Monthly Archives: March 2015

Serve Your Community: Earn College Credits Workshop

Service Learning
On March 24, 2015, the Serve Your Community: Earn College Credits Workshop was held in Valencia College’s East Campus. This workshop was presented by Mr. Douglas Taylor and it was all about Service Learning. All the workshop attendees were given the evaluation survey, a Service Learning brochure, and a BayCare bookmark. The assistant also informed us of a Wellness Fair that will take place on Valencia’s East Campus on April 7th, which will consist of depression screenings and many hands on activities to learn more about the mind. Mr. Taylor explained that Service Learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich students academically, civically, pre-professionally and personally while strengthening their community. He told us of class SLS2940 Service Learning, which involves 20 service hours for every 1 credit hour, meetings with your faculty mentor, finding an agency to volunteer, and 7 reflection papers on your volunteer experience. The benefits of Service Learning include networking with people in your future career field, gaining experience in the field, gaining new skills in the field, giving back to the community, exploring your career options, and earning recognition. SLS2940 Service Learning can be taken for up to 4 credit hours and you can earn a medallion and a pin as part of your graduation cap and gown outfit. The medallion system works like this:
For 40 service hours, you receive a Bronze Medallion.
For 60 service hours, you receive a Silver Medallion.
For 80-100 service hours, you receive a Gold Medallion.

The steps to taking this class include:
1. Determining the semester and how many service hours you want to do.
2. Completing an online application at:
3. Waiting for acceptance and assignment to a faculty mentor if you meet the requirements to take the class.
4. Choosing a location and getting consent to complete service hours in the location.
5. Starting your service hours and meeting with your faculty mentor often and completing your reflection papers throughout the term.
6. Completing the service hours and receiving the college credits on your transcript for graduation.

Mr. Taylor also mentioned that the Bridges to Success program community service hour requirement does NOT qualify for the hours in this class, meaning that Bridges to Success hours and SLS2940 Service Learning class hours are two separate entities. The Service Learning staff is willing to pair you with a mentor and overall, Bridges to Success students could possibly use this as a summer class elective. He told us of his story and how he took this class to strengthen his idea of what he really wanted to do in life as a career. Finally, I felt that this workshop was pretty enlightening to how you can journey into your field and gain more skills while having it count toward your college degree because colleges nationwide are starting to look more for service learning or any type of community service in applications for prospective students. I would definitely recommend this workshop to anyone interested in gaining experience in their future career field during the summer term or trying to fit it in with any other term at Valencia.
For any questions about Service Learning, Robyn Brighton can be contacted at


Recommended Read: Unwind- by Kyle Melendez


The Book Unwind is a thriller written by Neal Shusterman.

This book is fiction and tells an interesting tale of three young kids on the run to escape being unwound. A problem society has become accustomed to and is a result of a second civil war. Being unwound is basically using kids who are parents don’t want, or choose to have , get sent off to get their vitals taken out and used for other people.

It is more of  a dark book but is a real thriller , in terms you can compare it somewhat to a hunger games but in normal society like our own. This book kept me on my edge with unexpected events happening every page I read. As well as the flow between all the characters gives break enough to keep the reader wondering about what the other half is facing.

If your into fiction and like a semi dark story this is the book for you. It will keep you interested from beginning to end and will make you more connected with these characters that are just the same as us.

Mighty Switch Force! 1 and 2!- By Kyle Melendez

Mighty_Switch_Force_Logo 2457850-8575250975_ff1fb05a84_b

I’d like to recommend a really good platforming game for the Nintendo 3DS and Wii u called Mighty Switch Force! and Mighty Switch force 2!.

The game features a cyborg officer called Patricia Wagon who’s mission is to collect escaped criminals, by platforming and blasting or dousing enemies.

The main goal of switch force is to beat the stage by switching platforms on the screen and blasting enemies to obtain the criminals that have escaped through out the stage with in the set amount of time. Platforms are switched and things switch up when in Switch force 2, this is when she becomes a fire fighter with new elements implemented into the game .Features such as putting out fires and overloading enemies with water,as well as her blaster becomes a firefighter hose.

