Featured Colleague: Felita Rivera Provides Access to Prospective Students Affected by Hurricane Maria

By Wendy Jo Moyer

Felita Rivera, student services advisor, describes her role at Valencia as all about helping students have a positive Valencia experience. With the recent devastation that Hurricane Maria caused on Puerto Rico, she has become a member of our Osceola Campus team that is supporting prospective students affected by the hurricanes. In this effort, Felita represents Valencia at the Hurricane Maria Reception Center in Kissimmee and personally reaches out and follows up with students who have moved here from Puerto Rico.

“Having lived in Puerto Rico myself, I can remember that Puerto Rico, at times, is referred to as the island of enchantment,” Felita explained. “When I turned 16, my mother finished a home that she was building for us in Puerto Rico, and I was able to see the island through my mother’s eyes. I fell in love with the island, so to see it and our people in such despair, it broke my heart. I lost my mom in May of 2014 due to prolonged illness, and in losing the island after the storm, I felt that I also lost a piece of my mother as well.”

As a result, Felita felt compelled to help the residents in some way, which resulted in volunteering her services to help students transitioning to the main land.

“It has been my job to facilitate the process of helping them enroll and building relationships with them based on our commonality of being from Puerto Rico,” she said. “Building these relationships creates a sense of connection for these students to our Valencia community and helps them to stay focused on their educational goals. Working with the students who have been affected by Hurricane Maria has now given me a new sense of purpose. Every day that I’m able to work with this population of students, I feel that through them I’m honoring my mother’s memory.”

Her efforts have not gone unnoticed. Her supervisor, Nicholle Trapp, manager, student services, praised Felita. She appreciates “her ability to help our growing community feel welcome as she supports their admissions process and ensures they are connected to services as needed.”

Beyond her work with students affected by the hurricane, Felita has been instrumental in the Osceola Campus Answer Center. Nichole explained, “Felita is the member of our Answer Center team that models serving students with intentionality, empathy and critical thinking as she helps us to remember to pour our souls into everything that we do. Our Osceola students often request to speak to her, and after hearing how she walks them through their educational journey, it is easy to understand why. The entire Osceola Student Services family enjoys collaborating with Felita, and she truly brings a harmonious atmosphere wherever she is.”

Felita has been instrumental in serving Osceola Campus’ Spanish-speaking community. For three years, she has been helping students understand the fundamental differences between higher education in the United States and their countries of origin. “Students are grateful and far better prepared to complete the Steps of Enrollment as a result,” shared Nicholle about Felita’s efforts.

What does Felita like most about working at Valencia? “I like that I am surrounded by individuals that have the same passion for education as I do,” she said. “I have learned since I’ve started working here that I’ve become more confident in who I am. This sense of confidence transcends in my advising sessions that I have every day with students that I meet with to help encourage them to move forward with the process.”

Often, she finds she identifies with nontraditional students who are anxious to learn English or are hesitant to learn because of their age or lack of educational experience. “I feel that it is important to encourage them to change their perspective so that they can feel that this decision to move forward with their education is attainable,” she explained.

Felita earned a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the Universidad of Interamericana de Puerto Rico. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family.

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.

17 Comments

  • Kim Foster said:

    Congratulations, Felita! It is an honor to work with you. Thank you for all you do to care for our students.

    PMTue, 09 Jan 2018 18:07:17 +0000Tue, 09 Jan 2018 18:07:17 +0000pm18,6:07 pm

  • Michele M. said:

    To work with you is a breath of fresh air. Your passion for all student’s futures reflects in every interaction. You are such an amazing person to work with and I am so happy for your recognition.

    PMTue, 09 Jan 2018 18:53:17 +0000Tue, 09 Jan 2018 18:53:17 +0000pm18,6:53 pm

  • Ilia M Cordero said:

    Well deserved recognition Felita! You are an amazing person to work with and our students are fortunate to have you advocating for them. Keep up the passion you have for students, they need you!

    AMWed, 10 Jan 2018 08:25:59 +0000Wed, 10 Jan 2018 08:25:59 +0000am18,8:25 am

  • Danielle S. said:

    We are so lucky to have you as part of our Valencia community! Thank you for your compassion, dedication, and for all you do for our students.

    AMWed, 10 Jan 2018 08:26:41 +0000Wed, 10 Jan 2018 08:26:41 +0000am18,8:26 am

  • Leonardo Rodriguez said:

    Felita is an extremely capable and dedicated individual. I have had the pleasure of working with Felita, and I can attest that this recognition is well deserved. Congratulations Felita! keep up the great work!

