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College of Education Alumnus Named as a Finalist for Florida Teacher of the Year

By my65Orlando.com

A Longwood teacher who is revolutionizing the classroom has caught the eye of the Florida Department of Education.

Brian Furgione, ’11, has taught at Milwee Middle School for just four years, but he has already been recognized as Seminole County’s Teacher of the Year.  Now, he’s one of five finalists in a statewide competition.

“I’m shocked, I’m excited, I’m shaking. I don’t really know what to say,” said Furgione. “It means what we’re doing here at Milwee is being recognized.   It’s for Milwee, more than anything else.”

If Furgione is selected as Florida’s Teacher of the Year, he receives $10,000 and a trip to New York for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Orlando REP and UCF Theatre Offer Summer Camps on Campus

CampWebBannerUCF

Orlando Repertory Theatre, in partnership with UCF, announces its popular summer camps held on the UCF campus.  Designed to foster self-confidence, creative thinking, collaboration and trust through the medium of performing arts, The REP’s UCF camps are held in the state of the art Performing Arts Center.

There are 25 camps for rising 1st through 10th  grade students, including creative dramatics and musical theatre camps. After Care is available. Advanced training camps in Acting or Musical Theatre are also available for rising 9th – to graduating 12th grade students. Weekly camps are June 15 to August 7.  All camps are taught by professional Teaching Artists.

More Info

Summer Camps
Orlando REP (Click on: Youth Academy -> Summer -> Summer Camps @ UCF)

Additional camps are available at The REP’s Loch Haven location and in downtown Celebration. For questions, please contact Ashley Bigge in The REP’s Youth Academy at education@orlandorep.com or 407.896.7365, ext. 219.

Former Homeless Man Earns Degree from UCF

SantosMaldonado

By Bailey Myers
Bay News 9

Santos Maldonado, ’15, was living on the streets years ago, struggling to find shelter and food. But, May 9, he graduated from the University of Central Florida.

Maldonado first moved to Orlando in 2001 and he said he fell on hard times, and very quickly was out of money and living on the streets.

For years he struggled with homelessness. Until, one day, he reached a breaking point.

“I thought I was near death,” he says. “I mean that literally. I did not see any hope on the horizon.”

Through the help of of local programs, like the Second Harvest Food Bank, Maldonado got back on his feet. He began taking classes at Valencia College and later attended classes at UCF. After 10 years of studying, the 61 year old earned his degree.

“Without the stability or type of organization [like Second Harvest Food Bank], I wouldn’t be here today,” he explains. “God knows where I would be.”

Now, Maldonado works for the organization that helped him get back on his feet.

“It’s like the icing on the cake. It just proves that you can be different and still make a difference.”

This story was published May 9 on baynews9.com. It has been slightly edited for style. See original article.

A Day with a Knight — ARNP

KateHughes

Kate Hughes, ’10 | ARNP, Winter Park OB-GYN

By Angie Lewis, ’03

“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” It’s a quote that Kate Hughes, ’10, lives by as an advanced registered nurse practitioner for Winter Park OB-GYN. I spent a day with her to gain more perspective on what it’s like to be a women’s care nurse.

It was just after 9 a.m. on May 6 when I joined Kate in her office, after meeting with the office manager to sign a confidentiality agreement. She had already seen her first patient by the time I greeted her.

While waiting for her next patient to get checked in, she checked messages and lab results on her laptop. Then, it was off to an exam room to see her second patient of the day, an 18-year-old who wanted to renew her prescription for birth control after moving to Florida.

Kate entered the room, introduced herself and me, then asked the teen to tell her about herself. It’s part of how she was trained as a nurse practitioner — to treat mind, body and soul. She says getting to know more about her patients’ lives not only helps her develop a trusted bond with them, but also gives her insight into issues that could potentially cause health issues.

After learning more about her newest patient, Kate reminded her about the risks of birth control pills, and made sure she understood that they don’t protect her against sexually transmitted diseases.

Her next patient was a returning 42-year-old, who came in for an infertility consultation. Kate explained the initial tests she wanted to run, as well as the next steps, which seemed to give the patient some hope.

She was followed by a 33-year-old who was there for her 38-week pregnancy checkup on her third child. While performing the exam, Kate felt something abnormal. However, not knowing what it was and not wanting to unnecessarily concern her patient, she stayed calm and told her she was having a difficult time finding her cervix.

