Veteran’s Day Salute: Joseph Rogan ’11

Burnett Honors College alumnus Joe Rogan ’11 (right) served eight years in the Military Police Corps of the U.S. Army Reserve.

By Jenna Marina Lee

ORLANDO, Fla. (Nov. 9, 2017) – Jacksonville-based lawyer and UCF alumnus Joseph Rogan ’11 approaches everyday with the same mentality: Put the mission first. Never accept defeat.

Whether those tenets apply to his career or his relationships, the U.S. Army’s Warrior Ethos are something The Burnett Honors College graduate has carried with him since he enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve at the age of 17.

“It really was just a calling,” said Rogan, who served eight years in the Military Police Corps.

Rogan grew up in South Florida and chose to join the Army Reserve before his senior year of high school.

His parents were supportive but hesitant. In fact, Rogan’s paperwork sat on the table for two weeks without until one day he came home to find the missing component completed: his mother’s signature.

“I found out years later that my brother had persuaded her to sign it,” he said.

In the summer between his junior and senior years of high school, he traveled to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, for basic training. He called it a maturing experience and unlike anything he had ever endured.

“I think you learn a lot about values and reasons to trust and work with people,” he said.

He arrived on campus in 2008 after finishing military police school as a first-generation college student and ended up double majoring in political science and psychology. He joined ROTC for that first year and, of course, he was still committed to the Army Reserve, training with his unit regularly.

After his first year at UCF, his unit got activated and was deployed to Iraq.

For 10 months, before he had reached the age of 21, Rogan was responsible for mentoring, advising and training the Iraqi police, some of whom had been officers for decades.

Rogan said the experience helped him find his calling as a lawyer.

“When we were there, the Iraqis were still operating under Saddam Hussein’s penal code. But it was in a democracy. You can imagine there are some really big problems with that,” he said. “Since then, they’ve rewritten the penal code, but at the time, my job was to explain how to treat people in what we view as norms in a democratic society.”

Rogan returned to the United States, and about a week later, he was back in classes at UCF. The transition was understandably a major adjustment.

“It was a difficult time going from holding a gun one day to sitting in class with a pencil the next,” he said.

In addition, he withstood several injuries while overseas, including a traumatic brain injury from a vehicle explosion. Other injuries required surgeries upon his return.

But as he adjusted to studying full-time again, he found ways to apply what he had learned from the military to his everyday life.

His work ethic yielded exemplary grades in his classes. His professors, especially in courses like Middle Eastern politics, saw value in his real-life experiences for class discussions.

Rogan credits Director of Honors Advising Rex Roberts ’00 ’03MA for helping him integrate back into a routine schedule and UCF’s community.

Rogan went on to attend Georgetown Law and spent time working in Washington D.C., where he got involved with UCF Alumni’s chapter and eventually rekindled a friendship that later blossomed into a marriage with alumna Ashley Noland ’10.

“There can be a perception with a university like UCF that because we’re large, it’s not a community. That it’s like a factory. That was never my experience,” he said. “It was very much the opposite.”

His double-life in college and the Army Reserve helped lead him to his career as an associate for Smith Hulsey & Busey focusing in business litigation. His drive hasn’t gone unnoticed as he was selected as one of UCF Alumni’s 30 Under 30 this year.

At its center, that drive is all about putting the mission first and never accepting defeat. So as the United States prepares to commemorate its 63rd annual Veterans Day on Nov. 11, Rogan knows first-hand and respects the depth of duty and commitment of those who serve.

“Everybody who serves, no matter their branch or if they are active or reserve or whether they’ve ever been deployed, everybody who serves has sort of written a blank check to the country,” he said. “It doesn’t mean that they agree with any particular war or that they even want to go, but all those people, by signing on the dotted line, have agreed that they will. And they know that there’s a possibility you could be injured or killed. I have the upmost gratitude for everybody who has signed that line at all stages and all branches.”

