A Message from Kathleen Plinske, President, Osceola, Lake Nona and Poinciana Campuses
With most faculty and staff working from home, it can be hard to make connections with students and see their achievements close up and in person. I’m happy to share this profile of a success story, a student who persevered to complete her degree. I hope it reminds us that our students are able to overcome challenging circumstances even with the extra layer of a pandemic. Talitha Pollok-Barbosa will be graduating in December, and I know she’s headed for great things.
Osceola Region Counselor Alina Siddiqui has worked with Talitha, and reports that she has exemplified persistence. Alina says, “Upon talking to her and looking through her academic history, I learned about the various obstacles she had overcome to reach the point of graduation at the college. She is an excellent example of resilience for all students because despite the challenges, Talitha is graduating with a strong academic standing and a defined path for the future.”
Now, from Talitha in her own words:
Q. How did you decide to come to Valencia?
A. I chose Valencia because I was paying out of pocket and it was an affordable college where I could acquire my Associates degree. My mom told me how she graduated from Valencia and that it didn’t matter if I started at a community college, as long as I kept going and never stopped. That motivated me to want to follow in her footsteps.
Q. What’s your major/area of interest? What do you want to be when you grow up?
A. My area of interest is programming; I’ve always been interested in programs and how they function. Growing up, I wanted to be a Systems Analyst like my mother is, and I still do. There’re countless things people can do with programs, and I can work on programs and construct them to make the world a better place.
Q. What was your biggest challenge while at Valencia?
A. My biggest challenge was balancing my personal life with my school life. For the longest time, I was in a bad place mentally. In my first classes at Valencia, I didn’t get good grades. I became accustomed to withdrawing from classes when they got too difficult, and I didn’t want to bother my professors for help. I also knew that the only thing that kept me going and made me feel accomplished and have a sense of control in my life was school. By the time I realized that, I was almost kicked out of Valencia for having a low GPA after attempting many classes. I had a reality check and decided to do better for myself if I wanted to progress and have a better life for myself. From that point on, I started to dedicate my life primarily to school. I spent hours studying, worked ahead on my assignments, reached out to professors more if I didn’t understand a subject/lesson. I became a tutor to my classmates because I went the extra mile for them. I didn’t have somebody do that for me when I struggled.
Q. What are you most proud of?
A. I am most proud of improving both academically and mentally. I became stronger not only in my academics, but I learned to value myself more and grow some confidence. I learned to help myself by helping others and realizing that the best way to progress in life is by reaching out. I’m proud to say that I’m finally graduating Valencia after four years (2016-2020). I’m proud to say that I’m finally going to UCF after getting admitted and becoming a Knight. I’m proud to say that I made it to where I wanted to be for the longest time even after I thought that it wasn’t possible.
Q. Is there anyone you’d like to give a shout out to?
A. I would like to give a huge shout out to not only my mom, but also my dad, who didn’t give up on me and always told me that I could make life how I wanted it to be. That my life is in my hands and I get to decide if I want to stay beaten down or pick myself back up again. To my mom for not only dealing with me but staying by my side and supporting me. To myself, for accepting the will to change.
Do you know of any students who are beating the odds or showing remarkable fortitude? If you’d like to see one featured in the Week in Review, please let me know the student’s name and how you encountered the student by emailing me.