Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week – June 10, 2019

1. Happy Birthday, UCF! It’s been an incredible 56 years of growing, learning, winning and charging on. Thanks to all alumni for being a part of where we’ve been and get yourself ready now ‘cause where we’re going is gonna be even bigger, bolder and brighter.

2. We’re saying that with confidence because UCF continues to add new rankings to our list of accomplishments. We now rank among the top 100 universities in the world when it comes to issuing patents and 31st among public universities in the nation, according to new rankings released last week by the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association. Learn more about the ranking and some of the inventions that led to patents in 2018 right here.

3. “When musical theatre alumna Jerusha Cavazos ’14 stopped by the UCF Performing Arts Center ahead of her Broadway debut last October, she felt a wide array of emotions: Gratitude. Excitement. Nervousness. Joy. Shock. She knew she was about to embark on something special as part of the original Broadway cast of The Prom, a new musical comedy about acceptance and love.” Read more about Cavazos and her role in Tony Award-Nominated Musical here.

4. The UCF Young Alumni Council is recruiting new members! If you’ve got a passion for your alma mater and want to help us engage the future largest alumni-base in the country, this is the role for you. Apply today and play a role in UCF’s tomorrows.

5. In case you missed it, we have four Knights who are currently playing on soccer’s biggest stage. Check this FIFA Women’s Schedule for US, Jamaica, Brazil and Scotland games and the dates you can be cheering!

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week – June 3, 2019


1. As if being a Knight and a Disney employee wasn’t already a pretty great gig, the deal got sweetened when Disney and UCF announced that they will be offering free tuition for cast members. The interim president for UCF, Thad Seymour Jr., says, “Many of our students already are Disney employees who will immediately benefit, and this program has the potential to change lives in our community for generations.” Read the whole story here.

2. Despite her two-decade career with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Holly Bryan ’99 ’05MS initially never wanted to serve as a police officer. “I wanted to be a nurse or a vet, something medical,” says the nursing alumna as I sit across from her in her full police garb. “But I needed a job while I was waiting to get into nursing school, so I went to the police academy and here I am.”

There’s a little more to it than that, though.

3. The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup will host a record number of past and present UCF student-athletes representing their countries. These four Knights are helping to mark a major milestone for UCF and the women’s soccer program. Read more here.

4. This  past Saturday was the official start of Hurricane Season and we want to help you help yourself in all the preparation needed. UCF Today asked Associate Professor Christopher Emrich, an expert in hazard science, social vulnerability, disaster recovery and community resiliency, some of the do’s and don’t’s to get ready for the 2019 Hurricane Season.

5. In better upcoming-season news, college football season is up ahead and the kickoff times and television plans for the 2019 season were announced late last week. Mark these days on your calendars now and get ready for an incredible season of UCF football!

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week – May 20, 2019

1. It was always one of two things for Lainie Pekich ’13, Paul Jaszczenski ’03 and Kaia. They were either at a dog-friendly human establishment, where Lainie and Paul could eat and drink and enjoy each other’s company, while Kaia was bored under the table. Or. They were at a human-friendly dog park, where Kaia was thriving in her environment, running around and getting her energy out, while Lainie and Paul were trying to find a tree to provide some shade and thinking how delicious a cold beer would be about now. As longtime business owners and entrepreneurs, Lainie and Paul knew there had to be a better way and if there wasn’t, they’d create one. That’s where Orlando’s first dog-park bar, Boozehounds, begins.

Read their story here.

2. Florida may have Florida Man and lovebug season, but we also have the #1 spot in the country for higher education, according to U.S. News & World Report. As one of the five Florida state universities included on the magazine’s national list of top 100 public universities, UCF certainly contributed to this win for the state! Elizabeth A. Dooley, UCF’s provost and vice president for Academic Affairs told UCF Today, “UCF is proud to be a major contributor to the access, affordability, student success, and excellence that distinguishes Florida as the top state in the country for higher education. Together, the universities and state colleges in Florida are showing the nation how the power of higher education can lift lives and energize the future.”

3. You may or may not have liked who ended up on the Iron Throne last night, but one thing is for sure: Game of Thrones fans had quite the journey following along. Why is it that we get so wrapped up in the lives of fictional characters? Two-time alumnus and UCF Professor Peter Telep ’95 ’98 has the answers.

4. Five recent alums have received prestigious Fulbright awards, allowing them to pursue research and educational opportunities or teach English abroad. This year’s recipients will travel to South Korea, Belgium, Brazil and Montenegro. There’s a brief look at each of this year’s five Fulbright fellows over on UCF Today.

