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Five Things Alumni Need to Know — July 27, 2015

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Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. Renowned physician, surgeon, educator, entrepreneur and proud UCF Knight Dr. Gideon Lewis, ’00, was named to the UCF Foundation Board of Directors. “I have always strived to lead by example,” he said. “Serving on this board provides me with a much larger platform to encourage more people to give back to UCF.”
  2. ICYMI: Alumni, students, faculty and staff, and the Central Florida community came together to help Tivoli Apartments residents who were devastated by a July 12 fire.
  3. After losing his partner to an early retirement due to medical issues, UCF Police Officer Matt Scott has a new K9 partner, a 16-month-old German Shepard named Justice.
  4. UCF Athletics announced a change in traffic flow following all of this season’s home football games. Get in the know!
  5. We’ve got six new UCF Alumni Facebook cover photos anyone can use! Spruce up your profile and share with friends!

Alumni Community Unites to Help Fire Victims

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About 75 residents, including 25 UCF students, were displaced by a fire on Sunday, July 12, at the Tivoli Apartments off McCulloch Road in Oviedo. (Photo: Johnathan Kuntz, Central Florida Future)

When Ken Brown, ’02, got an email last Tuesday inviting donations for the approximately 25 UCF students displaced by an apartment fire two days before, he had some of the help they needed literally at his feet.

Managing director of the Orlando-based IT staffing company Tekk Fusion, Brown keeps a stack of laptops under his desk that employees can use while traveling or working from home.

“I looked at them and thought, ‘Those kids need these more than we do right now,'” he said.

So, he loaded up all 14 laptops, along with bags of food, clothes and other essentials, and headed to campus, where he donated everything to the Knights Helping Knights Pantry, the organization designated to receive and distribute donations to help victims of the fire.

And, Brown wasn’t alone — not by a long shot. Hundreds of other UCF alumni and friends came together to give more than $20,000 in cash and truckloads of food and necessities to victims of the fire via the Knights Pantry.

In fact, pantry manager Jessica Roberts says that as of July 23, the pantry has received 150 pounds of food, 25-30 bags of clothing, multiple small appliances and furniture items, hundreds of toiletry items, school supplies, and $700 in gift cards.

“When the Tivoli fire victims come to the pantry, they are given unrestricted access to toiletries, produce, clothing and the food donated specifically for them, in addition to 10 food items from our other inventory (instead of the traditional five items),” Roberts says.

The Knights Helping Knights Pantry is still collecting items for the displaced Tivoli students, and can always use donations throughout the year to help all Knights in need. Visit their website below for more details.

More Info

Knights Helping Knights Pantry

Update on donations

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — July 20, 2015

OrlandoCity-arm

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. Congratulations to Mary Lou Sole, a longtime UCF professor and administrator, who was named as the new dean of the College of Nursing! (Also, see the Orlando Sentinel article.)
  2. The superheroes at Limbitless Solutions have done it again! This time, they partnered with the Orlando City Soccer Club to donate a 3-D printed arm to a 6-year-old Brazilian boy.
  3. Things may be a little quiet around UCF this time of year, but our regional alumni chapters and clubs — including Austin, Jacksonville and Boston — are keeping busy!
  4. Speaking of travel, did you know that the alumni association has partnered with many different companies to offer great benefits, including discounts on rental cars, hotels and even LEGOLAND? Visit our benefits page to check out all of the awesome discounts you can take advantage of as a UCF Knight!
  5. ICYMI: The Blackstone Launchpad at UCF is helping to propel students toward their entrepreneurial dreams. Read about three such Knights who have started their own unique companies.

Nearly 10-percent Increase in College Grad Hires

job-hunting

Orlando is the fastest-growing metro area in the country, with more than 4 percent in job growth.
(Photo: Deanna Ferrante, Central Florida Future)

By Deanna Ferrante
Senior Staff Writer, Central Florida Future

You’ve turned in your last assignment, taken your last test and walked across the stage at graduation. But, there’s still one thing to do: Find a job.

Employers are planning to hire 9.6 percent more college graduates than they did last year, according to a recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Sean Snaith, director of UCF’s Institute for Economic Competitiveness, said it seems to be a high percentage — even though Orlando is the fastest-growing metro area in the country, with more than 4 percent in terms of job growth. That’s well over the state’s rate of growth at around 3 percent and twice the national rate, which is just above 2 percent.

