By Dani Mortitz-Long
Things aren’t always as they appear. This is something Amy Matson, custodial services supervisor, learned from a young age, thanks to people’s false assumptions about her heritage.
“I was born in Wisconsin, and my father was a full-blooded Norwegian,” she said. “I have more of my mother’s features though, and she is of English and German descent. Many people think I am of Italian or Spanish descent, but that is far from the truth.”
As a result, Amy now works hard to truly get to know people before making assumptions.
“What I like best about working at Valencia is the diversity of its people,” she said. “We all come from different cultures, and it is fulfilling for me to learn about other people’s languages and backgrounds.”
Amy says she believes Valencia’s commitment to diversity is something that truly resonates with our community.
“I think Valencia signifies diversity and acceptance to the community and gives those who would otherwise not have a chance at higher education the opportunity to learn a new skill and to be a valued member of society,” she said.
Inspired by Valencia’s acceptance of diversity and inspirational mission, Amy encourages her staff to take advantage of the opportunities Valencia offers them — from professional development courses to tuition reimbursement.
Amy herself has taken advantage of these opportunities to further develop herself. This personal advancement has included earning an associate degree in computer graphics, from the International Academy of Design and Technology, graduating cum laude.
“In my free time, I enjoy photography, notably capturing scenes from nature, particularly insects and flowers,” she said. “My daughters are somewhat embarrassed to be seen with me in public, because I am obsessed with taking photos wherever I go, whether it be in the flower section at Publix or the garden center at Home Depot or Lowes. The intricate details of the center of a flower intrigue me, and I remain mesmerized by the beautiful palette of colors and textures that nature provides. Taking the photos is half of the fun, and then editing them is just as rewarding. Several of my photos have been featured in contests on internet sites such as Instagram and Twenty20.”
For Amy, photography is a welcome change of pace from her day-to-day job as a custodial services supervisor, which she describes as rewarding, but also fast-paced and challenging as she manages more than 20 employees, maintains equipment inventory, orders supplies, coordinates event set-up and clean-up and ensures all the buildings on Osceola and Lake Nona Campuses and the Advanced Manufacturing Center are in clean and safe condition.
It’s a tall order, but something Amy is known for doing exceptionally well.
“Amy is great to work with,” said Marty Campbell, superintendent, plant operations. “She is dedicated to and invested in Valencia as an institution and to all of the people who are served by and who work at the College. Amy is a caring and patient presence within the Plant Operations department and especially with the people she supervises. She is very responsive to and cooperative with the various departments and all of the persons that the Custodial department supports.”
Know of someone who embodies one of Valencia’s Values (learning, people, diversity, access or integrity), who has been an employee for one year or more? Send the colleague’s name to us at The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu. He or she might be one of our featured colleagues, subject to supervisor’s approval.