Featured Colleague: Lauren Zanders’ Leadership Provides Students a Positive Experience in Their Academic JourneyShare
By Wendy Jo Moyer
As a manager of student services, Lauren Zanders works firsthand to support our students to achieve their goals. Her leadership role in the East Campus Answer Center is a busy one.
“I am lucky enough to lead a team of 12 rock-star student services advisors,” Lauren exclaimed. “We aspire to create a welcoming environment that ensures students have a positive and fruitful first step on their academic journey. Our office assists students with services that range from admissions to graduation.”
Every day for Lauren is quite different. One day she may be hiring and training new advisors on the numerous areas of expertise they must have to assist our students, such as admission requirements, registration and new student processes, graduation procedures, and financial aid information and processing. Another day she may be developing plans to improve student services, and on others, she may be resolving student complaints.
And she juggles the busy responsibilities of leading the Answer Center with grace. “I am very impressed with the high expectations and standards Lauren exhibits on a daily basis,” explained her supervisor Joe Sarrubbo, dean of students. “The quality of her work and collaborative interactions with students and staff is equally as impressive. Lauren embodies the true traits of an effective leader — awareness, decisiveness, focus, accountability, integrity, optimism, inspiration and confidence. She cares deeply about our students, empowers and motivates her team to achieve success, leads with a pioneering spirit and demonstrates a deep allegiance to our important work.”
Although Lauren became student services manager in March 2017, she is not new to community college work or Valencia. She first joined Valencia in 2007 as a staff assistant in the former Office of Compliance, Diversity and Equity for two years, followed by another two years as a student services specialist in the West Campus Answer Center. Lauren explained that when she applied for this Answer Center role, her now supervisor, Joe, “gave me my first big break.” Joe knew then that a career in the Answer Center would be a perfect fit for Lauren.
Then for the seven years between her Valencia roles, she worked at Florida State College at Jacksonville as a student success advisor, campus enrollment leader/student success manager and interim associate director of student on-boarding.
What brought Lauren back to Valencia? “The Valencia culture is unlike any other workplace I know,” she shared. “I feel lucky to have begun my professional journey here. In my absence from the College, it became clear that the Valencia culture is set apart.”
Lauren added that she likes that Valencia invests in its staff, students and community, as well as the access the College provides to Central Florida residents. “As a College, Valencia has a ‘servant-heart,'” she said. “I think Valencia signifies opportunity. Our students are very diverse. We are creating paths to success for first-generation Americans, dislocated workers, future doctors and educators. Regardless of background, there is a place/path for everyone within Valencia.”
Lauren is a “proud AlumKnight,” as she earned a Master of Arts in educational leadership and a Bachelor of Arts in interdisciplinary studies with concentrations in humanities and public administration and a minor in sociology from the University of Central Florida. During undergrad, Lauren competed as a shot put and discus thrower for the Women’s Track and Field team.
Her favorite pastime is watching her very inquisitive 15-month-old-son explore the world with quizzical eyes. “Everything is new to him, but he rarely backs down from the challenge in front of him,” she said. “Student encounters in the Answer Center can be similar.”
She also enjoys reacquainting herself with Orlando by visiting local parks and food truck festivals with her husband and son.
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.