By Dani Moritz-Long
When faced with interpersonal conflict or witnessing conflict between others, many prefer to retreat to the shadows — safely distanced from the conflict at play. This isn’t the case for Trisha Whitmire.
After taking a women’s studies course at the University of Central Florida (UCF) and working alongside victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, Trisha developed a passion for violence prevention. Hoping to mold her career into a life of serving others, she completed her bachelor’s degree in public affairs and behavioral sciences and her master’s degree in criminal justice.
Though her path led to a brief hiatus from her violence prevention work (Trisha spent a few years at sea traveling the world as a photographer for Princess Cruises), she ultimately commenced her criminal justice career at SafeHouse of Seminole County as a victims advocate. After teaching at UCF and Valencia College, she found her current role as the Valencia College project coordinator for the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women Grant. Translation: Trisha develops and implements violence prevention trainings and supports her colleagues in handling cases involving sexual violence or gender-based discrimination.
“I get the chance to work with people on all of the campuses and speak about these social problems that are so important to me,” Trisha said. “I love every minute of what I do.”
Continuing, she said, “I love that in my role I get to combine two of my passions: violence prevention and teaching. I spend a lot of time developing and presenting trainings to students about issues that are important to me. I feel like if I can help one student during a presentation, either through providing resources or educating about issues, then I’ve succeeded. My favorite presentations include choose-your-own-adventure scenarios where participants are in the shoes of someone being impacted by these problems, either directly or as a friend. I find that taking on those roles in the activities brings about great conversations and opens participants’ eyes about what it may feel like to experience these issues.”
To date, Trisha says one of her greatest accomplishments is working alongside her colleagues to develop the recently launched Be the One student program, which educates Valencia students about interpersonal violence, sexual assault, stalking, consent and bystander intervention, as well as Valencia’s policies and various support resources.
As someone who considers Valencia a second home, Trisha deeply appreciates the opportunity to serve Valencia’s students and help sustain a safe and empowering college community.
“From the first time I started working here as an adjunct professor, I immediately felt as though I belonged,” she said. “In speaking with students recently during focus groups, I learned that they feel the same way. I see that the community views Valencia as someplace where everyone is welcome and that everyone deserves to receive the education they desire.”
Lauren Kelly, director, equal opportunity and employee relations, says she’s grateful that Trisha is part of that community.
“I really enjoy working with Trisha,” Lauren said. “She is a self-starter who has a genuine care and concern for people that shows in her work.”
Outside of work, you’ll find Trisha working toward her doctorate of philosophy in sociology. You’ll also find her enjoying the art of crafting. This holiday season, she combined her passion for art with her dedication to serve by creating holiday cards for children who lost someone in a mass shooting. Examples of her crafts, including her holiday cards, are pictured above.
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.