A Message from Edwin Sanchez, Assistant Vice President, Admissions, Records and Graduation
We’ve received feedback from Valencia College employees that they would like to have access to past academic calendars. To provide employees access to the those calendars, we have created an archive on the very bottom of our academic calendars webpage that includes all calendars back to the 2005-2006 academic year.
You need some quick information about Valencia College, so you jump on our website and within a few clicks, you have exactly what you are looking for. Or perhaps you are working on a new program to help students and you want to add a page about it to the College website. All of that web content is designed and maintained by our Web Services Team. This team of web developers also works behind the scenes to create the first impression the Central Florida community has of the College.
The Web Services Team officially transitioned from being part of the Office of Information Technology (OIT) to being part of the Marketing Team in June 2019. Read about the transition at Web Services Joins the Marketing Team. The move allowed Web Services to help enhance the College’s marketing strategy to prospective students.
The COVID-19 pandemic added new projects for Web Services, providing timely information and updates guided by the College’s senior leadership team. This information allowed the team to help the college communicate Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information and support ODHR make solid decisions regarding our Roadmap for Reopening. Director of Interactive Marketing Craig Blazejewski, says “We are so proud to be part of the communication team, informing them our community of numerous changes, from classes moving online (course types) to HEERF and Cares Act guidelines.”
Meet the Web Services Team
Craig Blazejewski, director, interactive marketing, came to the College in 2007 as a senior marketing manager for the Continuing Education (CE) division. He was promoted to director of interactive marketing in 2010. Craig’s previous experience includes creating marketing for retailers like Everything But Water and Hilton Worldwide Brands. These days, he’s happy to have traded bottom line profit goals for serving students. Craig holds a bachelor’s degree in advertising and public relations from the University of Central Florida.
Jeff Danser, web developer, started his Valencia College career in 2007 as director, web and portal services. Since 2013, he has helped users with the content management system (CMS), Atlas portal, SharePoint, web forms, applying web standards to web pages and other peripheral systems the college is using online, including the Online Bookstore. Coming to official work for the College wasn’t Jeff’s first experience with Valencia, though. He previously worked for SunGard Higher Education, which at one time maintained the Valencia College website. From 2001 to 2007, Jeff served as a web developer and web services manager for the College’s site. He also co-founded and was creative director for both Karma magazine and Orlando Leader magazine. Jeff holds a bachelor’s degree in graphic design from the University of North Florida.
Scott Hood, web developer, is the Web Services Team’s project manager, helping to keep all of the web-based projects at the College on schedule. Scott came to the College in 2014, but he has over two decades of experience in higher education. Scott served as program director and professor of computer information systems for Kennebec Valley Community College (KVCC) in Maine for about 17 years and was also the music director at KVCC for over three years. He also plays 35 instruments and has a collection of about 100 instruments.
James Jordan, web developer, is an exceptional, multifaceted media production designer who currently leads the development of websites for all departments of Valencia College, including the site for the Title V Osceola Grant. Founder of the Orlando-based global media enterprise, Grace Jordan Studios, James’ passion for music production and design, along with a penchant for learning about new technologies and trends, is what initially propelled him towards web design. A self-taught web developer, James left high school pursuing business administration studies at one of the most well-known HBCU’s in the nation, Bethune-Cookman College (currently known as Bethune-Cookman University). After a few years at B-CU, James decided to transfer to Full Sail University, where he then graduated with honors from its distinguished Audio Engineering program. Unlike many, James discovered early on that web design and marketing are no different from composing and producing a song. Each requires time, dedication, skill, strategy and heart. These are the qualities he brings to his work here at Valencia College. His work incorporates rebranding the college catalog website, rebranding the faculty frontdoor sites, and developing the Valencia College Foundation Alumni website. He has also developed virtual events for the School of Arts and Entertainment, noting that none of the work he has done, or the skills and talents he has been able to cultivate, would be possible without God leading him every step of the way.
Need expert support from a web developer? Request support from the Marketing Web Services team. The Web Services team can assist with content changes to pages on the college website. A Web Services ticket can help with a range of web services — to report or fix a broken link, update dynamic data, request web editor training and page access, update content on an existing webpage, request new web page development, etc.
