Partnership With the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Highlighted at Board of Trustees Meeting

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Valencia College’s District Board of Trustees recognized the College’s ongoing partnership with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office during the Thursday, April 28, 2022, meeting held at the School of Public Safety. Here are the top things to know from the meeting.

Orange County Sheriff’s Office Partnership
College President Kathleen Plinske highlighted Valencia College’s nearly three-decade-long partnership with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office to provide the latest in training and education to law enforcement officers to keep our community safe. Orange County Sheriff John Mina addressed the board.

“I’m on a number of national and international boards for law enforcement, and I had the opportunity to talk to chiefs and sheriffs from around the country and really around the world, and I brag about Valencia all the time and the partnership that we have here,” Sheriff Mina shared. “I think sometimes we don’t realize how lucky we have it. When I talk to some of the other chiefs and sheriffs around our nation … this is a model. It’s definitely the best in the state, and we don’t rival anything I see in the country.”

View the video below that highlights that partnership and about graduate Deputy Jacob Stearns.

Valencia College Foundation Impact 

The District Board of Trustees approved a mutual agreement with the Valencia College Foundation that set forth clarity for the strong partnership between the College and the foundation. In addition, the board affirmed the annual accreditation of the foundation as the official Valencia College Direct Support Organization. As part of this presentation to the board, Vice President of Public Affairs and Advancement Jay Galbraith shared the foundation’s impact.

In the past 10 years, the Valencia College Foundation has provided 24,700 students with more than $22 million in scholarships, as well as over $16 million in faculty and program support. View the presentation.

Strategic Discussion on Impact Plan Goal – Transfer Success
University of Central Florida (UCF) President Alexander Cartwright joined the board for a discussion on Valencia College’s Impact Plan goal on transfer success:

By 2030, 65% of students of each race and ethnicity who earn an A.A. or A.S. degree from Valencia College and enroll in a baccalaureate degree program at the University of Central Florida or Valencia College will earn their bachelor’s degree within four years of starting a baccalaureate degree program.

Alexander and the board discussed strategies to increase Valencia graduates’ success after transfer into a baccalaureate program, such as working collaboratively on advising students to properly prepare them for their major and encouraging them to take the prerequisites required for a degree before arriving at the university.

“We will work to make sure that people can transition from Valencia to us to ensure that we can continue to increase the capacity and capability of the people in this region,” President Cartwright explained. “But we have to do that together, and so we should really be thinking about what is needed for the region and how do we do that as a collective, not as just institutions that are not talking to each other. And I will tell you that’s one of the nice things about being here … we do work with each other and we try to think of how we address those things holistically.”

View the presentation.

The next District Board of Trustees meeting will be held on Thursday, May 26, 2022, at 9:30 a.m. at the Lake Nona Campus and via Zoom.

Accelerated Skills Training to Be Offered as Part of City of Orlando RISE Employment and Training Program

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

With American Rescue Plan Act funding, the City of Orlando is launching the RISE Employment and Training Program to help connect residents to career opportunities. In partnership with CareerSource Central Florida, the program will give residents who’ve been impacted economically by COVID-19 access to job training and opportunities for assessment, education, training, coaching and support services to measurably increase their employability.

The RISE Employment and Training Program will connect residents to more than 100 short-term job and vocational training programs — including Valencia’s Accelerated Skills Training — that provide residents with short-term training to prepare for a career in a high-demand, high-wage industry. Program participants will also receive assistance with job placement and a $125 weekly stipend to support expenses such as transportation, childcare and food.

As part of the announcement of the RISE Employment and Training Program, on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, College President Kathleen Plinske was invited by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer to share with Deputy Secretary of the United States Treasury Wally Adeyemo, the successes of our students enrolled in Valencia College’s Accelerated Skills Training programs during an event at the Center for Accelerated Training – Downtown Orlando.

BASBOL Program Adds New Concentrations

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Valencia College’s Bachelor of Applied Science in business and organizational leadership (BASBOL) program will offer two new concentrations in fall 2022: business management and leadership and change.

Business Management

The business management concentration is designed to help students broaden their managerial knowledge and skills. It seeks to enhance comprehension of applied business practices and prepare students for managerial and administrative roles in a variety of industries. Students will gain experience in critical thinking and problem solving through the study of principles and real-world applications, including case studies and a capstone project.

