Monthly Archives: February 2021

Marketing is Your Resource for Collegewide External Communications

Monday, February 15, 2021 

A Message from Allie Vatcher, Director, Marketing

Let’s be honest. A lot has changed and the virtual world is a little different, but we want you to know the level of commitment and service from your Marketing department has not changed. In fact, this time has allowed us to dig in deeper (via Zoom, of course) and work on projects and with colleagues that we may not have otherwise been able to be as connected with. Now, that’s something to be excited about from this past year!

As we continue to serve the College in this environment, we want you to know that we have your back. If you’re working on a project that targets our external audiences, drives enrollment to the College or impacts the Valencia College brand — we’d love to work with you. We’re here to listen, learn and contribute. And, we absolutely love doing it. Unsure if your project is the right fit for our team? Just ask us — we can usually help point you in the right direction either way.

“The College’s Marketing team is comprised of extremely passionate individuals that bring expertise and a combined tenure of service to the College that any marketing leader would be proud of,” said Traci Bjella, assistant vice president, marketing. “The team’s ability to connect with colleagues as well as connect the dots of projects and initiatives around the College is remarkable. Many of our team members are not only employees, but also Valencia College alumni and even current students, which brings great depth and perspective to our work.”

The Marketing department likes the details — we actually live for them. The behind-the-scenes work, or making the sausage and serving it up. What that looks like is the list of services included below:

  • Consultation, strategy, recommendations and project management— We’ll guide you through the process.
  • Copy and creative development— We’ll design your project and write copy using Valencia College’s brand standards.
  • Approval process management— We know that a lot of people must approve the project throughout its many stages. We can help manage that, while keeping an eye on the deadline.
  • Production and fulfillment —This is fancy speak for printing or producing your items and getting them where you want them to go.
  • Advertising media plans— Digital, television, radio, billboards or print — we understand advertising and our targeted audiences.
  • Website management— We even have a team dedicated to the Valencia College website and other third-party web platforms. For information on our Web Services resources, click here.

Check out some of our recent projects on the Brand website.

How do you get started? Complete the Marketing Request form and someone from the team will reach out to you. The idea or project does not need to be fully “baked” or defined, and, in fact, we prefer that it isn’t. The most important thing to know is, simply, as soon as you know about it, let us know about it and we will go from there.

For Marketing questions, email

Monthly Archives: February 2021

PJI JOURNAL Spring/Summer 2021: Measuring Peace for Sustainable Development

Monday, February 15, 2021

By Kari Williams, Part-time Instructor, Peace and Justice Institute, and Institute for Economics and Peace Ambassador and Rotary Peace Fellow

Throughout our short history as a nation, we have demonstrated that we can do extraordinary things. The time for extraordinary is now. The need for meaningful participation to “build forward” is essential to ensure an inclusive, equitable and sustainable future. Yet, the shocks of COVID-19 and subsequent economic crisis have amplified many structural issues like racism, inequality and an underlying fragility in our democratic institutions and environment.

These challenges are not unique to the United States. They are multidimensional, complex and can traverse national borders. Thus, we must think globally and act locally to find and enact innovative solutions. This will require new ways of thinking, working, and cooperating at an unprecedented scale.

“Without peace, it will not be possible to achieve the levels of trust, cooperation, and inclusiveness necessary to solve our complex challenges, let alone empower the communities and institutions necessary to address them” (Killelea, 2020).

But how can we measure peace at the local, national or international level?

While many scholars and organizations have worked toward peace since the 1960s, the concept of peace has not always been taken seriously. Fortunately, this is changing. The empirical and economic case for why countries and communities should measure and invest in peace continues to grow. Organizations like the Peace and Justice Institute at Valencia College (PJI), the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), Rotary International and the United Nations are shifting the conversation on how peace can be understood, practiced, and measured.

