Rosen College of Hospitality Management

Rosen College of Hospitality Management Dean Abraham Pizam (left) presents the college's 2014 Professional Achievement Award to Stuart Newmark, '08. (PHOTO: Brandon Chestnut)
Rosen College of Hospitality Management Dean Abraham Pizam (left) presents the college’s 2014 Professional Achievement Award to
Stuart Newmark, ’08.
(PHOTO: Brandon Chestnut)
Stuart Newmark, ’08 | Executive Vice President/COO, Yedla Management Company

Professional Achievement Award 2014

Following in his father’s footsteps, Stuart Newmark first began his career in hospitality by working in his dad’s hotels. With this experience, he built a successful career by serving a variety of high-level management and executive roles, but, despite doing so, his desire to go back to school overpowered him. In 2008, he earned his four-year degree and left UCF with the satisfaction of not only furthering his career, but also fulfilling a lifelong goal.

Learn more about Stuart:

College of Sciences

College of Sciences Dean Michael Johnson presents the college's 2014 Professional Achievement Award to Gwen Griffin, '85. (PHOTO: Brandon Chestnut)
College of Sciences Dean Michael Johnson presents the college’s 2014 Professional Achievement Award to Gwen Griffin, ’85.
(PHOTO: Brandon Chestnut)
Gwen Griffin, ’85 | CEO, Griffin Communications Group

Professional Achievement Award 2014

Gwen Griffin’s decision to open her own advertising/PR agency may have seemed spontaneous, but it was not entirely so. The underlying foundation stems from her early interests in social engagement, which compelled her to pursue an education at UCF’s Nicholson School of Communication. After earning her degree, Griffin became highly involved in the aerospace industry promoting the space exploration.

Learn more about Gwen:

Mission: Mental Health for Veterans

Workshop targets trauma issues experienced by members of the military

Col. Jeffrey Yarvis (center in uniform) with School of Social Work Director Bonnie Yegidis (left in front row) and veterans who participated in the workshop
Col. Jeffrey Yarvis (center in uniform) and School of Social Work Director Bonnie Yegidis (left in front row) gathered with veterans who participated in the Subtleties of Trauma Spectrum Disorders workshop at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center.
Veterans Reintegration Workshop | COHPA Alumni Chapter

By Karen Guin

United States Army Col. Jeffrey Yarvis drew from decades of experience in military social work to describe the challenges faced by returning veterans during an information-packed and deeply personnel presentation at UCF.

Yarvis is a decorated officer, a published scholar with a doctorate and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. He currently serves as chief of the Department of Social Work at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center in Fort Hood, Texas.

Approximately 75 military veterans, students, and social work alumni and practitioners gathered to hear him speak at the “Subtleties of Trauma Spectrum Disorders” workshop offered Nov. 6 by the School of Social Work and College of Health and Public Affairs Alumni Chapter.

Yarvis shared data and statistics on U.S. veteran populations, and he showed video clips to illustrate changes in attitudes toward soldiers who are traumatized or grieving. He spoke extensively about the impact of war-related stress on veterans and their families.

“About 80 percent of returning veterans will exhibit some changes in behavior,” Yarvis said. “Those who are deployed more than once have a greater chance of a clinical diagnosis.”

Some returning veterans experience symptoms commonly associated with traumatic stress, such as fear, anxiety, grief, depression and sleep disturbance. A smaller number exhibit Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which may include physical symptoms and always includes these symptoms: 1) re-experiencing trauma, such as nightmares and flashbacks; 2) avoidance, such as feelings of numbness and detachment; and 3) arousal, such as anger and hypervigilance.

“These are very complex issues for mental health care givers to negotiate,” Yarvis said. “It’s hard to quantitate these symptoms, and they manifest themselves differently in different people.”

Yarvis described his own behavioral changes when he returned home from deployment. He exhibited risky and aberrant behavior, became easily frustrated, and turned to alcohol to deal with his insomnia. Several participants said they found his candidness quite helpful.

“He spoke your language,” said UCF student Lyndon Ortiz, a senior in social work and U.S. Marines veteran who served in Iraq until he was injured.

Yarvis is encouraged to see military social work coming into its own as a profession. “I love that UCF has a military program,” he said, referring to UCF’s Graduate Certificate in Military Social Work program, which prepares master’s degree-level social workers to help veterans and their families.

Social work senior Kristopher Vite plans to enroll in the program while pursuing his master’s degree in social work at UCF. He is a U.S. Army veteran, and like Ortiz he served in Iraq until he was injured. Both Vite and Ortiz aim to become Licensed Clinical Social Workers so they can work with veterans like themselves.

