By Dani Moritz-Long
Three months before the end of her senior year of high school, Kristin Kaye, now a career advisor at Valencia, dropped out. Struggling with her courses and frustrated with education, she thought she was walking away from school forever — putting a painful part of her history behind her. So, she settled for a job that didn’t require a high school diploma or GED and started what she thought would be the rest of her life.
Six years later, however, her life took an unexpected turn.
Unhappy with her job and the limits of her educational shortcomings, she gathered all of the courage and determination she had to return to school. She earned her GED and applied to Valencia, a place she knew offered open access for students who, like her, wanted a second chance.
Almost instantly, everything changed.
“Once I started my classes,” she said, “I fell in love with the College.”
Through Valencia, she discovered a passion for learning and a vigor for school she didn’t know she had.
Impassioned by her newfound love of education, Kristin says she quickly realized that she not only wanted to complete her two-year, associate degree, but she wanted to pursue the education necessary to return to Valencia as a full-time employee.
She graduated from Valencia in 2010, earned her bachelor’s degree in history in 2013 and, two years later, graduated with a master’s degree in library and information science — something the 18-year-old Kristin would never have considered possible.
In 2014, she joined the College in her first role as a library assistant, later serving as an adjunct instructor for the New Student Experience and, now, as a career advisor.
Today, she uses her own experiences overcoming obstacles to inspire Valencia’s students and help them accomplish their own goals.
“As a career advisor, I assist students in all aspects of career development including degree and career exploration, researching transfer institutions, job market research, including salaries and job growth in various career fields, and going over career and personality assessment results,” she explained. “I additionally help students develop practical skills related to their careers by reviewing resumes and cover letters, and allowing them to practice formal interview skills through mock interviews.”
And her excellent work is being noticed. “Kristin is an extremely smart, talented and creative member of the Career Center team at Osceola,” shared her supervisor, John Britt, interim dean of students. “She has developed many wonderful workshops and events for our students, helping to build the skills necessary to be prepared for the job search process. We are so lucky to have her working with our students here at the Osceola campus.”
Along the way, Kristin has enjoyed not only working with students but also her colleagues, who embody Valencia’s values like integrity and access.
“I love feeling a sense of constant support from both my supervisors and my coworkers,” she said. “This trickles down into our work as advisors. Our supervisors want us to be successful in our roles; they ensure that happens, so we then provide that same level of support to our students.”
Most important to Kristin, however, is Valencia’s commitment to diversity.
“I love working with such a diverse group of students,” she said. “Diversity is everything from gender, age, learning style, background, to being a first-generation, first-time-in-college student. I especially love working with first-generation college students because that was me 10 years ago, and I can remember how lost I felt when I started, but the immense support I received from faculty and staff helped me feel more comfortable. That is what I hope to do for current and future students.”
In her free time, you can find Kristin traveling, visiting Disney World or cheering on the Anaheim Ducks. She embraces every moment she has to make new memories with friends, family, her fiance (her husband as of Monday, June 19, 2017) and her cat named Skittles.
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.