Shining Knights Honored

From left to right: President John C. Hitt, Michael Manglardi ’84, Michael Corey H’17, Loretta Corey H’17, Carey Sobel ’09, Julie C. Stroh, Michael Morsberger

By Jenna Marina Lee

ORLANDO, Fla. (Oct. 13, 2017) – Four individuals were recognized for their outstanding service and philanthropy at the Shining Knights Alumni Awards held at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center on Oct. 13.

The Shining Knights Alumni Awards is a program that highlights UCF Alumni Engagement and Annual Giving’s three major awards: Young Alumni Award; John C. and Martha Hitt Honorary Alumni Award; and Distinguished Alumni Award. It was implemented in 2017 in place of the now retired Black and Gold Gala.

This year’s honorees are:
• Carey Sobel ’09, Young Alumni Award
• Loretta Corey H’17 and Michael Corey H’17, Honorary Alumni Award
• Michael Manglardi ’84, Distinguished Alumni Award

“We are proud of this incredible and faithful group of UCF supporters,” said Julie C. Stroh, senior associate vice president for Advancement, Alumni Engagement and Annual Giving. “They all have given back to the UCF community with their time, talent and treasure. On behalf of UCF Alumni, it is our honor to thank them for their service and for representing the best of UCF as our inaugural Shining Knights.”

Carey Sobel ’09 was selected as the first recipient of the Young Alumni Award. A management graduate of the College of Business Administration, Sobel was a member of the 2017 30 Under 30 class. He has started eight different businesses in Central Florida, ranging from hospitality, marketing, entertainment and real estate/brokerage, all before the age of 30.

He currently serves as partner and chief strategy officer for Three21, a full-service digital marketing company that has grown into a multi-million dollar, award winning agency. The firm employs many UCF alumni, and offers internships to UCF, Valencia and Full Sail students. Sobel is also a partner at Boss Group International, a business brokerage firm where he helps people buy and sell businesses.

An avid UCF fan and supporter, he is a board member of the Young Alumni Council and the UCF College of Business Alumni Chapter, actively participates in speaking engagements for students, and is also involved in the College of Business mentorship program.

Loretta Corey H’17 and Michael Corey H’17 were given the John C. and Martha Hitt Honorary Alumni Award. The Coreys are parents of three UCF graduates and have been longtime supporters of UCF. They have traveled all over the United States and as far as Dublin to cheer on the Knights, and they maintain a box at Spectrum Stadium where their family can gather every home football game.

They are as equally invested in the importance of education. In addition to their major gift commitment to the Everyday Champions program, which provides scholarships for student-athletes, they recently contributed to the new downtown campus.

Loretta is also the founding co-chair of the UCF Parent and Family Philanthropy Council and serves on the UCF Foundation Board.

Michael Manglardi ’84, a political science graduate from the College of Sciences, was recognized with the highest honor given to a UCF graduate, the Distinguished Alumni Award. The award has been given annually since 1979.

Manglardi is a former chair of the UCF Alumni Board and member of the Golden Knights Club Board of Directors, and is emeritus director of the UCF Foundation Board. Two of his sons and four of his nieces and nephews have all graduated from UCF, and his son Jonathan is currently pursuing his degree.

Manglardi, who has built a successful law career in Central Florida, has offered UCF students internships and job shadowing experiences, spoken for LEAD Scholars and UCF Commencement, and has contributed annually since 1988.

He has previously received the Service to UCF Award in 2004 and the Jefferson Award’s Lifetime of Service in 2010, which recognizes outstanding public service by alumni to the organization and the community.

UCF Advancement senior leadership vetted candidates during the summer, and the UCF Alumni Board voted to confirm the selected honorees.

Kings Of Pop

Brandon (left) and Adam (right) Chandler, co-owners of Pop Parlour

By Jenna Marina

ORLANDO, Fla. (May 12, 2017) – The groundbreaking of the UCF Downtown campus on Thursday had a little extra pop of flavor thanks to local businessmen and brothers, Brandon ’10 and Adam Chandler.

The owners of Pop Parlour, a gourmet popsicle and coffee shop, crafted the Partnership Pop of a strawberry, mango and chocolate mashup to commemorate the special occasion. The three flavors symbolize the school colors of Valencia and UCF, which will share the new campus in Parramore that is expected to serve 7,700 students from both institutions when it opens in 2019.

The Chandler brothers were eager to be involved in the historic day and were excited about the blend of flavors.

