By Laura Knight
It seems as though Bornunderstanding (Born) Allah, student services advisor on the East Campus, was destined to work at Valencia. In middle school he participated in the U.S. Department of Education’s GEAR UP program, where he met Grace Acevedo, assistant director of transition services on the East Campus. From that positive experience, he went on to participate in the dual enrollment program in high school and then the Bridges to Success Program in his early years in college. Through Bridges, he met and was mentored by John Stover, manager, Bridges Program and Sylvester Robinson, academic advisor, Bridges Program on the West Campus.
Born says he has been inspired to continue working in higher education and that he has been guided by so many people, we couldn’t possibly list them all.
“I believe everyone I come into contact with — no matter if it’s a student, parent, faculty member or staff [member] — has a great impact on me. Throughout my journey at the College, I’ve had the honor of meeting many people who have definitely made an impact on my life and collectively they were influential in my career decision to serve in higher education.”
Born is currently chair of the East Campus Career Staff Association (CSA) and has taken strides with members to make the campus a safer place by partnering with the security office for SHIP and CERT training for employees. He will be succeeded as CSA chair by Adrian Aleen, business office specialist on the East Campus, whom he is confident will “take the association to new heights.”
Beginning in September, Born was delighted to join and learn more about the National SEED Project. Through work with the Peace and Justice Initiative, Born has been excited to participate in and shape the work being done at Valencia to support the SEED, which stands for Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity, mission of creating gender-fair, multicultural-equitable, and globally informed educational spaces and workplaces.
Born explains that SEED differs from other diversity programs because the group facilitators do not lecture. Instead, they lead their colleagues in experiential, interactive exercises and conversation driven by films and readings. The monthly seminars deepen participants’ understanding of themselves, expand their knowledge of the world and lead the way to making schools more inclusive.
The opportunity to be involved with projects like SEED is one of many reasons Born enjoys working at Valencia. Yet the top reasons are his colleagues and the students.
“Being a part of the Valencia East Campus family with the chemistry and bonding between my colleagues and I is great, and I wouldn’t change it for anything … [so is] knowing that I serve students every day by helping them understand how the world works on an academic, professional and personal level. My goal is to advise them to become well-rounded individuals who are prepared for the world during and after their higher education journey.”
In addition to SEED and the CSA, Born has served as editor for the “Student Affairs Reference Guide” and the “Answer Center Manual” for student service specialists. As a student advisor, he aligns with Chickering’s Theory of Education and Identity and seeks to push students away from negative attitudes and to their next level of development.
That positivity is contagious, “Born by far is one of the most positive people on the planet, he makes every day that much more enjoyable and it is an honor to work beside him,” shares Kaitlyn Brooker, fellow advisor and new East Campus “family member.”
At Valencia, he says the College always seems to be at the cusp of “great things,” leading the way for institutions of higher education.
“I firmly believe that Valencia has held to its roots, it is a better place to start. Our presence and commitment to service offers students access, options and opportunities because we value learning. If others say ‘you can’t,’ we demonstrate that ‘you can’.”
Prior to joining Valencia in 2011, he worked as a manager for the Orlando Sentinel, where he recruited, trained and coordinated employees in carrier services who served more than 850 customers daily. Born has an associate degree from Valencia, a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Central Florida (UCF), and is currently working on earning his master’s degree from UCF in educational leadership, which he expects to complete in 2014.
Know of someone doing great work at the College? Send the colleague’s name to us at The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu so he or she can be one of our featured colleagues!