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.

Dating Around: Alumnus Shares Experience of Starring on Reality Show

UCF alumnus Luke Hawksworth ’13 isn’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.

Hawksworth, who grew up in a town so small that you could hold your breath driving through downtown, was the lead in the first episode of the series.

We sat down with Luke a couple weeks after the show premiered to hear about his UCF story, his path to getting on the series and the reality behind the reality show.

Before we get into talking about the show, can you just tell me a little about yourself?
Sure! I’m 28 years old and graduated from UCF in 2013. I’m from a small town in North Carolina called Hillsborough, and now live in New York City.

Did you dream of big city life as a kid or were you perfectly content being in a small town?
Being in a small town made me anxious. I didn’t know what to do with myself. When I go back and visit at night, it’s super quiet. You can hear crickets and I’m like, I need to get outa here. I need a siren or a cab honking or something going on. I always wanted to be in the city because I felt like that was where my energy matched.

But first a stop in Orlando for UCF.
Yes. In high school I dreamed of being a pilot and eventually an astronaut. So, since it was close to Kennedy Space Center and had an amazing engineering school, I started looking at UCF. I initially came here to study aero-space engineering and my plan was to be a pilot and eventually go to space. But during my freshman year, I joined the ATO fraternity and was one of the first members of the Young Investors Club. These influences changed my interests and I started to become passionate about business and the financial markets. So, I eventually switched my major to finance.

What came after graduation?
I got a full-time job in financial operations during my senior year, so I kept at it for another year or so after graduation. Eventually I became unhappy with what I was doing and started to think about how I had always wanted to move to New York City. I had done different sorts of acting growing up, mostly theater and commercial work, so I took a leap of faith, quit my job, moved to the city with three bags and called myself an actor. To support myself, I started working in a restaurant, but eventually transitioned to become a real estate broker, because of the flexible schedule. That led to a more professional career and is still what I do for work today. I was still taking voice lessons and trying to work on developing my craft in acting, but I had really fallen in love with real estate right away; it encompasses every part of business that I enjoy.

Were you going to auditions at all?
I didn’t go on many auditions because I was still working on learning. I did really dive hard into real estate and I started to spend more and more time working. In the back of my mind I did still have a desire to be on camera and do some sort of acting or entertainment.  Being on “Dating Around” was very random. I was doing some soul searching after a relationship ended last year, so I went on a solo trip to Europe. During that trip I started thinking more about how I still have such a desire to be an actor, and it was all I could think about on that trip. God must have heard me because the second day back in the US a friend of mine reached out about this spot on “Dating Around.” They needed to find a lead for one of the episodes quickly, so I did a few interviews and before I knew it I was filming the show.

What do you think it is about you that makes a friend of yours see an ad for a dating show and think of you?
I think it was the combination of her knowing that I was interested in acting and that I’m just such a ladies’ man. Kidding! The ad for the show said, “We are looking for a handsome man in his twenties to go on dates with five different women. You’ll be payed this amount and everything is taken care of —dinner, wardrobe, etcetera.” I was like, wait you want to pay me to go on dates? Sign me up! But I didn’t take it seriously at first until my friend Briana Cohen, who is also a UCF graduate, said that she thought I’d be good for the part and the other casting agent thought so too. So I did a few Skype interviews within a few days and before I knew it they told me the network loved me and wanted to me to meet with the producers the next day, and then said, “By the way, it’s a Netflix Original.” At that point I was like “Oh wow, I’m actually going to have to do this”.  So I met with the producers the next day and everything went well and they gave me the green light and we filmed two weeks later.

I’ve watched your episode, so I know a version of what you experienced filming, but what was it actually like?
It was pretty structured, which I think helped me feel more comfortable. At the beginning of each date we would get drinks at the bar and get to know each other while asking most of the same questions back-and-forth. And these were truly blind dates. I didn’t get to meet any of the girls beforehand or talk in between scenes and each date was filmed on a different night. I never forgot about the cameras. I always wanted to keep in mind that I was being filmed so to not do anything too ridiculous. But I think after the first night, I kind of got most of my nerves out and it was really just trying to have as real and genuine of dates as possible.

So the scene where you met each of them was for real?
Yeah. They didn’t let us meet before. It was truly blind. Every conversation we had was filmed, like when we were switching scenes from the bar to the table, we didn’t speak. They separated us so that we could keep the conversation as real as possible.