U.S. Air Force veteran and UCF alumnus Charlie Antoni (B.S.W., ’95) is already on the front lines, working as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and palliative care coordinator for the Orlando VA Medical Center. He is educating local physicians and nurses, and he is developing networks of community support that he will help place at the new VA hospital in Lake Nona.

Also on the front lines is U.S. Army veteran Richard Whitten, who works as a peer-support specialist at the Daytona Beach Vet Center. “A lot of the homeless vets I meet have PTSD symptoms, but it’s hard to convince them to come in for help,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot today that I can take back with me.”

Yarvis concluded his nearly three-hour presentation by commending the participants. “What you are doing is incredibly important,” he said. “You are helping veterans grieve and return to their lives.”

Marco? Polo!


Calling all College of Business Administration Knights!

Looking for an easy way to tell the world you’re a proud UCF College of Business Administration grad, while looking stylishly put together? Then, pre-order your very own custom-embroidered Nike Dri-FIT polo, and wear it everywhere!

Men’s and women’s styles are available for $40, and the proceeds benefit business student scholarships and alumni initiatives. It’s a win-win!

Pre-order no later than Friday, Nov. 28. Shirts will be available for pick up locally or may be shipped for an additional fee.



Email [email protected].

College of Optics & Photonics (CREOL)

College of Optics and Photonics Dean Bahaa Saleh (left) presents the college's 2014 Professional Achievement Award to  Michael Mielke, '00, '03. (PHOTO: Brandon Chestnut)
College of Optics and Photonics Dean Bahaa Saleh (left) presents the college’s 2014 Professional Achievement Award to
Michael Mielke, ’00, ’03.
(PHOTO: Brandon Chestnut)
Michael Mielke, Ph.D., ’00, ’03 | Chief Scientist, Raydiance

Professional Achievement Award 2014

Designing and building laser-based solutions may sound like a dream job, but Michael Mielke had obstacles to overcome in order to attain his position at Raydiance in Northern California. After finding the telecommunications field in fiber optics no longer viable upon graduating UCF’s College of Optics and Photonics, Mielke was forced to “re-focus” his career path. Fortunately, CREOL’s education went beyond optics, and provided the necessary preparation for Mielke to now integrate disparate fields of study for a common goal.

Learn more about Michael:

College of Nursing

College of Nursing Interim Dean Mary Lou Sole (left) presents the college's 2014 Professional Achievement Award to Patricia Celano, '10. (PHOTO: Brandon Chestnut)
College of Nursing Interim Dean Mary Lou Sole (left) presents the college’s 2014 Professional Achievement Award to Patricia Celano, ’10.
(PHOTO: Brandon Chestnut)
Patricia Celano, ’10 | CNO/Vice President, Florida Hospital Orlando

Professional Achievement Award 2014

A common denominator apparent in many of her best new hires and colleagues inspired Patricia Celano to further her education. Upon observing the level of preparation bestowed upon nurse leaders who had gone through the UCF College of Nursing master’s program, Celano was convinced that UCF was the place for her. As chief nursing officer and vice president of clinical services for Florida Hospital South, she now implements her new skills to effectively manage one of the largest nursing workforces in the state.

Learn more about Patricia:

College of Medicine

College of Medicine Dean, Dr. Deborah German, presents the college's 2014 Professional Achievement Award to Dr. James Norman, '82. (PHOTO: Brandon Chestnut)
College of Medicine Dean, Dr. Deborah German, presents the college’s 2014 Professional Achievement Award to Dr. James Norman, ’82.
(PHOTO: Brandon Chestnut)
James Norman, ’82, M.D. | Senior Surgeon, Norman Parathyroid Center

Professional Achievement Award 2014

Dr. James Norman’s incredible ambition as a first-generation, college-bound student coincided with a particular neighbor’s eye for talent to yield a life-changing opportunity. With the encouragement of his former neighbor, who was then-dean of UCF’s College of Health and Public Affairs, Norman would pursue an education in microbiology and go on to medical school. He currently dedicates his medical career to the study of hyperparathyroidism, and continues to make advances in easier treatments for the disease.

Learn more about James:

Shut Out Trafficking


By Gene Kruckemyer

The National Consortium of Academics & Sports, based at UCF, partnered with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to launch Shut Out Trafficking, a campaign to raise awareness of human trafficking and encourage students to become active in efforts to end it.

During events on 10 university campuses across the nation this fall and spring, Shut Out Trafficking will use sports as the platform to help inform and engage students about one of the most horrific human-rights violations in the world today. The participation of student-athletes, coaches and athletic administrators will help to engage students.

Week-long outreach programs on the 10 campuses include public service announcements, film screenings, discussion groups with students, and possibly speakers who are survivors of human trafficking. Speakers will share their personal stories and their reflections about the power of love and forgiveness in their lives. Students participating in the events will be invited to become active in working to help end human trafficking.

