Featured Colleague: Carmidaris Rivera-Vega Is Accounting for Her Success

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

By Jennifer Keefe

You might think Carmidaris “Carmi” Rivera-Vega measures the success of Valencia College in terms of dollars and cents, but for her, the College is about much more than that. It’s about access, opportunity, diversity and meeting the needs of students. Carmi became the Valencia College Foundation controller in 2019, but her history with the College stretches back to her own days as a Valencia student.

Carmi came to Florida from Puerto Rico in 2008 and shortly after became a student at the Osceola Campus. Upon learning she was tutoring other students for free in some of her classes, some of her professors — including Stanton Reed, now interim president, Osceola, Lake Nona and Poinciana Campuses; Lisa Gray, professor accounting; and Kim Foster, faculty, New Student Experience — encouraged her to pursue her love of numbers and to become a paid learning assistant.

Carmi graduated from the College with her Associate in Arts in 2013 and was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society. While a student at the University of Central Florida studying business administration, she took a position with the Valencia College Foundation as an accounting clerk. Since then, she’s worked her way up to the role of controller.

In just a few short years, Carmi has seen how vital her role is to the students at the College. “My role involves every single area of the College,” she says. “We want to be able to help students and to provide additional funding for them to be able to succeed. I was once one of these students and that keeps me motivated.”

This year, Carmi fully led the foundation’s independent audit, which earned a coveted “unmodified opinion,” which means the auditors found the foundation to be in compliance with all GAAS, IRS and state regulations. The finding was especially meaningful for Carmi, since the foundation finance team is still in transition and without the help of a foundation chief financial officer.

Geraldine Gallagher, Valencia College Foundation president and CEO, sees Carmi as a great asset to the work of the foundation. “Carmi is a gifted young professional with exceptional accounting acumen and leadership skills. She is an invaluable member of our foundation team, focused on our mission of supporting student access and success.”

Carmi’s favorite thing about the College is “that we work with a purpose. You always need a ‘north’ in life and at Valencia, our purpose is our students.” Even though she’s no longer serving students day to day, she still sees the impact of her work when she processes donations and makes sure scholarship funds are going out to students. “We [the foundation] work as a family and take each student’s story personally.”

Another aspect of the College that Carmi is especially proud of is our diversity. She explains, “We combine equity and diversity. We make sure no matter who it is, we are able to be an advocate for students from the beginning all the way through their alumni life. Once you are part of Valencia, you stay part of Valencia because you have a support system behind you.”

Carmi says she really subscribes to the College’s Big Idea that anyone can learn under the right conditions. She says, “I’m grateful” when she thinks about the many opportunities the College has presented to her, and she truly appreciates the way the whole College serves both traditional and non-traditional students. For her, the Valencia experience just adds up.

In her free time, Carmi likes to spend time with her family and and her dog, Brownie Mauricio, who is a an American Staffordshire and Bloodhound mix. Carmi admits that Brownie Mauricio has become an honorary member of the foundation staff while she’s been working at home due to the pandemic. “He likes to bark and sit behind me in Zoom meetings.” That’s something we can almost all probably relate to by now.

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.

3 Comments

  • Isa Suarez said:

    Bravooooo!!! Congratulations on the well-deserved feature, my dear friend and colleague!!! I appreciate you!!! 🙂

    AMWed, 08 Sep 2021 08:12:02 +0000Wed, 08 Sep 2021 08:12:02 +0000am21,8:12 am

  • Solange said:

    You are an amazing colleague, Carmi! Congratulations 🙂

    AMWed, 08 Sep 2021 09:13:55 +0000Wed, 08 Sep 2021 09:13:55 +0000am21,9:13 am

  • Lisa Gray said:

    We are so fortunate to have Carmi here! She is an impressive colleague!! Congratulations Carmi!!

    PMWed, 08 Sep 2021 15:07:42 +0000Wed, 08 Sep 2021 15:07:42 +0000pm21,3:07 pm

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