SGA President Helps Other Students Break Barriers in College

Thursday, June 3, 2021

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

Student and 2020-2021 Student Government Association President Esther Perceval’s IDH2912 Honors Research project has created a resource for Valencia College students to help them with barriers they may be experiencing as they obtain their education.

Her project — “Avoiding Educational Barriers: Empowering Students Once They Encounter Academic Obstacles” — identified common and critical barriers to education and their possible sources and provides ways to empower students to find the help they need to overcome those barriers.

Esther began planning her research project when she was matched with East Campus Librarian Erich Heintzelman last year while taking the IDH2911 Honors Research class. She continued during the IHD2912 Honors Research course with her mentor Jane Maguire, professor, education.

Her project included a survey to Valencia College students, in which more than 1,300 responded with suggested questions on overcoming barriers to their education. Esther then shared this data in a research paper and in a presentation.

“Esther has a rare gift in that her positive and optimistic outlook is found in everything she does, but especially her research involving student support and mental health,” shared Jennifer Danilowski, substance abuse mental health services administration implementation coordinator, who attended Esther’s presentation. “It was clear that this was not simply a research project but a window into how we can better serve our students and our community.”

As the information Esther provided in her paper and presentation was so detailed and informative, Erich assisted Esther with turning her project into a LibGuide that is now used by the Valencia Library. In the LibGuide, Esther also included a checklist to guide students whether they should reach out to a professor, academic advisor or counselor for help. This checklist may be incorporated into future New Student Experience materials.

Additionally, Chris Teumer, assistant director, learning support, created a tab in the CARE LibGuide to include her information.

”Having crossed paths with Esther several times over the past 18 months, it’s evident that she is a leader amongst her peers, both in her role with SGA and as someone who demonstrates care and empathy for others through her efforts to help students in need,” Chris explained. “Esther’s honors research project on avoiding educational barriers and empowering students to overcome academic obstacles has many connections to the work we have done over the years with CARE, and I couldn’t be more impressed with the outcome and learning that she demonstrated from the process.”

Charles Ensminger, director, student development, and, of course, her mentor Jane were also impressed with her work and her passion for other students.

“Esther is a scholar-practitioner in the making and a rising Valencia College superstar,” he said. “Her passion for learning, awareness of self and dedication to our campus community serves as an example to future students looking to make the most out of their college experience.”

Jane added, “It was a pleasure working with Esther during the spring semester on her IDH2912 project. Teaming up with CARE will ensure that more students will be off to a great start at Valencia. I was so fortunate to be her mentor for her project.”

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