Meet the Osceola New Student Orientation and Atlas Access Lab Teams

A message from Dr. Kathleen Plinske, Campus President, Osceola and Lake Nona

New Student Orientation

At Valencia, it is mandatory for all degree-seeking students to participate in an orientation session before registering for their first term. During orientation, students are introduced to Valencia’s policies and procedures, and important deadlines and college resources, including the LifeMap tools in their Atlas account. Following orientation, students are provided individual advising on which classes to choose for their first semester at Valencia. It is the goal of the orientation team that all students register for at least one class before they leave orientation.Cheri Root

Cheri Root, new student orientation coordinator, was born in Encino, California but moved a lot during her childhood because her father was in the Navy. At the age of 18 she settled in Texas and then seven years ago made her way to Florida. She graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in business. Cheri has worked in higher education for over 20 years; 15 of those being at a community college in Texas as the student activities director. She is married to a professional juggler/entertainer and has a 19-year-old son who is attending Florida State University. She also has her own photography business – a passion of hers since she was 16 years old.

Ramona Boulos

Ramona Boulos, orientation support specialist, is a Lebanese native that came to the United States when she was a teenager. Learning English was a bit challenging, as she was fluent in Arabic and knows the basics of French. She slowly learned English, first learning how to count. Ramona graduated with an A.A. from Valencia and is currently working on her bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Central Florida (UCF). Professionally, her dream is to advance within the field of higher education. She started off as a student leader in student development, and enjoys helping students with their process through Valencia and can relate to them since she was a graduate herself.


Atlas is Valencia’s online system that allows students to receive email and check information in their student records using a secure personal identification number. ATLAS stands for “Academic Technology for Learning and Support.” Students can sign up for an Atlas account as soon as they have been accepted for admission. If students do not have their own computer, or if they have trouble logging on to Atlas, they can receive assistance on campus at the Atlas Access Lab, Building 2, Room 130. Services are available on a walk-in basis and students can expect many computers available for their use and friendly assistants who can help them.

Heidi Shugg
Heidi Soflkiancs-Shugg, Atlas Access Lab coordinator, was born in Mt. Prospect, Illinois. She began her Valencia career as a peer advisor on the East Campus in 2000. After graduating from Valencia with an A.A. in general studies in 2001, she continued on to study at UCF and work as a part-time academic and honors advisor. In 2003 she obtained a position at the East Campus as one of the first answer center specialists. Then, in 2006, Heidi graduated from UCF with a bachelor’s degree in humanities and in philosophy, as well as a certificate in Judaic studies. That same year, she accepted a position at the Osceola Campus as the Atlas Access Lab coordinator. She is currently near completion of her master’s degree in liberal studies at Rollins College. After graduation Heidi is preparing to enroll in the doctoral program at UCF in educational leadership. One of Heidi’s passions is the humanities, and feels blessed to be working with a phenomenal humanities faculty member as her mentor and a very talented group of student leaders and support staff. A quote that she keeps with her from her time in the 2011/12 Leadership Academy is: “Success is getting up one more time than you fall.” – Anonymous.

Ramon Velez-Cruz

Ramon Velez-Cruz, Atlas support specialist, was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, but moved to Florida at the age of five. He first began his career at Valencia in the Atlas Lab, where he worked as an Atlas student leader. He is fluent in Spanish, finished his A.A. at Valencia, and now is seeking a bachelor’s degree in sociology from UCF. Ramon loves to travel, some of his major travel destinations have been England, France, and Spain. He is determined to become academic advisor to further help students on their journey at Valencia. It brings great joy to him to be able to help students and work with the student services staff.

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