September 2014 Kudos

Week of September 28- October 4, 2014

Valencia Alum Named One of Top Five Up and Coming Chefs

trina-gregory-probst-valencia-groveOrlando Magazine has named Trina Gregory-Propst, owner of Se7en Bites and graduate of Valencia’s culinary program, one of the top five up and coming chefs in Orlando in its September 2014 issue.

The Grove checked in with Trina last week during a bustling lunch hour. Amid the background chatter of patrons “taking their taste buds on an adventure” and a busy kitchen, she reflected on the magazine’s recognition and readily shared that the training she underwent in Valencia’s culinary arts program is her bedrock.

trina-gregory-probst-se7enbites-270w“I know that I would not be able to have the successes I’m having now without the foundational classes that I took at Valencia,” Trina said. “I completed culinary, baking and pastry, and restaurant management degrees at the same time, and I attribute my success to all of them. I simply cannot say enough about the guidance and leadership I received from Pierre [Pilloud], Ken [Bourgoin], [Scott] Richardson and Mackie [Hefka].”

Not only is Trina giving back by preparing delightful dishes, she is also contributing to economic development by hiring Valencia graduates, currently three are on staff.

“I’ve interviewed several students from other local culinary programs, and they don’t begin to come close to the knowledge or skill base of Valencia alums,” she said.

Upon receiving word of Trina’s acknowledgment, Pierre Pilloud, professor of culinary management, said, he was not surprised.

“She excelled because of her maturity, excitement about the culinary profession and ambition,” he said. “And she chose a great niche by limiting the amount of hours she works so that she can still enjoy her family and her life.”

Her coach and classroom instructor, Ken Bourgoin, professor of culinary management, also weighed in on her culinary acclaim.

“Trina holds a gold medal from the Florida student state culinary championships awarded by the American Culinary Federation in 2011,” shared Chef Ken. “It is the only time a Valencia student culinary team made gold in the Florida Restaurant Food Show, hosted by the Florida Chapter of the National Restaurant Association. Three years later, she is in the top five locally. She is, in a word, determined!”

Se7en Bites is a sweet and savory bakeshop located at 207 N. Primrose Drive, Orlando, specializing in nostalgic southern comfort foods with a modern twist.

Week of September 21 – 27, 2014

Charles Davis Named Statewide Florida Engineering Society “Faculty Member of the Year”

chaz-davis-270wCharles Davis, program advisor for engineering, computer science and architecture, was recently named the Florida Engineering Society (FES) Faculty Member of the Year by the Florida Engineering Society.

An excerpt from the student-led nomination highlighted his activism:

Charles Davis currently takes part in advising three different engineering clubs on campus. He is the primary advisor of the Florida Engineering Society and the National Society of Black Engineers, and he is the co-advisor of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers at Valencia College. He selflessly advises all of these clubs with no intention of gaining anything from them. The reason for his involvement with these clubs are due to his passion for the engineering field and also due to his want to increase the amount of S.T.E.M. student graduates.

faculty-insight-news-idThe award was ultimately chosen by his peers.

Moreover, the Florida Engineering Society Valencia Chapter received the Delta Award, which recognizes the Most Active Student Chapter among two-year engineering programs statewide for its outstanding level of activity and promotion of the engineering profession.

“I do this from my heart and have a passion for advising and teaching students,” Charles said.
“And while it is always a good feeling to know that others recognize what I’ve done, hearing from students that they appreciate and value what I do is icing on the cake.”

Charles has taught at Valencia since 2003.

Kathleen Plinske Receives “Compadre Award” at Gala Osceola

kathleen-compadreaward-groveFrom left to right: John Newstreet, president, Kissimmee/Osceola Chamber of Commerce; Kathleen Plinske, president, Osceola and Lake Nona Campuses; and Guillermo Hansen, Valencia College trustee and founder of the Hispanic Business Council

Congratulations to Kathleen Plinske, president, Osceola and Lake Nona Campuses, who is the 2014 recipient of the Hispanic Business Council of the Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber of Commerce Compadre Award.