Both games are featured on the Nintendo 3ds but also have a Hyper Drive edition with a slightly different art style and remixes of the 3ds soundtrack.

This a very fun game but has a phenomenal soundtrack , I find myself listening to both 1 and 2 soundtracks, They give off a mixture of 8-bit, EDM and Dubstep. If you don’t have a 3ds or wii u I highly recommend you buy this soundtrack is is amazing!

They have been on sale recently for very cheap as well.

Here are the trailers for both games!

Mighty Switch Force!

Mighty Switch Force 2

The artist who made the soundtrack has worked on other titles as well. His link is below

Insurgent: Book vs. Movie Comparison and Contrast


On March 20, 2015, Insurgent was released in theaters. It topped the box office this past weekend with $54 million. Insurgent is the sequel to Divergent and features famous starts such as Shailene Woodley, Theo James, and Ansel Elgort. The movie is based on the second book of the Divergent series by Veronica Roth and is considered as a science fiction adventure film.

Insurgent continues with the ending of the last movie, where Tris, Four, Peter, and Caleb are fugitives that are being hunted down by Erudite to pay for their crimes. Eric leads his Dauntless platoon to search for them and end up finding that they were hiding amongst the Amity faction. Peter joins Eric in hopes of becoming a Dauntless leader, while Tris, Four, and Caleb end up going into factionless territory. In contrast to the book, they do not find the one-eyed escort that was kicked out of Dauntless and the Amity leader was not really represented as much. Once in factionless territory, they find Four’s mom, Evelyn, who tries to get them to join forces, but it isn’t until Tris and Four go into Candor territory that this unification is possible. As Tris and Four go into Candor, Caleb goes back to Erudite in hopes of learning more government information. Tris and Four are subjected to a truth serum trial, in which many secrets are revealed. Meanwhile, Erudite leader, Jeanine, learns of the boxes to reveal secret information about the government, but learns that the only way this information can be gathered is if all the boxes are opened. To open all the boxes, they need someone that is 100% Divergent, which is Tris. In contrast to the book, Tris is okay with using guns and machines are able to tell how Divergent citizens are. The government seeks her even more now and learns that if they start to kill people in front of her, she will bring herself in. Tris undergoes the simulations to unlock the box and learns even more startling truths. After a day, rebel Dauntless, led by Four, come in to save her with the help of Peter and ultimately, the secrets of the box come out into the open.

I would definitely recommend seeing this film even though I can say, there are many differences to people who have read the book before or after watching the movie. I pointed out only a few of the differences, but it is up to you to see the movie. The ending was altered from the book as well, but any Hunger Games fans or Divergent fans will be in for a action-packed ride from watching Insurgent and waiting to the sequel Allegiant to come out!

Annie: Movie Review

On December 19, 2014, Annie was released in theaters. This movie was based on the 1924 comic strip, Little Orphan Annie, by Harold Gray, but also had a Broadway adaptation released in 1977. Annie is a remade American musical comedy drama film, which grossed over $134.5 million in the box office.

Annie takes place in Harlem, New York and focuses on Annie who is a little girl in the foster care system. The foster mother, Collen Hannigan(Cameron Diaz), takes care of her and a few other girls, who accept their cruel fate. One day, Annie finds her records in which she desperately searches to find her real parents at an agency and runs after a dog with two boys after leaving. While chasing the dog, she is almost hit by a vehicle, but the cell phone mogul and New York running mayor candidate, Will Stacks(Jamie Foxx), pulls her out of the street. His popularity in the polls instantly booms by saving Annie and after convincing from his election assistants, he decides to take Annie into his house. Annie and Will bond with each other through press photos, adopting a dog, and many silly adventures with his assistants. After time passes, Hannigan and one of Will’s assistants plot to get rid of Annie by trying to find her “real” parents so Will can go back to being his normal self. Originally, I was very skeptical of watching this movie because I am not a fan of musicals, but the way it presents itself and the catchy music enticed me to where I found it enjoyable. I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone that enjoys movies or musicals in general because the music and the story definitely make it something you want to keep watching so you can remember and love it! Ultimately, it is up to you to decide to watch Annie and find out if she actually finds her real parents or not.

