By Dani Moritz-Long
More often than not, most of us perceive interruption as an obstacle in our work. Assistant Director of Transitions Planning Lorena Guardia, on the other hand, often finds inspiration in it — like, for example, when an alumna and parent of a prospective student interrupted a community presentation to share her Valencia story. The woman, Lorena explained, quickly broke down in tears as she told the other parents how Valencia helped kick-start her educational journey and empowered her to earn an A.S. degree to better herself and her family.
This, and experiences like it, is what drives Lorena in her work as part of the Transitions Planning team, a team dedicated to empowering high school students with the tools they need to become successful in their education and careers.
“Our Valencia College students inspire me the most,” she said. “I love hearing student stories and learning more about the challenges and successes of our students.”
She continued, “I think Valencia signifies hope to our community. A hope that comes from access to education that gives students an opportunity to begin and/or build on their education. Valencia’s reputation gives hope to students that we will provide the resources and knowledge that they need to succeed once they leave us, whether that be to continue pursuing their education or go into the workforce.”
Lorena, who has a bachelor’s degree in human resources management and master’s degree in college student affairs administration, has proudly been a part of this mission since 2016, when she joined the Transitions Planning team as a coordinator before being promoted to assistant director.
“I am incredibly proud of the growth of our team, which has allowed us to increase the number of touch-points we’ve had with prospective students in our community,” Lorena explained. “When I first started with the College, I served as a coordinator and I was the only person serving the Osceola region on our collegewide team. I now have the privilege of working with two other professionals who serve this area — Transition Coordinators Jessica Farnan and Aixa Rosario. As our team has grown, we have been able to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of our programs to meet a high demand, while also ensuring that we are serving the needs of our community.”
Lorena’s supervisor, Director of Transitions Planning Niurka Ferrer, says Lorena has been fundamental to that work.
“It has been great to have Lorena as part of the Transitions Planning team,” Niurka said. “She is passionate about college access, welcoming and helping students transition to the college experience and building student leaders. She joined our team as an outreach coordinator and now serves as the assistant director over the Osceola region team. She’s vibrant, gifted and dedicated to reaching students whose lives will be forever changed because of a college education. Her spirit for teamwork and excellence fuels our efforts as we take on the challenge of outreach and recruitment in Transitions Planning.”
In her free time, you can find Lorena participating in fitness activities like CrossFit and boxing (she completed her first full marathon this past January!), making use of her Disney annual pass and riding her favorite attraction, The People Mover, and binge watching her favorite TV shows.
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.