By Joy S. Jones
Valencia’s College Transitions office encompasses five areas of focus — recruitment, planning, enrollment services, dual enrollment and assessment — all of which are dedicated to keeping the student pipeline, Valencia’s most valuable asset, alive and thriving.
The department works to promote college as a possibility for high school students and adult learners in the community. Among the ways it does so is by cultivating and maintaining relationships between schools in its primary service area, Orange and Osceola counties.
Amy Kleeman, assistant vice president of College Transitions, has overseen this exciting work for two years, and she has been especially pleased with the leadership team currently assembled to perform the department’s day-to-day operations.
“There was a strong group of leaders in place when I joined Valencia, and over the last two years, we have welcomed three new directors that have enhanced our team,” she shares. “I am very fortunate to have a creative, collaborative and committed team that never hesitates to tackle challenges and embrace new opportunities.”
Specifically, Amy is excited about some of the enrollment projects that the team is rolling out.
“We are expanding the work of enrollment services to include outbound targeted personalized advising that provides increased support and encourages student progress through the often challenging enrollment process. We also strengthened our collaboration with both school districts by providing funding to hire district college transition and career coaches.”
These district-based coaches partner with Valencia’s Transitions Planning team to influence and improve the college-going rates of their graduates through greater transition and career guidance support in the high schools.
She explains, “We are most excited about Valencia’s graduation ‘gift’ to 2014 public high school graduates of Orange and Osceola counties, the “Freshman Freebie” program, that offers free tuition for one three-credit hour class this fall! We believe this opportunity will open the doors for many students who perhaps did not think attending college was possible for them.”
Amy values Valencia’s spirit of collaboration and strong commitment to diversity, which she believes lends itself to a broader perspective in the College’s understanding of students’ needs, which ultimately leads to better support, services and programs.
“At every level of this institution and in every division, there is true collaboration inherent in the design and execution of the work. I think there is a true, shared vision within the College to foster opportunities for our students. And I also love the diversity of our student affairs team and how it reflects that of our students and community,” she says.
This serves as a wellspring of inspiration, in addition to the quality, commitment and passion of faculty, staff and Valencia leadership.
“Though we are under-resourced and over-burdened, Valencia never evades a challenge or ignores an opportunity to better the institution,” Amy highlights. “I love the energy that we bring to our work and the focus on our students. I am also very inspired by the leadership of Valencia. Only at Valencia have I really experienced a culture where the senior leadership is in the trenches with the frontline staff to design and carry out the work.”
Amy singles out Joyce Romano, vice president of student affairs, and Joan Tiller, special assistant to the president, as two very talented leaders with whom she’s had the great fortune of working with and alongside.
“They are two of the hardest working, most committed, caring and passionate people I have worked with, and I know the student is at the heart everything they do,” Amy asserts. “I am continually awed and inspired by the momentum they bring to Valencia — a place of possibility and opportunity for our community which, regardless of academic level, resource need, or any other circumstance, offers a path to learn, grow, reach for and achieve success.”
Joan notes that Amy is always at the top of her list when reaching out to others to join in new developments to make a difference in the community because of the high level of commitment, enthusiasm and sense of play she brings to her work.
“Amy is one you enjoy working with because she enjoys work while having fun. She has the unique ability to create and motivate a diverse team to achieve common goals with conviction, fairness, professionalism and, of course, effectiveness,” says Joan. “Her advocacy for students is a welcomed viewpoint in enriching the learning environment, and she consistently demonstrates how best to bring positive collaboration and communication between everyone with whom she works.”
Amy has served the College in a myriad of roles since 1999 as an adjunct instructor of student life skills courses; assistant coordinator, conference management services (1996-1998); project coordinator, workforce development (1998-2002); special assistant to the president (2002-2003); associate director employer relations, career services (2003-2009); director, employer relations, career services (2009-2012); and in her current role as assistant vice president, College Transitions (2012- present). She also serves as an adjunct professor at Rosen College of Hospitality Management (2010-present).
Amy earned a Bachelor of Science degree in hotel, restaurant and institutional management from Pennsylvania State University, a Master’s of Business Administration from Nova Southeastern University and a doctor of education degree in educational leadership from the University of Florida.
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