5. With hurricane season just up on the horizon, a team of UCF researchers will brief emergency responders from across the state about their work looking at the impact of recent hurricanes. At the annual Governor’s Hurricane Conference, hundreds of emergency management personnel, first responders and planners from across Florida gather together. Learn more about the conference and those representing UCF at it.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week – May 13, 2019

1. There are 108 days left until the next season of UCF football. The hype is real and the momentum is building and we have less than 1,000 season tickets remaining. Get your head in the game now and ensure you don’t miss a single phenomenal moment in Spectrum Stadium this year.

2. Our women’s golf team is heading to the NCAA National Championships on Wednesday morning. The Knights crushed it at the NCAA Elum Regional in Washington on May 8, racking up a combined score of 874. “The grit our team showed on that back 9 today was unbelievable. We kept telling them all week to believe, just believe,” UCF head coach Emily Marron says. 

3. “Many kids say they want to work with animals when they grow up. But only a small number of them are willing to scrub poop out of animal enclosures to reach that dream. Katelyn O’Rourke ’14 was among those willing to do anything. Now the psychology alumna’s hard work is paying off with a career that includes hosting an animal-actor show at Universal Orlando and visiting commercial and movie sets. ‘I pushed myself to get where I am,’ O’Rourke says. ‘It’s a hard business to get into, but you can do it if you’re willing to work hard.’” Read more here.

4. From April 29-May 3, four UCF students participated in the NPR News’ national training program, NextGen Radio. The program is a week-long “pop-up” digital journalism training experience and the theme of the week’s stories was immigration.

“Rick Brunson ’84, associate instructor in the Nicholson School, represented the university in the partnership and is mentoring one of the students. ‘We are fanning out around Central Florida to locate, capture and tell the stories of immigrants who have arrived here and are making a new life,’ he says. ‘The training is highly structured with tutorials in audio reporting, web production, social media production, photography, video and more. Our stories will be richly layered, textured and multimedia in nature.’” Read more here.

5. Jason Smith is one of the 8,300 people who joined the UCF Alumni family last weekend and he already has big plans to put his degree to work. This week he starts his work as a UCF-trained psychiatrist caring for patients at Osceola Regional Medical Center and at the Orlando VA. Read about his unconventional path to getting his M.D. degree right here.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week – May 6, 2019

1. Over the weekend, more than 8,300 students graduated from UCF. These new members of the alumni family showed off their creativity, sense of humor and momentum toward future aspirations with their grad caps. Check out some of the best here!

Also, hey new grads. Welcome to the alumni side of UCF! Don’t forget to update your UCF app with your new title and to get acclimated with all things alumni.

2. Gladys Jose ’12 knows the exact length it is from Will Smith’s name to her own on the cover of the new children’s book, Fresh Princess. She also knows that her name being on the cover of anything involving Will Smith is a pretty phenomenal thing.

Read A Story All About How: UCF Alumna Illustrates Book Inspired by The Fresh Prince.

3. The ChargeOn Tour begins this week! Check dates and locations to see when are where you can meet Danny White, some of our incredible coaches and fellow Knights. Spend the night getting hyped on UCF athletics, ‘cause there’s a lot to be hyped on.

4. The successful flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket last week from west Texas carried multiple research payloads, including one from the UCF. It marks the fourth flight into space for the university in the past year.

One special guest flew aboard the flight today – a small plush Citronaut, affectionately referred to as Dave. The Citronaut, which is a blend of an orange and an astronaut, is UCF’s retro, unofficial first mascot from when UCF was known as Florida Technological University. He’s become a beloved throwback figure among the Knight Nation… Read more here.

5. For now we can only hope that some day this adorable story about an alumna rediscovering her preschool sweetheart after 12 years and falling in love with him will become a romantic comedy starring the next Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling. Until then, read all about here on People.


Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week – April 29, 2019

 1. Red Lobster, Alex Trebek and UCF — this article about UCF alumnus Imar Dacunha ’97 and his path to Jeopardy! has it all. Read it now and tune in Wednesday to support a fellow Knight, whose UCF roots helped pave the way to landing on the show.

2. “Avengers: Endgame” is the culmination of ten years, 21 films and a lot of smart minds coming together to create a franchise full of scientific possibilities and not-so-possibilities. So, if you have already made it through your list of pre-Endgame MCU movies to watch, take a beat to read The Science Behind ‘Avengers: Endgame.’ Two researchers at UCF’s NanoScience Technology Center provide their expertise on some of the movie’s scientific elements.

