By Dani Moritz-Long
“At Valencia, one envisions the else.”
It’s a simply-put, but visionary statement that encapsulates STEM Programs Director Eda Davis-Lowe’s work at the College. Undoubtedly, it’s a fitting summary of Eda’s relentless mission to support students in their quest to discover, learn and achieve as they seek excellence in their personal, professional and academic lives. It’s also a direct reflection of Eda’s personal aspirations.
“At Valencia,” she said, “I am privileged to work in support of one of my life’s passions — helping individuals build capacity and willingness to consider the unknown and to pursue their determined right fit.”
More specifically, Eda describes her role, while acknowledging its ever-evolving nature, as the opportunity to support STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education and to diversify the individuals pursuing STEM careers both regionally and nationally.
As part of these efforts, she’s most well-known and well-respected for championing the creation and evolution of the College’s Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program.
The program, which is a partnership comprised of Lake-Sumter State College, Polk State College and Valencia, is committed to increasing significantly the number of underrepresented minority students who complete associate degrees at the alliance institutions and enroll in bachelor’s degree programs with STEM majors. This is achieved through an array of scholarship, extracurricular and mentorship opportunities — much of which is a direct result of Eda’s commitment, innovation and dedication to LSAMP and the students it serves. In serving the students in the program, Eda calls upon her bachelor’s degree in physics education, more than 20 years of program leadership and a background in engineering.
“I am proud of being able to work with others to build the LSAMP program from an envisioned grant project to a functioning program that is well established, respected and achieving important outcomes,” she said. “I am proud of the students in the program who choose to engage deeply in program activities, to look beyond what is known and comfortable and to challenge themselves to pursue, gain and excel in opportunities external to the College. I am proud, too, of the students who persist and progress in the face of challenging circumstances, gain confidence in their ability to reach their education and career goals, and find ways to contribute to the community to benefit others.”
These students, Eda explains, and their individual stories of perseverance and success against all odds continue to inspire and motivate Eda.
“Many students with whom I have worked have gone places and done things that, at one time, seemed foolish or impossible,” she said.”It is gratifying to be part of the students’ journeys along which they uncover and own potential previously unknown to them — potential to persist, achieve, belong, create, collaborate, lead, contribute and so much more.”
She added, “The work we do through LSAMP is important, and the outcomes of that work matter to the College and to the nation. At the same time, the individuals charged with carrying out the work of LSAMP are young professionals with career aspirations of their own. I am grateful for the opportunity to speak into the lives of these individuals and to know that my work with them is helping to prepare some of those who will shepherd LSAMP-type work into the future.”
Commenting on Eda’s clear and consistent impact, Executive Vice President and Provost, and Osceola, Lake Nona, and Poinciana Campus President Kathleen Plinske noted, “I sincerely appreciate Eda’s deep commitment in support of all students who have an interest in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. She is not afraid to question why things have always been done a certain way, and if traditional practice doesn’t serve all students well, she has a genuine gift for imagining new possibilities. She is able to see the amazing potential in all of our students, even when they aren’t yet able to see it themselves, and is dedicated to developing that potential to its fullest. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to work with her.”
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.