Forum With Jill Biden Highlights 'DirectConnect to UCF'

Forum With Jill Biden Highlights ‘DirectConnect to UCF’

UCF student Pamela Garcia (third from left) talks with Second Lady Jill Biden (second from left) as Valencia College President Sandy Shugart (left) and UCF Provost and Executive Vice President Tony Waldrop look on. (Courtesy: Valencia College)

Jill Biden, the Second Lady of the United States, spoke to a room full of UCF and Valencia College students and employees Thursday during a visit to Valencia’s West Campus.

Biden, who has been a community college teacher for 18 years, participated in a roundtable discussion with UCF student Pamela Garcia and Provost and Executive Vice President Tony Waldrop, as well as Central Florida employers and Valencia students and administrators.

Biden’s visit was part of a national “Community College to Career” tour, highlighting successful workforce partnerships between community colleges and employers.

“I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that the (Obama) administration has focused the nation’s attention on community colleges,” Biden said. “You all here know how great community colleges are. We live it day by day. We see students. We see where they start, where they finish, what they go on to.”

Sandy Shugart, the president of Valencia College, moderated the discussion.  He noted that students use college to achieve their goals – including finding good jobs. “Neither Valencia nor UCF are destinations; we’re just bridges,” he said. “Students want to go somewhere, they have a goal in their minds, and we’re here to help them reach that goal.”

Through the DirectConnect to UCF partnership, UCF guarantees admission to graduates of Valencia College, as well as Brevard Community College, Lake-Sumter Community College and Seminole State College of Florida. UCF academic advisers work closely with students to help them make a smooth transition to the university.

Garcia earned two A.S. degrees in electronics and engineering at Valencia and an A.A. degree before enrolling at UCF. She is a senior majoring in electrical engineering.

“After I got an A.S., I got a job with a defense contractor, which offered educational reimbursement, so I thought I should take advantage of that,” Garcia told Biden. “I came back and got my A.A. and, thanks to DirectConnect to UCF, I’m over there now, and I love it. They’re both really good colleges.”