Students Explore Action Painting

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

A Message from Wendy Givoglu, Interim President, East and Winter Park Campuses

On Thursday, October 7, 2021, Professor of English Anthony Baker’s 20th and 21st-century humanities classes took their artistic skills to the Winter Park Campus’ parking lot to explore “action painting,” a popular style of abstract expressionism made famous by artists such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning in the mid-20th century.

Before the activity, the class studied various components of painting: color, tone, line, shape, space and texture. They also familiarized themselves with many of the philosophies behind abstract expressionism. Students were then asked to free their emotions and express themselves spontaneously on the canvas at their feet.

With canvases laid and ideas flowing, in the true spirit of abstract expressionism, students took to task using old house paints, sticks, pallet knives and small brushes to compose their masterpieces. They experimented with flow and line, even using the height at which they stood and the wind to achieve various textures and outcomes. Falling leaves and sticks simply added to the texture of the works and the spontaneity of the experience.

After a week of drying, the students’ works were returned to the class for viewing. Many students appreciated the artistic process and were surprised and pleased by the quality of their paintings.

SGA and Student Development Host First On-campus Events Since Campus Closure

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

A Message from Wendy Givoglu, Interim President, East and Winter Park Campuses

The Valencia College Student Government Association (SGA) and Student Development kicked off their first on-campus fall 2021 event on Wednesday, September 15, 2021, with a “Paradise Cove” themed Club Rush and Resource Fair. This event introduced students to many clubs and organizations on campus. Even though most classes are virtual, 22 campus organizations participated in the event, and 250 students attended.

Pooky’s Pantry hosted “ReStock to ReOpen Challenge,” a food drive, from Monday, August 23 – Thursday, September 23, 2021. A total of $3,178 was collected collegewide. More than 70 students have been utilizing the East Campus pantry since the beginning of the fall semester.

Please continue to donate to Pooky’s Pantry using either of the methods below:

  1. Bring food or hygiene items to the administrator in Building 4, Room 134.
  2. Drop food in donation bins on campus: Building 4 (first floor, outside the pantry) and Building 5 (second floor).
  3. Donate to the Valencia College Foundation, click on “Give Now” and “Pooky’s Pantry Fund” as your designation.

Student Development presented a tribute to the 20th Anniversary of 9/11 on Friday, September 10, 2021. A display of pictures detailing the timeline of this historic event and a tribute to first responders was available for viewing.

On Thursday, October 7, 2021, the campus community participated in a Hispanic Heritage Month celebration and enjoyed a plate of authentic Hispanic cuisine while listening to both old and new Spanish music played by DJ Orlando of Press Play Entertainment.

“This celebration brought me joy since I was able to meet new people, and the Empanadas were delicious!” student leader Jaime Gilbert shared.

District Board of Trustees Celebrates Walt Disney World Partnership

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

In celebration of Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary, Valencia College’s District Board of Trustees thanked the company for its ongoing partnership with the College, during its Thursday, October 28, 2021, meeting. College President Kathleen Plinske acknowledged that Disney has been a partner with Valencia’s Hospitality and Culinary Arts program for more than 20 years — most recently making a $1.5 million investment in the Walt Disney World Center for Culinary Arts and Hospitality at the Downtown Campus. Additionally, Walt Disney World has invested in its cast members through the Disney Aspire Program, in which 400 students have completed associate degrees and nearly 30 students have completed bachelor’s degrees at Valencia.

“We see the impact that Disney has on our community each and every day and are so grateful for it,” Dr. Plinske shared. “For many of our students, Walt Disney World provides their first job, and for many of our graduates, Walt Disney World provides their dream job, particularly for students in our Hospitality and Culinary Arts program as well as our Arts program in Arts and Entertainment.”

To show the College’s thanks, Dr. Plinske presented two gifts, which were accepted by Tajiana Ancora-Brown, Walt Disney World director, external affairs: a creation by a student in Valencia’s Welding program, and a video that captures the impact of the partnership:

Student Services Business Process Redesign 
In August 2021, the College issued an Invitation to Negotiate (ITN), which sought experts in the field of student services and associated technologies to review the service operations and assess options for the future of Valencia’s student services. The Student Services Business Process Redesign will improve our students’ ability to navigate complex administrative processes from admissions to graduation. The board authorized the College to award ITN 2022-04, Student Services Business Process Redesign, to CampusWorks, Inc.

