Valencia Students Lose Jobs During COVID-19 Pandemic


Denise Diaz

Restaurant where Denise Diaz worked closed during the pandemic.

Gabriela Pasqualin, Editor-in-chief

Since the beginning of the quarantine earlier in March of this year, students from Valencia College have been losing their jobs in different areas, such as entertainment, restaurants, and retail stores.

According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Florida’s unemployment rate was 7.6% in September 2020 — a 5% increase in the same period, this time last year. Some of the students from Valencia College are part of this statistic.

Jheff Mathis, majoring in business, is a character performer at Disney parks and was used to performing 30 shows a week, but since parks closed on March 15, he has not returned to work. “Even with the parks reopening in July, the shows were all canceled to avoid crowding among people,” explained Mathis. “It has been almost eight months without working, and the future of the shows in the parks is still uncertain. It’s been a long stressful wait because I still don’t know what the future holds,” he added.

Some Valencia Voice staff members were furloughed during the pandemic. Denise Diaz, the PR and Marketing Manager, lost her job at the restaurant that she worked as a manager for one year and a half, on Sept. 21. “It wasn’t completely unexpected. Business had drastically changed when we reopened after quarantine. Considering the low volume, my staff and I knew there was a possibility we were not going to make it out of this pandemic. My boss kept reassuring us, we were doing fine and we were able to get by while this pandemic was going on. Unfortunately, hope doesn’t pay the bills. Eventually, he told me it was in their best interest to shut the doors, at least until Covid is over. I drove by recently and saw a For Sale sign on the property,” said Diaz.

Jake Reyes, Managing Editor of the Valencia Voice, was also laid off. He worked at Men’s Wearhouse helping guests organize group wedding bookings and selling suits and tuxedos to customers. “I had gotten mail, emails, and a phone call from corporate about their decision to fire a lot of their employees and they said unfortunately, I had to be one of them due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has caused a significant drop in sales for Men’s Wearhouse and it even caused the company to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier in the year,” said Reyes. “Since then, I am still currently unemployed and focusing my time into finishing up my last semester at Valencia College. I try to make a few sales out of old items I no longer use just to get by,” added Reyes.