Featured Colleague: Heather Wylam Trades Backboards for Blackboards to Train a New Generation of EMTs

Monday, March 14, 2022

By Jennifer Keefe

After spending more than five years triaging accident and crime victims as an emergency department paramedic for Orlando Regional Medical Center, it might surprise you to know that Heather Wylam has a little bit of an obsession with true crime documentaries.

Heather serves the College now as a professor and lab coordinator, emergency medical technician, at West Campus.

She’s also graduating from the Bachelor of Applied Science in Business and Organizational Leadership (BASBOL) program in May, a program she’s completing entirely online.

Heather’s proud to say that all of the electives she has taken in the BASBOL program have been about criminology and crime scene investigation.

She explains, “For some reason, I just love criminal justice, criminal law, and I’m fascinated with the criminal mind.”

Heather graduated from the College’s Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) program in 2009, earned her associate degree from Valencia in 2010, and completed the College’s paramedic technical certificate in 2011.

A true Valencia success story herself, for Heather, the College signifies opportunity for members of the community to accomplish their goals.

“Valencia is a place where anyone can be educated and actually go out to the workforce” she says.

“We offer realistic educational programs that allow students to go out and give back to the community,” she adds.

Heather also really appreciates the diversity of our student population.

After diagnosing issues with student access to technology, Marie Vasquez-Brooks, dean, School of Allied Health, asked Heather to become part of the College’s AppleEd Project.

Heather is now working with a team from across the College to make it so that one day every student will have an iPad to use in class and for homework.

The project is still in the planning phase, but Heather already uses an iPad to airdrop feedback to her students in her classes.

She explains, “the paramedic-EMT program will most likely be the pilot group for the project before it expands to other parts of the College.”

Heather says that the iPads make sense in the allied health fields because instructors can watch scenarios students are working on and give them immediate feedback.

Marie appreciates Heather’s dedication to her students.

“She is bringing innovation to the classroom with educational technology as a leader in a collaborative effort,” she explains.

Marie also calls Heather “an important part of our stable and consistent student experiences during the pandemic.”

Heather has also given the Allied Health student experience a little resuscitation.

She’s implemented changes in testing procedures for students in the labs and has worked to make the EMT program more inclusive.

This includes updating student welcome activities and giving instructors more of a chance to introduce themselves and to talk about their skillsets.

Speaking of skillsets, Heather’s inspiration comes from when her students are able to showcase what they have learned on the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) exams.

“I love when my students text or email me and let me know they passed NREMT exam. It inspires me to know they got a good education from us,” she explains.

In her free time, Heather likes to spend time with her family and friends, in which they go to Disney and travel.

She also loves to drink coffee and find ways to support small businesses.

Something else you might not know about Heather is that she is “terrible at anything athletic,” but she loves trying new things.

That said, she says she’s a lot less adventurous after having worked in an emergency room.

A Miami-native, Heather enjoys time out on the water. In fact, she and her husband were married on a boat in Savannah, Georgia.

Savannah is also their six-year-old daughter’s name.

Heather enjoys volunteering at her daughter’s elementary school.

When she was in elementary school herself, she lived in Spain because her father was stationed there for the U.S. military.

Living in Spain created a love of Spanish culture and food for Heather. She says she used to be fluent in the language but has lost a lot of her Spanish over time.

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 The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu. He or she might be one of our featured colleagues, subject to supervisor’s approval.

The Difference Between Wellness Visits, Preventive Care Services and Diagnostic Care

Monday, March 14, 2022

A Message from Jessica Johnson, UnitedHealthcare Nurse Liaison 

Telling the difference between preventive care services, a wellness visit and a diagnostic visit can be confusing. Medicare and other insurers define the annual doctor visit as a “wellness visit.” Sometimes it’s called a “well visit” instead, reminding us we should be scheduling these visits when we are “well,” as opposed to when we are “sick.” You will often receive your preventative care services (routine wellness exams, screenings and immunizations) during your annual well visit and that is okay. As long as you do not receive any diagnostic care during this visit, your visit will be covered 100% by your insurance if you choose an in-network provider.