New Multi-campus Vehicle Wayfinding Signage 
Trustees authorized the College to enter into an agreement with Problocki Sign Company, LLC for the purchase and installation of vehicle wayfinding signage, which will replace all vehicle wayfinding signs collegewide, as many signs have deteriorated and require an update. To view the planned signage, view the board presentation.

Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value Air Filters 
As a result of COVID-19 and the focus on increasing air quality, the College transitioned to filters with Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) ratings to indicate how effectively the filters stop dust and other contaminants from passing through the filters and into the air.

The trustees authorized the College to award an Invitation to Bid (ITB) 2022-02, Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) Air Filters, to Andrews Filter & Supply Corp. The award of the ITB will establish a contractual relationship between Valencia and the vendor enabling the College to purchase MERV filters on an as-needed basis and at a discount off published catalog, price lists or retail pricing. The College will award a nonexclusive contract for a one year initial term with the option to renew for four additional one-year periods up to a cumulative total of five years, at a cost that may range up to $200,000 per year.

Health Insurance Liability Funding 
Valencia College is self-insured for the healthcare services provided to employees, families and retirees. Throughout the pandemic, the College has absorbed significant health care costs not covered by federal grant funding. With the board’s prior approval of the College’s state-approved Fund Balance Spending Plan, the board approved the transfer of $1.9 million from the operating fund balance to the Health Insurance Liability account maintained on the College’s balance sheet.

Faculty Governance Update 
Faculty Association President Michael Robbins provided a faculty governance update and introduced Downtown Campus Faculty Assembly President and Professor of English Nick Bekas and Faculty Assembly Past President and Professor of Math Roberta Carew to discuss their experience working at the Downtown Campus. They explained that the Downtown Campus had a challenging start in their opening year with a hurricane in the fall and the outbreak of a global pandemic in the spring. All Valencia campuses closed due to the pandemic. But now the campus is reopening and Nick and Roberta shared that Downtown Campus faculty are excited to be back and to continue their work of building partnerships with their neighboring communities and the University of Central Florida (UCF).

2030 Strategic Impact Plan: Career Credentials 
Dr. Plinske presented on Valencia’s Strategic Impact Plan, specifically about the goal on career credentials. View the presentation.

Downtown Campus Report 

The Downtown Campus report highlighted the Walt Disney World Center for Culinary Arts and Hospitality. Additionally, prior to the board meeting, trustees participated in a pre-meeting experience in which they toured the center and made chocolate roses in the culinary lab.

Downtown Campus Student Governance Association (SGA) Vice President Nomar Leiva presented the SGA report and explained that on the Downtown Campus, there is a continued commitment to creating a joint experience for Valencia and University of Central Florida (UCF) students, for example, students are invited to attend Valencia’s Spirt Week as well as UCF’s Homecoming Week.

Nomar also shared that students collegewide have expressed a desire to identify a Valencia mascot to boost institutional pride. The project has been proposed to Dr. Plinske and will be done in partnership with the College’s Marketing team.

Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III Grants
Dr. Plinske shared that during the fall term, Valencia College will be awarding $50 million in Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) III Grants to students enrolled in the Fall 2021 term. To read more about HEERF III funds, click here.

For more information on the meeting, click here. 

The next District Board of Trustees meeting will be held on Thursday, December 2, 2021, at 9:30 a.m. on the East Campus in Building 8, Room 101 and via Zoom.

2021 Veterans Day Events

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Veterans Day is Thursday, November 11, 2021, and to honor our veterans, we will be holding the following events across our campuses.

East Campus

Veterans of Valencia

Date: Wednesday, November 10, 2021
Time: 12 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Location: In front of Building 4 

Student Government Association (SGA), in collaboration with Student Development, wants to recognize our Valencia veteran students, faculty, staff and family. Various pictures of East Campus veterans will be displayed in front of Building 4.

Lake Nona Campus

Thank a Veteran

Date: Wednesday, November 10, 2021
TIme: 9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Location: Main Hallway

Join Lake Nona Student Government Association (SGA) and reflect on the meaning of Veterans Day and write thank you cards for veterans. Write a message of support and appreciation to veterans staying at the Lake Nona VA Medical Center.

Osceola and West Campuses

SGA Social Media Salute to our Veterans

Date: Thursday, November 11, 2021

The Osceola and West Campus SGAs will post a salute to our veterans via images and videos on their respective social media pages.

