Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—Feb. 20

1. Five alumni recently won regional Emmy awards of excellence for their work in television this past year. Among the accomplished group is Nicholson School of Communication Alumni Hall of Fame inductee Marla Weech ’79.

2. UCF partnered with Orange County Fire Rescue to launch two lifesaving apps, PulsePoint Respond and PulsePoint AED, late last week. The apps support first-responding agencies like Orange County Fire Rescue by encouraging CPR-trained citizens to respond to sudden cardiac arrest incidents as emergency crews are en route. Both applications are available as free downloads on mobile devices.

3. SAVE THE DATE for UCF Celebrates The Arts. The university’s annual showcase of student and faculty presentations will return April 7-14 to the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Orlando. The eight days of music, performances and visual displays are open to the public for free. For a sneak peek of the lineup of events, click here.

4. ICYMI, students from UCF’s College of Nursing delivered one-of-a-kind teddy bears to hospitalized children to make the week of Valentine’s Day a little sweeter. Although the college is finished taking orders for this year’s distribution of bears, it intends to make this an annual event. Take one look at this picture, and you’ll see why:

5. The College of Sciences Distinguished Speaker Series resumes this week with a talk on “2015 Homicide Rise and the ‘Ferguson Effect.’” The event, which is open to the public, begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Tuscawilla Country Club (1500 Winter Springs Blvd., Winter Springs, FL 32708).

From The Heart

 


By Jenna Marina

ORLANDO, Fla. (Feb. 16, 2017) — Children spending Valentine’s Day week at Nemours Children’s Hospital got a special treat on Monday: Seven UCF College of Nursing students, dressed in their scrubs, visited their hospital rooms and brought along a new soft, cuddly bear.

In all, 88 ‘Knight Nurse’ teddy bears — also wearing UCF scrubs — arrived at Nemours as part of a larger fundraising campaign spearheaded by the college, and meant to brighten the day of hospitalized children.

Soon-to-be 13-year-old Karina, who has a closet of strategically placed stuffed animals at her Melbourne home, eagerly awaited her bear delivery before her chemotherapy treatment. When she was greeted by the nursing students, they immediately started discussing how to accessorize the bear with her favorite color, purple.

“It’s super, super soft. It’s the softest bear I think I have. It feels kind of like my unicorn,” Karina said. “Everyone is so nice here. Everyone’s just trying to make all the kids here feel better.”

In January, the college debuted its “Give a Bear, Warm a Heart” fundraiser that enabled the public to sponsor one – or an entire unit – of teddy bears wearing UCF nursing scrubs. The college partnered with MorUniversity, the college’s exclusive scrub provider, to create limited-edition bears outfitted in an exact replica of the scrubs worn by UCF nursing students.

Donations were still coming in as of late last week, but the college estimated that roughly $14,000 was raised in the inaugural campaign. All money raised will help support priority areas in the UCF College of Nursing, including student scholarships, faculty research and medical mission trips.

Although the college is finished taking orders for this year’s distribution of bears, it intends to make this an annual event.

On Thursday and Friday, students will deliver more bears to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Florida Hospital for Children. In totally, roughly 225 bears will be delivered this year.

“I just love working with the kids. They have this incredible spirit, so any opportunity that I get to interact with them and to make them smile is just what makes it so special for me,” said Orlando native Hayley Boyle, who is in her last semester of UCF’s undergraduate nursing program and hopes to become a pediatric nurse. “These bears have such an impact. They’re just a beautiful thing to do.”

To Have And To Hold, Forever Black And Gold

Alumni Brent and Bryanna Beumel were married in November by one of their favorite UCF professors, Jeff Biddle

ORLANDO, Fla. (Feb. 14, 2017) – Brent Beumel ’14 and his fianceé Bryanna La Londe ’13 were driving back to Florida in November 2015 from a weekend trip in Savannah, where Brent had just popped the question in a historical bed and breakfast.

Giddy off the high of their engagement, they started imagining what their wedding day would look like. Who would officiate the ceremony?

Without a moment’s hesitation, long-time UCF sports and exercise science instructor Jeff Biddle emerged at the top of their list.

“He’s what every professor should be to a student. He doesn’t want you to just come in and get your degree and walk out. You could go into his office anytime he was in there and talk with him. He loved to get to know people and what you wanted to do with your life,” Bryanna said. “He was the first person we thought of.”

The now-Beumels met in 2012 in a biomechanics class at UCF’s South Lake campus in Clermont.