3. All you New-York-er Knights, commit Thursday, May 23 to your memory because UCF’s Charge On Tour is heading your way! We want to meet with alumni, fans and friends to celebrate another impressive year for UCF Athletics. Join us to hear from a number of special guests, including Vice President and Director of Athletics Danny White, Head Football Coach Josh Heupel, Head Men’s Basketball Coach Johnny Dawkins, and Head Women’s Basketball Coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson. Register here.

4. Looking for a creative way to support UCF and show off your pride in your alma mater everywhere you go? Well, buddies, we got some good news for you. You can KnightYourRide with a UCF license plate for just $25. It’ll look good, it’ll feel good and it’ll be good because you’re helping UCF!

5. Our UCF Alumni Family is going to grow considerably over the next few days as graduation celebrations take place. Of the degrees to be awarded, the 50,000th DirectConnect to UCF degree will be awarded. This groundbreaking partnership program with state colleges and has expanded access to students, especially those who otherwise may not have been able to pursue a university degree through traditional channels.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week – April 22, 2019


1. It’s cap-and-gown week on campus! If you’re not yet in the alumni category, but will be on the other side of your commencement ceremony in the coming weeks, check out details here for our grad cap contest. We’ll be selecting winners in these five categories: Most School Spirit, Most Artistic, Most Inspirational Quote, Best Pop Culture Reference, and Most Likely to Keep Charging On. Don’t get us wrong, it’s a really big deal you’re getting your diploma and have done big things during your years at UCF. But, wouldn’t it be nice to add one more W?

2. This Wednesday, April 24 is Denim Day. On campus, everyone is encouraged to wear jeans in recognition of National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. But even if you don’t currently make your way to 4000 Central Florida Blvd. on Wednesdays, we still encourage you  to participate wherever you do frequent to show your solidarity with survivors everywhere.

3. Our alumni family includes over 288,000 Knights, spanning from June of 1963 to today. That’s a lot of people and a lot of years to fill all kinds of different experiences and impressions of life as a Knight. But one of the things that unites us all is that big moment we got our acceptance letter and our UCF story began. Watch this feel-good video of Taylor receiving her acceptance letter into the Inclusive Education Services at UCF program. And welcome to the family, Taylor!


4. The momentum building around UCF athletics has no end in sight and this weekend our women’s tennis team proved that! With their win over USF for the American Athletic Conference trophy, the team secured an automatic bid to the 2019 NCAA Championship. Head coach Bryan Koniecko says “I’m just so happy for them, especially for our senior (Natalia Serrano), you want her to leave the right way and we did that this year.  USF pushed us back a little bit late in the match, but we’re happy we clinched it. I’m just ready for our next practice and hopefully the culture we set this year continues on.”

5. Athletics isn’t the only thing building momentum around UCF these days. Our downtown campus, slated to be ready in time for the first day of fall classes on August 26, has growing energy and buzz around it. Michael Kilbride, the assistant vice president of the downtown campus, told the Orlando Sentinel, “It’s very exciting for Orlando that we’re going to be able to bring this game-changing program to life this fall.”

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week – April 15, 2019

1. On Saturday, the 30 members of the 2019 30 Under 30 class were honored at the Mortgridge International Reading Center on campus. As chair of the Alumni Board, Dan Ward, said during the awards reception, “our young alumni are impressive in so many ways; they are committed to success in every area of their life, they are champions for what they believe and they are passionate about helping others. And they are just  getting started. These accomplished individuals have wasted no time in becoming active members of their communities as volunteers, mentors and generous donors.”

For pictures from the event and details on the 30 winners, head here.

2. UCF Celebrates the Arts came to a close this weekend. The event, which is a 10-day festival showcasing the creativity, innovation and collaboration across the university, returned to Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and featured more than 30 events and exhibits. The culmination of these 30+ events was a stunning display of the talent in and passion for the arts that UCF students, alumni and friends possess. Pictures are available here.

3. The sixth annual UCF Alumni All-Class Nursing Reunion was Saturday night and provided all nursing alumni the chance to gather together, share a meal and tour the facility. If you were in attendance and want to find your picture, or if you weren’t there but just want to see some snapshots of Knight nurses having a good time, we’ve got you covered.

4. It’s almost finals season around campus, which means students are doing all the late-night stints in the library that you likely remember from your days on campus. Karen Hoffman, the director of UCF’s Counseling and Psychological Services, shared some tips for students on how to reduce their stress levels, but we figured stress doesn’t stop on the graduation stage and alumni might just benefit too. Take a break (it’s OK, we know you’re stressed, it’ll be a quick read) to peruse the list and start implementing away.

