Congratulations to the 2018 John and Suanne Roueche Excellence Award Winners

Congratulations to Valencia’s 10 outstanding 2018 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:

East and Winter Park Campuses:

–  James Adamski, professor, earth science: Jim was selected for working tirelessly to engage all students in science through the Valencia Earth Studies Association, Earth Day and his pursuit of a National History Museum and Living Lab on campus. He challenges his students to be active members of their campus and world. He dedicates a lot of his free time to exposing students to environmental parks, whether it is a day hiking locally or taking national trips.

– Hatim Boustique, professor, mathematics: Hatim’s extensive mathematics knowledge and innovative and active learning techniques allow him to confidently explain concepts and processes to students in ways that build trust. He leads by setting high expectations for students and then helps them to meet those expectations. Hatim mentors fellow faculty members and supports all department functions. He offered a calculus refresher course for 28 faculty members in the fall 2017 semester.

West Campus:

David Curtis, professor, biology: David’s passion, to ensure students are prepared for the rigors of a science-based education, drives him to excel as both a learning leader in the classroom and as an outstanding contributor and leader at the College. His classes are engaging, as he breaks down difficult concepts in ways students can understand and gets his students to see how what they learn applies to their lives. David encourages student collaboration in the lab, working to create learning communities.

Amy Downs, instructional lab supervisor, English and Meenawattie Udho, instructional lab supervisor, student activity: Through the dual leadership of Amy and Meenawattie, they have addressed the gaps in the Communications Center and the Writing Center that were in student learning — primarily writing and reading. They have established a flow to address the varying needs of our students. Rather than making reading and writing a passive endeavor, Amy and Meenawattie have intentionally reached out to students to make the Communications Center and the Writing Center a safe space to experiment with learning new things.

Osceola, Lake Nona and Poinciana Campuses:

Michael Blackburn, manager, learning support services: Michael is always willing to serve fellow faculty and staff members at a moment’s notice. He has become a go-to person within learning support, providing guidance and support to managers on other campuses. In particular, he developed and implemented the College Reading and Learning Association tutor training program on Osceola, Lake Nona and Poinciana Campuses, which ensures that each of the tutors has a skill set to serve all of our learners.

Eda Davis-Lowe, programs director, STEM: Eda has lead Valencia’s efforts to increase diversity of students who study science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Under her leadership, the number of black and Hispanic students who have transferred to the University of Central Florida into a baccalaureate STEM major has increased by 20 percent over the last four years. Eda is a masterful collaborator, developing partnerships across all Valencia campuses as well as other community colleges in the Central Florida STEM Alliance.

Mary McGowan, director, student services: Mary led the new Student Services team through the opening of the Poinciana Campus. She embraced a plethora of new ideas and challenges, all while keeping students first, balancing the process, managing details, supporting her team and maintaining a positive attitude.

Nelson Placa, professor, hospitality management: In a relatively short period, Nelson has stimulated the growth of the hospitality program by increasing its visibility and generating interest, expanding course offerings and by recruiting exceptional part-time faculty members that work for brands such as Ritz-Carlton, Marriott Vacation Club, Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort. A partnership that he made with Osceola High School and other local high schools developed pathways that lead students to the program.

Adriene Tribble, professor, humanities: Adriene has been heavily involved in many college activities and initiatives. She organizes field trips to various theaters and museums in order to enrich her students with cultural knowledge. Adriene has also been an assessment leader for humanities, participated in collegewide discussions on diversity initiatives, strategic planning and part-time faculty engagement. She is participating in the Canvas pilot and teaches professional development courses.

Recipients will be recognized in a series of activities and promotions and honored at special events during the 2018 Innovations Conference on Sunday, March 18 – Wednesday, March 21, 2018, in National Harbor, Maryland. We’re proud to have these innovative individuals at Valencia College.

For additional information about the John and Suanne Roueche Excellence Awards Program, click here.


  • Eva A said:

    Congratulations, Mary! You are a pioneer!

    AMWed, 17 Jan 2018 09:22:26 +0000Wed, 17 Jan 2018 09:22:26 +0000am18,9:22 am

  • Nelson Torres said:

    Keep up the good work for Learning Support Michael!

    AMWed, 17 Jan 2018 10:20:14 +0000Wed, 17 Jan 2018 10:20:14 +0000am18,10:20 am

  • Mike Bosley said:

    Congrats to all of our Osceola, Lake Nona and Poinciana award winners, at the Lake Nona Campus we are especially thankful for Michael Blackburn's service to our faculty, staff and students!

    PMWed, 17 Jan 2018 15:30:21 +0000Wed, 17 Jan 2018 15:30:21 +0000pm18,3:30 pm

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