An alumna’s traumatic past hasn’t kept her from pursuing her dreams
Sarah Sacra, ’13 | Graduate Student, UCF
By Angie Lewis, ’03
Sarah Sacra, ’13, has always been intrigued by human behavior, so she didn’t have to give much thought to her undergraduate major: psychology.
“I enjoyed when friends came to me to tell me something — picking up on their body language and how they spoke, in combination with their personalities. It was very interesting,” she says.
At age 23, Sacra already has an impressive resume, which includes a 4.0 GPA, working as a teaching assistant for several UCF professors, participating in faculty research, being published, giving more than a half dozen presentations, racking up countless awards, being part of numerous honor societies and professional groups, and volunteering from the time she was a teen.
Her ambitions continue as she pursues her UCF master’s degree in applied sociology, with a criminology/deviance specialization. After graduating in August 2015, she plans to keep going, to earn her third UCF degree — a doctorate in sociology.
“My ultimate goal in my professional life is to create partnerships between research universities and law enforcement agencies to reduce crime — particularly murders,” she says. “To accomplish this, I would like to be a tenured university professor who researches crime with the intention of favorably changing public policies.”
As an undergrad, Sacra applied for countless scholarships, and was granted enough to cover her tuition (including the Debbie K. Phillis Space Coast — UCF Scholarship from the UCF Alumni Association). In grad school, she received a teaching assistantship through the sociology department, which covers the majority of her educational expenses, while her second job, as a community assistant for student townhome community, The Quad, covers the rest.
Her interest in criminology stems from true-life crime shows, like “Forensic Files,” “Dr. G: Medical Examiner,” “Dateline NBC” and “America’s Most Wanted,” which, she says, used to be the only thing she watched. She remembers talking to her stepmother about how awesome it would be to do some kind of investigating into those types of crimes, but that interest was placed on the back burner since she had no idea how to get into the field.
“Now that I’m in sociology and study under advisors who specialize in crime, I can take my hidden passion, bring it to the forefront, and turn it into my career.”
Because her successes and goals are so impressive, it’s hard to imagine the trauma she had to overcome to achieve them all.
For nearly two years of her adolescent life, she was sexually and emotionally abused by her stepfather, and emotionally abused and neglected by her mother.
“While the abuse was going on, I had a feeling it wasn’t something ‘normal’ that others experienced,” she explains. “But, I didn’t know for sure because other than going to school, I was barricaded from the social world. My stepfather confessed to my mother that he had sexually abused me after the first incident, however, even with this knowledge and my affirmation, my mother stayed with him and continued to live life as normal.
In November of seventh grade, my grandfather, whom I was very close with, passed away. My mother did not allow me to go to his funeral, and left me at home with my stepfather. After yet another incident with my stepfather, I decided that I was tired of living in fear. I sought peer counseling from school on the basis of my grandfather passing. After about two weeks, I confided in my peer counselor about the real truth, and the school and law enforcement took matters into their own hands from there.”
Sacra’s stepfather and mother were eventually arrested, and she went to live with her father and stepmother, to whom she attributes her “triumph.”
“She was the one who started the process of removing me from my mother’s custody after she found out my mother knew about the abuse, did nothing about it, and continued to have me under her care,” she explains. “She provided the loving and supportive environment that I needed to heal and grow into the person I am today.”
Q. You sound like a very busy girl! What do you do for fun?
A. For fun, I like to go to UCF football games and watch NFL games on TV with my friends. Otherwise, I enjoy relaxing, listening to music, and catching up on sleep.
Q. What music do you listen to when you want to tune out the world?
A. I have a very eclectic taste in music, so it would depend on my mood. Typically, old hip hop/R&B or old-school rap with a good amount of bass will do it. Otherwise, upbeat stuff like reggaeton and newer hip hop plays through my speakers.
Q. Pet peeves?
A. When people drive and do not use their turning signals. It’s the WORST!
Q. Any hidden talents?
A. Something most people don’t know is that I’m a black belt in Taekwondo.
Q. Last book you read?
A. Excluding books for class, “I Am Malala” by Malala Yousafzai. GREAT book.
Q. Favorite reality TV show?
A. “Say Yes to the Dress!!!”
Q. What movie can you quote word for word?
A. When I was younger, I would watch “Home Alone 2,” “Dennis the Menace” (1993) and “Hook” on repeat, so I have those down pretty well. Otherwise, I love to quote “Stepbrothers,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “The Dark Knight.”
