Monthly Archives: October 2020

Get FutureFIT With AIG Financial Wellness Webinars

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

AIG Retirement Services’ FutureFIT Financial Wellness Webinar Series is all about making it easy to learn about the financial topics that matter most to you. These webinars are free and open to all Valencia College employees. Reserve your space now for one of the following webinars by visiting the AIG Retirement Services website.

2020 U.S. Presidential Election – 10 Truths No Matter Who Wins

Date: Thursday, October 29, 2020
Time: 4 p.m.
Location: Online 

With the Presidential election fast approaching, join Brian Levitt, global market strategist with Invesco, as he shares his timely perspective on the financial markets and what investors should focus on … no matter the election’s outcome.

Millennials — Preparing for a Brighter Tomorrow

Date: Tuesday, November 10, 2020
Time: 4 p.m.
Location: Online

Retirement may seem far off, but it’s not too early to start planning for the future you envision. This webinar focuses on the millennial generation providing tips on how to make saving for your future easier and taking control of debt. The course will also take a closer look at the basics of investing and retirement planning.

Social Security and Your Retirement

Date: Thursday, November 12, 2020
Time: 3 p.m. 
Location: Online

Social Security is one component of retirement income, and you have many options on how and when to start collecting your benefits. This webinar takes an in-depth look at Social Security benefits including information on estimating your benefits, tax implications, Medicare and the impact of working while receiving Social Security benefits.

Cash Management — Planning for Financial Security

Date: Tuesday, November 17, 2020
Time: 11 a.m.
Location: Online

Get help on planning for your current and future needs. This webinar will review tips on how to reduce expenses and debt, setting financial goals to fund your future needs, creating a budget, and starting a plan to save and invest.

Retirement Income Strategies

Date: Thursday, November 19, 2020
Time: 3 p.m. 
Location: Online

Are your expectations for retirement realistic? Find out more about preparing for the potential challenges and risks you may face and identifying your retirement income needs and possible sources of income. All this information will help you to take the next steps in planning for the retirement you desire.

Monthly Archives: October 2020

Join a Work Team on Our Opportunity and Equity Initiatives

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

In College President Sandy Shugart’s College Update: Opportunity and Equity Initiatives, he named several equity and opportunity initiatives for immediate action. The Senior Team has commissioned three work teams to respond to these initiatives, and we invite you to serve alongside your colleagues as we pursue our equity-focused goals. Please note that these work teams are different from the Focused Inquiry Team on Equity-minded Practice that was commissioned by the Learning Council to help lay the groundwork for the College’s Equity Plan and Learning Plan, although we envision great complementarity among all of our equity efforts.

If you may be interested in serving in one of the following new equity and opportunity work teams, details about the charge of each group as well as a survey to submit your interest are included below.

Leadership of Equity and Opportunity Work Group
This work group will develop a set of well-researched options, along with the advantages and disadvantages of each, for leading equity work at Valencia. The work team will produce a brief on these options to assist Valencia College’s next president in selecting a model for equity leadership that will be best aligned with the College’s equity goals and objectives. To read the work group proposal, click here. 

Equity Mindedness and Employee Experience Steering Committee
This steering committee will serve as the convening and coordinating group to review current practices and develop recommendations to strengthen our equity-minded practices with three work teams in:

  • Talent acquisition: recruiting, hiring and promotion
  • Talent activation: onboarding and development
  • Talent retention: annual evaluation processes

To read the steering committee’s work proposal, click here. 

Black Male Initiative Work Group
This work group will develop a brief that synthesizes the research on Black male student success, describes models for Black male initiatives at other institutions and curates existing sources of data regarding the Black Valencia male student experience. To read the work group proposal, click here. 

If you are interested in serving in one of the above work groups, please complete the following interest survey by Friday, November 6, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. You will be asked to provide a statement of your interest along with your contact information. 

Faculty Council will review submitted nominations and determine the faculty representatives. Employees who are appointed to the work teams will be notified in mid-November.

Monthly Archives: October 2020

In Memory of Ozella Knox

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Valencia College retiree Ozella Knox passed away on Monday, October 12, 2020, at the age of 61 in Houston, Texas, where she was living with her daughter and her family after her latest breast cancer diagnosis. She survived two other bouts of cancer in 2000 and 2018.

