- The UCF College of Sciences hosted its second annual Outstanding AlumKnights awards ceremony on Thursday, honoring 10 Knights from each of the college’s nine departments, as well as the Nicholson School of Communication.
- Pegasus Magazine was delivered to mailboxes and inboxes last week. Read a digital copy, or download the Pegasus Magazine iPad app.
- Hear ye, here ye! The Orlando Shakespeare Theater, in partnership with UCF, presents performances of “The Tempest” through March 27 staring UCF alumna, Gracie Winchester, ’14, and “The Adventures of Pericles” through March 26.
- Did you know UCF has a student belly dancing club? The Shimmy Knights are dedicated to promoting positive body image and teaches students who want to learn the art of belly dancing!
- Looking for ways to get involved? View the UCF Alumni events calendar to find a local event near you!
On March 3, the UCF College of Sciences and its alumni chapter hosted their second annual Outstanding AlumKnights awards ceremony. The college’s dean, Michael Johnson, hosted this year’s festivities, which took place in the Grand Ballroom of the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center, where guests enjoyed music, cocktails, heavy hors d’oeuvres and a photo booth, in addition to the award presentations.
Congratulations to all of this year’s Outstanding AlumKnights!
The 2016 awardees were:
- Anthropology | Amanda Groff, Ph.D., ’03, ’05, ’07, lecturer, UCF Department of Anthropology
- Biology | David Breininger, Ph.D., ’09, lead wildlife biologist, NASA Ecological Programs, Kennedy Space Center
- Chemistry | Robert DeVor, Ph.D., ’03, ’08, scientist/principal investigator, Vencore Inc.
- Communication | Marci Gonzalez, ’05, reporter, ABC affiliate, New York
- Mathematics | Robert Muise, Ph.D., ’88, ’90, ’03, senior staff systems engineer, Lockheed Martin
- Physics | Howard Bender III, Ph.D., ’97, ’98, R&D program manager, National Security Technologies LLC
- Political Science | Carol Lawrence, ’71, attorney at law, Carolyn J.B. Lawrence P.A.
- Psychology | Diane Robinson, Ph.D., ’06, ’10, program director, Cancer Support Community/Integrative Medicine Department, UF Health Cancer Center, Orlando Health
- Sociology | Monica Mendez, Ph.D., ’02, ’08, executive director, Dress for Success Pittsburgh
- Statistics | Tiffany Wills, ’06, assistant vice president/actuary, Hannover Life Reassurance Company of America
Here are five things you should know this week:
- Dr. Phillips Charities made the largest private gift to UCF Downtown on Tuesday, investing $3 million in the campus project.
- UCF Career Services and the UCF Alumni Association hosts a Meet Your Mentor networking event designed to motivate, inspire and empower young women to pursue leadership roles in various industry fields on Tuesday evening.
- Thinking about going back to school? Learn more about the UCF Professional MBA program during a special Lunch & Learn series at the UCF Executive Development Center (downtown Orlando) on Thursday from noon to 1 p.m.
- The spring football game is scheduled for April 16 at 7 p.m. Campus activities will begin at noon, and will feature tailgating, music and motocross.
- The UCF Arboretum is celebrating the completion of a new campus greenhouse that will support its educational and research efforts. The public is invited to a ribbon cutting and open house that will take place from 2-4 p.m. on Friday, March 25.
Here are five things you should know this week:
- Twenty students (out of UCF’s 63,000) were named as recipients of the 2016 Order of Pegasus, the university’s most prestigious student award.
- UCF Celebrates the Arts — a free festival of music, performances and visual displays — reprises its second season April 8-16 at the Dr. Phillips Center for the performing arts in downtown Orlando, with an extended program of student and faculty presentations and collaborations. The university’s annual spring dance concert kicks off the nine-day festival, which also includes many displays from the School of Visual Arts and Design. For a complete schedule and ticket information, visit arts.cah.ucf.edu.
- This Thursday, expand your network and connect with fellow Knights! Mingle with alumni working in the nonprofit community during a joint Networking Knight at Bar Louie (UCF) from 6-8 p.m., hosted by the UCF School of Public Administration and UCF College of Health and Public Affairs Alumni Chapter. Or, join the College of Engineering and Computer Science Alumni Chapter for an alumni and student Networking Knight in the Engineering II building atrium from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
- UCF students showed some love to their favorite campus shuttle driver, Maurice Mosby, as they surprised him with more than $400 in gift cards in honor of Valentine’s Day last week, which also happened to be Mosby’s birthday.
- Grammy Award-winning a cappella group Pentatonix brings its World Tour 2016 to the CFE Arena on April 14!