“We wanted to make sure above anything it tasted the best it could. Black isn’t an easy color to do, but the chocolate is pretty close and it’s delicious. This year, the strawberries and mangos have been the best fruits I’ve ever gotten. It really came together nicely,” said Brandon, who graduated from UCF with an accounting degree. “Doing things like this is a really good way to be in the community, and it’s a city and a school I love.”

Pop Parlour will continue selling its stock of the Partnership Pop in both its downtown and UCF locations for at least the next several weeks. Although strawberry season is ending soon, Brandon said that they will incorporate the pop in their menu as much as possible.

The Partnership Pop is a blend of the school colors for Valencia (strawberry) and UCF (mango and chocolate).

It’s the latest inspiration in a string of unforeseen circumstances that have helped grow their brand.

“[The business has] taken a life that I’m really proud of, but I didn’t see coming four years ago,” Brandon said.

When Brandon graduated from UCF in 2010, he had several self-proclaimed terrible business ideas, from purchasing a bankrupt amusement park to buying a soccer team in England.

His mom, Babette, talked him out of it each time. When he mentioned popsicles, he got her approval and that was good enough for him to leave his full-time steady income job to pursue the venture.

Given their family history, it’s not a surprise.

The name of the Chandler brothers’ business, Pop Parlour, is an ode to their grandfather, Joseph, whom they called PopPop.

Joseph returned to the States after World War II and interviewed for a job at Rieck’s Dairy in Pittsburgh (later to become Sealtest). Apparently, he impressed the interviewer so much that he invited Joseph to come to his house for dinner to meet his daughter. That is how he met Brandon and Adam’s grandmother.

Joseph made ice cream at the dairy until it closed in the 1970s.

“There was never a day with PopPop that we didn’t go get ice cream,” Adam said. “It was always kind of there.”

They opened their store in 2013, months before their grandfather passed away. He was proud to see his grandsons’ dream realized, even if he was a little apprehensive about their potential for a profitable future.

“He told Brandon not to quit his day job. He thought we were a little nuts because back in his day popsicles were like 5 cents, and we told him we were going to charge $3.50. So he thought we were crazy, but he said, ‘If you can get it, good for you!’” Adam said with a laugh.

Now, they deliver their popsicles to companies all over the country. Their popular boozy pops are always in demand even though they were never in the original business plan. Cigar City Brewing came in their store on their second day of business and asked if it could be done.

Coffee was never in the plans either, but when the UCF storefront offered more space than they typically used, they decided to try it out. Now, they’re planning to expand their coffee services in their downtown location off Lake Eola by this summer.

Brandon has been grateful that the Orlando community makes an effort to shop local. As the two brothers handed out popsicle after popsicle at the groundbreaking, Brandon said hopes that they can one day serve the Parramore community, too.

“It’s an area we’re excited to get involved in if we can. We live right here,” he said. “I think it’s important to support these local businesses. It means a lot to us. My brother and I are in the stores working every day, and I don’t think we’d want to do anything else.”

Alumnus Holds Key To Big Data

Big Data Symposium’s keynote speaker Lee Odess ’99 alongside his family

By Jenna Marina

ORLANDO, Fla. (Jan. 23, 2017) – In the past, the biggest threat from a data breach was to the individual. But now with the onset of Big Data, there are much bigger threats and even bigger opportunities.

Few people, however, understand what Big Data is or how it can be used, said Lee Odess ’99, vice president of UniKey and the keynote speaker for UCF’s Big Data Symposium on Jan. 26 at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center.

“The goal of my presentation is, more or less, to give real life examples of what Big Data is and the impact it can have,” Odess said. “Typically you are either super smart on Big Data and have a hard time communicating it, or you are a person who has heard of it but isn’t too sure how to get started. My goal is to bridge the two.”

Practical examples of Big Data are everywhere and can be implemented by both big and small companies. For instance, a company can analyze marketing impacts via its social media reach; predictive analytics can narrow in on customers’ shopping preferences; or it can help analyze where a business should open up its next retail location.

Big Data’s role in our society is one of the reasons UCF’s Colleges of Science, Business and Engineering and Computer Science came together to host the symposium. UCF business professors Robert Porter ’81 ’10PhD and Amit Joshi, PhD; statistics professor Shunpu Zhang, PhD; and Ivan Garibay ’00MS ’04PhD, director of UCF Research Information Systems and chief information officer at the UCF Office of Research and Commercialization, are among the speakers who will talk about practical ways companies, nonprofits and individuals can tap into Big Data to benefit their communities and society.

Odess was a natural choice for the talk because of his familiarity with the use of Big Data within his own profession.

