Alumnus pops the question to alumna at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center
Knights Terrace | Rob Brunjes, ’11, and Michele McGlamory, ’10
By Angie Lewis, ’03
Michele McGlamory, ’10, thought she was going to spend the evening of Friday, Nov. 21 ice skating at Light Up UCF with her longtime boyfriend, Oviedo Police Officer Rob Brunjes, ’11, but he had other plans.
On the way to the rink, he casually suggested they stop by the Knights Terrace at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center, so they could look at the personalized bricks and possibly buy one as a Christmas gift to each other.
At first, Michele, a children’s behavior therapist, was weary of approaching the back of the building, which was fenced off for the SMU tailgate the following day, but Rob assured her it would be OK.
Lucky for him, she didn’t pay any attention to the curious lighting or GoPro camera mounted outside Ballroom B, nor did she notice the photographer hiding in the doorway of Ballroom A. In fact, Michele was so focused on looking at all of the other bricks, that Rob had to point out his favorite — and the one that would change their lives forever.
As her eyes scanned the engraving, she saw their names and grad years, followed by a simple, two-word question: “Marry Me?” Taken by complete surprise, Michele immediately covered her face with her hands as Rob knelt beside her, held out the ring and asked her to spend the rest of her life with him. “Yes!” she exclaimed.
Michele kissed and hugged her new fiancé, looked down at the brick and then repeated everything a few more times, all while her hands trembled with excitement and tears of happiness streamed down her cheeks.
Little did she know that some of the alumni staff had been in on the surprise. As we revealed ourselves and our secret, she was thrilled that we captured the moment on camera and video, but promptly and politely asked, “Can I call my mom?”
After telling her mom about the unique proposal, we took some keepsake photos of the newly engaged couple, during which Michele kept stealing a look at the new sparkle on her left ring finger, remarking, “It’s perfect, I love it.”
She also had no idea about the other big surprise Rob had planned that night — his parents, her parents, her sister and her sister’s fiancé were waiting for them at home. Rob was able to get their families to come early for Thanksgiving from Tampa and South Florida to help them celebrate.
Congratulations, Rob and Michele! Thank you for letting the UCF Alumni Association and the Knights Terrace be a part of your legacy!
Want to commemorate a special occasion, show off your Knights pride or give an awesome holiday gift that will last a lifetime?
Best of all, now through May 1, 2015, alumni receive $50 off the purchase of a 4 x 8 brick!
Also valid through May 1, 2015, alumni receive $50 off new bookings of meeting/event space at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center, which is the perfect setting for holiday parties, birthday parties, bridal showers, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and more!
Contact email@example.com or 407.823.1978 for more info.
Alumni Benefits | Abenity
Don’t overspend this holiday season! As a UCF alumnus or alumna, you can take advantage of nationwide discounts on restaurants, movie tickets, theme park admissions, concerts, vacations and so much more, thanks to the UCF Alumni Association’s partnership with Abenity.
Simply log in to the UCF Knights Network to access the registration code, and start saving!
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 407.823.1970.
Ground was broken Friday, Nov. 21, for The Wayne Densch Center for Student-Athlete Leadership, thanks to a $4 million gift from the Wayne M. Densch Charitable Trust and a $1 million gift commitment by the Williams Family Foundation.
“We are very grateful to the Williams family for this generous gift,” said Todd Stansbury, UCF vice president and director of athletics.
“The leadership at UCF, Todd Stansbury and Rick Walsh, shared with me how important it is not only to have competitive sports facilities, but also how critical it is to make a big investment in the academic, personal and professional development of UCF student-athletes,” said Leonard Williams, trustee of the Wayne M. Densch Charitable Trust. “Under Dr. Hitt’s leadership, UCF has grown significantly. Our family is proud to make this investment.”
The Wayne Densch Center for Student-Athlete Leadership will serve as the headquarters for personal, professional and academic development of nearly 500 UCF student-athletes. The project cost is estimated at $6 million for the three-story, 22,000-square-foot structure. The center will house UCF’s Academic Services for Student-Athletes, Student Services and Compliance departments, and will include a multipurpose classroom with space for up to 200 students, a computer lab, tutoring and mentoring rooms, study space and conference and resource rooms. It will be located just east of and adjacent to Bright House Networks Stadium.
Construction is set to begin in January, with the project slated for completion in fall 2015.
In honor of Thanksgiving, the UCF Alumni staff would like to share the top five things we’re thankful for this year:
5. Another year of successful alumni events
4. Our newly redesigned alumni website
3. This, our new alumni blog
2. All of the generous donations for alumni scholarships
1. You, the members of our alumni family
Have a safe, healthy and delicious Thanksgiving, Knights!
—Your friends at the UCF Alumni Association
Engineering alumna gives fellow Knights a behind-the-scenes look at Walt Disney World’s four theme parks
AlumKnights at Work | CECS Alumni Chapter
By Sarah Dillon, ’06
The UCF College of Engineering and Computer Science Alumni Chapter launched its new AlumKnights at Work series on Nov. 13, when 30 CECS alumni gathered at Walt Disney World’s Design & Engineering offices to meet UCF alumni working within Disney’s engineering departments and learn how they’re putting their degrees to work.
CECS alumna Katie Kelly, ’06, a mechanical engineering graduate, led the charge for the evening’s program and introduced alumni to Disney engineers.
Jeff Gloudeman, manager within architectural and facilities engineering, demonstrated the unique challenges that Disney engineers are faced with including limited attraction downtime and the uniqueness of each facility and attraction on property.
Mike Labonge, director of ride and show engineering, discussed the Disney workflow process and how Disney engineers are required to work with the creative team to develop innovative guest experiences.
Jerold Kaplan, director of projects and show systems, showed the group a four-year, time-lapse video of the new Fantasyland expansion, which recently opened at the Magic Kingdom Park, and discussed how civil, mechanical, electrical and control engineers were used in the building of the project.
Michael Tschanz, director of technology and analysis, demonstrated how computer simulation is changing the way that the Walt Disney Company is building its theme parks.
After hearing about how each department plays its part, the group adorned safety glasses and headed to the Walt Disney World’s Central Shops, to see where the magic of Disney is made and maintained. Alumni guests had the opportunity to see the building and refurbishing processes of many of the resorts’ attractions and show pieces, including those used at Space Mountain, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and the Jungle Cruise. Disney engineers also discussed the importance of the refurbishments in continuing to provide guests with amazing experiences year after year, as well as how the operating design of each vehicle is designed specifically for each ride.
The AlumKnights at Work is a new professional development series created to spotlight UCF CECS alumni and their professions. The events look to explore the many ways our alumni are putting their degrees to work. CECS AlumKnights will host other alumni guests for event programs that will contain the technical applications used in their everyday work, as well as insider information on what’s new and interesting with their companies. Walt Disney World Design & Engineering was the first in the series. The second event will take place at Kennedy Space Center in spring 2015.
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.