Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week – Aug. 13, 2018

  1. Seriously, this is BIG! Tim Eggert ’02, alumnus of the Burnett Honors College and UCF College of Arts and Humanties, took his painting skills to the Orlando BIG Chair and turned it into a throne fit for Knight Nation. If his name sounds familiar, you might recognize Tim’s recent work as the designer for the new City of Orlando flag.

2. Following the Knights just got a whole lot easier, thanks to a newly-updated mobile app! Download it now to stay up to date with all things UCF Athletics.

3. How has your life changed since graduation? Show us, and you could win some sweet prizes! Enter our #KnightsThenVsNow contest on Instagram by this Friday – just make sure you check out the official rules for entry first!

4. We’re excited to share that UCF President Dale Whittaker will join us for the UCF ChargeOn Tailgate at UNC! Tailgate festivities will feature special appearances by UCF fan favorites, a catered breakfast buffet, three drink tickets per adult, a retractable stadium banner and a spirit sticker. Register now.

5. Speaking of our fearless leader, our UCF Alumni family wishes a very happy birthday to President Whittaker. May it be another great year of  transforming lives and livelihoods.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know This Week – Aug. 6, 2018

UCF ChargeOn Tailgate

  1.  We’re headed to Chapel Hill this fall! UCF fans of all ages are invited to join us for the UCF ChargeOn Tailgate ahead of the UCF vs. UNC game. Tailgate admission includes a breakfast buffet, drinks, a retractable stadium banner and a spirit sticker. To register for the tailgate, learn more about the event and get parking/transportation details, visit ucfalumni.com/ChargeOnTailgate.

2. Over the weekend, we welcomed 3,700 graduates into the UCF alumni family. Among those who walked the stage Saturday were a first generation college student and mother, the proud daughter of Colombian immigrants, the manager of the Knights Pantry and a former Russian exchange student devoted to “saving humanity one day.” It’s safe to say that our graduates are nothing short of incredible.

3. More effort after a grueling practice? No thanks! Coach Heupel had a big surprise for the UCF Football team: a slip and slide, courtesy of the fire department. You’ve got to see this one for yourself!

4. Speaking of football, where are you watching the season opener against UConn? Hopefully, in the company of fellow Knights at a UCF watch party near you: www.ucfalumni.com/watchparties.

5. The fall semester is around the corner, and this year, UCF will celebrate its 50th anniversary of the first day of classes, so we want to hear from you! Alumni of all ages are encouraged to share throwback photos from their own first day as Knights. Photos and memories collected will be considered for use on UCF’s official social media platforms and news site, UCF Today. Please submit your photo by Aug. 15.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know This Week – July 30, 2018

UCF Fulbright Scholarships

1. Six UCF students were awarded Fulbright scholarships to participate in international exchange programs that strengthen international partnerships and address mutual goals for global concerns. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards around 1,900 grants each year for students to study in more than 140 countries worldwide.

2. After an incredible undefeated season, reigning American Athletic Conference champion UCF Football has been selected to repeat as the league’s No. 1 team in The American’s 2018 preseason media poll. In our totally unbiased opinion, we completely agree!

3. UCF basketball fans, rejoice! Our hoops head coaches have signed extensions to stay with the Knights for a while longer, with Coach Abe at the helm of the women’s team until the 2022-23 season, and Coach Dawkins leading the men’s team through the 2023-24 season.

4. This weekend, our UCF alumni family will grow by just a few thousand more grads. If you can’t attend commencement in person, tune in for the livestream on the official University of Central Florida YouTube channel.

5. Speaking of grads, we know that many of you venture outside of Orlando after crossing the stage. Don’t let distance keep you away from your black and gold roots! Join a local UCF alumni chapter or club in your area.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know This Week – July 23, 2018

Eclectic Knights X
The College of Arts and Humanities invites UCF alumni to submit work in a variety of mediums for the 10th Annual Eclectic Knights event this September.

1. A banner fundraising year brings UCF’s IGNITE campaign total to $400 million. Generous support for scholarships and faculty paired with enthusiasm for Knights’ performance on the field pushed the UCF Foundation to its best fundraising year since 2011.

2. UCF alumni Ajay Karakoti ’10PhD and Satyanarayana Kuchibhatla ’08PhD are in the process of developing a self-heating blanket that will protect infants from hypothermia in low- and middle-income regions, increasing their chances of survival. The blanket is ecofriendly, made of nontoxic materials and heats independent of any outside source.

