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UCF and USF Put Aside Rivalry in Spirit of Thanksgiving


The Palm Beach alumni chapters of the University of Central Florida and the University of South Florida — two schools that are traditionally rivals — put their competitive spirits aside Tuesday night, combining a team of 50 volunteers at the Big Heart Brigade at Palm Beach Gardens’ Fire Station 63. Together, along with countless additional community volunteers, the schools helped assemble 75,000 meals for people in need across South Florida.

UCF and USF face off Thanksgiving evening at 7:30 in Bright House Networks Stadium. The game will air live on ESPN.


Five Things Alumni Need to Know — Nov. 23, 2015


Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. On Friday evening, the UCF Alumni Association honored 30 young alumni (see photo above), for their outstanding achievements, during its inaugural 30 under 30 awards dinner.
  2. C-SPAN network’s Campaign 2016 mobile newsroom visited the UCF campus on Wednesday to broadcast an interview with psychology Professor Deborah Beidel about her studies of anxiety, trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder, and provided an opportunity for students and others to board the bus and learn about the public affairs’ network’s political coverage and other programs.
  3. Last Monday, UCF journalism students got to hear from the parents of Steven Sotloff, a former UCF journalism student who lost his life at the hands of ISIS. In his honor, his family has established the Steven Sotloff Memorial Endowed Fund. (Plus, his legacy lives on in UCF students.)
  4. UCF hired The State University of New York at Buffalo’s Danny White as its new athletics director. “Danny is one of the nation’s rising stars in college athletics, and his talent, determination, energy and creativity will guide our program to a bright future,” UCF President John C. Hitt says.
  5. UCF’s Programming Team won its fourth-consecutive “Battle of the Brains” competition, a super-contest of computer programming. Three UCF computer science students dominated over their competitors from universities in the Southeast, advancing them to the World Finals, representing the best of 10,000 computer programming teams from 90 countries.

UCF Alumni Honors 30 under 30

Alumni association recognizes 30 young, successful Knights during inaugural awards dinner


By Angie Lewis, ’03

The UCF Alumni Association was proud to host its inaugural 30 under 30 awards dinner Friday, Nov. 20, honoring the outstanding achievements of 30 successful Knights.

Young alumni currently make up one-third of UCF’s alumni population, making them the university’s largest constituent base. The 30 under 30 awards program allows the UCF community to celebrate the achievements of these young alumni and the impact they’ve made in the areas of business, research, leadership, arts, community, education or philanthropy.

Awardees were chosen based on nominations submitted by fellow Knights, friends, families and co-workers.

Many of this year’s recipients — most of whom traveled back to campus from locations across the country — were also recognized on the field during the UCF vs. ECU football game Thursday night, alongside the UCF Alumni Association’s 2015 Distinguished Student Award winner, Yudeysis Cores, and 2015 Michelle Akers Award winner, UCF’s Limbitless Solutions.

The following evening, alumni, families and friends, as well as members of university administration, advancement staff, and academic and volunteer leadership, and the evening’s host, UCF alumnus Todd Woodard, ’95, gathered for the awards celebration, held in the Grand Ballroom of the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center.

This year’s 30 under 30 inaugural class included:

Joshua A. Andone, Esq., ’11

Attorney, Hale, Hale & Jacobson
College of Business Administration

Stephanie C. Bolyard, MSENVE12

Graduate Research/Teaching Assistant, UCF
College of Engineering and Computer Science

Keith Brawner, ’08, MSCPE10, PhD13

Adaptive Tutoring Scientist, United States Army Research Laboratory
College of Engineering and Computer Science

Naomi Brownstein, ’08

Assistant Professor, Florida State University College of Medicine
The Burnett Honors College & College of Sciences

Janelle N. Burrowes, ’13

Service Director, Boys & Girls Club
College of Arts and Humanities

Shelby J. Campbell, ’08

Doctor of Audiology, My Family ENT
College of Health and Public Affairs

Amanda N. Castro, ’12

Anchor/Reporter, 41NBC/WMGT
College of Sciences

Chris Castro, ’10

Program Manager, Office of Sustainability & Energy/Senior Energy Advisor to Mayor Buddy Dyer, City of Orlando
College of Undergraduate Studies

