Florida Salutatorian Thankful for Northwood’s Professors, Focus on Cultural Awareness, Diversity


Drawn to Northwood University Florida because of its small class sizes and personalized attention, salutatorian Jessica Valencia credits her professors and the university’s emphasis on cultural awareness and diversity as being integral factors to both her academic and personal success. The Marketing & Management major, who also obtained a minor in International Business, paid special thanks to professors Jennifer McFarland and Christina Ostergaard while reflecting on her Northwood experience.

“Professor McFarland helped me discover my passion for my major. She taught me lessons not only for a successful career, but also for a happy life and profession. She taught me to think ‘out of the box’ and provided me with skills that let me express myself creatively. Her support and dedication were beyond the requirements for a college professor, as she became a friend—a friend who is always willing to help her students succeed,” said Valencia while adding the classes she took with Christina Ostergaard also provided her with skills she’ll use in the professional world.

“Professor Ostergaard is not the type of professor goes ‘by the book’ or whose lectures are based on PowerPoint presentations,” she smiled. “With her I studied the gamut—from resume optimization lessons, mock interviews, and learning how to continually ‘sell’ myself, to efficiently analyzing and understanding the target market and customer, we learned it all,” said the Hollywood, Florida resident.

 And it was the chance to become immersed in other cultures which provided a greater appreciation for diversity.

“Northwood provided me with the opportunity to not only study with many international students but also to travel. During my four years as a Seahawk, I was able to travel domestically to California, Texas, and Orlando and through the semester abroad program to The United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland, France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, and Austria,” said Valencia, who was also active as a cheerleader, in Student Government and in Northwood’s Seahawks for Change program designed to help students give back to the community by hosting events such as Light the Night Walk, Relay for Life, and more.  - Suzi McCreery