By Natasha McIlmurray, Coordinator, Organizational Design & Development
This past summer, a group of eight Valencia College employees completed the Foundations of Creative Thinking Certificate series. Through the completion of the series, participants had the opportunity to virtually explore creative problem-solving practices and techniques, reflect on their personal preferences in the creative process and have a safe space to step outside of their thinking comfort zones with colleagues from across the College.
The series began with facilitators Michael Blackburn, manager, learning support services, and Joshua Austin, director, student development, sharing insights about creativity and innovation, which led to the exploration of divergent and convergent thinking.
From there, participants had the opportunity to identify where their personal creative thinking preferences lie by taking the FourSight assessment. With that insight, and with the assistance of room facilitators Celeste Henry, counselor, career development; Allie Yadav, manager, grants development and special projects; Amanda Forth, support specialist, tutorial center; Jennifer Tomlinson, interim dean, learning support; and Kaitlyn Brooker, faculty, New Student Experience, participants were introduced to and engaged with many creative thinking tools that can be utilized in each step of the creative problem-solving process. The series concluded by practicing where they might have the opportunity to apply these new tools in their everyday roles at the College.
Congratulations to the following Valencia employees who completed the series:
Vannia Ruiz, administrative assistant, study abroad and global experiences
Richard Williams, visiting professor, NSE
Want to Explore Your Creative Problem-Solving Preferences?
You are invited to take part in this four-part, certificate series in spring 2022! To earn the certificate, you must complete four courses:
In this interactive, virtual, two-session workshop, explore the tenets of creative thinking in order to strengthen your thinking mindset. Practice separating divergent and convergent thinking, using specific language to invite solutions and fostering a creative mindset. We all have the innate capacity to be creative, and by applying techniques, we can increase our own creative thinking abilities.
Dates: Thursday, January 27 and Friday, January 28, 2022 Time: 9 – 11:30 a.m. Location: Online
FourSight for Enhancing Innovation and Collaboration
Understanding your particular approach to innovating can enable success in our ever-changing world. FourSight is a research-based assessment built upon a four-step process for problem solving. The assessment and results provide insight into a variety of ways that individuals prefer to address and solve problems. In particular, you will leave with a better understanding of how you engage in the creative process based on your individual FourSight results.
Creative Process (Prerequisite: Creative Thinking)
Come learn about creative problem solving (CPS), a research-based, deliberate, creativity process for solving problems. In this four-part, virtual workshop, you will build upon the basics for creative thinking mindset to apply a creative toolset. Learn to clarify problems, generate ideas, develop solutions and implement ideas on demand. Throughout the sessions, experience hands-on activities, real-world examples and a variety of creative thinking tools to give you the skills needed to implement creative problem solving in your personal and professional life. Please ensure that you can attend all four sessions before registering.
Dates: Thursday, March 17; Friday, March 18; Thursday, March 24; Friday, March 25, 2022 (Attend all four.) Time: 9 – 11:30 a.m. Location: Online
Creative Application (Prerequisite: Creative Process or Prototype)
Build on your creative mindset and creative problem-solving toolset in order to increase your creativity skillset. In this two-part virtual workshop, we will use scenarios to practice applying the knowledge, tools and techniques learned through the Foundations in Creativity Certificate coursework. You may retake this workshop during future offerings to practice and deepen your creative skillset.
Dates (Fall & Spring dates available): Thursday, November 18 and Friday, November 19, 2021
Time: 9 – 11:30 a.m.
A Message from Jessica Johnson, UnitedHealthcare Nurse Liaison
Welcome to my monthly column, Ask Nurse Jessica. Since joining Valencia College as your full-time UnitedHealthcare (UHC) nurse liaison, I’ve received numerous questions about how I can help you and your family make better healthcare decisions, provide support and clarification on UHC benefits; demonstrate how to navigate UHC tools and resources; refer you to appropriate wellness programs and services; and provide support for chronic illnesses. To read more about my role, click here.
This column is designed to answer those questions. If you would like to ask a question, simply email me with “Ask Nurse Jessica” in the subject line. Submissions will be anonymous in The Juice and The Grove and will be addressed monthly as they are received.