Alumna Speechless After Winning Poet Laureate Contest

By Jenna Marina Lee

ORLANDO, Fla. (Oct. 27, 2017) – You’d be hardpressed to find someone as deeply connected to Orlando as the city’s newly appointed Poet Laureate, UCF alumna Susan Lilley ’75 ’80MA.

Lilley, who was named to the “official storyteller” gig in October, has been rooted in the community since she was still in the womb.

Her parents were both born in Orlando. She grew up in the area and decided to attend the hometown university, UCF, where she pursued bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English.

She raised her three children here. She worked at UCF for 12 years and was part of a group called “Simply Shakespeare,” the brainchild of her former professor Stuart Omans, who went on to found the festival that became the origins of the Orlando Shakespeare Theater.

She has served as an instructor in Rollins College’s English department since 2000 and teaches literature and creative writing at Trinity Preparatory School in Winter Park.

Over the years, she has been recognized as the winner of the Rita Dove Poetry Award (2009) and published two books, “Night Windows” and “Satellite Beach.”

When it was announced that a contest would be held to determine the city’s first Poet Laureate, Lilley’s brother texted her immediately. At his and her friends’ urging, she decided to apply along with 49 other poets from Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Volusia, Lake and Brevard counties.

“I was happy to throw my hat in, mainly out of pride and delight that the city is putting something real in place for creative writing,” Lilley said. “I have been astonished and uplifted by the growth in the literary world here over the last few years.”

Three finalists, Lilley among them, were announced in September. She said she was stunned to learn she had made the cut and was floored when she claimed the job after an interview with City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.

“What gratifying validation for an artist–that someone notices the work you’ve been scribbling away at for years. It was really enough (to be a finalist),” she said. “But when the City called to tell me I had been selected by Mayor Dyer, I was truly dumbfounded. But very excited.”

Dyer appointed her to a one-year term, and he can approve up to two additional one-year renewals before a new laureate is chosen.

Among her duties, she will perform at city events and give presentations to local students, and it’s her interactions with the community that she’s most looking forward to.

“In this new role I hope to work with different groups of people, from young people to the elders, who need to find their voices and have their stories told. I intend to promote and amplify the great writing scene we have here as I learn more about it. I want to help celebrate it all–from formal poets and academic poets to spoken-word and open mic and slam poets,” she said. “As I enlarge my world of the area’s creative writers I want to share it with the community and spread the word.”

UCF Alumni Michi and Brandon Marshall’s Mission for Mental Health Awareness

Michi Marshall ’06 returned to campus to speak about the importance of mental health awareness to counseling education majors on Oct. 20

By Jenna Marina Lee

ORLANDO, Fla. (Oct. 25, 2017) – The day that NFL star wide receiver and UCF alumnus Brandon Marshall ’06 went public with his borderline personality disorder diagnosis in 2011, his wife, Michi Marshall ’06, remembers turning to him and saying that his diagnosis was going to help someone.

They knew immediately they needed to organize and mobilize their mission to bring awareness to mental health.

“There was no pause. And we’ve had our foot completely down on the gas pedal ever since,” she said.

It’s what brought the UCF alumna back to her alma mater Oct. 20 where she discussed her work with the Marshalls’ non-profit Project 375 and fielded questions from the audience, who included counseling education majors, faculty, staff and College of Education and Human Performance Dean Pamela Carroll.

The daughter of a clinical psychologist, Marshall earned bachelor’s degrees in psychology and criminal justice in addition to three certificates from UCF.

“When I came here, I was so unsure of myself. When I graduated I was very sure of myself,” she said. “I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I knew exactly how I could be who I wanted to be. UCF truly gave me the resources that I needed.”

Yet, she never predicted just how significantly her education would shape her future.

She met Brandon on campus during their undergraduate days. He saw her walking across the Student Union and told his friend that he was going to marry her one day. She described Brandon back then as jovial, fun-loving and always with a smile on his face.

They dated, separated and reconnected, eventually marrying in 2010. Marshall said she noticed the smallest shift in Brandon from his college days. She attributed it to the stress of an NFL career, or perhaps typical relationship issues that couples experience.

