#UCFGrad Spotlight: Dr. Mom

Photos courtesy of KMD Creations

By Jenna Marina

ORLANDO, Fla. (July 27, 2017) – It’s expected that more than 3,700 students will pass through cap and gown pickup at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center this week in anticipation of Summer Commencement.

Some dance in excitement. Some are jittery from too much coffee and not enough sleep. Some are snapping photos for social media love. Some simply are there to cross off another to-do on the list.

When Taylor Bousfield ’13MEd strolled up to claim her doctoral regalia as she breastfed her 5-month-old and cared for her nearly 3-year-old while maintaining a Zen-like calmness, the regalia distribution staff took in the scene before them and wondered: is Wonder Woman real?

“Most of the time I’m a mess,” Bousfield said with a laugh.

Bousfield was born and raised in Orlando and attended The First Academy through middle and high school. After earning her bachelor’s degree from the University of Mississippi, she taught for three years in Louisiana before moving back to Central Florida to teach at Lake Howell High School.

She had an itch to further her education, and when a grant opportunity arose to do so at UCF, she took the chance to earn her master’s degree in exceptional student education with a certificate in autism spectrum disorder.

While she was in graduate school, Bousfield learned of a doctoral grant from Lisa Dieker, a UCF professor and Lockheed Martin eminent scholar chair.

“I figured, why not try?” Bousfield said. “We have an incredible education program that has faculty members who are so innovative. Not to mention the opportunity to work with TeachLivE. That is something I wouldn’t have been able to do anywhere else.”

A month after starting the doctoral program, she learned she was pregnant with her almost 3-year-old, Luke.

“He literally went to every single class, one way or another – whether it was in person, in utero or on Skype,” she said. “There’s no way I could have been able to accomplish everything without the support of our special-ed faculty and my chair, Lisa Dieker.”

Bousfield’s interest in special education and teaching was instilled at a young age. Her aunt, Charlotte Day, is the county coordinator for Special Olympics in Orange County. Bousfield said from the time she could walk she was volunteering at events.

She will graduate on Aug. 5 with her doctorate in education, and her children and husband will be in attendance. She hopes that her family’s immersion in her university experience will instill a drive and a passion for education in her sons.

She plans to stay at UCF as a Teach Live liaison as she works with associate professor Rebecca Hines, PhD.

“Taylor will be an amazing addition to our program. Her doctoral work included research methods in TeachLivE that we will use to help prepare future teachers,” Hines said.

Bousfield said her biggest challenge over the years has been balancing her roles as a mother, a wife and a student, but she wouldn’t have traded the experience for the moment when she learned she had accomplished her goal.

“Hearing ‘Dr. Bousfield’ after passing my dissertation defense – with my husband and both of our boys there in the room — was amazing. It’s probably the best moment I’ve had in a while,” she said. “My advice to anyone is find a support system and don’t wait. Don’t put it off. Now is the time. Somehow it will always work out. Don’t put off life for school, and don’t put off school for life.”

 

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—May 1

1. The UCF Alumni Giving Challenge launches today. Here are three key questions answered:
>What is the Alumni Giving Challenge?
It’s a week-long giving challenge inspired by the Class of 2017, who saw more than 500 student donors make gifts to support UCF’s future. Now they are challenging the alumni community to do the same before the end of their commencement week.
 >When is the UCF Alumni Giving Challenge?
The campaign runs from May 1 through May 7.
>How do I participate?
Visit ucfalumni.com/challenge to make a gift.

2. Another UCF alumnus is headed to the NFL. Former UCF defensive back Shaquill Griffin became the 36th Knight to hear his name called in the NFL Draft on Friday when he was selected by the Seattle Seahawks in the third round, with the 90th overall pick. He is now the third highest UCF defensive back draftee, coming in behind only Josh Robinson (66th) and his position coach, Travis Fisher (64th). Griffin earned a bachelor’s degree in human communications in December.

3. UCF alumna Emily Kramer ’14PhD was honored when an asteroid was named after her to recognize her contributions to planetary science research. Asteroid 10282, aka 1981 ET46, is now officially named Emilykramer. Kramer is a scientist at Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and earned her doctorate in physics at UCF in 2014.

4. About 7,900 UCF graduates will earn their degrees later this week at CFE Arena. Welcome to the fam, fellow alumni! If you’ve got a cool cap to set you apart from the rest, we want to see it. Check out our #UCFGrad cap contest rules and you can score yourself a cool prize for your creativity.

