Featured Colleague — Jennifer Tomlinson


By Wendy Jo Moyer

“I always brag about Jennifer Tomlinson at orientations and to my students about just how far you can go at Valencia,” shared Jenny Lee, faculty, New Student Experience, and Jennifer’s featured colleague nominator. “I think her story is amazing and inspiring to others.” And that it is.

In fact, she was named one of the recipients in this year’s Valencia Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

Jennifer started her Valencia journey as a dual enrollment student. After graduating from high school, she participated in the Bridges to Success (BTS) program and worked in the Atlas Access Lab. Upon completing her associate degree from Valencia, she left to pursue her bachelor’s degree at the University of South Florida (USF). In 2009, she returned to Valencia as a student affairs academic advisor.

Just three years later, Jennifer transitioned to where she first started at the College — in the BTS program — as a Bridges academic advisor. In that role, she supported students in the very program that assisted her in launching her college years and career. Then in 2014, she joined the first cohort of new 12-month faculty for Valencia’s New Student Experience (NSE).

As an NSE faculty member, Jennifer lives Valencia’s “Six Ps.” Not only are they the Learning Outcomes for the New Student Experience course that she teaches, but she can directly relate her own Valencia experiences as a student, staff and faculty member to each of the six.

“It was the Personal Connection I made with my first boss, in the Atlas lab, Shelby Fiorentino, that helped me find my Purpose after I told her I wasn’t doing well in BSC 1011C (Biology II) and didn’t want to be a doctor anymore,” Jennifer explained.

“It was my humanities professor, Thomas Stout, who helped me figure out my Pathway in earning a humanities degree. LifeMap [and] Atlas were tools I used as a student to help me develop my life Plan and Prepared me to graduate and transfer to USF,” she continued.

“As a scholarship recipient of the Bridges to Success program, that department became my Place on campus, as I utilized the resources and made new friends in the program,” she added. “Valencia was — and still is — my Place [where] I have returned to give to other students all the gifts that I received while I was here. This is what Valencia is to the community, and I am a living by-product of these concepts.”

Her supervisor, Karen Reilly, campus dean, learning support, sees how the “P,” Personal Connection, stands out in Jennifer’s work. “Jennifer has a strong connection with her students and exemplifies the ambitions of the New Student Experience,” she said. “While her knowledge and talents in instruction and developmental advising are many, it is her ability to develop, establish and sustain the overarching goal of Personal Connection that makes her stand out.”

Karen added, “Her stories, creativity, outgoing personality and general concern combine to produce strong student engagement, learning and remarkable relationships both in and out of the classroom. Jennifer is one of a kind, and it is a pleasure to have her in our division.”

During her time at Valencia, Jennifer is especially proud that she coordinated the mentoring group REGAL (Remarkably Elegant, Gifted, Ambitious Ladies) for the Bridges to Success department. “That experience really allowed me to realize how much I valued student relationships and taught me so much about who I was as an educator and leader,” Jennifer explained. “To this day, I am still in contact with the ladies of that mentoring group. And even still, they ask for recommendation letters. Most are graduating with their bachelor’s this year or have graduated already, which makes me extremely proud.”

In addition, five years ago, Jennifer started the International Debate Showcase, which is a debate between Rollins College and another visiting team from a different country that is held for the Valencia community on West Campus.

“The very first debate was on the Stand Your Ground Law and was a big topic at the time because of the Trayvon Martin case,” she explained. “That debate was a success and brought students, people from the community and even the local media together here on West Campus. Since then, we’ve had more debates and teams from Miami, China and England have come to debate. This year, I hope to begin the process of starting a Valencia team.”

Jenny Lee explained that Jennifer is a great friend as well, as “she’ll be there for you at the drop of a hat … She’s also incredibly humble and modest … She does things because she feels it’s the right thing to do.”

Jennifer has an Associate in Arts from Valencia, a Bachelor of Arts in humanities from the University of South Florida and a Master of Liberal Studies from Rollins College. In her free time, she attends open mic events to perform poetry and loves going to the beach, kayaking and reading, especially comics.

Know of someone doing great work at the College, 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.

1 Comment

  • Loree Studevan said:

    Jennifer, amazing job. You are so awesome and such an inspiration.

    AMWed, 13 Apr 2016 11:29:58 +0000Wed, 13 Apr 2016 11:29:58 +0000am16,11:29 am

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