West Campus

Veteran Voices

Date: Tuesday, November 9, 2021
Time: 1 p.m.
Location: West Campus, SSB Patio

The Valencia African Heritage Association (VAHA) in partnership with the Arts and Humanities department is hosting “Veteran Voices — Valencia Celebrates Veterans on West” — a Veterans Day event to honor and connect with veterans in our community. The event will begin with a performance of the national anthem, followed by a dramatic reading from an ancient play and a panel discussion. Read more about the event.

Winter Park Campus

WPC Veteran’s Event

Date: Wednesday, November 3 – Tuesday, November 9, 2021
Time: All-day
Location: Security desk

Valencia students, faculty and staff will have the opportunity to write messages of support and thank you notes to veterans on a large communal poster. The poster will then be delivered to the Orlando VA Medical Center.

Featured Colleague: Jaclyn Taylor Helps Build Learning Leaders

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

By Jennifer Keefe

If you’ve attended a really great training at Valencia College, chances are, Jaclyn Taylor, coordinator, employee development, was a part of making it happen. From our Supervisor Series, to the Caffeine Buzz, Jaclyn plays a pivotal role on the Employee Development team.

She says that working with great people on projects like the Supervisor Series has allowed her to do great things.

“This opportunity to develop our supervisors each semester has taught me just how willing to grow our supervisors are,” she shares.

The growth mindset of the College is one of the things Jaclyn likes best about working here.

“I love going to work each day, knowing I am interacting with people from various backgrounds that all want to learn and develop in order to bring our Valencia to its best possible state,” Jaclyn says.

The funny thing is, since coming to the College from the Children’s Home Society in March 2020, she’s hardly had the chance to actually “go” to work. In fact, Jaclyn didn’t even set foot on a Valencia campus until summer 2021, more than a year after she was hired. Even now, most of her work has been remote.

One of Jaclyn’s latest projects involves the new MyDevelopment Plan, which she worked on with fellow Employee Development Coordinator Natasha McIlmurray. This new tool will allow Valencia employees to outline short- and long-term professional goals.

Jaclyn promotes the ideas of authenticity and empathy in her work. She co-creates and facilitates competency-based content for employees at the College at all levels. She also promotes our employee recognition program and reinforces the importance of performance management.

An Orlando-area native, Jaclyn is inspired by the drive our students have to succeed. She also understands where they are coming from.

“I have felt what it is like to be in a reactive state, like many of our students,” she explains. ”Multiple jobs, school, care-giving — all have unique responsibilities. But our students are here to do the best they can for themselves and the people they love.”

For her, the College signifies hope for our community. Her positive attitude and desire to help others has definitely been noticed by her team.

Interim Director of Employee Development Samuel Dunham really appreciates Jaclyn and her work.

“Jaclyn brings so much to the work through ideation and creative thought, he says. “She has such confidence and expertise in her skills that are evident in every space she enters. We are so fortunate to have her.”

She came to the College with lots of experience. She has worked in the field of learning and development for almost a decade.

Jaclyn says, even though she hasn’t met most of the people she trains yet, the important thing is that we get to know ourselves.

According to Jaclyn, getting to know yourself can come in a variety of ways, from taking a quiz on your home décor style to doing a more scientific self-assessment. She adds, “I’m a Maverick, ENFP, Provider/Stimulator, Mid-century Modern, and Type 7.”

When she’s not working, Jaclyn enjoys watching original movies and series on Netflix, reading mystery novels, and spending time with family and friends. She describes her ideal night as one spent “in front of a good bonfire with s’mores, laughs and the people I love.”

Jaclyn’s going to be pretty busy, though. She was recently selected as one of The Learning Guild’s Thirty Under 30 in Learning for 2021. This program, which runs from Monday, November 15 to Friday, November 19 is aimed at “building the next generation of learning leadership.”

Jaclyn says her selection is a real honor. She says she is “excited to represent Valencia with other learning professionals from around the globe.”

She is also hoping she and her significant other can soon adopt a puppy. Next up on her bucket list, though, is a trip to Tanzania to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

Know of someone who embodies one of Valencia’s values (learning, people, diversity, access or integrity), who has been an employee for at least one year? Send the colleague’s name to us at He or she might be one of our featured colleagues, subject to supervisor’s approval.

Support Arts Faculty During the Selected Fine Arts Faculty Exhibition

“Bride of Frankenstein” by Tara Gibbs-Tokarski, Visiting Professor, Art

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Valencia College’s Selected Fine Arts Faculty Exhibition, which celebrates the works of fine arts faculty across media and our campuses, is back in person at the Anita S. Wooten Gallery on the East Campus starting Thursday, November 4, 2021, and you’re invited to join the opening reception that evening from 6:30 – 8 p.m.

