Featured Colleague: Marsha Butler Channels Her Own Experiences to Transform the Lives of Students and ColleaguesShare
By Dani Moritz-Long
Some of us are fortunate enough to pin down our ideal career, outline our path and march onward and upward all by the eighth grade. Of course, those lucky enough to have everything figured out so early are few and far between. Most of us, like New Student Experience (NSE) Faculty Marsha Butler, take a little more time to develop our interests and figure out which of our passions would make for the best career.
Recalling her own not-too-straight-and-narrow path, Marsha says, “When I was in college, I struggled with determining a degree. I loved science and math but opted for a completely different career: teaching. When I completed an internship in college at an elementary school, I then learned that I was not cut out to be an [elementary school] teacher.”
What she did eventually figure out is that she could call upon her own experiences to help educate others as they navigate their educational and professional pathways.
“The NSE course is by far my favorite course to teach because the students learn about themselves, their careers and how to navigate college,” she said. “Teaching the NSE course allows me to help students identify their careers that connect to their purpose, passions, interests, values and strengths.”
Teaching NSE also enables Marsha to find the diamonds in the rough.
“The uncommon scholars are the ones who have not always been the best student in high school, but sometimes these are the best students in college,” she said. “I had a student in a course once who I could see had so much potential. However, he constantly second guessed himself because he almost dropped out of high school. I encouraged him throughout the semester and eventually recommended he apply to be in the honors program. He applied and was accepted, but he still did not believe he was an honors student. We speak each semester, and I have seen him grow academically. He expressed how my commitment to encouraging and supporting him has allowed him to experience something he never thought he would be a part of. He was finally in a place to know that he was honors material.”
While Marsha finds comfort and pride in her own experiences like this, she’s even more heartened by the collective experience and culture of her colleagues and campus leadership — like West and Downtown Campus President Falecia Williams, who inspires faculty by asserting Valencia’s ability to help transform its students into academic rock stars.
One of Marsha’s favorite ways to mold students into rock stars is through study abroad, which serves as an excellent opportunity for students to come out of their shell and spread their wings.
“College is more than just the courses,” Marsha said. “It’s about allowing yourself to grow — personally, professionally and socially.” And what better way to grow than by exposing yourself to the unknown?
Commenting on Marsha’s own rock star status, Karen Reilly, campus dean, learning support, said, “It was clear early on that Marsha would thrive as a new employee to Valencia. She found her niche in participating in all that she could possibly take on. Marsha is fully engaged with her students, and, admirably, she is equally committed to exemplifying lifelong learning. She has eagerly participated in Valencia’s professional development offerings like SAGE, First 30, Destination, along with her dissertation and a myriad of other things, to help improve her knowledge and her students’ learning.
Her students appreciate this wisdom in the classroom as well as her wit and direct approach. This has allowed Marsha to excel at the personal connection outcome as envisioned for the NSE.”
Marsha’s colleague, Nichole Nikolic, adjunct professor, student life skills, NSE, says Marsha also serves as an excellent mentor and role model — particularly for adjunct faculty.
To mentor others, Marsha, who has a master’s degree in human resources (HR) development, calls upon her background in HR, which taught her the importance of transformational leadership, and her personal purpose statement: “To inspire and motivate others to be the best version of themselves and to help them accomplish their goals.”
When Marsha isn’t busy at the College, you can find her working on her doctorate in education or adding stamps to her passport (the United Arab Emirates is up next over Spring Break).
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.