Featured Colleague: Isabelle Saint Joy Plants the Seeds for a Positive Test-taking Experience

Monday, July 25, 2022

By Jennifer Keefe

Testing and Assessment Coordinator Isabelle Saint Joy says she is simple and even ordinary. But judging by her long list of hobbies, including recognition for her green thumb, going back to school during the pandemic and her passion for helping others, Isabelle has grown quite the life for herself since she came to Valencia College in 2019.

Isabelle’s first position at the College was as an academic advisor at the Lake Nona Campus. This past April, though, she picked up her roots and moved to Osceola Campus. In her new home, she’s doing everything she can to make everyone feel at home.

“Working in a high stress environment where students may not exactly be excited to visit has helped me to think more intentionally about compassion and empathy,” she explains.

Isabelle even tries to brighten the environment for test-takers and staff by bringing in fresh flowers for the testing center check-in area.

“This was a habit I developed once I was back on campus again at Lake Nona and the practice continues at Osceola. It brings a feeling of peace and reminds staff and our visitors to bring a bit of nature inside for a brighter day,” she says.

Isabelle also does a lot to get to know her team.

“I take pride in checking on colleagues regularly and demonstrating a personal interest in the people around me,” she explains.

Her quest to blossom as a team leader hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“She brings a breath of sunshine to the office with her pleasant smile and personality and her willingness to help students alongside of her staff. Just by entering the doors of the assessment and testing center, the fresh flowers that she brings and her smile will uplift anyone’s day,” Manager of Learning Support Services Marie Brady says.

As for Isabelle, she’s well aware that not everyone is excited to visit the testing center. Her role includes screening students before they come in for testing, answering questions about exams, welcoming students when they arrive at the testing center and proctoring exams.

“While students may not always feel positive about their final test results, it is my goal for them to feel empowered before they leave our office,” Isabelle says.

For her, the role she plays in the lives of our students is all about growth.

“As the coordinator, I am sometimes faced with challenging conversations with students and faculty, but I am always happy to reach a resolution and build strong relationships both on and off-campus. This role is dynamic, and each day brings something new!” she says.

When it comes to accomplishments on campus, Isabelle has grown a garden full of them. She’s especially proud of getting her first position at the Lake Nona Campus “even when my imposter syndrome said otherwise.”

Speaking of imposter syndrome, Isabelle has presented at Skillshops on the topic, along with other topics aimed at helping students set goals and reach their highest potential.

Her other accomplishments include becoming a Horizons Scholars mentor, being a member of the Valencia College Foundation Scholarship Committee and completing her master’s degree during the pandemic, something she was inspired to do after she presented to New Student Experience students about Associate in Arts and Associate in Science degree progression.

Before digging in at Valencia, Isabelle served as a substitute teacher for Orange County Public Schools and was a program assistant for the Boys and Girls Club of Central Florida. She also worked in the Credentialling Verification Office and the Diversity and Minority Business Development Office for Orlando Health.

But here at the College, she’s found a new variety of reasons to enjoy helping others.

“I love being able to work with people who are truly passionate about supporting students. True Valencians do not simply engage in transactional conversations, but instead they build relationships and serve as a resource for students long after their first interaction,” she says.

She’s also thrilled by the bouquet of opportunities she has to learn about our students and their stories.

“We have such a diverse population, and I thank each of them for choosing to make Valencia a part of their story. Their dedication motivates me to be a better person each day,” she explains.

Isabelle earned a master’s degree in educational leadership pursuing the higher education/college teaching and leadership track with a concentration in English. She also earned a bachelor’s degree in health services administration. Both degrees are from the University of Central Florida.

In her free time, she enjoys visiting state parks and botanical gardens, tending to her “indoor and outdoor jungles,” baking and cooking, and working out. She also likes to paint and crochet. Her favorite author (she loves reading, by the way,) is Maya Angelou. Isabelle is also a fluent speaker of Haitian Creole, crediting her parents for sharing their family culture with her.

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.

Cybersecurity: Guard Against Social Engineering

Friday, July 22, 2022

A Message from Patrick Criss, Director, Information Security

Social engineers — people who use deception to manipulate individuals into divulging confidential or personal information that may be used for fraudulent purposes — know the most powerful tool is a word. They use that tool to bypass all the automatic protections and preplanned procedures you have in place. A person with a good lie can get further than a dozen hacking tricks.

