2019–2020 Distinguished Graduate
Valencia College Alumni Association Mary Smedley Collier Distinguished Graduate Award
As a senior at Osceola High School in Kissimmee, Tamyia Paul toured colleges and universities throughout Central Florida. But on those personal visits, she was left cold. “They felt too big – like I would just be another number,” says Tamyia. However, when she visited Valencia’s Osceola Campus, something clicked. “I got butterflies in my stomach,” she recalls. “I felt safe and comfortable; everyone was so friendly.”
Tamyia needed a place that would match her big, friendly personality – and give her the opportunity to get involved on campus. After being accepted to six different colleges and universities, Tamyia ultimately chose Valencia College.
Today, we salute Tamyia as the Valencia College Mary S. Collier Distinguished Graduate for 2020.
An excellent student, Tamyia credits her family with instilling in her a strong work ethic, a passion for people and a desire to create change.
In high school, Tamyia volunteered each week at the Osceola County Teen Court, where students serve as jury members, attorneys or clerks with real cases involving juveniles – and local attorneys serve as judges. “I learned a lot about what happens in real court, and it was always the highlight of my week,” says Tamyia. That volunteer experience inspired her to pursue an education in the legal field, and she hopes to one day become a judge.
Taking on a full-time course load in college, Tamyia worked two part-time jobs and was involved on and off campus. As a welcome team ambassador, she gave tours to prospective students and their families while assisting in middle/high school group visits and presentations.
In addition, she served as an officer in four clubs, including the Honors Student Advisory Committee and Phi Theta Kappa, the national honor society for two-year colleges. Earlier this year, she competed in a rigorous job-search simulation to win the title of President For a Day, where she shadowed Dr. Kathleen Plinske, the college’s provost and executive vice president, who is also serving as the president of the Osceola, Lake Nona and Poinciana campuses. “I was so honored, and it was an unforgettable experience,” says Tamyia.
Off campus, she worked at Papa John’s Pizza where she had fun with her co-workers
and learned new skills. “I never wanted to be that student who just went to class
and came home; that’s so boring to me,” Tamyia says.
After graduation, Tamyia, who’s 20, plans to transfer to the UCF Downtown Campus to major in legal studies. “I’m excited to see how the next phase of my life will unfold,” she says.
At home, Tamyia combines faith and fun with her three sisters and her parents each week on “The Paul Pack,” a show that they host on YouTube, Facebook and other social media channels. “The goal was to show the dynamic of a black family and how we handle life’s issues,” says Tamyia.
Tamyia will be a part of Valencia College history as the distinguished graduate for the college’s first virtual commencement ceremony. “At first, I was disappointed that we weren’t going to have the traditional graduation experience,” she says. “But, after taking a moment to stop and reflect on all that is happening, I’m grateful for any opportunity to celebrate all that we’ve accomplished.”