By Dani Moritz-Long
Many people would describe Valencia College as a beacon of light. Professor of Mass Communication and Journalism Rebecca Newman takes the metaphor a step further — comparing Valencia’s light to that of the bat signal.
“The signal calls people from all walks of life and accepts them, treats them well and provides tremendous opportunities for them to improve their lives,” she said. “I see how well we work with and support our community and how much they appreciate Valencia, and that is what really makes me proud to work here.”
Continuing, she said, “Honestly, what inspires me so much at Valencia is this incredible, enthusiastic bunch of diverse young (and older) people who go to school here. They are bright, curious and engaging. So many of them are extremely busy people who somehow manage to work — sometimes full time, but at least part time — and go to school (usually quite successfully). Yes, they are sometimes tired and overwhelmed, but they are dead set on learning new skills and finding out the right fit for them for their future or changing education or careers.”
That’s where Rebecca comes in. A superhero herself to many Valencia College students, Rebecca emits a bat signal of her own and embraces students who come to her for help.
She does this by defining her role holistically. She’s not only an instructor, but an advisor, a coach and a mentor. In her journalism classes, for example, Rebecca does much more than teach her students Associated Press (AP) style and help them build portfolios.
“While I do spend time teaching some journalistic basics, I hope to inspire, motivate and encourage students to do their best work, ask the right questions and dig for the true facts,” she said. “In my role as professor, I hope that my students feel like they are getting some real-world media experiences in the assignments I give along with some practical takeaways — theories, case studies and critical thinking about media concepts that they can use outside the classroom.”
Similarly, in her social media courses, she’s doing so much more than teaching the fundamentals of algorithms, KPIs (key performance indicators) and the like. She’s fostering the kind of meaningful connection that transcends the core objectives noted in her syllabus and, simultaneously, she embodies the power of her social media subject matter.
Outside the classroom, Rebecca also serves as a mentor and advisor to the students behind the Valencia Voice, Valencia College’s student news organization.
“Valencia has given me so many opportunities to accomplish different things,” she said. “As an adjunct, I earned the Digital Professor Certificate, LifeMap Certificate, took as many professional development courses as I could, and created new media classes — including Introduction to Public Relations (PUR2003) and Writing for Social Media (MMC2150) — with patient, caring, experienced Valencia colleagues. I am proud of the Valencia Voice renaissance that is currently underway, my connections with area professionals that always come to speak to my students either face to face or online when I ask, and for being on the team that created the new A.S. Degree in New Media.”
Dean of Communications Linda Neal is proud of Rebecca’s vast contributions to the department.
“She has made a significant contribution to the College through her work with the Valencia Voice and the brand new A.S. in New Media Communication degree,” Linda said.
Outside of Valencia College, you’ll find Rebecca and her family volunteering at HOPE Helps — an organization devoted to the prevention and reduction of homelessness — reading, playing Fantasy Football and traveling.
“I like to experience new places, food and people,” she said. “I also spend time with my family — I have two teenagers, eek! Lately, I go to a lot of dance competitions, cross country meets and flag football games.”
Know of someone who embodies one of Valencia’s values (learning, people, diversity, access or integrity), who has been an employee for at least one year? 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.