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Five Things Alumni Need to Know — June 29, 2015

A sea turtle builds its nest on Juno Beach, Fla. (Photo: Florida Wildlife Commission)

A sea turtle builds its nest on Juno Beach, Fla. (Photo: Florida Wildlife Commission)

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. Orlando Magazine named its 2015 Most-Powerful List, which includes many UCF leaders and alumni.
  2. Last Tuesday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott vetoed nearly $500 million from the state budget, which included funds for several UCF projects, like UCF Downtown.
  3. On Wednesday, July 1, the Palm Beach UCF Alumni Chapter will head to Juno Beach for Turtle Walk, a unique program that allows Knights to learn about and observe the nesting and egg-laying process of sea turtles.
  4. After the news of UCF AD Todd Stansbury’s plans to return to Oregon State, President John Hitt announced last week that George O’Leary will serve as interim director of athletics, while also continuing to coach the 2015 football season.
  5. One of the world’s 60 tallest people and new UCF Basketball player, 7-foot-6-inch Tacko Fall, attended freshman orientation on Thursday. We can’t wait to see him in action!

UCF MedTalk Series Wraps Up for Spring

MedTalk-Lambert

Stephen Lambert, Ph.D., associate professor for medicine in the UCF College of Medicine, presented the first MedTalk, “The Cannibal and the Railway Worker’s Wife: Why Your Brain Gets Sick,” on April 22 at the Downtown Pour House. The series, a partnership between the UCF College of Medicine and UCF Alumni Association, will continue in the fall.

Since April, the UCF College of Medicine and UCF Alumni Association have partnered to host a monthly series of MedTalk events. These informal discussions allow attendees to hear about current and innovative issues in medicine, all in plain language and a casual setting, where a researcher or physician gives a brief presentation, followed by a Q&A session.

So far, the three MedTalks have included:

  • “The Cannibal and the Railway Worker’s Wife: Why Your Brain Gets Sick” (presented by Stephen Lambert, Ph.D., on April 22), which covered how our brains get sick and what we can do to maintain brain health, and what works and doesn’t work with some of the most debilitating diseases we face today as a society of people living longer than ever before.
  • “Wine, the Sun and Food: Keys to a Long Life” (presented by Dr. Sampath Parthasarathy on May 13), which covered what’s going on in laboratories around the world and answered the questions: Is all wine equal? Are there foods that can harm you? What can sunlight do?
  • “The Upshot of Viruses and Vaccines” (presented by Dr. Griffith Parks on June 17), which covered why viruses are among the most deadly known diseases of mankind, including smallpox, measles and the influenza virus, as well as what viruses are and why they’re hard to control, how vaccines are made and why you need to get them annually, and where all these new viruses are coming from.

All of the events are free and take place at the Downtown Pour House.

The series will pick up again in the fall.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — June 22, 2015

(Photo: Eric Gutierrez, Central Florida Future)

Knightro makes his entrance at the 2015 Mascot Games. (Photo: Eric Gutierrez, Central Florida Future)

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. On Friday, UCF’s Alpha Phi Alpha Chapter held a candlelight vigil honoring the victims of the Charleston, S.C., church shooting.
  2. UCF Student Health Services has created a new support group for students in recovery from alcohol, drugs and other addictions. The Collegiate Recovery Community is in its infancy and will grow to a more comprehensive, wrap-around support system transitioning students from recovery to college.
  3. UCF’s DeVos Sport Business Management Graduate Program was ranked as the second-best sports business provider in the world by SportBusiness.
  4. Congratulations to UCF’s very own Knightro, who tied for second place in the 22nd annual Mascot Games, held at the Amway Center on Friday.
  5. Traveling the U.S. this summer? Wear your UCF gear and tag your photos with #50statesofUCF or email them to Knightro@athletics.ucf.edu (include the city and state you’re in), and help cover the map with black and gold!

