Five Things Alumni Need to Know This Week – May 21, 2018

UCF Football Game Time Graphic

1. The UCF baseball team earned the No. 5 seed in the 2018 American Athletic Conference Tournament at Spectrum Field in Clearwater. The Knights will play the first game of the tournament on Tuesday at 9 a.m. against the No. 4 seed ECU. (The game was originally schedule for 3 p.m. but due to the threat of inclement weather, the game was moved up) For more information about the tournament, including tickets, please visit The American’s championship central page.

2. Good news for UCF’s cutting edge RESTORES clinic, which helps people coping with post-traumatic stress disorder. The program has been awarded a $10 million grant to expand its work.

3. Professionals from Walt Disney World, the Orlando Magic and City of Orlando — all UCF alumni — shared some of their wisdom and experiences at a career enhancement panel, and we’re loving their five career tips. The panel was part of Hospitality Knight hosted by UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management Alumni Chapter. For more chapter and club events on the horizon, take a look at the alumni events calendar.

4. The first game time of the 2018 football season has been set. UCF’s Sept. 15 road trip to North Carolina will be played at noon in Chapel Hill. The matchup between the Knights and the Tar Heels will be broadcast on either ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU, with the exact network to be named at a later date. Complete 2018 Schedule

5. A former Air Force fighter pilot; a 4-foot-2 woman who refused to let a rare genetic disorder keep her from pursuing her dreams; a 27-year-old cancer survivor; and a couple who are both active duty Army officers were all part of the 2018 graduating class from the College of Medicine. Read about them all in this Orlando Sentinel feature article.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know This Week – April 9, 2018

Statewide Job Fair Infographic

1. UCF will be hosting the Statewide Job Fair on Thursday, May 10, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at CFE Arena. The Statewide Job Fair is an opportunity for employers to recruit students and alumni from 10 of Florida’s state universities. For more information about the job fair, please contact UCF Career Services at 407-823-2361 or [email protected] You may also visit the Florida Career Centers website.

2. Don’t miss UCF sophomore Hannah Sage in the Jeopardy! College Championship beginning Monday, April 9, during kickoff for the quarterfinal competition. Representing one of only three public universities in the competition, the Burnett Honors College student says she is thrilled to share her love for UCF on a national scale.

3. UCF was featured in the Orlando Sentinel for a culinary medicine course, a class that’s becoming more common in U.S. medical schools in order to combat the obesity epidemic and other chronic diseases. UCF’s a four-week elective is a collaboration between Nemours Children’s Hospital and UCF College of Medicine, Rosen College of Hospitality Management and YMCA of Central Florida.

4. Over the weekend, a group of UCF students showcased its oil-cleanup invention at the National Sustainable Design Expo in Washington D.C. The students’ high-tech sponges clean up ocean oil spills by soaking up oil but repelling water, leaving behind no toxic byproduct. It’s a green solution with a bonus – the oil could be recycled for future use. Now that’s BIG!

5. All this week you can catch UCF’s Celebrates the Arts showcase at the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts in downtown Orlando. The festival consists of free or low-cost presentations by the School of Visual Arts & Design and the School of Performing Arts. Many events feature collaborations across the university and community partners. Full Schedule of Events

Five Things Alumni Need to Know This Week – Feb. 19, 2018

1. UCF’s Presidential Search Committee selected eight semifinalists vying to become the university’s fifth president and next visionary leader. The 15-member search committee will interview the semifinalists on Feb. 22 and 23 at the Student Union. Following the final interview, the committee will vote to bring three to five finalists to campus. Find out more about the semifinalists.

2. The UCF football team announced the date of its annual spring game: Saturday, April 21, at 6 p.m. at Spectrum Stadium. More details about activities surrounding the game will be forthcoming.