Ozella joined the Valencia family in 2004 as a staff assistant III in the Internship and Placement Office.

“It was very satisfying to help student interns explore their chosen career, perhaps find a completely new path or use that experience to network and build their resume with meaningful experiences,” Ozella explained in a featured colleague article in March 2016.

Yearning for a change, in 2008, she accepted a position in Continuing Education for the Division of Health Sciences. That position evolved to implementation coordinator and included the Office of Clinical Compliance. Her daily tasks varied from assisting in budget preparation and tracking; acquiring textbooks and course materials; auditing and reviewing procedures to improve efficiency; registering and advising Continuing Education students; to scheduling, maintaining and revising courses to align with the enrollment plan. She worked in this role until her retirement in April 2020.

“Ozella touched my life every day,” shared her coworker and friend, Iris Castillo Martinez, clinical compliance specialist. “We worked together, laughed together, complained to one another, had good days together and bad days together. I considered her my dear friend. She was kind, humble, selfless. I worked with her for three years, and she taught me everything that I know to do my job. She definitely is going to be missed. I’ll  never forget that she always wanted to help the students; her top quality was her customer service and she was really proud of it.”

During her work at Valencia, Ozella was involved with the former West Campus Career Staff Association (CSA), including serving as chair in 2014. Her CSA leadership earned her the opportunity to sit in the audience when President of the United States Barack Obama visited the West Campus. Ozella also completed Valencia’s former leadership program, PIVOT 180.

Born in Rison, Arkansas, she is survived by her father Larry Knox, sisters Susan Corbly, Brenda Cook and June Knox, children Chelsea Rohrer, Hayley Spears and Charles Rohrer, and multiple nieces and nephews.

Ozella earned an Associate in Arts in general education and business administration at Brevard Community College, a Bachelor of Science in business administration and marketing from the University of Central Florida, and a Master of Science in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University. In her spare time, she liked to read and write short stories.

Due to the pandemic, memorial services will be announced at a later date.  If you would like to share photos or stories of Ozella, please email them to her daughter, Hayley Spears, at to share with her family and during the memorial service.

Monthly Archives: October 2020

SLIP Graduates Interpret Come Out With Pride’s Virtual Celebration

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Valencia’s Sign Language Interpretation Program (SLIP) students offered their sign language services to Come Out With Pride Orlando and ensured all its events were accessible for the deaf and hard of hearing this year.

“Every year, Valencia graduates, Valencia SLIP faculty and friends of Valencia graduates continue to step up and do the work that is so important to ensure that Central Florida Deaf LGBTQ have equal access to the events of Pride,” said Debbie Drobney, professor, sign language, and Sign Language Interpretation Program chair.

Debbie said that although Come Out With Pride (COWP) was celebrated virtually this year on Saturday, October 10, 2020, Valencia College students and graduates offered their support to the event. Valencia SLIP students and graduates have consistently participated in local LGBTQ events for several years now, she said, so this has become a bit of a tradition.

She added that, besides the COWP event, Valencia SLIP graduates and students have volunteered to interpret at events held by the Orlando Gay Chorus. In addition, they provided interpreting services at multiple LGBTQ events held in the area after the Pulse nightclub shooting.

“In the 30 years I have been teaching at Valencia, the Sign Language Interpretation Program has grown beyond my wildest dreams,” said Debbie. “The program has provided rewarding careers to scores of students and given Central Florida’s Deaf community access to quality interpreters. We in the program are proud of our graduates and are especially pleased that, in a sense, they never really leave us.”

Debbie specifically praised the work of three sign language interpreters who have consistently lent a hand to the COWP event.

She mentioned the volunteer work of Adam Ledo, who graduated from Valencia’s SLIP in 2004 and currently manages Interpretek, a local interpreting agency. Adam has also taught courses in the SLIP department.

In addition, Debbie praised Jordan Kralik, part-time faculty, sign language, who graduated from Valencia’s SLIP in 2013. He continues to support the local community even though he is currently in Oregon.

Likewise, Eli Weiss, who graduated in 2014 and is currently living in Wisconsin, continues to work to support LGBTQ organizations here in Central Florida.

Monthly Archives: October 2020

What Your Colleagues Are Learning on LinkedIn

Monday, October 26, 2020

By Cindy Torres, Support Specialist II

In July, Valencia College’s Employee Development team launched LinkedIn Learning, our new online, on-demand professional development resource available to employees, with your Atlas credentials. Courses can be bookmarked, tracked and, when completed, a certificate is available to print or save. Activate your account today and start learning.

