UCF Alumni Announces 2018 30 Under 30 Awards

By Jenna Marina Lee

ORLANDO, Fla. (March 30, 2018) – UCF Alumni announced the recipients of its fourth annual 30 Under 30 Awards on March 30. This year’s class includes marketing and communications professionals, entrepreneurs, engineers, software specialists, attorneys, education leaders, doctors, nurses, the youngest-elected Florida state representative and a football star, among others.

“This year’s 30 under 30 class is a group of trailblazing young alumni who have made an impact within their professions, communities and this university in the early stages of their careers. The record breaking accomplishments of this group is inspiring, and they rank as the best of the best from UCF’s accomplished young alumni base,” said Mike Kilbride ’12, chair of UCF’s Young Alumni Council. “UCF is a special place, and it is inspiring to see so many of our graduates building on their UCF experience to make an impact in our community and around the country. The entire Young Alumni Council is proud of this group of finalists, and on behalf of UCF, I extend my sincerest congratulations on this well-deserved accomplishment.”

The 30 Under 30 Awards program recognizes outstanding young alumni who strive for greatness in their professional and personal lives.

Open-nominations for the 2018 class were accepted on UCFAlumni.com from January-February. 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 May 19, 2018
• Nominees for 30 Under 30 must demonstrate a commitment to maintaining a lifelong relationship with Knights and strive to uphold UCF Young Alumni values of “Scholarship, Bold, Trailblazing, Generous, Resilient”
• Self nominations are not accepted

The winners will be recognized in a formal ceremony on campus at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center on May 19. Below is the complete slate of honorees, listed in alphabetical order by last name.

Yazen Abdin ’12
Immigration Attorney, NeJame Law
College of Sciences

Michelle (Skaf) Anderson ’12
Human Resources Manager, Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
Rosen College of Hospitality Management

Arielle Bardzell ’13
Associate Attorney, Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP
College of Sciences | College of Health and Public Affairs

Shane Chism ’12
Principal Program Manager Lead, Microsoft
College of Engineering and Computer Science

Shantavia Conner ’11 ’13MBA
Finance Director, City of Haines City
College of Business

Gregory Eisenberg ’13
CEO/Founder, The Commission on Local Debates
Executive Director, Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida
College of Undergraduate Studies

Jamison Gavin ’11
CEO, LegendVest
College of Sciences

Alexandra Gentry ’09 ’10MS
Director of Tax and Treasury, Bonnier Corporation
College of Business | Burnett Honors College

Sarah Gitto ’11 ’14MS ’17PhD
Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of Pennsylvania
College of Health and Public Affairs | College of Medicine

Shaquem Griffin ’16
Former Football Student-Athlete/Aspiring NFL Draft Pick, University of Central Florida
College of Sciences

Marlon Gutierrez ’11
Senior Marketing Manager, Student Loan Hero
College of Business

Joshua Haley ’12 ’14MS
Software Engineer, Assistant Technical Staff Lead, SoarTech
College of Engineering and Computer Science | Burnett Honors College

Shannon Hassett ’16
Registered Nurse II, Orlando Health
College of Nursing | Burnett Honors College

Ron Hawks ’12
Crisis Management Lead, Lockheed Martin
College of Health and Public Affairs

Brittany Howell ’10, PsyD
Psychologist, James A. Haley Veterans Hospital, Lakeland Outpatient Clinic
College of Sciences

Samuel Jimenez ’11 ’14MFA
Innovation Product Designer, AARP
College of Arts and Humanities

Michele (Mixon) Jones ’11 ’14MPA
Emergency Management Director, Martin County Fire Rescue
College of Sciences | College of Health and Public Affairs

Amber Mariano ’17
State Representative for Florida House District 36, State of Florida
College of Sciences | Burnett Honors College

Michael McGriskin ’10
Associate Attorney, Phelps Dunbar LLP
College of Business

David Moskovitz ’12
Director of Brokerage and Leasing, Cardinal Point Management
Rosen College of Hospitality Management

B. Mia Mota ’12
Attorney for Emerging and Established Technology Enterprises, The Tech Law Firm
College of Health and Public Affairs

Katherine Payares ’12 ’13MSW
Bariatric and Oncology Clinical Social Worker, Florida Hospital Celebration Health
College of Health and Public Affairs

Allison (Blum) Peterson ’10
Practice Manager, Pediatric Pulmonology and Dermatology, Memorial Healthcare System
College of Business

Eugene Pringle ’17EdD
Assistant Principal, Odyssey Middle School
College of Education and Human Performance

Kristi Ray ’13, DO
Family Medicine Resident Physician, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
College of Sciences | Burnett Honors College

Sara Singer ’10
Associate Attorney, Brydger & Porras LLP
College of Sciences

John Sparkman ’13 ’15MS
Vice President and Director of Research and Development, Limbitless Solutions
College of Engineering and Computer Science

Lindsey Turnbull ’10 ’12MA
CEO/Founder, MissHeard Media
College of Arts and Humanities | College of Sciences | Burnett Honors College

Heather (Grenitz) Ulbrik ’10
Test Engineering Associate Manager, Lockheed Martin
College of Engineering and Computer Science | Burnett Honors College

Demitria Vasilatis ’11, DVM
Post-Doctoral Residency, Clinical Pathology, William Pritchard Veterinary Teaching Hospital, University of California, Davis
College of Sciences | Burnett Honors College

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — March 7, 2016

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Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. The UCF College of Sciences hosted its second annual Outstanding AlumKnights awards ceremony on Thursday, honoring 10 Knights from each of the college’s nine departments, as well as the Nicholson School of Communication.
  2. Pegasus Magazine was delivered to mailboxes and inboxes last week. Read a digital copy, or download the Pegasus Magazine iPad app.
  3. Hear ye, here ye! The Orlando Shakespeare Theater, in partnership with UCF, presents performances of “The Tempest” through March 27 staring UCF alumna, Gracie Winchester, ’14, and “The Adventures of Pericles” through March 26.
  4. Did you know UCF has a student belly dancing club? The Shimmy Knights are dedicated to promoting positive body image and teaches students who want to learn the art of belly dancing!
  5. Looking for ways to get involved? View the UCF Alumni events calendar to find a local event near you!

College of Sciences Recognizes its Newest Group of Outstanding AlumKnights

COS_OA_2016

On March 3, the UCF College of Sciences and its alumni chapter hosted their second annual Outstanding AlumKnights awards ceremony. The college’s dean, Michael Johnson, hosted this year’s festivities, which took place in the Grand Ballroom of the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center, where guests enjoyed music, cocktails, heavy hors d’oeuvres and a photo booth, in addition to the award presentations.

Congratulations to all of this year’s Outstanding AlumKnights!

The 2016 awardees were:

  • Anthropology | Amanda Groff, Ph.D., ’03, ’05, ’07, lecturer, UCF Department of Anthropology
  • Biology | David Breininger, Ph.D., ’09, lead wildlife biologist, NASA Ecological Programs, Kennedy Space Center
  • Chemistry | Robert DeVor, Ph.D., ’03, ’08, scientist/principal investigator, Vencore Inc.
  • Communication | Marci Gonzalez, ’05, reporter, ABC affiliate, New York
  • Mathematics | Robert Muise, Ph.D., ’88, ’90, ’03, senior staff systems engineer, Lockheed Martin
  • Physics | Howard Bender III, Ph.D., ’97, ’98, R&D program manager, National Security Technologies LLC
  • Political Science | Carol Lawrence, ’71, attorney at law, Carolyn J.B. Lawrence P.A.
  • Psychology | Diane Robinson, Ph.D., ’06, ’10, program director, Cancer Support Community/Integrative Medicine Department, UF Health Cancer Center, Orlando Health
  • Sociology | Monica Mendez, Ph.D., ’02, ’08, executive director, Dress for Success Pittsburgh
  • Statistics | Tiffany Wills, ’06, assistant vice president/actuary, Hannover Life Reassurance Company of America

VIEW PHOTOS FROM THE EVENT

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — Nov. 23, 2015

30-under-30-awardees

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. On Friday evening, the UCF Alumni Association honored 30 young alumni (see photo above), for their outstanding achievements, during its inaugural 30 under 30 awards dinner.
  2. C-SPAN network’s Campaign 2016 mobile newsroom visited the UCF campus on Wednesday to broadcast an interview with psychology Professor Deborah Beidel about her studies of anxiety, trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder, and provided an opportunity for students and others to board the bus and learn about the public affairs’ network’s political coverage and other programs.
  3. Last Monday, UCF journalism students got to hear from the parents of Steven Sotloff, a former UCF journalism student who lost his life at the hands of ISIS. In his honor, his family has established the Steven Sotloff Memorial Endowed Fund. (Plus, his legacy lives on in UCF students.)
  4. UCF hired The State University of New York at Buffalo’s Danny White as its new athletics director. “Danny is one of the nation’s rising stars in college athletics, and his talent, determination, energy and creativity will guide our program to a bright future,” UCF President John C. Hitt says.
  5. UCF’s Programming Team won its fourth-consecutive “Battle of the Brains” competition, a super-contest of computer programming. Three UCF computer science students dominated over their competitors from universities in the Southeast, advancing them to the World Finals, representing the best of 10,000 computer programming teams from 90 countries.

UCF Alumni Introduces New Awards for Young Alumni

30_UNDER_30_LOGO_Final-web

This fall, the UCF community will gather to celebrate the achievements of young alumni who continue to “Reach for the Stars” in their professional and personal lives. Young alumni currently make up one-third of our alumni population, making them our largest constituent base. So, to help recognize some of the great work they’re doing, the UCF Alumni Association is introducing its inaugural 30 under 30 awards program!

 

 

Eligibility and criteria includes:

  • Must be a graduate of the University of Central Florida (undergraduate or graduate degree).
  • Must be age 30 or under on Dec. 31, 2015.
  • Must have made an impact in one or more of the following areas:
    • business
    • research
    • leadership
    • arts
    • community
    • education
    • philanthropy
  • Must demonstrate a commitment to maintaining a lifelong relationship with UCF.
  • Must strive to uphold the tenants of the UCF Creed.
  • Must be willing to submit a professional head shot that can be published by the UCF Alumni Association and other UCF entities, as deemed appropriate.
  • Self-nominations will not be accepted.

Know someone who deserves to be recognized? Nominate him/her!

2015 timeline:

July 3 | Nominations open
July 31 | Nominations close
Aug. 3 | Nominees contacted to submit additional information, including a professional head shot and a resume/CV
Aug. 16 | Deadline for nominees to submit additional information
September | Inaugural class of 30 under 30 honorees notified
Nov. 20 | Inaugural class of 30 under 30 awards dinner

Questions?

Contact: Latoya Jackson, ’12

 

Five Things Alumni Need To Know — July 6, 2015

MissUCF2015-BrittanyVasile
Miss UCF 2015 Brittany Vasile, ’15, is spending her summer in New York City, with the dream of becoming a Radio City Rockette. (Photo: Courtesy of Brittany Vasile)

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. The UCF Alumni Association is launching its inaugural 30 under 30 awards, recognizing outstanding young alumni who continue to reach for the stars in their professional and personal lives. Know someone who should be honored? Nominate him or her today!
  2. The UCF Foundation’s new CEO, Mike Morsberger, aims to raise $500 million by 2018 through a multi-year campaign (not expected to go public until next year) to help the university expand to Downtown Orlando, dramatically increase endowment funds for scholarship support and have a competitive edge in athletics.
  3. The UCF Nicholson School of Communication Alumni Chapter invites participants to join the Florida Public Relations Association’s area chapter for a night of networking at its Sip & Savor Scholarship Fundraiser on Thursday.
  4. The Kenneth G. Dixon School of Accounting in the UCF College of Business Administration was recognized for its B.S. and M.S. programs, which were ranked among the top 50 in the nation by accounting.com.
  5. This week, Miss UCF 2015 and KnightMoves dancer Brittany Vasile, ’15, returns to the Rockettes Summer Intensive Dance Program in New York to assist other dancers in training before re-auditioning for her own shot at becoming one of the nation’s most iconic performers.

UCF Alumni Hosts 2015 Chapter & Club Council

CCC-awards-3
During the annual AlumKnights of the Roundtable: 2015 Chapter & Club Council, chapter and club chairs were presented with
framed photos of the Reflecting Pond as a token of thanks for all of their hard work and dedication to the UCF Alumni Association.

On Saturday, June 13, following the previous evening’s 8th Annual UCF Jefferson Awards & Alumni Volunteer Reception, nearly 60 regional, college and special interest chapter and club alumni volunteers — from Central Florida and across the nation — attended the UCF Alumni Association’s AlumKnights of the Roundtable: 2015 Chapter & Club Council at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center.

The morning began with a keynote address and Q&A by Anthony Jenkins, Ph.D., UCF’s senior associate vice president and dean of students.

Next, alumni staff presented this year’s Chapter & Club Awards, which included:

  • The College Chapter Challenge Award tasked college-based alumni chapters to engage in professional development activities within their chapters that add value to their degrees and make meaningful connections back to the university. This year’s winner hosted an evening to provide alumni with a tool that’s invaluable in the industry in which they work — customer service training, provided by best-selling author Tim Miles. Congratulations to the Rosen College of Hospitality Management Alumni Chapter!
  • The Regional Chapter/Club Challenge Award tasked regional chapters with executing events with a strong university connection — which isn’t always easy when you’re not in Orlando! However, this year’s winner impressed the selection committee by working on events with local businesses in their community, while also working with the UCF regional campus closest to them on their signature event, Starry Knights. Last year, Starry Knights raised more than $6,000 for scholarships and, after this year’s event in July, they will be one step closer to their goal of endowing their chapter’s scholarship. Congratulations to the Space Coast UCF Alumni Chapter!
  • The Constituent Chapter Challenge Award tasked special interest chapters with creating opportunities to create meaningful connections with our student population. Chapter volunteers participated as panelists for the 4EVER KNIGHTS Alumni Speaker Series and served as mentors in the 4EK Connect program. Their signature professional development conference, PRO CON, raised $8,000 this year and allowed the chapter to engage with students in various stages of the UCF experience. Congratulations to the UCF Young Alumni Chapter!
  • The Chapter or Club of the Year Award was presented to the overall chapter or club that covered all of the bases in not only event programming, but in communicating with alumni and building meaningful connections. The selection committee was impressed by the winning group, not only for their philanthropic events — participating in multiple events through the year in addition to UCF’s annual day of service, Knights Give Back — but also in the goals they set and how they reached them. They’ve grown their LinkedIn following from just 10 members to nearly 300, while becoming a chapter only two years ago. The judges were thoroughly impressed! Congratulations to the Denver UCF Alumni Chapter!

Chapter and club leaders then participated in breakout sessions on the alumni association’s strategic plan goals of communication, engagement, relevance and funding. After lunch, they continued with roundtable discussions on board management, social media, student engagement, professional development/career-focused events, and partnerships.

Before wrapping up the day-long conference with a catered happy hour and UCF Bookstore merchandise sales, attendees got to meet and participate in a Q&A with Mike Morsberger, the new vice president for alumni relations and development, and CEO of the foundation.

Thank you to all of our dedicated alumni volunteers! Go Knights! Charge On!

VIEW EVENT PHOTO GALLERY

2015 College of Business Hall of Fame

A formally dressed Knightro posed on the red carpet with his buddies, "24K" Kevin Smith, former Knights' running back,  and Jessica Reo, senior associate athletics director.
A formally dressed Knightro posed on the red carpet with his buddies, former Knights’ running back, “24K” Kevin Smith, 
and Jessica Reo, UCF senior associate athletics director, at the 2015 UCF College of Business Hall of Fame.

On Thursday, Feb. 26, alumni, faculty and friends walked the red carpet for a Hollywood-themed evening honoring three successful business grads, who were inducted into the 2015 College of Business Administration Hall of Fame.

Guests arrived at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel to camera-wielding “paparazzi,” and got to pose for pictures with a tux-clad Knightro. VIP guests and sponsors were treated to a special cocktail party before everyone headed into the main ballroom for hors d’oeuvres and networking.

Business students dressed as Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin and Audrey Hepburn were on hand for more photo ops, which also included the iconic DeLorean and another student dressed as Doc Brown from the “Back to the Future” movie series. In addition, guests could take to the virtual skies in an Occulus Rift flight simulator before enjoying dinner and the awards ceremony.

The College of Business Administration Hall of Fame recognizes business alumni who have demonstrated exceptional professional success in their career fields. This highest honor is given to those who have been in the industry for at least 20 years and have brought notoriety to their alma mater through their professional achievements.

This year’s inductees included:

cba-hof2015-gearhartTherese Gearhart, ’85 | President, Southern Africa Business Unit, The Coca-Cola Company

Prior to her current role, Gearhart served as group marketing and commercial and customer director for the Eurasia and Africa Group, the most diverse operating group of The Coca-Cola Company, encompassing more than 90 countries.

cba-hof2015-lessMitch Less, ’86 | Partner, Grant Thornton LLP

Less is an audit partner with 25 years of experience with Grant Thornton, a global accounting and consulting firm. His professional experience includes serving clients in auditing and financial reporting, as well as consulting, with particular emphasis in large, privately owned businesses. In addition to being a client-service partner, he has held leadership roles in the Florida practice and is currently partner in charge of recruiting, and serves on the National Privately Held Business Initiative.

cba-hof2015-schmidJohn Schmid, ’92 | President, Schmid Construction

In 2002, Schmid activated his CGC license and started his own business in land development and commercial construction with the formation of Schmid Construction and Development Inc.

A hall of fame committee selected all of the evening’s awardees, which also included:

Partnership Awards

These awards are given to organizations that have initiated successful partnerships with, or on behalf of, the UCF College of Business Administration, resulting in the advancement of the college’s academic offerings or public outreach. These organizations embody the spirit of collaboration and are recognized for their initiative, leadership and involvement in the betterment of business education.

Entrepreneurial Alumni Awards

These awards are given to UCF alumni from any discipline who exemplify commitment, vision, calculated risk-taking and growth potential. In their professional careers, these Knights demonstrate perseverance in the face of adversity, and overcome obstacles. 

