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Five Things Alumni Need to Know — Feb. 8, 2016

OneBillionRising

The One Billion Rising initiative starts at noon Feb. 12 on the UCF Student Union Patio Stage, where those affected by violence are encouraged to speak out about what they’ve been through. (See No. 4 below.)

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. The 63,000 current/former students and employees who were affected by a data breach, announced by the university on Thursday, should be receiving letters this week with details about free, one-year credit monitoring and identity protection. For more information, visit www.ucf.edu/datasecurity.
  2. Twenty high school football players chose to suit up in black and gold on National Signing Day last week. In addition to 12 Floridians, and the first player in program history from Hawaii, UCF Head Football Coach Scott Frost welcomed players from Arizona, California, Finland, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas. Plus, the 2016 UCF Football schedule was released, with Family Weekend set for Sept. 17 and Homecoming set for Oct. 15.
  3. For the first time in more than 20 years, the pendulum in the atrium of the Mathematical Sciences building is swinging back and forth again, thanks to UCF alumna Eileen Swindling, ’88.
  4. On Friday, UCF Victim Services will host the Fourth Annual One Billion Rising, where female survivors of violence and their supporters join together to break their silence.
  5. Progress continues to be made on UCF Downtown, as the university will present its plan for a downtown Orlando campus to the Florida Board of Governors on March 2.

Intrusion into UCF Network Involves Personal Data

 

NEWS ALERT:

An intrusion into the University of Central Florida’s computer network has resulted in unauthorized access to certain personal information of some current/former students and employees.

UCF has established a web page — www.ucf.edu/datasecurity — with details about the incident, including the groups of current/former students and employees involved, and recommendations for those impacted. UCF also has established a call center, available at 877.752.5527 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Those impacted by the incident will be notified via letters, which should be received the week of Feb. 8.

UCF is also offering a free year of credit monitoring and identity protection services to those impacted.

“Safeguarding your personal information is of the utmost importance at UCF,” President John C. Hitt says. “To ensure our vigilance, I have called for a thorough review of our online systems, policies and training to determine what improvements we can make in light of this recent incident.

“Every day, people and groups attempt to illegally access secure data from institutions around the world. Higher education institutions are popular targets.

“UCF will continue to work diligently to protect this important information from those who would break the law to get it.”

UCF Alumni Association Aids Students with Scholarships

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By Isabelle D’Antonio
Contributing Writer, Central Florida Future

The UCF Alumni Association collects thousands of dollars each year to give right back to students through its many scholarships.

Senior Erica Chu received the alumni association’s UCF Alumni Legacy Scholarship — a $1,500 award for outstanding students with parents who graduated from UCF — to make her dreams of attending UCF possible.

“I was ecstatic when I found out I won the scholarship,” the biomedical sciences major says. “Every little thing counts when you’re paying for college.”

Chu says receiving the scholarship has not only helped her financially, but has also increased her networking with alumni, including those who selected her to win the scholarship.

“It’s great to meet people who graduated from UCF, and are now so successful and want to give back,” she says. “That’s something I want to do when I graduate.”

The alumni association awards 25 scholarships annually, including scholarships from alumni chapters and clubs.

“Last year, we had a good year in our endowments, and we were able to increase the majority of the scholarships by $500,” explains Carla Cordoba, associate director of alumni and student relations.

In fact, in 2015, the alumni association awarded more than $55,000 in scholarships to UCF students.

Heather Junod, director of the UCF Fund, says there are many ways the alumni association receives the money to fund these scholarships.

The UCF Fund utilizes e-solicitation, direct mail, phone campaigns, faculty/staff campaigns and a student philanthropy program to reach out to potential donors. Staffers prefer more face-to-face solicitation rather than phone calls because it often garners better results. For example, the average donation is $86 on the phone, $270 for e-solicitation and $130 by mail, but face-to-face gifts are much larger — sometimes in the millions.

Junod says the UCF Fund asks every alumnus and alumna with up-to-date information to donate, which is more than 226,000 Knights. Of this, about 7,000 donate, or a little more than 3 percent of alumni.

“At our call center, students like to talk to alumni about donating to scholarships because the student callers are often on scholarships,” Junod explains.

To apply for alumni scholarships, students must fill out the applications on their myUCF account. If a student is eligible for an alumni scholarship, it will automatically appear in his/her scholarship listing. Most scholarships also require an essay, recommendation letter and activities summary.

“Scholarships aren’t going to come to you — you have to look for them,” Chu says. “The alumni association does a great job advertising the scholarships. People just have to take the next step and actually apply.”

She also says it is important for students to be themselves when writing application essays.

“They can tell in your writing if you’re being fake or lying,” she says. “Stand out and have a personal story that they can connect to.”

