Valencia College is a unique institution to say the least. What was once Orlando’s community college is now a bachelor’s degree-granting institution, an extension of the University of Central Florida and home to a recent Harvard Medical School admit.
Cathy Gutierrez got her start at Valencia’s Osceola campus for financial reasons and then moved forward to the University of Central Florida to finish her degrees in biotechnology, molecular biology and microbiology. She completed her degrees with a stellar GPA while working at SeaWorld and Red Lobster and volunteering at Give Kids the World. The Valencia-UCF graduate will begin her journey at Harvard Medical School this summer.
Gutierrez’s success proves that Valencia’s prowess is making great strides. Our humble community college is graduating top notch students, but it is doing even more than that – the college is graduating real students with unbelievable stories.
I could report on any one of Valencia’s students due to how interesting their backgrounds are. The college’s students range from reformed convicts to high-achieving students who could not afford to attend anywhere but Valencia. The most redeeming quality of the college is its commitment to honoring hard work and achievement, while instilling these values in its students. Nearly every Valencia student or graduate whom I have met has overcome great obstacles – several jobs, difficult course loads, financial struggles, etc. – and with the help of the college, many of them have found success in the workforce and graduate school.