The United Nations (UN), an international organization founded in 1945 which is made up of 193 member countries, works to promote peace, dignity and equality on a healthy planet. In 2015, as a comprehensive call to action, countries around the world adopted 17 global goals to address our most pressing global challenges. These 17 goals are called the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) as part of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

One of the unique differences between the UNSDGs from their predecessor, the Millennium Development Goals, was the inclusion of a global goal designed to promote peace. The inclusion of SDG 16 for Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions resulted in part due to the advocacy of an international coalition which worked to ensure that peace was a prominent goal in the sustainable development agenda. Countries around the world now had a global goal and specific targets to help guide policy and practice to impact peace. In 2015, the UN Security Council and General Assembly reinforced this inclusion of peace by introducing the concept of “Sustaining Peace” to highlight a comprehensive focus on conflict prevention by understanding the factors that cultivate peace (United Nations, 2015).

Understanding what sustains peace cannot be discovered in the study of violence alone. Furthermore, while all 17 UNSDGs are interrelated and equally significant, if there is no peace, then sustainable development cannot be achieved. For example, we cannot eliminate poverty if we do not address high levels of violence and conflict. To realize one SDG goal, we must move forward all goals.

As one of the organizations which advocated for SDG16, the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), an independent, non-profit think tank, uses data-driven research to show that peace is a tangible measure of human well-being and development. IEP’s research identifies the benefits of violence reduction and improvements in peacefulness to measure and understand the drivers of sustainable peace. IEP aims to use evidence-based research to demonstrate that peace not only has a moral value, but a financial value as well (Institute for Economics and Peace, 2019).

Since 2008, IEP’s Positive Peace framework combined with a systems thinking approach, has provided a lens to identify and measure the factors that sustain peace.

“Positive Peace is defined as the attitudes, institutions, and structures that create and sustain peaceful societies. The eight positive peace pillars are the same factors that create peace and lead to many other positive outcomes such as thriving economies, better inclusion, high levels of resilience, and societies that are more capable of adapting to change. Positive Peace can be described as creating an optimum environment in which human potential can flourish” (Institute for Economics and Peace, 2019).

“Positive Peace is an effective predictor of socio-economic resilience for countries and communities because societies that operate with high levels of Positive Peace tend to be more effective in protecting lives and livelihoods, recover more rapidly from crises, and promote the peaceful resolution of grievances” (Editorial, 2020).

The aspiration to live in a peaceful, healthy, equitable, and sustainable society is universal. Whether implementing sustainable development policies at the local, national, or international level, operationalizing Positive Peace can help guide our recovery toward sustainable peace.


Editorial Staff. (2020). Measuring a country’s resilience using Positive Peace. Vision of Humanity. Retrieved from Vision of Humanity. 

Institute for Economics and Peace. (2019). Positive Peace report 2019: analysing the factors that sustain peace. Institute for Economics and Peace. Retrieved from Institute for Economics and Peace.

Killelea, S. (2020). Peace in the age of chaos. The best solution for a sustainable future. One Tree Films. Retrieved from Peace in the Age of Chaos.

United Nations. (2015). The challenge of sustaining peace. Report of the advisory group of experts for the 2015 review of the United Nations Peacebuilding Architecture. Retrieved from United Nations Nations Unies Report of the Age of the 2015 Peacebuilding Review.


Monthly Archives: February 2021

We Want Your Learning Day Feedback

A Message from Amy Bosley, Vice President, Organizational Development and Human Resources 

We hope that you enjoyed your day of learning, celebration and inspiration at today’s Learning Day. We’d love to hear your feedback about the day, as well as how you liked this new virtual Learning Day experience. Please share your Learning Day feedback by completing the following 10-15 minute survey.

Survey results will be shared in The Juice and on The Grove in March.

Also, be sure to share your Learning Day experiences and photos by posting to social media using the hashtag #OurValencia. Your Twitter and Instagram posts will be collected and showcased on our #OurValencia tagboard (Note: Facebook posts will not populate on the tagboard).

If you have questions, contact Organizational Development and Human Resources at, or call the HR4U helpline at 407-299-5000, extension HR4U (4748).

Monthly Archives: February 2021

PJI JOURNAL Spring/Summer 2021: Love Without an Asterisk: A Pastor Comes Out

Friday, February 12, 2021

By Josh Bell, Executive Director, One Orlando Alliance

God is love.₁ I cannot remember a time in my life when I did not know this phrase. Raised in a practicing Christian family, God’s love was a concept that I learned about from an early age. I learned that there were three primary words in Greek that we translated as love. Phileo was sibling love or friendship. Eros was romantic or erotic love. Agape was unconditional love. God’s love was always described as unconditional.