3. The UCF College of Arts and Humanities Alumni Chapter invites all UCF alumni, students, faculty and staff to submit work for selection in the 10th Annual Eclectic Knights event at the Orlando Museum of Art on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018. This Knight of Art will feature work in a variety of mediums by alumni, students, faculty and staff. The deadline for entry is Sunday, Aug. 12 at 4 p.m. and the entry fee is $25.

4. UCF FanFest has been announced for Saturday, Aug. 18 at 6:30 p.m.! Fans of all ages will have the chance to meet the 2018 UCF Football team and get pictures and autographs with your favorite Knights!

5. Our UCF Chapters and Clubs across the country are gearing up for another great year. From kickoff events to beach days to summer social hours, it’s never been easier (or more fun!) to get involved with a UCF Alumni Chapter or Club event near you.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know This Week – July 16, 2018

Charge On Tour Graphic

1. The 2018 ChargeOn Tour will make its final stop in Orlando on Aug. 10, starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Wall Street Plaza in downtown Orlando. This ChargeOn Tour event is free to the public and is for fans of all ages.

2.“I still remember seeing the email and asking, is this for real?” – Albert Manero ’12 ’14MS ’16PhD.

Limbitless Solutions will receive a $1 million bequest – and it all started with what looked like spam email.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback and former UCF football star Josh Robinson was featured in this heartwarming story by ESPN on the growth of his family. He and his wife, Julianna, who are parents to two biological children, share the long journey of adopting twin boys, now 4-weeks old. Robinson played three seasons for the Knights before being selected in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft.

4. UCF set a personal record in research funding for 2018 with $183 million. Faculty and graduate students are conducting a range of research pertaining to suicide, energy, tourism, HIV, cancer, apps and human behavior, civics education, language acquisition, cyber security, sea level rise, building energy conservation, species conservation, crowd counting, sinkholes, and art’s impact on health.

5. Last, and certainly not least, we want to hear from YOU! If you’ve recently gotten married, a new job, a promotion, or simply want to update your address with us, submit a class note or contact update to share your news with UCF Alumni! Who knows – your accomplishments might just make it into the next issue of Pegasus.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know This Week – July 9, 2018

Photo of lab technician and medical equipment

1. Thanks to a donation from a Winter Park cancer patient’s family, UCF College of Medicine researchers now have machines that can isolate, photograph and count cancer cells from a single tube of blood. With the technology, scientists can see if the cancer cells are spreading from the original tumor and if new therapies are stopping the cells in their tracks.

2. The 2018 UCF Countdown to Kickoff Luncheon is set for Thursday, Aug. 16, at CFE Arena. The annual start to the fall season — as football, soccer, volleyball and cross country get under way — will feature first-year UCF head football coach Josh Heupel and first-year UCF President Dale Whittaker. Single tickets ($115) and corporate tables ($800) are still available, but in limited quantities. Find out more.

3. Last week we told you about the #HIsman campaign for UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton. Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel shared an interesting story about Milton’s friendship with another Heisman Trophy contender, fellow Hawaiian and Alabama quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa.

4. UCF men’s basketball coach Johnny Dawkins has a simple message for his team as it works toward another season with high expectations: Keep getting better every day in every way. The team is on campus for summer practices and the Orlando Sentinel dropped by for a chat with Tacko Fall, B.J. Taylor and the rest of crew about the upcoming year. Season tickets are now on sale through UCFKnights.com.

5. From trivia nights to baseball games to volunteer outings, UCF Alumni has several events lined up across the country through the month of July. View the events calendar to get involved in your area!

Five Things Alumni Need to Know This Week – July 2

1. The Whittaker era has officially begun! UCF’s fifth president, Dale Whittaker, assumed office yesterday, with today being his first official day on the job. He and his wife, Mary shared a special message with Knight Nation and encouraged us to follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @UCFWhittaker.

2. The Heisman hype is real for UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton. The Hawaiian-born Knight dominated the 2017 season and is one of the top returning players in the nation heading into 2018. We got chills watching UCF’s debut #HIsman campaign video, which you can watch for yourself below.

3. UCF recently became a member of the Blue Community Consortium, which aims to help develop sustainable and economically successful coastal communities worldwide. The consortium’s Members share best practices on a global basis while simultaneously learning from best practices developed by other network members from around the world.

