By Dani Moritz-Long
Many of us love working at Valencia College because we know we play a role — no matter how small it may seem — in changing lives. Assistant Director of Advising Dan Smith loves working at Valencia, because he understands the transformative nature of the College from firsthand experience. That’s why, to Dan, Valencia is more than his alma mater; it’s more than his place of work. To Dan, Valencia is a second home.
Each day, Dan is able to combine his experience as a student and his ability as a Valencia leader to shape the advising experience for Valencia’s current students. He works hard to ensure his team meets and exceeds our students’ needs, as he knows from his own experience the impact academic guidance can have.
“As a graduate and former student leader at Valencia, I’m most proud of being able to serve in my current role,” Dan explained. “I view it as a way to give back to the College the support and encouragement I received along the way when I was a student here.”
Specifically, Dan enjoys being a part of our students’ journeys to their version of success.
“What inspires me most is being part of a team whose purpose is to help students achieve their educational and career goals,” he said. “Working at Valencia provides me with a sense of purpose, and that also serves as a tremendous source of inspiration.“
Valencia’s values of people, access and learning also supply inspiration for Dan.
“First and foremost, the focus of Valencia has always been the people,” Dan explained. “I’m fortunate to be surrounded by so many talented and committed professionals. Each day provides an opportunity to learn something new and challenge myself. I love being able to serve students and believe deeply in the mission of the College. I believe Valencia signifies a place of endless possibilities. The quality and affordability of the education and training Valencia provides literally changes lives. So much of what I’ve achieved in life thus far I owe in large part to my start at Valencia.”
Commenting on Dan’s impact on the advising team, Campus Director of Advising Ed Holmes specifically noted Dan’s impact on implementing LifeMap 2.0 — which is one of many projects that Dan has directly influenced.
“His addition to the team has helped us further operationalize our proactive advising LifeMap 2.0 model,” Ed explained. “Some of the improvements Dan helped flesh out include fully implementing our online appointment scheduler for all advisors, increased cohesiveness among the advisors on our team and leading the work to help develop a formal training curriculum for our front office student leaders. These important improvements have helped personalize the way students experience academic advising on West Campus.”
Dan also gives back to Valencia as a mentor with the Valencia Horizon Scholars program. As a former Valencia student, he’s uniquely equipped to support high school students as they work toward joining the ranks of Valencia students.
“We’re so glad Dan has chosen to mentor with the Valencia Horizons Scholars program,” said Kelly Astro, director of the program. “He’s a wonderful mentor with great insight about Valencia from both a student and staff perspective, and I know his mentee benefits greatly from his passion and knowledge.”
In his free time, you’ll find Dan exercising, enjoying Central Florida’s theme parks, catching a movie or a concert and listening to music. He’s even known to pick up a guitar from time to time.
Know of someone who embodies one of Valencia’s values (learning, people, diversity, access or integrity), who has been an employee for at least one year? 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.