Featured Colleague: Charles Ensminger Turns Fear of Failing Into Opportunity For Students

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

By Jennifer Keefe

His own college experience might not have been what he originally had planned, but Charles “Charlie” Ensminger is using his own story to help build a different path for today’s Valencia students, including that of his own son who graduated this past fall.

Charles joined the College full time as the assistant director of Student Development for the East and Winter Park campuses in 2018 and now serves as the director.

But college wasn’t where Charles saw himself for a long time, either as a student or as an employee. In fact, Charles dropped out of college himself in 1999 and opted for a different path for a while.

“[I was] convinced that I was not college material,” he explains. “I entered the United States Army in 2004 as an active-duty enlisted service member serving as a Combat Medic.”

After serving 10 years, Charles reinlisted and enrolled in community college.

“Filled with trepidation and angst, I began my journey toward earning a degree,” he says.

But Charles didn’t stop at just one diploma.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Ashford University, he went on to get a master’s in psychology with a specialization in research from Walden University.

As if that’s not enough, Charles is currently a doctoral candidate studying industrial and organizational psychology at Walden University.

All this time as a student also got Charles interested in teaching.

He’s taught New Student Experience and psychology classes part time at the College since 2014.

Charles says he is most proud of is his ability to support both students and staff at the College.

He does this by creating experiences, including a virtual visit by his “hero” Dr. Cornel West and spearheading efforts to redesign the East Campus Pooky’s Pantry, which provides non-perishable food items, hygiene items, and other resources to students, in a way that increased utilization by 400%.

“We work with some of the most innovative people I have ever met, he explains. “I get to support a team focused on positively impacting the student experience through engagement, which gives me a sense of pride.”

Charles says our students are what inspire him. He elaborates, “You work long hours, give extra effort, and go the extra mile because these students deserve it.”

East Campus Dean of Students Joe Sarrubo is a big fan of Charles’ dedication to the College.

“Charles is an exemplary employee,” Joe explains. “He is steadfast in solving challenges and coming up with creative solutions.”

Joe adds, “I admire him for his pioneering spirit and for his deep allegiance to our students and the College. I appreciate Charles and value the many contributions he brings to the team.”

Over the years, Charles has seen firsthand the impact Valencia College has had on the Central Florida community.

“It’s the center. Since moving to Orlando, everyone I meet has had some connection to Valencia,” he says. “From alumni to parents of students, we are an essential part of people’s lives.”

Work and school don’t leave a lot of time for Charles to pursue other interests.

“Free time, what’s that?” he jokes. “Any time I am not here, I am with my family.”

On a more serious note, Charles says also enjoys building furniture, a hobby he picked up during his time in the military.

“I appreciate the separation from distraction it provides, as well as it is a great way to relax and refocus my energy, Charles explains. “I also ride a Harley, love dogs and enjoy camping.”

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.


  • Edna Jones Miller said:

    Thanks for sharing your story, "Charlie E.!" You're such a phenomenal leader, and I'm proud to be your colleague. Kudos! 🙂

    PMTue, 18 Jan 2022 15:57:03 +0000Tue, 18 Jan 2022 15:57:03 +0000pm22,3:57 pm

  • Lauren Z said:

    Charlie truly is a great leader and partner in service! Charlie has created many opportunities for the EC Answer Center and Atlas Lab to expand their student outreach and accessibility. He is always open to ideate and build pathways to bring that ideation to fruition. Thank you, Charlie!

    PMTue, 18 Jan 2022 17:32:08 +0000Tue, 18 Jan 2022 17:32:08 +0000pm22,5:32 pm

  • Julie W said:

    Charlie was an excellent supervisor and mentor while I started my career in higher education! So thankful for our time working together. All the special projects, memories made, and laughs shared make me miss working with him!

    PMTue, 18 Jan 2022 17:51:00 +0000Tue, 18 Jan 2022 17:51:00 +0000pm22,5:51 pm

  • Nichole Segarra said:

    Charlie is amazing. I really enjoy working with him. He is a deep thinker and is truly dedicated to the success of our students.

    AMWed, 19 Jan 2022 09:21:07 +0000Wed, 19 Jan 2022 09:21:07 +0000am22,9:21 am

  • Stanton G. Reed said:

    Charlie is a game changer for our students. I enjoy watching Charlie interact with students. Students speak of Charlie’s ability to connect with them in truth and respect. Charlie thank you for your transparency and being an invaluable role model. Keep it real.

    PMWed, 19 Jan 2022 19:06:47 +0000Wed, 19 Jan 2022 19:06:47 +0000pm22,7:06 pm

  • Venecia Green said:

    Kudos Charlie! You are a wonderful colleague with amazing energy for the work you do here at Valencia. Keep doing great things!

    AMThu, 20 Jan 2022 08:19:55 +0000Thu, 20 Jan 2022 08:19:55 +0000am22,8:19 am

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