Monthly Archives: December 2020

A Reflection on 2020

Thursday, December 3, 2020

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

The end of the year is always a time of reflection for me to take stock of the successes and challenges, milestone moments and cherished memories while looking ahead to the clean slate and promise of the new year. This particular year, 2020, is in a league of its own. Due to the pandemic, I have felt the tremendous weight of the passage of time and what these months have meant for us personally and professionally while we prepare for 2021.

Personally, there have been challenging experiences navigating my son’s virtual kindergarten and first grade. However, while I worked from home by his side, there have been beautiful moments of family togetherness, creativity and emotional bonding.

While some isolated instances may stand out in my memory, I look back on the nearly nine months that we have been in this “new normal” and can see that many of these times have added to the significant growth and resilience in my son. Taking a moment with my family to acknowledge and talk about the growth that has occurred in all of us has been cathartic and something that I would encourage others to do with their families, partners, friends and colleagues.

Along with personal growth, we all have undoubtedly achieved significant professional growth through these unique circumstances. At Valencia, we have often spoken of the “huge lift” that it took to pivot to online teaching, online student services and working remotely in response to COVID-19. As I look back, I truly feel like we have moved mountains, and if I visualize placing myself at the top of one of these mountains, to get a better view of the Valencia landscape, I am truly awe-struck. I see teams of colleagues rallying around our students and each other. I see a focus on learning, listening, equity, continuity, care and safety. I see how we, at Valencia, have connected our work and have connected with each other in new, collaborative, innovative ways. I feel hopeful as we leave 2020 behind and enter into 2021.

As we close out this year, I have invited some of our East and Winter Park Campus leaders to share their reflections with you. Many thanks to those below for sharing their thoughts and letting us learn from your leadership.

“In a difficult year with so many unexpected transitions. I am thankful for my fellow faculty and staff at the Winter Park Campus. The conversion to online instruction and working from home was amazingly smooth and the camaraderie has eased all our burdens. However, the stress and exhaustion are real, and I hope everyone takes the upcoming holidays as an opportunity to unplug, particularly from Canvas. We don’t do our students or our peers any favors if we are stretched thin, so let’s all try to come back stronger for the spring semester.” — John Niss, interim executive dean, Winter Park Campus

“From the genesis of our equity-minded practices’ conversations to the abrupt evolution of our online education and real-time virtual, Valencia has deeply engaged in an institutional transformative process during this year.” — Angelica Vagle, professor, chemistry and Faculty Senate president.

“This year as the College services moved online, so did Valencia Staff Association (VSA) events. We knew we needed to keep our staff engaged and held virtual sessions via Zoom including yoga and a tour of the Salvador Dali museum. VSA will continue to provide exciting opportunities in 2021.” — Laura Skelton, staff assistant II and Valencia Staff Association president

“This year has been unlike any other. It has provided me with new opportunities, turned my life upside down and opened my eyes to new things and different perspectives. The year 2020 has reminded me of my humanity: making mistakes, not being at 100 percent all the time and it is experiencing conflicts with others. However, it has also provided new innovations, caring for others and going above and beyond to succeed.” — Esther Perceval, East Campus Student Government Association president

“Thank you Valencia College for continuing to progress forward with a student-centered approach to all work that goes on here. I am thankful to be a part of this progressive, loving and embracing family.”— Brett Harrison, Winter Park Campus Student Government Association president

My heartfelt thanks to our East and Winter Park campus communities for your hard work and collaboration. I wish you and your loved ones much health and happiness as we look ahead to the new year.

Monthly Archives: December 2020

Kristy Pennino Serves as Panel Expert on Graphic Design Job Market

Thursday, December 3, 2020

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

Professor of Graphic Design Kristy Pennino was featured in an article posted by Zippia, a career resource site, on Wednesday, November 11, 2020, as a panel expert regarding the job market for recent graduates in the graphic design field.

Kristy answered three questions:

  • Will there be an enduring impact of the coronavirus pandemic on graduates?
  • Are there any particularly good places in the United States for graduates to find work opportunities in this field after they graduate?
  • How do you envision technology impacting this field in the next five years?

She offered a positive outlook on the graphic design job market saying, “Our industry adapted to the workplace changes very rapidly, and we’re doing a great job of exposing our students to the technology that is already used widely by our industry (e.g., Slack, remote storage, etc.) to successfully collaborate and communicate virtually. It’s already commonplace for creatives working in face-to-face workplaces in our industry to have clients and teammates who are not locally convenient to each other.”