After my arrival earlier that morning, Kate had explained that Winter Park OB-GYN was a collaborative practice. And, this particular patient was a perfect example of that collaboration at work, as she consulted a fellow nurse practitioner about her unusual discovery.

Thankfully, it turned out to be a varicose vein on the uterus and not an umbilical cord, which would have required emergent care.

As the morning proceeded, Kate saw four more patients — a 34-year-old for a 34-week pregnancy check, a 24-year-old in for her first pap smear, a 25-year-old with a yeast infection and a 24-year-old who came in for a Nexplanon birth control implant — before getting to take a break for lunch, through which she worked on charts, and again checked messages and lab results.

After getting a few bites in, it was time for her first patient of the afternoon, a 60-year-old in for her annual exam. She was followed by a 52-year-old who had been experiencing light spotting every couple of months and thought she may be in menopause. However, Kate assured her that was not the case yet due to her lab and ultrasound results. Instead, it was a cyst that was most likely causing the irregular bleeding.

Seven patients later, she met her last one of the day — and one of the most difficult for her emotionally, as she hates causing any of her patients pain. This one, a 40-year-old mother of one was in to get a Paraguard IUD insertion under ultrasound. It’s a particularly tricky procedure that requires directly entering the uterus through the cervix, and I cringed with empathy as the patient screamed out in pain. Thankfully, it only lasted a few seconds, but it took its toll, causing her to feel light headed for a few minutes afterward. Kate apologized for causing the unavoidable discomfort and brought her patient some juice and a snack bar to help combat the physical reaction.

Regardless of the times she does have to perform painful procedures — or, worse yet, deliver painful news, like a miscarriage — Kate still does so with the utmost compassion and professionalism, even praying with her patients upon request.

Kate has been with Winter Park OB-GYN for the last five years. She previously worked as an emergency room nurse at Florida Hospital East Orlando.

“Choosing one thing I love about my work is very difficult,” she says. “I love connecting with women, meeting them where they are each day and helping them work through illness, promote healthy decisions and prevent disease.”

Throughout the day, I noticed the special connection she has with her patients. She’s extremely personable and compassionate, and it translates through the women for whom she cares, who, one after another, told me how great she is.

“My experience [at UCF] aided me in providing compassionate care that meets the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of my patients on many levels,” she says.

Her patients love her for that. And, she loves her job because of her patients.

Beyond the Stethoscope Q&A

Q. What advice would you give to current UCF nursing students?
A.  Take time to learn the anatomy and pathophysiology very well. This foundation helps everything else fall into place.

Q. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
A.  My husband and I love to travel! The National Park System in the United States has some of the most beautiful places in the entire world. Oceans, deserts, rainforests, mountains, valleys, rock formations. I would love to work for the National Park system!

Q. What’s something you learned in the past week?
A.  I learned about a new drug regimen for multiple sclerosis patients.

Q. What do you fear?
A.  Clowns and spiders

Q. Last thing you Googled?
A.  Guidelines for patients of advanced maternal age

Kate Hughes received the UCF Alumni Association’s 2012 Rising Star Award, which was presented at the association’s annual Black & Gold Gala during that year’s Homecoming festivities. She’s been married to fellow Knight Jimmy Hughes, ’06, for nine years, and the couple has three sons, Daniel, 6, Elijah, 4, and Jonah, 2.

 

Transforming Bithlo

College of Health and Public Affairs hosts symposium on creating healthy communities

Bithlo

By Angie Lewis, ’03

Ask Central Floridians what comes to mind when they think of Bithlo, and you may hear words like “trailer park,” “Podunk” or “poor.” But, to the residents of this 10.9-square-mile town, it’s the place they call home.

Now, it’s transforming into a healthier community, thanks to some help from Orange County, United Global Outreach, Florida Hospital and Volunteer UCF.

On April 22, during a health care symposium hosted by the College of Health and Public Affairs, a panel of five guest speakers addressed the town’s residents, answering questions about the challenges they’ve faced, and how the community’s partners have addressed those challenges, as part of a Creating Healthy Communities initiative focused on improving quality of life in Central Florida.

