By Zenaida Kotala
Assistant Director, UCF News & Information
It’s one thing to get into college. It’s another to get through and earn a degree. To help students stay on track, UCF is launching two new programs this semester. One program is aimed at helping students think about graduation as early as orientation, and the other is geared toward preventing students from going off track.
There’s also a new program in development to use Big Data to give academic advisors more tools to help students.
The university already offers a variety of resources and services to help all students from academic advising to UCF Cares, a referral desk for academic and non-academic services available on and off campus.
New to the arsenal of resources this semester is an education campaign called Think 30 , as in completing 30 credit hours a year. Taking that many credits each year enhances the chances that a student will earn a degree in four years.
“We’re encouraging students to complete 30 credits each academic year,” said Jenna Nobili, who is leading the campaign. She is an academic advisor for the Office of First Year Advising and Exploration. “We know 30 credits a year may not work for every student, but we want students to start thinking about their personal graduation goals from day one, so they can stay on track.”
Students can spread their credits out throughout the whole year, including summer sessions. Or they can increase their load one semester to make time to work in an internship or study-abroad opportunity another semester.
There’s another incentive to thinking about goals early: It will save students and their families’ money.
“We don’t want students graduating with a lot of debt,” Nobili said. “That’s why part of this education campaign also includes financial-literacy education and a strong recommendation that students speak to their academic advisor regularly.”
By finishing sooner, students can pay less tuition. And if planned properly, students can avoid excess credit-hour fees. That’s the legislatively-mandated policy that says that if students exceed the number of credits necessary to obtain a degree (about 120 credits for most majors) by more than 10 percent, they have to pay double tuition for each credit hour past the limit.
Jonell Gregor, a mechanical engineering major, thinks the campaign is a good idea because as a freshman, you’re not always thinking about graduating
“I know sometimes we come to college thinking it’s finally time for us to make our own decisions and figure out the person we want to be and sometimes we forget that the main reason we are at school is for academics,” Gregor said. “Sometimes we don’t think about the end goal for our academic career, only our personal lives and growth which causes us to not be as diligent on following our suggested guidelines for our major.”
Gregor is on track to graduate in December — four and a half years after starting at UCF, which is considered on track for Mechanical Engineering, one of the UCF majors that exceed 120 total credit hours. She took 15 credit hours both semesters her freshman year because she heeded strong recommendations made during orientation and she wanted to get involved in campus activities such as a sorority, Catholic Campus Ministry, and Knight Camp. But she agrees a campaign that reinforces the message to keep the end game in mind is a good one, especially to avoid unnecessary costs.
By September and early October, the campus will be plastered with banners, fliers and buttons that implore students to “Think 30.” There will be ads in the student newspaper and emails to students.
While Think 30 is launching, Stephen O’Connell, director of First Year Advising and Exploration, is gearing up for Knight Watch. This program is aimed at the “murky middle,” the student population, which after their first semester in college has a grade point average between 2.0 and 2.59. While they aren’t on probation, they could be if grades continue to decline the following semester.
That GPA range is a warning sign, said O’Connell. So he and his team will make contact with all those students identified before the start of their next semester to check in with them. The students will get an email and if they don’t respond, will next get a phone call urging them to talk to their advisor.
“We want to talk to them to find out what happened,” he said. “Was there a problem? Was the course combination too intense? Did they have a personal issue that interfered with their studies, whatever the problem is we’ll advise and refer them to resources they can utilize to make the next semester more successful.”
Students will also be reminded of things they may not consider when their GPA dips. For example, financial aid — such as Bright Futures Scholarships – are contingent on maintaining certain GPAs.
“Students often don’t think about that until after the fact,” O’Connell said. “We don’t want them surprised, so Knight Watch is about trying to intervene early and get them the help they need to stay on track. We want our students to be successful and make good decision.”
The program has been in the works for two years and O’Connell hopes to expand it in the next few semesters to provide more student support.
Another initiative just getting started is a push to make better use of Big Data.
“We are starting the semester with a new university-wide program that harnesses the power of predictive analytics,” Provost A. Dale Whittaker announced in an email earlier this week. “This new program is called the Education Advisory Board Student Success Collaborative, and it will help us turn transactional data into actionable insight.”
That means advisors, faculty and student support staff will be able to see in real-time which students need intervention and access a powerful set of data-driven tools to guide academic and career advising.
Online dashboards, under development, will work with existing advising tools, giving advisors a 360-degree view of each student and alerting them if a student is at risk of not performing well in his or her current or planned coursework. The new tools also will help faculty and staff direct at-risk students to support services available across the university and help advisors follow their progress.