Swinging for Scholarships

UCF alumna puts on her dancing shoes to help raise money for nursing students

JoyceDeGennaro-dance1

Joyce DeGennaro, ’03, practices with dance partner Tony Sterling for Femmes de Coeur’s “Let Us Entertain You” competition
to help raise money for UCF nursing scholarships. (Photo: Zack Thomas, UCF Foundation)

By Angie Lewis, ’03

When Joyce DeGennaro, ’03, decided to apply for the College of Nursing’s accelerated B.S.N. program, she needed some assistance to help ease the financial burden of pursuing another degree. After all, she was a little older, and had a 6-month-old baby and mortgage at the time. That’s when she discovered the Femmes de Coeur scholarship, for which she applied and was awarded, helping her to pay for tuition and books, and graduate without student-loan debt in 2009.

Femmes de Coeur (Women of Heart) is an Orlando-based, not-for-profit volunteer organization that regularly hosts fundraising events to support numerous local community projects, including nursing scholarships at UCF, Valencia College, Seminole State College and the Florida Hospital’s Adventist University of Health Sciences.

Becoming a nurse wasn’t DeGennaro’s original plan, however. She grew up thinking she wanted to become a counselor or forensic psychologist, which is why she earned her first UCF bachelor’s degree in psychology, with a minor in criminal justice, in 2003. But, it was her work in Florida Hospital’s inpatient placement program that inspired her to go back to school to become a nurse.

Forever thankful for her opportunity to follow her passion, DeGennaro recently had the opportunity to participate in Femmes de Coeur’s annual dance competition, “Let Us Entertain You,” which raises money for exact scholarship that helped put her through nursing school.

She had no previous dance experience before the competition, but was in good hands with her 19-year dancing veteran and partner, Tony Sterling. The pair practiced twice a week since March, and took the stage June 14 in the ballroom at Church Street Station, dancing the West Coast Swing to Florida-Georgia Line’s “Cruise.” While they didn’t take the top prize, they did place third, which means about $10,000 in nursing scholarships for UCF.

JoyceDeGennaro-dance2

“It was my way of being able to give back to something that helped me.” DeGennaro says.

She also gives back daily, in a different way — helping to educate future nurses in the College of Nursing, where she was hired as a permanent nursing instructor in January.

Her journey from practical to practicum began while she was working as a nurse in the multisystem-transplant ICU at Florida Hospital South, where she became a certified preceptor and discovered a love for teaching. So, once again, DeGennaro re-enrolled at UCF — this time in the nurse educator master’s program, from which she graduated in 2013.

“I love being a nurse,” she says. “I love caring for people. [But,] as a nurse educator, I’m able to impart my knowledge and experience into my students. Every time they help or care for someone, I feel as though I’m a part of it. So, in essence, I’m able to touch more people’s lives than ever before!”

While she’s not planning to make a career out of dancing, DeGennaro is planning to continue her UCF education, beginning her Ph.D. in summer 2016, with plans to do research in critical care.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — June 15, 2015

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The UCF Alumni Association hosted the chairs of its college, regional and special interest chapters and clubs during the annual AlumKnights of the Roundtable: 2015 Chapter & Club Council meeting on Saturday.

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. The UCF Jefferson Awards & Alumni Volunteer Reception took place Friday evening at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center, where nine Knights were honored, and many others recognized, for their countless acts of generosity and numerous volunteer hours to the alumni association.
  2. On Saturday, the UCF Alumni Association hosted its annual Chapter & Club Council meeting, where nearly 50 chapter and club alumni volunteers — from Central Florida and across the nation — gathered to discuss the alumni association’s strategic plan, as well as many other important topics.
  3. The next UCF MedTalk takes place this Wednesday at the Downtown PourHouse, where Dr. Griffith Parks will discuss “The Upshot on Viruses and Vaccines.” The MedTalk series allows participants to learn about current and innovative issues in medicine in a casual setting. This informative and interesting evening is open to everyone.
  4. Sonya Baumstein, ’09, the UCF alumna who was attempting to row solo across the Pacific Ocean was rescued over the weekend due to mechanical issues and bad weather.
  5. UCF students will attempt another Guinness World Record on Thursday — this time, for the World’s Largest Swim Lesson. The attempt is part of a worldwide campaign to promote swimming lessons to save lives.

UCF Alumni Honors 2015 Jefferson Award Recipients

JeffersonAwards-Blue+Buit+Ayala

Three of this year’s UCF Jefferson Award recipients included (left to right) Mark Blue, ’89, ’08, ’10, College Chapter Volunteer of the Year; Crystal Buit, ’06, Constituent Chapter Volunteer of the Year; and Matthew Ayala, ’11, Regional Club Volunteer of the Year.

