CLASS NOTES, WINTER 2017

Class Notes, Winter 2017

Palmer Reed

Palmer Reed, ’12

From playing nightly shows in downtown Orlando to sets at Disney Springs, Valencia sound technology grad Palmer Reed, 26, is no stranger to the stage. So when he picked up a guitar for an impromptu set at a Grammys after-party this year in L.A., he was bound to turn some heads.

After the brief performance at the star-studded party hosted by Interscope Records, Reed was asked by a producer—who works regularly with Lady Gaga—to write an upbeat song about friendship. The resulting track, “I’ll Be Around,” written and performed by Reed, landed a spot on the motion picture soundtrack for My Little Pony.

Reed credits his current success to paying his musical dues. While at Valencia, Reed played in public as much as possible, determined to share the stage with artists from different genres.

Now that Reed is poised to step onto an larger stage, he’s got some advice for students. “Stay humble and hungry. Keep pushing, because opportunity is around every corner,” says Reed.

Palmer Reed on the Pearce’s show, John Q and Friends, talking about his work


Listen to Reed’s original song on the motion picture soundtrack for “My Little Pony”

  • Pat Naldrett-Bilodeau, ’91, ’93

    (Not pictured)

    Featured on the cover of the Florida Community Association Journal in November 2016, Pat credits her degrees from Valencia—an A.S. in Real Estate Management and an A.S. in Business Administration and Management—with helping her launch a new career in her
    early forties. Today, she serves on the advisory board of the Florida Community Association Professionals.

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  • Donna Culver, ’94

    Donna is proud to announce that she earned her MBA from Colorado Technical University in 2016. Today, Donna’s Dove/Move Family Mentoring Programs help Orlando high school students and their families prepare for college or the next level of their life.

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  • Jessica Westbrook, ’94

    Since graduating from Valencia, Jessica earned a BFA in photography from UCF, and an MFA in photography at Temple University. Westbrook spent the early phase of her professional life as an interactive designer and developer in the Baltimore–Washington area. Today, she is an associate professor in the School of Design, College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University, where she co-directs Divergent Design Lab.

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  • Eddie Ruiz, ’99

    (Not pictured)

    In July 2016, Eddie was selected to serve as the Assistant Superintendent of Student Services, Equity and Access for the School District of  Palm Beach County.

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  • Frainelys Cruz, ’09

    After earning her A.A., Frainelys returned to Valencia to earn a nursing degree and recently earned her master’s degree as a family nurse practitioner. She has worked primarily in the pediatrics field since becoming a registered nurse in 2011, and is now working on her doctorate of nursing practice at the University of South Florida.

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  • Matthew C. Hodges, ’09

    After graduating from Valencia, Matthew earned a civil engineering degree at UCF and has since become a registered Professional Engineer. Working for the Florida Department of Transportation, Matthew’s current work focuses on structural inspection and maintenance of Central Florida’s more than 1,600 fixed and movable bridges. Matthew is married to another Valencia grad, Danielle (Meyer) Hodges, ‘10.

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  • Daniel Botero, ’10

    Daniel is currently working as a Regional Key Account Manager for PepsiCo Frito-Lay, responsible for managing over $60 million in yearly sales for Target, CVS and Walgreens in the southeastern United States. Daniel is also the co-founder of lifestyle clothing brand, Mestre Empire.

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  • Roderick Davenport, ’10

    A former vice president of Valencia’s African American Cultural Society, Roderick is an employee for Orange County Public Schools, where he serves as a basketball coach, track coach and ESE paraprofessional for severely handicapped students. He is working on his bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida, and a sports management certification from Columbia University.

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  • Levon A. Mergian, ’10

    Levon is currently working as a Supervising Producer on the NBC show “America’s Got Talent.” Since graduating from the Valencia Film Production Tech program, Mergian has been a producer on “American Idol,” “So You Think You Can Dance,” “Dancing With The Stars,” and more. “The Valencia program and Ralph Clemente provided me everything I needed to stand out and work my way to almost the top of my field,” Levon says. “I love Valencia.”

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  • Hamza Tufail, ’10

    Upon completing his A.A from Valencia, Hamza earned his paralegal certification and worked for a law firm for three years, working his way from junior paralegal to chief paralegal—while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in accounting from UCF. After earning his degree, he passed all four Certified Public Accountant exams and now has started his career in public accounting as an auditor for KPMG, an international accounting firm.

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  • James Cressler, ’12

    Jim may have earned his Valencia degree in accounting technology, but he is making his mark as an author. The Army veteran has published two fantasy fiction books, “Sobriety Island” and “Diary of an Oak Tree,” and is currently writing a third, “Demimonde.”

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  • Rolanda Brown, ’14

    In May 2017, Rolanda earned a bachelor’s degree in health sciences from UCF, where her hard work earned her magna cum laude distinctions. She currently shadows doctors in oncology, hematology and internal medicine in local hospitals—and plans to begin applying for medical school in 2018.

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  • Jessie Sangil, ’14

    After graduating from Valencia, Jessie started a career in real estate. Today, she is not only a “Top Producer” for her current brokerage, but has also received special recognition from the Orlando Regional Realtor Association as a 2016 Top Producer with her team, Jess & Kail: The Listing Ladies.

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  • Stephanie Cornejo, ’15

    After earning her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the UCF in August, Stephanie is working at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in the Crime Analysis Unit. This semester, she began work on a master’s degree in criminal justice.

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  • Niles Morrow, ’15

    Niles is currently working toward a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee, where he is also a lab assistant, performing research on suspended solids in Tallahassee’s rivers. Last summer, he interned at the Savannah River Environmental Science Field Station, completing research on soil pH, river discharge and endangered plant species located on the Savannah River site in Aiken, S.C.

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