Q. If you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A. Bread in any form
Q. Most embarrassing moment?
A. One summer at Wet ’N Wild, I was with a group of my friends waiting to get on a ride. Everyone was picking on me for one reason or another. I tried to come back at them stating that I’m not that silly or clumsy. As I was talking, I walked right into a pole. It didn’t feel great, nor did it help prove my point.
Q. Do you have any regrets?
A. I really don’t have any regrets. Anything that could be regrettable, I view as learning points and therefore do not regret experiencing them.
Q. If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
A. I would want to learn how to sing. Being a musician, I love music. I can play my heart out on my trombone or some steel drums, but if my life depended on me singing something that is remotely pleasant to the ear, you’ll probably never hear from me again!
Q. What’s the happiest/proudest moment of your life so far?
A. I feel most happy when my stepmother is proud of me and what I have accomplished. She knows every struggle that I’ve faced, so when she sees me conquer something meaningful, I can tell she’s proud of me, which is the greatest feeling.
Q. What advice would you give to others who are going through or who have gone through traumatic situations like yours?
A. For those who are currently going through something like this, speak up. It will probably be the most difficult thing you will do, but it’s the key to ending the nightmare. Additionally, during and after the abuse, I felt ashamed, like somehow it was my fault that the abuse occurred, or that it’s my fault my mother and stepfather went to jail. But, it wasn’t and never will be. I think that’s a very important piece of information. It’s not your fault. Although something like this is a very private and personal thing to most people, it’s nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about. We are not victims, we are survivors.
If you or someone you know is suffering from abuse, please seek help. Here are a few resources:
- Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline | 800.4.A.CHILD
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline | 800.799.7233
- RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) | 800.656.HOPE
President Hitt spends an evening with alumni in Southwest Florida
On Jan. 26, UCF Knights in Southwest Florida joined President John Hitt for a unique Share the Knight event. The university’s president answered questions about the much-anticipated UCF Downtown Campus, including which academic programs and services may be offered on the new campus, as well as the possibility of an upscale hotel on the UCF Main Campus, progress on a possible judicial center, and many more.
More than 60 alumni and friends were in attendance for this unique evening, which also included a chance for Knights to network and catch up.
The next Share the Knight event is tentatively scheduled for Chicago (date TBD).
By Angie Lewis, ’03
Plaza on University
Students and UCF area professionals have new retail options located just across the street from the university’s main campus.
The Plaza on University, which sits at the southeast intersection of University Boulevard and Alafaya Trail, offers four stories of modern student apartments atop 60,000 square feet of retail space.
Last year, Bar Louie, Floyd’s 99 Barbershop and GNC opened their doors for business.
According to tweets from the Plaza on University, BurgerFi, Blaze Pizza, Bento Cafe, Spoleto, Insomnia Cookies, 4D Gelato Caffe, and Henri Girl Boutique, are slated to open this year.
Networking Knight | Business + Engineering/Computer Science
About five dozen alumni from the UCF College of Business Administration and UCF College of Engineering and Computer Science alumni chapters mingled during a joint Networking Knight at the University Club on Jan. 21.
Many of the evening’s attendees included alumni who graduated with degrees from both colleges, as well as recent graduates attending their first alumni event.
Guests heard from both college alumni chapter chairs, as well as Paul Jarley, dean of the UCF College of Business Administration.
The group also heard from Jeff Ostlie, the University Club’s membership chair, who discussed the club’s history and gave a tour of the space.
Cheers to a successful Knight!
By Nada Hassanein, Central Florida Future
Starting this summer, the UCF journalism and radio-television majors will become a single journalism or “news” program with two different tracks.
“All the faculty were involved in this — both radio-television and journalism,” says Tim Brown, UCF radio-television area coordinator. “This was everybody coming together.”
After much conversation, the changes will be in effect this summer. Students applying to the journalism program for summer 2015 will choose between two tracks: print-digital or electronic journalism. Students currently in the majors will finish according to their catalog year and will not be affected by the changes.
While the programs are not merging together, Brown says, there is an effort to collaborate and bridge the gap between the tracks.
“The newer curriculum allows for different electives, different experiences,” Brown says. “We’ve built in a lot of different things that we’re really excited for.”
He adds that all news students will be required to take a basic reporting class and basic videography class.