3. Three Knights are featured among Orlando Weekly’s annual selection of its “10 people making Orlando a better place to be.” College of Engineering and Computer Science alumni Ricky Ly ’08 and Albert Manero ’12 ’14MS ’16PhD along with College of Medicine alumna Rasha Mubarak ’08 all received shoutouts in the recent article.

4. This year’s recipients of the Order of Pegasus, UCF’s most prestigious student award, were announced Friday. Of the 22 honorees, four are already alumni of the university.

5. Let’s make Monday a little more fun. Take this UCF Study Abroad-inspired quiz to find out where you should travel this year!

There’s No Place Like … a Classroom

A pair of Knights fall head-over-heels for education — and each other — at UCF

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Will Furiosi II, ’13, ’14 & Jessica Ortega, ’13 | Teachers, Oviedo High School

By Angie Lewis, ’03

Fascinated with infectious disease and pathogenic bacteria, Will Furiosi, ’13, ’14, had dreams of working at the Centers for Disease Control. But, during his senior year of pre-med classes at UCF, he decided that teaching science might be more fun.

So, after completing his bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences (with a minor in business administration) in 2013, he continued his education at UCF, on a full scholarship, graduating with his master’s degree in teacher education in 2014. Now, instead of wearing head-to-toe protective garb in a lab every day, he only needs to slip on a pair of safety glasses when conducting experiments with his AP biology and chemistry students at Oviedo High School.

And, in case he has any accidents, his emergency contact, fellow Knight and bride-to-be Jessica Ortega, ’13, is just a few hallways away, teaching AP art history and honors humanities.

To call this couple of Knights ambitious is an understatement.

During their time at UCF, both were active members of The Burnett Honors College and the President’s Leadership Council.

In addition, Furiosi was a recipient of the 2013 Order of Pegasus (the most prestigious and significant award a student can attain at UCF) and graduated top of his class in the College of Medicine, as well as Summa Cum Laude from the university. And, to get in some physical exercise (and fun!), he also played four years on the university’s Ultimate Frisbee team.

When asked about the proudest moment of his life so far, he says it was the near flawless execution of his engagement plan that was six months in the making, but, he adds that a close second is a toss-up between finishing with perfect 4.0s as valedictorian of his high school and finishing top of his class at UCF.

“While there is more prestige accompanying the UCF distinction, completing the feat in high school showed that I could set my mind to something years in advance and achieve it,” he says.

Educating Q&A

Why did you choose to attend UCF?
JO: My family made an unexpected pit stop on the way to a ski trip on President’s Day weekend senior year and I applied to UCF that night. I felt just like Dorothy (in “The Wizard of Oz”) coming home the moment I stepped onto the campus. I knew I couldn’t go anywhere else after that moment.

Do you have any hidden talents?
WF: I can play multiple musical instruments — bassoon (it’s been a while for this one), flute and saxophone — and, I have a knack for taking musical tunes and making my own lyrical renditions.

If life were a song, what would the title be?
WF: I’m going to take a different spin on this and choose a good song for life: “Warning” by Incubus. It’s about a warning that you shouldn’t let life pass you by. Instead, you should live life to the fullest because everything could be gone in an instant.
JO: “I’m On Top of the World” by Imagine Dragons, because that’s how I try to feel every day, especially in front of 100-plus high school students!

Most embarrassing moment?
WF: I’m sure I’ve had more embarrassing moments, but … I ripped my pants, right in the center of my butt, right in the middle of the school day earlier this school year.

What were you most surprised to learn after becoming a teacher?
WF: I was most surprised to hear how much unsubstantiated or biased research is used to influence educational policy and how much time and money is wasted in constantly trying to reinvent the educational wheel.
JO: That kids (or anyone for that matter) never listen to you the first five times you say something. It drives me nuts having to repeat what I already have written on the board a million times a day. I seriously waste at least a few minutes a class period repeating myself and that adds up!