Autumn (Gill) Chouinard, ’11 | Deputy First Class, Orange County Sheriff’s Office
By Angie Lewis, ’03
It was 3 p.m. on a Tuesday, just 10 days before Christmas, when Deputy First Class Autumn (Gill) Chouinard, ’11, pulled out of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office police substation on Lake Underhill Road in Orlando, with me riding shotgun. It was my first squad car ride-along, and it began just as I’d hoped — speeding through traffic, lights on and sirens blaring (aka “running code”), to get to our first call.
We were responding to a transient fight in a camp behind a local Winn-Dixie. However, when we arrived, the man who was injured had already left the scene, and, after speaking to a woman who explained the events that led up to the altercation, there was nothing Autumn or the other deputies could do, so everyone went on their way.
It wasn’t quite the outcome I’d expected after our rush to the scene (nobody was arrested?!), but, as the night went on, I would discover anticlimactic endings are pretty typical.
From the transient fight location, we made our way over behind a CVS, where Autumn called a young woman to start a report on her stolen iPad. Once she got all of the information, two other deputies met us at the alleged thief’s home, but no one answered the door. So, the case was put on hold until she could make contact.
We responded to a few more calls — a panhandler at a local Publix, a claim of parental sexual assault at an area middle school, and shoplifters at a nearby Walmart — before we found ourselves back on University Boulevard near campus. As we were chatting more about her job, a young man in a Mazda sedan ran a stop sign right in front of us, so Autumn “lit him up” and pulled him over.
Since the man admitted to his mistake, had all of his appropriate documents and didn’t have any outstanding issues on record, Autumn let him go with a warning, reminding him how many people ride bicycles down the sidewalk on that street, and told him to be more careful.
By then, it was about 8:30 p.m., so we took a break and met a couple of Autumn’s fellow deputies for dinner at a local Panera. We got to hear about some of their cases that evening, as well as stories from previous cases, and I learned how often the police have to “Baker Act” the people they’re responding to help. (The Baker Act allows for involuntary examination by law enforcement, or other authorities, of possible mental illness.)
The other deputies told us about a call they’d had earlier in the evening, during which a young woman refused to put her clothes on after neighbors reported her for public nudity. She even kicked one of the deputies, which prompted them to have her taken in for a mental health evaluation.
We barely finished our meals before a call came through about an 8-month-old boy who nearly lost a finger pulling a game console off an entertainment center. After running code to the house, we found firefighters already on the scene, wrapping the baby’s hand as he sobbed in pain on his crying mother’s lap. Then, paramedics showed up and put him inside the ambulance, where his distraught mom accompanied him for the ride to Arnold Palmer Hospital. Since the incident appeared to be an accident, and everything was under control, we left the scene.
We didn’t even make it out of the neighborhood when a possible burglary call yet again sent us running code through Orange County’s moonlit streets. A mother at home with her kids reported hearing noises that sounded like someone was in their house. When we arrived, Autumn joined several other deputies as they searched the area around the house, which turned out to be fully secured.
Taking advantage of a quiet period, Autumn started tackling the mountain of reports she would have to complete by her shift’s end at 2:30 a.m. So, we pulled into the median on University Boulevard, where she said she can keep a better eye out in case anyone should approach the car.
As she typed up the repetitious lists of stolen items from the Walmart shoplifters’ call earlier that night, I jokingly said, “So, this must be your favorite part of the job?” Her answer, of course, was a sarcastic “Oh, yeah.”
After what seemed like an eternity, watching her type up reports on her laptop, we received a call to respond to a house where a 26-year-old woman was arguing with her elderly parents. When we got there, we learned the parents were angry that the daughter kept turning down the air conditioning. Yep, the police were called to settle an argument about an electric bill.
After the daughter took her kids and left the house for the night, we were pulling away when Autumn got a call to respond to an attempted home invasion and car theft. So, once again, it was lights and sirens all the way! Before pulling up to the location, Autumn turned off her lights to avoid possibly scaring the suspect away, and told me to stay in the car. She was the first deputy on the scene, and quickly jumped out of the patrol car, flashlight in hand, and began searching the area. Within seconds, another deputy joined in the search. After a few minutes, they knocked on the door of the house from which the call came.
It wasn’t long before Autumn came back to the car and told me I could get out. By that time, several other deputies had arrived, and a police helicopter was circling the sky above.
As I observed the situation, it was obvious that the “victim” who called 911 was inebriated. She first claimed a black man had kicked in her door, grabbed her car keys out of her hand, and tried to steal the Mustang that was in the driveway. She said her boyfriend was able to stop him (the boyfriend said that didn’t happen), and explained how she got into a physical altercation with the man, showing some scrapes on her arm.
Paramedics arrived shortly after and tended to the woman’s arm with some peroxide and Band-Aids (you would’ve thought they were cutting off her arm with her over-reactive screaming!). In the meantime, a K9 unit had arrived on scene to help look for the suspect.