She wasn’t looking for something to pinpoint as a mental health disorder.

“In fact, it’s not healthy to categorize all that (as a professional in the field) because everybody you know would have a diagnosis,” she said. “I thought it had something to do with me.”

After Brandon sought help and was diagnosed, they knew they possessed all the elements to effect real change.

They had the personal experience of living daily with a mental health disorder. They had an education in psychology. They had a national platform because of Brandon’s status as a six-time Pro Bowl selection and NFL veteran.

Most importantly, they had each other.

“We don’t take it for granted at all. And we try and use every single resource that’s available to us in order to further the mission in getting mental health to be a normal, everyday conversation,” she said. “It’s truly remarkable that we’re able to do this together.”

Their non-profit organization, Project 375, offers training in various areas of mental health from coping strategies to stigmatizing language to distinguishing the signs of a disorder. The organization’s name comes from the pantone number for the color lime green, the official color of mental health awareness.

Their focus is nation-wide. Marshall said Project 375 has hosted 30 trainings to roughly 500 individuals this year. In 2018, the organization intends to reach international audiences.

“We use education and inspiration and communication to teach people from everyday walks of life what mental health is,” she said. “It knows no race, it knows no financial status, it knows no gender, no success. It affects one in five and it’s something that needs to be an everyday, normal conversation.”

Her hope, she told the counseling education professionals in the room Friday, is that they will be the ones to lead those conversations in the near future.

“When you go into your field of work, I want you to be encouraged and really be understanding of your role in this fight. Your role in this is not only being a caretaker. It’s not only a first responder, it’s also being an educator to those who do not know about mental health,” she said to the crowd. “This generation is the generation that is going to break the stigma for mental health.”

Shining Knights Honored

From left to right: President John C. Hitt, Michael Manglardi ’84, Michael Corey H’17, Loretta Corey H’17, Carey Sobel ’09, Julie C. Stroh, Michael Morsberger

By Jenna Marina Lee

ORLANDO, Fla. (Oct. 13, 2017) – Four individuals were recognized for their outstanding service and philanthropy at the Shining Knights Alumni Awards held at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center on Oct. 13.

The Shining Knights Alumni Awards is a program that highlights UCF Alumni Engagement and Annual Giving’s three major awards: Young Alumni Award; John C. and Martha Hitt Honorary Alumni Award; and Distinguished Alumni Award. It was implemented in 2017 in place of the now retired Black and Gold Gala.

This year’s honorees are:
• Carey Sobel ’09, Young Alumni Award
• Loretta Corey H’17 and Michael Corey H’17, Honorary Alumni Award
• Michael Manglardi ’84, Distinguished Alumni Award

“We are proud of this incredible and faithful group of UCF supporters,” said Julie C. Stroh, senior associate vice president for Advancement, Alumni Engagement and Annual Giving. “They all have given back to the UCF community with their time, talent and treasure. On behalf of UCF Alumni, it is our honor to thank them for their service and for representing the best of UCF as our inaugural Shining Knights.”

Carey Sobel ’09 was selected as the first recipient of the Young Alumni Award. A management graduate of the College of Business Administration, Sobel was a member of the 2017 30 Under 30 class. He has started eight different businesses in Central Florida, ranging from hospitality, marketing, entertainment and real estate/brokerage, all before the age of 30.

He currently serves as partner and chief strategy officer for Three21, a full-service digital marketing company that has grown into a multi-million dollar, award winning agency. The firm employs many UCF alumni, and offers internships to UCF, Valencia and Full Sail students. Sobel is also a partner at Boss Group International, a business brokerage firm where he helps people buy and sell businesses.

An avid UCF fan and supporter, he is a board member of the Young Alumni Council and the UCF College of Business Alumni Chapter, actively participates in speaking engagements for students, and is also involved in the College of Business mentorship program.

