Welcome, AlumKnights! (What New Graduates Need to Know)

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By Jeana Capra
UCF Alumni Association Student Intern

Congratulations, Class of 2015 fall graduates! You’re an official UCF AlumKnight, which means you’re now part of a family that’s more than 250,000 strong!

Your connection to UCF and your Knights pride don’t end just because your senior year did. The UCF Alumni Association connects all Knights with the university and each other through social, cultural and professional development events. Now that you’re a part of the family, you should know what it entails.

The UCF Alumni Association is a dues-free organization, which means there’s no annual membership fee to take advantage of all it has to offer. You’re already a part of the alumni association just by graduating!

Remember that key card you got when you picked up your cap and gown? Think of that as your golden ticket. It’s what identifies you as an AlumKnight. Show that card to participating benefit providers for alumni discounts, and use it as your pass into alumni-hosted events, like our annual Indoor Tailgate parties during football season.

The UCF Alumni Association hosts events across the nation, so you can keep connected no matter where life takes you after college. There are countless ways to stay involved, whether it’s on campus or in your new community, through our chapters and clubs program. College-based and regional chapters and clubs help you build of a network of new friends who share your UCF experience.

And, as a brand new graduate, you naturally fit into the Young Alumni Council, a network or more than 60,000 Knights under the age of 30. This community of alumni is a powerful way to help you stay connected to social, career and community events as you begin to conquer “the real world.”

Leaving campus doesn’t have to mean losing touch with your alma mater. Follow the UCF Alumni Association on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to keep up with all of the latest and greatest UCF news and events, and be proud of the university that made you who you are!

Congratulations again, graduates! You’re the future of the UCF Knights Nation, and we look forward to seeing all of the amazing things you’re going to do!

Go Knights! Charge On!

P.S. Jazz up your Facebook profile: Show off your #UCFalumni pride and download one of 10 cover photos. We even made two for your proud parents. :)

Philly Alumni Club Welcomes Knights from Six Other Regions

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By Angie Lewis, ’03

The Philadelphia UCF Alumni Club welcomed Knights from Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Connecticut, New York and Washington, D.C., to their city for last Saturday’s UCF football game against Temple.

Nearly 125 (chilly!) UCF fans were in attendance at Lincoln Financial Field, which is home to the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles.

“Despite the loss, it was great to welcome fellow Knights to the City of Brotherly Love, and to make so many new friends,” says Brittani DiPaolo, co-chair of the Philadelphia UCF Alumni Club.

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UCF Alumni Chapters and Clubs

Boston Alumni Club Welcomes Fall on the Farm

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Bundled up in sweatshirts, and with hot beverages in hand, the Boston UCF Alumni Club visited Shelburne Farm on Oct. 4, as part of a family-friendly AlumKnight Out, to celebrate everything fall.

The group enjoyed a day of apple picking and even went on a hay ride through the orchard.

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UCF Alumni Honors 2015 Jefferson Award Recipients

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Three of this year’s UCF Jefferson Award recipients included (left to right) Mark Blue, ’89, ’08, ’10, College Chapter Volunteer of the Year; Crystal Buit, ’06, Constituent Chapter Volunteer of the Year; and Matthew Ayala, ’11, Regional Club Volunteer of the Year.

On June 12, the UCF Jefferson Awards & Alumni Volunteer Reception celebrated its eighth year recognizing some of the UCF Alumni Association’s most active volunteers for their countless acts of generosity and numerous volunteer hours. Hosted by the UCF Community Volunteers Alumni Chapter, these awards focus on public service and the importance of giving back.

The event kickstarted the alumni association’s Chapter and Club Council Meeting weekend, during which alumni chapter and club volunteers from across the nation gathered to discuss plans for the upcoming year.

Todd Bowers, ’77, a graduate of the College of Business Administration, who serves on the college’s Dean’s Advisory Council, the UCF Athletics Association Board of Directors, the UCF Foundation Finance Committee and the UCF Inclusive Education Team, was the evening’s master of ceremonies. Anthony Jenkins, Ph.D., UCF’s senior associate vice president and dean of students, was also in attendance as a guest speaker for the festivities.

Congratulations to this year’s recipients:

Regional Chapter Volunteer of the Year—
Ivette Herald, ’04, Chicago UCF Alumni Chapter

Ivette has been chair of the Chicago UCF Alumni Chapter for the past four years. With her leadership, the chapter grew from 10 active members to nearly 50, and its Facebook page has increased to more than 400 followers.

“Our chapter’s mission is to create a home away from home for alumni, and I stress the importance of making those connections during every board meeting and through my actions,” she says. “It’s important that we make alumni feel welcome. I think that passion is what has helped our club evolve into a chapter in one year, and keeps alumni coming to our monthly events and watch parties.”

The other nominees included: Eric Braga, ’00, Space Coast UCF Alumni Chapter; Chris Brown, ’05, Tampa Bay UCF Alumni Chapter; Samantha Malone, ’04, Denver UCF Alumni Chapter; Thomas Marron, ’86, New York UCF Alumni Chapter; and Sara Singer, ’10, Southeast Florida UCF Alumni Chapter

Regional Club Volunteer of the Year—
Matthew Ayala, ’11, Southwest Florida UCF Alumni Club

Matthew just completed his third year as chair of the Southwest Florida UCF Alumni Club. Under his guidance, the club has seen a significant increase in its watch party attendance, as well as its Senior Sendoff event, after which other clubs now model their Senior Sendoffs.

“I look at this as a job,” he says. “Every day is another opportunity to enhance UCF’s brand, and I try to do something for the club each and every day.”