Kudos to Kristy for being selected to give advice and spread her vast knowledge of the graphic design job market to aid recent graduates from all over the United States. To read more of Kristy’s responses and those of other panelists, click here.

Monthly Archives: December 2020

Upcoming East and Winter Park Campus Events

Thursday, December 3, 2020

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

East and Winter Park Campus team members, I invite you to our last virtual town hall of the year. Join our region’s leadership team for the latest updates and some holiday cheer.

East and Winter Park Campus Town Hall

Date: Thursday, December 10, 2020
Time: 2:30 p.m.
Location: Zoom

Also, save the date for the 2021 Spring term East and Winter Park Campus welcome back virtual event, a gathering of our region to kick off the new academic semester and to prepare to welcome our students.

2021 East and Winter Park Campus Welcome Back

Date: Thursday, January 7, 2021
Time: 10 a.m.
Location: Zoom

Monthly Archives: December 2020

Thank You George Brooks for a Successful Humanities Speaker Series

Thursday, December 3, 2020

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

Kudos to Professor of Humanities George Brooks for a successful online Humanities Speaker Series that consisted of a series of four lectures titled “Pandemics in History and How our Ancestors Dealt with Them”. These series of four Zoom meetings took place between Thursday, October 8 and Wednesday, November 18, 2020. More than 80 participants per event listened to a variety of distinguished scholars discuss the following topics:

  • Elizabeth Kosmetatou: The Athenian Plague in the fifth century BCE
  • Colin Elliott: The Antonine Plague in the second century CE: Plague, Privilege and Psychopathy in the Roman Empire
  • David Nirenberg: Bubonic Plague: Plagues and Faiths, Medieval and Modern
  • Nancy Bristow : Spanish Flu of 1918: American Exceptionalism, White Supremacy and the Failure of Leadership

While the world came to terms with COVID-19, George had the ingenious idea to continue with the speaker series even during the pandemic and focused on “pandemics in history.” Each speaker provided the history of each pandemic and described how it wreaked havoc on the world’s population at the time.

The virtual audience was invited to submit questions that were moderated by Professor of Humanities Jeff Orlando, and so the discussion was deepened after each talk as listeners were able to explore questions of their own with the scholars in real-time interactions.

Monthly Archives: December 2020

Career Center Hosts Second Annual First-generation Day

Thursday, December 3, 2020

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

Valencia College’s Second Annual First-Generation Day event was held virtually on Monday, November 9, 2020. The Career Center, in partnership with Internship and Workforce Services, held the event to recognize and celebrate students who are the first in their family to attend college. Forty-five percent of Valencia’s students are first-generation students.

A panel of first-generation professionals shared their personal stories of how they successfully navigated college, identified a career and major and overcame career challenges as they transitioned from college to career. Panelists gave the following advice to students:

  • Embrace the new version of yourself — be open to who you are and what that represents
  • Find a mentor who you can connect to and help you navigate through college
  • Network
  • Visit the Career Center early
  • Don’t take out an overabundance of student loans
  • Get involved in student organizations
  • Be open to college experiences and trust the process

To support students in a virtual environment, the Career Centers collegewide have unified their services and resources so students have online support for each stage of their career development. In March 2020, the Career Center initiated “Workshop Wednesdays” each week at 1 p.m. to discuss topics related to choosing, planning or beginning a career. Recordings of the workshops as well as current career-related articles and resources are available in Canvas in the Career Center Online website, which launched in the summer of 2020. The Career Action Distinction program can be completed fully online. Students can self-enroll through Canvas to view an orientation video and get started.

The Career Center website has been updated and contains resources for students in all stages of career development, including the online practice interview resource Big Interview. The Career Center staff also works with faculty to create interview assignments using Big Interview for their class. Candid Career has short, segmented how-to videos on employment readiness topics and thousands of video interviews from professionals. Students can make an appointment to meet with a career advisor through Contact a Career Advisor.

Please contact Cindy Oakley, coordinator, career development services, East Campus, at for additional information regarding the Career Center.