In Chu’s application, she wrote a personal essay about how UCF has opened so many doors for her father. She also described how the university has already given her innumerable opportunities, such as research and networking.

After the applications are submitted, the four-month-long reviewing process begins.

“We want to make sure we are being diligent in reading everything and paying attention because students took the time to submit their applications,” Cordoba says.

A team of student assistants first checks the applicants’ eligibility to make sure they meet all of the necessary criteria for the scholarship, and then the applicants are scored using a point system.

“For example, if you’re a member of a club, you get so many points. If you’re an officer, you get more points,” Cordoba explains. “Everybody gets the same formula applied to them across the board.”

Once the applicants have been rated, a selection committee of alumni, faculty and staff reviews the top five to 10 students. The committee then gives its recommendations and a staff committee selects the final winners.

Reaching out through email, postcards and banner advertisements, there’s been an increase in students who have been applying for the alumni association’s scholarships.

“We had more than 500 applications in 2015, which is a third more than we had the year before,” Cordoba says. “Students are taking advantage of the scholarships!”

However, with more applicants comes more competition.

“The caliber of students who are applying is amazing,” Cordoba says. “We’re choosing from the top echelon of students who are extremely involved with their university and in their communities.”

Alumni who wish to contribute can name a scholarship for $10,000, or they can endow a scholarship for $25,000, which gets invested and earns appreciation.

“The idea is to keep building the endowment so it lives on in perpetuity,” Cordoba says.

How to apply for UCF Alumni Association scholarships:

  1. Visit ucfalumni.com/scholarships. (The application window opens Feb. 1 and closes Feb. 28 each year.)
  2. Read all scholarship criteria and complete all required supporting documents.
  3. Log on to myUCF.
  4. Select “Student Self Service.”
  5. Click on “Scholarship Application” > “Home Page” > “Add New Scholarship.”
  6. Complete and submit application(s).

Questions?

Read the Scholarship FAQ, or contact Carla Cordoba at 407.823.3453.

This story appeared Dec. 4, 2015, in the Central Florida Future online. It has been updated and edited in accordance with AP and alumni association style guidelines. See original article.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — Feb. 1, 2016

baby-race

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. Taking any UCF classes this fall? Want some free money? Apply for one of our many alumni scholarships! (Scroll to the bottom of the page for application instructions.)
  2. February is Matching Gift Month, which means your monetary donations may be worth double if your employer participates in the matching gift program. While we hope UCF is tops on your list of giving priorities, we encourage you to give to whichever organizations mean the most to you!
  3. The UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center is taking part in a Green Office Certification pilot program, also known as the “GreenUP UCF” campaign. Over the next year, our staff will be making changes to help our building become a more sustainable part of our beautiful campus.
  4. Looking for something to do this weekend? If you’re in the Titusville area on Saturday, join our Space Coast UCF Alumni Chapter as they cheer on Knightro in the Mascot Marathon! Or, if you’re out and about in Orlando on Saturday, support our student-athletes at the UCF Baseball FanFest prior to the Knights’ basketball game against Temple (where you can enter your little one in the Second Annual UCF Baby Race during halftime)!
  5. Join the College of Sciences on Feb. 10, as it hosts its next Distinguished Speaker Series. This month’s topic is “Understanding Violence against Women in Rural Communities,” presented by Walter DeKeseredy, professor of sociology at the University of West Virginia.

Alumni Staff Pledges to GreenUP UCF

staff-GreenUp

The alumni staff took a pledge to GreenUP UCF by helping to make the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center the first
existing building on campus to earn a Green Office Certification by Jan. 31, 2017.

By Angie Lewis, ’03

Over the next year, the UCF Alumni Association staff has pledged to make our workplace, the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center, a more sustainable building, as part of a Green Office Certification pilot program.

This “GreenUP UCF” campaign, which lasts from Jan. 29, 2016, through Jan. 31, 2017, is part of a partnership between the alumni association, UCF Sustainability Initiatives and UCF Utilities & Energy Services.

Once completed, the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center will be the first existing building on campus to earn the Green Office Certification, and will serve as a model for other buildings to follow in our (no carbon!) footsteps.

The effort is part of a commitment President Hitt made nine years ago for UCF to become climate neutral by the year 2050. Since then, existing buildings now use 38 percent less energy, and new construction is designed to the highest standards of efficiency from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

By implementing the Green Office Certification pilot program at the alumni center, we’ll be doing our part to create a more sustainable environment on our campus, and in our Central Florida community.

In the coming months, we hope you’ll join us, as we share our progress, along with tips you can incorporate in your home.

Go Knights! Go Green!

