Valencia Students and Employees Now Ride Free on LYNX

At the Board of Trustees meeting in July, Valencia College signed an agreement with the Central Florida Regional Transit Authority allowing all Valencia students and employees to ride the LYNX bus system free of charge. Under the agreement, Valencia will pay for the service without forwarding the cost to students and employees, who may ride all LYNX routes, including NeighborLink services, at any time of day.

The LYNX system serves the six Valencia College campuses across Orange and Osceola counties — including the newly-opened Poinciana Campus. To take advantage of the benefit, students and employees must go to a campus security office to receive a LYNX decal valid for the current academic year.

The agreement, a first-of-its-kind partnership in the region, incorporates data sharing that will help LYNX and Valencia collaborate on research, planning and user experience. This program launches amidst a technological overhaul by the transit authority, as it introduces numerous advances, including onboard Wi-Fi and a bus tracking app for smartphones

Valencia College President Tests Free Lynx Bus Service

President Sandy Shugart surprises a few Valencia College students and staff by hopping aboard a LYNX bus to take advantage of the new free bus fare. More about the Valencia College and LYNX partnership here:

Out-of-State Fees Waived for U.S. Citizens Displaced by Hurricanes

Student Jeremy Rivera

Puerto Rican student Jeremy Rivera enrolled in Valencia College’s Intensive English Program upon arriving to Central Florida in late October, a month after Hurricane Maria.

Following a brutal 2017 hurricane season, Valencia extended in-state tuition rates to Americans displaced in other states and territories ravaged by a spate of natural disaster. On Sept. 5, Valencia enacted the waiver to accommodate any Houston-area residents reeling from the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The second waiver announcement came on Sept. 21, a day after Hurricane Maria delivered a devastating blow to Puerto Rico. The U.S. Virgin Islands were included in the tuition exception following a combination of hits from Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

In addition to offering in-state tuition, Valencia’s Continuing Education department reduced rates on its Intensive English courses for Puerto Rican students arriving to Central Florida. To receive new arrivals, a consortium of local government and nonprofit organizations set up multiple reception centers across Central Florida, where Valencia staffers were ready to assist prospective students seeking to transfer or begin their college career at Valencia.

College officials expect an uptick of recent arrivals in the 2018 spring semester.

Valencia College Welcomes Executive Dean for Downtown Campus

Eugene Jones IIIn August, Eugene Jones II was named Valencia’s executive dean for UCF Downtown and Valencia College Downtown. Jones, a veteran administrator specializing in workforce learning and outreach to underserved communities, comes to Valencia from Lake-Sumter State College, where he served as associate vice president of baccalaureate and workforce programs.

Jones spent the first 20 years of his career at Sante Fe College, where he developed My Brother’s Keeper, a mentoring program for African-American men attending the community college in Alachua County. Drawing from his expertise in information technology, he worked with the public and private sector to provide residents of East Gainesville with computer access and education.

As the dean of a campus with an expected 2,300 Valencia students, Jones, who holds a doctorate in higher education administration, will work to open more pathways to higher education for the downtown communities west of I-4. Credit courses for A.S. and A.A degrees will be taught in the Dr. Phillips Academic Commons building, a shared facility with the University of Central Florida.

Valencia’s Culinary School will relocate to the downtown campus, moving into a separate multi-purpose tower which includes ground floor retail and student housing. Valencia will also offer accelerated skills training courses to boost employment rates and entrepreneurship in the area. The campus is slated to open in the Creative Village in fall of 2019.

Doors Open at New Campus in Poinciana

Poinciana Campus

The dream of a Valencia College Campus in Poinciana became a reality on Aug. 28, 2017 when students began taking classes in two newly-constructed buildings off of Pleasant Hill Rd. The main building, which received three green globes for its sustainable design and energy-efficient operations, features 12 classrooms, two computer labs, a science lab, and a test kitchen for the A.S. in culinary management.

Adjacent to the main building, continuing education and accelerated skills training takes place in the campus’ Center for Accelerated Training, where students can complete short-term courses in a variety of subjects from warehouse logistics to English-language training.

The new campus provides a more accessible postsecondary option in Osceola County. Interviewed on the first day of class, new student Nathanael Torres who is a working father of four, said the campus location was a determining factor in his enrollment.

“College seemed intimidating to me,” said Torres. “But when I saw that this campus was opening up next to my house, I thought, ‘This is my chance.’”

The college-going rate in Osceola had been historically low. However, the county has seen an uptick in college enrollment in recent years, in part due to Valencia’s ‘Got College?’ initiative which was recently honored with the Florida College System Chancellor’s “Best Practice” Award.

The initiative was spearheaded by Osceola and Lake Nona president Kathleen Plinske, who now presides over the Poinciana Campus. Jennifer Robertson takes on the role of Executive Dean. The dedication for the Poinciana Campus was held on Dec. 11, 2017, after being postponed due to Hurricane Irma.

Sustainable by Design

When Osceola County gave Valencia College 19 acres of land adjacent to a conservation area near Lake Tohopekaliga, we made environmental stewardship an essential component of our new Poinciana Campus. Hear DLR Group senior architect Lindsey Piant Perez discuss some of the features of the new campus off Pleasant Hill Boulevard. Valencia College at Poinciana opens for class on Monday August 28, 2017.

New Poinciana Campus Brings Opportunity

On Aug. 28, 2017, the first day of class at the new Poinciana Campus, Valencia College asked students what the new opportunity means to them. Convenient location, small class sizes and a flexible schedule were just a few of the attributes helping the new students overcome challenges to write the next chapter.