5. Speaking of students, spring commencement is right around the corner and the UCF Alumni family is about to get a little bigger. For details on the ceremonies, head here. If just thinking about the worries that get all stirred up this time of semester is making your palms a little sweaty, consider becoming a mentor and helping out those who are about to be catapulted into the working world.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week – April 8, 2019

1. When advertising and public relationsalumna Sarah Schreck ’18 talks about theatre, she can somehow, within seconds, bounce from talking about its power to create social change to emphatically saying “I will watch ‘Xanadu’ every month until the day I die.” She’s seen the ways theatre can be simply enjoyed, she’s seen the ways it can grow people and this past weekend at UCF Celebrates the Arts, she got to see her own play, First Miss, come to life.

Read the story behind the story of First Miss here.

2. You may have missed First Miss (Sorry, both for that truth and for that unfortunate string of words), but it’s not too late to be a part of UCF Celebrates the Arts! There are events happening throughout this week and into this weekend. So check the schedule and make a plan to be there.

3. It has been 97 days since the last UCF football game and we know how tough that can be on some of you. Get that sigh of relief ready, because the kickoff for the annual spring game is set for April 13 at 2:30 p.m. inside Spectrum Stadium. Get back in the football spirit and join us this weekend! All the details you need on parking, tailgating, what food trucks will be there (yep, food trucks will be there), tickets and more are right here.

4. UCF Restores, the on-campus PTSD clinic, is now partnering with a firefighters group to boost mental health support. UCF Restores founder and director, Dr. Deborah Beidel, says “The term we hear all the time is ‘Suck it up, buttercup” and “Suck it up, get on  the truck’. But among younger people, there’s this awareness that [mental health needs] are real. And we need to do something about it.” So, they are.

5. UCF alumnus Luke Hawksworth ’13isn’t sure if the folks smiling at him in the Orlando international Airport were just exemplifying southern hospitality or if they recognized his face as one of the leads of Netflix’s popular reality show, Dating Around. The show, which premiered Valentine’s Day of this year, stands out from other dating shows in its commitment to put the gimmicks aside in favor of a simple per-episode formula: one single New Yorker, five blind first-dates.

Read the reality behind the reality-dating-show here.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week – April 1, 2019

1. Knight Nation pulled together and did something really big last Thursday. On UCF Day of Giving, 3,057 donors — a group of students, alumni, parents, faculty and friends of UCF — contributed a total of $291,072 toward the university. They contributed toward the first-generation student whose success will change the trajectory of her family’s future, toward the innovative and life-saving research happening on campus through programs like UCF Restores, and toward the countless aspiring musicians, star athletes, and future world-leaders who are being built by UCF. Thanks for that. Oh and here’s a cool fact, the top four class years for number of donors were 2021, 2019, 2020 and 2022. We’ve got some pretty phenomenal soon-to-be-alumni coming our way. Thank you for believing in UCF and supporting what you love.

2. The most recent issue of Pegasus magazine is out now! Keep an eye on your mailbox for your copy or if you literally cannot handle another moment of suspense after that last play of our basketball matchup with Duke, we completely understand and here’s the web version.

3. UCF Celebrates the Arts kicks off this weekend! If you haven’t had a chance to yet, check out the schedule of events and figure out which guaranteed-to-be-awe-inspiring-displays-of-creativity-and-talent you want to be a part of. Whether you’re an art enthusiast or not so much, this annual event is a great excuse to plan a weekend excursion away from your Netflix account, to get some culture in your system and to support your alma mater all at the same time.

4. On March 28, the Florida Board of Governors confirmed Thad Seymour Jr. as the university’s interim president. Over the past several weeks, Dr. Seymour has provided stability and leadership for the university. He says, “Everyone I talk with is committed to making this a better place. And that’s why I am so optimistic about UCF’s future. We have some hard work ahead of us. But I know we will do it together. If my years in business taught me anything, it’s to use each challenge as an opportunity to be better, stronger and more effective than you were before.” To read Dr. Seymour’s priorities for UCF, head here.

5. One of the really rad things about UCF Day of Giving, besides that thing where 3,057 donors gave to UCF, was seeing the support we have across the country. Knights are spread far and wide and even those of you at a great distance from 4000 Central Florida Blvd. stepped up and gave big. If you are looking for a chance to meet other UCF alumni in your area, be a part of our regional alumni chapters and clubs. These groups gather all over the country to sport their black-and-gold, support UCF and make connections with fellow Knights.