On June 12, the UCF Jefferson Awards & Alumni Volunteer Reception celebrated its eighth year recognizing some of the UCF Alumni Association’s most active volunteers for their countless acts of generosity and numerous volunteer hours. Hosted by the UCF Community Volunteers Alumni Chapter, these awards focus on public service and the importance of giving back.

The event kickstarted the alumni association’s Chapter and Club Council Meeting weekend, during which alumni chapter and club volunteers from across the nation gathered to discuss plans for the upcoming year.

Todd Bowers, ’77, a graduate of the College of Business Administration, who serves on the college’s Dean’s Advisory Council, the UCF Athletics Association Board of Directors, the UCF Foundation Finance Committee and the UCF Inclusive Education Team, was the evening’s master of ceremonies. Anthony Jenkins, Ph.D., UCF’s senior associate vice president and dean of students, was also in attendance as a guest speaker for the festivities.

Congratulations to this year’s recipients:

Regional Chapter Volunteer of the Year—
Ivette Herald, ’04, Chicago UCF Alumni Chapter

Ivette has been chair of the Chicago UCF Alumni Chapter for the past four years. With her leadership, the chapter grew from 10 active members to nearly 50, and its Facebook page has increased to more than 400 followers.

“Our chapter’s mission is to create a home away from home for alumni, and I stress the importance of making those connections during every board meeting and through my actions,” she says. “It’s important that we make alumni feel welcome. I think that passion is what has helped our club evolve into a chapter in one year, and keeps alumni coming to our monthly events and watch parties.”

The other nominees included: Eric Braga, ’00, Space Coast UCF Alumni Chapter; Chris Brown, ’05, Tampa Bay UCF Alumni Chapter; Samantha Malone, ’04, Denver UCF Alumni Chapter; Thomas Marron, ’86, New York UCF Alumni Chapter; and Sara Singer, ’10, Southeast Florida UCF Alumni Chapter

Regional Club Volunteer of the Year—
Matthew Ayala, ’11, Southwest Florida UCF Alumni Club

Matthew just completed his third year as chair of the Southwest Florida UCF Alumni Club. Under his guidance, the club has seen a significant increase in its watch party attendance, as well as its Senior Sendoff event, after which other clubs now model their Senior Sendoffs.

“I look at this as a job,” he says. “Every day is another opportunity to enhance UCF’s brand, and I try to do something for the club each and every day.”

The other nominees included: Bakari Dowdell, ’14, Jacksonville UCF Alumni Club; and Becky Koziuk, ’03, Jacksonville UCF Alumni Club

Association Committee Volunteer of the Year—
Dan Ward, ’92, UCF Alumni Board of Directors/PR Committee

After serving a six-year term on the UCF Alumni Association Board of Directors, Dan returned this year to chair the public relations committee, developing strategies to increase awareness and relevance of the association and the Knights it serves.

“We’ve brought additional structure to the PR committee this year, and added a team of dedicated volunteers who give of their time and help us promote the association,” he says.

College Chapter Volunteer of the Year—
Mark Blue, ’89, ’08, ’10, UCF College of Engineering & Computer Science Alumni Chapter

Mark currently serves as vice chair of the UCF College of Engineering and Computer Science Alumni Chapter. Along with a fellow chapter member, he championed the college’s new Career Kickoff, which became a signature event for the chapter.

“I believe in direct engagement between students and alumni for the benefit of both,” he says. “As alumni, we can provide great insight, skills, training, guidance and contacts for the students. In return, the students infuse us with passion and energy for our university and our profession.”

The other nominees included: Tom Alexander, ’03, UCF Nicholson School of Communication Alumni Chapter; and Tiffany Carrion, ’08, UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management Alumni Chapter

Constituent Chapter Volunteer of the Year—
Crystal Buit, ’06, UCF Community Volunteers Chapter

This past year, Crystal served as chair of the UCF Community Volunteers Chapter. Like other volunteer leaders, she says she wanted the year to be a success and had a passion for outreach and engagement, being sure to personally connect with as many alumni as she could at each event, letting them know she was thankful for their participation and welcomed their future involvement.