Diagnostic care is given when you have an abnormal screening or have symptoms that require further diagnosis. For example, a radiologist may ask for a follow-up mammogram for a patient. This follow-up checks for something that may have been detected during the preventive or routine mammogram. The follow-up mammogram is diagnostic and not covered as preventative care.

Examples of preventive health services:

  • Complete physical exam
  • Immunization review and update
  • Age-appropriate heart disease screenings (blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol tests)
  • Cancer risk screenings (pelvic exam, Pap smear, prostate and colorectal screenings)
  • Sexually transmitted disease testing
  • Evaluation for signs of depression
  • Alcohol, depression, obesity and tobacco counseling

Examples of non-preventive care include:

  • Diagnostic tests and screenings for a particular issue
  • Additional primary care visits: Most health plans will cover you for one annual checkup with your doctor. Other visits during the same calendar year will likely not be covered as preventive.
  • Specialist visits: Visits to a specialist (gastroenterologist, orthopedist, neurologist, podiatrist, etc.) for a particular problem are not covered as preventive care.
  • Alternative therapies: Services such as chiropractic, massage, acupuncture and other alternative health services are not considered preventive care.

Is it time to schedule your yearly checkup? Checking in on your health and getting recommended preventive care may help paint a more accurate picture of your overall health. To learn how to choose a doctor, click here.

Click here for a UnitedHealthcare preventative care checklist based on your age.

If you have any questions, contact me at jessica_r_johnson@uhc.com or 407-866-8134.

Attend AIG’s Workshops: Retirement Questions That May Make a Big Difference, Tax Planning and Financial Wellness

Monday, March 14, 2022

A Message from Tom Keller, Director, Total Rewards

Improve your financial knowledge and retirement confidence through the following AIG Retirement Services workshops to promote financial literacy and help you get your finances and retirement in order.

Retirement Questions That May Make a Big Difference

Date: Friday, March 18, 2022
Time: 9 – 10 a.m.
Location: Online. Click here to register.

Date: Thursday, March 24, 2022
Time: 1 – 2 p.m.
Location: Online. Click here to register.

If you’re at the halfway point of your career, it’s time to step back and reassess where you are with your family, job and finances. Learn what challenges you may face at this stage and the strategies and resources available to help guide your journey.

AIG FutureFit® Financial Wellness Webinar Series

Tax Planning

Date: Tuesday, March 22, 2022
Time: 5 – 6 p.m.
Location: Online. Click here to register.

Although reducing taxes is generally a good idea, making a business, investment or personal decision solely to save some tax dollars is rarely the best approach. In this webinar, you’ll learn more about income tax, how to take advantage of tax-favored investments like a retirement plan and other important steps to minimize the impact of taxes on a long-term savings plan.

Financial Wellness

Date: Tuesday, March 23, 2022
Time: 3 – 4 p.m.
Location: Online. Click here to register.

Financial wellness focuses on our ability to manage all aspects of our financial life. At times it can feel difficult and complicated to get our finances under control. By attending this workshop, you can learn how to gain control over your financial life and become more productive in other areas of your life, including the ability to focus on family, friends and work.

On-demand AIG Financial Services Webinars

AIG Financial Services also offers on-demand webinars that you can access at any time on topics such as investment planning, tax planning, planning for retirement, student debt solutions and more. Check them out here

Financial Planning Advising Sessions

Don’t forget that one of your Total Rewards — for both full- and part-time employees — is meeting with one of Valencia College’s dedicated AIG financial advisors. You can schedule a WebEx or phone consultation to discuss your financial planning, voluntary retirement plan options, review your retirement goals and/or enroll in your voluntary retirement plan. Your family members are also welcome to join you for the advising session. To register for sessions, click here. 

Meet Your Financial Advisors

John Hall is the advisor for East, Osceola, Lake Nona and Poinciana Campuses, as well as the School of Public Safety and the Advanced Manufacturing Center. To read more about John, click here. Brendan Loflin is the advisor for Downtown, West and Winter Park Campuses, as well as the District Office. Read more about Brendan here.

