Alumnus honored by White House
Gonzalo La Cava, ’09 | Area Superintendent,
Fulton County Schools’ Central Learning Community
In recognition of International Education Week Nov. 17-21, we’d like to introduce one of the many College of Education and Human Performance alumni who are making a difference in the world.
For his extraordinary work to educate the next generation of Americans, the White House honored Gonzalo La Cava, ’09, on Sept. 22 as a “Champion of Change.” La Cava and other honorees have distinguished themselves by devoting their time and energy to creating opportunities for young people to succeed, particularly in low-income communities.
As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, the event showcased these leaders and their exceptional contributions to Latino communities and this country.
La Cava is the area superintendent for Fulton County Schools’ Central Learning Community, a grouping of 23 schools surrounding the city of Atlanta, which includes more than 18,000 students. La Cava works with each school’s leadership to achieve unprecedented academic results for all students and to guide its leaders in day-to-day operations and management.
UCF alumni donate (literal) tons to UCF Football
Giving | Mike Maudlin, ’03, and Darren Cunningham, ’95, Maudlin International Trucks
By Jason Cannon
Alumni support their schools in many different ways, but showing up on game day and making an occasional donation wasn’t good enough for Mike Maudlin, ’03, and Darren Cunningham, ’95, two UCF grads who pegged their football fandom at a 10 out of 10.
Maudlin, a business major, and Cunningham, an accounting major, wanted to be sure their football team was able to travel to away games in style by providing the team use of a brand new truck and trailer.
“We want to support them,” says Maudlin, vice president and general manager of Maudlin International Trucks. “They had a great season last year.”
This season, the Knights have already hauled their equipment from Orlando to Missouri, Houston and Connecticut on Maudlin’s truck and trailer, with [final] stops in South Florida and East Carolina before the season ends Dec. 4, capping an 8,500-mile journey.
The truck is an 2015 International LoneStar, fully customized and upgraded, sparing no expense to get the Knights on the road.
“We wanted to go to the top of the top for the tractor set up,” Maudlin says.
“For us, we wanted to offer to our alma mater something that would suit them the best in terms of being able haul its football equipment and to showcase the program,” Cunningham adds.
The truck and trailer (a 43-footer they bought specifically for the school) are owned by Maudlin International, which also provided the driver.
“We paid for the wrap — For everything,” Cunningham says. “The only thing they stroke us a check for is the gas. The insurance and everything falls on us.”
The trailer will remain with the school for storage after the season, but the truck will come back to Maudlin and go into the company’s rental fleet.
As a token of appreciation, UCF provided the dealership with a handful of tickets, which the company uses to invite customers to tailgates and build networking opportunities, and also helps Maudlin International establish a business relationship with the school and other program supporters.
“It helps us showcase just how good our product is and how we can back it up,” Maudlin says.
Watch time-lapse video of the truck being wrapped in black and gold:
This article originally appeared in an Oct. 15, 2014, news story on successfuldealer.com.
Communication alumna calls shots for one of the world’s news leaders
Victoria Moll-Ramirez, ’09 | Cross-Platform Associate Producer, CNN
By Julia Anderson, ‘14
Victoria Moll-Ramirez, ’09, says her bachelor’s degree in radio-television from UCF has meant everything to her in her career. Her best memories at UCF include hours spent in the Nicholson School of Communication’s Knightly Newsroom.
“Every meltdown, every slice of pizza and every soda I had in that newsroom is so fondly remembered,” she says. “The countless times we all looked at each other and asked, ‘Why are we doing this?!’ Totally worth it.”
Although it was challenging at the time, she thanks her experience in the RTV broadcast journalism track for her success.
Shortly after she graduated, Moll-Ramirez started working as an assignment editor at WKMG-Local 6 News Orlando, where she had previously interned. She left WKMG in 2011 after being the first UCF alumna chosen for the NBC News Associate Program in New York City. Out of more than 1,500 applicants she was one of seven chosen for the prestigious program.
In 2012, NBC News promoted her to bureau coordinator of its Miami office. At NBC, she helped generate content for all of their platforms, including NBCNews.com, “The Today Show,” “NBC Nightly News,” MSNBC and NBCLatino.com.
After an incredible three years at NBC News, she moved on to become a cross-platform associate producer at CNN, which is based out of Atlanta.