To guard against social engineering, it helps to be a bit skeptical and think clearly. Social engineers want you to act quickly and not question what they tell you. They use tactics like sympathy, intimidation, authority and urgency, pressuring their targets to make careless decisions — such as letting them into a restricted area or turning over valuable information.

When you ask questions and treat every request with healthy skepticism, you stop social engineers in their tracks. Refuse to be taken in by a sob story or threats and insist on following Valencia College policies and procedures.

The Internet is full of social engineers and opportunists, but all it takes is caution to shut them down.

If you have any questions, please contact the OIT Service Desk at oitservicedesk@valenciacollege.edu or 407-582-5555.

UCF Announces New Virtual Parking Permit for Downtown Campus Students

Friday, July 22, 2022

Beginning Friday, July 1, 2022, the University of Central Florida (UCF) transitioned to a new way to park on UCF campuses, eliminating the need for parking decals, hangtags or any physical permit on vehicles. Instead, license plates act as virtual parking permits. Parking Services trucks are equipped with License Plate Readers (LPR) that automatically scan the license plates of vehicles parked in garages and surface lots on all campuses, including the Downtown Campus.

How does the new virtual parking permit impact our Valencia College students at the Downtown Campus? 

Students must purchase a virtual parking permit from UCF Parking Services to park in the student-designated spaces on the campus by following these instructions.

How does the new virtual parking permit impact Valencia College employees working at the Downtown Campus?

Valencia College employees who work at the Downtown Campus will not have a change and will continue to use the hang tag to park in the employee-reserved spaces. Other employees and visitors who don’t work at the Downtown Campus may purchase a $5 daily parking permit using UCF’s virtual parking permits. The daily virtual permit may be used in the first or fourth level of the Parramore Garage or the Amelia I Garage.

In addition, there are other parking options for non-Downtown Campus faculty and staff.

To learn more about transportation options and parking at Creative Village, visit the Transportation section of the UCF Downtown website.

BSN Team Featured in Community College Baccalaureate Association’s New eBook

Friday, July 22, 2022

Congratulations to our Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) team for being featured in the Community College Baccalaureate Association’s new eBook: “20 Promising Practices to Advance Quality, Equity, and Success in Community College Baccalaureate Degree Programs.” The eBook highlights promising practices implemented by baccalaureate-conferring colleges across the nation that contribute to more equitable education and employment outcomes for students, many of whom represent historically underserved groups.

“Our thorough nomination process uncovered equity-focused promising practices from practitioners responsible for planning and implementing Community College Baccalaureate (CCB) programs nationwide,” said Debra Bragg, president of Bragg & Associates and author of the eBook. “The eBook is a culmination of ideas and resources to help more practitioners design high-value CCB programs to reach students who may have never thought a baccalaureate degree was possible for them.”

Each promising practice profile identifies the CCB degree program with which it is affiliated, how the promising practice works, the available evidence of student enrollments and outcomes, lessons learned and practitioner contact information. Valencia College’s BSN consortium partnership with Seminole State College and Lake-Sumter College is featured on page 14 of the eBook.

Cheryl Cicotti, former Seminole State associate vice president and founding BSN consortium member, praised the unique partnership stating, “The consortium has met and will continue to meet its goals by increasing the number of BSNs in central Florida. Equally important, the addition of the three state colleges’ RN-to-BSN programs did not affect the local university’s BSN enrollment numbers, thus demonstrating the need for these workforce baccalaureate programs.”

Valencia College Named a Metallica Scholar Partner

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Rock on! For the third year in a row, Valencia College was chosen by legendary heavy metal band Metallica’s nonprofit “All Within My Hands Foundation” to serve as a Metallica Scholars college. This means that the College will receive $25,000 to fund training and technical education to students in Central Florida.

“We are so grateful for the opportunity to partner for another year with Metallica’s All Within My Hands Foundation,” said Valencia College President Kathleen Plinske. “The Metallica Scholars Initiative highlights career pathways in the trades and provides funding for student scholarships for Valencia College’s Accelerated Skills Training, allowing Central Florida residents to prepare for high-wage jobs that are in high demand.”

To read more about this honor, visit the Valencia News site.