I’ve recently had an influx of questions from employees centered around COVID-19, the vaccines and the possible treatments. Please keep in mind, I am not an expert on COVID. I research and review the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Federal Drug Administration guidelines and pass on the information that I find.
I know the opinions are diverse regarding COVID, the vaccine and its treatment, so I’ve included the information I have below and hope it will help you decide what the best course of action is for you and your family.
Can you share some information on the Delta variant of COVID-19? The Delta variant causes more infections and spreads faster than earlier forms of the virus that causes COVID-19. It might cause more severe illness than previous strains in unvaccinated people.
Vaccines continue to reduce a person’s risk of contracting the virus that cause COVID-19, including this variant.
Vaccines continue to be highly effective at preventing hospitalization and death, including against this variant.
Fully vaccinated people with breakthrough infections from this variant appear to be infectious for a shorter period.
Get vaccinated and wear masks indoors in public spaces to reduce the spread of this variant.
If I get COVID, should I receive the monoclonal antibody COVID-19 infusion? That is a decision you will have to make for yourself but, I can say that data shows that the sooner people receive this treatment, the better their outcomes. There is no way to predict how sick a person will get with COVID. Delaying treatment could lead to worsening symptoms and then becoming ineligible to receive the medication. You must receive it within 10 days of when your symptoms begin.
I have COVID but want to get the vaccine now (or I have COVID and received the vaccine but want a booster). When is the soonest I can get it? You should still be able to get the booster but will not need it right away. You will need to wait about 90 days after your treatment to receive the vaccine to ensure it is effective. You will be protected by your own immunity from this infusion for this time period.
What if I miss getting the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine? The CDC recommends getting the second dose as close to the recommended timing of three to four weeks as possible. If you miss your second vaccination appointment or are outside the three- to four-week timing, you can still get the second dose and you won’t need to start over with a first dose. And even if the second dose is late, the second dose will still help you get protection from COVID-19.
When can I get a COVID-19 vaccine booster? People with moderately to severely compromised immune systems should receive an additional dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine after the initial two doses, but not immediately. The goal is for people to start receiving a COVID-19 booster shot beginning in the fall, with individuals being eligible starting eight months after they received their second dose of an mRNA vaccine (either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna). This is subject to authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and recommendation by CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).
Is it safe for me to get a COVID-19 vaccine if I would like to have a baby one day? Yes.If you are trying to become pregnant now or want to get pregnant in the future, you may get a COVID-19 vaccine when one is available to you.
There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination causes any problems with pregnancy, including the development of the placenta. In addition, there is no evidence that female or male fertility problems are a side effect of any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines.
Can I get the flu shot and the COVID vaccine at the same time? Yes.
I have/have had COVID, can/should I get the regular flu shot? According to the CDC, you are good to get the flu vaccine after having COVID as long as you are no longer having acute symptoms of illness.
It’s hard to believe that nearly 20 years have passed since the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001. Join us as we remember those who lost their lives, recognize all who survived and honor the sacrifices of the first responders and recovery workers through the following Valencia College events:
Date: Friday, September 10, 2021
Time: 10 a.m.
The 20th Anniversary Tribute hosted by the Criminal Justice Club and Student Development will be held on Zoom. The event will include remarks from Valencia College President Kathleen Plinske, solo songs from Apopka firefighter Jeremias Williams and a keynote presentation by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.
Joe Richardson, vice president, student affairs will be honoring our U.S. Military and the Student Development team will be honoring our first responders. Salute to our first responders will be performed by Campus Interim Presidents.
Date: Friday, September 10, 2021
Location: Building 5, First Floor
East Campus Student Development will present a tribute to 9/11, detailing a history/timeline of this historic day and a tribute to first responders.
Date: Friday, September 3 – Friday, September 17, 2021
Art and History Exhibit
Location: Osceola Campus Gallery, Building A and Online
Date: Wednesday, September 1 – Friday, October 1, 2021
Location: Osceola Campus, Building 1, Room 123 as well as via Zoom Date: Thursday, September 9, 2021
Time: 1 p.m.
This year’s event includes an annual flag display, art and historical exhibits, a panel discussion with several community members, and opportunities for students to express their thoughts.
