Congratulations to Valencia’s eight outstanding 2018-2019 John and Suanne Roueche Excellence Award recipients.
The John and Suanne Roueche Excellence Awards are open to League for Innovation in the Community College alliance member institutions to celebrate outstanding contributions in improving student learning and leadership by community college faculty and staff.
This year’s recipients are:
Vasudha Sharma, professor, chemistry: Described as the “personification of the East Campus selection criteria” by her nominator, Vasudha is best known for her commitment to education through her engagement with a multitude of college initiatives. From her dedication to creating undergraduate research opportunities to her involvement on councils like the Learning Council, Calendar and Scheduling Committee, the Undergraduate Research Advisory Board and the Writing Across the Curriculum initiative, Vasudha is deeply passionate about student success and continually exhibits excellence is all her contributions to the College.
Jocelyn Morales, counselor: Tasked with supporting distressed students who came to Valencia from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, Jocelyn — unsurprisingly — went above and beyond the call of duty as a counselor. Recognizing the importance of providing emotional support through a difficult time, she exceeded expectations in infusing a holistic and case management approach to her work based on her professional expertise of psychosocial adjustment and positive psychology theories as it relates to the overall well-being of students by reducing stress/anxiety and increasing the H.E.R.O. (hope, efficacy, resilience and optimism) within.
Wendy Givoglu, dean, School of Arts and Entertainment: Credited for the development of the School of Arts and Entertainment, Wendy’s most notable achievement isn’t launching a new school or giving life to the school’s new, state-of-the-art film production and sound technology building. Instead, it’s the quality of her leadership, which is described by others as compassionate, effective, empathetic and communicative.
Andy Ray, professor, building construction technology: Andy builds brighter futures — quite literally — as a professor of the building construction technology program, and his impact far exceeds current students at Valencia. Devoted to bettering the Central Florida community, Andy not only leads programs at the College, but also visits high school fairs and helps run transition camps for high school students, and led the initial efforts to establish a grant-funded YouthBuild community-based construction training program for at-risk youth — all of which are designed to help people achieve better lives through construction-based careers. Andy’s also known for his creativity inside and outside the classroom, which continually results in experiential learning opportunities that benefit his students and the community.
Marsha Butler, faculty, New Student Experience: Once, Marsha was lost. She was in a career she didn’t enjoy, and she craved change. It took a traumatic car accident to help her realize she needed more out of life, and she found Valencia. That changed everything — for her and her students. Now, she’s a beloved New Student Experience faculty member who constantly transforms students’ lives by believing in them, connecting them with service learning opportunities and helping them find her way. She’s also credited by 2018 Distinguished Graduate Jehojada (JJ) Merilan for uplifting him from a place of failure and anxiety to success and pride. “I don’t want any excuses,” Marsha told JJ. “You’re smart, you’re engaged in class. You need to follow through.” And so JJ, and so many others, have done just that.
Natali Shulterbrondt, counselor: In a time when many students are struggling with excessive stress and challenging mental health issues, Natali has dedicated herself to serving those in need. Recognizing the importance of education and access, she’s developed many Skill Shop sessions, educated her peers about mental health and signs of distress, expanded access to Pooky’s Pantry and developed tools to serve students, faculty and staff alike. As if that wasn’t enough, Natali is also appreciated among her peers for her multi-faceted skills, as in addition to functioning as a counselor, Natali also contributes as an in-house graphic designer, ensuring her team can reach students through attractive and clear promotional materials.
Magdala Emmanuel, professor, mathematics: In the spirit of meeting students where they are, Magdala recognizes that not all students come to class with the same background or preparedness. To overcome this, Magdala has employed her innovative and compassionate teaching style to offer Valencia students the support they need to thrive. This includes creating pre-requisite packets for her students who may need additional practice on a prerequisite subject of mathematics. She also, her nominator explains, channels that same creative energy into supporting fellow faculty members, which has included building an online repository of instructional materials, mentoring part-time faculty and serving as a learning outcome leader.
Joshua Austin, manager, learning support services: A member of the Poinciana Campus team since day one, Joshua is known as a true leader. Even before the campus was open, Joshua has been fully dedicated to developing learning opportunities for students, measuring those opportunities’ success and refining them to better serve our students. He’s described as someone with a can-do attitude, who is willing to assist with anything to support Valencia’s students, faculty and staff.