Volunteer Social Hosts Needed for International Students


Tuesday, July 19, 2022

A Message by Vanessa Singh, Program Manager, Community College Initiative

The Community College Initiative (CCI) program is seeking volunteers to serve as social hosts for the program’s international student participants.

Sponsored by the United States Department of State, CCI provides opportunities for individuals from other nations to develop leadership capabilities, professional skills and English language proficiency while studying at a community college in the U.S.

In addition to their academic responsibilities, these students also volunteer in the local community, complete unpaid internships, and participate in cultural exchange with their fellow international and domestic students.

On what that students learn more about American culture through interaction with a social host and individuals (or families) who volunteer to spend time with these students. In the past, examples of social outings have included visits to local attractions, meals and sharing holiday traditions. We are recruiting individuals from our Valencia College campuses to participate in this year’s program and make a meaningful impact on these students’ lives.

If you are interested in being a social host, please email me at vsingh16@valenciacollege.edu. A quick interview will be scheduled on campus or via Zoom to determine eligibility as a social host and pair you with an ideal student.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with me at the email listed above. I look forward to collaborating with you to make the most of our international students’ stay.

Puma Brand Guidelines Now Available on Brand Website

Monday, July 18, 2022

A Message from Traci Bjella, Assistant Vice President, Marketing and Web Services 

More than 11,000 votes were cast for Valencia College’s new mascot. You chose the Puma, and, yes, this is one cool cat. In only a few months, the Puma has grabbed the attention of our students, employees and the community, giving us a sense of pride, unity and belonging.

To help you share your Puma pride, support our brand collegewide and guide you in the correct use of our Puma imagery — called our mascot mark — our College Marketing team has created new mascot guidelines pages on the Valencia College Brand website.

On the main mascot guidelines page, you’ll find details on how to request and correctly use the mascot mark, including sizing and colors, as well as information on a new mascot email signature that will be available to you soon. Keep an eye on The Juice and The Grove, as details on how to create the new Puma email signature will be shared.

Click the button below to visit the page:

In addition, the following page provides Puma script guidelines:

The Valencia College Puma symbolizes a sense of pride and spirit in students, alumni, faculty, staff and anyone that proudly supports the College and its mission. Be sure to follow these mascot guidelines, so we show off this cool cat consistently across the College. And, as always, reach out to the Marketing department for support — we are here to help!

Featured Colleague: Diane Dalrymple Helps Students Write Their Own Success Stories


Monday, July 18, 2022

By Jennifer Keefe

If you’ve ever wondered what a librarian does for fun, Diane Dalrymple would tell you that she reads, of course! But Diane does more than just read regular books. She reads from her collection of more than 1,500 cookbooks. Then, she dazzles her co-workers with new and exciting recipes.

“I love to cook. Most people at the East Campus Learning Resource Center know I can’t wait for the next department party to cook something special for my friends,” Diane explains.

But Diane’s story around Valencia College is about more than just her delicious dishes. As a librarian, she’s always available to collaborate with students and professors and to teach students about information literacy.

Diane was also part of the team that started the OER (Open Educational Resources) movement at the College. For her, it’s about more than just saving our students money.

“Not only is OER cost-effective for students, but you can also build in diversity, inclusion and equity into each open-source book. This personalizes the teaching materials for students,” Diane explains.

For Diane, open educational resources are just part of Valencia’s plot line in the community. From her point of view, “Everyone counts. We truly know we can teach any student given the right circumstances. Valencia works hard to offer the ‘right’ circumstances for every individual,” she explains.

Dean of Learning Support Leonard Bass says Diane is a big part of Valencia’s story of helping to create the right conditions for students to learn.

“Her dedication to the field of academic libraries is laudable and her passion is infectious. Whenever I have sat in on her library instruction classes, I have found them to be engaging and informative,” he says.

For Leonard, watching Diane teach is far from all work and no play.

“Diane makes learning about scholarly research fun and spends lots of time contemplating new and innovative ways to get students excited about using the library and its resources,” he adds.

As for Diane, her role at the College is a real page-turner at times.

“I love the family atmosphere that surrounds faculty and staff in everything we do for the students,” she says. “Welcome Back Fairs are always just as meaningful for us in the library as I hope they are for the students. We put our heart into everything!”