Loretta Corey H’17 and Michael Corey H’17 were given the John C. and Martha Hitt Honorary Alumni Award. The Coreys are parents of three UCF graduates and have been longtime supporters of UCF. They have traveled all over the United States and as far as Dublin to cheer on the Knights, and they maintain a box at Spectrum Stadium where their family can gather every home football game.

They are as equally invested in the importance of education. In addition to their major gift commitment to the Everyday Champions program, which provides scholarships for student-athletes, they recently contributed to the new downtown campus.

Loretta is also the founding co-chair of the UCF Parent and Family Philanthropy Council and serves on the UCF Foundation Board.

Michael Manglardi ’84, a political science graduate from the College of Sciences, was recognized with the highest honor given to a UCF graduate, the Distinguished Alumni Award. The award has been given annually since 1979.

Manglardi is a former chair of the UCF Alumni Board and member of the Golden Knights Club Board of Directors, and is emeritus director of the UCF Foundation Board. Two of his sons and four of his nieces and nephews have all graduated from UCF, and his son Jonathan is currently pursuing his degree.

Manglardi, who has built a successful law career in Central Florida, has offered UCF students internships and job shadowing experiences, spoken for LEAD Scholars and UCF Commencement, and has contributed annually since 1988.

He has previously received the Service to UCF Award in 2004 and the Jefferson Award’s Lifetime of Service in 2010, which recognizes outstanding public service by alumni to the organization and the community.

UCF Advancement senior leadership vetted candidates during the summer, and the UCF Alumni Board voted to confirm the selected honorees.

UCF’s History is in Her Hands

Alumna Mary Rubin ’12 preserves more than 1,050 boxes of UCF history in her role as UCF Libraries’ senior archivist.

By Jenna Marina Lee

ORLANDO, Fla. (Oct. 3, 2017) – She has not yet reached her 30th birthday. She has tattoos of a tortoise and a hippopotamus on her biceps. And while she does work in a library, she doesn’t get to read all day, although she wishes she did.

Meet the keeper of UCF’s past: alumna and senior archivist Mary Rubin ’12.

“Libraries and archives is something I feel very strong about, especially for this school,” Rubin said. “It’s grown so much and to see that history, to be able to preserve it, will help future generations.”

Rubin explains the duties of her job as collecting, preserving and making historical records available.

She always loved libraries and reading as a hobby, but she never considered a profession in the field. In her final year as an undergraduate interdisciplinary studies student at UCF, she got an IT job in the library. In addition to helping students, she troubleshot problems for staff, and as a result, got a pretty good grasp of the library’s organizational chart.

The archivist at the time hired Rubin for her coding skills and tasked her with fixing the digital inventories for the collections.

UCF Marketing then hired Rubin temporarily ahead of UCF’s 50th anniversary in 2013. Rubin was given a 68-page timeline of events with the directive to verify as many as she could. She spent the next six months alone sifting through boxes of materials and turned the 68-page document in a 200-page timeline with citations.

She kept her wits intact by listening to “a lot of Pandora” and brought in a heating lamp when sweaters weren’t enough to keep her warm all day in the cold room.

“My passion started with UCF so that really helped, learning all about it. My love for archives came once I finally started working in it,” she said.

She eventually took over the archivist position in 2013 and has since earned her master’s degree in library and information science from USF. Her first priority every day when she walks into her office is to answer requests for archived materials, which usually involves photographs. After requests are handled, she works on processing her logs of new and old materials to add to the archive collection.

As of June 30, 2017, University Archives possesses more than 1050 boxes of records, which includes administrative files, multimedia materials, photographs, publications and memorabilia.

Among the collection includes a tiara from the 2010 Miss UCF. There’s a football signed by Daunte Culpepper. And the groundbreaking shovel from 1967. It’s the same shovel that was used ceremoniously at the groundbreaking of UCF’s College of Medicine in 2007 and the Downtown Campus in May 2017.

They have a full set of Spirit Splash ducks dating back to 2002. The archive’s collection was missing the 2003 and 2005 ducks until Rubin did a social media campaign last year around Homecoming. A generous Knight offered up her own personal ducks to fill the gaps once she learned they were missing.

