UCF Alumna Makes International Strides in Higher Ed

Talia Talia Popovski, ’04, ’06, thanks UCF for her professional development during and after her time at UCF.

Popovski graduated from UCF with her bachelor’s degree in political science and master’s degree in public administration. She remains actively involved with UCF as the incoming vice chair of the UCF College of Sciences Alumni Chapter board of volunteers.

Apart from volunteering her time at UCF, Popovski stays busy traveling the world as the director of international recruitment and global engagement at Valencia College in Orlando, Florida. She travels internationally on behalf of the college to establish partnerships, make presentations and meet with college partners and students.

Before she began working at Valencia College in 2013, Popovski worked in international admissions at Universities across the country for eight years. Popovski says she loves traveling around the world working with college students who have big dreams and who she can help reach their potential.

Popovski stays actively involved with UCF through the alumni chapter, with events such as alumni tailgates, the Outstanding AlumKnight Award Reception, fundraisers like Casino Knight that helped raise money for student scholarships, and community service events such as Knights Give Back. Popovski says the alumni chapter is a great way to meet other UCF alumni and to stay connected with the university.

Popovski shared more on her time at UCF, her current position, and her advice to students and alumni.

Why did you choose to attend UCF?

 I chose UCF because it was a young school with a lot of potential. The facilities were top-notch and the campus was absolutely beautiful. I loved that Orlando had a multitude of big companies where I could do internships and get practical experience. There were so many entertainment choices that allowed me to have fun and stay active.

How has your UCF degree helped you in your career?

I earned both my bachelor and master degrees from UCF. My degrees have helped me become a better writer, a better public speaker, and to gain valuable leadership skills. I was able to explore various interests during my studies which led me to my current career.

Were you involved in any extracurricular activities at UCF?

I was always active on campus attending concerts, athletic games, and theater productions. While at UCF I remember going to hear speeches from Meg Ryan, Robert Kennedy Jr., Amy Chua, and General Jay Garner. I volunteered in the community through several UCF programs. However, looking back I wish I were more involved with clubs and organizations or with student government. I think that those were missed opportunities that would have benefited me now in my professional career.

What is your best UCF memory?

I have many great UCF memories spending time with friends and going to events, but some of my best memories were the great classes I took and the amazing faculty at the university. One of my favorite professors was Dr. Dwight Kiel who taught politics in literature and a utopia/dystopia class. We read books every week, discussed them in class, and wrote papers on various topics. I loved Dr. Kiel’s enthusiasm and humor. He made students feel comfortable participating in discussions. Sadly, Dr. Kiel passed away about two years ago but I’m sure he had an impact on my other students like myself.

What is your favorite thing about your job?

One of the best parts about my job is that I get to travel around the world. I have had an opportunity to visit about 45 different countries. I also love the fact that my current organization, Valencia College, maintains a strong relationship with UCF through the DirectConnect program.

What is your most memorable experience on the job?

I have great memories traveling to locations like Machu Picchu, the Great Wall of China, the Pyramids of Egypt or the Panama Canal. I’ve met interesting people from all over the world including some excellent students who have graduated from college and went on to do great things in their careers and personal lives. It is rewarding to see the impact higher education can have on someone that I recruited to the college.

What piece of advice would you give to current students as well as UCF alumni?

I would tell current students to get involved on campus. That is the best way to meet people, build your resume, and find a job. Do an internship, stay connected to the college after you graduate and attend UCF events and programs. As alumni, also contribute funds to the UCF Foundation and student scholarships if possible.

Popovski answered some more questions in our “get-to-know-you” round of the interview.

Do you have any special/hidden talents?

I learned to juggle in Dr. Brophy’s Psychology class during my freshman year at UCF. I still have the juggling balls from that class and practice every now and then. I can also touch my tongue to my nose.

What do you do for fun?

I like to volunteer with the UCF Alumni Association. I like local sporting events like UCF football, Orlando City soccer, and the Orlando Magic. I love dining at local restaurants or visiting farmer’s markets. My husband and I enjoy taking our pug to the park or spending time working on our small garden.

What was the first concert you ever attended?

The first concert I ever attended was Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers when I was about twelve years old. I went with a group of friends from middle school along with some parents. It was at the old Orlando arena.

If you were stranded on a desert island, besides the necessities, what three items (not people) would you want with you?

I would bring a canoe, a fishing pole, and a nice pillow. I bring a pillow with me when I travel anywhere. Nothing ruins a day more than a stiff neck.

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