By Laura Knight
Christy Cheney, student life skills professor at Osceola Campus, feels that working with students daily, helping them discover their strengths and watching them get excited about pursuing a major or career are the most rewarding aspects of her job. She shared, “Students usually take SLS 1122 their first term, so they arrive in my classroom a little lost, confused and unsure if they can do this ‘college thing’ – giving them hope that they can achieve their goals and dreams (and watching them do it) is awesome.”
Christy was one of the first four-month contract faculty members hired for the Student Success course in 1997 and, in her first term, she was involved in Learning Communities (LinC). With the help of various grants, including Achieving the Dream, her work with LinC became a part of her workload every term, and that led her, in 2006, to her role as the LinC Coordinator for the East campus.
In the coordinator role she connected students with faculty and staff by planning and implementing LinC events that helped students learn how to build strong connections and foundations for success during their college career and beyond. She also helped to build collaborative, supportive teams for LinC faculty and staff on campus.
After a brief, but impactful stint as a LinC coordinator for East Campus, in 2007 she was promoted to the position of collegewide LinC coordinator, which she identifies as an “excellent learning experience because I served on the Achieving the Dream committee, attended conferences and shared our Valencia LinC experiences at national conferences.”
Currently, Christy is working on the REACH program – a new learning community on Osceola Campus that consists of a small group of students who take their first year of college courses together with the same instructors.
She explained that the goal for students in the REACH program is to earn 21 college-level credit hours and complete their developmental education courses in one year. Students experience co-curricular programs throughout the year and build strong connections with their classmates and faculty. “Being a part of this program has proved to be extremely rewarding,” she affirmed.
Valencia’s investment into the latest teaching strategies and programs is one of the reasons Christy values working here. She says that those investments help her to create the “best environment for students.”
Christy is currently a member of the PRESS Grant team, and is looking forward to the development of the New Student Experience course that is scheduled to be completed for the spring 2014 term. This term, she will be working to support faculty as they build lesson plans for our future students. “We are in the midst of creating a common new student experience for all students so that they can all follow their educational and career goals successfully – and that’s incredible.”
In addition to being a member of the PRESS grant leadership team, Christy has been involved in numerous College programs including Valencia’s “Go Project” for EAP students (a series of workshops for EAP students that exposes them to a variety of social aspects, various divisions of the College, and more), Bridges to Success as a Latina mentor, a presenter for True Colors Tutor Training Orientation and Co-Founder and active member of the Financial Learning and Initiative Research Team (FLIRT)- a financial Skillshop session for students.
Christy has proven to be a valuable educator to her colleagues as well. Kaitlyn Brooker, student services advisor at Osceola Campus, says that Christy “is an amazing mentor and an astounding educator.” She goes onto explain that Christy guided her through two internships while she completed her master’s degree program at UCF, and that she recommends her frequently as a student success professor to all of her students.
When asked what has inspired her the most about working at Valencia, she voiced, “Although I have been blessed to work with and serve on many committees and teams throughout my time at Valencia, students inspire me the most. They are coming to us with new challenges in an ever-changing world that requires us to constantly look at learning from new lenses.”
Christy has a bachelor’s degree in organizational communication and a master’s degree in higher education, both from the University of Central Florida.
Know of someone doing great work at the college? Send their name to us at The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu so they can be one of our featured colleagues!