Health Sciences

Transforming Students into Healthcare Professionals: Health Sciences Instructor Reflects on 10-Year Career at UCF

Written By: Drexler B. James'13 | August 30, 2021

Transforming Students into Healthcare Professionals: Health Sciences Instructor Reflects on 10-Year Career at UCF
Valerie Schulz in her office in 2019

Valerie Schulz, a recently retired instructor in the Department of Health Sciences, saw many changes during her 10-year career at the University of Central Florida. 

The university grew and became one of the largest in the nation and a leader in research. 

The College of Health and Public Affairs was reorganized to become the College of Health Professions and Sciences. 

The Health Sciences program grew from 1,500 students in fall 2010 to become the Department of Health Sciences with nearly 4,000 students in spring 2021. 

But one of the greatest changes she has seen has been in the students that she taught over the years – watching them transform from undergraduate students into future leaders and healthcare professionals. 

“I always tried to get them to see themselves as a healthcare professional because everything they learned was going to help them,” she says. “It was amazing to witness that growth, from student to professional.” 

Schulz, a registered dietitian, started at UCF in the spring of 2010 as an adjunct professor teaching nutrition. Her first time on campus solidified her choice to join UCF — it felt like home. 

“I can so distinctly remember walking around the UCF campus, getting oriented with the campus and the different classroom buildings and just feeling like this was home for me,” Schulz says. 

During her time at UCF, Schulz taught two courses:  Fundamentals of Human Nutrition and Clinical Nutrition. She also taught Professional Development in the Healthcare Professions from 2012 to 2018  before focusing exclusively on the nutrition courses. In 2012, Schulz was hired into a full-time faculty position. 

Schulz says one of the greatest experiences she had working at UCF was the sense of community she felt in the Department of Health Sciences and said that, out of everything she experienced at UCF, the camaraderie is what she will miss the most. 

“Everybody gets along, and we support each other,” she says. “You would sit in your office and think about something and say, ‘I bet so-and-so would know something about this or would be interested’ and you would just jump up and run to their office or send them an email about it. It was very collegial, and I have many fond memories.” 

While Schulz looks forward to traveling with her husband along the East coast, she will fondly look back on her experience at UCF and the many students she has impacted. 

“I feel really honored and privileged to share what I knew and learned as a clinician with the next generation of healthcare clinicians,” Schulz says. 

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