The panel will include State Senator Victor Torres, Jr., Kissimmee Fire Department Chief James Walls, Police Department Lieutenant Omar Berrio, Veteran US Army and Valencia Student Angel Lopez, and Former Defense Contractor and Valencia History Professor, Jim Hawn. The event will also feature Daniel Narlock, a World Trade Center survivor who will speak for the first time about his 9/11 experience publicly.
As a performer, Scott Hood is used to having all eyes on him and his work. Not only does he play 35 different instruments, but Scott is also a member of the Central Florida Sounds of Freedom Band & Color Guard, is an accomplished dancer of ballet, tap, contemporary and jazz, and was once a competitive gymnast. But his love for education and his desire to help others are what brought him to Valencia College in 2014.
Scott sees his role as a web developer for the Web Services Team as being a lot like a parent. He serves as the team’s project manager, keeping the work of building and maintaining the many pages on the College’s website on track from individual project inception to completion. “Inside the department, it’s like a family,” Scott said, recalling how members of his team work together on projects and how they are helping one another get through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The support he has received from Assistant Vice President of Marketing Traci Bjella and Vice President of Public Affairs and Marketing Jay Galbraith has also helped him to get through this difficult time. Scott notes “they worry about you.” Meanwhile, he sees his role as one in which he keeps everyone settled and on task. One thing he’s proud of about the College is how “the pandemic really showed how resilient we are as a school.” He’s proud to have been part of the efforts to bring many formerly face-to-face services online for students.
One of Scott’s favorite memories of working with his team is going to a conference that was held at a Walt Disney World hotel a few years ago. He recalls, “The conference was a real bonding experience for the team” that solidified for Scott that working at Valencia College was right for him.
“One of my favorite things about Scott is his calm and confident approach — sprinkled with a bit of his `style’,” said Craig Blazejewski, director of interactive marketing and Scott’s supervisor. “Scott is an integral member of the web services team and the true definition of a life-long learner.”
Scott’s love of learning stems from his own experiences as both a teacher and a student. Scott earned a bachelor’s degree in piano performance from Thomas Edison State College in Trenton, New Jersey, a master’s degree in computer technology education from Thomas College in Waterville, Maine, a couple other degrees and several remote sensing certifications from Del Mar College in Corpus Christie Texas. Some of his certificate courses were taught by experts from NASA.
He served as program director and professor of computer information systems for Kennebec Valley Community College (KVCC) in Maine for about 17 years and was also the music director at KVCC for over three years. He also wrote and secured several grants, including one from the National Science Foundation for geographic information systems in remote sensing. He considers himself a “lifer in education” because coming to Valencia seven years ago has kept him in a role that allows him to serve students and potential students by making sure they have access to good information about Valencia College. Scott was also the director and treasurer of a community food bank in Maine for nine years.
When Scott isn’t working with his Valencia team, he still dances and practices gymnastics, although a series of injuries and the pandemic have kept him from gymnastics for a while. He also teaches private voice and piano lessons, has done work directing for the Orlando Gay Chorus’ Men’s cabaret ensemble and makes jewelry, which he sells through an online store. He also paints acrylic and has a collection of about 100 instruments from around the world, many of them are antiques. He has served as a church choir director, pianist, organist, bell choir director, composer, music arranger and twirls batons, flags, rifles and airblades. He also regularly performs piano, flute or trumpet “whatever the conductor needs,” he says.
Scott has two adopted sons, one of whom is a scholarship student at Northern Kentucky University. The other lives at home with him in Central Florida.
Know of someone who embodies one of Valencia’s values (learning, people, diversity, access or integrity), who has been an employee for at least one year? Send the colleague’s name to us at The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu. He or she might be one of our featured colleagues, subject to supervisor’s approval.
In the recent turn of events in Afghanistan, the Veterans Affairs Office would like to provide you with resources for veteran students and their families. As the news continues to unfold it is causing strong emotional reactions and physical reactions to veterans and their families.
How can we help?
Let students know that there are places and resources available to help them process their thoughts and emotions.