If you have questions, contact the Total Rewards team at benefits@valenciacollege.edu, or call the HR4U helpline at 407-582-HR4U (4748).

What’s Your Favorite Children’s Book?

Monday, March 14, 2022

Once upon a time, Valencia employees were asked which children’s books are the fairest in the land.

In honor of Children’s Book Day on Saturday, April 2, 2022, we want to hear about your favorite children’s book. Since 1967, International Children’s Book Day has been celebrated on or around Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday (April 2) to inspire a love of reading and call attention to children’s books. This year, The Grove and The Juice will celebrate Children’s Book Day with a special slide show that will be all about our favorite children’s books.

Whether it’s a storybook that you love to read to your children or grandchildren, or your favorite book when you were a child, we would love to hear from you. We welcome any level of participation, whether you’d like to simply send us the title of the book, tell us why the book means so much to you, have your kids pose with the book or YOU pose with your favorite classic.

Email The Grove to share which children’s book holds a special place in your heart by Friday, March 25, 2022.

Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds Will Subsidize Student Meals

Monday, March 14, 2022

A Message from Jeffrey Filko, Director, Auxiliary Services

For the remainder of the spring semester, students will receive a $3 subsidy when they spend $5 or more at any on-campus food services location operated by Aladdin Foods. The subsidy will be covered by Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF).

Food insecurity is a major issue on college campuses and has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Job loss, inflation and product shortages have driven food prices to new highs.

In order to support students who may be experiencing food insecurity and economic hardship due to COVID-19, as well as job loss or other financial issues related to the pandemic, we will subsidize the cost of food and meals at Valencia’s on-campus facilities. By providing the subsidy at the time of purchase, students will have greater access to more nutritious food while they are on campus attending in-person classes or using other student support services.

To obtain the subsidy, students must present their Valencia College I.D. This offer is not available at Dunkin or vending machines.

Please note this offer does not apply to employees, unless taking classes; however, all employees receive a 15% discount by showing their Valencia I.D. For employees taking classes, they may take advantage of one of the two offers.

For questions, contact me at jfilko@valenciacollege.edu or 407-582-1709.

Amazon Offers Employees Paid Tuition at Valencia College

Monday, March 14, 2022

Amazon announced a partnership with 140 colleges and universities — including Valencia College — to provide fully-funded college tuition to their more than 750,000 hourly employees.

Amazon’s Career Choice program gives employees eligibility after only 90 days of employment, and it is now providing help with GED and English language proficiency training and other college courses.

“At Valencia College, we’re excited to expand our partnership with Amazon to help provide new opportunities to their employees,” said College President Kathleen Plinske. “The growing options available to their employees, which range from Valencia’s English-language classes to our state-of-the-art training in advanced manufacturing as well as a wide range of degree programs, will provide their employees with marketable, in-demand skills and open the door to economic mobility.”

Read more about this exciting partnership in the Osceola News-Gazette and the Tampa Bay Times.

Daniel Barkowitz Elected President of SASFAA

Monday, March 14, 2022

Congratulations to Daniel Barkowitz, assistant vice president, financial aid and veteran affairs, who was elected president of the Southern Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (SASFAA), a professional association representing more than 1200 financial aid staff and affiliated members in nine southern states — Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

The position will last three years, with the first as president-elect (2022-23), one year as president (2023-24) and a final year as past president (2024-25). Daniel will begin his role on Friday, July 1, 2022.

“I’m absolutely delighted that I’ve been elected as president of the Southern Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, and I look forward to the opportunity to serve,” Daniel shared. “This role is a wonderful platform to promote the professional preparation of individuals within the financial aid profession and also develop effective programs related to student financial aid and influence national policy decisions.”

Daniel’s service will correspond to some major changes coming to the FAFSA application system in 2024-25 (with a launch date of Sunday, October 1, 2023), and he is excited to serve as a leader during this nationwide transition.

As part of his role, he will serve one year as an observer and one year as a member of the Board of Directors of NASFAA (the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators).

“I am so thankful for Daniel’s leadership within the College and extraordinarily proud of his willingness to share his expertise with other financial aid leaders across the region and eagerness to work to influence policy to better serve students like ours,” shared Kathleen Plinske, college president.

