By Joy S. Jones
“It’s very exciting to work for an organization that is always on the cutting edge of educational trends, innovation and learning,” says Raquel Morales, a nursing division coordinator, career program advisor.
One such trend is the intrusive advising model, which Raquel states is one of the most powerful educational trends to sweep across college campuses in decades. The intrusive advising model is one of the main objectives of Valencia’s PATHWAYS Title III grant and calls for, as its name suggests, a high-touch approach to advising and communicating with students at critical points in their educational journey.
“Students in the PATHWAYS cohorts can’t register until they are advised,” Title III Project Director Cathy Penfold Navarro explained. “The advising curriculum includes individual advising, group advising or an online advising experience, and students who participate in intrusive advising are more likely to be on track toward their degree.”
“It is invigorating to know that I am part of a team that is building the way for tomorrow’s advising strategies,” said Raquel. “By being proactive, the goal is to increase persistence, completion of courses and transfer readiness, and Valencia is among the colleges that is on board with this philosophy.”
By her own account, Raquel is fortunate to have a rewarding and long history with Valencia, beginning as a student in 1994, after graduating from Orlando’s University High School. Although she was offered admission to Rollins College, she was drawn to Valencia after witnessing a peer advisor presentation on date rape during her senior year. She was so intrigued by their presentation that she applied for and was selected for a peer advisor position at Valencia, becoming the youngest peer advisor ever hired without any previous college experience.
“Serving as a peer advisor was an incredible experience, and it gave me the opportunity to network and foster relationships with individuals in many facets of the College.”
Raquel completed her bachelor’s degree in organizational communication at Rollins. Upon graduation, she still yearned for the work that she’d done with Valencia. And in July of 1998, she found work in the East Campus counseling office, first as a part-time academic advisor, which soon became a full-time role.
“I served in this position for 16 years and enjoyed every minute of it, as it gave me a chance to assist students in their pursuit of education both inside and outside of the classroom,” she recounted. “I was able to optimize students’ accomplishments and learning experiences by giving them the LifeMap tools that help empower them to be productive, successful and independent learners. I feel accomplished and successful when my students are successful.”
Raquel is now a career program advisor for pre-nursing students on Valencia’s West Campus and brings a wealth of knowledge and skill to her cohort of pre-nursing students.
“What Raquel is doing is already making a difference,” said Cathy. “She integrated career exploration into front-door advising for students in the PATHWAYS pre-nursing cohort, designing learning experiences so students could immediately deepen their knowledge about what it means to be a nurse and what it takes to get there. For those students, an early career decision helped them get on the right educational pathway toward a degree and career that fits their interests and goals.”
Raquel states, “my goal is to ensure excellence in learning at Valencia so that our nursing graduates or transfers will continue to be highly respected and sought-after within the health profession and the community.”
West Campus Director of Advising Ed Holmes noted that Raquel has been able to meet specific goals so that students in her cohorts 1) are knowledgeable of the academic rigor of a nursing program; 2) can articulate what is involved in being a nurse and 3) are registered for the right courses for their major.
“In fact, 93 percent of students in the pre-nursing cohort were taking courses aligned with their My Education Plan,” Cathy said, “and intrusive advising is working at Valencia. We are already seeing results — higher persistent rates and more credits completed.”
Raquel believes that Valencia’s equal access and open-door policy make it possible for anyone who has a desire to learn and succeed to get a college education. “Valencia says you can accomplish your dreams,” she said.
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.