“We’re now in the seventh year of this economic recovery,” Snaith said. “I think hiring has been improving not rapidly, but improving steadily.”

Lynn Hansen, executive director of UCF Career Services, said it’s a combination of the economy and the university’s location that makes Orlando an advantageous area for graduates.

“I think we’re fortunate that we’re located where we’re located,” she said. “With the history of technology companies, transportation, health care and hospitality here, I think we have a lot going for us.”

Big-name corporations, such as Pepsi, Frito-Lay, Target, Lockheed Martin, Yelp, Yahoo and even the CIA, have all come to UCF to recruit students. Hansen said employer recruitment on campus has seen a significant increase. In spring, Career Services was actively working with 1,077 employers — an increase from 563.

“To me, that’s an indication that the demand is up for talent,” she said.

In a 2013-14 Career Services survey of 8,658 graduating students, 71 percent said they were seeking full-time or part-time employment. Of that number, 42 percent were already in the workforce or had accepted job offers, and 8 percent had been offered positions.

Students who were already employed or had received a full-time job were in the hospitality services and health care industries. Education and engineering were other popular choices.

Also in 2013, the Florida Department of Education found that out of the 12,047 UCF fall graduates, 68 percent of those who found jobs in Florida were still employed a year after graduation.

But, these statistics aren’t the whole picture, Hansen said.

There are plenty of students who get jobs out of state or in other countries who aren’t counted as part of these totals.

Hansen said students who do fall in the employment statistics can improve their chances of being hired by joining campus organizations, volunteering with clubs, conducting undergraduate research, finding internships or getting part-time jobs.

“Those things help build that student into a person … that the working world is looking for,” she added.

For graduating students looking for work, it all comes down to planning.

“It’s never too early to begin the process,” Hansen said. “Finding that great job after graduation isn’t like picking up your cap and gown on the way to the commencement ceremony.”

This article appeared in a July 16, 2015, edition of the Central Florida Future online. It has been slightly edited in accordance with the AP and alumni association style guidelines. See original story. 

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Commencement Through the Years

250K-grad

With UCF’s summer graduation ceremony just around the corner, on Aug. 8, the Summer 2015 issue of Pegasus Magazine took a look back at 45 years of “Pomp and Circumstance.”

From the first commencement ceremony in 1970, to the array of distinguished speakers over more than five decades, to the 250,000th graduate, Daniel Berreth, ’15, UCF continues to charge its unique path through history.

TAKE A LOOK…

With groundbreaking new programs, the addition of more faculty members, and UCF Downtown on the horizon, the Knights of tomorrow have much to look forward to!

 

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — July 13, 2015

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Cheryl Hines, ’90 (left), appeared on last night’s episode of “Celebrity Family Feud” with her two brothers, Chris Hines and
Michael Hines, ’95 (center), mother, Rosemary Harbolt, and sister, Rebecca Hines (far right), a UCF professor.
(PHOTO: Orlando Sentinel via Adam Taylor/ABC)

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. On Thursday, the Space Coast UCF Alumni Chapter hosts its annual Starry Knights event, recognizing alumni who have made a notable impact on the local economy and significant contributions within the community, as well as honoring two Debbie K. Phillis, ’84, Scholarship recipients.
  2. Last year, UCF launched a hiring campaign to recruit 200 new faculty members. This year, Provost Dale Whittaker says the university expects to hire another 200 faculty members to join our Knights family. One hundred of those positions are new, made possible because of performance funding that UCF will receive from the state based on our university’s academic performance, students’ graduation and retention rates, and other metrics set by the Florida Board of Governors.
  3. Actress Cheryl Hines, ’90, appeared with her family on last night’s episode of “Celebrity Family Feud,” winning $25,000 for their charity of choice, United Cerebral Palsy.
  4. About 25 UCF students lost their homes after a fire at the Tivoli Apartments community destroyed several dozen units yesterday. UCF Housing and Residence Life, and Victim Services, worked with the affected students to find them temporary housing. Those who wish donate food, toiletries or gift cards for Publix and Walmart can take them to the Knights Pantry from noon to 5 p.m. today through Thursday.
  5. UCF’s physical therapy program in the College of Health and Public Affairs this May partnered with GoBabyGo, an initiative to help toddlers with motor impairments increase their mobility and interaction with others.
    LEARN MORE:

UCF Among Top 30 Worldwide for Patents

(Photo: CFF Archive)

(Photo: CFF Archive)

By Amelia Truong
Digital Producer, Central Florida Future

UCF ranks No. 30 out of 100 universities worldwide that were granted U.S. utility patents in 2014.

