Want to Make a Difference? Become a Mentor in the Valencia Horizon Scholars Program

A Message from Falecia Williams, President, West and Downtown Campuses

Congratulations West Campus, for being the campus with the most faculty and staff members who volunteer as mentors for the Valencia College Horizon Scholars program. But, there is still a lot of work to do. We’re looking for more faculty and staff members to become mentors to low-income students in grades 9-12.

The Horizon Scholars program works with members of the Central Florida community to increase college access and professional opportunities for low-income students in grades 9-12. Through scholarship, mentorship, leadership development and civic engagement, the four pillars of the program, the Horizon Scholars program is working to break the cycle of poverty for students and their families in Central Florida while giving students the chance to achieve their dreams. Students who successfully complete all of the program requirements receive a college scholarship and support from the program as they move from high school to college and from home life to independent living.

This year, the program welcomed a record number of 200 ninth graders. That is in addition to the 250 current OCPS 10th – 12th graders who are currently in the program.

Under the leadership of Kelly Astro, director, Horizon Scholars, and her outstanding team, the Horizon Scholars program (formerly Take Stock in Children) is taking on this herculean task. The number of students being served is unprecedented for the Valencia College Horizon Scholars program.

Therefore, we need your help to serve as a mentor for these students. Mentoring sessions take place at the students’ respective schools twice per month (15 over the academic year) for 30-45 minutes each, through the student’s four-year program. These sessions may be conducted as part of Valencia work hours for both exempt and non-exempt employees (with approval from your supervisor). That means that you can make a difference in a big way without volunteering more than 10 hours in an entire academic year. There is also a support team that helps mentors with materials to make their mentoring sessions meaningful.

“Mentoring in the Horizon Scholars program is one of my favorite ways to make a difference in the lives of students in our community,” shared Bob Gessner, dean, science. “It takes so little time and is so much fun.”

To read a reflection by Director of Student Communication Dani Moritz-Long on her experience with the Horizon Scholars Mentorship Program, click here.

We are so grateful to each of our 40 West Campus Horizon Scholars volunteers. To view a list of West Campus volunteers, click here.

If you’re interested in joining the program, visit the Horizon Scholars Program’s webpage for information and to apply.

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