Here are five things you should know this week:
- The UCF Alumni Association’s partnership with UCF Career Services has been a success over the past year, with more than 600 alumni receiving individual career counseling, and 450 more impacted by workshops and outreach.
- Before our Knights take on the FIU Golden Panthers Thursday, we’ll kick off the 2015-16 football season with our annual UCF Alumni Indoor Tailgate, from 3-5 p.m., at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center. Don’t miss it!
- Six new UCF students started classes this semester as part of the university’s first inclusive education program for individuals with intellectual disabilities.
- For the second year in a row, UCF ranked in The Princeton Review’s top 10 for best health services in the nation, coming in at No. 6 this year.
- On Wednesday, the Office of Student Involvement revealed this year’s Homecoming theme: “Knights Come Together.” The theme will be incorporated throughout all of the week-long events.
By Judy Pardo
“It’s been quite a busy year in the alumni career services office,” explains its coordinator, Leah Goldson.
The partnership between UCF Career Services and the UCF Alumni Association was formed one year ago to assist alumni in need of career guidance. And, it’s been incredibly successful, Goldson says.
Partnership initiatives have included:
- Individual career counseling appointments — either in person, via phone or Skype — for more than 600 alumni, with workshops and outreach impacting an additional 450 alumni
- Resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile critiques in real time on drop-in Wednesdays, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center
- Monthly job search strategy workshops/group career counseling sessions offered the first Tuesday of every month, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. in the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center
- Workshops, such as “How to Start a Business,” and alumni career panels
“Looking toward the future, we’re excited about creating programming for career changers and those out of the workforce for prolonged periods of time,” Goldson says. “Virtual networking is also a hot topic, as there are 260,000 UCF alumni, and it’s important to make sure all who need assistance are reached.”
UCF Career Services is an office in the Division of Student Development and Enrollment Services.
Need your own career guidance? Visit UCF Alumni’s Career Services page to schedule an appointment.
One teacher said Amanda Carbonneau would never graduate high school. Now, she’s a freshman at UCF.
By Gabrielle Russon
Education Reporter, Orlando Sentinel
Amanda Carbonneau’s new student ID lanyard hung from her neck, a proud symbol of her freshman status.
Two hours before her first class Monday, she mentioned the hip-hop class at the gym she wants to try. She had already discovered how delicious school food can be and stumbled upon Knightro the UCF mascot, good material for a Facebook post.
This is what life is like moving on campus for Carbonneau, a pioneer at the University of Central Florida. She is one of six students enrolled in a test program aimed at making higher education more accessible for those with intellectual disabilities.
The program is debuting at a time when there has been a greater focus on helping disabled students get the necessary education to find good jobs.
Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, who has a son with Down syndrome, has pushed for the state to devote more resources to the issue. Although Gov. Rick Scott vetoed money for a statewide center for students with disabilities, UCF moved forward with its previously planned small test.
“We need to get the word out. This is an option,” said Debra Hart at the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts Boston.
“Students [with disabilities] can — and do — go to college,” added Hart, who advised UCF with the pilot.
Carbonneau now lives in a dorm room with a view overlooking a lake and the marching-band practice fields. The decorating process went fast: the turquoise comforter in place, her quilt made from old soccer T-shirts up and the heart lights strung up over her bed.
“It feels like home,” said Carbonneau, 21.
Growing up, Carbonneau took therapy to learn how to hold a pencil and improve her speech. She reads on a fourth-grade level.
“Amanda has really struggled with school her whole life,” said her mother, Janet, a UCF alum who met her husband at college in the 1980s. “She is one of the kids who in the public-school system falls through the cracks. She’s not severely handicapped. She’s not autistic. She doesn’t really have a diagnosis. She’s not Down syndrome. … She just has some learning issues.”
At one school, her teacher said Carbonneau would never graduate from high school. Her mother switched schools.
Janet and Guy Carbonneau wanted a normal life for their daughter, who liked roller coasters, played soccer, baby-sat, earned her drivers license and graduated in 2013 from what is now known as Willow Schools.
“Nothing makes her fearful. She just says, ‘I’m going to try,'” said her former Principal Carla Brandt. “You can just tell she wants to go into this world. Once she finds her place, her niche, she will just thrive.”
Her family, which lives 20 minutes away in Winter Springs, moved her in last week, battling a rainstorm. They didn’t want to miss a preseason NFL game, which only increased the urgency to get Carbonneau’s TV working.
“We love Amanda,” wrote her older sister, Jordan, on a white board on move-in day.
