Encourage a Student to Apply To Be the 2022 Distinguished Graduate

Thursday, October 28, 2021

The Valencia College Foundation needs your help to identify the 2022 Mary S. Collier Distinguished Graduate, who will serve as the keynote speaker for our commencement ceremonies.

We know from experience that many of our eligible students are too humble to see themselves in this role, so please encourage eligible, praiseworthy students to apply by providing them with a letter of recommendation. The student is responsible for applying, and he or she will include your letter of recommendation as part of the application packet.

These are the students who inspire our mission, who tell our story and empower others to overcome whatever challenges they face. These are the students who tell their peers, “we don’t settle; we succeed” and who demonstrate the power of commitment and dedication.

For example, our 2021 Distinguished Graduate Samantha Tanner had to overcome obstacles to complete a degree, including leaving a harmful relationship, seeing a counselor to overcome self-doubt and joining the College once again after dropping out to improve her career outlook. Last year, we learned about Tamyia Paul (2020) who was accepted to six different colleges and universities but selected Valencia because it matched her personality and made her feel safe and comfortable. And, Dalton Joseph (2019), a son of Haitian immigrants, fell in with a gang of young men who broke into homes but later turned his life around by working hard and earning a GED.

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Must have a minimum overall 2.5 GPA.
  • Must have two letters of recommendation from two separate Valencia faculty or staff members. When the student applies, he or she must include a faculty or staff letter of recommendation as a part of the online application packet. We recommend providing the student with a digital/electronic letter of your letter of recommendation when you encourage the student to apply and he or she agrees.
  • Must graduate during the academic year in which the scholarship is awarded. This includes Summer 2021, Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 terms.
  • Must be available to attend all commencement ceremonies and give a commencement speech. Information on our 2022 commencement will be shared at a later date.

The application will open on Monday, November 1, 2021. Students can apply online by visiting the Valencia College Foundation website and clicking on the Student Log-in button. After entering their Atlas username and password, students will be redirected to the Distinguished Graduate application. The deadline for students to apply is Friday, January 28, 2022. Don’t let this opportunity to recognize a deserving student slip by.

As faculty and staff, we must seek out these students, offer them our support and champion their perseverance. In doing so, we cannot only lift them up but highlight their efforts to others who, amidst their own struggles, require inspiration to succeed.

If you know of a student who would make a great Distinguished Graduate candidate, please consider sending him or her a personal invitation to apply. Click here for an invitation template.

If you have any questions about the application process, please contact Elvin Cruz, director, philanthropic programs and recognition, at ecruz52@valenciacollege.edu or 407-582-3154.

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