    AMWed, 10 Jan 2018 08:53:06 +0000Wed, 10 Jan 2018 08:53:06 +0000am18,8:53 am

  • Wayne Bart said:

    Congrats for the recognition, Felita! You're deserving of every ounce of it

    AMWed, 10 Jan 2018 09:24:01 +0000Wed, 10 Jan 2018 09:24:01 +0000am18,9:24 am

  • Catherine Rivas said:

    Congratulations for the recognition! We are truly lucky to have you part of the Valencia team 🙂

    AMWed, 10 Jan 2018 09:40:53 +0000Wed, 10 Jan 2018 09:40:53 +0000am18,9:40 am

  • Shari Hamilton said:

    Your feature turned out amazing, Felita. It really shows off your hard work, dedication, and passion that you have for our students. It's an amazing feeling to have a co-worker turn into a best friend and this article only shows a fraction of the warm and loving spirit that you have. Great job!!!!

    AMWed, 10 Jan 2018 10:15:11 +0000Wed, 10 Jan 2018 10:15:11 +0000am18,10:15 am

  • Mary McGowan said:

    Congratulations Felita! Your good work is helping create positive futures for many students and their families.

    AMWed, 10 Jan 2018 11:43:59 +0000Wed, 10 Jan 2018 11:43:59 +0000am18,11:43 am

  • Ross L. said:

    I have told you many times, YOU are the prototype. Your encounters with students are exactly what the people who came up with the concept of the Answer Center envisioned when they decided to create it. Whether it's staying at your desk past your scheduled shift to make sure that your student and their family grasp what you are explaining to them. Or finding yourself advising while out with your family on the weekends. You have been amazing at what you do long before Hurricane Maria. This article barely scratched the surface of how superb you are. However, I am happy to see you getting some recognition. If anyone deserves to get recognized it is you.

    PMWed, 10 Jan 2018 12:08:51 +0000Wed, 10 Jan 2018 12:08:51 +0000pm18,12:08 pm

  • Niyeliza said:

    Definitely my role model! You go girl!

    PMWed, 10 Jan 2018 12:50:58 +0000Wed, 10 Jan 2018 12:50:58 +0000pm18,12:50 pm

  • Margarita P. said:

    “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
    ― Robert F. Kennedy
    I am extremely proud of you, Mom is smiling in heaven. Your kind heart and willingness to help others is amazing. You have the greatness to bend history by changing lives in a positive way. Everyone that has the honor of meeting you, has an opportunity to take away from that experience the knowledge that anything is possible when you try and more so when you do it with true heart.

    PMWed, 10 Jan 2018 14:09:02 +0000Wed, 10 Jan 2018 14:09:02 +0000pm18,2:09 pm

  • Felita Rivera said:

    My Valencia Family; Thank you all for your words of appreciation and encouragement.

    PMWed, 10 Jan 2018 17:00:19 +0000Wed, 10 Jan 2018 17:00:19 +0000pm18,5:00 pm

  • Belen A. Caba said:

    Felita, As your first supervisor at Valencia I realized early on that you were going places.
    You blossomed into the go to person in the time that you worked for Admissions and Records. I feel that you have only started to scratch the surface of what you can do here at the college.

    I am confident when I send a student to you for assistance, they get the best that Valencia has to offer.

    Congratulations, Felita for a job well done.

    AMFri, 12 Jan 2018 11:45:30 +0000Fri, 12 Jan 2018 11:45:30 +0000am18,11:45 am

  • Frank Costa said:

    Congratulation Felita.
    Well deserved

    Frank Costa
    Security

    PMFri, 12 Jan 2018 15:10:41 +0000Fri, 12 Jan 2018 15:10:41 +0000pm18,3:10 pm

  • MGaviria said:

    You are a great resource not only for me but for students. Well deserved recognition. Thank you for all you do!

    AMWed, 31 Jan 2018 11:29:55 +0000Wed, 31 Jan 2018 11:29:55 +0000am18,11:29 am

  • Johanny Melo said:

    Felita! I am so proud of you. Everyone that has the pleasure of meeting you and encountering your warm and inviting smile is extremely lucky. You truly are one of a kind and I am so happy to have been your colleague even if it was for such a short amount of time. Thank you for everything you taught me during my time as part of the Answer Center family. This recognition makes me extremely happy for you. This is proof that your genuine passion for our students radiates much brighter than you think. Keep up the good work!

    PMWed, 31 Jan 2018 14:59:39 +0000Wed, 31 Jan 2018 14:59:39 +0000pm18,2:59 pm

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