More Info

UCF Sustainability Initiatives
UCF Utilities & Energy Services

UCF Leaders’ Personal Contributions to UCF Downtown Exceed $1 Million

Led by President John C. Hitt and trustee Alex Martins, University of Central Florida leaders have made personal contributions totaling more than $1 million for the UCF Downtown campus.

President Hitt and first lady Martha Hitt contributed $100,000, as did trustee Alex Martins, a UCF alumnus and CEO of the Orlando Magic, and UCF Foundation Board of Directors member Dick Nunis. Other leading personal contributors include trustee Robert Garvy and Phyllis Klock, chairwoman of the Foundation Board of Directors.

The commitments from UCF’s leadership include gifts from trustees, deans, vice presidents, and members of the UCF Foundation and Alumni Association boards of directors.

“Our university’s leaders are making generous personal investments in UCF Downtown because they know the campus will greatly expand educational opportunities for students,” said Mike Morsberger, vice president for alumni relations and development. “Their support, along with the commitments from our community partners, is vital to make this innovative campus a reality.”

Earlier in January, the Orlando Magic and CFE Federal Credit Union each pledged $1.5 million toward the construction of the new academic building that UCF would share with Valencia College.

Orange County commissioners voted unanimously to contribute $3 million, and Valencia College will contribute $2 million.

Additionally, the value of in-kind contributions of land and infrastructure by the City of Orlando and the developers of Creative Village is approximately $75 million.

Pending approvals, the campus will open in fall 2018. UCF Downtown will offer students an innovative learning environment within walking distance of a wide array of internship and job opportunities in fields such as digital media, communication, public service and health-related programs. UCF will share the campus with Valencia College, which will offer programs in digital media, health information technology and culinary and hospitality, including workforce training and other certificates to increase access to education in the immediate downtown area.

The new academic building at UCF Downtown will complement a renovated Center for Emerging Media building where UCF’s nationally ranked graduate video gaming school, the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, is located. One-third of the new building will be funded by private donations. The university also is contributing $20 million from its resources and asking the state for an additional $20 million.

FOLLOW THE PROGRESS OF UCF DOWNTOWN

Colleges of Business, Engineering and Sciences Host Joint Networking Knight

CBA-CECS-COS-Networking-Knight-Jan2016

Nearly 70 UCF alumni gathered for an evening of professional networking on Jan. 21. Alumni chapter volunteers from the College of Business Administration, College of Engineering and Computer Science, and College of Sciences partnered to host the event, which took place at the law offices of GrayRobinson in downtown Orlando.

While guests mingled with other professionals from a multitude of diverse fields, Dean Paul Jarley (business), Dean Michael Georgiopoulos (engineering) and Dean Michael Johnson (sciences) each addressed the group of Knights, speaking on the importance of networking, mentorship and advancement.

It was a great Networking Knight to kick off 2016!

SEE ORIGINAL POST + MORE PHOTOS

Charles Gray, founding director of GrayRobinson, played an instrumental role in the history of the University of Central Florida. Gray was honored by the UCF Alumni Association in October with the 2015 Champions Award for his continuous support and advocacy for the university.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — Jan. 25, 2016

CON-white-coat

The UCF College of Nursing is one of just 60 nursing schools in 33 states to receive funding to participate in this year’s white coat ceremony, which promotes humanistic, patient-centered, compassionate care among future generations of registered nurses. (See No. 2 below.)

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. Oviedo High School teachers Will Furiosi, ’13, MAT14, and Jessica Ortega, ’13, fell head-over-heels for each other — and education — at UCF. READ MORE
  2. On Jan. 10, nearly 200 students from the UCF College of Nursing ceremoniously began their clinical practice with an inaugural white coat ceremony and joined a nationwide initiative to promote compassionate care.
  3. UCF freshman Nick Drivas has been invited to perform with Grammy Award-nominated entertainer Michael Feinstein as part of the “Michael Feinstein: A Sinatra Centennial” concert Jan. 29 at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
  4. On a career break and thinking of returning to work? Unsure about what you want to do and where to start? Interested in changing career paths? Join UCF alumni and other returning professionals for an information-packed, half-day program that includes return-to-work strategies, and tactics on resumes, interviews and job searches.
  5. Running through Jan. 31, Theatre UCF, in collaboration with the Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community, presents “Spunk and the Harlem Literati,” an adaption of the play “Spunk” by Zora Neale Hurston. The production is part of the 27th annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities.

There’s No Place Like … a Classroom

A pair of Knights fall head-over-heels for education — and each other — at UCF

Will+Jessica-web

Will Furiosi II, ’13, ’14 & Jessica Ortega, ’13 | Teachers, Oviedo High School

By Angie Lewis, ’03

Fascinated with infectious disease and pathogenic bacteria, Will Furiosi, ’13, ’14, had dreams of working at the Centers for Disease Control. But, during his senior year of pre-med classes at UCF, he decided that teaching science might be more fun.

