By Dani Moritz-Long
When Assistant Director of Advising Christopher Garner-Quintero commenced his career at Valencia, he fully expected his elation with his new job to eventually fade. After all, that’s normal isn’t it — to have the new job excitement fade to routine? Well, for Christopher, it’s been nearly two years and his enthusiasm hasn’t waned.
“The best part of working at Valencia, to me, is the culture,” he said. “It is a culture that is uplifting, supportive and — let’s be honest — fun! I have said this many times, but when I first started, I was welcomed and everyone would genuinely go out of their way to provide support and be actively engaged. I thought to myself, ‘this will eventually fade, right? Is this too good to be true?’ I will tell you this — that feeling hasn’t gone away. It is still the same feeling as it was on day one!”
Naturally, this, combined with Christopher’s deep appreciation of Valencia’s mission to transform lives, serves as a constant source of motivation.
“This in itself, is my inspiration,” he said, referring to Valencia’s positive culture, “the inspiration to be the best version I can be of myself — not only to the students, but also to my team. What we do today, moment by moment, has the ability to make a lasting impact.”
To that effect, Christopher takes his role as a leader seriously. Knowing he can set the kind of environment that fuels him, he’s careful to ensure he reciprocates the support he receives.
“Being part of any team, it is important to recognize the critical components and talents that each individual contributes,” he said. “I see my role very much as one to motivate, encourage and empower each member of the team to harness their strengths — even when they themselves may not recognize that potential — and to deepen their skills on a broader perspective. When we take the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships with each person on our teams, we are gifted insight and are able to help them grow in their role and beyond.”
Specifically, he explains, he employs a simple, but impactful four-part strategy passed on to him from his mentors.
“Wait, listen, observe and then respond.”
“Striving to be a well-oiled machine will always be a goal,” he added, “but when we pause to capture each of our strengths, passions and abilities, we are able to uniquely craft that into purpose. My role as assistant director of advising is just that — to foster an environment that empowers a team to meet the needs of the students and to expand each person’s knowledge with purpose. Wait, listen, observe — when we do just that, we are able to be intentional.”
Campus Director of Advising John Britt, for one, is grateful for Christopher’s capacity as a leader.
“Since Christopher has joined the Osceola advising team, our advisors have flourished with programming, innovation and creativity,” John said. “Christopher brings an energy to the team that has allowed our advisors to continue to grow and learn. He has provided strong foundational leadership for them, and I am extremely proud of all he has accomplished in his relatively short time at Valencia.”
Outside of Valencia, Christopher spends his time enjoying the things that make him happy. Sometimes, that means playing one of the four instruments he’s mastered — piano, clarinet, flute or viola (he’s classically trained and has played for both the Miami and Seattle Youth Symphonies). Sometimes, that means channeling his creativity into a new household project.
“To me, life is about enjoying the moments,” he said. “At a young age, I learned that time is often the thing we wish we had more of, and we are not guaranteed a lot of it. Why waste time on ‘I wish’ or ‘I want’ statements? I make the most of it by traveling the world, driving my husband crazy with new DIY projects around the house, supporting UCF football (national champions), enjoying local theatre and exploring new things. Life is an adventure, why wait?”
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.