This love meant a great deal to me as I was growing up. It anchored me in several difficult periods of my childhood and teenage years including experiences of childhood trauma, grief and depression. I do not know where I would be if I had not learned very early that God loved me. I am grateful for my family and the extended family of my local church that taught me about this love, and as an adult, I can also see the ways that the teaching I received was incomplete.

As I grew beyond a child’s understanding of my religious context, I learned about an ongoing conflict within my denomination, The United Methodist Church. That conflict was whether or not to allow gay people to be ordained and to get married in our denomination. In my local community, the consensus was that to allow gay marriage and ordination would be disobedient to the teachings of the Bible.

This conflict within my denomination intersected with my own identity. I have always experienced attraction to my own gender even before I had the words to describe it. I have always been gay, and from an early age I learned that being gay was wrong. No one taught me this with malicious intent. They passed along to me the concept of God that they had received, a concept which elevated God’s “righteousness” and “holiness” far above God’s love.

I learned that in practice “God is love” included an invisible asterisk corresponding to limitations and exclusions. God’s love was not actually unconditional. God loved us all as “sinners” but “hated our sin.” I learned that homosexuality was an “abomination.” People tried to distinguish between God’s love for people and God’s hatred for sin, but in practice there was no distinction. I received the message that being gay was sinful in and of itself.

I learned to accept God’s love for the portion of myself that I understood to be lovable. Simultaneously, I learned to hate my attraction to men, because I believed God hated it too.

As a teenager desperate to reconcile my faith with my sexuality, I learned about the concept of “conversion therapy” and Christian groups that claimed to provide “healing” and “wholeness” for people like me who “struggled with same sex attraction.” Although I did not enter formal therapy until I was an adult, this toxic framework became the structure for my self-understanding.

I sought “healing” in one form or another for my sexual orientation for almost 20 years. It is difficult to overstate how harmful this process was for me and the people I care about. Internally, there was a constant, devastating conflict as I sought to excise a part of myself through desperate prayers, conversion therapy, books and accountability groups.

In college, I was very involved with my campus ministry, and I surrounded myself with people who thought like I did. Although I knew a gay man who was a leader in the local church I attended, I viewed him through my conversion therapy lens. In hindsight, I can see that I was an arrogant young man. As I pursued a calling into ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church, I deliberately chose a conservative seminary that would affirm my conversion therapy mindset. My inner conflict was incredibly strong, but I reassured and comforted myself by avoiding people who thought differently than I did.

However, I was not successful in avoiding everyone. Even as I pastored in a conservative church after seminary, I encountered LGBTQ+ people who chose to live openly and still attend church. In hindsight, I see the courage that it took to show up each week, often with their partners, in an environment where they were “welcomed” but not affirmed as their full selves. As their pastor, I extended grace and welcome to them, but I retained my own beliefs about myself. The more I witnessed their full, healthy, normal lives, the more my own framework for understanding myself began to be shaken.

Parents of LGBTQ+ children also attended the churches I served and often came to me to process their own experiences of reconciling their faith with loving their children. In all of these interactions with parents, I told them, “You cannot change your child. You can only love them as they are.” Extending this truth to them also echoed in my own life. Each time I had one of these conversations, the conflict within myself grew. How could I believe this truth for someone else and not believe it for myself as well?

One retired couple came to me after leaving their lifelong church because their adult gay son was not welcome there. They met with me to determine whether or not I would be a safe person for them and their son. Their confidence about God’s love for their son and their willingness to challenge me to be more openly affirming made a powerful impression on me.

LGBTQ+ people and allies kept showing up in the religious bubble that I had constructed for myself. Each of these interactions challenged me, because I so often saw in them a deeper expression of unconditional love than I was taught was possible for someone “living in sin.” I believe each person helped me to take a few more steps on my journey.

A major milestone in my journey toward self acceptance occurred in the aftermath of a horrible act of hatred.

