By Wendy Jo Moyer
As fate would have it, Ozella Knox began her post-secondary education at a community college. Those two years set the stage for her higher education dreams; however, as the first person in her family to attend college, she had very little guidance. “Remembering the struggle to get that AA degree, and the difficulty of progressing on to earn a bachelor’s degree at UCF, continues to fuel my desire to help students achieve their higher education goals,” Ozella shared. And that mindset motivated Ozella to join Valencia 12 years ago.
In 2004, Ozella’s first Valencia role was staff assistant III in the Internship and Placement Office. “It was very satisfying to help student interns explore their chosen career, perhaps find a completely new path or use that experience to network and build their resume with meaningful experiences,” she said.
Yearning for a change, in 2008, she accepted a position in Continuing Education for the Division of Health Sciences. Since then, that position has evolved to implementation coordinator and now includes the Office of Clinical Compliance, which works closely with Allied Health and Nursing. Her daily tasks vary from assisting in budget preparation and tracking; acquisition of textbooks and course materials; auditing and reviewing procedures to improve efficiency; registering and advising Continuing Education students; to scheduling, maintaining and revising courses to align with the enrollment plan.
Ozella’s supervisor, Carol Millenson, manager, continuing educational and clinical compliance, praised Ozella’s work. “She has grown her skills and her participation as a team member, as we have worked together to develop strategies and efficiencies in both continuing education and clinical compliance.”
“Working in this department has given me the opportunity take on more responsibility to try new things,” Ozella recounted. “In addition to my usual duties, I began training incoming nursing and allied health students on the ‘what, why and how’ of respirator masks, something that everyone in the health industry should know. In the beginning, I was assisting my supervisor to train new students on how to protect themselves in the clinical setting by wearing a respirator mask. Now, I am responsible for training hundreds of students a year, and I train, supervise and certify student volunteers who help me with this task at new student orientations.”
“Ozella continues to stretch her knowledge and understanding at higher levels beyond her everyday tasks,” Carol said. “Her instincts for customer service remain very strong, and our students always comment on how helpful she is.”
This past year has been a great learning experience for Ozella. She is a member of a software implementation team, testing and making recommendations, for a new Continuing Education registration system that will integrate with Banner and will greatly benefit the Continuing Education department. She also facilitated the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) in April 2015, and participated in New Student Experience GoBe events that help students start college with confidence.
Besides her official role, in 2014, she also wore the hat of West Campus Career Staff Association (CSA) Chair. “That year was probably the busiest and the most fun for me, getting to know some really wonderful people and planning events like the Chili Cook-Off and the CSA Ice Cream Social,” she reminisced. “I even got to work with the marketing department to promote and encourage CSA membership and presence on West Campus, and to highlight community service interests and professional development opportunities for career staff.”
In addition, her CSA leadership earned her the opportunity to sit in the audience when President of the United States Barack Obama visited the West Campus.
And, if 2014 wasn’t busy enough for her, she also graduated from PIVOT 180. “I learned many things about leadership, teamwork, community and, most surprisingly, about myself,” she said.
Ozella added, “I am deeply appreciative that Valencia encourages and promotes employee learning and advancement through professional development workshops and programs, classes and resource materials and by offering tuition reimbursement as part of our employee benefits. We are also encouraged to embrace the world through the arts, travel opportunities and learning experiences, which uplift and inspire us in new ways.”
Ozella earned an Associate in Arts in general education and business administration at Brevard Community College, a Bachelor of Science in business administration and marketing from the University of Central Florida, and a Master of Science in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University. In her spare time, she likes to read and write short stories. She is currently working on a collection of family stories and adventures.
Know of someone doing great work at the College, 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.