Back to School FLATERS

It’s back to school for everyone and some of our FLATERS join the fold as they’re heading back to
the classroom this Fall. We have many FLATERS in house who are currently enrolled in school and working part and/or full time. Natasha Crissien, FLATE project assistant is pursuing an A.S degree in business administration and management. She is currently working full-time at T-Mobile as a bi-lingual financial care specialist, and also enrolled as a part-time student at Hillsborough Community College. Natasha who was previously working with T-Mobile returned to FLATE, after a brief hiatus earlier this year. Her expected graduation date is Spring 2016 after which she plans to transfer to the University of South Florida where she will be pursuing a Bachelors degree in Finance with a minor in management. Besides assisting staff in creating and designing graphics for FLATE collaterals, Natasha plays a leading role in coordinating the joint exhibits for the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education Centers. Working with FLATE is not only building her real-world professional skills, but as she says helps her focus on her classes and dedicate time to her family as well.

Pedro Colon, who is also a project assistant at FLATE, is a strong team player.  His quiet
demeanor is also his strength as he seamlessly wears many hats, assisting FLATE staff in their day-to-day projects. Pedro is currently enrolled full-time at HCC and is working on completing an A.S. degree in computer information systems/general networking. Upon graduation in 2015 he hopes to work full-time, and we are confident he will excel in his professional career.

Lourdes Fleurima, FLATE’s senior staff assistant is another key player interfacing with FLATE’s stakeholders both in person, via email and over the telephone. She has been working at FLATE since 2009, but juggles several roles as a mother of two boys, a full-time employee as well as a student at HCC. “With God everything is possible” she says when asked how she manages it all. It also helps that “FLATE’s executive director believes in education and ensures her staff excel both professionally as well as personally.”

Lourdes is currently taking six credits while interning at the Hillsborough District Sherriff Department where she works for 10 hours. Her expected graduation date is May 2015 upon which she plans to pursue a Bachelors degree in Criminal Justice. Outside her educational and professional aspirations, Lourdes is also the founder and CEO of Helpland Solutions, a nonprofit organization committed to helping the “poorest of the poor” in Haiti. She founded the organization shortly after the devastating earthquake struck Haiti in 2010. Lourdes is also a frontrunner at her church leading several church-led initiatives. You can read about her by revisiting an archived article of the August edition of the FLATE Focus

Desh Bagley, FLATE’s outreach manager, has been instrumental in organizing professional
development opportunities for educators on a statewide level, and coordinating STEM and robotics-based outreach activities for students as well. Since joining the FLATE team last year as outreach manager, Desh has been an all-round star. She is a full-time mother of five, a profound STEM and robotics enthusiast and the owner and CEO of Techplayzone which offers STEM based programs in the Tampa bay region.

Given her business acumen and affinity for technology, Desh is currently pursuing a rigorous online Master of Arts degree in career and technical education at the University of South Florida. She says she is excited about the Master’s program as it “will complement her B.S. degree in computer science” and offer insight about adult learning styles, curriculum development, data collection and analysis, and advanced trends in career and technical education. Desh hopes “to use these skills to advance while working for the National Science Foundation Center at Hillsborough Community College.”

Another back-to-school FLATER is Nina Stokes, FLATE’s Florida Energy Systems Consortium (FESC) Manager. The FLATE-FESC partnership defines FLATE as FESC’s core facility for community college technical workforce education development and deployment throughout Florida. In this role she not only oversees the FESC project, but is also the principal coordinator/camp manager for FLATE’s annual energy camp which the Center has offered since 2010.

Nina who joined the FLATE team in 2011 is currently working towards a certificate in multimedia technology with a specialization in digital web production. She was a former high school science teacher who has great interest in learning about digital media and its applications within the educational arena. As a mother of two, she wants to make sure she is a tech-savvy mom who can hold her own as well as keep up with her children when it comes to anything technology-related. Nina is also a fitness extraordinaire who participates in regional marathons in Tampa bay, and can be spotted quite frequently running/jogging around the HCC-Brandon campus. 

Danielly Orozco, FLATE’s curriculum coordinator is the voice and force of calm in FLATERland. 
She is most definitely a top notch team player who is at any given time engaged in diverse FLATE-
related projects. Danielly’s background includes an educational degree and professional work experience in Colombia where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree. She also has a Master of Science degree in environmental engineering from the University of South Florida in Tampa.

Adding to her educational credentials, Danielly has currently taken the challenge to prepare for the eight hours professional engineering exam to become a certified engineer in Florida. She has embarked on the preparation process by combining daily study hours with physical exercise. She hopes to be ready by April 2015. We wish her well and have full confidence she will pass the exam through sheer dedication and perseverance which she displays continually in her everyday role as the curriculum coordinator for FLATE. Outside her educational aspirations, Danielly is an avid outdoor enthusiast who can be found hiking the Grand Canyon, or checking out off-the-beaten-path trails in Colombia. 

FLATE’s Associate Director, Dr. Marie Boyette offers a slight twist to the story. Although she is
not going to school this semester, she is still in the classroom. This HCC alumnus teaches one section of her favorite HCC class, Public Speaking, each Fall and Spring semester.  In fact, FLATE staff member, Lourdes Fleurima was enrolled in Dr. Boyette’s Public Speaking class in 2013. Dr. Boyette has been teaching at HCC for approximately six years. “Working with students allows me to keep in touch with ways in which students interact with an increasingly high tech world,” she says, “ I have learned so much about so many diverse topics in this class, and, I get to keep in touch HCC students.”