This semester, Carbonneau will take two classes, one on college skills and another on childhood education. She will get paired with other UCF students to help her adjust to school and campus social life.
Carbonneau and the other five students are not degree-seeking, so they will not get letter grades for their classes. They didn’t need high test scores or grades to gain admittance either.
The university is still working on the details, such as whether they will receive certificates or a special degree, said Adam Meyer, director of UCF’s Student Accessibility Services.
“We know at the state level we need to have those conversations,” Meyer said.
What makes UCF’s program unique is the buy-in, from top to bottom, Hart said.
For instance, Provost Dale Whittaker has touted the program to UCF leaders, and professors who support Carbonneau in their classes will adjust assignments so they are appropriate for her.
It also stands out because the majority of university programs don’t allow disabled students to live on campus, Hart said, amid concerns the students are exposed to sex and alcohol and other typical college issues.
Hart said she believes the UCF program is “very robust and rich for the students.”
“They want an authentic college experience, meaning it’s the real deal,” she said.
In a cheerful tone, Carbonneau listed off her plans for school: maybe join a club, meet new friends, go to the football games land a job at a university day care because she likes children.
Who knows? Maybe she will meet a nice boyfriend in college.
“I’m excited for that, too,” she said.
Before UCF’s mascot was established, “Sir Knight” was making an impact by shielding students from the Vietnam War draft.
By Daniela Marin
Entertainment Editor, Central Florida Future
On Aug. 22, nearly 40 years after graduating from UCF, a group of Kappa Sigma alumni brothers reunited to remember the man who may have saved their lives.
Before the university’s name was changed from Florida Technological University to the University of Central Florida, and before the school’s mascot was established, one Knight — dubbed by students as “Sir Knight” — was making an impact by shielding students from the draft during the Vietnam War.
Isaac “Ed” Knight Jr. died Aug. 16 at the age of 93, after retiring from a 20-year career as UCF’s director of records and registration. However, the university’s mascot, which was elected by students in his honor, is proof of Knight’s lasting legacy.
“The school was growing from its infancy, and when it came time to choose a mascot, we decided we’d get behind the name ‘Knights,’ said John Voelpel III, ’73, the Kappa Sigma faculty advisor at the time, who was impacted by Knight. “The whole fraternity did. The student body ended up voting for ‘the Knights,’ and not everyone knew why, but it was because of Ed Knight and what he did for us.”
At the time, men in the U.S. had three options: volunteer to serve a tour in Vietnam, get drafted or maintain a student deferment.
Voelpel, who attended the university from 1969 to 1973 for business administration, said classes at the time were limited and capacity was tight, but “Sir Knight” was an instrumental force in ensuring that male students were placed in the classes they needed to maintain their deferment.
“We weren’t draft dodgers, we weren’t burning our cards, [and] we weren’t running off to Canada, but we would have preferred not to go,” Voelpel said. “He was a very large influence in a very vulnerable time in our lives.”
Knight’s friends and loved ones, including people he hadn’t seen for years, gathered at the Baldwin-Fairchild Funeral Home in Altamonte Springs last Saturday to celebrate his life. There, Voelpel and other fraternity brothers shared Knight’s impact.
“I have to tell you, personally, I would have been in Southeast Asia,” he told the crowd. “I’m clumsy. I would have tripped on a tripwire or something and died the first day I was there. I would have never met my wife, never had my children, wouldn’t be standing with these gentlemen today, if it wasn’t for Ed.”
After not seeing him for 10 years, Gracia Muller Miller, ’76, also attended the service and spoke on Knight’s impact. Miller, who was a music student and worked as an assistant in the registrar’s office, shared how Knight became a father figure for her amid racial tensions.
“It was a very lonely time when I first started going to school, and a lot of times I would hang out in the office just because that’s where I felt safe,” she said. “And, Mr. Knight was the one who set that climate. The racial movement was part of my growing up, and Mr. Knight was different — he was a Bulldog, but he was not a hater. There were other people around me that I knew didn’t necessarily like me, but the climate at the registrar’s office didn’t allow them to act out against me.”
At 6 feet tall, Knight was a former University of Georgia basketball player with a U.S. Air Force career of more than 20 years. He quickly became known on campus as a gentle giant and father figure, all while raising a family of his own.
“My dad, he liked the youth, he liked the young people and he saw potential in everyone,” said Brigitt Berry, Knight’s youngest daughter. “That’s who he was, he was the encourager. He liked helping people set goals in life and helping them realize them.”
Despite his commitment to the community, Berry said that didn’t stop her dad from being “the best father in the whole wide world.”