“We’re trying to establish that cooperation and collaboration between the two ‘sides’ a lot earlier,” he explains. “Yes, we want some specialization — but we want journalists.”
The new curriculum will allow students on the print-digital track to take a mid-level electronic reporting class, and students on the electronic track will have the opportunity to take copy editing, metro reporting and advanced photojournalism.
Along with feedback from students, a combination of factors inspired the changes, including properly preparing students for the news industry, and providing growth and stability for the program itself.
Brown says there is a possibility for the Nicholson School of Communication to relocate to the future downtown UCF campus, allowing students to take advantage of exploring media partners in the area.
“The planning and certification is all done, but the implementation begins,” he says.
See original article as it appeared in the Central Florida Future online.
The history of UCF’s live mascot program
By Angie Lewis, ’03
Tradition is in full force on game days at Bright House Networks Stadium. The UCF Marching Knights enter the stadium, followed by the cheerleaders, who lead fans through the War Chant. But, before the team arrives and the crowd starts jumping to “Zombie Nation,” there’s one more tradition to cheer, as Pegasus and the UCF Knight charge onto the field, rearing as Knightro draws the sword from the ground. While you may have seen this choreographed entrance many times, you may not know how this particular tradition got started, or where our “Pegasus” comes from.
The university has had a variety of Pegasus mascots over the years, including horses donated by Burt Reynolds in the ’80s, and Rick Walsh, ’70, retired Darden executive and UCF Trustee, in the ’90s.
In 2001, the UCF Alma Mater Society, comprised of the university’s Distinguished Alumnus Award winners, established the official mascot program, after presenting a proposal to the alumni association, which partnered with Medieval Times and received a donated horse named Centauro. That same year, the Equestrian Club at UCF and the Pegasus Mascot Team were established.
The “World Famous” Lipizzaner Stallions also donated horses to the program, until last year, when the UCF Alumni Association formed a relationship with Arabian Nights and Al-Marah Arabian Horses in Clermont, Fla.
The university’s current “Pegasus” is a 24-year-old Gray Arabian gelding, also known as Clemmy in the stables, who joined the mascot team in August 2013. His job in the former Arabian Nights dinner show was to rear off the bad guy.
“The light work load he does for UCF and our lesson program keeps him in shape and his mind active,” says Zach Becker, breeding manager for Al-Marah Arabians.
Arabian horses, named after the peninsula, are the oldest breed in the world, known for their small, refined, dished faces, Becker explains.
“Originally, they came from the desert, [which is how they got] their compact bodies and great stamina,” he continues. “They have a great temperament and willingness to please, as they slept in the tents with their riders when sandstorms arose in the desert.”
In addition to Clemmy, UCF also uses a 14-year-old Gray Arabian gelding named Kizmet for parades and other event photo ops.
“Thanks to Arabian Nights, our horses are used to large numbers of people, as well as lights and music,” Becker says. “Also, any new up-and-coming horses ride with us to the game and just hang out at the trailer for the day to get used to the sights and sounds of UCF. The more things we can acclimate them to, the better.”
The horses aren’t the only ones who are trained, however.
Carla Cordoba, ’94, associate director of constituent programs at the UCF Alumni Association, has been the advisor for the Pegasus Mascot Team since its inception. During that time, she’s overseen five horses and about 15 Knights.
Knights have to go through an audition process, which includes an in-person interview, as well as a riding evaluation, with current mascot team members, Cordoba and Becker, to see what their riding capabilities are, and to make sure they get along with the horses. Becker then works with those chosen on how to cue and ride each movement, teaching them how to speak the language Al-Marah’s horses will understand.
DID YOU KNOW…?
- Knightro is the athletics mascot and takes on a character persona, while Pegasus and the UCF Knight are a university mascot, although they both appear at athletic events.
- In addition to the other criteria required to be a Knight, each rider must also be able to fit into the small costume.
- All Knight rider candidates must squire for at least one year before applying. A squire’s main duties including grooming Pegasus, getting him and the Knight into their costumes, interacting with fans, and escorting Pegasus and the UCF Knight onto the field.
SUPPORT THE PEGASUS MASCOT PROGRAM
Want to be a part of UCF’s history and traditions by helping to keep the Pegasus Mascot Program alive? Contact Carla Cordoba at email@example.com or 407.823.3453 for more information.
