Featured Colleague: Yoshi Oyarzun’s Journey From Poinciana High School Student to Poinciana Campus Staff

By Dani Moritz-Long

We know it’s important for our students to encounter faculty and staff they can relate to — people who share our students’ background, experiences and challenges — so that our students can see themselves in the people they’re surrounded by. At Poinciana Campus, Yoshi Oyarzun, Atlas technical assistant, embodies this role.

Like many of our Poinciana Campus students, Yoshi graduated from Poinciana High School (PHS), and she recalls feeling like college wasn’t an option. At the time, she felt as though college was too expensive, and, without a campus close-by, she doubted the viability of completing a degree. Fortunately, as part of Valencia’s Got College initiative, Yoshi discovered that college is possible. She learned about financial aid and made arrangements to get to and from campus.

It wasn’t convenient. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.

Now, Yoshi has proudly earned her associate’s degree from Valencia and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida. At the same time, she’s working at Valencia College at the campus that now serves people just like her.

“I’m so proud to be part of the Poinciana Campus,” Yoshi explained. “We really needed a campus in the community, and this was a dream come true. In Poinciana specifically, higher education wasn’t within reach. Many of my classmates opted out of college and went straight into the workforce because school was too far or they couldn’t afford [or didn’t think they could afford] college. When Valencia’s Poinciana Campus opened its doors, that changed everything. It brought hope back, and now our campus continues to grow and provide for the community.”

Continuing, Yoshi said, “Just being a part of that mission is probably the most satisfying accomplishment. Something that once seemed difficult has become accessible and available to students in the Poinciana community.”

Director of Student Services Mary McGowan says Yoshi has quickly become an integral part of the Poinciana Campus community.

“Yoshi provides excellent service to students and has a great rapport with staff and faculty,” Mary explained. “She has contributed enormously to the warm and welcoming environment in the Poinciana Campus Atlas Lab.”

In turn, Yoshi says she appreciates the culture set by Mary and other Poinciana Campus leaders.

“What I like best about working at Valencia is that it feels like family,” Yoshi said. “Every single staff member here has a huge heart and cares about the education of our students. With such a diverse work culture, we integrate so well. It’s amazing. That’s what makes us one of the best colleges.”

Outside of work, you’ll find Yoshi enjoying local cuisine. She likes to try restaurants all over Central Florida, document her experiences and share her photos through Instagram. You can follow her — a self-described Instagram Foodie — at @407foodie.

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.


  • Jackie said:

    SO PROUD OF YOU YOSHI! Love Ya Mean It!

    PMTue, 12 Feb 2019 16:26:58 +0000Tue, 12 Feb 2019 16:26:58 +0000pm19,4:26 pm

    • Yoshi said:

      Thank you Jackie!
      You're definitely one of my inspirations!

      PMTue, 12 Feb 2019 17:04:12 +0000Tue, 12 Feb 2019 17:04:12 +0000pm19,5:04 pm

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