Moll-Ramirez answered some questions about her time at UCF, the difficulties and rewards of being in the news industry, and shared advice for students and alumni.
Q&A in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…
Q. Why did you choose to attend UCF?
A. It’s going to sound a little silly, but the reason I chose UCF is because it was the university that sent me the most promotional mail. One day I just thought to myself, “Well, if these people want me so bad, let me check this out.”
Q. How has your UCF degree helped you in your career?
A. My UCF degree has been essential in my career. All of my jobs have required a degree in journalism. Over time, I’ve also realized how great the RTV broadcast journalism program was. I’ve had colleagues who went to Columbia, Northwestern, USC, Berkeley, you name it. Not once have I ever felt like I fell behind.
Q. Favorite thing about your job?
A. No two days are ever the same — coming into work every day and not knowing what’s going to happen. Not realizing the moment you walk in through those doors, you may be a few moments away from informing the world about a certain historical event, good or bad, is invaluable.
Q. Most memorable experience on the job?
A. I’d have to say it was the 10th anniversary of September 11th. I was working for NBC at the time in New York City and got to be a part of the team that covered it. When the names of the fallen were being called and I looked at my colleagues, many of whom covered the actual attacks, with tears down their cheeks, it was so real. Seeing the fountains from high up and knowing that’s where so many lives were lost — the hurt was palpable.
Q. What piece of advice would you give to current UCF students, as well as fellow Knights?
A. To current students, UCF is becoming a bigger and bigger name. Don’t underestimate it. A degree is what you make of it. Not having a degree is a lot tougher than having one. Be proud, always. Oh, and INTERN! INTERN, INTERN, INTERN! It’s more important than most of your classes!
For alumni, let’s be friends! I love UCF for all the doors it opened for me. A strong alumni association makes a huge difference.
Now, for some fun questions. Moll-Ramirez shared some personal info to help us get to know her better:
Q. Do you have any special/hidden talents?
A. When in top cardio shape, I’m pretty great at jumping rope. Bizarre, I know. But I actually became obsessed with it while at UCF. They used to have a half-hour class at the recreation center and I started taking it. The rest is history.
Q. What do you do for fun?
A. I love trivia nights and playing kickball. Yes, kickball — don’t judge. I also listen to Pitbull and Romeo Santos (a Spanish language singer) way too much. Also, the regular stuff like hanging out with friends, traveling and watching the news.
Q. What’s the most generous or thoughtful gift you’ve ever received?
A. The most thoughtful gift I ever received was really more like a gesture. On my last day at NBC News, my colleagues threw a huge surprise party for me. My desk was decorated — with pictures of Sanjay Gupta and Wolf Blitzer included — there were balloons, they made posters with pictures of all of my favorite things, they ordered food, I got flowers and even a crown! It was like my Quinceañera all over again! I didn’t expect it and it was above and beyond anything I could’ve ever imagined.
Alumna astronaut featured as one of Central Florida’s “MAKERS”
Nicole Stott, ’92 | Astronaut, NASA
WUCF TV recently aired a segment for its “MAKERS” program, which featured UCF alumna and NASA astronaut, Nicole Stott, ’92, who discussed her experience in the aeronautical industry, as well as how being a woman and a mother has impacted her career.
It was this really wonderful introduction for us to how you make engineering a reality, and UCF was the perfect place to facilitate that.
Watch the segment:
Stott was honored with a Professional Achievement Award from the College of Engineering and Computer Science in 2011. She remains active with the college, as well as the Space Coast Alumni Chapter.
Stuart Newmark, ’08 | Executive Vice President/COO, Yedla Management Company
Professional Achievement Award 2014
Following in his father’s footsteps, Stuart Newmark first began his career in hospitality by working in his dad’s hotels. With this experience, he built a successful career by serving a variety of high-level management and executive roles, but, despite doing so, his desire to go back to school overpowered him. In 2008, he earned his four-year degree and left UCF with the satisfaction of not only furthering his career, but also fulfilling a lifelong goal.
Learn more about Stuart:
Gwen Griffin, ’85 | CEO, Griffin Communications Group
Professional Achievement Award 2014
Gwen Griffin’s decision to open her own advertising/PR agency may have seemed spontaneous, but it was not entirely so. The underlying foundation stems from her early interests in social engagement, which compelled her to pursue an education at UCF’s Nicholson School of Communication. After earning her degree, Griffin became highly involved in the aerospace industry promoting the space exploration.