UCF Alumni Scholarship Applications | Jan. 15 – March 31, 2015
Each year, the UCF Alumni Association awards more than $40,000 in scholarships. Scholarships are available for all class standings, and range from $500 to $2,000. With 20 different scholarships from which to choose, there’s something for everyone!
Applications open Jan. 15 and close March 31. Winners are announced over the summer, and the awards will be distributed at the beginning of the fall semester.
- Visit the Scholarships page on ucfalumni.com for detailed informaton about each scholarship, as well as application instructions.
- Log in to your myUCF account to see the scholarships for which you’re eligible.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 407.UCF.ALUM (823.2586).
Radio-TV alumna spends her days keeping one of TV’s most popular dramas on schedule
Jordan Henry, ’12 | Assistant to Line Producer, “Revenge”
By Angie Lewis, ’03
It’s only been a little more than two years since Jordan Henry, ’12, graduated from UCF, but she’s already added some pretty big names to her resume, which includes working as a production assistant on Bravo’s “Top Chef Duels,” temping as an office assistant at Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television and interning at E! Entertainment Television’s “The Soup.” Her current gig, as the assistant to the line producer for ABC’s “Revenge,” may be the biggest name yet.
Her daily work for the primetime series includes maintaining the show’s production calendar, attending production meetings, tracking cast availability and working with ABC Legal on show clearances.
“I get to interact with various departments both on ‘Revenge’ and at ABC during the production of each episode, and I love seeing how everything comes together to create the finished product,” Henry says.
She hopes the experience she’s gaining will one day lead her to a position as a development executive for a television network.
Henry graduated from UCF with a bachelor’s degree in radio-television, and then went on to earn a master’s degree in television from Boston University.
Having grown up in West Virginia, Henry hadn’t heard of UCF until she began researching colleges.
“I toured the campus when I was in Orlando visiting family and ended up loving everything about it,” she explains.
While she was a student, she worked on Knightly News, directing live shows, and was a part of the Honors Congress, National Broadcasting Society and the Italian Club, just to name a few.
As an alumna and resident of Los Angeles, where “Revenge” is produced, she remains connected to her alma mater through the L.A. UCF Alumni Club.
That’s a Wrap Q&A
Q. Who’s your favorite character on “Revenge?”
A. Nolan Ross, the snarky tech genius
Q. Can you give us any hints as to how this season will end?
A. I can’t, because I don’t know, but I’m sure there will be plenty of surprises!
Q. What advice would you give to current radio-TV majors at UCF?
A. Be informed! Watch, read and listen to as many things as you can. You never know what you’ll learn or where inspiration will strike. Be able to form opinions about content and develop your own point of view. And network, network, network! You can never know too many people in this industry.
Q. Any hidden talents?
A. I have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do/Karate.
Q. If you could be any fictional character, who would you be and why?
A. Leslie Knope from “Parks and Recreation” because she is a glorious, hardworking, loyal, passionate person, invested in pursuing her dreams as well as building strong relationships with her friends and loved ones. And, also because she eats a lot of waffles.
Q. Last TV show you watched?
A. I just watched the newest episodes of “The Good Wife” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” I’ve also been watching “Friends” on Netflix.
Q. All-time favorite TV show?
Q. What part of pop culture do you wish would just go away?
A. The Kardashians
Q. What do you do for fun?
A. Trying new restaurants and seeing movies are two of my favorite things to do with friends. I also really love to bake in my free time.
Q. If you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A. Anything Italian, really. Probably lasagna or ravioli.
Q. What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
A. Moving to Los Angeles without a job or an apartment was really intimidating. It’s worked out for me so far though!
Q. Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
A. “Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles.”
—Tina Fey, Bossypants
The UCF community is in mourning after its second president, Trevor Colbourn, passed away on Jan. 13, at age 87.
Colbourn became the university’s president in 1978, when it was still known as Florida Technological University. It was upon his suggestion that the university was renamed to the University of Central Florida the same year.
He also established UCF’s football program, as well as the College of Arts and Sciences (now the College of Arts and Humanities, and the College of Sciences), the Office of Undergraduate Studies and the Honors program, among many others.
During his presidency, the campus increased in size with the building of the Wayne Densch Sports Center, the establishment of Greek Park, a library expansion, growth in residential housing, and the construction of new buildings for Fine Arts (later renamed Colbourn Hall), the College of Business and the College of Engineering. The arena, student union and Barbara Ying Center also went into planning.
