1. More than 8,100 UCF graduates joined the UCF Alumni family over the weekend, including Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Jaha Dukureh. The renowned activist and United Nations goodwill ambassador earned her master’s degree through UCF’s online nonprofit management program. She studied the field to better understand how to run her own nonprofit organization, which she started to help put an end to female genital mutilation. Read her incredible story
3. The 2018 ChargeOn Tour has its first stop scheduled for Tuesday, May 8, at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville for the Jumbo Shrimp’s game against the Tennessee Smokies. Head coaches Josh Heupel, Katie Abrahamson-Henderson and Johnny Dawkins along with Vice President and Director of Athletics Danny White will be all be part of the program, which starts at 6:15 p.m. at the Sea Best Shrimp Deck. Purchase your ticket, which also includes an all-you-can-eat picnic package.
4. The UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management Alumni Chapter is hosting a panel of five outstanding UCF alumni on May 15 at 6 p.m. In addition to sharing their personal stories, the panelists from organizations including Walt Disney Company, Universal and the Orlando Magic will discuss themes like leadership, career development and achieving professional success. Register Now
5. Just a friendly reminder that Teacher Appreciation Day is Wednesday, May 8. Did a UCF professor make an impact on your life? Consider taking a few moments out of your day to send them a note telling them what they mean to you!
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.”
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.
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.”
Debbie Tyson had an early Mother’s Day celebration this week: Both she and one of her daughters graduated from UCF on the same day. Tyson picked up her psychology degree during the 9 a.m. Friday commencement ceremony at CFE Arena, and then watched daughter Raina Sims accept her elementary education degree during the 2:30 p.m. ceremony. Both graduated with honors.
For Tyson, a degree was something she always wanted to attain, but, for the stay-at-home mother, going back to school didn’t always seem to fit into the plans she had for her family. Then, in 2008, her family relocated to Florida and her dreams of obtaining a degree soon became a reality.
Tyson returned to the classroom after 30 years, initially enrolling as a business major at Seminole State College in Sanford. It wasn’t until she took an entry-level psychology class that she discovered a love for psychology and switched her major.
Sims also soon began studying at Seminole State.
“I showed her the ropes, how to get into the honor society, to select classes and professors because I had already taken those classes and professors,” Tyson says. The two spent much of their time at school together, even enrolling in one of the same classes.
“We sat together, did homework together, and ate lunch together,” Sims explains. “I would bring my friends over to the house for lunch, and mom would make soup.”
After graduating from Seminole State, Tyson went on to UCF through DirectConnect, where she studied psychology. Once again, Sims followed in her mom’s footsteps.
“I believe it has been a sense of competition for her to excel, and maintain her GPA,” Tyson says. “It makes me feel like I have showed my children that you can excel.”
Another daughter, Kirsten Sims, will graduate from Lake Mary High School at the end of this month.
After commencement, Tyson plans to continue higher education courses.
“Going to college, studying under well-known professors, and reading material for classes directed my education in many different ways,” Tyson says. “It opened up doors and helped me to realize different potential in myself.”
As for Sims, she hopes to land a job with the Seminole County Public School district.
Editor’s note: This story was slightly edited from its original version to reflect an event that has now taken place in the past.
On Wednesday, May 6, the UCF Alumni Association hosted a Senior Send-Off for spring 2015 graduates. The alumni-to-be participated in a champagne toast, decorated graduation caps, pinned their next destination on the alumni map, and wrote inspiring letters to incoming freshmen. One lucky grad even won a complimentary brick on the Knights Terrace. Knightro also made an appearance and posed for pictures with graduates in life-size Instagram frames! SEE PHOTOS
Congratulations, Class of 2015! Go Knights! Charge On!
As we prepare to bid farewell to 2014, we can’t help but reflect on all of the great UCF stories that have been shared over the last 12 months. Celebrating a new year with a BCS bowl win, welcoming more than 16,000 new alumni over three semesters of graduation ceremonies, getting to know an inspirational teacher, helping a little boy get a “robo-arm” and witnessing a Knights marriage proposal are enough to run the emotional gamete on their own. But, we’ve got more!
Here are our top 10 favorite stories of 2014:
10. Tostitos Fiesta Bowl On Jan. 1, 2014, our Knights won their first-ever BCS bowl after defeating Baylor 52-42 in Glendale, Ariz. (Seems like a fitting story for our list of favorites, as our Knights play in their third-consecutive bowl, facing N.C. State in the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl on Dec. 26, after celebrating back-to-back AAC championships. Go Knights! Charge On!)
9. Graduation The UCF Alumni Association welcomed more than 5,000 new alumni during fall 2014 commencement ceremonies held Dec. 12-13. With these graduations, UCF has awarded more than 271,000 degrees since classes began in 1968. In total, the alumni association welcomed more than 16,000 new alumni in 2014, including spring and summer graduations.
8. The Origins of Pegasus Magazine In 2014, Pegasus Magazine celebrated its 20th year in production. The inaugural issue in July 1994 was printed and mailed to 59,861 alumni. Today, the award-winning publication is sent to more than 205,000 (addressable) alumni. Pegasus was created by Tom Messina, ’84, along with fellow Knights Mike Hinn, ’92, and Jim Hobart, ’91.
7. Little Legacy Marlie Kai Dodson dreamed of being a UCF Cheerleader and attending the College of Nursing. However, pediatric brain cancer claimed her life on Dec. 31, 2011, leaving behind a little legacy that would make a big impact. Thankful for the nurses who cared so much for her daughter, Marlie’s mom, Sarah Dodson, ’01, along with her family of other UCF Knights, established the Marlie Kai Dodson Endowed UCF Oncology Nursing Scholarship, which was awarded this year for the first time.
6. 180 Degrees
Although Jill Schenk, ’90, was an “American Gladiators” contestant, her spirit wasn’t as strong as her body. After struggling with addiction and attempting suicide, she was finally able to learn how to love herself, and now inspires her students as a teacher at San Diego High School.
5. Homecoming Highlights Homecoming 2014 proved to be another exciting week of alumni and student events, including the Black & Gold Gala, Spirit Splash, Black & Gold Takeover, Golf Tournament, Indoor Tailgate, CECS BBQ/Reunion, and a repeat victory against Temple!
3. Orlando’s University UCF’s new downtown Orlando campus is in the works, and will be a “game changer” for the university, according to its top supporter, UCF President John Hitt.
2. Kid-Approved Six-year-old Alex Pring received a new prosthetic arm, thanks to e-NABLE, an international organization that connects families with inventors and 3-D printer enthusiasts creating solutions for children with special needs. That’s where his mom, Alyson, met Albert Manero, ’12, an e-NABLE volunteer who would change their lives forever.
1. Proposal Knight
Having a brick engraved with “Marry Me?” was how Rob Brunjes, ’11, decided to propose to his longtime girlfriend, Michele McGlamory, ’10. Now, the Knights Terrace outside the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center will always hold a special place in their hearts.
We hope you enjoyed our favorites as much as we did. Here’s to bigger and better stories in 2015!
With Knight Pride,
Your UCF Alumni Association Staff
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.