“Grease is the word”

I am sure everyone can recognize these lyrics from the opening number of the classic music motion pictures, Grease. How can we forget Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) and Danny’s (John Travolta) epic love story? Although I have and will never approve of changing yourself for anybody, I do, however, fully believe in accepting people the way they are which is the main point of Grease. All the reason I was so exited to here that this year Cypress Creek High School  dared to perform it. Did they succeed or fail?

Honestly I don’t think they reached either extreme. I can only describe it as mediocre, meaning that even though they weren’t as amazing as I know they have the potential to be, it was still a quality performance, especially for an amateur high school production. The factors that weighed the most on it’s overall success were the plot, setting, and each individual artist.

More often than not in the theater, an original story line must be altered to fit the performers, stage, and audience. Although that is understandable, in this case the plot was mixed, taken from, and added to so much it made it hard to follow. The famous “Sandra Dee” song that is originally timed during the girl’s sleepover was moved to a public bleacher scene with all the guys present. As a consequence, the message of private struggle that every girl goes through to find out who they are was exposed and did not hold the same meaning. Plus, Sandy’s character was completely excluded from the dance because the whole scene was altered so that Danny goes with Rizzo and ends up with Cha Cha, leaving Sandy moping around and randomly singing “Sandra Dee’s Reprise”. These are only a few of the drastic changes made that marred the plot and its message.

On top of that, the settings were very limited, but what most bothered me was the backdrop because it did not show whether it was day time or night time. On the other hand, they did a great job pulling off the “Grease Lighting” scene by painting one side of the prop car as a rusty old junker and then turning it during a frenzy of lights to show the other side of the car painted smoothly with flames and all that jazz. The setting would have been more effective had not the plot been as confusing, but because it was, my imagination didn’t have energy to fill in the gaps.

Most important was the lack of individual talent. When asked what my favorite part was by a fellow audience member I could only think of the number, “Beauty School Drop Out” and only because it starred Jeff Williams, the drama director. Hannah Pawlak who previously played Wednesday in the Adam’s Family Musical spectacularly, didn’t seem as into the part this time around. There was hardly any chemistry between her character and Nick Martinez’s (Danny) and it was missed. Jan, played by Allie Ramirez stood out the most with her smooth singing, though Kinickie, played by Ricardo Da Costa, and Sonny, played by Wildlin Pierrevil, were not very far behind. Unfortunately, no one can out-do the original actors but I guess my expectations were just set a little too high.

Audience Reviews:

“The performance didn’t correlate with the price of entry”- Joel Rosario

“The students were having a hard time getting things together and it showed”- Tiffany Munoz

“It was good on a high school level, but definitely left us expecting more”- Jennifer Santiago

Leaving the Nest?

On Wednesday, February 25th the Financial Learning Ambassadors of Osceola Campus held a workshop titled, “Leaving the Nest?”. This workshop was designed to educate students about the steps they need to take and the factors they have to consider before moving out of their parents’ house.

At the door, cookies and candy were offered and the students were directed to sit. At each desk spot there were three handouts: a budget worksheet. a moving out checklist, and a savings contract. To my surprise the Ambassadors initiated the session with a funny rap video about the struggle of having no money and living on a low budget. Then they directed our attention towards more serious topics by explaining the 28% rent rule, which basically indicates how much of a students gross income should be spent on paying rent. The other 72% should go towards transportation, food, utilities, tuition, savings, and other things that we can’t survive without.  They stressed the importance of location when it comes to finding a place to live and how that can influence both the price of rent and the cost of transportation. A good roommate is key to financial stability because you know you can depend on that person to cover their share.

Making a monthly budget was the next thing on the agenda, which helped us calculate income versus expenses (including savings). Of course, this did not apply to when you first move because more things are needed that you don’t already have. The checklist we received made me realize how many things are needed in a household and that we take for granted every day. Anyways, after explaining the importance of saving for emergencies and future expenses, we were asked to read and sign a contract as evidence of our commitment to save at least $10 per pay check or $20 a month. The “Save Big, Feed Your Pig” contract agreement is something that Financial Ambassadors in all Valencia locations are doing with the specific mission…

To promote good savings behavior and maximize saving potential, the goal is to develop an annual time for students to look at their personal finances and take positive financial action. This is not a one time effort and over time can be embedded into the Valencia campus culture to support student financial capability.