But Rubin’s favorite item in the archives is a set of meeting minutes from 1969. It took place less than a year after UCF had opened for classes, but the Board of Regents were already discussing a name change for Florida Technological University.

“It’s my favorite item because they were thinking about changing the name to University of Florida at Orlando,” she said. “Our abbreviation would have been UFO.”

Every day, Rubin can see past the words on a paper or the images on black and white photographs. The records tell her a story.

“You can see the genius behind some of these things,” she said. “It’s the heart of the people. The heart of the organization. It shows the culture. UCF’s impact on the community is amazing.”

UCF Film Alumnus Hits It Big at Today Show

UCF alumnus Aaron Brownlee joined the NBC News team as a producer for the “Today” show

By Jenna Marina

ORLANDO, Fla. (Aug. 29, 2017) – UCF film alumnus Aaron Brownlee ’06 has stood on the New York City stage where the Broadway hit “Hamilton” performs every night. He has interviewed Academy Award winner Robert De Niro, taken flight with the United States Air Force Thunderbirds and has brought joy to pediatric cancer patients by delivering beanies to them in their hospital rooms.

Brownlee’s role as a producer over the last year for NBC’s the “Today” show has already given him a lifetime’s worth of unforgettable experiences, but what really makes him pinch himself is his trek to Rockefeller Center’s commissary every day for lunch.

When he reaches the ninth floor, he steps off the elevator and turns right instead of left toward the food.

A fan of “Saturday Night Live” since he was a child, he never misses a chance to go peek at the stage and silently reflect on this moment in his life.

“I look at this holy grail of comedy and I think to myself, ‘You’re here. Even if it’s a bad day, you’re staring at Lorne Michaels’ dreamland right here,’” Brownlee said. “Take it in, always appreciate every day.”

Aaron Brownlee (right) interviewed Lin Manuel Miranda (left) for a segment about the Broadway hit “Hamilton”

Brownlee has been a storyteller for as long as he can remember. Growing up in Georgia, he put on plays with his brother in their basement and says he shot an original hour-and-a-half James Bond film before he could drive a car.

He came to UCF because he liked that the university allowed its film students to own the work they created while in school.

“I would run to class because every day I was learning something I was so passionate about. It was a joy to go to class,” he said. “Being around a lot of creative people with a lot of different point of views helped changed the way I wanted to tell stories.”

After graduation, he headed to California thanks to an internship connection that UCF had with UCLA. He got his start as an assistant for a producer who was making horror films.

He spent the next decade filling up his resume with experiences as a production assistant on “NCIS,” various full-time jobs and a freelance producer, working on a variety of projects from advertisements to music videos to print with companies like Target, Best Buy and People magazine.

In 2016, a mentor asked him about his interest in applying for a job at the “Today” show. The opportunity to work for the nation’s longest running morning show, which is currently celebrating its 65th year on NBC, intrigued him.

He went through a series of interviews and still remembers the day he got the phone call asking if he was ready to move to New York.

“I never have doubted myself, but for the very first time, just knowing that it’s such an institution and it’s one of a kind, I had this whole bout of unwavering self-doubt. I was just like, ‘Did you talk yourself into this? What did you just do? Are they going to figure out you’re a phony within the first 10 minutes?’” he said. “Looking back on that moment, that’s when I knew that I really, really wanted it, and wanted to work for them.”

On the set of the “Today” show

Since joining the production team, he estimates that he has created at least three hours of television. His segments range from 3-4 minutes on average, and he typically works on four projects at any given time.

His real passion lies in telling people’s stories and creating an emotional connection between audience and subject. He said when people are trusting the “Today” show to tell their stories, he feels a responsibility to “get it right.”

“Being able to tell stories about real people that matter, who are doing great things in life and trying to help people; being able to put that on a national platform and get letters and emails and cards that say, ‘You’ve changed my life’ or ‘We’ve raised hundreds of thousands of dollars because of your piece,’ that’s what is most rewarding,” Brownlee said. “I can see the fruits of the labor of my work.”

