Friday, June 24, 2011

Daytona State’s Fresh Start program polishes Diamond in the rough

It’s never too late to follow your passions.

Toni Diamond
So says 64-year-old Toni Diamond, and she should know. For years, Diamond lacked the self-confidence necessary to go to college and learn a skill. Coming from a life of domestic abuse, divorce and broken relationships, she suffered years of turmoil, depression and anxiety.
“I’ve had to deal with a lot, but a lot of it was my own doing,” she said. “I didn’t realize I had been sabotaging my own success because I didn’t feel good about myself over things that happened a long time ago, things that really shouldn’t matter today.”
Diamond’s epiphany came from her participation in Daytona State College’s Fresh Start program, which was recommended to her by a neighbor who also went through the free program. That first step, she said, has made a tremendous difference in her life. “It’s given me focus,” she said. “It’s helped me to stop getting in my own way. It’s helped me discover my purpose in life.”
Fresh Start is designed for women 35 and older who are in transition due to divorce, separation, death of a spouse, or caring for a disabled spouse. The class provides a supportive environment that helps students overcome obstacles to going back to work, including low self-esteem and fears about working outside the home.
While most women Diamond’s age are looking forward to retirement, she realizes she is among a growing number of men and women nationwide who must continue to work  at least part-time well into their retirement years. She had worked most of her adult life at low-skill, low-paying jobs, that is, until she was laid off in the spring of 2010 and quickly realized that she was essentially unemployable.
Through Fresh Start, Diamond learned how to prepare for a new beginning. The program teaches confidence building and stress management, personal awareness and coping skills, how to establish goals, explore career interests and investigate educational opportunities. Participants also learn how to write successful resumes, learn job search tools and improve their interview skills. 
After completing the program, Diamond enrolled in Daytona State’s Associate of Science in Human Services program and became a volunteer with the Domestic Abuse Council, where she serves as a victim’s advocate. She’s paying tuition with Pell grants and scholarships available to eligible Fresh Start participants and expects to earn her degree in May next year.
“Like many of our clients, Fresh Start helped Toni to honestly evaluate her situation and take steps to move forward,” said Nancy DeStefano, the program’s coordinator on the Daytona Beach Campus. “Today, Toni is an inspiration to others who may feel that they have waited too long to go back to school and get their education.”
Diamond herself is inspired by the way her life seems to have fallen into place since her Fresh Start experience.
“My goal is to work with other women,” she said. “It’s important to understand that you can recover and go on to live a happy life. Having had the experiences, I think that sharing my perspective can help others.”
The next Fresh Start program begins Tuesday, July 5. Classes are held at the Daytona Beach Campus and Deltona Campus. Classes meet Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information or to reserve your seat, call the Daytona Beach Campus at (386) 506-4377, or Deltona Campus at (386) 789-7320.
Daytona State also offers a Fresh Start for Men program, designed to help men preparing to transition into career and technical training, associate of science, or certificate programs at Daytona State. The free four-week program provides an atmosphere of support and encouragement, while offering practical tools for setting goals to be successful in life. Classes are held Monday through Thursday and meet from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on the Daytona Beach Campus. The next four-week program starts Tuesday, July 5. Eligible male students will complete a Personal Development Plan, which will provide a road map to explore career options, examine educational opportunities, and establish personal and career goals. They will also learn interview and job-readiness skills and how to create a resume for successful entrance into the workforce. Participants must have a high school diploma or GED, or be referred by a representative from the College’s School of Adult Education. To register, or for additional information about the Men’s Fresh Start program, call (386) 506-3068.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Daytona State Board of Trustees authorizes negotiations for presidential selection

Dr. Carol Eaton
Dr. Carol Eaton

(DAYTONA BEACH, FL) June 22, 2011 - The District Board of Trustees of Daytona State College has selected Carol Eaton to be its first choice to lead the institution as its next president. The board today authorized college staff to offer the job to Eaton, who is currently president of Frederick Community College in Maryland, and begin salary negotiations. If Dr. Eaton accepts the position, she will be the first woman to hold the presidency in Daytona State College’s 50-plus year history.

In the event Eaton does not accept the position, the board also authorized college staff to offer the presidency to Drew Bennett, currently chancellor of Missouri State University-West Plains (West Plains, Mo.).

Dr. Eaton has extensive leadership experience in higher education and has served as a college president in two states. In addition to Frederick Community College, she also has served as president of Clinton Community College in Plattsburgh, NY, and has been chancellor of community colleges at the State Universities of New York (SUNY).

Eaton was the board’s top choice among 44 who initially applied for the position. That list was narrowed to four candidates, who this week visited the area to meet with college constituent groups and community leaders before being individually interviewed by the board today.

In addition to Eaton and Bennett, the other finalists were Roslyn Artis, executive vice president of Mountain State University (Beckley, W.Va.); and Irby "Skip" Sullivan, president, West Georgia Technical College (Waco, Ga.).

Drs. Eaton and Bennett were clearly held as the strongest two candidates following polling of individual board members, surveys of the college community at large, and a straw poll taken by senior administrators and college constituent groups, which included faculty representatives. Still, the board struggled with coming to a final consensus between selecting Bennett or Eaton as the top choice.

“This is a difficult decision for you because all four candidates would make excellent presidents,” said Interim President Frank Lombardo, who appealed to board members to come together and select the candidate they feel will exhibit the most heart, leadership and transparency.

Board members pointed to the unique qualities of each finalist: Artis’ strong communication skills and diverse experience working within institutional divisions; Sullivan’s experience working with business and industry; Bennett’s leadership skills and his ability to navigate state and local political waters to secure funding sources.
But in the end, the board chose Eaton based on her experience leading two community colleges. “She is the real deal,” said board Vice Chairman Christina Frederick-Recascino. “She is a national-level leader for a nationally ranked college. She has the depth and breadth of background to not just be a leader, but a visionary for this institution.”

The college was assisted in the presidential search by Academic Search, a national firm that specializes in helping colleges and universities recruit senior administrators.