Be present and acknowledge their need to vent their frustrations and fears in an appropriate setting. The middle of class may not be the best time unless it is relevant to the current discussion. Offer to speak to them after class or give them an appointment time to have the conversation, if and only if you are comfortable having the conversation; if not, then offer resources.
Suggestions: Reducing TV time and social media may be discussed. The complexity of seeing this happen in real-time can cause vicarious trauma/secondary trauma concerns.
There is a political aspect to the Taliban takeover, but you should not take political sides. Be present and engaged but leave your personal opinions out of the conversation.
If you are going to share something personal, ask yourself first, “Does what I am about to say help or add value to the Veteran’s need in any way?” If it doesn’t, then rethink if you need to share your personal story or information.
Let the Veteran set the tone of the conversation and remain present.
Don’t be afraid to ask the question, “Are you having thoughts of harming yourself or anyone else?” If you feel the Veteran is acting differently than usual and you have a “feeling” that something isn’t right, just ask the question.
Common Emotional Reactions
Resignation and acceptance.
Increase in mental health symptoms like PTSD or depression
1-877-927-8387 is an around the clock confidential call center where combat Veterans and their families can call to talk about their military experience or any other issue they are facing in their readjustment to civilian life. The staff is comprised of combat Veterans from several eras as well as family members of combat Veterans.
In 2019, a reported 47,511 Americans died by suicide and there were an estimated 1.38 million suicide attempts, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Data & Statistics Fatal Injury Report. As September is National Suicide Prevention Month, Valencia College counselors have planned the following events to help students with their mental and emotional well-being and they invite you to share them with your students:
Dates: Wednesday, September 1 – Thursday, September 30, 2021
For more than a decade, the Send Silence Packing exhibit has traveled the country to end the silence that surrounds mental health and suicide and connect visitors with resources for support and action. Visitors to this online gallery will learn about suicide’s impact, learn how their everyday actions can help to create a new and better culture around mental health with reduced suicide rates, and share their own message of hope by answering the simple question: what would you say to someone who’s struggling? Click here to view the online gallery.
Suicide Prevention Visual Display Dates: Wednesday, September 1 – Thursday, September 30, 2021
Location: East Campus, Building 5, Second Floor (Student Affairs Hallway)
View an informational display on suicide awareness in the East Campus Student Affairs Hallway.
It’s Real: College Students and Mental Health Skillshop
Date: Wednesday, September 8, 2021
Time: 2 – 3:15 p.m.
Location: Online (Register for the Skillshop here.)
This Skillshop will raise awareness about the issues surrounding mental health and suicide commonly experienced by college students. Counselors will share a 17-minute film called “It’s Real” that features six real stories of college students in their struggle with mental health and how they became mindful to take the steps necessary to seek help. The film will be followed by an interactive discussion led by a BayCare Mental Health Therapist.
Labyrinth Walk Out of the Darkness
Date: Wednesday, September 8, 2021
Time: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Location: Winter Park Campus, Courtyard
The labyrinth is rooted in an ancient spiritual custom found in many cultures around the world. As a movement meditation, the rhythm of walking, placing one foot in front of the other, quiets the mind, relaxes the body and refreshes the spirit. Come walk it with an open heart and an open mind to remember loved ones affected by suicide, to set an intention around suicide prevention, to receive and reflect on what is offered in this practice.
BayCare Depression Screenings
Date: Thursday, September 16, 2021
Time: 1 – 3 p.m.
Location: East Campus, Building 5, Room 210 (Advising Center)
Date: Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Time: 2 – 4 p.m.
Location: Osceola Campus, Building 2, Room 140 (Advising Center)
Date: Tuesday, September 28, 2021 Time: 12 – 2 p.m. Location: West Campus, Building SSB, Room 206 (Career and Counseling Center)
Mental health conditions affect approximately 45% of college students. Therefore, depression can negatively affect how you think, behave and feel, resulting in academic and/or emotional distress. Depression screening is an important component in one’s health in order to start a crucial conversation about your mental health. Complete a screening and then meet with a BayCare Mental Health therapist to learn ways how to cope with depression.
Color Out the Darkness
Date: Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Time: 12 – 2 p.m.
