Featured Colleague: From Homeless Student to Valencia Employee, Erica Diaz-Ramos Lives the Valencia DreamShare
By Dani Moritz-Long
In the eyes of Faculty and Instructional Support Specialist and Valencia Alumna Erica Diaz-Ramos, Valencia is a great many things. But, above all, it’s “a bridge to success.”
“No matter the intended plan,” she said, “Valencia can fit into those plans and create a bridge to the next steps.”
She would know.
As a former Valencia student, Erica faced a challenging journey. A homeless student who had already dropped out of the College once, Erica returned to Valencia in 2013 with the vision of turning her life around, and, while it wasn’t easy, Valencia proved pivotal in the transition.
“I’d like to think of Valencia as my saving grace, awarding me with life-changing opportunities every step of the way,” Erica said, recalling her student experience.
Today, she’s come full circle. After graduating from Valencia with three associate degrees, she now gives back to the community that gave so much to her. With previous roles as an Atlas student leader and Atlas support specialist, Erica now serves as a faculty and instructional support specialist.
Describing Valencia as a triangle with faculty, staff and students at each of the three points, Erica says she’s proud to have experienced Valencia life from all three perspectives. “I have been able to experience each side of that triangle during my time here,” she said, “and I hope that I get to continue to grow in those experiences.”
In her current role, Erica enjoys supporting the faculty who she knows to be an integral part of the Valencia experience.
“Supporting faculty allows me to understand the educational goal that Valencia has,” she said. “I understand that our faculty go to great lengths to provide the best learning experience to our students, working alongside them allows me to grow my personal and professional self. Faculty have so much to give students, and I have met some of the greatest professors during my time as a faculty and instructional support specialist. I enjoy learning more about them each and every day.”
Through this role, Erica says she feels fortunate to offer the inspiration and empowerment Valencia once offered her as education became a pathway to a better life.
“What inspires me most at the College is our focus on providing opportunities to others,” she said. “During my time here, I have learned that providing others with support, guidance and a lot of compassion can really inspire others.”
Commenting on Erica’s compassion and commitment, Campus Director of Faculty and Instructional Development Shara Lee said, “Erica cares about quality work, because she cares so deeply about the people it impacts. Her service-oriented affect warms the experiences of faculty in our Osceola Center for Teaching/Learning Innovation as I’m confident it will for our students in her new role.”
Erica will be transitioning soon to a new role where she can continue to provide opportunities to others — our students — as a student services advisor in the Osceola Campus Answer Center.
In her time away from work, you can find Erica studying for her University of Central Florida bachelor’s degree in social sciences, reading poetry, binge-watching her favorite TV shows and, most importantly, cherishing every moment with her 4-year-old twins, Tesla and Frey.
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.