Those panelists included Bithlo resident Enrique “Kiki” Lopez, former Orange County Mayor Richard Crotty, Tim McKinney from United Global Outreach, Verbelle Nielsen-Swanson from Florida Hospital and Anna Eskamani from Volunteer UCF.

McKinney explained that they asked residents of East Orlando’s Avalon Park — Bithlo’s more affluent neighbor — the following questions: “Is it OK for you to have brown water?” “Would you be OK with having an illegal dump in your backyard?” “Is it OK for your neighbors to deal with these problems?” And, each time, their answer was “no.”

“No zip code or neighborhood should determine your likelihood to succeed or fail,” McKinney says. “We’re trying to start a movement where neighbors care about neighbors, and friends care about friends … where the residents of Bithlo have an equal opportunity to succeed.”

Get Involved

Volunteer UCF
COHPA Alumni Chapter

UCF Alumnus Touring with Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”

BrentWakelin

(Photo courtesy of Brent Wakelin)

By Kimberly Moy
BroadwayWorld.com

This week, the national tour of NETwork presents Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” comes to the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. With the timeless story and well-known tunes, “Beauty and the Beast” should be a fun show to complement our Disney-obsessed city. Brent Wakelin, ’10, is a Central Florida native and UCF graduate who is currently on tour in the ensemble with this production. Brent took a few moments between shows to answer a few of our questions.

Hi Brent. In just a few days you’ll be back in Orlando. For those who don’t know, tell us about your background. Where did you grow up and how did you get your start in musical theater?

I grew up in Orange City, Fla., and did my very first play at Shoestring Theatre in Lake Hellen when I was 8 years old. I was bitten by the acting bug as soon as I stepped on stage for the audition. That was also the year I started singing with the Stetson University Children’s Choir in DeLand. From there, I kept doing shows with Shoestring and with Storybook Theatre and Sands Theatre in DeLand. In high school, I was a proud member of DeLand High’s Thespian Troupe #3030, and then went on to earn my BFA in musical theatre from UCF. Go Knights!

You graduated from UCF with a degree in musical theater and did a few roles locally including the theme parks. How did UCF and the Orlando theater scene prepare you for becoming a professional actor?

UCF taught me a lot about what to expect in the real world, but the best education often comes from going out and doing it. During my senior year at UCF, I was cast as a singer in the “High School Musical 3″ show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and as William Barfée in Mad Cow’s production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” These were my first professional gigs and they taught me a lot about how the business worked. I auditioned a lot at Disney during my time at UCF which really prepared me for the audition scene in NYC where I booked my first tour as the Cowardly Lion in “The Wizard of Oz.”

Tell us a little about the audition for “Beauty and the Beast.” What was it like when you got the call that you got the role?

It’s actually a funny story. I auditioned for BATB at least three times after I moved to NYC and never got a callback, so I had made peace with the fact that BATB just wasn’t the show for me. It wasn’t until this last time when I went to a call for the national tour of “Elf” that they called me back for BATB. I was so surprised, but, when I stepped into that callback, it just felt like it was meant to be, and it was! When I got the call to play the Bookseller, I was so happy because I already knew that my Scarecrow from the “Oz” tour (Patrick Pevehouse) had been cast as Lumiere, and a fellow UCF alum (Jake Bridges, who has since left tour) was cast as LeFou. I couldn’t wait to start!

I saw “Beauty and the Beast” on Broadway when it first opened. In fact, it was the first Broadway show I ever saw. How does this tour compare to the Disney animated film or any stage versions that you’ve seen?

The only time I’d seen BATB on stage before was the dearly departed Seaside Music Theatre’s production starring Michelle Knight (personal idol turned friend) as Belle. This version is extremely unique because it was re-designed by the original Broadway creative team for NETworks Productions. The team told us in rehearsals that they approached the show a second time with an emphasis of transparency and being able to see through the exterior to someone’s heart. This is reflected through many visual aspects of the show, especially the stained glass effect used during the castle scenes which I think is especially beautiful.

Why do you think people love this show so much?

I think that people love this show for the same reason I love it: BATB was Disney’s first time creating a princess who was extremely confident, assertive and brave. Belle is a head-strong beauty who isn’t afraid to fight for the people she loves or the things she believes in which is so important for everyone, especially kids to see. In the words of Emma Watson, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and soon-to-be Belle, “Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong.”