Events already took place at LaSalle University in Philadelphia, St. John’s University in New York, Tulane University in New Orleans, and Brown University in Providence, R.I.

The campaign visits UCF Nov. 10-14. —VIEW EVENTS

Spring visits, with dates to be determined, will include UCLA, the University of Denver (Colorado), the University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa), the University of Nebraska (Lincoln), and Chicago State University.

The goals of Shut Out Trafficking are to raise awareness about human trafficking in the United States and to empower students to take action. Shut Out Trafficking will educate college students on the brutality of human trafficking and the $150 billion dollar industry it has become.

An estimated 27 million people — one third of whom are children — are enslaved now, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The root causes include poverty, discrimination, lack of education, lack of social and legal protections, and violence. In the United States, many people who know human trafficking exists believe it is a problem only outside our borders. However, trafficking has been reported in all 50 states. In the United States alone it is estimated there are 100,000 to 300,000 children at risk for sex trafficking, and thousands more are exploited through labor trafficking in agriculture, carnivals, and domestic servitude.

For 29 years, the mission of the NCAS has been to “use the power of sport to effect positive social change.” The NCAS educates and empowers individuals and organizations by inspiring values-based thinking leading to actions that promote social responsibility and equality.

Through Dr. Richard Lapchick’s leadership at UCF, the NCAS has improved college student-athlete graduation rates, advocated for issues of diversity that plague athletic organizations, and created programs to affect social change in sports and society. Lapchick also is chair of UCF’s DeVos Sport Business Management program and director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport.

The End Trafficking project is the U.S. Fund for UNICEF’s initiative to raise awareness about child trafficking and mobilize communities to take meaningful action to help protect children. In partnership with concerned individuals and groups, the End Trafficking project aims to eliminate the cases of exploited children.

The Shut Out Trafficking project is funded by the Fetzer Institute.

More Info

Lizzie Haldane

National Consortium for Academics & Sports
NCAS at UCF | 407.823.4770

NCAS – Human Trafficking
U.S. Fund for UNICEF

Marketing Wizard

Magical marketing behind Universal’s “Harry Potter” attraction casts alumna in 2014 Nicholson Alumni Hall of Fame

Former Nicholson School of Communication Hall of Fame inductees (left to right) Roger Pynn, ’73 (2000); Michele Cooper, ’83 (2002); Dan Ward, ’92 (2011); Heissam Jebailey, ’00 (2012); Kim Strong, ’93 (2006); and Peter Cranis, ’84 (2003), were happy to welcome 2014 inductee, Donna Mirus Bates, ’93 (center), to their elite group. (PHOTO: Shaloni Prine, '07)
Former Nicholson School of Communication Alumni Hall of Fame inductees (left to right) Roger Pynn, ’73 (2000);
Michele Cooper, ’83 (2002); Dan Ward, ’92 (2011); Heissam Jebailey, ’00 (2012); Kim Strong, ’93 (2006); and Peter Cranis, ’84 (2003), were happy to welcome 2014 inductee, Donna Mirus Bates, ’93 (center), to their elite group.
(PHOTO: Shaloni Prine, ’07)
Donna Mirus Bates, ’93 | Senior VP, Marketing Communications & Content Development, Universal Orlando Resort

Lightning never strikes twice — except in the case of Donna Mirus Bates, ’93, who worked on the marketing opportunity of a lifetime, then created an encore marketing campaign to reignite global excitement for a theme park expansion of infinite magnitude.

Bates and her team first helped to launch The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort in 2010. Following its success, Bates and her team partnered with Warner Bros., the “Harry Potter” cast and filmmakers, author J.K. Rowling, and a team of creative geniuses to once again capture the world’s imagination, bringing Diagon Alley to life for the devoted fans of the books and movies.

On Thursday, Nov. 6, Bates was celebrated for her successes, as well as her continued involvement at the university, becoming the 31st inductee in the UCF Nicholson School of Communication Alumni Hall of Fame, which was established in 2000.

Tom Alexander, ’03, chair of the NSC Alumni Chapter, emceed the luncheon, which was held at the Citrus Club in downtown Orlando. He was joined by Robert Chandler, NSC director and professor, who presented Bates with her award.

“Through all of her actions and efforts, Donna truly exemplifies integrity, community, creativity and excellence, making her a remarkable Knight,” Chandler said.

Fellow NSC Hall of Fame inductees, and members of the NSC Alumni Chapter and UCF Alumni Association, as well as Bates’ co-workers were in attendance to congratulate her.

“I’m incredibly proud to be a graduate of the Nicholson School of Communication at UCF,” Bates said. “I love seeing the high caliber of candidates our program is producing, and I’m so honored to be a member of the NSC Alumni Hall of Fame.”

