Archive for the ‘Valencia Heroes’ Category

  • Valencia Grad Who Escaped Chavez Regime Named Fulbright Scholar

    Monday, April 25, 2016

    Kenther Ramos, a 2011 Valencia graduate, is the first graduate of Rollins’ College’s Hamilton Holt School to receive a prestigious Fulbright…

  • Valencia Wins Top Aspen Prize!

    Tuesday, December 13, 2011

    Dear Friends, Only moments ago, I enjoyed one of the highlights of my career and of Valencia College’s 43-year history when…

  • Honoring our Graduates’ Dreams

    Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    Commencement–my favorite day of the academic year–was Saturday, May 7 at the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee. We had a wonderful…

  • A Different Kind of Learning Day

    Friday, March 4, 2011

    On February 11, more than 1,000 Valencia employees gathered under one roof – the UCF Arena – for a rare convocation we call Learning Day. Attendees heard from three remarkable alumni about their lives – lives that were shaped in part by Valencia.

    They came to share their inspirational stories and to thank Valencia for having played such an important role in their success. It isn’t often that we gather the entire Valencia family to learn and serve together. It was a real treat to see these graduates again and to connect their narrative to our core mission.

    Francis Angibeaud Montjen was a typical community college student, which is to say he didn’t fit in anybody’s box. He’s a native of Cameroon, West Africa, who earned a degree from Valencia in 2002. He later moved to the United Kingdom, earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southampton. He hasn’t stopped there as he is currently working on a master’s degree in finance and banking at Queen Mary University in London.

    Abeer Beshir Abdalla, a 2005 Valencia grad – also named that year’s distinguished graduate – works as a writer and a communications specialist in Washington, D.C. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UCF. A master storyteller, she spoke with passion of the value of learning and serving others.

    Eddie Ruiz is the principal of Jackson Middle School, the same place he once attended as a teenager. Ruiz received his A.A. degree from Valencia in 1999 and went on to UCF where he is currently pursuing his doctoral degree. He was a finalist for Orange County Teacher of the Year in 2006.

    All three of them demonstrate the power of an opportunity. Each seized theirs and are making a difference. I invite you to watch the video where they share what Valencia has meant to them.

  • Recognition for Student Nurse Penny Scarpelli

    Thursday, April 22, 2010


    Kathy Swanson, President of Winnie Palmer Hospital, came to Valencia’s West Campus a few weeks ago to publicly recognize nursing student Penny Scarpelli, in front of a class full of fellow students and Valencia faculty for the way she handled a tragic case. She was a hero that day to a grieving family. The recognition was a touching moment captured on this YouTube video. Penny embodies the dedication and compassion that fuels someone to study this most rigorous of fields.

    — Sandy Shugart

  • Mary Collier Inspires and Enables Achievement

    Monday, October 19, 2009

    One of my favorite people in the world, Mary Collier, also happens to be an unseen hero to countless students who have benefited from her leadership and contributions to the Valencia Foundation. Funding she helped to establish enables Valencia graduates go on to UCF, UF, USF, FSU and many more institutions nationwide.

    In 1982 Mary Collier was named Valencia’s first Distinguished Graduate. A non-traditional student, she went back to college after raising her children. Today, she and her family are among the staunchest supporters of the college and largest donors to our foundation.

    A foundation board member for more than 20 years, she has served two terms as its president. Mary’s story continues to inspire those who may at first be tentative at the prospect of going back to school. She truly lives by her belief: “Anything you can imagine…you can do.” Much of what Valencia is able to imagine and do is beause of people like Mary Collier.

    — Sandy Shugart

  • Jerry Cochran Started Valencia’s Recycling Program

    Monday, October 19, 2009


    Some Valencia heroes are just quietly doing their jobs, making a difference in students’ lives. Others are making their mark on our planet, or at least our little corner of the planet. By his own initiative, Jerry Cochran started Valencia’s recycling programs on all our campuses. That’s how the world gets changed: One person at a time doing the very best he or she can.

    — Sandy Shugart