As one of the three Florida High Tech Corridor research universities, UCF joins the University of South Florida and the University of Florida, totaling 257 granted patents, according to a list by the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association.

The list recognizes the important role patents play in university research and highlights the corridor region’s growth as a high-tech hub through continued innovation and technology transfer from universities to marketplace.

UCF totaled 66 granted patients, while No. 13 USF totaled 104 patents, and No. 20 UF had 87 granted patents.

Collectively, the three universities beat out other established and well-recognized, high-tech hubs, such as North Carolina’s Research Triangle and Austin’s Silicon Hills region.

The Research Triangle universities — Duke University, North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina —totaled 109 patents, while 230 were granted to the Texas universities, including the entire University of Texas system, Rice University and Texas A&M University.

“The countless scientists, researchers, innovators and inventors at UCF, USF, UF and throughout our region, enrich our innovation ecosystem and work tirelessly to make tomorrow better than it is today,” said Randy Berridge, president of Florida High Tech Corridor Council.

The corridor is an economic development initiative that has resulted in a strategic approach to high-tech economic development, supporting factors that include matching funds research, marketing and workforce development on a regional rather than local basis.

This article appeared in a July 8, 2015, edition of the Central Florida Future online. It has been slightly edited in accordance with AP and alumni association style guidelines. See original story.

UCF Student Entrepreneurs Take Art into Their Own Hands

Yuan Chang aims to introduce UCF students to healthier food options and fresher-quality ingredients. (Photo courtesy of Yuan Chang)

By Shanae Hardy
Digital Producer, Central Florida Future

Unlike most college students who see college as a time to study and party, some students are using their time to explore and cultivate creativity.

Since the launch of the Blackstone LaunchPad at UCF, many students have received help to facilitate their entrepreneurial ventures.

Although there are some students who walk into the UCF Starter Lab with ideas brimming the innovative pool in their brains, while others walk in unsure of where their entrepreneurial aspirations may lead.

From Garden to UCF
Hae Yuan Chang, a junior environmental science major, decided she wanted to provide healthier food options for students after being frustrated by the limited vegan and vegetarian options on campus.

“I’ve had experiences where I would be on campus for a long time, and I would have to eat some of the options we have on campus that were suitable for vegetarians, and it made me really groggy and not want to do anything, like not want to go to class,” she explains.

Inspired by the vegetarian Hare Krishna buffet offered at the University of Florida, Chang wants to introduce students to fresher-quality ingredients that will have similar flavors of a student’s acquired tastes.

“I definitely want to incorporate ethnic dishes such as curry and stir-fry,” she says. “I want to prove that vegan food isn’t just salad.”

Chang is currently working on her company with the help from UCF’s Startup Community. She is also testing out the flavors of her menu with her six roommates at the Peanut Butter Palace, a sustainable student co-op.

Learning how to completely adjust to a vegetarian diet by cooking and gardening with her vegan and vegetarian roommates, Chang hopes to teach students that it’s really easy to become environmentally aware and it can be beneficial.

Growing your own food lowers food costs and promotes healthy eating, she says.

Chang plans to set up a vegetarian food stand on campus, potentially named “The Beet Bar.”

Molding a Hobby
While developing an app for students to track the night life in Orlando, Cedric Lopez, a senior entrepreneurship major, accidentally stumbled into leather designing.

“One day I decided to make a wallet for myself,” he explains. “Then, I decided to make a laptop cover and posted it online. I got a surprising response from friends, and the orders started coming in. So, I had a hard decision to make: keep working on this app or invest all my time into leather working.”

He decided to brand his products with the help of Blackstone.

Cedric Lopez hand stitches and uses exotic leather for wallets, bags and key chains to make high-quality products. (Photo courtesy of Cedric Lopez)

Cedric Lopez hand stitches and uses exotic leather for wallets, bags and
key chains to make high-quality products. (Photo courtesy of Cedric Lopez)

Previously wanting to become an architect, he uses the same creative process he learned to incorporate into his designing.

“I could see the silhouette of a building, or a feature of that building, and be inspired to make something out of leather,” he says.

Lopez hand stitches and uses exotic leather for the wallets, bags and key chains he crafts, which makes for better-quality products to distinguish his brand.

Abandoning one idea for another has proved to be a challenge for Lopez, but he plans to maintain his brand through perseverance.