Brett R. Chiavari, ’07

Owner & President, BC Restaurant Group
College of Business Administration

Aaron Dietz, MA13, PhD14

Research Associate, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
College of Sciences

Reshad D. Favors, Esq., ’10

Attorney & Fellow, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation/United States Congress
College of Business Administration

Julie Frost, ’12

Performer, Comfort Crew for Military Kids
The Burnett Honors College & College of Arts and Humanities & College of Sciences

Christopher R. Frye, ’13

Physics Ph.D. Candidate, Harvard University
The Burnett Honors College & College of Sciences

Andre Garcia, ’08

Human Factors Engineer, Northrop Grumman Corporation
College of Sciences

Lindsay C. Gartrell, ’10

Corporate Training Manager, The Kessler Collection Inaugural Class
Rosen College of Hospitality Management

Adam J. Giery, ’08, MA11

Principal, Strategos Group
College of Education and Human Performance

Jen Glantz, ’10

Founder and CEO, Bridesmaid for Hire
College of Arts and Humanities & College of Sciences

Kristin Harris, ’11

Associate Celebrity Editor & Talent Relations, Buzzfeed
College of Sciences

Jake Junot, MBA11

Vice President of Global Accounts, C3Research
College of Business Administration

Bridget D. Keefe, ’09, MPA11

Executive Director, Downtown Orlando Partnership
Rosen College of Hospitality Management & College of Health and Public Affairs

Jamile M. Kitnurse, ’08, MBA10, MSBM11

Regional Marketing Manager, Diamond Resorts International
College of Business Administration

Stephanie Ann Koszalka, MSW12

Director of Human Trafficking Victim Services, Florida Abolitionist Inc.
College of Health and Public Affairs

Albert C. Manero, ’12, MSAE14

Lab Director, The Limbitless Project
The Burnett Honors College & College of Engineering and Computer Science

Lauren Niederhiser, ’12

Assistant Project Manager, Walt Disney Imagineering
The Burnett Honors College & College of Engineering and Computer Science

Gregory A. Pearlman Jr., ’08

Financial Advisor, Northwestern Mutual
College of Business Administration

Leigha Audrey Proctor, ’10

Director of Business Development, Transperfect Translations
College of Sciences

Aubree A. Rider, ’10

Co-founder & Owner, The Heroes Group
College of Business Administration

Danny A. Rivera, ’12, MPA14

Special Assistant to Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Orange County Government
College of Health and Public Affairs

Colton J. Tapoler, ’12

Instructional Lead, Florida Virtual School
College of Arts and Humanities & College of Education and Human Performance

Victoria Vighetto, ’10, MNM13

Executive Director, March of Dimes Central Florida Division
College of Health and Public Affairs

Congratulations to all! Go Knights! Charge On!

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — Nov. 16, 2015

UCF students, from left, Heather Lawrence, Carrie Chenicek, Austin Sturm and Jonathan Haas compete in CyberSEED. Photo courtesy CyberSEED

UCF students (left to right) Heather Lawrence, Carrie Chenicek, Austin Sturm and Jonathan Haas
won more than $25,000 in prize money competing in CyberSEED,
a cybersecurity conference hosted by the University of Connecticut.
PHOTO: Courtesy of CyberSEED

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. Later this morning, the UCF Nicholson School of Communication Hall of Fame will induct Michael Griffin, ’84, vice president of public affairs for Florida Hospital. And, on Wednesday, UCF’s College of Business and Rosen College alumni chapters will host a joint Networking Knight, with both colleges’ deans as special guests.
  2. Last week, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center! Whether you attended an event in the building, gave to the Manny Rodriguez ’75 Endowment or have been a sponsor, we sincerely thank everyone who has supported the alumni center during its first decade.
  3. This month also marks the 10th anniversary of DirectConnect to UCF, which guarantees students’ admission to the university with an associate’s degree from one of the university’s partner colleges. Happy anniversary, DirectConnect!
  4. UCF’s teams of cybersecurity experts cleaned up at another cyber competition, bringing home more than $25,000 in prize money and besting Ivy Leaguers from Yale and Brown universities, the Air Force Academy and others. Go Knights!
  5. On Friday, Light Up UCF returned to campus for its eighth season. The family-friendly activities — including ice skating, rides and holiday attractions — continue through Jan. 3.