“I hope I have positively impacted the association by creating opportunities for alumni to reconnect with one another, while reminding those in the community of UCF’s tremendous and generous alumni presence and base,” Crystal says.

The other nominee was: Justina Oldehoff, ’09, UCF Young Alumni Chapter 

Student Volunteer of the Year—
Jill Dutmers, 4EVER KNIGHTS Ambassador

Jill has been a 4EVER Knights Ambassador for the past three years. During her junior year, she served as secretary of the 4EK officer board. She also chaired Knights of Legend, 4EK’s annual networking event for students and alumni. This past year, she served as the student alumni association’s president.

“As an ambassador, I’m only required to work 50 hours’ worth of events,” Jill says. “Yet, I attend everything — every meeting, every event, every social gathering — regardless of whether I need the hours. It’s not that I don’t have coursework or law school applications or family obligations waiting for me at home. It’s just that I want to be the kind of outstanding leader who inspires those who follow through my actions rather than my words.”

The other nominee was: Mackenzie Chase, 4EVER KNIGHTS Ambassador 

In addition, three alumni were honored with Shining Armor Awards, recognizing their chivalry to the 4EVER KNIGHTS program and the 4EVER KNIGHTS Ambassadors by donating their time and talent to help 4EK succeed.

Those recipients were:

Peter Cranis, ’84, ’88

Mike Griffin, ’84

Tiffany Payne, ’97

Congrats to all!

VIEW EVENT PHOTO GALLERY

UCF Alumni Hosts 2015 Chapter & Club Council

CCC-awards-3

During the annual AlumKnights of the Roundtable: 2015 Chapter & Club Council, chapter and club chairs were presented with
framed photos of the Reflecting Pond as a token of thanks for all of their hard work and dedication to the UCF Alumni Association.

On Saturday, June 13, following the previous evening’s 8th Annual UCF Jefferson Awards & Alumni Volunteer Reception, nearly 60 regional, college and special interest chapter and club alumni volunteers — from Central Florida and across the nation — attended the UCF Alumni Association’s AlumKnights of the Roundtable: 2015 Chapter & Club Council at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center.

The morning began with a keynote address and Q&A by Anthony Jenkins, Ph.D., UCF’s senior associate vice president and dean of students.

Next, alumni staff presented this year’s Chapter & Club Awards, which included:

  • The College Chapter Challenge Award tasked college-based alumni chapters to engage in professional development activities within their chapters that add value to their degrees and make meaningful connections back to the university. This year’s winner hosted an evening to provide alumni with a tool that’s invaluable in the industry in which they work — customer service training, provided by best-selling author Tim Miles. Congratulations to the Rosen College of Hospitality Management Alumni Chapter!
  • The Regional Chapter/Club Challenge Award tasked regional chapters with executing events with a strong university connection — which isn’t always easy when you’re not in Orlando! However, this year’s winner impressed the selection committee by working on events with local businesses in their community, while also working with the UCF regional campus closest to them on their signature event, Starry Knights. Last year, Starry Knights raised more than $6,000 for scholarships and, after this year’s event in July, they will be one step closer to their goal of endowing their chapter’s scholarship. Congratulations to the Space Coast UCF Alumni Chapter!
  • The Constituent Chapter Challenge Award tasked special interest chapters with creating opportunities to create meaningful connections with our student population. Chapter volunteers participated as panelists for the 4EVER KNIGHTS Alumni Speaker Series and served as mentors in the 4EK Connect program. Their signature professional development conference, PRO CON, raised $8,000 this year and allowed the chapter to engage with students in various stages of the UCF experience. Congratulations to the UCF Young Alumni Chapter!
  • The Chapter or Club of the Year Award was presented to the overall chapter or club that covered all of the bases in not only event programming, but in communicating with alumni and building meaningful connections. The selection committee was impressed by the winning group, not only for their philanthropic events — participating in multiple events through the year in addition to UCF’s annual day of service, Knights Give Back — but also in the goals they set and how they reached them. They’ve grown their LinkedIn following from just 10 members to nearly 300, while becoming a chapter only two years ago. The judges were thoroughly impressed! Congratulations to the Denver UCF Alumni Chapter!

