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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.

More Info

“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!

More Info

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.

High-Fives for a Higher Purpose

UCF community attempts Guinness World Record to bring awareness to 3-D arm-building team

AlexPring

6-year-old Alex Pring was all smiles as he high-fived hundreds of UCF students, alumni, faculty and staff during a Guinness World Record attempt highlighting the work of UCF’s Limbitless Solutions. (PHOTO: Alexis Minieri, Central Florida Future)

By Angie Lewis, ’03

Friday, Feb. 27, 2015, was an overcast, windy and rainy day on UCF’s Main Campus, but the weather didn’t put a damper on the mood of hundreds of high-fivers on Memory Mall who gathered for a Guinness World Record attempt.

While they didn’t beat the record for the longest high-five chain, the students, alumni, faculty and staff who participated did help bring attention to the team of UCF students, led by doctoral student Albert Manero, known as Limbitless Solutions, who built a 3-D arm for 6-year-old Alex Pring.

The event was organized by Microsoft OneNote, as part of its campaign called The Collective Project.

“It’s all about changing the world,” Manero says. “We want to be able to give a limb to every child who needs it and empower others to be part of the effort.”

More Info

Watch Alex lead the way on world-record day:

Learn more about Limbitless Solutions and The Collective Project:

Learn more about Albert Manero.

Body of Lessons

First-year UCF medical students dissect cadaver to discover cause of death

First-year medical students at UCF after presenting their autopsy report. From left, Kathryn Baker, Jonathan Mayl, Ajay Kailas, Heena Ahmed, Marco Mejia Acevedo, and Katie Conover. (Naseem S. Miller, Orlando Sentinel)

First-year medical students (left to right) Kathryn Baker, Jonathan Mayl, Ajay Kailas, Heena Ahmed, Marco Mejia Acevedo and Katie Conover (Naseem S. Miller, Orlando Sentinel) presented their autopsy findings after a 17-week anatomy lab.

By Naseem S. Miller
Orlando Sentinel

For 17 weeks, the cadaver of a 49-year-old man lay on a cold metal autopsy table as six first-year medical students explored every layer and organ of his body.

After years of delving into pages of their anatomy and physiology books, they picked up a scalpel and made their first cuts into human flesh.

All those diagrams and drawings were suddenly under their finger tips and in the palm of their hands. The future doctors marveled at the diseased organs of their young patient and tried to figure out what caused his death.

“A lot of times I would go home and think, my goodness, if he had so many issues, what was his life actually like?” said Jonathan Mayl, a first-year medical student at UCF College of Medicine.

Like the rest of his classmates, Mayl had just finished the classic first-year anatomy lab, but unlike many medical schools, the students here have to give presentations at the end of the course and discuss what could have caused their patient’s death.

Their anatomy lab at UCF is an investigation into the cause of death, not just the study of human body.

The students are given basic information such as age and the CT scan of the cadaver’s body. Throughout the integrated anatomy lab, they study the images, research topics, send samples to pathology, and consult with specialists who walk around the lab that overlooks greenery and the sunset.

“For 40 years I taught normal and we ignored the abnormal,” said anatomy professor Andrew Payer, who runs the anatomy lab. “We taught the students anatomy and made them memorize it, and somewhere along the line a light went off, and I thought there’s a great opportunity that we’re missing, because there’s a lot of clinical anatomy here.”

The 17 weeks are transformative, as students put together in the lab what they’ve learned in textbooks, and emerge with a better command on medical speak and understanding of the human body.

The teams’ final presentations are judged and graded by faculty, upperclassmen and Orange and Osceola county chief medical examiner, Dr. Jan Garavaglia.

Two teams win.

“These kids are made to think while they’re studying and think about what they’re finding and put it in a bigger perspective,” said Garavaglia, better known as Dr. G. “It’s a wonderful thing they’re doing. It’s very novel … These are the people that we need to take care of us as we get older, so it’s important that we have a good medical school,” she said.

Mayl and his teammates were told that they had the youngest cadaver in the anatomy lab. The cadaver also turned out to be one of the sickest.

“He had a lot of issues,” said Marco Mejia Acevedo. “It was hard to pinpoint what the cause was.” Almost every organ was diseased.

The team finally decided that the patient died of cardiac arrhythmia that led to sudden death, but the autopsy report said that the cause of death was acute respiratory distress and end-stage renal failure.

Before the results were announced, Mayl said although he would like to win, “even if we don’t, we learned a lot. That was the ultimate prize.”

The team did not win.

Ajay Kailas, an aspiring dermatologist, saw how internal problems could manifest on the skin through ulcers and bruises.

“It made it harder for me to decide on a single specialty, just because there are so many interesting things everywhere,” said Heena Ahmed.

Katie Conover who was terrified of the anatomy lab, ended up loving the experience. She dissected the 49-year-old’s brain. “I don’t know if that’s something that I go into, but I couldn’t stop reading about it. I had to force myself to stop,” she said.

Mayl, who was interested in cardiology, couldn’t get away from pulmonology, and Acevedo, who’s keen on cardiothoracic surgery, got to dissect the heart.