Leadership and Change

The leadership and change concentration is designed to assist students in broadening their knowledge and skills in leading change within organizations and businesses. It seeks to advance student comprehension of the leadership and change processes necessary to thrive in an ever-evolving business environment. Students will gain experience with the theories, tools and approaches in navigating, influencing and leading change by studying the principles and real-world applications.

Interested in applying for the BASBOL program? Full-time employees may take advantage of Employee Development Funds (EDF), part of Valencia College’s Total Rewards package, to take up to 18 credit hours per fiscal year toward a degree or certificate at no cost. The waiver does not cover additional fees such as distance learning, lab or late registration.

Apply to the BASBOL program here. For more information on the program, visit the Valencia website.

Navigate Student Debt and Plan for Your Retirement With Upcoming AIG Workshops

Tuesday, May 3, 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.

Navigating Student Debt Solution

Local AIG Financial Advisor Kelly Craft will present this interactive workshop to assist Valencia employees in their journey to pay off student loan debt while also trying to manage daily expenses and save for retirement.

Date: Wednesday, May 11, 2022
Time: 9 a.m.
Location: Online. Click here to register. 

Date: Thursday, May 19, 2022 
Time: 1 p.m.  
Location: Online. Click here to register. 

In this workshop you’ll learn:

  • If you are one of the tens of millions of Americans who could qualify for student loan forgiveness programs
  • Strategies using a repayment plan that makes the most sense for you
  • Who is responsible for loan repayment when the borrower dies?
  • The consequences of defaulting on a student loan

Retirement Questions That May Make a Big Difference

Date: Tuesday, May 10, 2022
Time: 3 p.m.
Location: Online. Click here to register.

Discover how to continue saving as you face different priorities in the middle of your career.

Investment Planning

Date: Thursday, May 12, 2022
Time: 1 p.m.
Location: Online. Click here to register.

Discover how to develop an investment strategy based on key factors like risk tolerance, time horizon, diversification and asset allocation.

Social Security and Your Retirement

Date: Tuesday, May 17, 2022
Time: 6 p.m. 
Location: Online. Click here to register.

Take an in-depth look at Social Security benefits including estimations, taxes and more.

Plan for 100

Date: Thursday, May 19, 2022
Time: 2 p.m.
Location: Online. Click here to register.

Learn how to plan for a retirement that might you to age 100 or beyond.

Principles to Prioritize Before Retirement

Date: Wednesday, May 25, 2022
Time: 4 p.m.
Location: Online. Click here to register.

Retirement may be close, so make sure you’re prepared to make the transition when the time comes

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, or call the HR4U helpline at 407-582-HR4U (4748).

Featured Colleague: Brooke Samlaska Works Efficiently for Student Success

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

By Jennifer Keefe

If you’re looking for someone to help you get organized, look no further than Brooke Samlaska. Brooke serves as a coordinator for the Horizon Scholars Program, a partnership between Valencia College and Take Stock in Children, which offers a scholarship and college readiness program for at-risk Orange County high school students.

Brooke is an expert at staying on task and getting things done.

“I love organization, planning and using good old-fashioned ‘to do’ lists to ensure I am most efficient in everything I do,” she says.

Brooke really does a lot to help get students into the Horizon Scholars program. She explains, “I oversee the student onboarding process, including application review, interview scheduling and new student contracts for selected students.”

She’s also the budget coordinator for her team. When she’s not doing all of that, she works with grants and helps program alumni to manage their scholarships all the way through graduation.

Her philosophy is that support is an important part of the high school and college experience for these students.

“I believe creating a network of support for students, families and mentors allows for an environment of growth and opportunity both inside and outside the Horizon Scholars Program,” she says.

Brooke came to the College in 2018. Before that, she worked in the Worldwide Standards and Auditing department of Walt Disney World Resorts. She was also a Disney Internships and Programs education coordinator and a recruiter for the Disney College Program.

Here at Valencia, Director of the Horizon Scholars Program Lindsay Regruit says Brooke is an integral part of the team.

“If you are looking to meet one of the most hard-working and organized people I know, look no further than Brooke Samlaska,” Lindsay says.

“She is a jack of all trades among our team and is always going above and beyond,” she explains. Lindsay also appreciates Brooke’s caring attitude and her sense of humor.

But Brooke knows her work with the Horizon Scholars Program is no joke. In fact, she’s pretty proud of how she’s been able to help grow the program over the past four years.