Does that mean you weren’t able to kind of address the reality of the situation or say to each other things like ‘whoa, this is kind of weird’?
We were but they just cut those parts out. Also we filmed for almost 12 hours each night. We started at six or seven and would film ‘til five or six in the morning. So they were really long nights and very exhausting, especially after the first couple nights.

You’ve been on five twelve-hour dates?
Yeah. And all in one week. So I didn’t know what they were going to use, which is why at all times I wanted to try to be interesting, but that was such a challenge. It’s really tiring, especially if you don’t have chemistry with one of the dates and you’re trying to keep conversation going.

Were there any you felt you didn’t have chemistry with?
Ashley is a very nice girl, but I think right away we both recognized we had nothing in common. But what they didn’t show is that most of the time we were talking about stories from dating and our friends and if we had people that we could match each other up with. But that date was important to show because not everyone is meant for each other. Sometimes you’re just not that into somebody.

You picked Victoria for the second date. Do you still keep in touch with her?
We went out a couple more times after the show, but it never led to anything. It felt like an experience and once the show was over the spark was gone. But picking someone wasn’t really the point of the show. It was so people could see what it’s like to date in New York City and the different people that you come across. It’s to show how a lot of times you have very awkward and cringey moments and, well, I think my episode did a great job of showing that.

Like Tiffany and the smacking-lips thing?
That’s the real stuff! That really happens. Every date you go on is not a good date, at least in my experience.

Has it been weird for you, knowing so many people can watch you experience something as personal as first dates and first kisses?
Before the show came out, I knew they were going to have those two scenes in there [kissing scenes with Tiffany and Betty]. My producer told me, ‘Make sure that you call your mom, tell her you love her and remind her it’s just a show.’ It is interesting that it’s out there for everyone to see, but I think it’s made me more comfortable with being vulnerable.

Do you have any parting dating advice?
You hear it all the time, but be your genuine self. It’s always important to be authentic, but especially when you’re dating. If you try to be someone that you’re not just to please someone else, you’ll end up wasting a lot of time. It’s really about first finding out who you are and being confident in that yourself, then finding a person in that same place that you can be genuine with.

Alumna’s “First Miss” Takes Center Stage at UCF Celebrates the Arts

Photo by Michael Tyler Ham (HAM Photography)

When alumna 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 weekend at UCF Celebrates the Arts, she’ll get to see her own play, “First Miss”, come to life.

Sarah, who is currently attending Carnegie Mellon University for her graduate degree in arts management, was born and raised in Orlando. When she was 10 her family relocated to Jacksonville, but when it was time to pick the location of her undergraduate career, she had a feeling she should return to the place where she felt most at home. That was Orlando, and it became UCF.

“I don’t even think it’s nostalgia goggles,” Sarah says. “UCF is where I became who I am. I honestly did not expect to have such a formidable college experience, but the best times of my life were the relationships that I formed in the performing arts center — auditions with friends where we’d leave laughing and those emotional days where we’d be moved to tears because of one another’s dedication and hard work. That place feels like home.”

One of the most impactful experiences Sarah had during her time at UCF was a class that ultimately led to her involvement in this year’s Celebrate the Arts. She describes the class, theatre for social change, as providing her with more confidence, courage and artistic ability to communicate.

In the class, which is taught by Sybil St. Claire, students learn new techniques of storytelling and how these nontraditional forms of theatre can be influential for audience members and performers alike. Of the many techniques, playback theatre is the one Sarah most took to and is what sparked an idea that became “First Miss”. In this form of theatre, there is a group of performers, an emcee and an audience. Led by the emcee, the audience shares feelings and stories from their own lives while the performers play them back to them.

“The stories can be anything,” Sarah says. “From a lighthearted story about a day at Disney gone awry to discovering one’s faith and addressing it with your parents while they’re on their deathbed. Either way, at the core of it all is that there is medicine in our stories. Seeing things from your life played back to you, it’s kind of like drama therapy, which I am a big advocate for.”

One day in class Sarah wanted to share one of her favorite stories to tell as a playback exercise, the story of her junior prom. Like most humans who went to prom, Sarah’s prom story is more likely to elicit a quick cringe and an “oof, that’s rough” than it is a John-Williams-scored-movie-moment. It’s the story of two teenagers, not sure if they like each other, little bit of miscommunication, touch of butterflies, and a slow song on the dancefloor.