“I’ve always been interested in surgery, so anatomy is my happy place,” said Kathryn Baker.

Surrounded by students, Dr. G. announced the winners of the autopsy report on a recent afternoon. The anatomy lab came  with lessons to stay for a lifetime, and a depth of gratitude to the men and women who donated their bodies to science.

“I walked through the anatomy lab doors for the last time to study our cadaver and I looked up and at the top of the door I saw this plaque,” said Mayl, pulling up the photo with the quote from an 18th century physician on his phone and reading it: “‘Let conversation cease. Let laughter flee. This is the place where death delights to help the living.’ And I thought, wow, after all this, that’s so true and I’m so glad we had this opportunity.”

This article was republished with permission from the author. It appeared in a Feb. 10, 2015, edition of the Orlando Sentinel online. See original article.

UCF’s Hidden Library

Teachers library at UCF has fake phlegm, skeletons, more

(Left) Yolanda Hood, the head librarian at the UCF Curriculum Materials Center, holds a jar of fake phlegm that teachers sometimes borrow for anti-smoking lessons in their classroom. Or, it can be a way to measure volume, one student suggested. (Right) The Curriculum Materials Center is a tucked-away branch of the UCF main library that is full of books and worksheets for teachers to use as well as more quirky items, such as fake phlegm, skeletons and musical instruments.  (Gabrielle Russon, Orlando Sentinel)

(Left) Yolanda Hood, the head librarian at the UCF Curriculum Materials Center, holds a jar of fake phlegm that teachers sometimes borrow for anti-smoking lessons in their classroom. Or, it can be a way to measure volume, one student suggested. (Right) The Curriculum Materials Center is a tucked-away branch of the UCF main library that is full of books and worksheets for teachers to use as well as more quirky items, such as fake phlegm, skeletons and musical instruments.
(Gabrielle Russon, Orlando Sentinel)

By Gabrielle Russon
Orlando Sentinel

Sure, there are books, worksheets and the other items you typically find in a teacher’s classroom, but some things are far more quirky on the shelves of this hidden University of Central Florida library.

Yolanda Hood, the woman in charge, pulls out a jar of sickly green goo with the chunks floating on the surface: Fake mucus. She laughs.

Hood is the head librarian at UCF’s Curriculum Materials Center, a place for current teachers from anywhere in Florida and soon-to-be educators to check out materials for their lessons and classrooms. The center, which first opened in 1978, helps schools with tight budgets and teachers tired of purchasing things out of their own pockets.

Good luck finding a sign for the library, which was converted from an old locker room. There is none in the lobby at the Education Complex. Students buying coffee in the lobby don’t even know the library is here. A sign is coming in the future, Hood says.

“We have people who roam and say, ‘I’ve been looking for you for 10 minutes,’ ” Hood says.

But once you find the center, there are 40,000 items here from textbooks, games, molecular kits for chemistry class, math counters to, of course, the fake phlegm.

“It’s very popular,” Hood says about the jar, which she’s set aside for an event to promote the library. “It’s typically checked out at least once or twice a month.”

It could be part of an anti-smoking lesson in a health education class, or as one UCF student decided, a unique way to teach volume.

There’s a full skeleton that art and anatomy students can loan for four hours. Gym teachers have access to a parachute that students can line up and lift into the air as a game.

“We never got hula hoops,” Hood says, sounding a bit wistful, although the center just recently added LEGOs.

For music instructors or elementary teachers who use singing to tame their wiggling students, the UCF library shelves holds drums and other instruments.

“A ukulele is a ukulele,” Hood says. “But we have a bass ukulele.”

The library purchased one after fielding a few requests from students. The instrument was recently restrung, and now it was gone, regularly checked out.

“We’re like, ‘We’ll never see it again,’ ” Hood said jokingly.

The most expensive items for Hood’s $30,000 annual budget ends up being the complete set of textbooks — every grade, every subject — for Seminole and Orange County schools.

Within the next few months, the center will expand its technology, purchasing a set of 30 iPads and other items for teachers to borrow.

Hood thinks about her own daughter, a 12-year-old, and says her job is to help aspiring teachers and help them find ways to connect with their students and make education fun.

“I want her to have good teachers,” she says. “I feel very vested to make sure they’re the best they can be.”

This article was republished with permission from the author. It appeared in a Feb. 12, 2015, edition of the Orlando Sentinel online. See original article.

Peddling for a Passion

Alumnus sets out on a cross-country voyage to bring awareness to sustainability

StephenSzucs-Florida

Stephen Szucs, ’05 | Founder, Sustainable Joes

By Angie Lewis, ’03

From June 2013 to June 2014, Stephen Szucs, ’05, generated only one bag of garbage. After graduating from UCF with a bachelor’s degree in finance, Szucs taught English in Barcelona, led adventure tours across North America, traveled, owned a solar company and bartended. But, then he discovered his real passion. Dedicating himself to living a sustainable life and teaching others to reduce, reuse, recycle and #RETHINK everything, he founded Sustainable Joes in January 2013.

“Sustainability is about more than trees and whales,” he says. “It’s about survival. I want Joes to teach others how to take sustainable action — how to link passion, purpose and profit…good for the Earth, others and yourself. Sustainability is possible, but we must see our diversity as a point of unification instead of division.”