4. UCF placed a record 243 student-athletes on the American Athletic Conference All-Academic Team, which was announced by the league last week. The Knights posted a department-wide record grade-point average of 3.33, marking the 21st consecutive semester that UCF student-athletes have achieved at least a 3.0 GPA as a department — the longest streak in school history. What can we say? Knights just do it better.

And in case you missed it, former UCF men’s basketball star Matt Williams ’16 joined the Chicago Bulls for the NBA’s Summer League in Las Vegas. The Summer League will feature all 30 NBA Teams from July 6-17. Williams made three appearances for the Miami Heat in his rookie season last year.

5. UCF offers courses in just about any subject you can think of, and that includes perhaps the most famous wizard of all time, Harry Potter. UCF English Professor Tison Pugh says the series is “just as meaningful as my literature classes on Chaucer or the King Arthur legends.” This fun Q&A with Pugh is great for some light summer reading.

P.S. Wishing you and yours a happy and safe Independence Day!

Five Things Alumni Need to Know This Week – June 25, 2018

Photo of John and Martha Hitt

1. UCF President John C. Hitt H’17 and his wife Martha H’17 will retire this week from the Office of the President after 26 years of service to the university. Several alumni took the opportunity to share memories of this beloved couple as a humble way of saying thank you for all they have done.

2. Speaking of the president, that means Dale Whittaker will take over as UCF’s next great leader this week. He recently outlined some lofty goals he has in store to continue the university’s upward trajectory.

3. UCF’s Spectrum Stadium will play host to a professional football team coached by former Florida Gators coach Steve Spurrier, part of a new spring league that will start next year. The Orlando team, which will be part of the new Alliance of American Football, will play at least five games each season at the stadium on UCF’s campus for three years.

4. Two alumni are changing the game for public transportation around Orlando with their startup company, Omnimodal. The company, launched in early 2017, merges real-time information from public transit systems (I-Ride Trolley, Sanford Trolley) with existing navigation apps on mobile phones (Google Maps, Transit App) so users can plan how to get around and make adjustments on the fly.

5. Summer has officially begun, and our Knights around the nation have rounded up tips for your travels to their cities. Whether you’re planning on heading to the beach, the city or the mountains, check out these recommendations first from locals about food to eat and must-do activities!

Five Things Alumni Need to Know This Week – June 18, 2018

Graphic of UCF Football

1. Some scheduling news out of UCF Football: When the Knights host South Carolina State in week two of the 2018 college football season, kickoff at Spectrum Stadium will be 6 p.m. on ESPN3. UCF also announced it has finalized its non-conference slate for the 2019 season with the addition of FAMU as its season-opening matchup.

2. Thanks to researchers at UCF, squeezing oranges may give us a new way to deliver medicine or to detect bridge failures before they happen. Engineering Assistant Professor Andrew K. Dickerson and graduate student Nicholas M. Smith have figured out the mechanics of how oranges release that thin stream of fragrant oil when squeezed. By mimicking nature’s mechanism of an orange layer, pharmaceutical companies may be able to develop a less expensive and less complex way to deliver airborne medication.

3. There is now a UCF Alumni persona on the official UCF Mobile app! Download the app for iOS or Android and select the Alumni experience to stay informed about all things black and gold. For more information about the app, please visit ucfmobile.ucf.edu.

4.  Although the 2018-19 men’s basketball schedule isn’t completely finalized, we did find out which American Athletic Conference opponents will be visiting the CFE Arena. The Knights will host nine league opponents, including two NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago in Cincinnati and Houston, and a pair of teams rich in history with first-year head coaches in Penny Hardaway’s Memphis and Danny Hurley’s UConn.

UCF will play Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, SMU, Temple, UConn and USF twice during the year, once at home and once on the road. The Knights will only host ECU and Tulsa, and only go on the road to take on Wichita State and Tulane. Fans excited for the upcoming 2018-19 UCF men’s basketball season can purchase tickets today by calling (407) 823-1000 or online: https://ucfknights.co/mbb1819tix.

5. A big thank you to Police Chief Richard Beary ’04MS, who retired last week after 11 years at the head of UCF’s police department and 41 years serving Central Florida in law enforcement.