On the Sunday morning of June 12, 2016, I preached three services while details were still emerging about the Pulse tragedy. I offered our church and my help for funerals, and I invited greater compassion from church folks for the LGBTQ+ community.

The community and worldwide response to the Pulse tragedy showed me more of what unconditional love looked like. I saw it in the lines at the blood donation centers. I saw it in the mounds of flowers. I saw it in grief-stricken faces at candlelight vigils. I heard it in the ringing of bells and the songs of choirs. In the aftermath of this horrible act of hatred, the LGBTQ+ community and allies showed the world what love looks like.

One year later, on June 12, 2017, I opened our church worship space for candle-lighting and prayer in the evening. I sat with a first responder who had been one of the first through the wall. I talked with someone who had lost employees. I lit candles, I cried, and then I went home to bed.

At 2 a.m., I was ripped awake by a sudden, intense pain in my leg. I had never experienced that pain before, and I have not experienced it since then. I looked at the clock and realized that my friends from St. Luke’s United Methodist Church were at Pulse holding “prayerful presence” with the congregation from Joy Metropolitan Community Church.

I got down on the floor and said to God, “If you want me to go all the way down there at 2 a.m., you’re going to need to make that really clear.” At exactly that moment, my friend Rev. Jad Denmark from St. Luke’s texted me, “Are you here?” I responded, “I’m on my way.”

When I arrived at Pulse, Jad gave me a gray stole with rainbows on it [pictured]. In that moment, it made me very uncomfortable because of my internal struggle, but I wore it and stepped into the outpouring of grief and love that night.

The many milestones in my journey eventually led to a breakdown in 2018. I had to reckon with my own truth and speak it out loud to myself and others. I had to navigate the extensive personal and professional repercussions of coming out, including a choice to step out of ministry. I began to learn what it meant to truly love myself unconditionally, and I began to navigate life as an openly gay man. I found welcoming places to work at the Community Hope Center in Kissimmee and at the Peace and Justice Institute at Valencia College.

The gray stole is now one of my most prized possessions. It is a reminder to me of the beauty that can come in the aftermath of extreme pain and tragedy. It reminds me that light and hope are never extinguished, and that part of my reason for living is to care for hurting people and to help build a community where everyone is safe to be themselves.

In October 2020, I began serving as executive director of One Orlando Alliance. The seed that became One Orlando Alliance was planted just days after Pulse to help many wonderful organizations communicate and coordinate care for our deeply harmed community. The Alliance was formed out of love for our LGBTQ+ community, and it is that same love that drives our work today to make Central Florida a place where LGBTQ+ people can belong and thrive.

I am very aware that many people do not identify with my religious tradition or have any religious affiliation. I honor that. I believe everyone finds their own mental, emotional, spiritual and/or relational space that feels like home. I have found mine in the person and teachings of Jesus. I also know that people who claim to follow Jesus have been some of the most influential creators and enforcers of homophobia and transphobia, white supremacy and racism, misogyny, ableism, and other abusive power structures.

The invisible asterisk has been used to dehumanize and harm incalculable numbers of people. At the same time, the asterisk has been used to consolidate and preserve power for the thin slice of humanity to which I belonged prior to coming out. I still carry considerable privilege, even as a gay man, that can all be traced back to the asterisk.

I do not defend the Christian community for the harm we have done throughout the centuries. Instead, I invite people within my own faith tradition to reflect on this harm. To acknowledge it. To own it. To do better.

I know that God loves me as a gay man, and my relationship with God is now so much more whole than it ever was before. I am one part of the beautiful spectrum of diversity that we all collectively embody. God’s love is not confined or limited to small segments of humanity. God’s love does not exclude. Every person is loved by God exactly as we are. There are no exceptions. God loves without an asterisk.

In all of the possible ways that you might understand yourself and your identity, and in whatever mental, emotional, spiritual, and/or relational space feels like home to you, I hope and pray that you experience truly unconditional love.