Do you have a favorite scene in this production that audiences should be looking out for?

My favorite line from the show comes from the library scene when Belle is reading to the Beast. She says something that all of us can relate to, which is why this show is so accessible for so many people: “In the town where I come from, the people think I’m odd. So I know how it feels to be… different. And I know how lonely that can be.”

With live theater every performance must be a new adventure. Do you have any funny on-stage moments that you can share?

And, some I can’t share! I understudy Cogsworth and Maurice in the show. When I went on for Maurice the first time, our makeup supervisor wasn’t prepared for how sweaty I can get on stage and used toupee tape to attach my bushy white eyebrows because that’s all that other actors usually need. Well, by the time I got into the Beast’s castle, I was a sweaty mess and my left eyebrow kept falling off. After trying to re-attach it several times, I finally just pulled the other one off and stuck them both in my pocket. Needless to say, we made sure to use spirit gum for every performance after that!

What are some of your favorite things about being on tour and what are some challenges with being on a national tour? How do you stay at the top of your game physically and vocally?

I love living in hotels because I don’t have to clean! However, it is hard to be away from my friends and family for such long periods of time. It’s also hard to stay healthy. There are 30 actors in this cast and, when you’re kept in such close quarters, it’s hard not to catch a castmate’s cold, but we all do a really good job of using hand sanitizer backstage and taking lots of Vitamin C the minute we feel a tickle in our throats.

Do you have anything that you bring with you throughout your travels that reminds you of home or that keeps you grounded?

My oldest niece, Kaylin, is 13 years younger than me and grew up with me around for most of her childhood. When I graduated high school and left for college, Kaylin (who was 5 at the time) gave me her favorite stuffed animal: a baby Simba (from the Lion King) that purrs. She said that she gave it to me so that I wouldn’t forget her, even though I only went to school 45 minutes from my home town. I have had it ever since and carry it with me when I tour.

Now that you’re “home,” what are some local places that you like to visit?

Pom Pom’s! Can’t wait to get a Thanksgiving sandwich and some kiwi-pear iced green tea! Gonna show some of my castmates around Disney too, thanks to my awesome friends who work there. :)

Speaking of local places, you probably noticed that we opened the beautiful Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Are you excited to perform here as part of its inaugural year?

I am SO excited! When I was growing up in the Orlando area, I would have to drive over to Tampa to see a lot of the bigger Broadway tours. Now that we have the Dr. Phillips Center, those big Broadway musicals can come right to our back yard! Orlando is already a hot-spot for world-class entertainment, and the new Dr. Phillips Center will only add to the amazing selection in Orlando.

Do you have any parting advice for kids who may want to pursue acting/musical theater?

I tell everyone I meet who wants to pursue theatre as a career that it’s not easy. There will be a lot of hard times and challenges along the way, but if this truly is your passion and you can’t think of anything else that would make you as happy, then go for it with all you’ve got. Never stop learning, never stop working hard and never stop dreaming.


“Beauty and the Beast” plays at the Dr. Phillips Center May 12-17. TICKETS & MORE INFO

This story appeared May 8 on broadwayworld.com. It has been edited for style. See original article.

Alumni Association Hosts UCF Downtown Forum

UCF-Downtown

By Angie Lewis, ’03

Fred Kittinger, ’80, associate vice president for University Relations and director of state and local government affairs for UCF, spoke with fellow Knights about the continued plans for the UCF Downtown project during an open forum held at the UCF Executive Development Center on May 11.

Kittinger, who’s a member of the project’s steering committee and executive council, among other teams, began the presentation with a video:

Inspired by a visit to the downtown Phoenix campus of the nation’s largest university, Arizona State, UCF President John Hitt envisioned a similar downtown presence for the nation’s second-largest university.

Kittinger cited that 75,000 people work and 15,000 people live in downtown Orlando. He also mentioned Central Florida’s addition of the SunRail commuter train and planned I-4 expansion. “When people ask, why downtown Orlando? I say, why not downtown Orlando?” he said.

The new campus will include countless opportunities for students within a 15-minute walk radius, much like on the main campus. In six to eight years, Kittinger said it will host 10,000-13,000 students. He added that 60 percent of colleges and universities in the U.S. have less than 13,000 students, and reinforced that UCF Downtown will be a full campus, not a satellite or branch campus.