“My parents were always there for me,” she said. “He always came home and spent time with us. He didn’t bring work home with him. He’d come home and play with us. And he absolutely adored my mom, so with those two traits, how could he not have been the best role model?”
And Miller, who went on to become a guidance counselor for Seminole County Public Schools for 20 years, said Knight inspired her to become a positive influence herself.
“I believe that because of Mr. Knight, I was also able to make some impact at UCF,” she said. “I didn’t think of dreaming bigger, but Mr. Knight taught me to dream bigger. He was a man who gave himself to others every day.”
The man to register the first student at UCF is now gone, but his legacy to the university and the lives he touched is lasting.
“I think he’d be very proud of where the school stands today, and he’d be proud of where all the kids he helped get through college stand today,” Voelpel said.
Knight is survived by his children Deborah Knight, Ed Knight III and Brigitt Berry, son-in-law Kip Berry, and two grandchildren.
This story was published in an Aug. 26, 2015, edition of the Central Florida Future online. It has been slightly edited in accordance with AP and alumni association style guidelines. See original article.
Here are five things you should know this week:
- New projects and construction will greet students, faculty and staff headed back to campus today. They include a Garage C expansion, UCF Health Center expansion, the Carl Black & Gold Cabana, the Wayne Densch Student-Athlete Leadership Center and the Libra Drive expansion.
- On Friday, UCF alumnus James Wurst, ’05, presented Knightro with a new ride — a three-wheeled skateboard from his company, Trideck (see photo above).
- PBS “NewsHour” premiered a segment on the Direct Connect to UCF program, which is helping more students to graduate, as well as save thousands of dollars for low-income students who may not have otherwise had the opportunity to earn a four-year degree.
- UCF marketing lecturer Carolyn Massiah will speak to College of Business alumni in Tampa on Tuesday about protecting their brands in the social media economy.
- To help students become excellent doctors with the kind of bedside manner you’d trust your elderly grandmother to, a private foundation provided the College of Medicine with a $116,225 grant that will establish the “Chapman Humanism in Medicine Initiative” at UCF.
On each episode, aspiring magicians are invited to perform their best trick to try and fool one of magic’s most famous pairs. None of the competing magicians get to perform the trick more than once, and there are no camera tricks, secret edits or helpful camera cuts.
In the seventh episode of the show’s second season, Kimlat performed an original card trick he developed when he was 19 years old. But, Kimlat didn’t go on the show with a focus on fooling the magic duo.
“It was an honor to be invited to perform for Penn and Teller,” he says. “I’ve been watching them since I started in magic 20 years ago, and I never would have imagined this opportunity.”
Lucky for Kimlat, he was able to fool the guys, which means he’ll be opening up for the magicians’ celebrated show at the Rio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas in November.
WATCH HIS TRICK:
In 2006, Kimlat was the youngest magician to be featured on the cover of Magic Magazine.
A resident of Orlando, he founded See Magic Live, which trains and books magicians for events across the country. His company’s local team serves as the magicians for the NBA’s Orlando Magic and teaches magic classes for kids and adults at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
His local ties run deep — he’s a graduate of Winter Park High School and the University of Central Florida, and he’s been a weekly fixture at Christner’s Prime Steak & Lobster, performing an intimate dinner and magic show at the Lee Road steakhouse for the last seven years.
In addition, Kimlat is a motivational speaker, using magic to train employees at organizations around the world, like NASA and GE. When he presents his keynotes and workshops, he unravels magic’s centuries-old principles of perception and secrets of communication, empowering people to be more effective in their business and everyday lives. Often referred to as “the business magician,” Kimlat has presented his sophisticated brand of magic to thinking audiences in more than 200 cities on five continents.
Kimlat graduated from the UCF Burnett Honors College with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. His Honors in the Major thesis was titled, “The Role of Magician and Philosopher in Society: The Archetype of Wonder and its Cognitive Implications in Modern Life.”
He’s currently authoring his first book, titled, “Think Like a Magician.”
To learn more about this magic Knight, visit kostyakimlat.com.
By Deanna Ferrante
Senior Staff Writer, Central Florida Future
The newest member of the UCF Police Department can’t use handcuffs or fire a gun, but he can chase his tail.
Justice is the newest pup on patrol with UCF PD’s K-9 unit. On his first night of active duty, Justice and his partner, Officer Matt Scott, were called in to handle a narcotics case.
On Aug. 5, Scott and Justice were called to the scene of a traffic stop when another UCF PD officer pulled over a woman who had recently been arrested for possession of cocaine, according to the arrest affidavit.
