Share Your Story

The life of a higher education professional is unique. Everyone has a story to tell. Every day, people  from all backgrounds in rural and urban communities across the state find ways to teach, motivate, inspire, and uplift students.  Our colleges provide access to higher education, remediation, personal and professional development, and the opportunity to gain training for a new career. We create opportunity and transform lives and communities.  No matter your job title - faculty, custodian, advisor, police officer, or librarian -  you make a difference daily. Every college employee is important to a student’s journey. We want to collect and share your stories.
- How has the Florida College System impacted you?
- Do you have a special story of your journey through the FCS?
- Have you worked at your institution for several years and witnessed the transformation of the college and the community?
- Are you a former FCS student who now is an employee for an FCS institution?
Tell us about your journey.

Read AFC Members' Stories Below!

Robert Flores, 2017 AFC President, South Florida State College
My story begins a long time ago in the far away place. I am extremely honored to be the 2017 Association of Florida Colleges (AFC) President. I never envisioned that twenty years after joining AFC, I would be the president of the association. AFC empowered me with opportunities to develop my leadership skills. The development and empowering of its members has been the calling of AFC.  
View his story here........ShareYourStoryRobertFlores.mp4

Dominique Phillips-Alvarez, Pasco-Hernando State College

I was born in New Port Richey Florida; however, I did not grow up in Florida.  My father worked out of the union so we traveled all over the country for work.  I believe I attended eleven schools before I graduated.  College was not a big concern in my family; in fact, I was the first person on my mother’s side to complete high school.  After marrying my husband, we purchased a home in Hernando County, where I soon discovered Pasco-Hernando “Community” College, at the time.  In my mid-twenties, I made that decision to walk in and sign up for classes.  That was the best decision I have ever made.  The faculty and staff treated me as if they had known me for years and made that first college experience incredible.  Within my year and a half, I had become a student ambassador as well as a chapter officer for Phi Theta Kappa.  I graduated as a first generation graduate and soon after became a part-time employee in Student Activities.  I have since moved into Athletics and have now been with the college for five years.  I really enjoy giving back to the students and making their college experience the best possible.  I recently made the decision to go back to school to complete my Bachelor’s Degree in Business at PHSC.  I have to say that being with a community college really changed me to become a better person and leader.  I have learned so much and I would recommend this experience to anyone!

Matthew Holliday, Florida SouthWestern State College

When I graduated from high school in 1991 after growing up in Cape Coral, I attempted to start college at Edison Community College, but I found I just wasn’t mentally prepared at that time and dropped out. After working various jobs for a couple of years going nowhere fast, I needed a major change.  A friend and I decided to enlist in the military. He went into the Coast Guard, and I enlisted in the Air Force in 1993.  Following basic training and helicopter maintenance school, I was assigned to the 20th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.  While stationed there, I participated in numerous missions in support of special operations training and also Operation Joint Endeavor in the Balkans as part of the Special Operations Implementation Force (SOCIFOR). 

At the end of my first four years, I had to decide if I wanted to return to school or transfer overseas. With a little more maturity and life behind me, I returned home and reenrolled at Edison Community College and then transferred to The Florida State University (FSU) where I majored in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences.  While at FSU, I did an internship for a lobbyist and developed an interest in politics.  Through my time at FSU, I was able to then secure a position at the Florida House of Representatives as a district secretary and then later the lead legislative aide for a member from Jacksonville where I served for six years. 

In 2008, I was hired to be the first director of governmental relations at Edison State College, my Alma matter, where I have now been for nine years.  The name has since changed to Florida SouthWestern State College, but I am still dedicated to advocating for the college and the students who benefit from the educational opportunities our institution and the Florida College System provides. 

Had it not been for the preparation I received in the Florida College System while at Edison (now Florida SouthWestern State College), I would not have been as successful at FSU and in my career. That is why I am so passionate in my advocacy for our students and our system.

 Carol Smith, College of Central Florida

My family is from the Ocala area.  I attended Florida State University in the early 80’s but wasn’t able to finish.  While there in Tallahassee, I worked for an architectural and engineering firm, which included doing work for Tallahassee Community College.  When my husband and I moved back to the Ocala area, I got a job at the College of Central Florida.  My colleagues encouraged me to apply for my AA.  I then earned my AS at the College of Central Florida as well as earning a degree in medical terminology.  I remember AFC when it the Florida Association of Community Colleges.  I became involved first with the Career and Professional Development (CPEC) commission.  I remember attending the CPEC commission meeting at the headquarters office in Tallahassee.  Attending that meeting prompted me to become more involved with my local college AFC chapter.  I served in all roles from secretary to president.  I am encouraging our newer AFC members to attend the annual conference as they need to have the opportunity to learn and grow.  Because of AFC and the college system, I have been able to network with so many others in my field not only from my own college but from across the state.  It has also helped me “climb the ladder” from a division secretary to now Executive Assistant to a Vice President. 

Jessie Clayton, Tallahassee Community College

I was born in Tallahassee, Florida and raised by my father’s parents, who raised fifteen children and were sharecroppers on a farm.  My grandparents understood the values of working hard and family unity.  My grandparents focus was not on higher education.  Therefore, I enlisted in the Army after high school.  

At the end of my military service, I worked various jobs but did not excel professionally in my career.  My older brother Darrell often mentioned that I should enroll in college to better my career opportunities. I was older and more mature; therefore, I decided to enroll at Auburn University in Montgomery, Alabama where I majored in Information Systems. I did an internship for the Veterans Medical Center in Montgomery, Alabama in their IT department.         

In 2003, I was hired at Tallahassee Community College (TCC) to be a Technology Specialist where I have been for fifteen years. Immediately, I joined the Association of Florida Colleges (AFC).

Through AFC, I learned about the different Commissions and joined the Technology Commission.  I learned about networking with the Great 28 Community Colleges throughout the State of Florida. I served as TCC's Chapter website web master for many years and assisted with our membership drive. I was the Treasure for the Technology Commission for several years.  I assist with the AFC Annual Conference and serve my local Chapter as the photographer to capture candid shots.

Without my experiences with AFC, I would not be as successful in my career or be able to reach out to potential and struggling students that want to achieve a college degree. These are the reasons why I have such strong beliefs and am so emotional about AFC.