A Message from Kathleen Plinske, President, Osceola, Lake Nona, and Poinciana Campuses
This week, I am sharing several additional biographies of our new full-time faculty. We have a plethora of new people joining us, and I am excited to have them work with our students.
Demetrius Smith, Professor, Political Science, Osceola Campus
Demetrius is from Winter Haven, Florida. He has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a master’s degree in public administration, both from Florida A&M University. He has been a part-time professor for the last eight years, teaching public administration and political science at different colleges and universities throughout Central Florida. He started his career at Valencia College working on both the West and Osceola Campuses in 2011.
When Demetrius is not teaching, he enjoys spending time with family, reading and researching in sports. He loves basketball and golf even though he’s not good at them.
Doug served as an administrator, lecturer, instructional designer and training coordinator for the English Department at the University of Maryland, College Park, before moving to Florida to work for Disney as a communications manager. With experience in teaching academic and professional writing, script writing, introduction to drama, film, African American literature and culture, and tutor training, he can’t wait to return to the classroom. Doug was awarded an international scholarship for his doctoral studies at the University of York in England, which gave him the opportunity to spend half the year in York and half the year in the United States in order to teach, research and write his dissertation on political drama dealing with race.
Doug has also written and produced his own dramatic scripts while establishing industry connections with script writing professionals. He currently serves as an academic editor for Gale’s Contemporary Literary Criticism and Drama Criticism series, and his recent publications can be found in “Continuum: The Journal of African Diaspora Drama, Theatre and Performance” and “Praxis: A Writing Center Journal.”
Laurentia Brooks, Professor, English, Poinciana Campus
Laurentia began her career at Valencia College as a part-time professor of English in 2017, when the Poinciana Campus first opened. As a native of Chicago, Illinois, she has worked in education since her first job at age 14. While acquiring her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago, she continued working for Chicago Public Schools in various support roles. Immediately following graduation, she continued her service at Chicago Public Schools, working full time in the Human Resources Department. Eventually she found herself back in the classroom, this time, standing in front of students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Passionate about her role in education and determined to enter into higher education, she returned to school, acquiring a master’s degree in English and creative writing from Southern New Hampshire University. Laurentia believes that no matter what you believe you want in life, you will be strategically placed where you are destined to be, and this is a philosophy she aims to instill in her students. She enjoys spending time with her two sons and her dog, riding bikes (motorcycles included), watching football (go Bears!), fishing and water sports.
Ashley Kastner, Professor, English, Poinciana Campus
Ashley has been teaching as a part-time faculty member at Valencia for the last four years at East Campus and completed her first semester at Poinciana Campus in spring 2019. She has her bachelor’s degree in English and psychology from Flagler College as well as her master’s degree in literary, cultural and textual studies from the University of Central Florida. During her studies, she completed multiple independent studies focused on the writing styles of Jane Austen and Emily Dickinson. In her time outside of school, she works as the assistant director of food and beverage for a local Orlando resort and tries to convince people that she’s not a cat lady because she also has a dog. She’s excited to be teaching full time at the Poinciana Campus this fall because she thoroughly enjoyed her first semester and was immediately struck by the inclusiveness and welcoming attitude of not just the students, but also the faculty and staff at the Poinciana Campus.