Furthermore, they challenged us to take the 52 Week Money Challenge, where you transfer a correspondent amount of money, for whatever week you are in, into your savings account. For example, the first week you would save $1, the second week $2, […] the 52nd week $52, and in the end you will end up saving a surprising amount of $1,378. It doesn’t even have to be a savings account (even though these do generate interest) since, after the contract signing, we were each given a piggy bank with the words, “Save your change for a change” written on the side of it’s protruding belly. I have to admit, this is one of the best, most memorable workshop I have attended yet and hopefully we can each meet our savings goals and feed our piggies.

Direct Connect to UCF at West Campus

At first sight, it looked like people having a courtyard party or a very fun picnic of some sort outside building eleven, but upon further inspection it became obvious that most of the people were wearing the famous navy blue UCF polo shirts. On this day, Tuesday, March 3rd volunteers from Valencia’s transfer program, Direct Connect to UCF, were hosting an event for future students of the University of Central Florida, students who are already enrolled there, and students who are thinking about it.

For UCF students there were booths that presented solutions and helpful as to how to deal with situations they face every day. One booth that caught my attention was about anxiety, how it can effect a person mentally, academically, and even health wise. It explained what the causes of anxiety were such as procrastination, tests, relationships, and money, and how to manage everything so that you don’t feel overwhelmed and anxious. Another booth that amused me because of its title was the “What are you touching?” booth, where students were warned against surfaces that host bacteria, germs, and viruses. Hand sanitizer was available for everyone who passed by especially the ones who actually read the information and became paranoid by all the harmful substances we come into contact with every single day.

As for students whom are not yet enrolled in the Direct Connect program there was a whole herd of UCF students happy to receive their questions and ease their worries. Whether they were wondering how different it would be from Valencia, what the requirements are, or why not choose a different university the volunteers were their to help.

Overall it was a very positive and welcoming environment. A place that usually only has a couple people passing through at a time was suddenly filled with life and activity. I hope this event is reoccurring because it has the potential to inspire people like me to  further their education and success.


Many measure success by financial situation, but the pressure put on young people to be wealthy and find success with a job title is often times distracting to the young people with a different idea of success. Success does not always have to come with money or a degree success has to come from within. The only way a person can truly be successful is if they accomplish the things they want to, and strive to do better and be better no matter what it is they are striving towards. Often times career goals and financial goals can be part of success but once those are achieved there is normally no overwhelming feeling of success or completion. If you want to find success you must not think about one or two tasks that will instantly make you a successful person, but find things that you feel better yourself overall and make you a better person. Helping others often times can give a feeling of success as you feel you have made a difference in another persons life.

One of the moments I felt the most successful was when I helped host multiple charity events for a little girl with cancer, she was getting a free cruise from another charity source but the money for many expenses were not included. Her parents having paid for many very specific and expensive treatments, were unsure they could afford these expenses. When my brother and myself heard our next door neighbor discussing this we knew we had to try to help. We ran a charity car wash and a 50/50 raffle where half the proceeds were to go to us and the other half the winner of the raffle. With these events and the help of others we raised a total of $500. Our neighbor decided to celebrate with a barbeque and we were thanked by many for our help and given the warmth and love of family. I felt like that was one of the most important things I have ever done in my life, because I felt I really learned what it meant to grow as a person and be successful. We were successful in raising our $500 goal and successful in changing the lives of others, I will never forget how that made me feel and all the lessons I learned from that. Often times the people who gave the most money weren’t the wealthy “successful” they were regular people who successful helped in a cause that really meant something.

Success is not everything and what makes you feel successful is totally up to your decision but if you really don’t feel you have been successful work for what will make you feel it. People have strong minds and wills, and your success can be stronger than you think if you just put your energy into what really matters to you.