Since the launch of LinkedIn Learning, our colleagues have taken advantage of on-demand courses in a variety of topics. There were a total of eight LinkedIn Learning courses completed by 234 of our employees in a 30-day period, between August and September. Other professional growth and personal interest courses were viewed and are currently in progress by our colleagues.

Real-life current events such as worldwide demonstrations against social injustice, #ScholarStrike and Valencia College’s presidential search were all echoed in LinkedIn Learning. The courses chosen by our colleagues provide us with information, teaching and development tools that guide us during these uncertain times. For example, employees took advantage of the following LinkedIn Learning courses:

Here are some thoughts  from our colleagues’ LinkedIn Learning experiences:

“As a supervisor, the value of LinkedIn Learning has been experienced within my own professional development as well as nurturing individual investment within my team. The broad range of content continues to satisfy my interest in both management development and personal wellness. The ability to group courses into collections and learning paths helps support qualitative goals around development. This value can be extended to the team by recommending or assigning courses or course groups. For example, I assigned the Communication within Teams course to my team to support discussions on providing feedback and self-management within our modes of communication. To support our transition to remote working, I recommended a collection that included several applicable topics from Working Remotely from Home, as well as some supporting content like Business Etiquette: Phone, Email and Text and Deep Work.”
— Ken Rivera, Director, Network and Infrastructure

“What I like about LinkedIn Learning is how user-friendly it is, it lets me decide what I want to learn by asking me what I am interested in. The ‘go at your own pace’ has been great as unexpected work comes in differently throughout the day. I am excited to continue finding new content that will expand my personal development as well as my communication, decision making and organizational skills.”
— Sarai Roman Toro, Administrative Assistant

“Deciding to incorporate LinkedIn Learning content into the new Virtual Leadership Development Program has so far proven to contribute solid, meaningful material in a way that is easy to navigate, enhancing learning for program participants. With endless opportunities for professional and personal development, I am excited to explore more of the platform.”
— Natasha Mcllmurray, Coordinator, Organizational Design and Development

“I recently have completed the session, Confronting Racism, with Robin DiAngelo. The session included an introduction to and explanation of commonly used terms when discussing equity, and she provided ample opportunity for learners to engage in self-reflection and introspection, while then pivoting to a call for action for ways that we can each work towards addressing racial inequities.”
— Ryan Kane, Assistant Vice President, Equity and Access

Adding LinkedIn Learning to Valencia’s Employee Development program was a strong commitment to provide e-learning opportunities for our employees. Its ease of use allows you to customize your learning with the filter options to search by content and types such as courses, videos and learning paths. Additionally, next to your account profile, you may choose from seven languages.

Taking some time to consider your interests, skills and goals is a great way to start the process of planning for your future. Start learning today with LinkedIn Learning!

Feel free to leave your own experience with LinkedIn Learning in the comment section below.


Monthly Archives: October 2020

Panel Reflects on What it Means to Be Afro-Latinx

Monday, October 26, 2020

The Valencia African Heritage Committee hosted a Zoom panel to celebrate and educate the College community on the rich culture and experiences of Hispanics of African descent during Hispanic Heritage Month.

Titled Special VAHC Talks! AfroLatinX Experience, the panel was held on Monday, October 12, 2020, and covered topics that included the panelists’ lived experiences and pride as Afro-Latinx individuals, racial and ethnic identity, heritage, colorism, and issues with representation and perception.

Participants included Isis Artze Vega, vice president, academic affairs; Camille Hernandez, assistant director, conference and college events; Julix Cordova Rivera, student services advisor; Nadine Daniels, professor, biology; Julio Falú, professor, graphic design; Carmen Laguer Díaz, part-time faculty, anthropology; and Valencia College student Fioranny Santana Jimenez.

Isis, who moderated the discussion, began by sharing a few insights from the article An Overview of Latino and Latin American Identity, by Emma Turner-Trujillo, Marissa del Toro and April Ramos.

The article touches on the geographic and cultural complexities of Latin America, defined as a “set of nations belonging to the regions of North America, the Caribbean, Central America and South America.”