On June 14, 2014, Szucs left Simcoe, Ontario, Canada, in a pedal- and solar-powered ELF tricycle, nicknamed Rita, for the first leg of his #RETHINK tour. He traveled at an average speed of 14.5 mph, making stops in countless cities and towns to talk to people about living sustainably, before arriving in Key West, Fla., on Dec. 20. His six-month and nearly 5,000-mile mission was originally routed from Canada to California, but he says that route would have been heading into the prevailing winds, which makes the ELF difficult to maneuver.

While on the road, he listened to a lot of NPR and music playlists to pass the time, and help muffle the road and noise and Rita’s rattling.

Along the way, his ELF broke down in Canadian Amish Country, where he met Bev, Dougie and Murph. While making repairs in Burlington, Vt., over a holiday weekend, he learned how to tango with Dave and Carmen. After a 120-mile day, he says he’ll never forget how amazing Scotty’s cornbread tasted and smelled in Lebanon, N.H. Then, there was the People’s Climate March in New York City, which he’ll always remember. And, in Delray Beach, Fla., he was treated to a police escort.

“From big cities to small towns, people who carry guns to the EPA… so many interesting people,” he says.

Szucs never imagined the first leg of the tour would last more than six months, but he says the dream is to fuel sustainable conversation and action around the world, so he’ll stay on the road as long as it takes. He’s currently in the process of planning leg two of the tour.

His advice to current UCF business majors? “The world is what we make it. Live with passion, create, steward and listen to your gut!”

Adding to that, he relates a quote by Warren Buffet, who said, “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

Going the Distance Q&A

Q. Favorite UCF memory?
A. Over Thanksgiving, two of my best friends and I visited campus and went for a stroll down memory lane. Campus was empty as we sat beside the Reflecting Pond reminiscing. It was a special moment.

Q. Any special/hidden talents?
A. I can knit, drive a tractor and give really good massages.

Q. If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
A. Speak every language, dance every dance and learn to swim

Q. Most embarrassing moment?
A. Oh, wow… I’ve had so many of these, I started calling them “growth opportunities.” For example, while learning Spanish in Barcelona, I once ordered a sandwich that made our waiter do a double take. By accident, I had ordered something that included genitals.

Q. Happiest/proudest moment of your life so far?
A. Hugging my best friend at the end of leg one [of the #RETHINK tour] in Key West was pretty special.

Q. What or who inspires you?
A. Elon Musk and every child who hugged me on tour

Q. What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
A. Learn to speak my truth.

Q. What do you fear?
A. “Desperate people do desperate things.” I fear the certain global unrest which will occur if collectively we do nothing to combat climate change.

Q. Something you learned in the past week?
A. Recycling five aluminum cans saves enough energy to power a laptop for 24 hours. And, America throws away 30 billion cans annually.

Q. What’s something most people don’t know about you?
A. I’m actually an extroverted introvert.

More Info

http://www.sustainablejoes.com

College of Sciences Presents Inaugural Outstanding AlumKnights Awards

COS-Outstanding-AlumKnights-2015

On Feb. 5, the University of Central Florida College of Sciences and its alumni chapter hosted the inaugural Outstanding AlumKnights award reception at the Orlando Science Center.

COS Dean, Dr. Michael Johnson welcomed the crowd, and faculty representatives from each of the college’s 10 departments and school presented the awards to their respective recipients.

The 2015 awardees were:

  • Anthropology | Keith Edwards, ’10, ’11, president, Medstar Medical
  • Biology | Alice Bard, ’86, ’89, environmental specialist II, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Division of Recreation & Parks, Bureau of Parks, District 3
  • Chemistry | Jennifer McKinley, ’94, ’96, co-founder and chief operating officer, IRradiance Glass
  • Nicholson School of Communication | Clay McMillan, ’90, president, CMI Production Services
  • Mathematics | Aicha Elhor Gillespie, Ph.D., ’00, senior vice president of Citi Shared Services Global Re-engineering
  • Physics | Clara Rivero-Baleine, Ph.D., ’01, ’03, ’05, mechanical engineer, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control
  • Political Science | Ybeth Bruzual, ’05, morning news/political coverage anchor/moderator, News 13
  • Psychology | Kristin Chase, ’03, director of organizational development department, Universal Orlando
  • Sociology | Nicholas Guittar, Ph.D., ’01, ’05, ’11, assistant professor of sociology, Valdosta State University
  • Statistics | Stephanie Urdahl, ’05, assistant vice president and actuary, Financial Solutions Pricing Department, Hannover Re

Not only did the event honor the college’s most outstanding alumni, but it also raised money for scholarships through a silent auction.

Guests had fun interacting with exhibits at the science center, including a hands-on liquid nitrogen demonstration that had everyone jumping at the explosion of an expanding balloon! They also enjoyed live music, while sipping drinks and snacking on hors d’oeuvres — including the crowd-favorite flaming donuts. To finish off the evening’s festivities, awardees and their families dressed up in UCF props and captured their Knight pride in the photo booth.

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