“I have learned to just get there and start something,” he says. “You’re going to make mistakes, but that’s when you learn what not to do. Fail fast and fail early.”

Musically Inclined
Turning his uncertainty into a brand, Brandon Nightingale, a senior history and writing and rhetoric major, launched his first mixtape, “Flight ‘n Friends,” in April after receiving encouragement and mentoring from Blackstone.

“Three months ago, I wasn’t sure if I could do it, but I just released the project,” Nightingale says.

He utilized a community of music artists, designers and producers from UCF and his hometown of Jacksonville, Fla., to help with his first music venture.

Brandon Nightingale launched his first mixtape, "Flight 'n Friends," and hopes it resonates with the UCF community. (Photo courtesy of Brandon Nightingale)

Brandon Nightingale launched his first mixtape, “Flight ‘n Friends,” and hopes it resonates
with the UCF community. (Photo courtesy of Brandon Nightingale)

Nightingale said he hopes his mixtape resonates with the UCF community even after he graduates.

“I think people will get the message to bring people together through music because people are moved through music,” he says.

Nightingale recently started performing at local clubs in Orlando and Jacksonville, and he is working on his second project, which will not have as many featured artists.

“Music is something I’ve always dreamed about. I just had to be told I could do it.”

This article appeared in a June 3, 2015, edition of the Central Florida Future online. It has been slightly edited in accordance with AP and alumni association style guidelines. See original story.

Houston Alumni Club Chair Throws First Pitch

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Bryan Gollins, ’12, the new chair of the Houston UCF Alumni Club, participated in his city’s Badges & Bases 10K last year, finishing in
35 minutes and 53 seconds — for the win. His victory in the race, sponsored by the Houston Police Foundation and the
Houston Astros, earned him the honor of throwing out the first pitch at an Astros game this year. And, on June 15, he threw that pitch.  Congratulations, Bryan!

 

More Info

Regional Alumni Chapters & Clubs

 

Aca-Perfect!

UCF’s all-female a cappella group claims top prize in national competition

(Photo courtesy of Alexis Planer)

(Photo courtesy of Alexis Planer)

By Rachel Stuart
News Editor, Central Florida Future

UCF’s KeyHarmony didn’t need more than its vocals and support to prove itself as the favorite all-female a cappella group in the nation.

The group made it to the top three in the national Schick “Aca-Battle” Sweepstakes to promote the movie “Pitch Perfect 2,” and was selected as the winning group on May 26.

Among the other two finalists, Main Squeeze from Syracuse University, and The Sedoctaves from the University of Florida, KeyHarmony received the most votes for its personalized music video to the Schick “Ready, Shave, Shine” Regimen Song, and was awarded the winning prize of $10,000.

“KeyHarmony is so thankful for everyone that voted endlessly on this contest,” KeyHarmony member Kyrstin Walker said. “We couldn’t have done it without all the love and support, and we just want everyone to know that we really do appreciate all the help.”

The group’s genuine, raw vibe has proved to be one of the biggest assets that has distinguished it from other a cappella groups, the junior health sciences pre-clinical major said.

“The quality that helped us in winning was definitely our ability to have fun while recording for this contest. Our group’s sense of humor is pretty much as unique as it gets, which is what definitely helped us in the long run.”

KeyHarmony’s TC Skowronek, a senior music, sociology and business major, said she thinks the a cappella group stands out from others because the members treat each other like a family. No matter what, she said they are always there to support each other.

With the $10,000, the group is planning to finish purchasing a sound system and then save the rest of the money for future plans.

KeyHarmony’s president Keani Knight said the group will also put some of the money toward a conference it’s hosting this fall, called Orlando Soundwave.

“We really try to put everything into our performances,” the sophomore legal studies major said. “Our main goal is always to make the audience feel something and to connect with them.”

Through the recognition from this contest, Knight said the group will gain a bit of notoriety and people will be more familiar with them at the conference.

Walker agreed that this win for KeyHarmony is really going to advance them even further and help the group get its name out there.

“This $10,000 will help us accomplish our goals we agreed on for the upcoming year, which in return will move us forward in the amazing light of the collegiate a cappella world.”

Watch KeyHarmony’s winning video:

More Info

@KeyHarmonyUCF

This article appeared in a June 3, 2015, edition of the Central Florida Future online. It has been slightly edited in accordance with AP and alumni association style guidelines. See original story.

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