There’s No Place Like Home

UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center celebrates its first decade on campus


As part of the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center’s 10th anniversary celebration on Nov. 10, UCF Foundation CEO Mike Morsberger presented a framed photo of the building, which included a plaque recognizing the generous support provided by
FAIRWINDS Credit Union and its president/CEO, Larry Tobin, ’83, over the last decade.

By Angie Lewis, ’03

A decade ago, the UCF Alumni Association was nearly bursting at the seams of its former office space in Central Florida Research Park. But, on Nov. 4, 2005, it finally got a much larger — and permanent — home on campus, in the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center.

It all began with the vision of Tom Messina,’84, former associate vice president of alumni relations, and the late Manny Rodriguez, ’75, former director of alumni relations, who knew an on-campus alumni center was critical to the growth of our ever-growing alumni population.

And, with the generosity of a $1.2 million gift from FAIRWINDS Credit Union, the dream became a reality, with the help of its president and CEO and UCF alumnus, Larry Tobin, ’83.

“Tens of thousands of UCF alumni help shape the Central Florida community,” he says. “We wanted to be one small part of that. The alumni center was a natural fit for us. Not only are we able to give back to the school that gave so much to us, but we are also supporting an effort that strengthens the ties between alumni and their university.”

Boasting more than 23,000 square feet of space, the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center sits at a prime location on Memory Mall and across the street from the CFE Arena. It’s home to the alumni association’s seasonal Indoor Tailgate parties, and more than 200 other annual events. It was even the site of a successful marriage proposal (made on a brick in the Knights Terrace)!

Christine Anderson, ’90, event manager for communications and government affairs at Siemens, has booked many of her company’s meetings at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center. But, it’s her personal connection as an alumna of the university that makes the building special to her.

As guests entered the lobby, they were greeted by the a cappella sounds of UCF’s Voicebox, before being directed to four different catering stations — located in the John C. and Marth Hitt Library, on the Manglardi-Knight patio, in the SGA Boardroom and in the Grand Ballroom — for some delicious samplings.

The building’s original rendering and blue prints decorated the hall to the Grand Ballroom, where everyone mingled and enjoyed a slideshow of the past 10 years, before Vice President of UCF Advancement Mike Morsberger presented a beautiful, framed photo of the alumni center to Larry Tobin, thanking him for the generosity of FAIRWINDS Credit Union. Associate Vice President of Alumni Relations Julie C. Stroh also addressed attendees, thanking them for their support, before the elegant evening concluded with a champagne toast made by Louis Lubin, ’97, director of events, sales and operations, celebrating the past 10 years and looking forward to the next decade.

“For the past 10 years, the alumni association staff has had the honor and pleasure of serving our fellow Knights in this beautiful alumni home on campus,” he said. “It’s been our privilege to give alumni a helping hand in planning business meetings, networking events and guest lecture series. We’ve been excited to play a role in organizing wedding receptions, baby showers and even a marriage proposal.

“We’ve helped alumni stay connected to UCF and to each other. To FAIRWINDS Credit Union and our generous donors: Thank you! And, to our Knights Nation of more than 250,000: Go Knights! Charge On!”

There truly is no place like home.

More Info

UCF Salutes Veterans


In honor of Veterans Day, the UCF Alumni Association thanks all of the members of our U.S. Armed Forces — past and present —
for their service, dedication and sacrifice.

Since 2001, 2.7 million troops have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nearly one in 10 returns with post-traumatic stress disorder. Within a year of returning home, three in 10 will be diagnosed.

We’re proud to share some of the great things our alma mater is doing to assist our men and women in uniform, including:

UCF RESTORES Clinical Research Center

As part of the UCF Department of Psychology in the College of Sciences, UCF RESTORES is a clinical research center dedicated to the study of all facets of anxiety, trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder, including etiology, psychopathology, treatment, resilience and prevention.

The following video highlights the remarkable success that the UCF RESTORES clinic is finding in helping veterans master traumatic memories:

Veterans Academic Resource Center

The Veterans Academic Resource Center is a one-stop solution for the needs of student veterans.

The center ensures student veterans access to all available campus resources, provides study space and special tutoring, helps faculty and staff understand these students’ unique needs, and provides them the tools needed to stay on track and complete their degrees.