Monthly Archives: December 2020

Renaissance Village Interactive Website Hosted by Winter Park Campus

Thursday, December 3, 2020

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

The Winter Park Campus began hosting an interactive website on Thursday, October 15, 2020, featuring living crafts and artisans who demonstrated the skills and knowledge of a medieval and Renaissance village.

The interactive event invited students to join in on Zoom seminar sessions on a variety of topics that included exploration of the fantastical beasts found in medieval marginalia, the genius of Leonardo da Vinci, calligraphy and mindfulness. These sessions allowed for growth in creativity and personal development. History was explored through the analysis of Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” and by taking a deeper look at life in the Middle Ages by investigating the meaning of clothing. Conversations about art perception and disability as found in Northern Renaissance art built bridges to our modern perceptions.

Along with the sessions, a “Valencia Village” website was created in which students could explore various aspects of a medieval village. The website showcased students’ digital presentation projects, and these are posted to share with the College. Elizabeth Faulcon, part-time faculty, humanities, hosted the event and her “Introduction to Humanities” course contributed to the website by adding interest-based projects covering the broad spectrum of medieval life.

In spring 2021, the Valencia Village will return with new and exciting, interactive Zoom encounters and bring a spotlight to the creativity of the students whose work becomes part of the legacy of growing the Valencia Village.

Contact Elizabeth at for more details.

Monthly Archives: December 2020

Mark Collins Receives Donald H. Wulff Diversity Fellowship Award

Thursday, December 3, 2020

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

Congratulations to Dean of Social Science and Physical Education Mark Collins for receiving the Donald H. Wulff Diversity Fellowship Award. This recognition is provided by the Professional and Organizational Development (POD) Network. The POD Network envisions that all post-secondary institutions value, support and reward the work of their educators, scholars and leaders, with an emphasis on teaching as a core scholarly activity, informed by research and reflection and resulting in success for all students.

The Donald H. Wulff Diversity Fellowship is aimed at increasing the participation of people from historically underrepresented racial and ethnic groups and individuals from underrepresented institutions in the field of educational development into the POD Network. This fellowship also encourages recipients to explore their interests and questions related to diversity and educational development.

Monthly Archives: December 2020

The 30th Anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act Celebrated

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

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

It’s been three decades since our nation experienced a major historical milestone — the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Since its passage on July 26, 1990, this important bipartisan civil rights legislation signed into law by President George H.W. Bush has significantly increased access and opportunity for people with disabilities in both workplaces and communities. The Valencia College community is no exception.

In particular, the success of the Office of Students with Disabilities (OSD), which provides services to students, is celebrated. The OSD is committed to the fulfillment of equal educational opportunity, autonomy and full inclusion for students with disabilities.

Director for Students with Disabilities Deborah Larew kicked off this commemoration by speaking at the Disability Rights Florida Virtual Webinar on “Going to College! Tips on How to Navigate the Support of Mental Health and Disability Services” on Tuesday, October 20, 2020. Read her blog on this topic to learn more.

OSD and the Disability Inclusion Alliance then hosted the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act Virtual Celebration on Monday, November 2, 2020.

Statistics were shared regarding individuals with disabilities:

  • 61 million adults in the United States live with a disability.
  • 26%, or one in four adults in the United States, have some type of disability.
  • In 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 19.3% of persons with a disability were employed. In contrast, the employment-population ratio for persons without a disability was 66.3%.

During the event, the history of ADA was discussed, along with a reflection activity initiated by Nikkia Gumbs, assistant director, OSD. One guest speaker was an author and autism advocate, Tony Hernandez Pumarejo. He spoke about the history of ADA and the need for continued improvement regarding job opportunities. Listen to Tony Hernandez Pumarejo’s speech.

Left: Valencia College alumnus Issac Thomas

The second speaker was Issac Thomas, a Valencia College alumnus, who shared his educational journey. Issac attended East Campus and worked at the OSD office for three semesters. He graduated from Valencia in 2018 with a 3.49 grade point average and then studied business at the University of Central Florida (UCF). He graduated this past May 2020 from UCF and is employed at Verizon as a financial analyst. His long-term goal is to work on Wall Street in New York City, New York.

“I was encouraged to see that so many people understand the significance of ADA law and its impact on so many Americans,” Deborah shared. “It was moving to hear from our Valencia graduate, Issac Thomas, about how this law has positively made his life better and that he was able, due to that law, to attend college, work and live an independent life despite his vision loss. I thank Coordinator of Disability Support Services Mary Asbury whose tenacity and passion made this event happen.”