UCF Nicholson School of Communication Director and Professor Robert Chandler presents 2014 Hall of Fame inductee, Donna Mirus Bates, '93, with her award.
Donna Mirus Bates, ’93, 2014 Nicholson School of Communication Alumni Hall of Fame inductee,  receives her award from Robert Chandler, NSC director and professor.

Finding Neo

Alumnus works to help cancer patients get reliable diagnosis for treatment


Bradley Campagna, ’11 | Cytogenetic Technologist, Neogenomics Laboratories

By Daniela Marin

In an effort to raise awareness and funds from sparked conversations, the Movember Foundation encourages men from around the world to sprout and sport mustaches for an entire month for men’s health issues.

Biotechnology graduate Bradley Campagna, ’11, is one of many “mo bros” who has begun his hairy journey in the fight against prostate and testicular cancer, and mental health problems. And, though a full-blown mustache might ordinarily cause concerns in a professional work setting, Campagna’s position as a cytogenetic technologist delivering results to cancer patients lands him in a unique position.

Campagna says most of his co-workers at Neogenomics Laboratories in Fort Myers, Fla., participate in cancer-awareness initiatives, making them understanding of his growing facial hair. In honor of breast cancer awareness month in October, Campagna and his co-workers organized a potluck and donated all of the proceeds to breast cancer research.

Not a whole lot of people know the way your body works on a molecular level, and to be able to educate people, even if it’s something small, is a great benefit.

“It’s really relevant to my field of work, so I try to keep up with all initiatives,” he explains. “Most people at work do it [too], so they are very understanding. It’s fun. You just have to stay away from Chuck E. Cheese and places like that so you don’t look like a creep.”

Besides avoiding children, Campagna spends his days in the processing lab at Neogenomics preparing samples for analysis. On other days, he obtains results by analyzing isolated white blood cells from patient samples such as blood or bone marrow.

“I get a much more sense of pride when I do the analysis because, regardless of the result, both a positive or negative result can be great,” he says. “A negative result means the patient is in remission and their treatment is working. At the same time, there is nothing wrong with a positive result because that means the doctor actually found the problem and the patient can now begin treatment.”

In addition to analyzing samples, Campagna particularly enjoys working in his field because of the knowledge he can provide to others.

“Not a whole lot of people know the way your body works on a molecular level, and to be able to educate people, even if it’s something small, is a great benefit,” he says. “[Biotechnology] isn’t something that a lot of people do, and not a lot of people know about it, and that’s what I find very interesting.”

In fact, Campagna was one of only 102 UCF biotechnology undergraduates in the class of 2011.

After earning his bachelor’s degree, Campagna worked as a bartender until landing his first career job with Neogenomics, at which point he was able to pursue the additional certifications and licenses required to work in a clinical laboratory.

“Neogenomics has absolutely been a great first job,” he says. “They put me through their own training program where I was able to get the further education experience I needed. The company has grown so much, and I’ve had every opportunity to grow with them. I’m thankful for that every day.”

We Mustache You to Read This Q&A

Q. Favorite UCF professor/class?
A. I can’t say that I had a favorite professor. They were all different and every professor had a different way of teaching, which I liked because it reached out to all the different ways of learning. As for a favorite class, they were all tough, but I found one of the most interesting was molecular biotechnology. It was hard, but some of the things I learned were very, very interesting.

Q. Proudest moment?
A. I think my proudest moment would be back in January, when I received a CARE award. Every quarter, our company gives out these awards to employees who have gone above and beyond, and they recognize that. It was really nice to be recognized for a lot of the extra work I had been doing.

Q. Most rewarding aspect of your job?
A. Definitely getting the results out. That’s the whole point of what we do. We’re very customer focused and patient focused. Being in an oncology lab, we may not actually meet the patients, but behind every sample there is a patient who’s sick and waiting for a test result, so it’s definitely really nice to help do that for them.

Q. What/who inspires you?
A. Besides my family, everyone who supports me. My girlfriend supports me all the time, and she inspires me. Everybody who’s close to me has really helped me out, and I’ve needed every bit of it.

Q. What did you want to be when you grew up?
A. As a little kid I wanted to be a vet, but what kid doesn’t? I never saw myself getting into this when I was smaller, that’s for sure. It’s something you kind of fall into.

Q. How do you hope your career will transition/grow over the next five years?
A. I used to have a really good five-year plan, and I don’t really have one anymore. The past year alone has changed so much. I see myself with Neogenomics, and I definitely see myself in the medical field. I just want to keep growing regardless of who that’s with.

Q. Any hidden talents?
A. I’m pretty good at watersports. Before I started working full time, I loved surfing and wakeboarding.

Q. If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
A. I’d probably be a pilot. Everybody always dreams about flying, but you don’t really see too many pilots, and I think it’d be really cool.