The VARC has been designated as a center for excellence for veteran-student success. And, since 2011, UCF has been named a “Military-Friendly School” by G.I. Jobs.

A Month of Honor and Remembrance

UCF is honoring veterans all month long, with a commemorative ceremony and other activities, which, so far, have included an open house and student-veteran appreciation lunch at the Veterans Academic Resource Center, a free screening of the documentary “Debt of Honor: Disabled Veterans in American History,” a flag display on Memory Mall, and a Veterans Day parade at Universal Studios.

Still to come:

  • Saturday, Nov. 14 | Several UCF organizations and departments will participate in the City of Orlando Veterans Day Parade, honoring the men and women of the armed forces. This year’s parade will also commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.
  • Monday, Nov. 16 | Student-veterans are invited to attend Light Up UCF’s Military Appreciation Night. Contact Joshua Johnson at 407.823.5874 for more info.
  • Thursday, Nov. 19 | In gratitude of active military, reserves, veterans and first responders, they can register for complimentary tickets to the UCF vs. East Carolina football game for Military Appreciation Knight, and will also be extended to the UCF vs. USF game on Thursday, Nov. 26. GET TICKETS (Click on the “TICKETS” tab on the top banner, search “UCF Football” and select your seats. GOVX members will receive a complimentary ticket. Up to four additional tickets will be available at $20.)

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — Nov. 9, 2015


Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. The UCF Alumni Association and Career Services is hosting a Virtual Networking Hour tomorrow from 4-5 p.m., where participants can connect with fellow Knights working in different industries in their own backyards and around the world.
  2. To commemorate Veterans Day on Wednesday, UCF is honoring and remembering veterans during a special, month-long series of events.
  3. Kenyatta Rivers, ’88, ’90, Ph.D., associate professor in the UCF Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders in the College of Health and Public Affairs, is teaching students how to help children, adolescents and adults acquire effective speech, language and communication skills.
  4. Once again, UCF student-athletes are graduating at a higher rate than any other NCAA Division I FBS public institution in the nation, with a sixth-best mark overall.
  5. The UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management’s Knight-Thon team partnered with Pet Rescue by Judy to bring 14 shelter dogs to the Rosen campus for a Rent-a-Pup fundraiser that brought in more than $500 toward the team’s $3,000 goal, benefiting the Greater Orlando Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Teaching the Science of Communication

UCF associate professor is putting his major to good use, educating the next generation of speech-language pathologists


Kenyatta Rivers, ’88, ’90, Ph.D. | Associate Professor/ASHA Fellow
Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders
UCF College of Health and Public Affairs

By Angie Lewis, ’03

Majoring in speech-language pathology as a UCF student, Kenyatta Rivers, ’88, ’90, Ph.D., has brought his education full circle, as he’s now an associate professor in the College of Health and Public Affairs.

The department may have changed names since he graduated — from communicative disorders to communication sciences and disorders — but its mission has remained the same: “to empower our students to achieve their greatest potential as clinicians, scientists, scholars, and professionals. By providing the foundations of our discipline and through the use of innovative technology, we enable our graduates to be leaders who positively impact individuals and their communities.”

As a professor, Rivers plays a vital role in educating the department’s students so that they can one day follow in his footsteps, helping children, adolescents and adults acquire effective speech, language and communication skills.

He thoroughly enjoys passing on his knowledge and experience to his students. He says his favorite course to teach is Language/Literacy Disorders and Differences in Children and Adolescents, because it allows him to provide master’s degree students with a working knowledge of language disorders in preschool and school-aged populations, which will enable them to serve as productive collaborators in delivering appropriate services in a variety of settings.

While Rivers spends much of his time teaching the next generation of speech-language pathologists, he also makes time for countless research projects, numerous philanthropic organizations, and UCF football games with fellow Knights.