What kind of life advice do you give to your students?
WF: I encourage students to continue to learn as much as possible, get involved in activities to determine their interests, and become financially literate (something we should do more of in public school).
JO: Figure out your passions and pursue them regardless. These students have too many people telling them what they “should” do with their lives. They need more quiet time to just sit there and thing about what THEY want to do, not what their parents, counselors, friends or teachers think is best for them. They’re too afraid of making the “wrong” choice, but I tell them that if they learned something for the experience, it can never be a “wrong” choice.

Black & Gold Gala 2015 — Professional Achievement Award
College of Medicine

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College of Medicine Dean Deborah German presented the college’s 2015 Professional Achievement Award to Dr. Michael Makowski, ’80.
Dr. Michael Makowski, ’80 | Eye Physician/Surgeon, Tomoka Eye Associates

The UCF Alumni Association and College of Medicine presented their 2015 Professional Achievement Award to Michael Makowski at the annual Black & Gold Gala on Oct. 22.

Mike earned his bachelor’s degree in molecular biology/microbiology from UCF, then went on to earn his medical degree from the University of South Florida in 1984. He did his internship at Greenville Hospital System in South Carolina, and his residency at the Medical College of Georgia. 

He is an ophthalmologist and partner with Tomoka Eye Associates, Daytona’s largest and most popular ophthalmology group, with multiple subspecialists and the latest diagnostic technology. His focus is on cataract surgery, glaucoma, oculoplastics and corneal transplant. He’s a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Medical Association, American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons, Volusia County Medical Society and Flagler County Medical Society.

Mike received the Patients’ Choice Award in 2008, 2011 and 2014, and Compassionate Doctor Recognition in 2011 and 2014.

He’s married to fellow Knight Sandi (Wing), ’80, with whom he has two adult sons.

Learn more about Michael:

UCF MedTalk Series Wraps Up for Spring

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Stephen Lambert, Ph.D., associate professor for medicine in the UCF College of Medicine, presented the first MedTalk, “The Cannibal and the Railway Worker’s Wife: Why Your Brain Gets Sick,” on April 22 at the Downtown Pour House. The series, a partnership between the UCF College of Medicine and UCF Alumni Association, will continue in the fall.

Since April, the UCF College of Medicine and UCF Alumni Association have partnered to host a monthly series of MedTalk events. These informal discussions allow attendees to hear about current and innovative issues in medicine, all in plain language and a casual setting, where a researcher or physician gives a brief presentation, followed by a Q&A session.

So far, the three MedTalks have included:

  • “The Cannibal and the Railway Worker’s Wife: Why Your Brain Gets Sick” (presented by Stephen Lambert, Ph.D., on April 22), which covered how our brains get sick and what we can do to maintain brain health, and what works and doesn’t work with some of the most debilitating diseases we face today as a society of people living longer than ever before.
  • “Wine, the Sun and Food: Keys to a Long Life” (presented by Dr. Sampath Parthasarathy on May 13), which covered what’s going on in laboratories around the world and answered the questions: Is all wine equal? Are there foods that can harm you? What can sunlight do?
  • “The Upshot of Viruses and Vaccines” (presented by Dr. Griffith Parks on June 17), which covered why viruses are among the most deadly known diseases of mankind, including smallpox, measles and the influenza virus, as well as what viruses are and why they’re hard to control, how vaccines are made and why you need to get them annually, and where all these new viruses are coming from.

All of the events are free and take place at the Downtown Pour House.

The series will pick up again in the fall.

More than 5,000 to Graduate at Fall 2014 Ceremonies

graduation

By Gene Kruckemyer

More than 5,000 University of Central Florida students are expected to graduate Dec. 12-13 during three commencement ceremonies at the CFE Arena.