It also highlights how some in these areas who are of significant or predominant African descent may refer to themselves as “Afro” and add a hyphen before their country of origin. Examples of this include the terms Afro-Latin, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Puerto Rican and Afro-Mexican.

Isis also shared separately a few statistics about the U.S. Latinx population from the 2014 Pew Research Center survey, which found 24% of U.S. Hispanics identified as Afro-Latino.

The article goes on to define Hispanic as the linguistic origins of a Spanish-speaking country, while Latino refers to people who have ethnic and cultural origins in Latin America.

The piece also describes the genesis of term “Latinx.”

“To add nuance, the terms Latino and Latina are gender-identified. So a male-identifying individual with direct or ancestral origins from Latin America may identify as Latino, while a female-identifying individual would be Latina. However, for individuals who fall outside the gender binary of male/female, Latino/Latina, the term Latinx is an additional option to express gender identity that exist outside the constraints of the binary,” an excerpt from the article read.

Valencia-specific statistics were also shared during the panel, including numbers showing Valencia’s workforce is 26% Hispanic (this represents a total of 1,422 full-time and part-time employees).

In turn, 19,533 students, or 41% of Valencia’s student population, identified as Hispanic in fall 2020.

Panelists also shared poignant personal experiences, including some lived at home, with some confiding their race was used against them by relatives.

Others, meanwhile, said they felt a connection to their heritage through Afro-Latinx leaders who inspired them, while some said they felt a deep sense of pride in their African heritage, which was shared by the full family.

Fioranny, who was born in the Dominican Republic, said she feels a sense of responsibility to learn about both of her cultural backgrounds, adding that people should have the freedom to self-identify.

“Race is not up for discussion. People get to decide for themselves how they identify,” she said.

Along with other panelists, Fioranny stressed the importance of educating oneself and others, who may not know that many countries have a strong African heritage.

She, for example, decided to sign up for an African American Experience class, an interdisciplinary social sciences course Carmen teaches.

Julix said that although this process can make people feel uncomfortable, “being uncomfortable opens the door to genuine connection.”

Carmen, meanwhile, said it’s important for the College to continue these discussions.

“As we move to a more inclusive institution and world, in general, we wanted to amplify the voices of the African Diaspora in the Latin America community,” she said.

“As a Hispanic-serving institution, Valencia is uniquely positioned to provide the space for these types of discussions.”

Isis, added that “It was an honor and joy to facilitate this panel discussion. Our student and colleagues shared candid, even biting insights about the complexity of our identities. We would be wise to continue listening deeply to them as we embark upon collegewide equity efforts.”

In 2019, and according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 60.6 million Hispanics lived in the United States, making people of Hispanic origin the nation’s largest ethnic or racial minority, representing 18.5% of the total U.S. population. The United States has the also the second largest population of Hispanic people in the world, second only Mexico.

Monthly Archives: October 2020

The Valencia EDGE Will Be Down

Monday, October 26, 2020

The Valencia EDGE will undergo updates from 8:30 p.m. on Friday, October 30 through 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, October 31, 2020 and will be unavailable for use during this time.

As part of a continuous improvement cycle, we work directly with the vendor to ensure improvement to the system and develop new features and options for our employees.

We apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause, and we hope you enjoy your weekend.

Monthly Archives: October 2020

College Update: Phase 2, Spring Break and Veteran’s Day Plans

Friday, October 23, 2020

A Special Message From Sandy Shugart, Valencia College President

More than six months ago, we made the decision to move to a remote work and learning environment due to the growing concerns and impact of COVID-19. Initially, we thought these new arrangements would last for a few weeks and that we would be able to return to our campuses relatively quickly. In our first meetings about the College’s response to COVID-19, two key priorities were articulated and remain our guideposts for decisions today: 1) the health and safety of our colleagues, students and community, and 2) the continuity of student learning. These priorities have led us to operate in our Roadmap for Reopening Phase 2 guidelines through the fall semester. The Conditions to Reopen team and many others around the College have started planning for the spring semester, and we have decided to remain in Phase 2 operations for the foreseeable future.

We continue to consult with medical professionals and are closely tuned to infection rates in our community. Neither indicate a substantive reason to change our status at this time. Of course, new testing methodologies, treatments and vaccines are being developed and when available, may allow us to move to our Phase 3 plans later this spring or in the summer. Until that time, however, the majority of our employees and students will remain in a remote working and learning environment.