“We are now serving over 450 students throughout Orange County. It has been great to watch our students grow and support them as they navigate their way through high school and eventually post-secondary education,” she explains.

During the pandemic, Brooke navigated some new territory of her own as she oversaw the work to make the Horizon Scholars Program application an entirely virtual experience that could include both students and their families. To her, it makes the whole process more inclusive.

Inclusion is just one part of what Brooke really likes about working at the College.

“When campuses closed due to COVID, there was a feeling of togetherness even though we were not seeing each other in person on a daily basis,” she explains. “You knew you had the support of not only your own department but the College as a whole,” she adds.

Brooke also really likes the personal and professional development opportunities she’s found at the College, in particular, her ability to participate in SEED.

She is most inspired by the College’s emphasis on access and the opportunities everyone has to pursue our dreams, whether we are students, faculty or staff.

“I am inspired by the dedicated individuals who promote and provide inclusive and equitable access to college,” she explains.

Brooke earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Western Washington University.

When she’s not hard at work, you can find her at the beach or spending time with family and friends.

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.

Graduate Who Attended Valencia Due to Hurricane Maria Shares Story With WFTV

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

At 21 years old, Ashley Ortiz Rosario was a year away from graduating from University of Puerto Rico’s Rio Piedras Campus, but in September 2017, Hurricane Maria wreaked havoc in Puerto Rico. She and her family left the island and moved to Central Florida, and Ashley eventually graduated from Valencia College and then the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management.

WFTV 9 recently shared her story, which includes an interview with Isis Artze-Vega, provost and vice president, academic affairs. View the story here.

Happy National Teacher’s Day

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Although today, May 3, we celebrate National Teacher’s Day, we hope our professors remember that you’re appreciated and celebrated every day. We are so grateful for all of the hard work and unwavering commitment that you show to our students. Our faculty members are truly the best of the best, and our students are so lucky to have you.

Whether you presently teach on campus or remotely, we celebrate you. Thank you for all you do.

In honor of National Teacher’s Day, in the comments below, please share with us about a teacher who made an impact on your life.

Campus Store Updates: Interdepartmental Orders and Inventory Closure Dates

Monday, May 2, 2022

A Message from Mona Liza Colon, Director, Auxiliary Services

On behalf of the Campus Store, please note these important dates:

All interdepartmental orders from the Campus Store, such as merchandise or supplies, must be submitted by Wednesday, May 25, 2022, for the 2021-2022 fiscal year. If the Campus Store has the items in inventory, we will process the order right away. Any out-of-stock merchandise will need to be ordered after Friday, July 1, 2022, during our next fiscal year.

Campus Store Annual Inventory Closure

The Online Campus Store and physical Campus Stores will be closed from Monday, June 27 through Monday, July 4, 2022. They will reopen on Tuesday, July 5, 2022.

Rally Mission of The Month: Weight Train Twice a Week

Monday, May 2, 2022

A Message from Jessica Johnson, UnitedHealthcare Nurse Liaison

With our launch of Rally, on the first Tuesday of every month, I will share a Rally Mission and Recipe of the Month — a fun and healthy suggestion on an activity and recipe that we can all enjoy and participate in together.

Before our mission and recipe, first I’d like to announce the winners of the UnitedHealthcare Rally registration drawing. Congratulations to the following employees who won a $25 Amazon gift card:

This month’s Rally Mission of the Month is: Weight Train Twice a Week

It’s time to start flexing your muscles. Strength training helps you build muscle and get stronger. It can improve your movement and boost your self-esteem and mental health. Strength training may also boost your metabolism, helping you burn more calories.

That’s just the beginning. Other perks may include:

  • Helping manage Type 2 diabetes
  • Reducing the risk of falling
  • Reducing lower back pain
  • Promoting bone development
  • Sharpening your thinking skills
  • Managing your weight

Your goal should be to do two strength training activities at least twice a week. Just make sure you work all the major muscle groups.

Getting started

If you’re not pumping iron now, start slowly. And if strength training is new to you, or you’re getting care for a chronic condition like diabetes or coronary heart disease, talk to your doctor first.

