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Alumni Honored as “Everyday Heroes”

Last year, Nancy Ellis, '07 (left), and Sarah Goldman, '14 (right), were selected as Everyday Heroes by News 13  and Bright House Networks. On March 19, the two Knights were invited to a special Salute to Everyday Heroes luncheon,  recognizing all of the 2014 honorees. (Photo: News 13)

Last year, Nancy Ellis, ’07 (left), and Sarah Goldman, ’14 (right), were selected as Everyday Heroes by News 13 and
Bright House Networks. On March 19, the two Knights were invited to a special Salute to Everyday Heroes luncheon,
 recognizing all of the 2014 honorees.
(Photo: News 13)

Two UCF alumnae were honored at a special Salute to Everyday Heroes luncheon on March 19, 2015. Nancy Ellis, ’07, and Sarah Goldman, ’14, were among those who have made a difference in their Central Florida communities. Last year, both were featured on News 13’s Everyday Heroes segment, which airs on Mondays.

Ellis, the director for the Center for Community Partnerships in the UCF College of Health and Public Affairs, helped to create The Hub, a center at the Evans Community School that includes after-school tutoring, a career center and a health clinic that will benefit the entire community.

Goldman, who has cerebral palsy, is proving people wrong, working as an advocate for the disabled. While she was still a student at UCF, she launched the Student Advocates Reaching for Awareness and Hope Project, also known as the S.A.R.A.H. Project, on Facebook, dedicated to educating people about disability rights.

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Everyday Hero: Nancy Ellis
Everyday Hero: Sarah Goldman

UCF Alumnus, Entrepreneur to Host Business Chat on Twitter

DeanCaravelis

By Maddie Hammond
College of Business Administration Office of Communications and Corporate Engagement

Students in the UCF College of Business Administration are no strangers to entrepreneurial culture. From participating in service-learning classes like Cornerstone to competing in competitions like The Joust New Venture Challenge, fostering entrepreneurship is one of the key platforms of the college. On Friday, April 3, 2015, students will engage in another provocative #UCFBizChat on Twitter with someone who is an example of how that culture changes lives.

UCF graduate Dean Caravelis, ’02, will testify to the challenges of acting as one’s own boss and the perks of being an entrepreneur. After leaving his position as a marketing executive in 2008, Caravelis started his own marketing company, Blezoo Promotional Products. Blezoo supplies companies with promotional items and branded apparel to generate brand recognition and loyalty. Products range from tees to tumblers, and Blezoo claims to carry “promotional products from A to Z.”

Caravelis was presented with the Entrepreneurial Alumni Award at the 16th Annual UCF Business Hall of Fame Award Banquet on Feb. 26, 2015. Blezoo has stood the test of time after more than seven years in business, and Caravelis’ insights will be invaluable to students.

Follow the college on Twitter @UCFBusiness and #UCFBizChat to chat with Caravelis, as well as UCF students, faculty and alumni.

UCF’s Video Game School Ranked 2nd in North America

FIEA

By Mark Schlueb
UCF Today

For the second consecutive year, the University of Central Florida’s video game graduate school ranks No. 2 in North America, according to The Princeton Review and PC Gamer magazine.

This is the fifth time that The Princeton Review has ranked graduate-level video game development schools, placing UCF’s Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy – or FIEA – behind only the University of Utah for 2015. The school has been ranked in the top five every year since the rankings began.

“With our 10-year anniversary approaching, it’s great to see The Princeton Review continue to recognize the outstanding work of our faculty, staff and students,” said executive director Ben Noel. “We’re proud to be part of Central Florida’s growing digital economy.”

Since opening its doors in 2005, FIEA has graduated 412 alumni working at more than 125 companies around the world, including Google, Electronic Arts, Blizzard, Bungie, Zynga, Ubisoft, Disney, Microsoft, Bethesda, n-Space and Industrial Light & Magic.

“FIEA’s exceptional faculty members, first-class facilities and close connections with the gaming industry’s top companies have propelled the school to one of the very best of its kind in the country in less than 10 years,” said UCF Provost and Vice President A. Dale Whittaker. “This is a testament to UCF’s success with location-based education and valuable partnerships – our students thrive in the classroom and in the job market when they learn in an environment so closely immersed in their industry.”