“We leaned in and — I don’t know — I guess we closed our eyes too soon because we did not make it to each other’s lips,” Sarah says. “It wasn’t his first kiss, but it would’ve been mine. Except it wasn’t my first kiss, it was my first miss.”

When Sarah got involved with Project Spotlight, a student-run organization that gives UCF students a chance to take part in productions and develop new works, she knew she needed a good story she could turn into a one-act. She remembered that not only was her junior-prom story relatable for her, but fellow classmates were able to identify with much of the underlying themes.

Nic Stelter and Zoe Blackledge performing in the original production of “First Miss”

As she started developing the story into an actual written play, she noticed it started changing and taking on new shape. Through her writing, the story deepened and started to take on more serious issues about adolescence. In the fall of 2017, “First Miss” had its first production and was so much of a hit that the team of folks who put together UCF Celebrates the Arts thought of it as a potential event in the 2019 lineup. Sarah was sitting on her couch in Pittsburgh one day when the previous artistic director for Project Spotlight, Liz Calvert, called to ask her if she’d be interested in being a part of UCF Celebrates the Arts. One caveat, she’d need to expand the script from one-act to full-length play.

“My first thought was ‘I only lived so much, I don’t know what else to put in!’ Sarah says. “But, that wasn’t true, there were already fictionalized elements, even if it started as a personal story. So if I was going to get to add another act, I wanted to really dive into more issues in a way that gives artists — especially student artists — permission to embrace not only the quirky humor in a piece, but to also tackle difficult subjects in decidedly unusual ways.”

During her next round of writing “First Miss”, Sarah took seriously her chance to get input from different people with different backgrounds and walks of life. She asked people for their stories of adolescence, miscommunication, gender and relationships. She sought out her opportunity to tell a story that would, using elements of other’s real stories, address a wider audience.

“I think a lot of theatre deserves to be a living, breathing document,” Sarah says. “I think that’s how it may retain a kind of community-based magic. Theatre from any era can be healing to watch, you can recognize lessons and recognize characters. But to recognize yourself is all the more valuable. That’s something I hope that all of my work can do. I would hate to have something so boxed in that it only serves one group of people.”

For Sarah, being a playwright is a chance to figuratively be several different people. It’s evident in her work that she appreciates and places great value in being able to embrace disagreement and accept a level of pluralism that acknowledges nuanced and ever-evolving thought and feelings. With playwriting, she can explore her own internal conflicts by giving voice to multiple sides of arguments or stories.

She also, as someone who grew up letting her imagination run rampant, enjoys the chance to see her imaginary friends — more appropriately called characters in the theatre world — become real.

“I just hope that I gave the actors and the crew enough to have fun with,” Schreck says. “Because every play belongs to its cast, crew and audience. It doesn’t even belong to me anymore. None of it does. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Purchase your tickets for Saturday’s performance of “First Miss” and learn more about UCF Celebrates the Arts.

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.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know About UCF Day of Giving

1. UCF  Day of Giving is this Thursday. That means it’s in just a few days. That means that in just a handful of sleeps, all of Knight Nation — all the students, faculty, alumni, friends, parents, fans, non-aggressive Twitter followers — will come together and spend a full 24 hours supporting what they love and showing that they believe in UCF!

2. If  you love already know you love UCF, start thinking through specific areas within the university that are most exciting to you that you’d like to support. If your heart beats fast when you think of the fact that in 1 in 5 UCF students are first-generation college students, that’s love and you should do something about it. If you get excited thinking about all of the incredible opportunities our distinct colleges provide for our community, yep, that’s love and you can be a part of it. If you don’t sleep before a big game day because you just can’t contain your enthusiasm for all things Knights Athletics — you guessed it —that’s love and  you can show it.

3. Last year was our first ever Day of Giving. We hoped for 1,000 donors to come forward over the course of one day. We set an ambitious goal and not only did Knights crush it, but we nearly doubled it! But that’s how it works around here at UCF, you know? Set a bar, blow right through it, set a higher one. This year’s goal is 3,000 donors. And, bonus! Giving a gift on this day unlocks thousands of dollars in extra support for UCF — culminating in $95,000 worth of challenge gifts. And because UCF Day of Giving  has a donor-focused goal, literally every gift, big or small, counts toward us reaching the goal. It builds momentum. It gets us all one step closer to what we’ve set out to do.

