By Joy S. Jones
“When I think of Misty Ellis, I see a young, dedicated professional always striving to make things better than they were and being [an] accountable problem solver,” said Mike Favorit, West Campus manager of security. “She comes to work daily with the infectious, positive attitude that we can fix, help, support or resolve any blemish that may arise.”
Misty works as a security field supervisor on the West Campus and was selected as the “Employee of the Quarter” for the security department. According to Mike, Misty is “a true leader and team player.” About her job, she jokes that she functions as a firefighter.
“I put out the fires that come up, and I put out the fires that come down,” she says, referring to her responsibility to enforce College and departmental policies — like maintaining a smoke-free campus.
She’s directly involved in Valencia College Campus Security initiatives that are underway. A newly added bike patrol is coming to a campus near you and will complement the services currently provided to ensure campus safety. And on July 10, 2015, the West Campus will host an Emergency Full Scale Exercise with more than 12 partnering and response agencies for which Misty has taken the lead.
This training day exercise will include approximately 300-500 participants and will involve law enforcement and fire support from the City of Orlando along with their counterparts from Universal Studios and The Mall at Millenia, among other agencies. The exercise will test the capabilities of the College’s emergency plan and encompass all types of emergencies, including a natural disaster, active shooter and domestic dispute with hostage situation.
“Our emergency plan should be able to expand or contract depending on the need,” Misty explained. “And as the exercise director, this is a very exciting opportunity for our department and the College as a whole.” She’s also pleased with the addition of the bike patrol, as she was a member of the team that researched and brought the program to life.
Misty has spent the last 21 years in public service —15 years in Nebraska, where she gained experience in emergency management, prior to moving to Florida. She has been a Valencia employee for the past six years.
Coming from a background of enforcement, to campus security and Valencia’s culture, she shared that she is embracing and developing new skills.
“We have a much more customer-focused perspective — whether it’s helping people gain access to their vehicles or reuniting children separated from parents, we are much more proactive, than reactive,” she said.
What’s more, Misty is fascinated with the diverse experiences that everyone brings to the table and makes mention of a particular security department colleague with a background in special education.
“The way she handles troubled students when they come in our office — I’m in awe! With a background in corrections, I may have been more heavy handed before, but watching her has expanded my own abilities.”
Since joining Valencia, Misty has also earned her Associate in Arts degree in general studies and is grateful for the help she received from faculty and staff members alike. And she’s not stopping there, as she’s enrolled at the University of Central Florida and is in pursuit of a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology with a minor in public administration.
“Every day I am inspired by those I work alongside,” Misty said — and those she looks up to.
“A few years back, one of the first issues of Vitae that I read had an interview with Dr. Shugart. That interview has stuck with me ever since.”
The gist of the president’s message was not being afraid to stand up and do the right thing in the face of adversity.
“So often, we look at a VID and we forget the person on the other side and what’s impacting them. We have people who come in who are irate. And I’ve had students go off on me out of frustration. They may not have gotten books or did not follow the appropriate steps and spent time waiting in a line only to be sent elsewhere. More than what the policy says I can do for them, I try to find what they need. And sometimes what the student needs is a helping hand.”
Know of someone doing great work at the College, who has been an employee for one year or more? Send the colleague’s name to us at The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu so he or he can be one of our featured colleagues.