The ceremonies will be:

  • Friday, Dec. 12, 9 a.m.
    • College of Education and Human Performance
    • College of Health and Public Affairs
    • Rosen College of Hospitality Management
  • Friday, Dec. 12, 2:30 p.m.
    • College of Arts and Humanities
    • College of Graduate Studies
    • College of Nursing
    • College of Sciences
    • Office of Undergraduate Studies
  • Saturday, Dec. 13, 9 a.m.
    • College of Business Administration
    • College of Engineering and Computer Science
    • College of Medicine
    • College of Optics and Photonics (CREOL)

Doors open 90 minutes before the ceremonies, and graduates begin processing 20 minutes before the ceremonies, which are expected to last about two hours each.

The Friday morning speaker will be Alan Ginsburg, a real estate developer who founded The CED Companies, which has built more than 85,000 affordable apartment residences. He is active in many professional and charitable organizations, and his philanthropic contributions have benefited causes all over Central Florida, including The UCF College of Medicine Capital Campaign. The college’s Harriet F. Ginsburg Health Sciences Library is named in honor of his late wife. During the ceremonies, Ginsburg will be awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service.

The Friday afternoon speaker will be Rick Walsh, ’77, a founding member of the UCF Board of Trustees and a former senior vice president for corporate affairs of Darden Restaurants. Today he is president of the KnobHill Group, a strategic counseling and development company. He received the 1985 UCF Distinguished Alumnus Award and has served on the UCF Foundation board for more than 10 years. During the ceremonies, Walsh will be awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Commercial Science.

The Saturday speaker will be Beverly J. Seay, a business executive in the Central Florida modeling and simulation industry for more than 25 years and a member of the UCF Board of Trustees since last year. She also serves as a board member on the Florida High Tech Corridor Council and on the Steering Committee of the UCF Downtown Campus. She chairs the dean’s advisory board for the UCF College of Engineering and Computer Science, and has helped to establish the UCF Women in Science and Engineering program.

Of the 5,067 students who filed an intent to graduate, there are 4,308 seeking bachelor’s degrees, 659 master’s degrees, three education specialist degrees, 11 educational doctoral degrees, 80 Ph.D.s, and six Doctor of Nursing Practice.

With these expected graduations, UCF will have awarded 271,257 degrees since classes began in 1968.

Each guest attending the ceremonies, including children and infants, must have a ticket to enter the arena. Tickets are available from graduates. Guests who do not have tickets can view a live telecast of the ceremony via closed circuit television at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center, Student Union and on Campus Cable Channel 21.

Parking for guests will be available in garages C, D and H.

MORE DETAILS

Making Strides

Alumnus doctor helps professional athletes get back on their feet

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Dr. Gideon Lewis, ’00 | Reconstructive Foot and Ankle Surgeon

By Daniela Marin

Dr. Gideon Lewis, ’00, stood before an audience of thousands of UCF graduates and their families, as the keynote speaker at UCF’s spring 2014 commencement, where he shared his accomplishments since he donned his own cap and gown, and divulged the philosophy that helped him reach them.

“I still stand by my words that the two most valuable assets in life are relationships and experiences,” he says. “Looking back at my journey, these priceless things are what I’ve built my entire career around.”

In his private practice as a double board-certified reconstructive foot and ankle surgeon, Lewis specializes in sports medicine, treating professional athletes, like Olympic gold medalist sprinter Justin Catlin, Hall of Fame water skier and X-Game gold medalist Ron Scarpa, and Canadian pro football player Keron Williams.

“I’ve always had the desire and dream of establishing a sports medicine practice working with the world’s top athletes,” Lewis says. “I’ve had the privilege of creating a practice geared toward these types of patients, and, I’m proud to say, there’s rarely a day when I don’t treat a professional athlete.”

His disposition for talent, commitment and passion has not only earned him a revered reputation among his patients, but throughout the entire sports community.

“Dr. Lewis’ professional background is outstanding, but what truly sets him apart from other physicians is his understanding of the mind, the heart and the spirit of the athlete,” says Susan Paul, a top 10 U.S. “Supercoach,” as ranked by Runner’s World Magazine.