4. We have already had a handful of Knights step up to plate and say they’re in. They’re game to support what they love and think you ought to as well. From New York to Conference Tournaments and Broadway stars, they’re committed to this BIG day of impact.

5. Thursday  is going to be big. Our collective action on this one day will have a lasting ripple effect for years to come. Giving a gift on Thursday is laying the groundwork now for the next big breakthrough in research to happen at UCF, for the next star athlete to train in UCF facilities, for the next generation of trailblazers to say they were built by UCF. We’re going to change the world this Thursday. You in? If so, get a head start and give now.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week – March 18, 2019

1. If you’ve been sleeping on what’s been going on in the world of basketball, it’s time to wake up and get your head in the game — big things are happening at your university. On Sunday evening, as part of CBS’s Selection Show, the ninth-seeded Knights heard their name called to head to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 14 years. We’ll be facing No. 8 seed VCU in the East Region on Friday, March 22 in Columbia, South Carolina. That’s right, South Carolina is lovely this time of year. Feel free to plan a last-minute trip to support the team!

2. OR let’s say you’re fully willing to support the team, but a South Carolina trip can’t quite fit into your schedule this week. Well, we’ve got good news for you, Knights. You can be a part of UCF Basketball’s unprecedented success by contributing to the team through a financial gift. How’s $9 sound as an homage to that #9 seed spot of ours? With your help, we can be March-Madness-bound this week, and other-future-greatness-bound up ahead.

3. Speaking of rankings, what about the 27 UCF graduate programs that were nationally ranked in the top 100 of their fields by U.S. News & World Report? We’ll tell you what — they exist and that really happened. This is a record number of programs ranked for the university, showing that, as predicted, we’re only getting better with age. Elizabeth A. Dooley, provost and vice president for academic affairs, puts it this way: “From our growing academic reputation to our successful athletic programs, the University of Central Florida has made impressive gains over the last decade. The new rankings reflect our focus on student success and faculty excellence and puts us one step closer to reaching our goal of becoming a 21st-century university committed to fueling the talent, ideas and innovation that will drive our community and state forward.”

4. This past Friday brought big news, lots of ear-to-ear grins and a swelling of pride for our medical students. Match Day, which  is one of the most important days for medical students, represents the beginning of their transition to resident physicians following their graduation from medical school. This year’s graduating class at the College of Medicine matched with residencies nationwide at a rate of 99 percent — higher than this year’s national average of 93.9 percent. If you want to just feel good to start off your week, read here about the students’ experience on Friday during Match Day festivities.

5. UCF Day of Giving is right around the corner! Day of Giving is about everyone with a tie to, an interest in and a passion for UCF. From our players pulling together to get the W to our researchers working together to create lasting solutions to today’s problems, at UCF we know that we’re strongest when we’re on the same team. That’s why Day of Giving is all about all of us — alumni, students, faculty, friends, parents — coming together to support what we love and show that we believe in UCF. Be a part of the big day next Thursday, March 28.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week – March 11, 2019

1. Imagine being a part of a university that is already well-respected, talked about often and at the top of the game in most games you suit up for. And then, imagine your two basketball teams being in the middle of the best seasons in program history and continuing to gain momentum toward competing for the American Athletic Conference Championship’s top prize. Now stop imagining ‘cause you’re a Knight and we’re talking about you and your school. The UCF Men’s and women’s basketball teams are crushing it these days. The women just spent the weekend running through their tournament with success and the men are getting set for their conference tournament later this week.

2. Last week, 30 of our young alumni got some very exciting news as we announced our 2019 class of 30 Under 30. Amongst the 30 recipients are mental health counselors, marketing and communications specialists, attorneys, psychologists, scientists, engineers, nurses, business owners, a Broadway performer, and other accomplished professionals. Congratulations to each of you; we can’t wait to celebrate you in April!

3. We’re also taking time in April to celebrate the arts with our fifth annual UCF Celebrates the Arts. This event showcases performers and artists from across the university and this year’s highlights include a Tony Award-Winning musical, ensemble and chamber concerts, opera, kid and family events, living art and much more. Be a part of it and get your tickets for what you wanna see soon.