As part of the project, America’s Leading Partnership University will also partner with Valencia College, helping to make it more accessible — especially to Parramore residents and their children, who will see a new K-8 school built in their neighborhood in the next few years.

Kittinger’s colleague Paul Lartonoix, assistant vice provost at UCF, explained more about the project’s committees and how the 170 members cross-collaborate. He also discussed the academic programs proposed for the campus, including those in the School of Visuals Art and Design, Nicholson School of Communication and College of Health and Public Affairs. With the current timeline, he said the plan is to begin building in July 2016, and open in July 2017. (All of this, of course, is dependent on funding.)

Former UCF Student Government Association President Mike Kilbride, ’12, talked about the look and feel of the downtown campus, showing examples with photos of the Institute of Design at Stanford and other functionally diverse university spaces.

The trio then fielded questions from alumni, who asked whether or not transportation will be provided between the main campus and downtown (it will), if parking will be an issue (it won’t), and how they’re addressing safety (UCF Police, the Orlando Police Department and Valencia Police are working together to ensure students’ safety).

Learn more about the plans for UCF Downtown.

 

 

Mom and Daughter Graduate on Same Day

Mother-Daughter-graduation

Debbie Tyson and daughter Raina Sims both received their UCF degrees
during graduation ceremonies on Friday, May 8.
(Photo: Richard Diaz)

By Charneisha Pates
UCF Today

Debbie Tyson had an early Mother’s Day celebration this week: Both she and one of her daughters graduated from UCF on the same day. Tyson picked up her psychology degree during the 9 a.m. Friday commencement ceremony at CFE Arena, and then watched daughter Raina Sims accept her elementary education degree during the 2:30 p.m. ceremony. Both graduated with honors.

For Tyson, a degree was something she always wanted to attain, but, for the stay-at-home mother, going back to school didn’t always seem to fit into the plans she had for her family. Then, in 2008, her family relocated to Florida and her dreams of obtaining a degree soon became a reality.

Tyson returned to the classroom after 30 years, initially enrolling as a business major at Seminole State College in Sanford. It wasn’t until she took an entry-level psychology class that she discovered a love for psychology and switched her major.

Sims also soon began studying at Seminole State.

“I showed her the ropes, how to get into the honor society, to select classes and professors because I had already taken those classes and professors,” Tyson says. The two spent much of their time at school together, even enrolling in one of the same classes.

“We sat together, did homework together, and ate lunch together,” Sims explains. “I would bring my friends over to the house for lunch, and mom would make soup.”

After graduating from Seminole State, Tyson went on to UCF through DirectConnect, where she studied psychology. Once again, Sims followed in her mom’s footsteps.

“I believe it has been a sense of competition for her to excel, and maintain her GPA,” Tyson says. “It makes me feel like I have showed my children that you can excel.”

Another daughter, Kirsten Sims, will graduate from Lake Mary High School at the end of this month.

After commencement, Tyson plans to continue higher education courses.

“Going to college, studying under well-known professors, and reading material for classes directed my education in many different ways,” Tyson says. “It opened up doors and helped me to realize different potential in myself.”

As for Sims, she hopes to land a job with the Seminole County Public School district.

Editor’s note: This story was slightly edited from its original version to reflect an event that has now taken place in the past. 

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — May 11, 2015

250Kgrad

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. On May 9, College of Business Administration Dean Paul Jarley presented a bachelor’s degree in marketing to Daniel Berreth, ’15, UCF’s 250,000th graduate (see photo above).
  2. Last week, the UCF Student Government Association announced plans for a new way to tailgate this football season. Knights on the Mall gives fans an opportunity to reserve spaces on Memory Mall, as well as enjoy live music, cooling zones, and more.
  3. The UCF Foundation named its new vice president for alumni relations and development on May 8. Michael Morsberger, the vice president for development and alumni relations at George Washington, will officially take on his new role June 1.
  4. The next UCF MedTalk is May 13 at the Downtown PourHouse, where Dr. Sampath Parthasarathy will discuss “Wine, the Sun and Food: Keys to a Long Life.” Join this informal talk, hosted by the UCF College of Medicine and UCF Alumni Association, and learn something new!
  5. Looking for a job? Head over to the CFE Arena on Thursday, May 14, for a statewide job fair.
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