5. Danny White talks the lazy river, priorities for 2017-18 and highlights of year one as UCF’s athletic director in this lengthy Q&A by the Orlando Sentinel.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week MEGA EDITION—April 24

*If you’re graduating and picking up your cap and gown this week, make sure you keep reading because we’ve got five more things especially for our newest alumni!

1. USA Today gave a shoutout to UCF football assistant coach Jovan Dewitt for an app he produced to help with recruiting. Dewitt, a math and physics double major during a two-time Division II all-America career at Northern Michigan in the late 1990s, considers the app a side project – so he’ll still be coaching up the linebackers and special teams come Fall.

2. Staff, alumni and friends of the Burnett Honors College raised nearly $38,000 to establish the Alvin Y. Wang Endowed Scholarship to honor the longtime dean’s service to the university. They surprised him with the news late last week at a celebration of his tenue. Dean Wang plans to step down and focus on teaching in the classroom, so luckily he’s still sticking around.

3. Hot air balloon rides, a rocking concert, food comas and a friendly battle on the gridiron – the UCFastival and spring game was a rousing success. And UCF has all the coverage you could possibly want, complete with videos, recaps and photo galleries.

4. The Orlando Sentinel featured 10 people who make Orlando great, and we’re happy to say we recognize some names as Knights! Chris Castro (Class of 2010) of IDEAS For Us; Mary Palmer, a former professor and the former Dean of the College of Education; and Ryan Rivas (Class of 2005), publisher at Burrow Press, all made the list – and here’s why they did.

5. Just in time for Earth Day, a UCF chemistry professor just found a way to trigger the process of photosynthesis in a synthetic material, turning greenhouse gases into clean air and producing energy all at the same time. The process has great potential for creating a technology that could significantly reduce greenhouse gases linked to climate change, while also creating a clean way to produce energy. Score one for science!

Five More Things – Graduation Style
To our newest alumni, we’ve got nothing but love for ya this week. Here are some need-to-knows about graduation that includes opportunities for free swag! Also, if you’ve got any questions about graduation, chances are, the answers lie here.

1. The #UCFGrad cap Instagram contest is in full swing and four prizes are up for grabs, including a legacy brick on Knights Terrace at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center. Here’s how to win:
> Decorate your grad cap
> Post it to Instagram
> Tag UCF alumni in the photo & use #UCFGrad in your caption!

2. Speaking of grad caps, the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center is hosting a decorating party all week. Visit us between 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. any day this week and get your hands on all the decorating materials you need to stand out in the crowd on graduation day. Plus, we’ve stocked a candy bar to give you the energy you need to get your cap on point.

3. Need some tunes to commemorate the occasion? Here’s a Spotify playlist made especially for the Class of 2017 by the members of the class themselves! Happy listening!

4. Planning on taking a much needed vacation after all that hard work and walking across the stage with diploma in hand? Consider checking out UCF’s worldwide travel packages.

5. Still need to make your class gift? You haven’t missed your chance. Help out future UCF students and be a part of a lasting legacy by making a gift of $20.17.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—Dec. 26

As we countdown the final week of 2016, we take a look back at five memorable UCF moments that happened this year.

  1. IGNITE: The Campaign for UCF launched.
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  2. We united as one. #OrlandoUnited
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  3. We were inspired by those who know no limits.
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  4. Three athletes, one referee and one Paralympian made their countries and their alma mater proud beyond measure at the Summer Olympics.
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  5. The university handed out its 300,000th degree, and we feel like we’re just getting started.
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Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—Dec. 19


1. Although the football team didn’t get the result it wanted at the AutoNation Cure Bowl, the Orlando Sports Foundation and AutoNation combined to donate $1.15 million to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. UCF researcher Annette Khaled, PhD, and Dean of UCF’s College of Medicine Deborah German, MD, were on hand to support the cause.

P.S. We enjoyed seeing so many alumni and friends at our last tailgate of the season. We’re already counting down the days until 2017, but in the meantime, you can relive Saturday’s fun and tag yourself in this Facebook gallery.
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2. “There was no way I was going to miss his graduation. He changed my life.” – That’s original bionic kid Alex Pring, who surprised Limbitless Solutions founder Albert Manero as he walked across the stage at commencement on Saturday. Manero is now a three-time UCF alumnus after receiving his doctorate over the weekend. Twenty-nine other Limbitless members earned degrees among the nearly 5,400 Knights who graduated this December.