The award, presented Saturday, September 13, 2014, at the Hispanic Business Council “Gala Osceola,” held at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort, is presented to an individual who has contributed to the enrichment and overall growth of Hispanics in Central Florida.

Kathleen was cited for her commitment to the Hispanic community in Osceola County, including Got College?, the campaign to increase the college-going rate in Osceola County and Project Residency, an initiative launched by the Osceola Campus Student Government Association that supported a change in legislation that would permit undocumented immigrants to pay in-district tuition. That bill was passed earlier this year.

“I’m proud of the diversity of our student body, but even more proud of the broad success across all of our student groups that’s so impressive,” Kathleen said.

Week of September 7 – 13, 2014

Student Development Representatives Attend APCA Student Success Conference

apca-attendees-groveLeft to right: Bernard Huggins, Lauren Kaplan, Dr. Vincent Tinto, Deanne Abrams and Jason Dodge

A delegation of employees from student development attended the summer Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities (APCA) Student Life Advisors Institute and Student Leadership Workshop, Friday, July 25 – Sunday, July 27, 2014, at the Marriot Marquis in New York City.

Valencia participants included Deanne Abrams, student development coordinator, East Campus; Jason Dodge, student development coordinator, Lake Nona Campus; Bernard Huggins, college transition coordinator, Osceola Campus; and Lauren Kaplan, student development advisor, East Campus.

The theme of the conference was “SYNERGY: Collaborating for Student Success.” Conference sessions focused on strategies to implement collaboration among student clubs, organizations, faculty, staff and administration on college campuses.

apca-synergy-banner-grove“From my perspective, the best session was listening to Dr. Vincent Tinto,” shared Lauren. “Having read Dr. Tinto’s book in graduate school, we found it exciting to hear from one of the noted theorists in the field of student affairs. His session focused on how student involvement can promote student retention.”

Jason presented a session on Lake Nona’s “Get On Track,” a program that allows students the opportunity to earn points while attending events on and off-campus to increase student engagement. Jason demonstrated how other institutions can launch a similar program on their campuses to increase student engagement.

While in New York, the group received complimentary tickets to the Broadway show, “Newsies,” a highly-spirited musical about turn-of-the-century homeless and orphaned children who sell newspapers to support themselves and their family.

Each attendee looks forward to applying lessons learned at the conference and sharing their take-aways with the Valencia community during this academic year.

Week of August 31 – September 6, 2014

Christopher Brown Receives Winter Park Campus Excellence in Teaching Award

A message from Stacey Johnson, President, East & Winter Park Campuses


Left to right: Chris Borglum, professor of English; Christopher Brown, adjunct professor of English; and Spencer Riggi Winter Park SGA vice president

Congratulations to Christopher Brown, adjunct professor of English on the Winter Park Campus, who was recently presented with the Winter Park Campus Excellence in Teaching Award.

In the spring of 2014, students were asked by Student Development to nominate and vote for their favorite adjunct professors, and Chris was named their “favorite instructor.” He was presented with the award at the Thursday, August 21, 2014, Welcome Back gathering for faculty on the Winter Park Campus.

Christopher focuses on the creation of rhetorical communities within his classes, encouraging his students to be actively invested in the rhetorical strategies they bring to bear on their class writing assignments. He has described his composition classrooms as “meaning-making zones, emphasizing the importance of revision in creating thoughtful communication.”

This is his fourth semester teaching at the Winter Park Campus, and he has taught at East Campus as well.

The Winter Park Campus faculty and staff congratulate Christopher on his work with students.


  • Lisa Gray said:

    Congratulations Dr. Plinske! It great to see you being acknowledged for the work you have done to improve the lives of people in our community!!

    PMTue, 23 Sep 2014 22:11:48 +0000Tue, 23 Sep 2014 22:11:48 +0000pm14,10:11 pm

  • Jamy Chulak said:

    Congratulations Charles! The energy you bring to student learning is second to none. Good work to the entire group of faculty, staff and students.

    PMThu, 25 Sep 2014 21:28:29 +0000Thu, 25 Sep 2014 21:28:29 +0000pm14,9:28 pm

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