The average starting salary for recent FIEA graduates is $60,359 and they are working on some of today’s most popular projects. Those games include NBA Live 15, Diablo III, Sunset Overdrive, Skyrim, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3, Star Wars 1313, Borderlands 2, Battlefield 4, The Walking Dead, Gears of War 3, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, Bioshock Infinite, Transformers 3 and Dead Space 3.

The school is located at UCF’s Center For Emerging Media building, located in downtown Orlando near UCF’s future downtown campus. FIEA is designed to graduate talented and well-qualified professionals to work in video games, new media, film and simulation industries.

The Princeton Review chose the schools based on a survey it conducted in 2014-15 of 150 institutions offering game design coursework and/or degrees in the United States, Canada, and some countries abroad.

In addition to being published today on The Princeton Review website, the listing will also be featured in the May issue of PC Gamer magazine, on newsstands March 3.

View the full rankings.

This article was republished from UCF Today. View the original article, which was posted on March 25, 2015.

Knight-Thon Slays $500K Goal for Local Children’s Hospitals

(Photo: Paige Wilson, Central Florida Future)

(Photo: Paige Wilson, Central Florida Future)

Between noon on March 28 and 8 a.m. on March 29, 2015, more than 1,200 students from more than 70 organizations participated in UCF’s annual Knight-Thon, a 20-hour dance marathon that benefits Greater Orlando Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, at the CFE Arena. While this year’s goal was $500,000, Knights moved and grooved their way to more than $688,000 “For the Kids!”

Fun facts about Knight-Thon:

  • Students raise funds throughout the entire year leading up to each Knight-Thon.
  • This year’s theme was “Dare to Make a Difference.”
  • The purpose of standing/dancing for 20 hours is so students can gain a greater appreciation and understanding of the pain, suffering and struggles that the young hospital patients go through every day.
  • Every hour on the hour, students partake in a “Morale” dance, taking them out of their comfort zones and into the dance marathon spirit.
  • To inspire students to remain standing during the 20 hours, miracle children are welcomed on stage alongside their families, to share their courageous stories of diagnosis, defeat and new-found hope.

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View videos and photos from this year’s event, as well as from previous years.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — March 30, 2015

CinemAbility-YouTube

Here are five things you need to know this week:

  1. College of Arts and Humanities alumna Jenni Gold, ’92, is helping UCF gain attention with a new documentary that will be shown in Regal Cinemas, titled, “CinemAbility.” The film focuses on how people with disabilities are portrayed on the big screen and on television. Actors include Ben Affleck, Jamie Foxx, Gary Sinise, Jane Seymour and others.
  2. The UCF Joust New Venture Challenge, hosted by the College of Business Administration, is getting visibility thanks to its earnings of up to $75,000 in cash and essential business services for the top four ventures. The college also has introduced a new master’s program in business analytics.
  3. Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center is in the spotlight, as the project is a partnership between UCF, Osceola County, the Florida High Tech Corridor Council, the University of Florida, the University of South Florida, Florida International University and the State of Florida. The center will be a future high-tech campus on 350 acres.
  4. The Nicholson School of Communication Alumni Chapter hosts its Knights & Squires Mentorship Breakfast on Wednesday, April 8. The chapter selected a group of 30 NSC alumni and students to participate in this new pilot mentorship program.
  5. The UCF Alumni Association’s Journey to Career Success Workshop takes place Tuesday, April 7, and will provide valuable information to help you get noticed and better position yourself against the workforce competition. Learn about the essentials of a successful cover letter, resume and more.

Other notable news:

Pegasus Magazine started hitting mailboxes last week, and includes a poignant story about homeless students, as well as the provost’s goal of hiring 200 new faculty members by fall 2015.

Strumming in the Spotlight

Alumnus brings six characters to life with just his voice and a guitar

ChasePadgett

Chase Padgett, ’07 | Actor and Musician

By Angie Lewis, ’03

While it may appear he’s having an identity crisis during his 90 minutes on stage, Chase Padgett, ’07, is actually just doing what he loves: performing.

For more than five years, from Orlando to British Columbia, and Scotland to South Korea, he’s been bringing six distinct characters to life in his one-man show, titled “6 Guitars.”

Each of his six characters play songs from their genres — blues, jazz, rock, classical, folk and country — while telling the stories of how they fell in love with their music, what they think of other styles of music and what music means to us all. Padgett also incorporates his improv comedy background into the act.

The show premiered in 2010 at the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, where it became a breakout hit, winning multiple awards including Best in Venue, Best Musician and Best Solo Show, among several others. It also won awards at fringe festivals in Canada and Scotland.

