Bridges to Success Scholar Finds Place and Path at Osceola Campus

If you spent time on our Osceola Campus in the past couple years, chances are you’ve crossed paths with Marc Aristide, a 21-year-old student hailing from St. Cloud. On any given day, Aristide could be seen setting up for a student development event and then serving as master of ceremonies; donning the red jacket of Valencia Ambassadors to show newcomers around campus; or huddled up with peers in the group study rooms in the library and learning centers. Off campus, Aristide managed to juggle two part-time jobs at Publix and Chick-fil-A.

While the recent Valencia College graduate has had a productive two years, he’s the first to admit that it was no breeze. “I’m not going to say I was a whiz,” Aristide says coyly, when asked about his math skills. “I’ve struggled all the way through math. Mr. Patel was my professor; you can talk to him about my struggles.”

Aristide hypes the crowd at Spirit Day festivities on the Osceola Campus, October 19, 2017 in Kissimmee, Fla.

From the outset, Aristide recognized that math wasn’t his strong suit and chose to start the subject at a developmental level. Fresh out of high school, he enrolled in the summer semester – a requirement to earn the Bridges to Success scholarship. It was a decision that would set him up for success and, ultimately, open the door for a passing grade in business calculus and an A in statistics.

While Aristide’s perseverance played a role, he attributes much of his success to the resources available on campus – particularly the Math Depot at Osceola Campus.

“I was able to get help from the people there and use the rooms available to students, free of cost,” says Aristide who quickly formed a study group with his peers from developmental math. “I kid you not, we would be in there from the time that our class ends at 10 a.m., sometimes, until the Math Depot would close at 8 p.m. I’m not going to say that we were working and so focused the entire time, but it provided a space that we otherwise would not have had. We were able to answer questions for each other, we were able to help each other.”

Ultimately, graduating with a 3.0 GPA, the journey to a two-year degree was not without its obstacles. Originally planning on a career as a pharmacist – which would require a heavy course load filled with biology and chemistry – Aristide suffered through a dismal semester early in his academic career. With his GPA at 1.88, he decided he needed to take a different course of action in his first year.

“I went to the career center, I spoke to my SLS [New Student Experience] professor, and I chose a route that I thought was going to work better for me,” says Aristide. The new path allowed him to further explore his academic options and become more active on campus – another factor which he believes contributed to his eventual success.

Serving as a Valencia Ambassador, Aristide gives U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos a tour of the Osceola Campus during a visit in February of 2017.

Aristide developed leadership skills while serving as a Valencia Ambassador, and got to lead a tour of the campus for the U.S. Secretary of Education’s Feb. 2017 visit. In Spring 2018, he earned the honor of Osceola Campus President for a Day, during which he shadowed Dr. Kathleen Plinske.  After ample time to explore career options and find his rhythm on campus, he’s found a natural fit for his four-year degree – Valencia College’s newly-accredited Bachelor’s of Applied Science in Business and Organizational Leadership (B.A.S.B.O.L.).

Asked if he would have attended a traditional, four-year university if given a full scholarship, Aristide says he would remain on his current path.

“For me teacher-class-size ratio is really important; I’m able to focus a lot better,” says Aristide. “At larger universities you don’t have the writing center, the math depot and all those different places that I have here at Valencia.”

Osceola, Lake Nona, and Poinciana campus president Kathleen Plinske honors Aristide at the President for a Day luncheon, hosted by Career Development Services at the Osceola campus on April 13, 2018 in Kissimmee, Fla.

While students balancing school, work and life may have numerous resources at their disposal, success in a program may not be so easy if the outcome of their education is unclear. For those students, Aristide has some advice: Talk to anyone and everyone from the faculty and staff.

“Passion is something that all students can see,” says Aristide. “We can feel it. I have not met anyone at Valencia that does not have a passion for what they do, and I’m so incredibly thankful that I was able to reach out to them. It didn’t matter where I was on campus; [faculty and staff] were always willing to listen to me.”

Aristide enrolled in the Bachelor’s of Applied Science of Business and Organizational Leadership for its inaugural semester in Fall 2018.

If you want guidance on the best academic path for you, schedule an appointment with your academic advisor through ATLAS. For career advice, visit program advisors at your home campus’s career center. For a list of resources, such as the tutoring center, available to all students, visit our Student Services page.