Like a critic writing a positive review, Diane says she’s inspired by Valencia’s dedication to improvement.

“We don’t take any of our past work for granted. We’re always looking to improve the ways we reach out to students to make their time at Valencia more rewarding,” she says.

Some things you might not know about Diane are that she served as East Campus Faculty Association President (2018-2019), and she’s received Endowed Chair awards four times since coming to the College in 2007. She’s served on dozens of collegewide committees from assessment to conduct, and she’s also served on several tenure committees.

Diane’s also a member of the International Library & Information Studies Honor Society.

Her previous teaching experience includes roles at Florida State University, the University of Central Florida and the University of New Orleans. She was also a program manager for Junior Achievement in New Orleans and has presented at several academic conferences.

Diane’s educational credentials read like the works cited from a well-written paper. She earned a bachelor’s and a master’s in economics from the University of New Orleans. She earned a master’s in library and information studies and a certificate in reference services from Florida State University, and she earned most of the credits toward a doctorate in marketing and computer information systems at the University of Texas-Arlington.

When she’s not helping students dig around for information in old books, Diane has another hobby.

“I collect fossils,” she says. “I love traveling to new places to see what I can find hidden in the ground. I’ve shared my collection with the library, and I used to bring them to elementary schools.”

“Hearing about dinosaurs is one thing but holding an 80-million-year-old bone in your hand is just mind-blowing to me,” she explains. You can bet Diane has done her research on that one!

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.

Downtown Campus Hosts Fusion Cooking Contest


Monday, July 18, 2022

The Walt Disney World Center for Culinary Arts and Hospitality at the Downtown Campus recently hosted the 2022 Fusion Cooking Contest, which was presented by FusionFest and Publix on Monday, June 27 and Tuesday, June 28, 2022. Sixteen local chefs competed for one of two $500 prizes by cooking up unique fusion dishes with ingredients and techniques from around the world.

Alex Erdmann, dean, School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality, served as one of the judges, with several students and faculty supporting the event. Additionally, Valencia alumnus Michael Collantes, chef and owner of Winter Park restaurant, Soseki Modern Omakase, competed. 

Seventy foodies attended the event to taste the unique dishes, which was a part of FusionFest’s Diversitastic! Dining Experience.

The winning chefs were Valencia alumnus Michael Collantes, who blended American, Filipino, French and Japanese influences in his dish, and Simon Quintero, a Venezuelan journalist and professional chef, who cooked a banana ball stuffed with smoked chicken tikka masala style, with green cilantro mayonnaise and roasted garlic.

Free Koru Mindfulness Classes and Silent Retreat


Monday, July 18, 2022

Koru Mindfulness is a four-session, no-credit course that will teach you the skill of mindfulness. It will also help you build the habit of using it in your life on a regular basis. Developed by two psychiatrists from Duke University, Koru was validated in a randomized control trial to show participants had decreased stress, improved sleep, increased focus and self-compassion.

These courses are open to students, faculty and staff. Participants get a lot more out of Koru if they stick with it from beginning to end, so pre-registration and attendance at all four sessions is required. Please check your calendar before you sign up for one of the classes below.

Dates: Wednesdays, September 7, 14, 21 and 28, 2022
Time: 11 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. 
Location: Zoom
Registration: Click here to pre-register.

Dates: Tuesdays, October 4, 11, 18 and 25, 2022
Time: 1 – 2:15 p.m.
Location: Zoom
Registration: Click here to pre-register.

Dates: Wednesdays, February 1, 8, 15 and 22, 2023
Time: 1 – 2:15 p.m. 
Location: Zoom
Registration: Click here to pre-register.

Dates: Tuesdays, March 7, 14, 21, 28 and April 4, 2023
Time: 3 – 4:15 p.m. 
Location: Zoom
Registration: Click here to pre-register.

Another options is to join us for a Koru Silent Retreat — a half-day silent retreat open to all, whether you have completed a Koru class or not. Join us in silence for different practices to help calm the language center of the brain and restore equilibrium. Pre-registration is required.

Date: Thursday, September 29, 2022
Time: 1 – 4:30 p.m. 
Location: Winter Park Campus
Registration: Click here to pre-register.

For questions, contact Marcia Roman, counselor, at mroman20@valenciacollege.edu or 407-582-6887.