By Dani Moritz-Long
Solange Fernandez Del Pino, executive assistant, policy and general counsel, has traveled the world side-by-side with her husband, who served in the U.S. Air Force. Together, they have hopped from base to base — traveling from places like Spain, Solange’s homeland, to Utah and South Carolina to Germany. But of all the places in the world she has experienced, one of her favorites is right here in Orlando at Valencia College, a place she now happily calls home.
Upon moving to Florida, Solange says she was instantly attracted to Valencia as an employer — intrigued by the innovative, community-oriented culture and, as a travel enthusiast, Valencia’s line-up of benefits (including an extensive calendar of days off). So in 2012, when the perfect opportunity became available, she was eager to start her career with the school she had heard so much about.
Equipped with an associate of arts in linguistics and humanities, a passion for education and an impressive resume of administrative work for other educational institutions, such as Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Germany and The University of Central Florida, as well as organizations like Starwood Vacation Ownership, Solange was the perfect fit for the available executive assistant role in which she would serve Valencia’s leadership.
But even though Solange brought years of experience with her to the College, she admits she was anxious when she started in her role. “I was very nervous,” she said. “Every executive leadership is different. Getting to know how they work individually and as a team is essential and key to success.”
Needless to say, her fears quickly subsided as she became a part of the executive leadership family.
“Valencia’s board members and the senior team are strong, determined and passionate about the College’s mission,” she said. “Their unique personalities and backgrounds bring them together as a terrific team.”
Shifting focus to the College’s president, she said, “Dr. Shugart is an amazing leader and a wonderful human being. He is a role model for many to follow.”
Solange, of course, is one of the many people inspired by Dr. Shugart and his colleagues on the leadership team. Most of all, she is inspired by the team’s “passion for the power of education.”
In return, the team is grateful to have Solange on board as she has proved to be immensely talented at keeping everyone on task and ensuring everything is organized.
“Solange is a friendly and dependable resource in the Office of Policy and General Counsel, and she is a master at successfully juggling key tasks, not the least of which is her great staff work for our District Board of Trustees,” said her supervisor Bill Mullowney, vice president, policy and general counsel. “She is a valued member of our team, and I am thankful for her contributions every day. And, I understand she cooks a fantastic Paella…!”
Adding praise, Leslie Golden, associate general counsel, said, “Solange is everything you could want in a colleague — smart, savvy, thoughtful and a joy to be around. While keeping our office organized and on task, she somehow manages to cultivate relationships with others across the College that are so important to our work. I have yet to ask her a question to which she didn’t know the answer, or from whom to ask to get the answer. I am proud every day to have her represent the Office of Policy and General Counsel.”
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.