For the safety of our artists, guests and gallery staff, opening admission to the opening reception is limited to 100 guests. Please register on Eventbrite for free tickets. Masks that cover the nose and mouth are expected.

The show runs until December 10, 2021, and can be viewed during regular gallery hours: 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Bring Your Holiday Spirit to Your Zoom Meetings With New Backgrounds

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

The holiday season is almost here — which means it’s time to embrace all things merry and bright.

Bring the holiday spirit to your Zoom meetings by downloading these festive Holiday Zoom backgrounds.

Below are the instructions on how to add a virtual background to Zoom after you download it to your computer.

  1. Sign in to Zoom desktop client.
  2. Click Settings (On the top, right-hand corner of your screen, select your profile photo).
  3. Select Backgrounds and Filters.
  4. Click on an image to select the desired virtual background or add your own image by clicking +Add Image.
  5. To disable Virtual Background, choose the option None.

You may also add a background image during your Zoom meeting by joining the meeting and clicking on the arrow next to the “Video” icon. From the menu, select “Choose Virtual Background” and add your image as instructed above.

Ask Nurse Jessica: New Age Guidelines for Preventative Colonoscopies/Is Cologuard Covered by UHC?

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

A Message from Jessica Johnson, UnitedHealthcare Nurse Liaison 

Welcome to my monthly column, Ask Nurse Jessica. Since joining Valencia College as your full-time UnitedHealthcare (UHC) nurse liaison, I’ve received numerous questions about how I can help you and your family make better healthcare decisions, provide support and clarification on UHC benefits; demonstrate how to navigate UHC tools and resources; refer you to appropriate wellness programs and services; provide support for chronic illnesses. 

This column is designed to answer those questions. If you would like to ask a question, simply email me with “Ask Nurse Jessica” in the subject line. Submissions will be anonymous in The Juice and The Grove and will be addressed monthly as they are received. 

This month, I’m actually covering two questions that I recently received, but they are both about colorectal cancer screenings, so I’ll answer them together.

What are the new age guidelines for preventative colonoscopies?

As of Friday, October 1, 2021, UnitedHealthcare has updated its Preventive Services Coverage Determination Guideline (CDG) with the updated colorectal cancer screening age recommendation from the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) to expand the recommended ages for colorectal cancer screening to 45 to 75 years (previously, it was 50 to 75 years), and it applies to adults 45 years and older who do not have signs or symptoms of colorectal cancer and who are at average risk for colorectal cancer.

Is the at-home kit, Cologuard, covered by Valencia College’s UnitedHealthcare (UHC) plan as a screening tool for colon cancer? 

Yes, Cologuard is included in our health insurance plan as a colon cancer screening tool. Cologuard is an easy-to-use, noninvasive colon cancer screening test based on the latest advances in stool DNA science. It is for adults 45 years or older who are at average risk for colon cancer, and it is available by prescription only. You can obtain an order through your primary care provider. Cologuard finds both cancer and precancer.

Here are a few other things to know about the test:

  • The Cologuard Collection Kit is easy to use, and it’s shipped directly to your home.
  • You collect a single stool sample using this kit from the privacy of your home and then send it to Exact Sciences Labs via prepaid UPS shipping or pick-up.
  • No special preparation, diet or medication changes are required.
  • No time off is required.
  • The results are then provided to your doctor, who will contact you to discuss next steps.

So how does Cologuard work? Every day the lining of your colon naturally sheds cells. If you have cancer or precancer in your colon, abnormal cells shed into the colon — along with normal cells — where they are picked up by stool as it passes through. Cologuard uses advanced stool DNA technology to find elevated levels of altered DNA and/or hemoglobin in these abnormal cells, which could be associated with cancer or precancer.

Cologuard is not for everyone. It is for individuals 45 years or older, and at average risk, but it is an option we want you to know is available. Talk to your doctor about what kind of colon cancer screening test is right for you. You can learn more about Cologuard at

What are some of the benefits and limits of colorectal cancer screening tests?

Here’s a little bit about each type of colon cancer screening. Be sure to talk with your doctor about which one may be right for you.