View: UCF 2016 Fall Graduation Exposure Gallery

3. Switching gears to basketball, both the men’s and women’s teams are off to great starts in their new eras. Senior guard Zykira Lewis became UCF’s record holder for all-time 3-pointers over the weekend. Everyone’s favorite big man Tacko Fall dropped a career-high 31 points on Sunday, and he’s still leading the nation in field goal percentage, converting an average of 83 percent of the shots he attempts. Both squads have home games this week and several over the holiday break. Check out their schedules: Men | Women (Helpful hint: ticket links are listed for each game).

4. We’d like to send a big congratulations to the Jonnie Morgan Band, named for its founder, UCF alumnus Jonnie Morgan ’10. The band won a national contest on Friday that featured judges Quincy Jones and Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness, and will get to record at legendary Village Studios in Los Angeles. Be on the lookout for a story this week on ucfalumnitoday.com about the band’s journey to victory.

5. UCF is coming for you, Naples! The next stop on the IGNITE Tour is headed to Florida’s west coast on Jan. 23. Register for this event and learn more about future stops on the tour by visiting ucfalumni.com/igniteucf.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—Dec. 12

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1. Heading to the AutoNation Cure Bowl game this Saturday to cheer on the Knights? Don’t miss out on the Official UCF Tailgate at Tinker Field! Hang out with hundreds of fellow Black and Gold fans while enjoying food, beverages, a pregame concert featuring the Eli Young Band as well as special appearances from UCF Director of Athletics Danny White, the cheer team, Marching Knights and leading breast cancer researchers. To secure your spot at the tailgate, click here.

2. Nearly 5,400 UCF students are expected to graduate this weekend, including a business administration student who will receive the university’s 300,000th degree since classes began in 1968. Here’s something to hang their cap on: 48 percent of UCF students graduate without any educational debt. Nationally, only 33 percent of students graduate debt-free.

3. Here’s something that will make you feel good: several groups around UCF’s campus are collecting toys, blankets, gift cards and miscellaneous items to share with others in the community during the holiday season. There’s still time to help the cause, if you’re interested.

4. The year 2030 seems a long way off, but UCF is always looking ahead to the future. In this Orlando Sentinel article, Provost Dale Whittaker predicts that by 2030, UCF will become one of the state’s preeminent research universities, a title that’s currently only held by the University of Florida and Florida State.

5. The UCF men’s soccer team hired a new head coach on Dec. 6, Scott Calabrese. A conference and NSCAA region coach of the year at FIU, he took the Panthers to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in over 10 years by capturing the 2015 Conference USA Championship. He has ties to the Central Florida area, beginning his career as an assistant coach at Stetson from 1998-99.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—Dec. 5

1. Get ready for #Bowlando! The UCF football team will play Sun Belt champion Arkansas State in the AutoNation Cure Bowl on Dec. 17 at 5:30 p.m. at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. Tickets are as affordable as $25 on ucfknights.com. We cannot stress buying through UCF enough: in doing so, you’re directly supporting the Knights financially.

Fun fact: In NCAA history, there have been seven FBS teams to go winless and then appear in a bowl game the very next season. UCF is now the eighth, accomplishing the feat for the second time in program history.

While at the bowl game, you’ll get to see UCF linebacker and American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year Shaquem Griffin in action. Griffin was recognized by the conference with the honor on Nov. 30 and featured on ESPN again for his sensational season. This comes one month after a special segment aired on ESPN’s College GameDay.

2. The UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center is the epi-center of graduation preparation as the fall 2016 soon-to-be grads pick up their cap and gowns this week. Commencement is always a wonderful reminder of Knight Pride, so UCF Alumni created special Facebook cover photos for each grad year since UCF’s first – 1970. Find your class and feel free to add a little black-and-gold to your profile. And if you’re a fall 2016 grad, UCF Alumni encourages you to check out the details for the #MyUCFMemory contest as well as our graduation central page.

3. Thank you to all AlumKnights and friends who made #GivingTuesday a rousing success! In support of the global day of giving, a record 260 donors from 16 states made gifts totaling $33,597. More than $10,000 was designated to first-generation scholarships. At UCF, one in four students are the first in their family to attend college.

4. The power of positivity continues to stem from Limbitless Solutions, UCF’s student group that creates 3-D printed bionic arms for children and donates them to families at no cost. Last week, the UCF Board of Trustees voted unanimously to make Limbitless Solutions the university’s newest direct support organization, meaning it will be a nonprofit entity formally affiliated with the university. Although Limbitless has used UCF lab space and worked closely with some faculty members, the group previously has operated as an independent nonprofit group. That same day, it was announced that a video game collaboration from Limbitless and UCF’s School of Visual Arts & Design won the Best Serious Game Innovation award at the Serious Games Showcase & Challenge.