With the surge of television access on platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon in addition to traditional media, Brownlee, like most, believes society is experiencing the golden age of television.

He is happy to be contributing to it and hopes to continue to expand the depths of his storytelling.

“One day, if I have a drama or a dramedy on television or streaming on Netflix and people are loving it and it has a part of myself inside of it,” he said, “that would be the ultimate dream.”

Aaron Brownlee with his parents behind the scenes at Rockefeller Center

Hannah and Her Horses

Photo by Chris Tully

By Jenna Marina

ORLANDO, Fla. (Aug. 14, 2017) – Hannah Miller ’14 made her way back to the grandstand in Naples, Italy, after checking off another completed amateur harness racing event when to her surprise, the Springfield, Illinois, native heard someone shouting her name.

The interdisciplinary studies alumna turned to find two young girls eagerly waiting to talk to her. The older of the two explained that her younger sister followed all of Miller’s races and wanted to be just like her when she grew up.

“I almost got teary-eyed. This is what I do it for,” Miller said. “When I started racing, I didn’t realize that girls hadn’t really won Amateur Driver of the Year or competed overseas for the United States. If people can see a girl getting out there and doing it, I hope I can inspire at least one person.”

Harness racing is a form of horse racing in which the horses race at a specific gait (a trot or a pace). They usually pull a two-wheeled cart called a sulky where the driver – in this case, Miller – sits.

It’s a male dominated sport, which is part of what makes the 25-year-old remarkable. More so, she’s just really good at what she does.

Miller became the first woman to earn National Amateur Driver of the Year in 2015 after setting the amateur racing record for victories in a single season (32). She matched that record in 2016 and was chosen to represent the United States last September in the amateur World Cup in Budapest, Hungary, again becoming the first female to earn the opportunity.

She finished runner-up by a point, marking the best performance ever by a U.S. competitor in the international event.

“I barely race against any other girls. Sometimes I get comments from people who think ‘maybe she can’t handle a horse.’ I have had to prove myself, which I think I’ve done now, and people realize I can,” she said.

As Miller tells it, as soon as she came out of the womb she was at the barn or racetrack. She is the daughter of Erv Miller, a renowned horse trainer, and sister of professional driver Marcus Miller. Her aunt and uncle own a stable as does her boyfriend, where she works at from time to time.

Her parents used to skip Illinois winters to train horses outside of Orlando, so when Miller graduated from high school, she was thrilled she was accepted into her “dream school,” UCF, where she could pursue her bachelor’s degree while still train on her family’s horses.

“I had such an amazing experience at UCF. Any time I can talk about it, I do,” she said. “It’s just a great school, and I am proud to say I am a UCF Knight.”

Now, she is stationed in Jackson, New Jersey, and spends her time racing three to four events a week. Races are typically a mile long and involve 10 horses and drivers who reach speeds upwards of 30 miles per hour.

“When I’m in a race, there’s a horse breathing down my neck, there’s a horse to the outside and I’m surrounded the entire time by horses,” she said. “You have to make split second decisions. It’s dangerous. You have to be on high alert, look for things that could go wrong.”

She often rides horses that her family and she own, and thanks to her success, she gets more and more offers to ride horses owned by others in the racing world.

A couple years ago a friend nicknamed Miller “Hurricane Hannah,” and it seems to suit her. She is a force with no intention of letting up.

She has her sights set on breaking her single season record and wants another shot to compete at the World Cup.

“I love what I do and I love the horses. The adrenaline rush I get on the track, I’ve never had before,” she said. “It happens every time I race.”

Pro Bowl

Courtesy of PWBA and USBC

By Jenna Marina

ORLANDO, Fla. (Aug. 3, 2017) – At 15 years old, Stefanie Johnson ’06 ’08MA cleaned tables at a Miami bowling alley for $5.15 per hour and the extra perk of free games with a very clear goal in sight – to one day make it as a professional bowler.