Before his successful solo career, he performed various roles at Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and the SAK Comedy Lab in downtown Orlando, as an actor, improviser and musician.

Padgett says his UCF degree gives him authority when he speaks about music, and sharpened his musicianship, which is a key component of his livelihood.

In 2014, Padgett became the artist-in-residence at the Curious Comedy Theatre in Portland, Ore., which is now the place he calls home — that is, when he’s not on the road, which is where he’ll remain for at least the next couple of years, as he’s touring Canada for “6 Guitars” through 2016. While that will take up much of his next two years, he’s already preparing for his next career move.

“[I want to] develop more material that would make sense as a TV special,” he says. “Also, [I want to have] a legitimate run with one of my solo shows. Over time, I want to transition into more film and television. I just wrapped my first role in a feature film and I’d love to keep doing that. It was a blast!”

Hitting the Notes Q&A

Q. Why do you do what you do?
A. Doing anything else would not nearly be as fulfilling.

Q. Favorite UCF memory?
A. I think the choir performances I did were my favorite memory. Singing in a group like that is a truly intoxicating experience.

Q. What advice would you give to current UCF music majors?
A. Being able to promote yourself in the artistic marketplace is crucial. Putting together a good online resume with videos and graphic design is so important. It could be the difference between really making it in your field and just scraping by. Also, talent has never been, nor will ever be, a substitute for character.

Q. Most memorable work experience so far?
A. Lots of highlights to choose from. I got to workshop a new musical improv show for Wayne Brady recently. Last fall, I did a sketch comedy showcase for the executives of NBC. But, honestly, the feeling I get during the final blackout of one of my live shows is probably the best thing. It’s the moment right after the performance and right before the audience’s applause. Therein lays an accomplished stillness that I still chase to this day.

Q. Who/what inspires your music?
A. Ray Charles is my single greatest inspiration both musically and entrepreneurially. Also, the guitar player Tommy Emmanuel is an enormous inspiration.

Q. First concert you attended?
A. B.B. King at the Naples Philharmonic

Q. Do you play any other instruments besides guitar?
A. Piano. I also beatbox a fair bit.

Q. What instrument do you wish you could play?
A. Chapman Stick!

Q. Who/what inspires your comedy?
A. There’s no better source for comedy than the truth in one’s own life.

Q. Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
A. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” in terms of a career in entertainment. Also, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” It’s easy to get down on one’s self for not being where you’d like to be, but you’ve got to combat that with gratitude. I’m a successful full-time performing artist making a living doing the material I created for myself. That’s certainly good enough to be grateful for.

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“Six Guitars”

4EVER KNIGHTS Ambassadors Receive Order of Pegasus

jill+gerald-order_of_pegasus

While attending a 4EVER KNIGHTS meeting in March, two of this year’s Order of Pegasus awardees, seniors Gerald Richardson and Jill Dutmers, posed for a photo in front of the Knights for Life wall at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center.

Jill Dutmers and Gerald Richardson, two of the UCF Alumni Association’s 4EVER KNIGHTS Ambassadors, were awarded the 2015 Order of Pegasus — the university’s most prestigious and significant award a student can attain.

The Order of Pegasus recognizes exemplary performance by UCF bachelor’s degree students in the areas of academic achievement, outstanding university involvement, leadership and community service. Master’s degree students, doctoral, professional or M.D. students are selected separately based on academic achievement, professional or community service, leadership, and publication or research experiences.

  • Jill Dutmers is an undergraduate majoring in English literature in the College of Arts and Humanities, and is a student in The Burnett Honors College. She’s a member of the Honors Congress and President’s Leadership Council, and has participated in numerous service projects for the UCF community. Dutmers also serves as president of 4EK. She’s currently deciding which law school she’d like to attend. (She’s been accepted into seven.)

“My four years at UCF has afforded me incredible opportunities and experiences that have shaped not only how I view the world, but also how I view myself,” Dutmers says. “The education I received and leadership skills I gained have me a stronger, more polished, more confident Knight.”

  • Gerald Richardson is an undergraduate majoring in biomedical sciences in the College of Medicine. He’s a third-generation Knight. He’s involved with the Student Undergraduate Research Council and the President’s Leadership Council. Richardson also gives free, private tutoring, was a member of the 2014 UCF Homecoming Court, and participates in countless community service activities.