Chapter and club leaders then participated in breakout sessions on the alumni association’s strategic plan goals of communication, engagement, relevance and funding. After lunch, they continued with roundtable discussions on board management, social media, student engagement, professional development/career-focused events, and partnerships.

Before wrapping up the day-long conference with a catered happy hour and UCF Bookstore merchandise sales, attendees got to meet and participate in a Q&A with Mike Morsberger, the new vice president for alumni relations and development, and CEO of the foundation.

Thank you to all of our dedicated alumni volunteers! Go Knights! Charge On!

VIEW EVENT PHOTO GALLERY

UCF Alumni Board Welcomes Three New Members

The UCF Alumni Association board of directors, led by its chair, Peter Cranis, ’84, welcomes three new members this summer. The board is made up of dedicated volunteers who share their time and expertise to strengthen programs and services that benefit alumni and students.

Angela CohenAngela Cohen, ’98, is president/co-founder of Cyon, an Orlando-based professional recruitment firm. Angela’s expertise includes strategic planning and Fortune 100 corporate management. She and Cyon are dedicated to providing educational scholarships to deserving students at UCF through the UCF Foundation and her namesake scholarship to an active member of the Kappa Delta Sorority.
Trish CelanoTrish Celano, ’10, is vice president/chief nursing officer for Florida Hospital. Trish specializes in nursing strategies, mentoring, coaching and outcome management. She was the recipient of last year’s UCF College of Nursing Professional Achievement Award.
SMITH Beth015Beth Smith, ’04, is the community relations manager for Orlando Health. Beth combines leadership and volunteerism to support fundraising activities for numerous community organizations, including UCF scholarships. In 2012, she was named one of the Orlando Business Journal’s “40 Under 40″ nominees.

Learn more about the UCF Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — June 8, 2015

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. UCF has a unique opportunity to hear from Heather Gill-Frerking, director of science and education for the Mummies of the World traveling exhibit, on Wednesday, June 10. The exhibit — one of the largest of its kind — opens at the Orlando Science Center on June 13. (See video above.)
  2. The alumni association hosts its eighth annual UCF Jefferson Awards & Alumni Volunteer Reception on Friday, June 12. The evening recognizes some of the university’s most active volunteers for their countless acts of generosity and numerous volunteer hours with the association.
  3. The UCF College of Medicine and UCF Alumni Association host their third MedTalk on Wednesday, June 17. “The Upshot on Viruses and Vaccines” will be presented by Dr. Griffith Parks, whose research interests include developing novel vaccines for viral diseases and the use of viruses for the targeted killing of tumor cells.
  4. Nearly 200 women attended last Thursday’s annual UCF Ladies Football Clinic, hosted by the athletics department. In addition to getting tours of the team’s weight room and Wayne Densch Sports Center, throwing passes and trying on equipment, the lady Knights fans also got to meet players and coaches, and chat with Coach George O’Leary.
  5. Check out some of the new expansions and renovations making their way to campus.

UCF’s Limbitless Solutions Presents 3-D Printed Arm to
10-Year-Old California Girl

"Dolphin Tale" star Cozi Zuehlsdorff was part of the surprise presentation of a new arm from UCF's Limbitless Solutions.

“Dolphin Tale” star Cozi Zuehlsdorff and Winter the dolphin surprised 10-year-old Anni Emmert when UCF’s Limbitless Solutions presented her with a new, 3-D printed arm.
(Photo: Alyssa Marie Aviles)

UCF’s Limitless Solutions has done it again! The group of engineering students presented its newest 3-D printed arm to Anni Emmert, who was born without her right hand and part of her arm.

And, just as Limbitless Solutions worked with Robert Downey Jr. to surprise 6-year-old Alex Pring with his 3-D arm and Blue Man Group to surprise 10-year-old Wyatt Falardeau with his 3-D arm, they also had a big surprise in store for Anni. This time, the engineers worked with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium to give Anni a VIP visit with “Dolphin Tale” stars Winter the dolphin, who has a prosthetic tail, and Cozi Zuehlsdorff.

READ FULL STORY

See the story, which aired Friday morning, June 5, on “Good Morning America.” (You may want to grab a tissue!)

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