Valencia’s Black High Achievers Club welcomed 79 new members on Monday, April 21.
The club honors African-American students who have achieved a grade point average above 2.8 and have completed at least 12 credit hours.
Valencia College President Sandy Shugart welcomed the students and praised their hard work. “It’s vitally important to celebrate excellence,” he said. “You’re all smart, but you’re here because you’ve made a commitment to excellence and you’re keeping it.”
For student De’Aira Johnson, making the adjustment from high school to college hasn’t been as difficult as she thought. “People say it’s going to be hard,” she said, “but it’s what you make of it. It’s how you adjust.” De’Aira, who wants to transfer to the University of Central Florida to study social work, is currently working on her Associate of Arts degree and holds a 3.0 GPA.
Student Aneetra Andrews came back to college nearly four years ago. Partially paralyzed years ago because of a car accident, she faced even more health challenges after she started college. Last year, doctors discovered she had colon cancer — and performed three surgeries to remove the malignancy. But Andrews never missed a class and bounced back — earning a 4.0 that semester. Now graduating with an A. A. and an Associate of Science in medical office administration and a 3.3 GPA, she is planning to transfer to UCF to study health information systems.
What she discovered at Valencia, she said, was a place that welcomed and embraced her. “I had some really good professors and they helped me adapt,” says Andrews. Now she’s excited to move on to UCF. “I know people over there, Valencia students who have already graduated and they love it,” she said. “I’m really excited to be going and I think Valencia has prepared me well.”