Today, Johnson, now 33, is a 13-year veteran of Team USA Bowling and a five-time World Champion looking to add another accomplishment on her resume at the PWBA stepladder finals Aug. 6 in her new home base Plano, Texas.

‘My life has revolved around bowling for as long as I can remember,” Johnson said.

Johnson was drawn to UCF as a freshman in 2002 because of the university’s bowling program, which had started a year earlier. Johnson competed for her high school bowling team and wanted to continue honing her skills under UCF’s head coach, PWBA Hall of Famer Pat Costello.

“I knew if I wanted to get to the next level, she could take me there,” Johnson said.

As she pursued her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and master’s in communication, she chose classes that worked around her team practice schedule in addition to spending extra time at the lanes on her own. It paid off. She was selected as a two-time All-American and NCBCA MVP.

But during her sophomore year, the PWBA Tour folded leaving the ladies no professional tour to compete in.

“I was devastated,” she said.

So she set her sights on the only other option there was: Team USA. She made the team in 2005 and has competed every year since, traveling all over the world to represent her country. As the reigning world champions, Team USA will head to Las Vegas this December to defend its gold medal at this year’s competition.

In 2015, the PWBA Tour resurged and Johnson claimed the honor of PWBA Rookie of the Year. After taking some time away from the game for motherhood to 3-year-old Levi and 4-month-old Kenzie, she made her 2017 debut in Orlando right where she spent so many of her college days at Boardwalk Bowl.

Courtesy of Stefanie Johnson

In addition to a successful day at the Orlando Open, where she qualified for this week’s stepladder finals that will air on tape delay Aug. 15 on CBS Sports Network, she also had some time to visit Lazy Moon and return to campus.

“I recall spending many afternoons by the Reflecting Pond completing assignments while soaking up the college life experience and watching squirrels run around everywhere. I had the opportunity to drive around campus and it’s amazing what the campus has turned into,” she said. “Once a Knight, always a Knight!”

She said life balance and family have always been a priority along with her bowling career, and she’s learning that to be true now more than ever.

“It’s imperative to have an army of support in my corner otherwise I wouldn’t be able to do what I do,” she said. “It’s certainly a team effort every time I am on the lanes competing and they are all with me every step of the way.”

Hoist The Colors

By Jenna Marina

ORLANDO, Fla. (July 31, 2017) — When the City of Orlando raises its new flag today on its 142nd birthday, it will be a particularly proud moment for UCF alumnus Tim Eggert.

Eggert, who graduated from UCF with honors in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in art, crafted the winning design (pictured above). The new flag was selected from more than 1,000 submissions in a contest that the City of Orlando launched in February.

With more than four months of public input and committee discussion, the final design was officially approved by the Orlando City Council on July 24.

Eggert explained a little more about the process, the symbolism within the flag and why he’s proud to live in this city.

Q:  How did your idea for the flag first take shape?
A: The only idea I had was the Lake Eola fountain surrounded by the ‘O.’ Nothing else really came to me. The fountain seemed like a good foundation for the flag since it is a landmark of Orlando and has come to be an important meeting place to many people. I really wanted to have a reflection in the water and forming an ‘O’ seemed like the best way to incorporate that.

Q: Unity was a central theme in the design from the start. Why did you feel so strongly about incorporating unity?
A: Orlando is a diverse city — both in its residents as well as in the people who visit it. I wanted to convey unity and a sense of welcoming with the design.

Q: Unity was a central theme in the design from the start. Why did you feel so strongly about incorporating unity?
A: All entrants had to submit a hand-drawn design on a note card. From there I drew it on the computer and then we tweaked it over the course of a few in-person meetings. It was very collaborative. I came up with the revised look of the fountain spray, and they had the idea to split the color to have the top be white and the bottom be blue. We introduced the gold in the final stage, and we chose a blue that reflected the City’s brand.

