By Joy S. Jones
A visit to the Valencia College website reveals a photo among the rotating tiles at the lower left-hand corner that captures President Barack Obama’s March 20, 2014, West Campus visit. Emblazoned in the photograph is a “Valencia College” banner that fills the frame behind the President of the United States against a backdrop of students and faculty.
The 20-foot banner is the handiwork of Melissa Sztelle, coordinator of traffic/production in marketing and strategic communications, and is one of her biggest and proudest accomplishments at the College to date.
“It was a very tight deadline, and I worked with several members of the White House’s staff to make this happen and it paid off!” says Melissa. “The logo was beside the President on the White House website front page and front page of the Orlando Sentinel.”
It was to be the banner that was seen around the world.
“Melissa had banners created, literally in a matter of hours, that made such a national impact in the photos that day,” says Lucy Boudet, vice president of marketing and strategic communications. “She truly sweated it to meet the expectations of the White House advance team, who understandably had very precise requirements that were fluid up until hours prior to President Obama’s arrival. She really went above and beyond the call of duty for that event with such joy and grace. It was most impressive.”
Being a production manager and print buyer can be a very thankless job, Melissa shares, because she is always behind the scenes and most people don’t know who produces the signs or brochures. Nevertheless, she is very proud of her work.
“I have been a part of numerous projects that have made a difference within the College. All of them were challenging but very rewarding.”
Another such project was rebranding the College from “Valencia Community College” to “Valencia College.”
“It was a tremendous amount of work but great to see all the pieces come together from design, colors, printing and creating an online Web environment where the College could purchase stationery items,” Melissa states. “I also played an important role when the College won the Aspen Prize. Our department switched into high gear to publicize our achievement to the community and our colleagues.”
Melissa had large building banners printed for each campus, along with light pole banners, to highlight the award among students, staff, faculty and campus visitors and guests.
“It was an honor to be part of such a prestigious award,” she recalls. Very few things compare to doing what you find rewarding for a living.
“Besides that, there are many reasons why I like working at Valencia. The College has great benefits! I love having the time off to spend with my family and friends, which is priceless,” she says. “I also get to work with some of the most talented colleagues in the marketing world. Everyone is a joy to be around and they are an extension to my family.”
Among those “talented colleagues” is Lucy Boudet.
“Lucy inspires me each and every day to be a better leader, communicate more effectively and think through every situation to make the best decision possible,” Melissa shares. “She is very diplomatic, extremely supportive and encourages me to do my job to the best of my ability. She cares about her colleagues and subordinates and has become such a great friend and a tremendous mentor. I am truly lucky to be able to work with her and learn from her each and every day.”
About Valencia’s place in the community, Melissa says, “I believe Valencia College signifies a place to start in the community. So many students don’t know what they want to do after high school. I knew I wanted to go to college, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up! Valencia College gave me the starting point that I needed to venture into the next chapter of my life and start working toward my career goals. And I enjoyed every minute of it.”
Melissa received an Associate in Arts degree from Valencia College and a Bachelor’s degree in organizational communication from the University of Central Florida.
Know of someone doing great work at the College, who has been an employee for one year or more? Send the colleague’s name, along with what makes him or her standout, to The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu so he or she can be one of our featured colleagues.