A Message from Kathleen Plinske, Executive Vice President and Provost and President, Osceola, Lake Nona, and Poinciana Campuses
We’re welcoming a number of wildly talented full-time faculty to the Osceola, Lake Nona, and Poinciana Campuses this fall. They are either new to Valencia, or new to their position. Over the next several weeks, I’ll share their biographies as a preview of who will be joining our team. The biographies were authored by the faculty, so you’ll also get a sense of their personalities from what they shared.
Alina Siddiqui – Counselor, Osceola Campus
Originally from Pakistan, Alina Siddiqui started as a counselor on Osceola Campus earlier this year. As a counselor, Alina is passionate about student wellness and prevention initiatives. Before starting at Valencia, Alina worked extensively with international students, especially students on academic probation and/or under emotional distress by providing intervention-focused advising. Alina holds a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from the University of Central Florida (UCF). Currently, she is working toward becoming licensed as a marriage and family therapist for the State of Florida.
Gabrielle Cuan – Professor, Speech, Osceola Campus
Gabrielle is returning to the Osceola Campus after teaching at the Poinciana Campus for one year. She has been part of the Valencia community as a speech faculty member since 2002 and has enjoyed teaching at four different campuses. (Because she has spent so much time at Osceola Campus, she affectionately calls it her “home campus.”)
Gabrielle feels most purposeful when she is helping others grow, feels empowered and is making meaningful connections. Classroom teaching at Valencia and leading a support group for women at her church, among other activities, provide her rewarding outlets for her passions. She also enjoys mission work, travel, photography, vacations, learning from other cultures, writing, reading and the ocean that soothes her soul.
Gabrielle is grateful to be married to Oscar Cuan, who is also a speech professor at Osceola. Together, they advise and work with students within the CRU club on campus. So far, she has earned a master’s degree in organizational communication and a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism. She is from Virginia and has also lived in Oklahoma and Costa Rica.
Rollie Lewis – Professor, English for Academic Purposes (EAP), Osceola Campus
When Rollie Lewis left her job in human resources to teach English in Japan, she knew immediately that she had found her passion. After spending several years teaching abroad, she returned home to Orlando to pursue her master’s degree in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) from UCF — where she hoped to help Florida’s immigrant and international student populations pursue their academic and professional dreams.
She loves watching her students bridge gaps and foster compassion when they are able to talk, work and build relationships with people whose backgrounds are different than their own.
Rollie’s career at Valencia began in 2012 as a part-time EAP professor on West Campus. She also filled the role of lead instructor in Valencia’s Intensive English Program before transferring to Osceola Campus in fall 2017. After serving a year as an annually appointed faculty member in EAP at the Osceola Campus, Rollie will begin in the role of tenure-track professor in EAP at Osceola Campus this fall.
Niraj Wagh – Professor, Mathematics, Lake Nona Campus
This fall, Niraj will become a professor of mathematics at Lake Nona Campus. He earned his master’s degree in mathematics at The Ohio State University in 2015 and wrote his master’s thesis on using mathematical models to analyze HIV and STI transmission rates in high-risk populations. He is currently working on his doctorate degree in higher education administration at the University of Florida. His research interests include increasing higher education access for minority and low-income students, affirmative action, and online education and technology. He earned his Digital Professor Certification in 2017 and has developed and taught courses in face-to-face, mixed-mode and online formats.
He believes that the classroom environment should be learning centered and utilizes many innovative and creative teaching methods with his students. He believes that every student, regardless of his or her academic background, can achieve success in mathematics.