They started out as friends. Bryanna had plans to move to Portland, Oregon, at summer’s end. After a month, their relationship progressed to more than friends.

“And then I didn’t go! And it worked out well,” Bryanna said with a smile.

The two finished their sports and exercise science degrees, frequently driving the hefty commute out to Clermont – Bryanna drove 70 miles one way from her mother’s home in Merritt Island — because they loved the program and professors, especially Biddle, so much.

“Every class that he taught in our major, I tried to sign up with him. He made the drive out to Clermont worth it,” said Brent, who lived less than eight miles from UCF’s main campus at the time. “It was an hour to get out there, but you knew when you’d have him at 8 o’clock in the morning it was going to be fun. It wasn’t just staring at a PowerPoint for an hour and a half. You were interacting with him and all the other students. He made it enjoyable. He’s not one we’ll forget.”

Bryanna, a first-generation student, graduated in 2013 and is now working in the rehabilitation department at Arnold Palmer Hospital. Brent graduated a year later as a second-generation UCF alumnus.

As fate would have it, Brent’s parents met while they were students at UCF at a house party on Alafaya. His mother Linda graduated in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry.

They didn’t expect that decades later, their son would mirror their love story and find his future wife while at school.

“UCF helped make me who I am. The experiences I had through sport and exercise molded me into the trainer and coach that I am now,” said Brent, who works at CrossFit Firebase in Orlando. “I view it as a starting off point. That’s where we met. It’s where my parents met, as well. It holds a special value in that to me.”

Brent and Bryanna got married on Thanksgiving weekend in 2016 at Club Lake Plantation in Apopka with a black-and-gold-bow-tie-clad Biddle as their officiant.

Their grandparents gifted the couple their wedding rings and served as ring bearers in their ceremony.

The gold band of Brent’s ring belonged to his grandfather. It had to be pieced back together after it was cut off his grandfather’s finger following a motorcycle accident.

When the jeweler melded it together, he chose a black zirconium to sandwich it, making it the perfect color combination for Brent’s UCF roots.

As the couple anticipated, Biddle was a hit among the family in attendance. He was as comical and engaging in the ceremony as he is in the classroom.

In order to perform the ceremony, the professor needed to obtain a notary license. He told the couple to leave the logistics to him and insisted on paying the associated fee.

Biddle, who makes it a point to attend as many of his students’ commencement ceremonies as he can, said that Brent and Bryanna’s request to serve as their officiant was an honor and a privilege.

That realization hit him even harder when he recently watched their wedding video.

“Their kids and their kids’ kids are going to be watching that video. I’m permanently a part of their lives and their family’s lives from now on. And that’s pretty cool,” Biddle said. “I am thrilled that they asked me, thrilled that they wanted me to do it. It is certainly one of the bigger moments to happen in my life.”

What he may not realize is that he already secured a special place in their lives a long time ago.

“Being a first generation degree seeker – professors are who I looked up to for guidance and direction throughout the whole process. Dr. Biddle was a role model for me,” Bryanna said. “Finding what you love to do may change over the years and that’s OK. That is something I learned from him. I don’t even know if I’ve ever told him this, but it’s how I feel about him and what he’s done for me.”

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—Feb. 13

 

Comedy Central

1. UCF is all about helping out the procrastinators in need of Valentine’s Day date ideas. The UCF Theater Department will be featuring William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet from Feb. 16-26. Tickets are $20 or $10 with a UCF ID. You can purchase them online or by calling the box office at 407-823-1500. The men’s basketball team will square off against Tulsa on Feb. 14 and is offering a special Valentine’s Date Night package. For $40 receive two tickets to the game as well as one Cupid-inspired Knightro Bobblehead.

2. CFE Arena announced Monday that UCF alumnus Daniel Tosh ’96 will return to campus April 25 for a standup comedy show featuring writers and comedians from his Comedy Central hit “Tosh.0.” Tickets go on sale Feb. 17.

3. Opening Night for UCF Baseball will be held Friday, and best of all – IT’S FREE! The Knights are beginning a new era under first-year head coach Greg Lovelady. First pitch against Siena is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Before you head to the field, learn more about the John Euliano Park Expansion.

4. Late last week, the 2017 UCF Football schedule was unveiled. It includes a record four September home games, 11 Saturday kickoffs and a Black Friday War On I-4 showdown with rival USF. Start making your tailgate plans and purchase season tickets now. Pro tip: Renew your season tickets before March 1 and swing yourself some cool prizes.