Location: West Campus, Cafeteria, Building 2, Lake Pamela Trail
This activity will allow faculty, staff, and students to reflect on suicide prevention. Members of our community have lost a friend or family member to suicide. Many may also be battling depression. There is power in walking out of the darkness together. Join us as we walk around Lake Pamela to reflect on how we can help those who may feel lost and bring awareness to this difficult topic. A color out the darkness activity table (meditation) table will be in close proximity for relaxation. Resources will be available on how to help someone who is struggling or to find help yourself.
As a part of the “Keeping Families in Their Homes” Initiative, Orange County Government is providing emergency rental assistance to residents affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Orange County Emergency Rental Assistance program is an income-based program aimed at helping Orange County’s most vulnerable tenants by providing one-time assistance to tenants who are past-due in rent as a result of financial hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
You may be eligible if you are:
A resident of Orange County, Florida*
At least one month behind on rent
Able to provide documentation, including COVID-19 impact.
*Please note that this program is not available to residents who live within the City of Orlando. Residents in this area may apply through the City of Orlando’s Rental Assistance program.
ICON Park is offering savings and perks for Valencia College employees including $10 tickets to The Wheel, as well as dining discounts. ICON Park is a 20-acre, open-air, gate-free entertainment destination. The park is known for offering breathtaking views of Orlando from The Wheel, a 400-foot-tall observation wheel.
The park offers plenty of space for families to spread out and practice social distancing, and The Wheel has freshly cleaned, air-conditioned, private capsules. A full ride on The Wheel takes 20 minutes.
When you purchase tickets to The Wheel, you’ll receive a confirmation email that will include directions on how to redeem discounts at participating restaurants. A Wheel ticket must be shown at restaurants to receive the discounts. Participating restaurants and discounts are subject to change.
This offer will run for the entire 2021 calendar year.
Colorado State University – Global Campus Offers Valencia Employees and Students a 10% Discount
Valencia has signed an articulation agreement with Colorado State University – Global Campus (CSU-Global), a 100% online university. As a result of this agreement, all Valencia employees and students receive a 10% tuition discount until they graduate.
As the country’s first and only independently accredited, 100% online state university, CSU-Global is dedicated to providing high-quality, career-relevant, personalized, affordable education within a student-centered environment. CSU-Global offers customizable bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, certificates and other educational opportunities that align with industry needs and meet the demands of working adults and today’s modern learner. The university sets the standard for quality and innovation in higher education programs through expert faculty who are recognized industry leaders and trained to educate adults in an online environment.
The university offers a streamlined enrollment process with accelerated eight-week courses that start every four weeks. Currently, CSU-Global currently has more than 17,500 active students from every U.S. state and territory, and over 50 countries.
Tuition Discount Offered at Southern New Hampshire University for Valencia College Employees
Valencia is in the business of changing lives — not only for our students, but also for our employees. For that reason, we’re continually building partnerships with the local and global community. One of our most recent connections was with Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). Valencia College employees, as well as immediate family members, receive a 10 percent tuition discount on more than 200 online programs. For a list of degree programs, click here.
The cost of the discount tuition is below:
Undergraduate: $864 per course ($288 per credit hour)/U.S. service members and family receive special discount rate of $675 per course ($225 per credit hour).
Graduate: $1,693 per course ($564 per credit hour)
SNHU offers a variety of resources, too, such as a writing center, 24/7 online tutoring services, career services, academic advising, technical support, disability resource center, online library, wellness education and online bookstore.
SNHU is an accredited, private, non-profit institution, which is proud to offer more than 200 transfer-friendly degree programs and flexible degree pathways to community college students and alumni across the nation. Founded in 1932, SNHU has more than 80,000 students online and has gained national recognition for its commitment to student success.
If you would like more information on the partnership, contact Assistant Director of Academic Alliances Gayla Freelon at email@example.com or 603-851-4942.
2-1-1 Heart of Florida United Way Free Helpline, a Vital Community Resource
2-1-1, Heart of Florida United Way’s (HFUW) free, 24-hour information and referral helpline links people in need with assistance from more than 2,000 local health and human service programs.
Whether the issue is affordable housing, quality day care or crisis counseling, HFUW is there.
Staffed 24-hours per day by caring, highly trained, multilingual operators, 2-1-1 is your connection to finding help with: