Five Things Alumni Need to Know This Week – Dec. 18, 2017

1. “It’s not enough to have a successful career. Success should be defined in terms of doing everything you can so everyone in your community has the same opportunities.”

That advice is from NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was one of the speakers during commencement weekend. Read the Orlando Sentinel feature.

2. The latest issue of Pegasus magazine is out, and its cover story explains how UCF’s history department is working with Florida veterans to preserve their stories.

3. If you’re heading to Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, remember to check out the complete list of bowl weekend activities at ucfalumni.com/bowlbound.

4. UCF research may lead toward an exciting future where the blind see again, neurostimulator implants help relieve chronic pain and war veterans feel the sensation of touch in their prosthetic limb. Melanie Coathup, PhD, an internationally recognized specialist in bone regeneration and implant design, has been hired to lead the university’s new Prosthetic Interfaces faculty research cluster, which will work on big problems like these.

5. This is the last Five Things post of 2017. UCF Alumni wishes you and yours a happy holiday season and a great new year! Go Knights!

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—Feb. 6


1. Lace up your kid’s booties… the third annual UCF Baby Race will take place during halftime of the UCF men’s basketball game on Saturday against UConn. Participating babies must be a crawler between the ages of 7-16 months old. Submissions for the race will be taken through Tuesday, Feb. 7, so act fast. Click here to learn more about the race and register your kiddo!

2. Talk about homegrown talent! More than one-third of UCF’s faculty and staff are alumni, a statistic that UCF takes great pride in as the university kicked off its annual faculty and staff campaign, Believe, on Feb. 2. It hopes to see more than 2,000 donors contribute to UCF over the next month. Here are some sights and sounds from the kickoff event.

3. UCF’s College of Medicine and Hospital Corporation of America announced their newest residency program Sunday. The neurology residency program, which will feature 16 trainees who will train for four years, will be based out of Osceola Regional Medical Center, has received initial accreditation and is seeking immediate applicants.

4. Studying beer? How do we sign up? With the popularity of craft beers, local brewers are turning to a UCF College of Medicine researcher and his microbiology students to help perfect the taste and color of America’s favorite fermented beverage.

5. The UCF IGNITE Tour is less than two weeks away from its next stop in Atlanta on Feb. 16. The event, which will be located in Buckhead, will feature Provost Dale Whittaker along with other key members of UCF leadership. Learn more and register for your spot on the guest list.

Champion of Change

Alumnus honored by White House

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Gonzalo La Cava, ’09 | Area Superintendent,
Fulton County Schools’ Central Learning Community

In recognition of International Education Week Nov. 17-21, we’d like to introduce one of the many College of Education and Human Performance alumni who are making a difference in the world.

For his extraordinary work to educate the next generation of Americans, the White House honored Gonzalo La Cava, ’09, on Sept. 22 as a “Champion of Change.” La Cava and other honorees have distinguished themselves by devoting their time and energy to creating opportunities for young people to succeed, particularly in low-income communities.

As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, the event showcased these leaders and their exceptional contributions to Latino communities and this country.

La Cava is the area superintendent for Fulton County Schools’ Central Learning Community, a grouping of 23 schools surrounding the city of Atlanta, which includes more than 18,000 students. La Cava works with each school’s leadership to achieve unprecedented academic results for all students and to guide its leaders in day-to-day operations and management.

More Info

Champions of Change

The Producer

Communication alumna calls shots for one of the world’s news leaders

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Victoria Moll-Ramirez, ’09 | Cross-Platform Associate Producer, CNN

By Julia Anderson, ‘14

Victoria Moll-Ramirez, ’09, says her bachelor’s degree in radio-television from UCF has meant everything to her in her career. Her best memories at UCF include hours spent in the Nicholson School of Communication’s Knightly Newsroom.

“Every meltdown, every slice of pizza and every soda I had in that newsroom is so fondly remembered,” she says. “The countless times we all looked at each other and asked, ‘Why are we doing this?!’ Totally worth it.”

Although it was challenging at the time, she thanks her experience in the RTV broadcast journalism track for her success.

Shortly after she graduated, Moll-Ramirez started working as an assignment editor at WKMG-Local 6 News Orlando, where she had previously interned. She left WKMG in 2011 after being the first UCF alumna chosen for the NBC News Associate Program in New York City. Out of more than 1,500 applicants she was one of seven chosen for the prestigious program.

In 2012, NBC News promoted her to bureau coordinator of its Miami office. At NBC, she helped generate content for all of their platforms, including NBCNews.com, “The Today Show,” “NBC Nightly News,” MSNBC and NBCLatino.com.

After an incredible three years at NBC News, she moved on to become a cross-platform associate producer at CNN, which is based out of Atlanta.

Moll-Ramirez answered some questions about her time at UCF, the difficulties and rewards of being in the news industry, and shared advice for students and alumni.

Q&A in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…

Q. Why did you choose to attend UCF?
A. It’s going to sound a little silly, but the reason I chose UCF is because it was the university that sent me the most promotional mail. One day I just thought to myself, “Well, if these people want me so bad, let me check this out.”

Q. How has your UCF degree helped you in your career?
A. My UCF degree has been essential in my career. All of my jobs have required a degree in journalism. Over time, I’ve also realized how great the RTV broadcast journalism program was. I’ve had colleagues who went to Columbia, Northwestern, USC, Berkeley, you name it. Not once have I ever felt like I fell behind.

Q. Favorite thing about your job?
A. No two days are ever the same — coming into work every day and not knowing what’s going to happen. Not realizing the moment you walk in through those doors, you may be a few moments away from informing the world about a certain historical event, good or bad, is invaluable.

Q. Most memorable experience on the job?
A. I’d have to say it was the 10th anniversary of September 11th. I was working for NBC at the time in New York City and got to be a part of the team that covered it. When the names of the fallen were being called and I looked at my colleagues, many of whom covered the actual attacks, with tears down their cheeks, it was so real. Seeing the fountains from high up and knowing that’s where so many lives were lost — the hurt was palpable.

Q. What piece of advice would you give to current UCF students, as well as fellow Knights?
A. To current students, UCF is becoming a bigger and bigger name. Don’t underestimate it. A degree is what you make of it. Not having a degree is a lot tougher than having one. Be proud, always. Oh, and INTERN! INTERN, INTERN, INTERN! It’s more important than most of your classes!

For alumni, let’s be friends! I love UCF for all the doors it opened for me. A strong alumni association makes a huge difference.

Now, for some fun questions. Moll-Ramirez shared some personal info to help us get to know her better:

Q. Do you have any special/hidden talents?
A. When in top cardio shape, I’m pretty great at jumping rope. Bizarre, I know. But I actually became obsessed with it while at UCF. They used to have a half-hour class at the recreation center and I started taking it. The rest is history.

Q. What do you do for fun?
A. I love trivia nights and playing kickball. Yes, kickball — don’t judge. I also listen to Pitbull and Romeo Santos (a Spanish language singer) way too much. Also, the regular stuff like hanging out with friends, traveling and watching the news.

Q. What’s the most generous or thoughtful gift you’ve ever received?
A. The most thoughtful gift I ever received was really more like a gesture. On my last day at NBC News, my colleagues threw a huge surprise party for me. My desk was decorated — with pictures of Sanjay Gupta and Wolf Blitzer included — there were balloons, they made posters with pictures of all of my favorite things, they ordered food, I got flowers and even a crown! It was like my Quinceañera all over again! I didn’t expect it and it was above and beyond anything I could’ve ever imagined.