5. Calling Knights in Georgia! IGNITE: Atlanta will take place Thursday from 6-8 p.m. at the Intercontinental Buckhead Atlanta. Space is limited but there is still time to reserve your spot. The event is free. Click here to RSVP.

P.S. UCF Alumni has enjoyed hearing so many stories from the heart from Knights over the last week as we gear up for Valentine’s Day. Tell your #UCFLoveStory and check out other posts on our Facebook.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—Feb. 6


1. Lace up your kid’s booties… the third annual UCF Baby Race will take place during halftime of the UCF men’s basketball game on Saturday against UConn. Participating babies must be a crawler between the ages of 7-16 months old. Submissions for the race will be taken through Tuesday, Feb. 7, so act fast. Click here to learn more about the race and register your kiddo!

2. Talk about homegrown talent! More than one-third of UCF’s faculty and staff are alumni, a statistic that UCF takes great pride in as the university kicked off its annual faculty and staff campaign, Believe, on Feb. 2. It hopes to see more than 2,000 donors contribute to UCF over the next month. Here are some sights and sounds from the kickoff event.

3. UCF’s College of Medicine and Hospital Corporation of America announced their newest residency program Sunday. The neurology residency program, which will feature 16 trainees who will train for four years, will be based out of Osceola Regional Medical Center, has received initial accreditation and is seeking immediate applicants.

4. Studying beer? How do we sign up? With the popularity of craft beers, local brewers are turning to a UCF College of Medicine researcher and his microbiology students to help perfect the taste and color of America’s favorite fermented beverage.

5. The UCF IGNITE Tour is less than two weeks away from its next stop in Atlanta on Feb. 16. The event, which will be located in Buckhead, will feature Provost Dale Whittaker along with other key members of UCF leadership. Learn more and register for your spot on the guest list.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—Jan. 30

Courtesy of UCF Athletics

1. If you’re on the edge of your seat awaiting the news of this year’s football recruiting class, an official signing day party will be held at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center on National Signing Day this Wednesday from 6-8 p.m. It’s free, but you must RSVP to attend. #RiseandConquer

2. “He’s my best friend and he’s always got my back, but he would also lay down his life for me and other officers.” Those words are by UCF Police Department’s Matt Scott ’07 ’11MS, who was featured in the Orlando Sentinel along his partner Justice late last week. It’s worth the read.

3. How about a little love for Lake Claire. One of UCF’s founding families was recently recognized in a special ceremony that unveiled the recreation area has been renamed the William E. Davis and Mary Jo Davis Recreation Area at Lake Claire.

4. Some big news came out of UCF Athletics regarding investment in a nutrition program and upgraded facilities. Gift commitments have surpassed the $2 million mark in fund-raising for expansion of the football operations center and construction of a headquarters for the UCF athletics department. That news dropped just two days after it was announced that Bob Garvy made a $1 million gift commitment to fund the creation of the Garvy Center for Student-Athlete Nutrition, pending Board of Trustees approval.

5. Don’t forget, UCF is hosting a career expo for students and alumni Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in CFE Arena. Professional attire is required and up-to-date resumes are strongly recommended. Learn more about the expo, including a list of participating employers, by clicking here.

Alumnus Holds Key To Big Data

Big Data Symposium’s keynote speaker Lee Odess ’99 alongside his family

By Jenna Marina

ORLANDO, Fla. (Jan. 23, 2017) – In the past, the biggest threat from a data breach was to the individual. But now with the onset of Big Data, there are much bigger threats and even bigger opportunities.

Few people, however, understand what Big Data is or how it can be used, said Lee Odess ’99, vice president of UniKey and the keynote speaker for UCF’s Big Data Symposium on Jan. 26 at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center.

“The goal of my presentation is, more or less, to give real life examples of what Big Data is and the impact it can have,” Odess said. “Typically you are either super smart on Big Data and have a hard time communicating it, or you are a person who has heard of it but isn’t too sure how to get started. My goal is to bridge the two.”

Practical examples of Big Data are everywhere and can be implemented by both big and small companies. For instance, a company can analyze marketing impacts via its social media reach; predictive analytics can narrow in on customers’ shopping preferences; or it can help analyze where a business should open up its next retail location.

Big Data’s role in our society is one of the reasons UCF’s Colleges of Science, Business and Engineering and Computer Science came together to host the symposium. UCF business professors Robert Porter ’81 ’10PhD and Amit Joshi, PhD; statistics professor Shunpu Zhang, PhD; and Ivan Garibay ’00MS ’04PhD, director of UCF Research Information Systems and chief information officer at the UCF Office of Research and Commercialization, are among the speakers who will talk about practical ways companies, nonprofits and individuals can tap into Big Data to benefit their communities and society.