Lewis’ past experience as a Division I collegiate athlete has served both as motivation and an added resource for delivering consistently great results. The former tennis player’s ability to relate to his patients has made being part of an athlete’s journey from injury to victory that much more rewarding.

I will always strive toward making my alma mater the top university in the nation.

As an assistant professor with the UCF College of Medicine, he’s had the opportunity to stay involved with rising medical students. He was also named chief sport medicine faculty advisor for the college, and is the founder and director of the UCF Pre-Medical Surgical Internship Program.

“I thoroughly enjoy working with pre-medical and medical students,” he says. “Over the next few years, I hope to take on more leadership positions and continue to teach these future physicians.”

Lewis’ inspiration comes from a genuine interest in providing guidance to passionate students combined with efforts to support his alma mater.

“I have an obligation to give back to the institution and supporters who have given so much to me throughout my life,” Lewis says. “My success is somewhat dependent on the success of UCF.  I will always strive toward making my alma mater the top university in the nation.”

Healing Q&A

Q. Why did you choose to attend UCF?
A. I transferred to UCF after a year of attending the University of North Carolina, where I played tennis. After I realized my hopes of becoming a professional tennis player weren’t going to happen, I enrolled at UCF alongside my good friend Joe Foley from high school. We both chose UCF because of its strong pre-medical curriculum.  Today, Dr. Foley is a renowned interventional cardiologist, and I’m a board-certified reconstructive foot and ankle surgeon.

Q. Favorite UCF memory?
A. Hanging out at the Pre-Health Professions office with Susie Yantz and the rest of my pre-med classmates.

Q. Favorite professor?
A. Dr. Budd Berringer. He taught me the importance of always giving 100 percent in everything I do, and always finding the opportunity to provide service to others.

Q. Favorite class?
A. Endocrinology. Being a molecular biology and microbiology major, I developed an interest in the mechanisms and pathways of the human body. This area of discipline encompasses these in almost all aspects.

Q. Were you involved in any extracurricular activities?
A. During my time at UCF, I was very active with the Pre-Professional Medical Society, and even became president of the organization my last year.

Q. What was your experience like as UCF’s commencement speaker?
A. It was one of the most amazing moments in my life. Having the opportunity to speak in front of an audience of more than 12,000 people was very surreal. To share my motivational words and advice with the hundreds of graduating students was a very humbling experience.

Q. Describe a typical day at work.
A. My typical day depends on whether or not I’m performing surgery. During my typical office day, I will spend eight hours treating patients and then an additional two hours on paperwork and phone calls. Otherwise, I’m in the operating room all day during my surgery days. In addition, I work on my non-medical business, Go Chia!, usually before and after office hours.

Q. Most memorable day at work so far?
A. I received an emergent phone call from a hospital physician requesting me to perform surgery immediately on a pediatric trauma patient. After rushing to the hospital, I performed a complex surgery by reattaching this young boy’s traumatically amputated toe. Later, and without any prior knowledge, it was discovered that this boy was part of one of Florida’s most horrific child abuse cases, which also gained national media attention.

Q. What or who inspires you?
A. People who achieve the impossible. My father has inspired me by his life’s journey of being born and raised in a poor, developing country, who then immigrated to the United States for medical school, and eventually became a family practice physician. Dr. Sarah Kureshi, a UCF graduate and former classmate, is a walking example of someone who epitomizes the word perfection. Not only has she achieved almost everything academically, but also her humanitarian efforts have inspired thousands to make the world a better place.

Q. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
A. I’m attempting that now! I’m the co-founder and co-developer of Go Chia!, a super-foods brand. Developing a healthy food and beverage company has allowed me to take on a business outside of the medical industry. I love promoting this healthy brand in a fun and positive way.

Q. Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
A. “Welcome every opportunity to succeed.” —Dr. Zac Haas (my former roommate)

 

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:

Finding Neo

Alumnus works to help cancer patients get reliable diagnosis for treatment

BradleyCampagna-lab-web

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.