₁ John 4:8b

Monthly Archives: February 2021

In Memory of Angel Miranda

Thursday, February 11, 2021

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

I am deeply saddened to share that former Osceola Campus Instructional Lab Supervisor and Poinciana Campus Part-time Faculty of Math Angel Miranda passed away on Monday, February 8, 2021. He had worked in the mathematics lab and taught classes on Osceola Campus for years, then retired, sat out a year, then returned to teaching part time at the Poinciana Campus.

Professor of Biology Tim Grogan, formerly a dean at the Osceola Campus, hired Angel in the 1990s. He shares this fond reminiscence: “When I called Angel in the evening after his interview, he was thinking he wouldn’t get hired with us and was on his way back to Miami, to see about a job there. I told him I was doing reference checks to see if he had forged any of his documents because he seemed too good to be true. He laughed. You can probably hear in your head now his voice saying, “No, no. Really?” He turned around and stayed.”

Tim continues, “He said to me once (and twice and more) he was at his best working with students, one-on-one or in small groups. Angel would say, “I could do that all day long and all night too.” That wasn’t in anyone’s job description at Valencia. As Melissa notes below, the start, growth and success of what eventually became the math lab and the morph into the larger learning support system at Osceola and collegewide was due to Angel’s enormous ability to do just that, and his quiet persistence to create a system that supported that kind of teaching and learning. Well done, Señor Miranda.”

Osceola Campus’ Interim Executive Dean Melissa Pedone says, “Angel played a big role in the growth and development of our ability to support math students outside of the classroom on the Osceola Campus. He tutored thousands of students over the years. He was smart, kind, and generous and beloved by many faculty, staff and students.”

Professor of Math Al Groccia knew Angel for almost 20 years. He recalls, “Angel was one of the first people I met when I started working at Valencia College in 2001. When I walked through the halls of Osceola Campus, he would stop and say hello to everyone, and everyone would stop and say hello to him. Angel took the time to talk and get to know people, both co-workers and students. I hold dear the lessons I learned from him and the 20 years of friendship and memories I have with him.”

Angel continued to affect those he met when he returned to teaching part-time at the Poinciana Campus. Executive Dean Jennifer Robertson shared these thoughts, “Angel was a wonderful professor who loved his students as much as they loved him. He would regularly stop by the campus administration office to chat with staff, and he always had a big smile on his face. You could also find him in The Plaza or The Point Café just hanging around chatting with the students. He will surely be greatly missed on campus when we return.”

A Celebration of Life Service will be held on Sunday, February 14, 2021, at 4 p.m. at Family Funeral Care, 13001 South John Young Pkwy, Orlando, FL. Visitation will continue until 8 p.m. that evening.

You may leave a message for Angel’s family by clicking here.

Monthly Archives: February 2021

Get Ready for Tomorrow’s Learning Day

A Message from Amy Bosley, Vice President, Organizational Development and Human Resources

Learning Day is tomorrow — Friday, February 12, 2021 — and we have an exciting day planned of learning, celebration and inspiration.

Here’s what you need to know to participate in this virtual event.

– Learning Day is a regular work day for faculty and staff, and programming will be provided between 8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Employees are encouraged and expected to use the afternoon for independent learning such as reading, reflecting and participating in on-demand courses through LinkedIn Learning. For a list of suggested independent learning courses, click here.

– To start your Learning Day on Friday, simply visit the Learning Day website, where you will find the schedule and Zoom links for each event. We’ll kick off at 8:30 a.m. with an address from College President Sandy Shugart, followed by our keynote from Manu Shahi on “The Four Stages of Change: Using Your Past Experiences With Change as a Field Guide to Help You Navigate Through Your Upcoming Transition.” For a keynote session worksheet, click here.

– We recommend that you review the list of the more than 90 learning sessions in advance, so you know what you’d like to attend. To view the sessions, visit the Learning Day website and select Learning Session 1, Learning Session 2 and Learning Session 3. Individual Zoom links for each session are located in the description blocks. Learning sessions are first-come, first-served and will be capped at approximately 75-100 people. If you find that a session is full, please select another session. Individual breakouts in Learning Sessions 1, 2 and 3 are not being recorded.

– Make sure your version of Zoom is up to date. Use your Valencia College credentials (username/login) to access the Zoom sessions.