Monthly Archives: December 2020

SAGE Global Tech Guru Speaks to IT Students

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

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

Data and technology, two global industries in which students have extreme interest were highlighted recently when Babar Jan-Haleem, an international speaker who heads the Australia/Pacific/Japan/China Emerging Technologies and Intelligent Platforms for Amazon Web Services (AWS), spoke to Valencia students. With more than 20 years of experience in IT and data, he has been the driving force for customer adoption of emerging technologies in the Asian Pacific region. His portfolio stretches across many services, including machine learning, the internet of things, big data, blockchain and more.

Jan-Haleem was brought to Valencia through the efforts of two East Campus IT professors, Jerry Hensel, computer programming and analysis, and Heith Hennel, IT and computer programming, who collaborated with the Study Abroad and Global Experience (SAGE) and Student Development offices to host this IT interactive experience. The event was held on Wednesday, November 4, 2020, and was attended by IT students from all campuses.

Babar’s philosophy is to convince students that data is an incredibly valuable tool. During his virtual presentation, he highlighted how data drives decision-making every day and at all levels. Decision makers in an organization, from the CEO down to frontline workers, use data to stay competitive and relevant in the market. One example he shared with students is how AWS can track products being purchased at an Amazon Go store in order to evaluate consumer shopping habits and needs. This form of strategic data collection and analysis is relatively new, so students were able to hear about cutting edge and innovative practices in data collection.

“This was such an exciting opportunity for students, and they were able to learn from a technology guru on what it takes to get a job in the IT field,” said Jerry. “Students were excited to get the chance to ask Babar questions about the role of data collection in the IT field, as well as how to break into the industry. Students walked away knowing the importance of leveraging data as fuel for innovation.”

The session exposed students to the different AWS industry certifications available, all of which can be applied to real-world problem solving. Starting in spring 2021, students will be able to take AWS certification classes through the Valencia-AWS Learning Academy. For more details about the Valencia AWS courses, please contact Jerry at

Global guest speakers are a new offering by SAGE to internationalize the curriculum at home during this time of limited student mobility. Faculty who are interested in booking a global guest speaker for their students through the SAGE Office can contact Manager of Study Abroad Programs Lindi Kourtellis at

Monthly Archives: December 2020

You’re Invited to the Community Resilience Series Workshop: Building on the Strengths of ALL Young People

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Dr. Ken Ginsburg, author of the book, “Building Resilience in Children and Teens, Fourth Edition,” and who practices adolescent medicine, was overwhelmingly well-received as the keynote speaker at the recent Creating a Resilient Community: From Trauma to Healing Conference earlier this year. The Peace and Justice Institute and Orlando Health have partnered to bring him back to deliver three additional workshops in a Community Resilience Series. The third and final workshop in the free Community Resilience Series will be focused on educators.

Building on the Strengths of ALL Young People

Date: Tuesday, December 8, 2020
Time: 6 – 7:30 p.m.
Location: Zoom

This workshop will be especially relevant for Valencia faculty and staff, as it introduces the essentials of cultivating strength-based, trauma-sensitive, resilience-building interactions with young people. It will focus on young people who have endured hardships in their lives but will emphasize that when we create supports and systems to meet the needs of youth who have suffered adversities, we create the developmental milieu in which ALL children and adolescents thrive.

The talk will underscore the power of well-boundaried, loving, human connection in healing and developing youth to become their best selves. Additionally, the session will cover the critical role teachers always play in young people’s lives but will emphasize the educator’s role during times of uncertainty. Communication strategies on how to apply these principles in our work with youth will be shared and, specifically, will offer examples of how to give control back to young people from whom it has been taken away.

To register, click here. 

About Dr. Ken Ginsburg: 

Ken Ginsburg, MD, MS Ed, FAAP, practices adolescent medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and is a professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He directs Health Services at Covenant House Pennsylvania, where he serves Philadelphia’s youth enduring homelessness, and is also founding director of the Center for Parent and Teen Communication. His AAP multimedia toolkit, “Reaching Teens: Strength-based, Trauma-sensitive, Resilience-building Communication Strategies Rooted in Positive Youth Development,” prepares professionals to be the adults young people deserve in their lives.