Communicating Q&A

Q. What has surprised you most about being in your profession?
A. How much students and others look to you for guidance in all areas of their lives

Q. Besides your office essentials (e.g., laptop, etc.), what’s one thing you always bring with you to work?
A. Professional and popular magazine articles

Q. If you could teach a college course in any other department, what would it be?
A. Death and dying from a multicultural perspective

Q. Advice for someone who wants to do what you do?
A. Know your profession, develop a high level of competence in an areas(s) that you’re interested in, and then let the real you shine

Q. How do you decompress?
A. Attend and participate in a variety of community events, along with visit the elderly, attend rodeos, monster truck shows, and drag racing shows

Q. What’s the biggest misconception about you?
A. I don’t take lunch breaks.

Q. What’s one thing you’ve done that will go down in history?
A. My work on the development of pragmatic language skills in African-American children and adolescents.

Q. What/who always makes you laugh out loud?
A. My students

Q. Favorite food?
A. Chocolate cake

Q. If you had to choose another career, what would it be?
A. Possibly hospitality management, nursing, occupational therapy or biology, with an emphasis on marine life

Q. If you had to wear one item of clothing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A. A bow tie

Q. If you could socialize with anyone for a day, who would you choose?
A. Meet Michael Jackson or Prince to better understand their creativeness

Alumnus’ Passion for Entrepreneurship Inspires Upcoming Rosen College Competition


By Kathy Dorf
Rosen College Public Relations

Every business starts with a great idea, but connecting and networking with the entrepreneurial community is what gets it off the ground. That’s what Julien Meyer, ’14, hopes students will take away from the Rosen College Entrepreneurship Competition, an idea he originally brought to the college, which officially launches in January. Meyer studied hospitality and event management at UCF while running his own startup company, but, since graduation, his newest venture has really picked up speed.

Meyer is currently CEO of BlurtBox, a mobile app that helps customers voice their complaints about a business, and allows owners and managers to address customers in real time. While the technology sector may seem crowded, BlurtBox has already racked up a list of impressive achievements, surpassing 10,000 downloads in the Google Play and Apple App stores since its Aug. 25 launch, raising $125,000 in funding and averaging more than 200 new business customers weekly. Meyer and Blurtbox show no signs of slowing down as they seek a second round of financial support to hire employees and grow the company.

At the age of 23, Meyer clearly has a lot on his plate, but he finds time to pursue another passion besides his business — helping others realize their entrepreneurial dreams, too. As a recent graduate, he’s now a member ofRosen College’s Hospitality Management Industry Advisory Board, which is how he initially introduced the idea of an entrepreneurship competition. His experience at UCF inspired him to become an entrepreneur, which is why he believes it’s important to expose students to all the resources the university community has to offer.

“UCF provided me with a network of friends, alumni, professors and mentors who made my ventures possible,” Meyer says. “Entrepreneurship is a very scary and lonely path to take, and I believe it’s only made possible when you’re surrounded by people and institutions that support you. UCF gave me that ecosystem and those people.”

The Rosen College Entrepreneurship Competition will be an opportunity for students to take an idea for a hospitality-related product or service and develop a plan to bring it to market. Students may enter as individuals or teams, and at least one person must be currently enrolled at Rosen College. Participants will compete for cash prizes that can assist with startup costs and help make their dreams a reality.

“Competitions like this allow students to use the creative side of their brains and do something which is seemingly impossible: to turn an idea into a business,” Meyer says. “My hope is that students will gain both insight and connections into the world of entrepreneurship and learn more about the ecosystem that exists for entrepreneurship here in Orlando. Win or lose, these competitions open incredible doors and make building a business 100 times easier.”

Full details about the Rosen College Entrepreneurship Competition will be announced in early January.

See original article on UCF Today. For more information about hospitality education at Rosen College, please visit hospitality.ucf.edu.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — Nov. 2, 2015

Congratulations to former UCF catcher Drew Butera on his World Series win!

Congratulations to former UCF catcher Drew Butera on his World Series win!

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. On Sunday, the Kansas City Royals’ Drew Butera, former catcher for UCF, became the first Knight to win a World Series!
  2. The UCF Alumni Association and Career Services will hold a job search strategy workshop Tuesday, Nov. 3, at 5:30 p.m. —MORE EVENTS
  3. Alumnus Julien Meyer, ’14, CEO of BlurtBox, has created a Rosen College Entrepreneurship Competition, which will begin in January.
  4. Valencia College’s Board of Trustees decided the college will contribute $2 million to UCF’s $60 million proposed downtown campus plan.
  5. For the fourth year in a row, UCF received a Tree Campus USA designation from the Arbor Day Foundation.
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