– Prior to the event, get your breakfast and lunch ready. Consider scheduling a Zoom lunch with your work friends or team.

– Wear your favorite Valencia College T-shirt (and don’t forget to wear pants!).

– Keep your camera on as often as possible, and engage with your colleagues in the learning sessions.

– Share your Learning Day experiences and photos by posting to social media using the hashtag #OurValencia. Your Twitter and Instagram posts will be collected and showcased on our #OurValencia tagboard(Note: Facebook posts will not populate on the tagboard).

View a video on how to navigate the Learning Day website and select your learning sessions.

On Friday morning, click the button below to get your Learning Day experience started, followed by the first session, “Welcome with Dr. Shugart.” We’ll start promptly at 8:30 a.m.

If you have questions, read the Learning Day Frequently Asked Questions. For additional questions, contact Organizational Development and Human Resources at, or call the HR4U helpline at 407-299-5000, extension HR4U (4748). For technical support during the event, contact the Office of Information Technology at 407-299-5000, extension 5555.

Monthly Archives: February 2021

January’s Virtual Conversation on Justice Raised Awareness

Thursday, February 11, 2021

More than 1,150 Valencia students, employees and community members took part in Conversation on Justice (COJ), the Peace and Justice Institute’s virtual 2021 Spring conference during the week of January 25, 2021. Hosted entirely over Zoom, this year’s COJ was organized thematically based on three broad topics: Human Rights and Safety, Sustainability, and Social Justice: Awareness and Advocacy. These topics support PJI’s commitment to promote a culture of peace and justice to mend the fabric of our humanity. The interactive workshops also incorporated the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.”

COJ included workshops, film screenings, panel discussions and nature tours. Each morning the conference began with mindfulness meditation to cultivate receptivity and openness. Some of the most attended workshops were Human Trafficking: A Global Issue with a Local Impact; The ABCs of Anti-Racism: Are You a ‘Non’ or an ‘Anti’?; Beyond Negative Stigmas: Understanding Mental Health; Smart and Sustainable: Accelerating Toward the Future; and Intersectionality: More Than a Feminist Perspective. Ten faculty, three staff members, one student, two attorneys and 17 community members joined us to facilitate these conversations.

This year, COJ partnered with 20 organizations to promote inclusivity and highlight our local leaders and experts in their respective fields. These organizations included internal partners Student Development, Office for Students with Disabilities, School of Public Safety, Film Department, Hospitality Society, Equal Opportunity Office and Gay Straight Alliance of East Campus. External organizations were Creating a Resilient Community Network, Orange County Library Systems, Victim Service Center, The Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center, One Orlando Alliance, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Orange County Government, City of Orlando, UCF Arboretum, K-Ready Community, Winter Park Public Library, Early Learning Coalition of Orange County and Early Learning Coalition of Seminole County.

Thank you to the Valencia faculty, staff, students and community members who facilitated and attended these workshops. Special thanks to Student Development for funding this work and to the PJI Campus Coordinators Emilie Buckley, Paul Chapman, Aida Diaz, Jennifer Keefe, Julix Cordova Rivera and Nicole Valentino, who introduced each session and set the stage for honest and candid dialogue. Conversation on Justice was also awarded its first-ever external grant by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Mark your calendars for Global Peace Week in September 2021!

Monthly Archives: February 2021

The Osceola Humanities Department Presents Black History Month Events for Students

Thursday, February 11, 2021

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

Race, Myth, Art and Justice

The Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute

Race, Myth, Art and Justice explores the intersection of these concepts through the lens and unique interpretations of 12 inter-generational photographers. Via innovative contemporary practices, the photographers engage with the premise of race as a social construct rooted in myth. They aim to simultaneously interrogate the profound implications and indignities in our 21st Century lives. Click here to access this program: Race, Myth, Art and Justice

Black Panther, Race, Immigration and Identity in Marvel Comics and Film

This presentation by Part-time Faculty of Humanities Chris Mason examines the character of Black Panther and his role in spearheading increased representation of Black characters in Marvel comic books. The presentation explores the history of Black representation specifically, in Marvel comics, and some issues of identity and immigration, but touches on Golden Age comics outside of Marvel leading up to the first appearance of Black Panther in 1966, as the first Black superhero paving the way for many more to come. Click here to access this program.