“At UCF, I have been afforded the unique opportunity to serve as a university ambassador, contribute to the well-being of the Central Florida community, and explore my passion for research, all while acquiring the scientific foundation necessary to pursue a career in medicine,” Richardson says. “I owe all of my success and professional maturity to the unwavering support that UCF and The Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences have displayed for my academic and extracurricular endeavors.”

The 4EVER KNIGHTS Ambassadors are a group of student leaders, chosen to serve as the liaisons between students and alumni. They operate as an extension of the UCF Alumni Association and oversee the programming and benefits for 4EK general membership. These student ambassadors uphold UCF traditions and leave a lasting legacy.

Two former 4EK Ambassadors have also been awarded Order of Pegasus: Todd Currie, who won it this year, and Jamie Gregor, ’13, who won it during her junior year, in 2012.

Congratulations to these exceptional Knights!

More Info

4EVER KNIGHTS Student Alumni Association
4EVER KNIGHTS Ambassadors

Knights in Office — 2015

Eight UCF alumni take their seats for the 2015 Florida legislative session 

Florida Sen. Jack Latvala was a proud papa on March 3, 2015, as his son, Chris Latvala, '04,  took his newly elected seat on the floor of the Florida House of Representatives.

Florida Sen. Jack Latvala was a proud papa on March 3, 2015, as his son, Chris Latvala, ’04,
took his newly elected seat on the floor of the Florida House of Representatives.

By Angie Lewis, ’03

On Tuesday, March 3, a new legislative session began in the Florida House of Representatives, where eight Knights are in position to help promote their alma mater. They include:

Click on their links above to view each representative’s photos, committee memberships, and member and contact information.

During opening day remarks, newly elected House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, ’96, presented his “Work Plan 2015″ agenda, developed in partnership with Senate President Andy Gardiner and colleagues, saying, “Let’s put aside the politics and work together to pass our agenda — an agenda that will put the average Floridian on firmer ground and pave a stronger path for Florida,” he added.

The specific legislative priorities for the University of Central Florida are to:

  • Secure the necessary funding for the downtown presence, a joint-use campus between UCF and Valencia College, projected to open in fall of 2017.
  • Secure the necessary investments for UCF’s Partnership IV building in order to protect and sustain the Department of Defense Modeling, Simulation and Training cluster in Central Florida.
  • Support the statewide economic development project funding requests for the Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center in Osceola County.

Knights Advocates are looking forward to a productive 2015 legislative session. Stay tuned for alerts on important issues!

Congratulations to all of our alumni representatives! Go Knights! Charge On!

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Help our legislators understand that UCF and its graduates play a key role in economic development through science, research, business and the development of a highly educated workforce by becoming one of our Knights Advocates!

UCF Alumni’s Polar Hop Hits App Stores

polarhopmain   polarhopjourney   polarhoppath

By Katrina Poggio
KnightNews.com

Polar Hop, created by two UCF alumni, hopped into the App Store and Google Play on Feb. 19, 2015.

Friends since 8 years old, Ryan Underwood, ’14, and Timothy O’Shea, ’13, grew up in the video game boom of the ’90s and frequently played computer and video games together.

The mobile game application is a combination of Doodle Jump and Flappy Bird mixed with the strategic challenge of Candy Crush. The player utilizes a one-touch style platform to travel up the screen with a penguin named Puck.

“Basically, I became very jealous of Flappy Birds’ success and believed I could make a better game if I really put my mind to it,” Underwood said. “So, I mulled over the idea for a couple weeks, then one pleasant Friday afternoon after happy hour at the local UCF watering hole, I decided to call Tim and suggest the idea of developing our own game for iPhone and Android. Thus, Polar Hop was born!”

After Underwood’s epiphany, he and O’Shea consulted a friend, Kirk Henf, to gain greater knowledge in computer science. From that point on, the duo self-taught themselves code for the game, Underwood said. Then, the journey of creating Polar Hop began.

“Developing and coding Polar Hop was kind of like a big game of tug-of-war,” Underwood said. “One side was the mechanical one, the actual process of coding, and the other side was our creative ambition, development. Whenever we would come up with a great idea or feature to the game, we would have to go back to the mechanical end and figure out if it was possible.”

Polar Hop’s 100 levels include a survival mode in which players can earn Polar Points to purchase additional lives and power-ups to assist them through the story mode and make their way to the Polar Palace.