Odess was a natural choice for the talk because of his familiarity with the use of Big Data within his own profession.

“For UniKey we didn’t wake up one day and say, ‘Hey, we need Big Data.’ We did however say, ‘Hey, we need to start understanding exactly how, when, where our customers are using the locks and mobile applications powered by UniKey,” he said. “So we put the systems and tools in place to be able to collect every bit of data we could. Then once we had it, we spent the time to come up with the algorithms and dashboards to easily digest the information. Now, with a touch of a button we are no longer guessing how, when and where customers are using the product. We are 100 percent clear on it.“

In 2012, Odess was the director of sales operations for security company Brivo Systems when he was watching “Shark Tank” on television one night and saw fellow UCF alumnus Phil Dumas ’05 pitching his smart lock. It was the first time in Shark Tank history that all five investors wanted to buy into an idea.

Odess reached out to Dumas after the show and said that given their UCF roots and similar industries, they should get to know each other. Dumas agreed.

They kept in touch over the years, and when Brivo Systems was sold in 2015, Odess wanted to join with a startup that had growth opportunity. He saw UniKey as that opportunity.

His day-to-day responsibilities as vice president include business development, human resources, participation in the overall strategy for the company and its existing customer base.

Dumas and Odess aren’t the only Knights with UniKey. Odess said 80 percent of the company’s 50 employees are alumni.

“Initially people think we’re from Silicon Valley. When we tell them we’re from Orlando, we explain to them we have some hidden gems here, one of them being the university,” he said. “We look for people that want to be in this area. We think the school does a really good job preparing the students for work. It just makes sense. There isn’t a need for us to look outside what’s in front of our face.”

Odess speaks from experience.

Born in Cleveland, he grew up in South Florida before he moved to Pittsburgh, where he graduated from high school. He considered nearly two dozen universities and picked UCF because he said it just felt right.

“There seemed to be a lot of history to be written,” he said. “I liked that.”

The day after he graduated with his bachelor’s in business, he packed up his car and started driving toward Pennsylvania, where a job with Lutron Electronics awaited him.

After eight years with Lutron, he moved to Washington D.C. and worked for a variety of companies, including several startups of his own, Fresh Confections and energy + light + control llc.

In order to become more acclimated to a new city, he rekindled his relationship with UCF by joining the D.C. alumni chapter.

Now that he’s back in Orlando, he is happy to have an opportunity to further his relationship with his alma mater by lending his time to the symposium.

“I’m proud of the fact that I have an opportunity to make a difference,” Odess said. “There’s a true partnership with the university – it has aspirations and goals, and I feel like it realizes that the people that have come out of it are going to help carry it in that direction.”

The Symposium will be held Jan. 26 from 6-8 p.m. at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center. The event is free, but RSVP online is required. To learn more about the event, click here.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—Jan. 23

1. We like big data and we cannot lie. The UCF Colleges of Sciences, Business and Engineering and Computer Science are hosting a Big Data Symposium this Thursday from 6-8 p.m. in the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center. The evening’s keynote speaker is Lee Odess ’99, vice president of UniKey Technologies. Although the event is complementary, space is limited. For more details and to RSVP, click here.

2. On Sunday, the Atlanta Falcons clinched their spot in Super Bowl LI. Why do we care? Because former C-USA Defensive Player of the Year and UCF alumnus Kemal Ishmael ’13 has suited up for the Falcons ever since they selected him in the seventh round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He is now the 13th Knight to be listed on the roster of a Super Bowl team.

Ishmael graduated from UCF with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies and minor in coaching in 2013. The Super Bowl will air on FOX on Feb. 5 at 6:30 p.m.

3. Apparently, the UCF women’s flag football team is creating quite a dynasty. The Knights recently captured its fourth consecutive football national championship. This year’s squad, ‘Team Check on It,’ thumped the North Carolina A&T Aggies in the championship game, 13-2. The team was led by head coach Brandon Baroody ’13, a finance alumnus who is a member of the National Collegiate Flag Football Championships Hall of Fame.

4. Emergency physicians in training from UCF’s College of Medicine used their skills on a national stage when they staffed the presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 20. During the inauguration, three ER residents and two attending physicians from Osceola Regional ran a treatment and triage area adjacent to the viewing area on the National Mall, in partnership with other first responders.