Q: In addition to unity, there are now several layers of symbolism within the flag’s design. What is your take on those?
A: As the design evolved, so did the meaning. Parts that evolved were the colors and the reflection in the water. The reflection (seven shapes total) stands for the six commissioners as well as the mayor. That was something that was incorporated after tweaking the design and meeting with the City’s staff. The introduction of the orange/gold color was also part of the design process. I love the addition of gold to the flag and the meaning of sunshine and hope it brings.

Q: How does it feel to know that you’re part of this historic day at the official flag raising and that you’ve played a unique part in creating a lasting symbol for this city?
A: I love how the flag raising is coinciding with the city’s 142nd birthday. It’s exciting to be a part of history.

Q: This isn’t the first community project you’ve been involved in. You have a sunset painting on an art box by the downtown YMCA in Mills 50 district. Why do you take such pride in being an active part in this community?
A: I grew up in Orlando and have seen this city become a uniquely creative place. The arts are all around this city, and I think it is important to help cultivate that by being involved.

Q: Why are you proud to be a UCF Knight and represent this university?
A: I’m proud to be a UCF Knight because I loved my experience there. I had some amazing professors and learned so much. It shaped who I am professionally and personally.

#UCFGrad Spotlight: Dr. Mom

Photos courtesy of KMD Creations

By Jenna Marina

ORLANDO, Fla. (July 27, 2017) – It’s expected that more than 3,700 students will pass through cap and gown pickup at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center this week in anticipation of Summer Commencement.

Some dance in excitement. Some are jittery from too much coffee and not enough sleep. Some are snapping photos for social media love. Some simply are there to cross off another to-do on the list.

When Taylor Bousfield ’13MEd strolled up to claim her doctoral regalia as she breastfed her 5-month-old and cared for her nearly 3-year-old while maintaining a Zen-like calmness, the regalia distribution staff took in the scene before them and wondered: is Wonder Woman real?

“Most of the time I’m a mess,” Bousfield said with a laugh.

Bousfield was born and raised in Orlando and attended The First Academy through middle and high school. After earning her bachelor’s degree from the University of Mississippi, she taught for three years in Louisiana before moving back to Central Florida to teach at Lake Howell High School.

She had an itch to further her education, and when a grant opportunity arose to do so at UCF, she took the chance to earn her master’s degree in exceptional student education with a certificate in autism spectrum disorder.

While she was in graduate school, Bousfield learned of a doctoral grant from Lisa Dieker, a UCF professor and Lockheed Martin eminent scholar chair.

“I figured, why not try?” Bousfield said. “We have an incredible education program that has faculty members who are so innovative. Not to mention the opportunity to work with TeachLivE. That is something I wouldn’t have been able to do anywhere else.”

A month after starting the doctoral program, she learned she was pregnant with her almost 3-year-old, Luke.

“He literally went to every single class, one way or another – whether it was in person, in utero or on Skype,” she said. “There’s no way I could have been able to accomplish everything without the support of our special-ed faculty and my chair, Lisa Dieker.”

Bousfield’s interest in special education and teaching was instilled at a young age. Her aunt, Charlotte Day, is the county coordinator for Special Olympics in Orange County. Bousfield said from the time she could walk she was volunteering at events.

She will graduate on Aug. 5 with her doctorate in education, and her children and husband will be in attendance. She hopes that her family’s immersion in her university experience will instill a drive and a passion for education in her sons.

She plans to stay at UCF as a Teach Live liaison as she works with associate professor Rebecca Hines, PhD.

“Taylor will be an amazing addition to our program. Her doctoral work included research methods in TeachLivE that we will use to help prepare future teachers,” Hines said.

Bousfield said her biggest challenge over the years has been balancing her roles as a mother, a wife and a student, but she wouldn’t have traded the experience for the moment when she learned she had accomplished her goal.

“Hearing ‘Dr. Bousfield’ after passing my dissertation defense – with my husband and both of our boys there in the room — was amazing. It’s probably the best moment I’ve had in a while,” she said. “My advice to anyone is find a support system and don’t wait. Don’t put it off. Now is the time. Somehow it will always work out. Don’t put off life for school, and don’t put off school for life.”