Please share with your students. For additional events, visit the Humanities Digital Venue. Feel free to reach out to Professor of Humanities Kathryn Cairns if you have questions or if you would like to participate in future events.

Monthly Archives: February 2021

Downtown Campus Update

Thursday, February 11, 2021

A Message from Terri Graham, Interim President, West and Downtown Campuses

The Downtown Campus has been busy these past few months. Read about its multiple efforts, including working to bring COVID-19 testing to the community, food drives, presentations on Black History Month and more below:

Black History Month Panel
On Friday, January 29, 2021, a group of Valencia College employees and community members participated in the recording of a Black History Month panel led by Valencia College student Natalie Whiteacre. The panel, which was arranged by Ashley Spry, coordinator, student development, gave some insight into the history of the Parramore area and the role that the Downtown Campus seeks to play within the community. Eugene Jones, executive dean of the Downtown Campus, Rev. Dr. Robert M. Spooney, pastor at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church and co-chair of the Parramore Community Engagement Council, Tanika Bango-Cooper, community director of the Jones High School Community Partnership School, and Elizabeth Thompson, director, downtown community engagement for UCF Downtown and Valencia College Downtown, also participated. If you’d like to view the presentation, you can find it here.

The Parramore Community Engagement Council (PCEC) Partnered with the Downtown Campus to Distribute Free COVID-19 Testing

The Downtown Campus and PCEC have worked to provide access to free flu shots and testing for COVID-19 to the Parramore community by partnering with various entities, including Florida Senate District 11, Hous’d, Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Institutional Church and 910 Church of God to provide several, ongoing, testing opportunities since October 2020. The Downtown Campus hosted two testing events in the UCF/Valencia Parramore garage. The availability of multiple testing dates, times and locations to get tested for COVID-19 has been instrumental in reducing barriers to testing within the Parramore community.

Downtown Campus/University of Central Florida Host the 13th Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Conference 

On Thursday, January 28, 2021, the Downtown Campus hosted an event focused on the growing problem of human trafficking. This virtual conference, which was recorded at the Downtown Campus, had an informational panel that allowed participants to receive education on the topic, hear from experts in the field and be presented with some of the latest research and statistics surrounding human trafficking. This annual awareness event was presented in partnership with the United Abolitionists and the Paving the Way Foundation.

Valencia College Downtown Campus Holiday Toy Donation 

Downtown Campus faculty and staff donated toys for the students of the OCPS ACE school in December 2020. Eugene Jones helped facilitate the delivery of a truckload of toys worth more than $2,000 to the ACE school. Toys were wrapped and distributed to students by ACE school administrators. You can read about the effort here.

Monthly Archives: February 2021

Dr. Cornel West to Speak to Valencians During Black History Month Community Conversation

Thursday, February 11, 2021

A Message from Terri Graham, Interim President, West and Downtown Campuses 

Date: Monday, February 22, 2021
Time: 12 – 1 p.m. 
Location: Zoom

Student Development will host Dr. Cornel West live on Zoom as the feature guest in its Black History Month Community Conversations Series.

West is professor of The Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard University and professor emeritus at Princeton University. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard in three years and obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. in philosophy at Princeton.

He has written 20 books and has edited 13 and is best known for his classics, “Race Matters” and “Democracy Matters,” and for his memoir, “Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud.” His most recent book, ” Black Prophetic Fire,” offers an unflinching look at 19th and 20th-century African American leaders and their visionary legacies.

West is the co-host along with Tricia Rose of “The Tight Rope,” a weekly podcast where they take time to welcome listeners and guests as thought collaborators with revered hosts and public intellectuals.

He is also a frequent guest on the Bill Maher Show, CNN, C-Span and Democracy Now. He has a passion for communicating to a vast variety of publics in order to keep alive the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. — a legacy of telling the truth and bearing witness to love and justice.

The event is open to students and employees.

Register on Engage for the event. After registering, you will receive the Zoom link.