“We originally planned on making a version of the old ‘Winterbells’ game from desktop computers that we would play when [we were] bored in high school, but then decided to expand off that by having the user actually be involved in having to make the character hop on his own by tapping the screen, and then we had the idea of bringing the whole level aspect of it as well,” O’Shea said.

During the process of creating Polar Hop, the duo found a passion for game design and decided to create their very own company, Tall Dwarves LLC.

“After Polar Hop, which if it’s successful we’ll be working full time on it, but we’d like to publish different games that are very unique and try to expand to new and upcoming ideas that people would love,” O’Shea said.

This article was republished with permission from the author. It appeared in a Feb. 20, 2015, edition of Knights News online, but has been slightly edited in accordance to alumni association style guidelines. See original article.

2015 College of Business Hall of Fame

A formally dressed Knightro posed on the red carpet with his buddies, "24K" Kevin Smith, former Knights' running back,  and Jessica Reo, senior associate athletics director.

A formally dressed Knightro posed on the red carpet with his buddies, former Knights’ running back, “24K” Kevin Smith, 
and Jessica Reo, UCF senior associate athletics director, at the 2015 UCF College of Business Hall of Fame.

On Thursday, Feb. 26, alumni, faculty and friends walked the red carpet for a Hollywood-themed evening honoring three successful business grads, who were inducted into the 2015 College of Business Administration Hall of Fame.

Guests arrived at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel to camera-wielding “paparazzi,” and got to pose for pictures with a tux-clad Knightro. VIP guests and sponsors were treated to a special cocktail party before everyone headed into the main ballroom for hors d’oeuvres and networking.

Business students dressed as Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin and Audrey Hepburn were on hand for more photo ops, which also included the iconic DeLorean and another student dressed as Doc Brown from the “Back to the Future” movie series. In addition, guests could take to the virtual skies in an Occulus Rift flight simulator before enjoying dinner and the awards ceremony.

The College of Business Administration Hall of Fame recognizes business alumni who have demonstrated exceptional professional success in their career fields. This highest honor is given to those who have been in the industry for at least 20 years and have brought notoriety to their alma mater through their professional achievements.

This year’s inductees included:

cba-hof2015-gearhartTherese Gearhart, ’85 | President, Southern Africa Business Unit, The Coca-Cola Company

Prior to her current role, Gearhart served as group marketing and commercial and customer director for the Eurasia and Africa Group, the most diverse operating group of The Coca-Cola Company, encompassing more than 90 countries.

cba-hof2015-lessMitch Less, ’86 | Partner, Grant Thornton LLP

Less is an audit partner with 25 years of experience with Grant Thornton, a global accounting and consulting firm. His professional experience includes serving clients in auditing and financial reporting, as well as consulting, with particular emphasis in large, privately owned businesses. In addition to being a client-service partner, he has held leadership roles in the Florida practice and is currently partner in charge of recruiting, and serves on the National Privately Held Business Initiative.

cba-hof2015-schmidJohn Schmid, ’92 | President, Schmid Construction

In 2002, Schmid activated his CGC license and started his own business in land development and commercial construction with the formation of Schmid Construction and Development Inc.

A hall of fame committee selected all of the evening’s awardees, which also included:

Partnership Awards

These awards are given to organizations that have initiated successful partnerships with, or on behalf of, the UCF College of Business Administration, resulting in the advancement of the college’s academic offerings or public outreach. These organizations embody the spirit of collaboration and are recognized for their initiative, leadership and involvement in the betterment of business education.

Entrepreneurial Alumni Awards

These awards are given to UCF alumni from any discipline who exemplify commitment, vision, calculated risk-taking and growth potential. In their professional careers, these Knights demonstrate perseverance in the face of adversity, and overcome obstacles. 

Notable Knights Awards

These awards are given to UCF business alumni who have displayed promise and excellence early on in their respective career paths.

In addition, a special recognition award was chosen by Dean Paul Jarley:

Lifetime of Service Award

  • Tom Messina, ’84 | Former Executive Director, UCF Alumni Association, and 2006 CBA Hall of Fame Inductee

After the evening of awards, many attendees hit the links on Friday morning for the college’s annual golf tournament, which took place at the Shingle Creek Golf Club. Proceeds from the tournament benefit UCF business student scholarships and alumni initiatives.

Congratulations to all of this year’s winners! Go Knights! Charge On!

View photo galleries:
CBA HALL OF FAME
CBA GOLF TOURNAMENT

View list of PAST CBA HALL OF FAME WINNERS.

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