When Scott and Justice arrived, the dog indicated a positive alert on the suspect’s car. Inside, officers found a purple Crown Royal drawstring bag filled with used syringes, a green USB cord used as a tourniquet, and an Altoids tin containing 28 plastic bags filled with white and brown powder residue.
A sample from one of the bags was field tested for heroin and yielded a positive result, and the woman was arrested on charges of heroin possession.
Justice and the other K-9s are imperative in making arrests like these.
“That’s the call we want the dogs to be at their highest capacity for,” Scott said.
It was a big night for Justice, who has only been with the department for a few months. After Scott’s previous dog Buster was forced to retire due to medical reasons, Justice was purchased in replacement.
While UCF PD put in 480 hours to train Buster, Justice was purchased already trained from Germany.
It’s not uncommon for police dogs to be trained in Europe, Scott said. In fact, he said, for the most part, almost every K-9 in the country is brought in from overseas.
Because of the way he was originally trained, Scott uses German commands to give Justice orders.
The K-9 unit is made up of four teams: Scott and Justice; Officer Chris Holt and his dog, Jogy; Officer Mica Wenner and her dog, Samson; and Cpl. Chuck Reising and his dog, Max. Two of the dogs, including Justice, have been trained to handle narcotics cases, while the other two handle explosives detection.
Twice per month, the four teams meet behind the police department for an extensive day of training.
The dogs learn how to do bite work, narcotics detection, tracking, and building searches. The officers also train the dogs to be comfortable in many different situations and environments.
“Some of these dogs have never been on tile,” Scott said. “You don’t want a dog freezing up because he’s never been on marble before.”
Reising, the K-9 unit’s leader, said they put the dogs in a variety of different situations to get them used to any scenario that could happen while on patrol.
They take the dogs into the Reflecting Pond to get them used to water, make them climb over fences and take them to the gun range to get them used to the sound of shooting.
The dogs must follow their partners’ commands immediately, or they risk the chance of accidentally hurting someone besides their intended targets.
The dogs are trained to run after a suspect and, then, after a command from their partner, to instantly stop the chase and return.
“If another cop or someone else gets close, the dog might key on them,” Reising explained. “We don’t want the dog to bite an innocent person.”
When they aren’t training, the teams alternate shifts to patrol. Their schedules vary, but they usually work 12-hour shifts for half of the month on alternating days during the week.
Because of the long hours, Scott said he makes sure he keeps a close eye on his partner. He must make sure he stops to give Justice water or a bathroom break so the dog is always ready to jump into action.
“That way, when the time to deploy him comes, he’s doing what he needs to do,” he said.
For Scott and the rest of the K-9 unit, preparing the dogs also includes a lot of petting and praising; they want the dogs to be happy when they come to work.
“You want the dog to be excited,” Scott said. “You want the dog to want to be here.”
This story was published in an Aug. 20, 2015, edition of the Central Florida Future online. It has been slightly edited in accordance with AP and alumni association style guidelines. See original article, which includes more photos.
Earlier this year, the UCF Student Government Association announced its plan for a new, reservation-based tailgating system that will allow alumni and students to reserve their (free) gameday spots on Memory Mall.
The Knights on the Mall website launched its reservation system at 10 a.m. yesterday (Aug. 17) for the Sept. 3 home game against FIU. Within the first hour, more than 50 alumni and more than 115 students logged on to reserve their spaces, which were all sold out by 4 p.m.
For the rest of the season, online reservations will begin at 10 a.m. the Monday before each home game. That means your next chance to reserve a spot will be Monday, Sept. 7, at 10 a.m., for the UCF vs. Furman game on Sept. 19.
And, even if you do tailgate the traditional way, don’t forget about the alumni association’s Indoor Tailgates, where you can cool off inside the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center, use real restrooms, buy barbecue from Bubbalou’s, and grab free Coca-Cola products (while supplies last) and free beer (with purchase of commemorative cup)! Come join us!
Here are five things you should know this week:
- Knights on the Mall tailgating spots are up for grabs, as the new reservation system went live today for UCF’s first home game against FIU on Sept. 3.
- And, speaking of football, the Knights’ former QB Blake Bortles made his sophomore debut in Friday’s preseason game against the Steelers, helping to lead the Jags to a 23-21 victory!
- Alumna Jennifer Hamilton, ’14, turned her capstone project into multi-million-dollar Sleep/EEG Center for Nemours Children’s Hospital.
- Central Florida’s king of hummus, UCF student Jesse Wolfe, landed a deal with Publix Super Markets, which will now carry his new line of salad dressings.
- U.S. veterans are sharing personal stories about their service experiences to be preserved for future generations.