Valencia College has a long history of involvement in SASFAA. Former Valencia College Financial Aid Director Preston Rosser served as president of the association in 1983-84.

“Daniel is a recognized expert in financial aid and I’m excited about the opportunity he has to continue serving students as well as showcase his leadership as the president-elect of SASFAA,” said Joe Richardson, vice president, student affairs.

Congratulate Daniel in the comments below.

Spring Dance Concert to Spotlight Classic and Contemporary Modern Works

Monday, March 14, 2022

Date: Friday, March 25 and Saturday, March 26, 2022
Time: 8 p.m. 
Location: East Campus, Performing Arts Center

Our annual Spring Dance Concert will highlight the work of guest choreographers and will feature student dancers and guest artists who are alumni of the Associate in Arts Dance Performance Degree Pathway.

This year, the concert will include “Suite from A Choreographic Offering,” a modern dance choreographed by José Limón and restaged by Daniel Lewis, and “Murmur,” a modern piece created by returning guest choreographer Jon Lehrer who has collaborated with Valencia Dance for 11 years. The concert with close with “Heartland,” a modern dance choreographed by Valencia Dance Artistic Director and Professor of Dance Lesley Brasseux Rodgers.

These performances of “Suite from A Choreographic Offering” are part of the José Limón Dance Foundation’s 75th Anniversary Celebration.

Ticket prices are $12 for the general public and $10 for Valencia employees, students, alumni and senior citizens. Tickets are $6 for children ages 12 and under. Current Valencia College students will be admitted free with a current Valencia College I.D.

Click here to purchase tickets, or call the box office at 407-582-2900.

Submit Your End-of-fiscal-year Marketing Requests

Monday, March 14, 2022

A Message from Traci Bjella, Assistant Vice President, Marketing

The Valencia College Marketing department is here for your end-of-fiscal-year needs. If you have a marketing project that needs new design or development, copywriting or photography before the end of the fiscal year — Thursday, June 30, 2022 — now is the time to make those requests.

In order to serve you best and complete the invoices in line with our financial calendars, the Marketing team requests that you submit projects via a marketing request form prior to Friday, April 1, 2022. Please note that the date was selected to align with the College’s budget and procurement office schedule for 2022.

Following submission, a representative from Marketing will follow up with a timeline and confirmation on the project’s schedule based on the outlined scope of services. The team will make every effort to accommodate emergency projects for requests received after April 1 with completion targets by fiscal year end and within required budget deadlines. Please note that this does not apply to requests for event photography, which can be made at any time.

To submit a request, please complete a marketing request form, which can also be found in Atlas under the Employees tab. Consultations are available if you have questions about submitting your marketing services request. To request a consultation, use the “Consultation” form found on the form.

The department also provides a variety of branded templates that can be downloaded for use right away. Visit the brand website to browse templates, and check out examples of the Marketing department’s recent work.

Learning Day 2022 Survey Results Revealed

Monday, March 14, 2022

Thank you to the nearly 1,600 employees who attended Learning Day 2022. A total of 844 employees completed the Learning Day survey, which revealed the following:

  • 93% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that they received enough information about Learning Day to make an informed decision about their interests and attendance.
  • 85% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that the communication they received about Learning Day was clear.
  • 83% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that the online registration process was easy to complete.
  • 70% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that the Zoom Events Platform was easy to navigate.
  • 90% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that Learning Day was an enjoyable event.
  • 93% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that the Learning Day event was well organized.
  • 86% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that Learning Day strengthened their understanding of Valencia College’s values of learning, people and diversity.

The Learning Day preferred event format for Valencians continues to be virtual, in terms of level of engagement, ability to connect with colleagues, number of “seats” in each learning session and the variety of learning sessions.

88% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that the Welcome session with Kathleen Plinske and Liz Murphy was interesting, and 85% said it was worth their time.

Thank you to all who completed the survey. Your feedback is important to us and will be used to plan next year’s event.

If you missed the event, you may view the welcome message and keynote session here.