However, as the deputies continued to try to get more details about what happened, the woman’s story kept changing — from a black man to a Hispanic man, from the man kicking in the door after she got home to her hearing someone at the door and going to check it out with her car keys in her hand. The whole thing was fishy, and the deputies knew it. So, after a little more questioning by deputies, the woman ended up finding her car keys in her purse. She’d made up the whole scenario and, apparently, gotten into a fight with herself.
So, all of those resources — the deputies on scene, the county’s helicopter in the air, the arrival of the K9 unit and the paramedics showing up to treat some scrapes — were wasted on a drunk woman who’d imagined the whole thing. I asked one of the other deputies if they could arrest her for making the false claim, which cost the county several thousand dollars — but, he told me it really wouldn’t do much good, because they’d never recoup the money anyway.
As Autumn’s shift neared its end, we made a quick stop at the Knights Library on University Boulevard. It was about 1 a.m. on the last day of finals before winter break, so we thought things might be getting a little rowdy. After we pulled up and got out of the car, we walked toward the entrance of the bar, where Autumn spotted one of the bouncers she knows. The two chatted for a few minutes, as he told her there hadn’t had any major issues that evening, then was excited to show her a news clip of one of the bar’s former bouncers who’s now a police deputy in Brevard County. Apparently, his recent chase and arrest had made headlines.
Since all else was calm, we headed back to the substation, where she had to finish the rest of her paperwork — a stark contrast to the way her shift began!
Did you know that anyone (as long as you pass the background check) can request to go on a ride-along? Contact your local sheriff’s office or police department for more information.
I went through:
Orange County Sheriff’s Office
Sector II Substation – East Orange County
11000 Lake Underhill Road
Orlando, FL 32825
It takes many hands to smoothly and effectively run the second-largest university in the nation. Busy students often don’t realize where our school’s resources come from, so the UCF Student Philanthropy Council started spreading the word of philanthropic giving with Project ’63.
The mission of Project ’63 is to remind students of the importance of philanthropy and its impact on higher education. To accomplish this, the SPC is hosting its third annual Student Philanthropy Week, bringing the spirit of giving back to campus.
This year’s celebration takes place Feb. 22-25, and includes the following daily events to inspire tradition:
Monday – Education Day
Students host a table outside the Student Union and play educational/trivia games.
Tuesday – Appreciation Day
Students sign a “Thank You” banner for young alumni donors, which helps stewardship with donors and gives students a better appreciation for and understanding of how philanthropy impacts their education.
On both Monday and Tuesday, the Student Philanthropy Council also introduces Philanthropy Cab, like the TV show “CA$H CAB,” where members pick up students and drive them to their classes on a golf cart, all the while testing their knowledge and school pride!
Wednesday – Participation Day
Students focus on peer-to-peer solicitation to cultivate donations in anticipation of launching a senior giving program.
Thursday – Celebration Day
The week concludes with all of the previous days’ activities, plus the Student Philanthropy Symposium, featuring a panel of some of the UCF Alumni Association’s 30 under 30 award winners.
“Student Philanthropy Week is one of the first opportunities many students have to learn about the impact of philanthropy on their education,” says Danielle Warren, coordinator of the UCF Fund. “Facilitating experiences through which students might recognize that many academic, scholarship and programmatic opportunities are funded by donations cultivates the spirit of philanthropy on campus — an important step toward assuring the future of private support at UCF.”
For more information about the Student Philanthropy Council and Student Philanthropy Week, contact Danielle at 407.882.1254.
Here are five things you should know this week:
- Seven years ago, when UCF music Professor Ayako Yonetani played the final movement from the Violin Partita in D minor by Johann Sebastian Bach, she had no idea that she’d also composed a love story for UCF neuroscience Professor Kiminobu Sugaya. Now, the pair teaches the Music and the Brain class in The Burnett Honors College.
- Thanks to a special harness system, UCF’s new, first-of-its-kind therapy cafe allows traumatic brain injury survivors an opportunity to take the next step in their recovery.
- A collaboration between the University of Central Florida and Florida Hospital awarded its first $20,000 seed grant to a team that will study the fundamentals of cough in patients with head and neck cancer.
- Last week, the Orlando City Council unanimously voted to provide $75.2 million in support for the UCF Downtown campus.
- The CFE Arena is offering a $5 discount to students and alumni for this Friday’s show featuring comedian Katt Williams. (The discount is available only at the arena box office.)
Here are five things you should know this week:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.”
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:
- Visit ucfalumni.com/scholarships. (The application window opens Feb. 1 and closes Feb. 28 each year.)
- Read all scholarship criteria and complete all required supporting documents.
- Log on to myUCF.
- Select “Student Self Service.”
- Click on “Scholarship Application” > “Home Page” > “Add New Scholarship.”
- Complete and submit application(s).
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.