.

While the task of addressing racial disparities within large institutions such as Valencia can difficult, Austin added, every institution must approach the task uniquely and with creativity.

“My encouragement is to drag your own seat over to the table and plop down in it saying ‘Here is what I would like to have happen.’ And then let all the voices at the table figure out the best way to make that happen,” she said.

In regards to a question about helping prepare students for systems less likely to accommodate inclusive values, Austin suggested the College provide opportunities for students to affect change.

“Valencia could be the place where all students, but particularly students of color, get to practice making change … I was a part of an institution where I got to flex my muscles making changes … all of those became tools for me to use in the workplace.”

A question about disaggregating student data came up during the session, and Austin said it’s important to compare that data against national data to get a clearer picture and also acknowledge data does not measure all experiences.

In closing, Amy remarked on Austin’s graphic T-shirt, which had the word “VOTE” written on it, while also mentioning Valencia’s recent efforts to encourage faculty, staff and students to head to the polls on Tuesday, November 3, 2020.

Austin said voting is a right her ancestors fought for, noting she is among the first generation of African Americans born with the right to vote in the United States.

“It blows my mind, but also makes me even more determined to exercise that right … I’m grateful to be in a country where I get to exercise that right.”

The 2020 Inclusive Excellence Speaker Series consisted of multiple collegewide and community events that included faculty and staff, community leaders, student leaders and an affinity group of Black and Latinx female employees. In all, approximately 486 individuals participated in the conversations in recent days.