  • Stool test: There are three types of stool tests. The guaiac-based fecal occult blood test and fecal immunochemical test both check for blood in your stool (blood could be an indicator that there’s a polyp or cancer). Both kinds of tests are done once a year. The stool DNA test checks for actual cancer cells in the stool and is done every one or three years.
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy: Your doctor inserts a little lighted tube into your rectum and lower part of the colon to check for polyps or cancer. This is done every five years (or every 10, along with that stool DNA test mentioned above).
  • Colonoscopy: This is like the flexible sigmoidoscopy, but it checks the rectum and the whole colon. During a colonoscopy, the doctor may remove anything suspicious. This screening is done every 10 years for people at average risk. It can also be a follow-up test if something concerning is found in one of the screenings listed above.
  • Virtual colonoscopy: This uses X-rays and computers to create images of your colon for the doctor to analyze. This one is done every five years.

The test you choose may depend on your health, risk factors and personal comfort level with getting screened. The important thing is to talk to your doctor who can help you pick one — and have it done regularly.

What are the benefits and limits of stool DNA test Cologuard and colonoscopy screening tests?

For other questions, contact me at or 407- 866-8134.If you have any questions about your health insurance benefits or colon cancer screening options, please call the Customer Service number on your member ID card.

Students May Apply for Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds III Starting Friday

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Valencia College is awarding $50 million in Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) III grants to students enrolled in the Fall 2021 term, and applications for the first round of student aid will open Friday, November 5, 2021.

HEERF was established and funded by the federal government to provide emergency financial aid grants to students for any component of the student’s cost of attendance or for emergency costs that arise due to coronavirus, such as tuition, food, housing, health care (including mental health care) or child care. Valencia College plans to distribute the HEERF III emergency grants in multiple rounds with an application process that will begin on Friday, November 5 and will close on Tuesday, November 16, 2021.

In this round of HEERF funding, there will be three groups of students who are eligible for a grant. Each group will have unique eligibility criteria and will be eligible to apply for specified grant award amounts. Students who are eligible to apply for a HEERF III grant will be contacted through email. For an example email that will be sent to degree- and certificate-seeking students, click here. Students may only apply for one grant during this period, even if they meet multiple eligible criteria.

Degree- and Certificate-seeking Students

To be eligible to receive emergency aid as degree- or certificate-seeking students, they must be enrolled at Valencia College in at least one course in a degree or certificate program in the Fall 2021 term and have a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) certificate, or have completed homeschooling.

Eligible degree- and certificate-seeking students who apply for a HEERF III grant and have an expected family contribution (EFC) of zero through their 2021-22 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will receive $2,000. Students must have a 2021-22 FAFSA on file to be potentially eligible to receive this amount.

Eligible students who apply for a HEERF III grant and do not have an expected family contribution (EFC) of zero or students who have not completed their 2021-22 FAFSA will receive a $1,500 grant.

Accelerated Skills Training Students

To be eligible to receive emergency aid as students enrolled in a Valencia College Accelerated Skills Training (AST) program, they must be enrolled in an AST program that meets anytime between Monday, August 23 and Wednesday, November 3, 2021. Eligible AST students who apply for a HEERF III grant will receive a $1,000 grant.

Intensive English Program and English for Speakers of Other Languages Students

To be eligible to receive emergency aid as students enrolled in a Valencia College Intensive English Program (IEP) and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program, students must be enrolled in an IEP or ESOL program that meets anytime between Monday, August 23 and Wednesday, November 3, 2021. Eligible language students who apply for a HEERF III grant will receive a $500 grant.

For more information on HEERF III, including frequently asked questions, visit the webpage.

You’re Invited to Attend the Virtual Peace Breakfast: An Interfaith Gathering

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Date: Wednesday, November 17, 2021
Time: 9 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. 
Location: Online. Register here

The virtual Peace Breakfast hosted by the Peace and Justice Institute (PJI) provides an opportunity to slow down and pause for fellowship and prayer while celebrating and promoting religious and cultural diversity. This year, the theme of the Peace Breakfast is what one’s faith or thought philosophy teaches us about grief and loss.

As Peace and Justice Institute Director Rachel Allen mentioned in the Fall/Winter 2021 PJI Journal, “Now, more than ever, we need community to address the shared suffering we experience with COVID-19. Few among us have not been touched by the ravages of the pandemic with the disparity in health outcomes, economic devastation, loss of loved ones or the consequences of the isolation so many experience.”

The Peace Breakfast will bring together leaders from various faith traditions to participate in an interfaith dialogue about grief and loss. Participants will have the opportunity to interact and share during breakout sessions.

The Peace Breakfast, founded by Penny Villegas, was the first signature event of the Peace and Justice Initiative, and it continues to offer an opportunity for those of different faiths and those without religion to share their perspectives and find commonalities between them.

If you have any questions, contact PJI at or 407-582-2291.