Meet some of Valencia College’s distinguished graduates—from past to present—and see the impact they’re making on the local community.
Dr. Jim Gollattscheck, Valencia College President Emeritus
For his early vision of building the strong foundation on which Valencia College stands on today, the Valencia College Alumni Association honored Dr. Jim Gollattscheck with the association’s first ever, honorary alumnus award.
Dick J. Batchelor, ’70
President of the Dick Batchelor Management Group, Dick is one of the youngest individuals to ever serve in the Florida House of Representatives. He has served as a delegate to observe elections in South Africa and as a delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Commission. A former member of the Valencia College Foundation board, he currently appears weekly as a political analyst for Spectrum News 13, and has served as an on-air political analyst for various TV, radio and print outlets.
Richard Crotty, ’70
Rich served in the Florida House of Representatives, the Florida Senate and later was elected as the Orange County Property Appraiser and Orange County Mayor. A lifelong champion for higher education, Rich and his wife, Pam, created the Mayor Richard T. Crotty Valencia and UCF Alumni Association’s Two-Plus-Two Scholarship. After his public service, Rich established the Richard Crotty Consulting Group and joined Crossman and Company as executive vice president. He is also a member of the faculty at Rollins College, where he teaches political science.
Samuel Ings, ’73
Now an Orlando city commissioner, Samuel spent more than 30 years with the Orlando Police Department, retiring as captain of the West Patrol Division. Elected to Orlando’s city commission in 2006, he was instrumental in the acquisition and renovation of The Village Square, a business hub for the Washington Shores community.
Allen Weiss, ’74
Al served as president of Disney World from 1994 until 2005, and as president of worldwide operations for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts until his retirement in 2011. He was also appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to the board of directors of the Corporation for Travel Promotion. In 2005, he was named “Most Influential Businessman in Central Florida” by the Orlando Business Journal.
Lois Horn-Diaz, ’78
Lois began her career as an educator in 1980, but her talents have taken her in many directions. She started her career as an education representative for Sea World of Florida, and later worked as a host and songwriter for a children’s TV show produced by WFTV. After a 24-year career as a school psychologist, she found her calling as a teacher of the gifted. In 2017, Lois was named the Polk County Teacher of the Year and recently won a Florida State Excellence in Creative Teaching Award. She is now working on a doctorate in education at Florida Southern College.
Chris Kirkpatrick, ’93
Chris is credited as a founding member of ‘NSYNC, whose albums “NSYNC” and “No Strings Attached” sold more than 10 million copies each. He, along with his four other band members, have sold more than 56 million records worldwide. Since ‘N Sync went on hiatus, Chris has pursued a solo career with his current band, Nigels 11. He has provided voices for numerous kids shows, including the voice of Chip Skylark on “The Fairly OddParents.” He also guest starred on “The Simpsons” as himself, along with his fellow NSYNC bandmates, in the episode “New Kids on the Blecch.”
Brad Pierce, ’97
Brad is president and CEO of Restaurant Equipment World, which has more than 100,000 customers in 110 countries. An avid pilot, he dedicates his time as a pilot for the Homeland Security Emergency Air Transportation System and frequently flies missions for Angel Flight Southeast, a charity that provides free flights for patients in medical and financial need. In 2014, Brad was recognized as the Angel Flight Southeast Pilot of the Year.
Ybeth Bruzual, ’98
Ybeth started her journalism career as a writer and circulation manager for the Valencia Voice. Today, she is the face of Orlando’s Spectrum News 13 and host of “Political Connections”. Past president for the Central Florida chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, she is a three-time Emmy nominee and winner of the 2016 Emmy for her Pulse Vigil live coverage at Lake Eola.
Trina Gregory-Propst, ’12 and ’13
Trina is the pastry chef and owner of the renowned bakery-restaurant, Se7en Bites, which has won multiple awards, including the Critic’s Choice award from the Orlando Sentinel for best bakery and winner of Orlando Weekly’s “Best Of” in six categories. In addition, Se7en Bites was featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” with host Guy Fieri. Trina is very active in the community, supporting Toolbox4Life, the Florida Hospital Foundation Gourmet Soiree and Chef’s Night at Second Harvest Food Bank.
Jehojada Merilan, ’18, 2018 Mary S. Collier Distinguished Graduate
Jehojada Merilan enrolled at Valencia College determined to succeed. He went from standing before a judge awaiting his sentencing to becoming the president of Model United Nations. While at the college, Jehojada became club officer of the year, was accepted into the Seneff Honors College and organized immigration discussions for Justice Week. He credits his New Student Experience course for reshaping his outlook on education. Jehojada is pursuing a career in Foreign Services and is seeking a bachelor’s degree in international and global studies.
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Class Notes Editor,
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1768 Park Center Dr., Orlando, FL 32835.