After retiring as president in 1989, he returned to teaching history full time at the university. In 1990, he earned the title President Emeritus, and he assumed the role of university historian in 1991.
READ MORE about the legacy Trevor Colbourn created at UCF.
Each year, UCF Marketing publishes a facts guide, highlighting the university’s successes in numbers. Here are the facts for 2014-15:
UCF at First Glance
GROWTH WITH QUALITY AND DIVERSITY
- Fall 2014 freshman class set UCF records with an average SAT score of 1256 and an average high school GPA of 3.9.
- UCF set records for diversity in the fall: 41 percent of students are minorities and 22 percent are Hispanic.
- UCF is the nation’s second-largest university with 60,810 students, including 52,532 undergraduates, 7,858 graduate students and 420 M.D. students.
- UCF ranks second among Florida’s state universities with 275 National Merit Scholars enrolled.
- UCF’s six-year graduation rate is 69.7 percent, third best among Florida’s state universities.
PREPARING STUDENTS FOR THE WORKFORCE
- More than 20,000 students gain practical experience through co-ops, internships and service-learning projects annually.
- UCF awarded nearly 2,000 baccalaureate degrees in STEM fields in 2013-14, the second-largest number in the State University System.
- Career Services helped 30,000 students search and compete for jobs in 2013-14.
AN AFFORDABLE, BEST-VALUE EDUCATION
- 48 percent of UCF students graduate without any educational debt. Nationally, only 33 percent of students graduate debt-free.
- Kiplinger and The Princeton Review consistently rank a UCF education among the nation’s best value.
A LEADER IN ECONOMIC IMPACT
- UCF employs about 11,000 faculty and staff members. The university impacts more than 112,000 additional jobs and adds $7.73 billion of value to the economy, according to a 2009-10 study by the Florida Board of Governors.
Medical Professional: 420
Hispanic (21.6%), African-American (10.5%), Asian and Pacific Islander (5.7%) and Multiracial (3%)
$44.9 million awarded to Bright Futures students (second-largest amount in Florida)
77 percent of undergraduate students received financial aid
$437 million in financial aid awarded
275 National Merit Scholars enrolled, a UCF record
Fall Freshman Profile
Average SAT Score: 1256* (1849**)
Average ACT Score: 27.4
Average High School GPA: 3.9
Fall Freshman Profile, The Burnett Honors College
Average SAT Score: 1398* (2057**)
Average ACT Score: 31.5
Average High School Weighted GPA: 4.3
*Critical Reading and Mathematics
**Critical Reading, Mathematics and Writing
Degrees Conferred (as of Summer 2014)
Top 15 Majors by Enrollment
- Health Sciences: Pre-Clinical
- Biomedical Sciences
- Mechanical Engineering
- Hospitality Management
- Interdisciplinary Studies
- General Business
- Elementary Education
- Computer Science
- Criminal Justice
Cost of Attendance (estimated per semester†)
Tuition and fees: $2,972
Books and supplies: $573
Room and board: $4,879
Nonresident tuition and fees: $10,484
†Based on 14 undergraduate credit hours
The main campus is 1,415 acres, approximately one-third of which is managed for conservation.
- 180 buildings
- Housing: 11,593 beds (includes affiliated)
- Bright House Networks Stadium: 45,000-seat capacity
- CFE Arena: 10,000-seat capacity
2013-14: $145.6 million
UCF researchers have earned more than $1 billion in external grants and contracts during the past decade.
June 30, 2014: $155.5 million
2013-14: $1.5 billion
Faculty members: 1,961
Staff members: 9,113
- Center for Emerging Media
- Executive Development Center
- Florida Solar Energy Center
- Health Sciences Campus at Lake Nona
- Rosen College of Hospitality Management
Regional Campus Locations
- Altamonte Springs
- Daytona Beach
- Palm Bay
- Sanford/Lake Mary
- South Lake
- Valencia Osceola
- Valencia West
More than 235,000
Unless otherwise noted, figures are for Fall 2014.
- Offer the best undergraduate education available in Florida.
- Achieve international prominence in key programs of graduate study and research.
- Provide international focus to our curricula and research programs.
- Become more inclusive and diverse.
- Be America’s leading partnership university.
The goals are directions of travel. We’ve changed, and the way we pursue the goals has changed. —John C. Hitt