Learn more about Gwen:
Workshop targets trauma issues experienced by members of the military
Veterans Reintegration Workshop | COHPA Alumni Chapter
By Karen Guin
United States Army Col. Jeffrey Yarvis drew from decades of experience in military social work to describe the challenges faced by returning veterans during an information-packed and deeply personnel presentation at UCF.
Yarvis is a decorated officer, a published scholar with a doctorate and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. He currently serves as chief of the Department of Social Work at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center in Fort Hood, Texas.
Approximately 75 military veterans, students, and social work alumni and practitioners gathered to hear him speak at the “Subtleties of Trauma Spectrum Disorders” workshop offered Nov. 6 by the School of Social Work and College of Health and Public Affairs Alumni Chapter.
Yarvis shared data and statistics on U.S. veteran populations, and he showed video clips to illustrate changes in attitudes toward soldiers who are traumatized or grieving. He spoke extensively about the impact of war-related stress on veterans and their families.
“About 80 percent of returning veterans will exhibit some changes in behavior,” Yarvis said. “Those who are deployed more than once have a greater chance of a clinical diagnosis.”
Some returning veterans experience symptoms commonly associated with traumatic stress, such as fear, anxiety, grief, depression and sleep disturbance. A smaller number exhibit Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which may include physical symptoms and always includes these symptoms: 1) re-experiencing trauma, such as nightmares and flashbacks; 2) avoidance, such as feelings of numbness and detachment; and 3) arousal, such as anger and hypervigilance.
“These are very complex issues for mental health care givers to negotiate,” Yarvis said. “It’s hard to quantitate these symptoms, and they manifest themselves differently in different people.”
Yarvis described his own behavioral changes when he returned home from deployment. He exhibited risky and aberrant behavior, became easily frustrated, and turned to alcohol to deal with his insomnia. Several participants said they found his candidness quite helpful.
“He spoke your language,” said UCF student Lyndon Ortiz, a senior in social work and U.S. Marines veteran who served in Iraq until he was injured.
Yarvis is encouraged to see military social work coming into its own as a profession. “I love that UCF has a military program,” he said, referring to UCF’s Graduate Certificate in Military Social Work program, which prepares master’s degree-level social workers to help veterans and their families.
Social work senior Kristopher Vite plans to enroll in the program while pursuing his master’s degree in social work at UCF. He is a U.S. Army veteran, and like Ortiz he served in Iraq until he was injured. Both Vite and Ortiz aim to become Licensed Clinical Social Workers so they can work with veterans like themselves.
U.S. Air Force veteran and UCF alumnus Charlie Antoni (B.S.W., ’95) is already on the front lines, working as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and palliative care coordinator for the Orlando VA Medical Center. He is educating local physicians and nurses, and he is developing networks of community support that he will help place at the new VA hospital in Lake Nona.
Also on the front lines is U.S. Army veteran Richard Whitten, who works as a peer-support specialist at the Daytona Beach Vet Center. “A lot of the homeless vets I meet have PTSD symptoms, but it’s hard to convince them to come in for help,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot today that I can take back with me.”
Yarvis concluded his nearly three-hour presentation by commending the participants. “What you are doing is incredibly important,” he said. “You are helping veterans grieve and return to their lives.”
Calling all College of Business Administration Knights!
Looking for an easy way to tell the world you’re a proud UCF College of Business Administration grad, while looking stylishly put together? Then, pre-order your very own custom-embroidered Nike Dri-FIT polo, and wear it everywhere!
Men’s and women’s styles are available for $40, and the proceeds benefit business student scholarships and alumni initiatives. It’s a win-win!
Pre-order no later than Friday, Nov. 28. Shirts will be available for pick up locally or may be shipped for an additional fee.
Michael Mielke, Ph.D., ’00, ’03 | Chief Scientist, Raydiance
Professional Achievement Award 2014
Designing and building laser-based solutions may sound like a dream job, but Michael Mielke had obstacles to overcome in order to attain his position at Raydiance in Northern California. After finding the telecommunications field in fiber optics no longer viable upon graduating UCF’s College of Optics and Photonics, Mielke was forced to “re-focus” his career path. Fortunately, CREOL’s education went beyond optics, and provided the necessary preparation for Mielke to now integrate disparate fields of study for a common goal.