“For UniKey we didn’t wake up one day and say, ‘Hey, we need Big Data.’ We did however say, ‘Hey, we need to start understanding exactly how, when, where our customers are using the locks and mobile applications powered by UniKey,” he said. “So we put the systems and tools in place to be able to collect every bit of data we could. Then once we had it, we spent the time to come up with the algorithms and dashboards to easily digest the information. Now, with a touch of a button we are no longer guessing how, when and where customers are using the product. We are 100 percent clear on it.“

In 2012, Odess was the director of sales operations for security company Brivo Systems when he was watching “Shark Tank” on television one night and saw fellow UCF alumnus Phil Dumas ’05 pitching his smart lock. It was the first time in Shark Tank history that all five investors wanted to buy into an idea.

Odess reached out to Dumas after the show and said that given their UCF roots and similar industries, they should get to know each other. Dumas agreed.

They kept in touch over the years, and when Brivo Systems was sold in 2015, Odess wanted to join with a startup that had growth opportunity. He saw UniKey as that opportunity.

His day-to-day responsibilities as vice president include business development, human resources, participation in the overall strategy for the company and its existing customer base.

Dumas and Odess aren’t the only Knights with UniKey. Odess said 80 percent of the company’s 50 employees are alumni.

“Initially people think we’re from Silicon Valley. When we tell them we’re from Orlando, we explain to them we have some hidden gems here, one of them being the university,” he said. “We look for people that want to be in this area. We think the school does a really good job preparing the students for work. It just makes sense. There isn’t a need for us to look outside what’s in front of our face.”

Odess speaks from experience.

Born in Cleveland, he grew up in South Florida before he moved to Pittsburgh, where he graduated from high school. He considered nearly two dozen universities and picked UCF because he said it just felt right.

“There seemed to be a lot of history to be written,” he said. “I liked that.”

The day after he graduated with his bachelor’s in business, he packed up his car and started driving toward Pennsylvania, where a job with Lutron Electronics awaited him.

After eight years with Lutron, he moved to Washington D.C. and worked for a variety of companies, including several startups of his own, Fresh Confections and energy + light + control llc.

In order to become more acclimated to a new city, he rekindled his relationship with UCF by joining the D.C. alumni chapter.

Now that he’s back in Orlando, he is happy to have an opportunity to further his relationship with his alma mater by lending his time to the symposium.

“I’m proud of the fact that I have an opportunity to make a difference,” Odess said. “There’s a true partnership with the university – it has aspirations and goals, and I feel like it realizes that the people that have come out of it are going to help carry it in that direction.”

The Symposium will be held Jan. 26 from 6-8 p.m. at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center. The event is free, but RSVP online is required. To learn more about the event, click here.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—Jan. 23

1. We like big data and we cannot lie. The UCF Colleges of Sciences, Business and Engineering and Computer Science are hosting a Big Data Symposium this Thursday from 6-8 p.m. in the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center. The evening’s keynote speaker is Lee Odess ’99, vice president of UniKey Technologies. Although the event is complementary, space is limited. For more details and to RSVP, click here.

2. On Sunday, the Atlanta Falcons clinched their spot in Super Bowl LI. Why do we care? Because former C-USA Defensive Player of the Year and UCF alumnus Kemal Ishmael ’13 has suited up for the Falcons ever since they selected him in the seventh round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He is now the 13th Knight to be listed on the roster of a Super Bowl team.

Ishmael graduated from UCF with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies and minor in coaching in 2013. The Super Bowl will air on FOX on Feb. 5 at 6:30 p.m.

3. Apparently, the UCF women’s flag football team is creating quite a dynasty. The Knights recently captured its fourth consecutive football national championship. This year’s squad, ‘Team Check on It,’ thumped the North Carolina A&T Aggies in the championship game, 13-2. The team was led by head coach Brandon Baroody ’13, a finance alumnus who is a member of the National Collegiate Flag Football Championships Hall of Fame.

4. Emergency physicians in training from UCF’s College of Medicine used their skills on a national stage when they staffed the presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 20. During the inauguration, three ER residents and two attending physicians from Osceola Regional ran a treatment and triage area adjacent to the viewing area on the National Mall, in partnership with other first responders.

5. You can help the College of Nursing brighten up the lives of children in local hospitals. The college’s “Give a Bear, Warm a Heart” fundraiser enables the public to sponsor one — or an entire unit — of teddy bears wearing UCF nursing scrubs to be delivered by nursing students the week of Valentine’s Day to sick kids at local hospitals. Learn more about how you can get involved.

Holiday Helpers

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By Jenna Marina

ORLANDO, Fla. (Dec. 14, 2016) — The Knights Helping Knights Pantry found allies in the UCF Parent & Family Philanthropy Council and UCF College of Business Alumni Chapter this holiday season.

Related: Photo Gallery

Eight members of the parent council, which is newly formed this year, sorted professional clothing and packed 50 bags of roughly 270 pounds of food and supplies on Dec. 9. The bags of food are meant to help students get through winter break when the pantry is closed from Dec. 13 to Jan. 9.

“They’ve provided for at least 50 students, who are now going to be able to eat this holiday season. That’s what it comes down to,” Knights Pantry manager Jessica Roberts said. “I’m so glad we could work together. Knowing they didn’t just want to make a donation and have that be the end of it, but that they wanted to come in, work with the pantry, find out what we’re about, means a lot to me.”

The Knights Helping Knights Pantry has grown over the last seven years from a closet in the Student Union to its own mini market that provides food, clothes and toiletries to students in need. The bag-packing was the parent council’s first hands-on service project – one that applies to an issue not just at UCF, but nationwide.

In early December, CNN featured a new report that found 48 percent of more than 3,000 students surveyed from 34 colleges experienced food insecurity in the past 30 days. At UCF, a study done by Dr. Amy Donley in the UCF Sociology Department showed that 23.2 percent of the 902 student respondents have experienced or are experiencing homelessness.

Parents like Monica Green spent an hour packing bags of food and supplies and also sorting through donated professional clothing from the College of Business Alumni Chapter. Green was compelled to get involved with the parent’s council because she felt a duty to find a way to support the university that was a second home for her two children.

“You have to give back to the community,” Green said. “This was a great opportunity to help, but my heart breaks for the kids. I’m glad that the university as a whole has recognized the need and is doing something, and we can help to meet that need.”

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The council’s idea to help the pantry was first formed in October when Hurricane Matthew shut down campus operations for 48 hours. Members of the council wondered how students were getting the resources they needed.

The university executed its emergency plan for Hurricane Matthew, but when the group learned of the pantry’s closure for the winter break, the parents wanted to find a way to help. Their efforts were bolstered by the College of Business Alumni Chapter, which contributed 250 pieces of clothing to stock the pantry’s professional wardrobe choices.

Marketing alumna Roslyn Antoniazzi ’08, who serves as vice chair of the College of Business Administration Alumni Board, said she was glad that she could rally together support from alumni to take care of current students.

“I was absolutely thrilled to see there is support for the students and that there’s an option to not have to choose between buying that book or something to wear for an interview,” she said. “It’s helping to drive the university’s mission to set up students for success post-graduation.”

Students can pick up bags from the Student Care Services office until Dec. 22, and again starting Jan. 3.

How You Can Help
The pantry hopes to revolutionize its day-to-day operation by purchasing a commercial refrigerator. Thanks to donations already generously given and a matching gift pledge by Publix, the Pantry is $1,000 shy of its fundraising goal. Help make a difference, Give Today.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — April 20, 2015

(PHOTO: UCF Today)
Blue Man Group presented 12-year-old Wyatt Falardeau with his very own Blue Man bionic arm. (Photo: UCF Today)

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. UCF’s Limbitless Solutions, the team that made an Ironman bionic arm for 7-year-old Alex Pring (presented to him by Robert Downey Jr. in a what became a viral video), also surprised 12-year-old Wyatt Falardeau with a Blue Man Group arm. Watch the video, shown at a special press conference held this morning at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center.
  2. The UCF Alumni Association and UCF College of Medicine partnered together to present MedTalk, an informal lecture series that allows everyone interested in medicine to join in and learn more about current and innovative issues in the field. The inaugural talk, about why your brain gets sick, takes place this Wednesday from 6-8 p.m. at the Downtown PourHouse.
  3. The UCF Young Alumni Chapter hosts its annual Professional Conference (ProCon) today and tomorrow at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center, where students and young alumni have access to information sessions including resume writing, social media and finances, while getting to network with fellow Knights and interview with companies looking to hire.
  4. The UCF College of Business Administration held its annual Joust competition last week, with Talon Simulations, which creates virtual reality simulations for flight training and gaming, claiming the first place prize of $10,000.
  5. UCF Football played its spring game on Saturday, providing a preview of this year’s team.

BOD Spotlight: Monica Thorsen

MonicaThorsen

Monica Thorsen, ’02 | Treasurer, UCF Alumni Board of Directors

By Angie Lewis, ’03

As a sales representative for Brenntag Mid-South, Monica (Smith) Thorsen, ’02, sells chemicals used to manufacture products such as personal care items, food, paints, drinking and waste water treatment, and many others. Since graduating, Monica has volunteered with and served as chair of the UCF College of Business Administration Alumni Chapter, helped create a mentorship program within the college, and has volunteered with the UCF Community Volunteers Alumni Chapter. In addition, she created a scholarship for military veterans with her husband, John “Jack” Thorsen, ’07. Working in sales means she knows her numbers, which makes her a perfect treasurer for the UCF Alumni Board of Directors.

10 Questions with Monica

Q. Why do you do what you do?
A. I like not being tied to a desk and getting to spend time with different customers every day.

Q. Most memorable experience on the job?
A. It’s a tie between my first time in a factory, seeing how my products were used, the production lines and packaging, and making it on the President’s Council (top sales people in the company) for 2013.

Q. What did you want to be when you grew up?
A. A pediatric dentist. I job shadowed my dentist in high school, but after seeing one tooth pulled, I had to rethink my career path.

Q. How has your UCF degree helped you in your career?
A. I learned so many great things in the professional selling class taught by Karl Sooder. It truly has helped me get where I am today. In sales, there is a fine balancing act where you want to gather information and close a sale, but not be too pushy. His class taught me how to focus on relationships and walk that line. Having a UCF degree has also opened doors to creating relationships with many of my customers who are alumni.

Q. Why do you serve on the UCF Alumni Association Board of Directors?
A. As a student, I worked full time to pay for school and rent, so I didn’t have time to participate in many events on campus. This is my chance to give back to the school that has done so much for me, and to be a voice for students and alumni.

Q. How do you hope your leadership will affect the future of the alumni association and the university?
A. I like to lead by example and hope that I can inspire others to become active and serve on any board within UCF. We can all make an impact in the lives of students and alumni by helping create better programming, creating greater recognition of our impact in the community and further increasing the value of our degrees.

Q. If you could have front-row seats to any concert, which would you choose?
A. Journey! I actually have this on a wish list hanging on my fridge.

Q. If you could eat only one food the rest of your life, what would it be?
A. I am obsessed with cookies — maybe even more so than the Cookie Monster.

Q. What/who makes you laugh out loud?
A. My husband, Jack. We’ve been married 11 years, and our house is always filled with laughter.

Q. Last thing you Googled?
A. Chemicals. I bet Homeland Security has me on its list. I am constantly looking up chemical names, data sheets and synonyms for what my customers are looking for.

BOD Spotlight: Dianne Owen

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Dianne Owen, ’93 | Chair, UCF Alumni Board of Directors

By Angie Lewis, ’03

In addition to her role as executive vice president of marketing for FAIRWINDS Credit Union, Dianne Owen, ’93, also serves as the chair of the UCF Alumni Association Board of Directors. She’s stayed involved with her alma mater in many other ways too, including having taught as an adjunct professor for the College of Business, served on the Annual Fund committee, judged The Joust competition, mentored students and volunteered on industry panels for the alumni association.

10 Questions with Dianne

Q. Why do you do what you do?
A. My job is challenging and, at the same time, rewarding. I truly believe in credit unions — specifically, the mission of FAIRWINDS Credit Union.

Q. Favorite thing about your job?
A. Building awareness about what FAIRWINDS has to offer and then hearing “thank you” from members who we have helped to save money.

Q. Most memorable experience on the job?
A. It was the moment I found out that we were awarded the UCF Student Banking Services provider. I was so excited to get started helping students at UCF to get on the right financial path early.

Q. Favorite UCF memory?
A. When my art professor was grading my final exam, he told me I should stop taking art classes and stick to business. It makes me laugh to this day.

Q. Why do you serve on the alumni board?
A. UCF alumni are a powerhouse group of individuals. I want to leverage that group to build stronger students, a stronger university and a well-connected community. The board is a great conduit to try and make that happen. And, I just love my school and want to give back in as many ways as I can.

Q. What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to your fellow Knights to help advance our university and our alumni association?
A. ENGAGE with your university. It can be done in a multitude of ways and can be mutually beneficial.

Q. What/who makes you laugh out loud?
A. My dog. He puts the biggest smile on my face always.

Q. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
A. A chef or a winemaker. Both would be really cool.

Q. What do you do for fun?
A. I love to cook. I also like to play tennis and hang out at the beach. And, lately, I’ve developed a freakish obsession to Candy Crush.

Q. Last thing you Googled?
A. What do you call someone who makes wine?