Notable Knights Awards

These awards are given to UCF business alumni who have displayed promise and excellence early on in their respective career paths.

In addition, a special recognition award was chosen by Dean Paul Jarley:

Lifetime of Service Award

  • Tom Messina, ’84 | Former Executive Director, UCF Alumni Association, and 2006 CBA Hall of Fame Inductee

After the evening of awards, many attendees hit the links on Friday morning for the college’s annual golf tournament, which took place at the Shingle Creek Golf Club. Proceeds from the tournament benefit UCF business student scholarships and alumni initiatives.

Congratulations to all of this year’s winners! Go Knights! Charge On!

View photo galleries:
CBA HALL OF FAME
CBA GOLF TOURNAMENT

View list of PAST CBA HALL OF FAME WINNERS.

College of Sciences Presents Inaugural Outstanding AlumKnights Awards

COS-Outstanding-AlumKnights-2015

On Feb. 5, the University of Central Florida College of Sciences and its alumni chapter hosted the inaugural Outstanding AlumKnights award reception at the Orlando Science Center.

COS Dean, Dr. Michael Johnson welcomed the crowd, and faculty representatives from each of the college’s 10 departments and school presented the awards to their respective recipients.

The 2015 awardees were:

  • Anthropology | Keith Edwards, ’10, ’11, president, Medstar Medical
  • Biology | Alice Bard, ’86, ’89, environmental specialist II, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Division of Recreation & Parks, Bureau of Parks, District 3
  • Chemistry | Jennifer McKinley, ’94, ’96, co-founder and chief operating officer, IRradiance Glass
  • Nicholson School of Communication | Clay McMillan, ’90, president, CMI Production Services
  • Mathematics | Aicha Elhor Gillespie, Ph.D., ’00, senior vice president of Citi Shared Services Global Re-engineering
  • Physics | Clara Rivero-Baleine, Ph.D., ’01, ’03, ’05, mechanical engineer, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control
  • Political Science | Ybeth Bruzual, ’05, morning news/political coverage anchor/moderator, News 13
  • Psychology | Kristin Chase, ’03, director of organizational development department, Universal Orlando
  • Sociology | Nicholas Guittar, Ph.D., ’01, ’05, ’11, assistant professor of sociology, Valdosta State University
  • Statistics | Stephanie Urdahl, ’05, assistant vice president and actuary, Financial Solutions Pricing Department, Hannover Re

Not only did the event honor the college’s most outstanding alumni, but it also raised money for scholarships through a silent auction.

Guests had fun interacting with exhibits at the science center, including a hands-on liquid nitrogen demonstration that had everyone jumping at the explosion of an expanding balloon! They also enjoyed live music, while sipping drinks and snacking on hors d’oeuvres — including the crowd-favorite flaming donuts. To finish off the evening’s festivities, awardees and their families dressed up in UCF props and captured their Knight pride in the photo booth.

VIEW PHOTOS

2015 Jefferson Awards — Call for Nominations!

Last year’s 4EVER KNIGHTS’ Shining Armor awardees (left to right): Bill Ford, ’79; Dianne Owen, ’93;  Ron Spangler, ’03; Sara Montuori, ’04; Allen Lane, ’97; Octavia Powell, ’09; and Tim O’Reilly, ’10
Last year’s 4EVER KNIGHTS’ Shining Armor awardees (left to right): Bill Ford, ’79; Dianne Owen, ’93;
Ron Spangler, ’03; Sara Montuori, ’04; Allen Lane, ’97; Octavia Powell, ’09; and Tim O’Reilly, ’10

Celebrating its eighth year, the UCF Jefferson Awards & Alumni Volunteer Reception recognizes the most active alumni volunteers for their countless acts of generosity and numerous volunteer hours with the association. This year’s festivities take place Friday, June 12, at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center.

Hosted by the UCF Alumni Community Volunteers Chapter, the awards focus on outstanding public service by honoring alumni who have given back to their alma mater and the community.

The alumni associaton will also recognize the 4EVER KNIGHTS’ Shining Armor Award winners for their dedicated time and talent given in assisting the 4EK Student Alumni Association.

Do you know someone who is deserving of a nomination?

Submit your nomination today!

Categories include:

  • Regional Chapter Volunteer of the Year
  • Regional Club Volunteer of the Year
  • College Chapter Volunteer of the Year
  • Constituent Chapter Volunteer of the Year
  • Association Committee Volunteer of the Year
  • Student Volunteer of the Year
  • Chapter Community Service Volunteer of the Year

The nomination deadline is March 8 at midnight.

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