5. You can help the College of Nursing brighten up the lives of children in local hospitals. The college’s “Give a Bear, Warm a Heart” fundraiser enables the public to sponsor one — or an entire unit — of teddy bears wearing UCF nursing scrubs to be delivered by nursing students the week of Valentine’s Day to sick kids at local hospitals. Learn more about how you can get involved.

Give A Bear, Warm A Heart

Bear Campaign-100

By Jenna Marina

ORLANDO, Fla. (Jan. 17, 2017) — This Valentine’s Day, students from the UCF College of Nursing will bring love in the form of a cuddly teddy bear to local hospitalized children with the help of alumni, friends and the community.

The “Give a Bear, Warm a Heart” fundraiser enables the public to sponsor one – or an entire unit – of teddy bears wearing UCF nursing scrubs to be delivered the week of Valentine’s Day to sick kids at local hospitals. So far, UCF nursing students will deliver bears to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, Florida Hospital for Children and Nemours Children’s Hospital.

The college has partnered with MorUniversity, the college’s exclusive scrub provider, to create limited-edition bears outfitted in an exact replica of the scrubs worn by UCF nursing students. To sponsor one Knight Nurse bear costs $50. To reserve bears for two units – 19 bears, plus one for the sponsor – is $1,000; and to reserve nine bears for one unit, plus one for the sponsor, is $500. In sponsoring a unit, donors also can choose to donate their assigned bear.

“In addition to providing comfort and love to a child when they need it most, the Knight Nurse bears will make a positive impact on our nursing students, faculty, research and ultimately, the community,” said Mary Lou Sole, dean of the UCF College of Nursing.

All money raised from this campaign will help support priority areas in the UCF College of Nursing, including student scholarships, faculty research and medical mission trips.

“Like these bears, nurses provide comfort when people need it most. We hope that anyone who has been touched by a nurse will join us in this effort,” Sole said.

One student is looking forward to seeing the smiles on children’s faces when they receive a bear.

“As a UCF nursing student, I am always looking for ways to reach out to the community and provide compassionate care. The bear campaign not only helps students like me, but it is a wonderful opportunity to impact a child’s life,” said Corrine Medeiros, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nursing. “Providing a child with a bear will bring a smile to their face and will make them more familiar with the medical staff.”

The idea for the fundraiser began about three years ago, but this year, the College of Nursing was finally able to launch it after finalizing the details, such as the bears’ replica scrubs.

To sponsor a bear, visit http://nursing.ucf.edu/bears. Any questions can be directed to nursingevents@ucf.edu or by calling the college’s main line at 407-823-2744.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—Jan. 9

1. At UCF, we know how awesome Limbitless Solutions is, so it was great to see the rest of the country learn more about the group during a feature on Sunday’s NBC Nightly News. Didn’t tune in? Don’t worry, you can watch the segment in its entirety ^above^.

2. Job hunting? UCF is hosting a career expo for students and alumni on Jan. 31 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in CFE Arena. Professional attire is required and up-to-date resumes are strongly recommended. Learn more about the expo, including a list of participating employers, by clicking here.

3. Tailgating on Memory Mall is not just for football anymore. UCF fans will now have the unique opportunity to tailgate prior to weekend men’s basketball games through January and February. The first tailgate is scheduled for this Saturday when the Knights take on Houston, and reservations have hit capacity. Learn more about registration for future dates.

4. Sonya Dixon ’96 ’98MBA; Tony Moreno ’91 and Michael O’Donnell ’09MS have been selected as this year’s class for the College of Business Administration’s Hall of Fame. The group will be honored at the 18th annual banquet on Feb. 23 at Rosen Shingle Creek. Several other alumni will be recognized that evening with entrepreneurial awards and Noble Knight awards. For more information regarding the UCF College of Business Hall of Fame, visit cbahalloffame.com or email business@ucfalumni.com.

5. The UCF Colleges of Sciences, Business Administration and Engineering and Computer Science are hosting a Big Data Symposium on Jan. 26 from 6-8 p.m. in the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center. Attendees will hear from some of the top scholars and professionals skilled in analyzing large data sets to reveal patterns, trends and associations to help determine human behavior and interactions, and meet some of the graduate students who will soon be the pioneers of data analytics and data mining for tomorrow’s leading businesses. The evening’s keynote speaker is Lee Odess ’99, vice president of UniKey Technologies.

Although the event is complementary, space is limited. For more details and to RSVP, click here.