4. In honor of the UCF College of Medicine Class of 2019, we encourage you to show your support of our soon-to-be Knight physicians by making a gift to the College of Medicine Alumni Fund, which benefits the College of Medicine and alumni initiatives. Between now and March 15 (which is in just a couple days, so don’t just think “yeah I want to do that” and then not, ‘cause, clock is a ticking and you already lost an hour of your life this weekend), please consider making a gift. Small gifts make a big impact, and ALL gifts make a difference. Match Day is Friday, March 15. Match Day is one of the most important days for medical students, representing the beginning of their transition to resident physicians following their graduation from medical school. Match results are kept secret nationwide until the third Friday in March at noon EDT, when all graduating M4s learn where they have matched.

5. You know how UCF is always doing that thing where we’re kind of a younger school, but we come out swinging and make a name for ourselves? We did it again. For the third consecutive year, UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management is ranked among the top five best hospitality and hotel management schools in the world by CEOWorld Although the college opened just 15 years ago, it managed to be ranked among decades-old programs such as Switzerland’s Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne and the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University, which ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.

UCF Alumni Announces 2019 30 Under 30 Awards

On March 7, UCF Alumni announced the winners of its fifth annual 30 Under 30 Awards. Amongst the 30 recipients are mental health counselors, marketing and communications specialists, attorneys, psychologists, scientists, engineers, nurses, business owners, a Broadway performer, and other accomplished professionals.

“Our 2019 30 Under 30 recipients are extraordinary examples of what it means to represent UCF with pride,” says Jazmine Rodriguez ’10 ’12 , chair of UCF’s Young Alumni Council. “The impact this group has made in the world — through both their professional and personal lives — is an inspiration for all Knights to continue to reach for success. To think that these 30 individuals are just getting started is truly exciting. On behalf of the Young Alumni Council, I extend my sincerest congratulations on this well-deserved accomplishment. We are truly grateful to share an alma mater with such incredible individuals.”

Open-nominations for the 2019 class were accepted on from Jan. 7 through Feb. 7. Nominations were reviewed and scored by UCF Alumni staff and previous 30 Under 30 recipients, and winners were selected by the UCF Young Alumni Council. The finalists were then confirmed by the UCF Alumni Board based on the following criteria:

  • Must be a graduate of the University of Central Florida (undergraduate or graduate degree).
  • Must be age 29 or under on April 13, 2019.
  • Nominees for 30 Under 30 must demonstrate a commitment to maintaining a lifelong relationship with Knights and strive to uphold UCF Young Alumni values.

The winners will be recognized in a formal ceremony on campus at the UCF Morgridge International Reading Center on April 13. Below is the complete slate of honorees, listed in alphabetical order by last name.

Shainna Ali ’10 ’12MA ’16PhD
College of Sciences
College of Community Innovation and Education
Burnett Honors College

Chelsea Ball ’12
College of Sciences

Andrea Bejarano ’12
College of Sciences

Kate Champnella ’14
College of Sciences

Victoria Claypoole ’15MS ’18PhD
College of Sciences

Tyler Egbert ’11
College of Community Innovation and Education

Kacie Escobar ’13
College of Sciences
Burnett Honors College

Chris Garcia ’12 ’13MBA
College of Business

Sarah Gates ’14 
Rosen College of Hospitality Management

Danielle Gelfand ’13
College of Undergraduate Studies

Jean-Pierre Gilbert ’11
College of Business

Fawn Goldstein ’14 ’17MA
College of Sciences
College of Community Innovation and Education

Meyonka Gray ’13
College of Engineering and Computer Science

Jamie Gregor ’13
College of Sciences
College of Business
Burnett Honors College

Abby Jaros ’14
College of Arts and Humanities

Ali Kurnaz ’13
College of Sciences

Darius Lana ’11
College of Sciences

Amanda Leyva ’18
College of Nursing
Burnett Honors College

Jonathon Little ’11
College of Sciences

Valerie Moses ’13 ’19MBA
College of Sciences
College of Business
Burnett Honors College

Selina Mullenax ’12
Rosen College of Hospitality Management

Jenny Nguyen ’ 16PhD
College of Sciences

Lee Perry ’18
College of Undergraduate Studies

Trevor Persaud ’14
College of Undergraduate Studies

Dominic Piscitello ’12
College of Sciences

Danielle Price ’14
College of Sciences

Ashley Rogan ’10
College of Sciences

Nicholas Simons ’14
College of Business
Burnett Honors College

Alyssa Tanaka ’12 ’13MS ’15PhD
College of Sciences
College of Engineering and Computer Science

Alvaro Velasquez ’14 ’16MS ’18PhD
College of Engineering and Computer Science
Burnett Honors College