Family Guy: Alumnus Unites Local Dads With Inclusive Fatherhood Group

Photo of Marlon Gutierrez and his daughter
Marlon Gutierrez ’11 was inspired to start a local fatherhood support group after his daughter, Isabella, was born in 2016

By Jenna Marina Lee

ORLANDO, Fla. – Sunday won’t be the first Father’s Day that Marlon Gutierrez ’11 celebrates, but this one will hold its own special milestone. This Father’s Day will be the first for his all-inclusive fatherhood community, Orlando Dads Group.

The UCF College of Business alumnus is a first-generation American – the son of Nicaraguan immigrants – and the first in his family to earn a college education. But he says becoming a first-time father nearly two years ago to his daughter Isabella was an even bigger leap into uncharted territory. He knew he needed help.

There is no shortage of mothers groups in Orlando. With a click of a button and a few seconds, you can find playgroups, breastfeeding-support groups, emotional- support groups, first-time mother groups, Mommy and Me classes, tribes for mothers of twins and triplets, single-mothers groups, mothers of preschoolers and mother meetups.

The same Google search for dads? Not so much.

Not until Gutierrez stepped in.

“I wanted to be there just as much as my wife was there for our daughter. I was having a hard time figuring out where are these people who have a similar identity that I can connect with? That’s when I realized Orlando still hadn’t developed that yet. Sometimes you have to create the things that you want,” he says, crediting his wife Stefany for the words of wisdom.

Orlando Dads Unite
He reached out to City Dads Group, a national organization that originated in New York City in 2008 and within five years grew to more than 900 fathers. In 2013, the organization expanded the concept and now fosters 34 groups across the nation in more than 20 states.

With City Dads Group’s support, Gutierrez’s Orlando chapter has grown to more than 85 members in its first year. There are no dues or minimum participation requirements.

The only prerequisite is being a dad.

“It’s an all-inclusive group,” he says. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a stay-at-home dad, working dad, gay, straight, young or older, single or married or a foster dad — you just have to be a dad.”

The group organizes three events per month. One will be held June 16 at 2 p.m. at the South Trail Branch Library (4600 S. Orange Blossom Trail), where the group plans to enjoy a free performance by DAPS, a local group of freestyle rappers and improvisers who use hip-hop to put on a comedy show.

Gatherings like these are labeled “family events,” which encourage dads to bring significant others, extended family or friends along with their children.

The second meetup of a month is categorized as a “Dads’ Night Out.” These meetups are solely for the fathers. Gutierrez planned one recently at an arcade lounge in downtown Orlando and another at Winter Garden’s Crooked Can Brewery.

The third outing of a month is for dads and their kids. A recent pizza night in Waterford Lakes was a big hit, and an upcoming movie date for a free showing of Sing is scheduled at CMX Cinemas in downtown Orlando on June 26 at 9:30 a.m.

Because the group is still relatively new, Gutierrez’s biggest challenge is figuring out what programming works best and where. His group includes fathers from Winter Garden to East Orlando.

Better Together
Some fathers connected with the group for the same reason Gutierrez started it — they sought a supportive and relatable community. Some have joined it because their wives enthusiastically nudged them into it.

Regardless of the reason, Gutierrez tries his best to hook the dads’ interest early because he knows how helpful it can be to have a support system.

“There’s no manual or guide on how to be a parent,” he says. “I think [this group] has taught me a lot about myself, and I realized that I had to make a lot of changes. I was very much focused on my career because that’s what society expected me to do. Now, being more open with a community that has supportive fathers and environments like the City Dads’ network, I’ve been able to find other dads out there trying to do the same thing. It’s OK not to be so focused on my career. I can be balanced on my career and family and travels and make my life what I want it to be.”

Time management is key in achieving that balance, and he has found that work-life integration works best for him.

He volunteers with the UCF College of Business Alumni Chapter as a mentor for current students. He started a short-term corporate rental company with his wife called Orlando City Corporate Housing, which Stephany now manages.

He works full time from home for Student Loan Hero, a resource and loan-advisement company, where Isabella has become an honorary “employee.” When the toddler plops on her father’s lap for virtual meetings, she is greeted by name by Gutierrez’s co-workers. He says they are all supportive of his balancing act.

Although his schedule takes some careful coordinating, he has high hopes for the fatherhood group, which he plans to keep growing and make an integral part of the community.

“I want this group to also be able to paint a different picture on what fatherhood looks like. Dads can get involved. We do care, and there’s a lot of things that we’re doing,” he says. “More than our enrollment numbers, I want to have a group that feels powerful together because we’re sharing something that’s pretty amazing.”