The other nominees included: Bakari Dowdell, ’14, Jacksonville UCF Alumni Club; and Becky Koziuk, ’03, Jacksonville UCF Alumni Club

Association Committee Volunteer of the Year—
Dan Ward, ’92, UCF Alumni Board of Directors/PR Committee

After serving a six-year term on the UCF Alumni Association Board of Directors, Dan returned this year to chair the public relations committee, developing strategies to increase awareness and relevance of the association and the Knights it serves.

“We’ve brought additional structure to the PR committee this year, and added a team of dedicated volunteers who give of their time and help us promote the association,” he says.

College Chapter Volunteer of the Year—
Mark Blue, ’89, ’08, ’10, UCF College of Engineering & Computer Science Alumni Chapter

Mark currently serves as vice chair of the UCF College of Engineering and Computer Science Alumni Chapter. Along with a fellow chapter member, he championed the college’s new Career Kickoff, which became a signature event for the chapter.

“I believe in direct engagement between students and alumni for the benefit of both,” he says. “As alumni, we can provide great insight, skills, training, guidance and contacts for the students. In return, the students infuse us with passion and energy for our university and our profession.”

The other nominees included: Tom Alexander, ’03, UCF Nicholson School of Communication Alumni Chapter; and Tiffany Carrion, ’08, UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management Alumni Chapter

Constituent Chapter Volunteer of the Year—
Crystal Buit, ’06, UCF Community Volunteers Chapter

This past year, Crystal served as chair of the UCF Community Volunteers Chapter. Like other volunteer leaders, she says she wanted the year to be a success and had a passion for outreach and engagement, being sure to personally connect with as many alumni as she could at each event, letting them know she was thankful for their participation and welcomed their future involvement.

“I hope I have positively impacted the association by creating opportunities for alumni to reconnect with one another, while reminding those in the community of UCF’s tremendous and generous alumni presence and base,” Crystal says.

The other nominee was: Justina Oldehoff, ’09, UCF Young Alumni Chapter 

Student Volunteer of the Year—
Jill Dutmers, 4EVER KNIGHTS Ambassador

Jill has been a 4EVER Knights Ambassador for the past three years. During her junior year, she served as secretary of the 4EK officer board. She also chaired Knights of Legend, 4EK’s annual networking event for students and alumni. This past year, she served as the student alumni association’s president.

“As an ambassador, I’m only required to work 50 hours’ worth of events,” Jill says. “Yet, I attend everything — every meeting, every event, every social gathering — regardless of whether I need the hours. It’s not that I don’t have coursework or law school applications or family obligations waiting for me at home. It’s just that I want to be the kind of outstanding leader who inspires those who follow through my actions rather than my words.”

The other nominee was: Mackenzie Chase, 4EVER KNIGHTS Ambassador 

In addition, three alumni were honored with Shining Armor Awards, recognizing their chivalry to the 4EVER KNIGHTS program and the 4EVER KNIGHTS Ambassadors by donating their time and talent to help 4EK succeed.

Those recipients were:

Peter Cranis, ’84, ’88

Mike Griffin, ’84

Tiffany Payne, ’97

Congrats to all!

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UCF Professors Lead Boston Alumni on Exploration of Ancient Maya Civilization

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The Boston UCF Alumni Club and UCF College of Sciences presented A Knight at the Museum on Friday, April 10, 2015,
during which Pegasus Professors and archaeologists Diane and Arlen Chase (center) spoke with alumni about some of the artifacts they excavated for the largest Maya exhibit in the nation.

By Barbara LeBlanc
Freelance Writer, UCF Foundation Inc.

Thousands of people have visited “Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed” since the exhibition premiered at the Science Museum of Minnesota in 2013. But on Friday night, only UCF alumni were lucky enough to be guided through the exhibit by the very archaeologists who excavated many of the artifacts on display.

Pegasus Professors Arlen and Diane Chase were at the Boston Museum of Science to lead about 70 UCF alumni on a special viewing of the largest Maya exhibit ever mounted in the United States. Michael Johnson, dean of the UCF College of Sciences and a Boston native, was also on hand.

Only a portion of the full exhibit is on display in Boston, as it travels around the country, but it includes ample materials unearthed by the Chases and the UCF students who dig alongside them in Belize. The husband-and-wife team have been leading excavations of Maya treasures there since 1979, first at Santa Rita Corozal and since 1985 at Caracol.

The Chases, who came to UCF in 1984 to establish a program in Maya archaeology, work only with UCF students or graduates at Caracol, which at 200 square kilometers is the largest known Maya site. The couple was fresh off their 2015 digging season when they traveled to Boston to point out exhibit highlights for alumni and answer their questions. The Chases consulted heavily on the exhibit.

“We read every label and proofed them,” said Diane of the displays of their work. She serves as UCF’s vice provost for academic program quality. Arlen is an associate dean in the College of Sciences.

“I already had tickets to come to this exhibit, so I was planning to come anyway,” said Roberto Santamaria ’09, deputy director of public health for the town of Framingham, Mass. “But it’s unbelievable that we can be with the people who actually did the archaeology. It’s a little surreal.”

Ariel Shapiro ’11, a behavior therapist for Southbay Mental Health, said she never thought she’d see a UCF alumni event in Massachusetts. “I thought I’d have to go to Florida,” she said. She was so pleased when she heard of the Museum of Science event, she immediately decided to attend.

Santamaria is Costa Rican, and was thrilled to see his own culture and heritage presented in such depth. And the fact that professors from his alma mater were involved? “That makes it even better,” he said.

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More Info

www.caracol.org