Once you get the green light, start working those muscles. Strength training doesn’t just mean lifting heavy barbells at the gym. There are several ways to work your muscles:

  • Weights (hand weights, weight machines)
  • Resistance bands and straps
  • Heavy gardening (digging, lifting, carrying)
  • Body weight exercises (pushups, planks, pullups, lunges and squats)
  • Some yoga postures
  • Carrying groceries

Good to know

To strength train safely, follows these tips:

  • Warm up. Get your muscles and joints ready for a workout with a brisk five- or 10-minute walk.
  • Work at the right level. You should be able to get through about eight to 12 repetitions (“reps”), but the last few should feel a little hard. Once that set feels easy, try heavier weights so you keep getting better and stronger. Just be careful not to overdo it. To get the most benefit, work up to doing two to three sets of eight to 12 reps.
  • Do it right. Getting hurt can derail any fitness routine. Make sure you use proper form and manageable weights to avoid pulling or straining any muscles. Don’t rush it. Start with a trainer, if possible, to learn how to do it right. Or use a reputable guide from a medical practice, university or government program to learn strength exercises.
  • Give yourself a break. Remember to give yourself a day or more between workouts to give your muscles time to recover.
  • Stop if it hurts. Pain isn’t normal. If an exercise hurts, stop doing it, and consider trying again in a few days. If pain persists, or if it’s severe, talk to your doctor.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. It’s especially important to protect your feet by wearing cotton socks and comfortable shoes if you’re diabetic. That’s because diabetes can cause nerve damage that leads to loss of feeling in your feet. After you exercise, check your feet for sores, cuts or blisters. Tell your doctor if you have an injury that doesn’t start to heal after two days

Strength training shouldn’t replace aerobic activity (those exercises that really get your heart pumping). Adults should still shoot for a weekly 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week, or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise, or some combination of both. But building up your muscles gives you some big benefits. If you keep at it, you’ll build more muscle and bone to help you look and feel great.

Want to participate in this mission? Simply follow these directions to track your weight lifting activity to earn more than 235 coins that can be used to register for prizes.

  • If this is your first Rally visit, go to and select “See if you have Rally.” Then sign in with your UnitedHealthcare username and password. You will be directed to create a separate Rally username and password as well.
  • Following your initial registration, you can go directly to this mission here. Then click join.
  • The mission will provide you with ways to start flexing those muscles.

To earn coins, log your progress tracking your weight training two times a week for four weeks. You’ll earn 10 coins for completing a day, 30 for completing a week and 105 for completing the entire mission.

Rally is available at no additional cost to members, as part of health plan benefits with UnitedHealthcare. For more information, view this flyer and Grove post.

This Month’s Recipe is: Strawberry and Greens Salad

Check out this healthy and delicious dish featuring strawberries, pine nuts and greens.

For UnitedHealthcare or Rally questions, contact me at or 407-866-8134.


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report. February 2018.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need? Last updated August 2018.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Get Active! Last updated April 2018.

Former Valencia Distinguished Grad Appointed as Visiting Fellow at the U.S. Department of Justice

Monday, May 2, 2022

Former Valencia College 2014 Distinguished Grad Angel Sanchez continues to be an inspiration for all of us.

At the age of 16, Angel was sentenced to prison and served 12 years. He obtained his GED behind bars and attended Valencia College as a homeless student. He graduated at the top of his class and won a $30,000-a-year scholarship to continue his undergraduate studies. He later graduated with honors from the University of Central Florida and earned his J.D. from the University of Miami School of Law.

Angel is a social justice advocate who has fought for greater access to education and voting rights for justice-involved individuals, and now he has been appointed a visiting fellow at the U.S. Department of Justice. In this role, he will bring his professional expertise and lived experience from direct involvement with the criminal justice system to inform the Office of Justice Programs efforts.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, hundreds of thousands of people come home from state and federal prisons every year and millions more from local jails. In fact, nearly half of American adults report that an immediate family member has spent time in prison or jail, while an estimated one in 12 children has experienced the incarceration of a parent. The effects of incarceration are not felt equally by all families: Black Americans are 50% more likely than their white counterparts to have had a family member in prison or jail and the concentration of incarceration can impact entire neighborhoods.

No one understands the challenges of reentry better than people who have experienced it firsthand, and no one is better positioned to help shape the policies and programs that can address those challenges and promote reentry success.

If you haven’t heard about Angel before, take a moment to watch the video below. His inspirational story reminds us why we do what we do at Valencia!

To learn more about Angel, click here.