UCF and Valencia Spring Break Plans
Our partner, the University of Central Florida (UCF), has decided to move its spring break to the end of the spring term and deliver all final exams online so that students do not return to the campus after the break. Our Senior Team has evaluated the impact of UCF’s decision on our plans for the spring semester and decided not to make any adjustments to Valencia’s spring break dates. This decision was made with the purpose of minimizing disruption to you and our students, and though our spring break dates will not align with UCF’s this spring, we anticipate minimal impact to students who take classes at both institutions. We also recognize the importance of a mid-semester break to allow for rest and renewal.

Veterans Day Plans

As we prepare for the winter season and begin thinking about the spring semester, we have heard from many of you that you’ve reached the point of exhaustion. The stress of the last several months has taken its toll and, as we settle into this routine for longer than any of us ever imagined, it’s time to adjust our practices to better care for ourselves, respond to the stress that we are feeling, and take some time to reflect, rest and reset. In light of this need that you have expressed, I have decided to make Veterans Day — Wednesday, November 11, 2020 — a student and employee holiday this year. Our college credit students are already scheduled to be off that day so the disruption to the learning environment will be minimized.

While this decision might not work for every division due to previously scheduled classes, activities or critical work, I am committed to everyone having a day off. Thus, if you are a full-time employee and are unable to take Wednesday, November 11, as a day off, our Organizational Development and Human Resources team will add one day of “banked holiday” that you may use at a later date, with your supervisor’s approval. Our part-time colleagues should record hours they were originally scheduled to work on Wednesday, November 11, as “Leave with Pay.” Full-time employees who complete a time card should record the hours as “Holiday.” For full-time employees who complete a timesheet and work that day, please enter hours worked. Your banked holiday hours will then be added to your record once your timesheet has been completed and approved. For full-time employees who do not complete a timesheet and work that day, banked holiday will be added to your record with receipt of an e-mail from your supervisor to let us know that you worked that day and have, therefore, earned banked holiday hours. A Certificate of Absence (COA) for banked holiday is required when a full-time employee uses those banked holiday hours after they have been earned. Due to legal restrictions as defined under the Federal Work Study guidelines, our FWS student employees are not eligible for this paid time off.

Though one day off is certainly not the full resolution to the feelings of exhaustion, I trust it will provide some relief. I encourage you to explore additional ways to create clear boundaries between work and home responsibilities, consider scheduling meetings to end at the quarter hour to leave a few minutes between appointments, and to incorporate other health and wellness routines into your lifestyle.

If you have any questions or concerns about the Veterans Day closure on November 11, please reach out to Vice President of Organizational Development and Human Resources, Amy Bosley, at

Thank you to all of our Valencia colleagues who are veterans, and to those who have family members who have served. We are grateful for your bravery, selflessness and commitment to protecting our country.

Monthly Archives: October 2020

Student Success for Science Courses: Video and Study Plan Template

Friday, October 23, 2020

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

Here at the midterm, our students may need a few gentle reminders to get back on track for the remainder of the semester. In case you haven’t seen it yet, the following video was created by Lake Nona’s Manager of Learning Support Services Michael Blackburn, with assistance from Instructional Lab Supervisor Ella Raynor, for Student Development to share with students enrolling in a science course this semester. It features Valencia students and science tutors Njeri Foster, Hanna Nour and Isabel Silva. You’ll note that most of the tips are applicable to other courses as well.

Feel free to share it with your students and use it within your courses as well as for any student success module or page that you include. You can also share this weekly study plan template (a fillable PDF file) with your students as a way to reinforce what they see in the video.

Monthly Archives: October 2020

Visit the Virtual Student Art Show: Protest Art

Friday, October 23, 2020

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

Social movements in various forms use protest art to make change happen. Artists have always been agents of cultural change: they can sway opinions, direct resistance or reform. Depending on the times, the forms of protest art used in movements has changed, reaching more people than ever and changing our society for the better. The recent political climate has spurred an abundance of artist involvement in expressions of protest and resistance. Our students have created their own protest art with short explanations of what they are protesting.

The Student Art Show will be shown through Friday, December 4, 2020. To view the virtual exhibit, click here.

Please contact Karen Owens, part-time faculty, humanities, at for more information.