By Claudia Zequeira
Kinyel Ragland, professor, political science, wears many hats. But a passion for teaching, mentoring and helping others anchors his professional achievements.
At Valencia College’s Osceola Region, Kinyel teaches U.S. Government, State and Local Government, Introduction to Peace Studies, Introduction to Sociology and International Politics. He also serves as mentor of the Valencia College Horizon Scholars program, which seeks to increase college access and professional opportunities for low-income students in grades 9 through 12 and the Bridges to Success Molding Men for Tomorrow program. He also served as division coordinator in the past, observing and evaluating part-time faculty in classroom and online sessions.
Kinyel, who is on track to earn tenure and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Central Florida, said a career fair hosted by the College brought him to Valencia years ago, which led to an opportunity to teach as an adjunct beginning in 2011. He chose to teach and grow here, he said, because he feels he and his students have many shared experiences.
“I see myself in the students that I serve,” Kinyel said. “I started at a community college, and I remember being in a place where I was often times confused in the complexities of the college system, especially being a first-generation student.”
And like some of this students, he was forced to interrupt his studies and find a job. After spending years working for a company, mass layoffs caused him to reevaluate his life. It was at that point that he finished his Bachelor of Arts in political science at Brooklyn College, where he also went on to earn his Master of Arts in urban policy and administration.
He also said Valencia’s role as a cornerstone of the community is another reason he loves working here. He particularly admires our dual-enrollment partnership with the school district, our DirectConnect relationship with the University of Central Florida, our new CareerSource Central Florida office at the Osceola Campus and the new and increased roster of Accelerated Skills Training programs available there. Kinyel also enjoys the relationship his campus has developed with local politicians, some of whom visit and speak to students on a regular basis.
“I am glad to be part of a team and a campus that is truly concerned about the academic and well-being of our students,” Kinyel said.
“What inspires me and keeps me going is the opportunity to utilize my position as a professor to lead, push and advise our students who have had the same experiences that I have had. I want to see these students start and finish with their degrees, and if I can be a conduit for them to reach this goal, I am fulfilling my purpose,” he added.
While living in New York City, Kinyel also performed before live audiences. As a lead organizer of the Universal Hip Hop Parade, a Brooklyn organization, he rapped in the neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant. His purpose, he said, was to celebrate the legacy of Marcus Garvey while simultaneously speaking out against the displacement of local residents due to gentrification.
Prior to working at Valencia, Kinyel worked as a K-12 instructor at Visions Educational Learning Center, a school that supports children with learning disabilities; the Salvation Army and Orlando Technical School, where he prepared students for the Test for Adult Basic Education; and After School Program (ASP), where he tutored students in grades 3-5 in multiple subjects.
Kinyel has also participated in a multitude of research projects. Topics and areas he has worked on include black males in education, discriminatory practices on immigrant service workers in New York City restaurants, investigating the experiences of Latinx students at UCF and researching the lack of shared decision-making among parents and physicians concerning the mental and physical health of children, among others.
In addition, he has volunteered as a chess instructor at Whispering Oak Elementary, in Winter Garden and the American Civil Liberties at the University of Central Florida.
In his free time, which he admitted is very limited, Kinyel likes to read, write, ride his bicycle and spend time with his family.
“I like to hang out with my wife and kids, and some buddies of mine when I can,” he said.
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.