By Claudia Zequeira
For Sharon Shenton, professor, cardiopulmonary sciences, her love of health care started early.
Her mother, a nurse’s aid, first introduced her to the field and motivated her to work in a hospital while in high school. Upon graduation, she worked as an EKG technician, attending many types of emergencies as she tried to decide which educational path to take.
“I started following all the different professions, and I thought the most exciting profession was respiratory care,” Sharon said. “They were involved in the most acute situations … It was exciting.”
Since then, Sharon, a Chicago native, rose steadily in her field. After obtaining her Associate in Science degree and while working as a respiratory therapist, she worked on her bachelor’s degree in respiratory therapy, which she earned at the University of Central Florida (UCF). Several years later, while working as an education coordinator, she earned a master’s degree in education, also from UCF.
At Valencia, where she has been since 2013, she was hired to develop the Bachelor of Science in cardiopulmonary sciences, which provides opportunities for career advancement to credentialed graduates of respiratory care and cardiovascular technology programs.
Valencia’s program is almost entirely online and designed with flexibility for working professionals. Sharon also serves as program director and teaches many of the courses in the program, which has about 140 students.
“For my entire adult life I’ve always been able to find a job as a respiratory therapist and have been fortunate enough to have many good jobs,” Sharon said. “That’s what I tell my students … The bachelor’s degree helps with further development of their professional skills and is needed for career advancement.”
Sharon said what inspires her about working here is seeing the many ways in which the College helps students improve their lives, meeting students “where they’re at” and helping them accomplish their goals. Valencia, she said, also represents “hope and a pathway to a more successful life through quality education.”
She also shared that her favorite part of working at Valencia is her colleagues.
“People are very welcoming and interested in what you have to say,” she said. “I really enjoy that.” The faculty, she said, are also extremely dedicated and “very focused on their students.”
She also said she’s appreciative of the many opportunities for personal and professional growth. Sharon said she recently completed her PJI Peace and Justice Practitioner certification and Community of Scholars course.
Before Valencia, Sharon served as director of respiratory care at AdventHealth, formerly Florida Hospital, in Altamonte and Apopka. Sharon also oversaw the Associate in Science Respiratory Care program at Northwest New Jersey Consortium for Respiratory Care Education, in Denville, New Jersey, where she supervised and managed a host of functions, including accreditation, budget and clinical instruction. While there, she helped develop an A.S.-to-B.S. articulation agreement with Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Prior to that, Sharon worked as a respiratory therapy program administrator for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey–Rutgers, in Newark, New Jersey, where she oversaw the creation of curriculum, among other duties.
Marie Vasquez-Brooks, dean, School of Allied Health and Sharon’s supervisor, agrees Sharon is indeed a helper and supportive colleague, providing encouragement ranging from a kind word or note to valuable professional insight.
“She is always willing and often the first to provide insight and perspective,” said Marie.
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.