5. The UCF men’s and women’s basketball teams are a combined 13-3 in their first month of the new season. Even better, they are helping out people in need to brighten up the holidays, and you can get your hands on a December Knightro Bobblehead by joining the cause. knightro-santa

toy-drive

Junior guard Aliyah Gregory started a toy drive last year to benefit The Spring of Tampa, a domestic violence shelter in her hometown. The cause is important to Gregory because her aunt died as a result of domestic violence in 2011. [Read more of that story here.] On Sunday, the women’s team encouraged fans to bring a toy to the game – and did they deliver!

Toys will be collected again on Dec. 10 at the men’s game against Maryland Eastern Shore. The first 100 fans who bring a toy for the 5 p.m. tipoff will receive the surfing Santa Knightro Bobblehead.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — Dec. 21, 2015

Former Olympian and UCF alumna Michelle Akers (left) hosted the latest delivery of a Limbitless Solutions arm in Powder Springs, Ga., to Lila Brooks Pearson (right front) of South Carolina.
Former Olympian and UCF alumna Michelle Akers (left) hosted the latest delivery of a Limbitless Solutions arm in Powder Springs, Ga., to Lila Brooks Pearson (right front) of South Carolina.

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. More than 5,000 students joined the UCF alumni family this past weekend during three fall commencement ceremonies. Congratulations, Class of 2015! Here are some things all new grads should know.
  2. A team of UCF students delivering bionic arms to make 12 children’s Christmas wishes come true was featured Dec. 13 on NBC’s “TODAY Show.” Limbitless Solutions, the UCF-based nonprofit organization that provides 3D-printed bionic arms and hands to children at no cost to their families, started its 12 Arms for Christmas campaign with a special delivery to a 5-year-old South Carolina girl, which included the help of UCF alumna and Olympic gold-medalist Michelle Akers, ’89.
  3. UCF is working hard to secure funding for its planned downtown campus, which would create 2,000 new jobs and have an annual economic impact of $205 million, including $90 million in wages.
  4. A UCF College of Medicine resident was honored with the nation’s top residency research award for his study of a unique heart attack victim he met in the emergency room.
  5. Need a break from all the holiday stress this week? Come out to the CFE Arena on Tuesday and support the UCF Women’s and Men’s Basketball teams! The ladies take on Oklahoma State at 1 p.m., and the guys take on Bethune Cookman at 7 p.m. Go Knights! Charge On! Also, now through Jan. 3, you can catch a performance of “Peter and the Starcatchers” at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater.

This is our last “Five Things” list for 2015. See you in again in 2016! Happy Holidays, Knights!

Commencement Through the Years

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With UCF’s summer graduation ceremony just around the corner, on Aug. 8, the Summer 2015 issue of Pegasus Magazine took a look back at 45 years of “Pomp and Circumstance.”

From the first commencement ceremony in 1970, to the array of distinguished speakers over more than five decades, to the 250,000th graduate, Daniel Berreth, ’15, UCF continues to charge its unique path through history.

TAKE A LOOK…

With groundbreaking new programs, the addition of more faculty members, and UCF Downtown on the horizon, the Knights of tomorrow have much to look forward to!

 

Former Homeless Man Earns Degree from UCF

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By Bailey Myers
Bay News 9

Santos Maldonado, ’15, was living on the streets years ago, struggling to find shelter and food. But, May 9, he graduated from the University of Central Florida.

Maldonado first moved to Orlando in 2001 and he said he fell on hard times, and very quickly was out of money and living on the streets.

For years he struggled with homelessness. Until, one day, he reached a breaking point.

“I thought I was near death,” he says. “I mean that literally. I did not see any hope on the horizon.”

Through the help of of local programs, like the Second Harvest Food Bank, Maldonado got back on his feet. He began taking classes at Valencia College and later attended classes at UCF. After 10 years of studying, the 61 year old earned his degree.

“Without the stability or type of organization [like Second Harvest Food Bank], I wouldn’t be here today,” he explains. “God knows where I would be.”

Now, Maldonado works for the organization that helped him get back on his feet.

“It’s like the icing on the cake. It just proves that you can be different and still make a difference.”

This story was published May 9 on baynews9.com. It has been slightly edited for style. See original article.