Featured Colleague: Kevin West Musters Strength With the Support of Valencia Team

By Dani Moritz-Long

For Kevin West, trades and maintenance supervisor, his wife and three daughters are the center of his universe, but that universe nearly collapsed. Just six months ago, Kevin’s wife, Mary, faced a seemingly impossible journey. Diagnosed with Stage I Multiple Myeloma, a type of blood cancer, the doctors gave her and her and her family a difficult prognosis.

“You can undergo treatment or you’re not going to make it,” the doctors told them.

It would be a long and arduous journey, but Mary — already a Thyroid Cancer survivor — decided to fight.

Fighting, however, meant spending days — sometimes weeks — away from her family, which includes two young children (four and 11). Mary often endured crippling treatment, ranging from chemotherapy that left her bruised and battered, to stem cell transplantation, which required her to spend several weeks away from her home and, because of a resulting weakened immune system, prevented her from even seeing her children.

Meanwhile, Kevin was left to manage his family on his own — balancing work, his children’s needs and even his academic program as, thanks to Valencia’s Employee Development Funds, Kevin is currently enrolled in our bachelor’s degree in business and organizational leadership program. “Challenging” doesn’t begin to cover it, but the worst part, Kevin says, had nothing to do with organizing meals or managing complex schedules.

“Trying to answer a four-year-old child’s question, ‘where’s mom, where is she,’ … that was hard,” Kevin said, with tears welling in his eyes.

So, what got him through it? Faith first and foremost, Kevin explained, with a very close second — his Valencia family.

Specifically, Kevin says he appreciates his supervisor, Troy Rogers, superintendent, plant operations, who empowered Kevin with the flexibility he needed to work reduced or different hours, or even work from home, his colleagues within Organizational Development and Human Resources, who helped him navigate Valencia’s policies, and especially his team.

“Everyone stepped up and went above and beyond for me,” Kevin said, detailing their willingness to surpass their job duties to keep everything in order and their willingness to support Kevin personally, often encouraging him to go home and take time to breathe and even bringing him pre-cooked meals.

“It’s the strength of the family here,” Kevin said. “This is home for me; I’m never going to go anywhere else.”

Troy, Kevin’s supervisor, is glad to hear it.

“Kevin is an extremely dedicated professional with a passion for providing extraordinary service to Valencia College students, staff and faculty,” Troy said. “Kevin is a thoughtful, empathetic leader and we are lucky to have him on the Plant Operations team.”

Fortunately, Kevin’s wife, Mary, has now completed her treatments and is doing better every day, with plans to return to teaching language arts at an area middle school this coming fall. And while Mary’s recent treatment is only designed to extend her life for another 15 years — the disease is manageable, not curable — Kevin is faithful that technology will develop enough in the next 15 years to change his wife’s prognosis. Valencia College, after all, has taught him that anything is possible.

Know of someone who embodies one of Valencia’s values (learning, people, diversity, access or integrity), who has been an employee for at least one year? 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.

5 Comments

  • Yaremis Fullana said:

    This article should come with a warning. Tissues needed to get through it. I am happy that Valencia has been understanding to Kevin's need and pray that his wife gains the strength she needs to move forward.

    PMTue, 11 Jun 2019 17:03:11 +0000Tue, 11 Jun 2019 17:03:11 +0000pm19,5:03 pm

  • Karen Murray said:

    Kevin, I wish you and your family strength and health!

    PMTue, 11 Jun 2019 20:15:14 +0000Tue, 11 Jun 2019 20:15:14 +0000pm19,8:15 pm

  • Kourtney Baldwin said:

    Praise God your wife is better! As a cancer survivor, I completely understand your journey.
    Thanks for sharing your story. It's a blessing to work at Valencia….we are a family!

    AMWed, 12 Jun 2019 11:29:00 +0000Wed, 12 Jun 2019 11:29:00 +0000am19,11:29 am

  • Ryan Singh said:

    Thank God everything is well. Kevin, I wish you and your family all the best.

    AMTue, 18 Jun 2019 11:06:42 +0000Tue, 18 Jun 2019 11:06:42 +0000am19,11:06 am

  • caridad carbo-noll said:

    thanks you….I am mary mother….been through the awful stress, painful situation….AND I AGREE WITH YOU…KEVIN IS JUST WONDERFUL, JUST WONDERFUL…HE HS BEEN SUCH A WONDERFUL DOTING PARENT AND HUSBAND…I CANT SAY ENOUGH ABOUT KEVIN AND ALL HIS SELF SACRIFICING …MARY COULD HAVE NOT DONE IT WITHOUT HIM…AND HE IS A SUPER PROFESSIONAL, SO SMART , SOLVES PROBLEMS OTHERS CAN NOT….THANKS YOU FOR THIS WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL STORY ON KEVIN…

    AMWed, 19 Jun 2019 09:38:30 +0000Wed, 19 Jun 2019 09:38:30 +0000am19,9:38 am

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