So, after completing his bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences (with a minor in business administration) in 2013, he continued his education at UCF, on a full scholarship, graduating with his master’s degree in teacher education in 2014. Now, instead of wearing head-to-toe protective garb in a lab every day, he only needs to slip on a pair of safety glasses when conducting experiments with his AP biology and chemistry students at Oviedo High School.

And, in case he has any accidents, his emergency contact, fellow Knight and bride-to-be Jessica Ortega, ’13, is just a few hallways away, teaching AP art history and honors humanities.

To call this couple of Knights ambitious is an understatement.

During their time at UCF, both were active members of The Burnett Honors College and the President’s Leadership Council.

In addition, Furiosi was a recipient of the 2013 Order of Pegasus (the most prestigious and significant award a student can attain at UCF) and graduated top of his class in the College of Medicine, as well as Summa Cum Laude from the university. And, to get in some physical exercise (and fun!), he also played four years on the university’s Ultimate Frisbee team.

When asked about the proudest moment of his life so far, he says it was the near flawless execution of his engagement plan that was six months in the making, but, he adds that a close second is a toss-up between finishing with perfect 4.0s as valedictorian of his high school and finishing top of his class at UCF.

“While there is more prestige accompanying the UCF distinction, completing the feat in high school showed that I could set my mind to something years in advance and achieve it,” he says.

Educating Q&A

Why did you choose to attend UCF?
JO: My family made an unexpected pit stop on the way to a ski trip on President’s Day weekend senior year and I applied to UCF that night. I felt just like Dorothy (in “The Wizard of Oz”) coming home the moment I stepped onto the campus. I knew I couldn’t go anywhere else after that moment.

Do you have any hidden talents?
WF: I can play multiple musical instruments — bassoon (it’s been a while for this one), flute and saxophone — and, I have a knack for taking musical tunes and making my own lyrical renditions.

If life were a song, what would the title be?
WF: I’m going to take a different spin on this and choose a good song for life: “Warning” by Incubus. It’s about a warning that you shouldn’t let life pass you by. Instead, you should live life to the fullest because everything could be gone in an instant.
JO: “I’m On Top of the World” by Imagine Dragons, because that’s how I try to feel every day, especially in front of 100-plus high school students!

Most embarrassing moment?
WF: I’m sure I’ve had more embarrassing moments, but … I ripped my pants, right in the center of my butt, right in the middle of the school day earlier this school year.

What were you most surprised to learn after becoming a teacher?
WF: I was most surprised to hear how much unsubstantiated or biased research is used to influence educational policy and how much time and money is wasted in constantly trying to reinvent the educational wheel.
JO: That kids (or anyone for that matter) never listen to you the first five times you say something. It drives me nuts having to repeat what I already have written on the board a million times a day. I seriously waste at least a few minutes a class period repeating myself and that adds up!

What kind of life advice do you give to your students?
WF: I encourage students to continue to learn as much as possible, get involved in activities to determine their interests, and become financially literate (something we should do more of in public school).
JO: Figure out your passions and pursue them regardless. These students have too many people telling them what they “should” do with their lives. They need more quiet time to just sit there and thing about what THEY want to do, not what their parents, counselors, friends or teachers think is best for them. They’re too afraid of making the “wrong” choice, but I tell them that if they learned something for the experience, it can never be a “wrong” choice.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — Jan. 18, 2016

UCFCheerleading-2016nationals

UCF Cheerleading claimed the runner-up position at this weekend’s national championships! (PHOTO: Chris Schubert)

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. The UCF Cheerleading squad was the runner-up at this weekend’s College Cheerleading National Championships at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. This was the Knights’ 11th-straight top-four finish. Congratulations to all of these amazing student-athletes! Go Knights! Charge On!
  2. U.S. News & World Report ranked UCF’s online programs as among some of the best in the nation, including the university’s online bachelor’s programs, which jumped from No. 50 last year to No. 20 this year.
  3. Two teams of UCF students are each designing a subsystem for passenger pods, which would be part of a 760 mph “Hyperloop” transportation system proposed by entrepreneur Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and Tesla Motors. The system could transport passengers between Los Angeles and San Francisco in just 30 minutes.
  4. UCF is partnering with LinkedIn to launch a new app focused around students entering the workforce. The app will allow students to network with employers and search for jobs from both LinkedIn- and UCF-specific platforms, such as KnightLink.
  5. Nine-year-old Alvin Garcia Flores is the latest recipient of a 3D-printed bionic arm from UCF’s Limbitless Solutions. Flores was surprised with the “Star Wars”-themed belated Christmas gift on Thursday, when Darth Vader himself presented it to Flores in front of his classmates at Gateway Elementary in Omaha, Neb.
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