Five Things Alumni Need to Know — Jan. 4, 2016

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(From No. 5 below:) Palmer Vorkapich, a 6-year-old patient at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando, lights up during a visit from Ion, a therapy dog owned by UCF College of Medicine student Christa Zino.

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. Knights had much to be proud of last year! Check out just a few of them in this list from UCF Today of the “15 Moments that Made Your Heart Burst with Knight Pride in 2015.”
  2. With $20 million needed in community support for the UCF Downtown campus, alumnus and CEO Alex Martins, ’01, and the Orlando Magic stepped up, contributing $1.5 million toward the project. And, just this morning, it was announced that the CFE Federal Credit Union has committed its own $1.5 million. Keep up with all the latest developments on the UCF Downtown campus at ucf.edu/downtown.
  3. UCF economist Sean Snaith says Florida’s economic future is merry and bright, with the state’s housing market continuing to improve, and job growth forecasted to continue to outperform the U.S. labor market.
  4. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency selected a UCF team to receive a P3 Award — a first in UCF history — which recognizes student projects that benefit people, promote prosperity and protect the planet by using environmental solutions that move the nation toward a sustainable future. The winning project focuses on ways to make algae biofuel easier and less expensive to produce.
  5. To help cheer up patients at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando, UCF second-year medical student Christa Zino regularly brings her therapy dog, a 2-year-old boxer named Ion, for visits.

Welcome, AlumKnights! (What New Graduates Need to Know)

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By Jeana Capra
UCF Alumni Association Student Intern

Congratulations, Class of 2015 fall graduates! You’re an official UCF AlumKnight, which means you’re now part of a family that’s more than 250,000 strong!

Your connection to UCF and your Knights pride don’t end just because your senior year did. The UCF Alumni Association connects all Knights with the university and each other through social, cultural and professional development events. Now that you’re a part of the family, you should know what it entails.

The UCF Alumni Association is a dues-free organization, which means there’s no annual membership fee to take advantage of all it has to offer. You’re already a part of the alumni association just by graduating!

Remember that key card you got when you picked up your cap and gown? Think of that as your golden ticket. It’s what identifies you as an AlumKnight. Show that card to participating benefit providers for alumni discounts, and use it as your pass into alumni-hosted events, like our annual Indoor Tailgate parties during football season.

The UCF Alumni Association hosts events across the nation, so you can keep connected no matter where life takes you after college. There are countless ways to stay involved, whether it’s on campus or in your new community, through our chapters and clubs program. College-based and regional chapters and clubs help you build of a network of new friends who share your UCF experience.

And, as a brand new graduate, you naturally fit into the Young Alumni Council, a network or more than 60,000 Knights under the age of 30. This community of alumni is a powerful way to help you stay connected to social, career and community events as you begin to conquer “the real world.”

Leaving campus doesn’t have to mean losing touch with your alma mater. Follow the UCF Alumni Association on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to keep up with all of the latest and greatest UCF news and events, and be proud of the university that made you who you are!

Congratulations again, graduates! You’re the future of the UCF Knights Nation, and we look forward to seeing all of the amazing things you’re going to do!

Go Knights! Charge On!

P.S. Jazz up your Facebook profile: Show off your #UCFalumni pride and download one of 10 cover photos. We even made two for your proud parents. :)

UCF and USF Put Aside Rivalry in Spirit of Thanksgiving

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The Palm Beach alumni chapters of the University of Central Florida and the University of South Florida — two schools that are traditionally rivals — put their competitive spirits aside Tuesday night, combining a team of 50 volunteers at the Big Heart Brigade at Palm Beach Gardens’ Fire Station 63. Together, along with countless additional community volunteers, the schools helped assemble 75,000 meals for people in need across South Florida.

UCF and USF face off Thanksgiving evening at 7:30 in Bright House Networks Stadium. The game will air live on ESPN.

 

UCF Alumni Honors 30 under 30

Alumni association recognizes 30 young, successful Knights during inaugural awards dinner

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By Angie Lewis, ’03

The UCF Alumni Association was proud to host its inaugural 30 under 30 awards dinner Friday, Nov. 20, honoring the outstanding achievements of 30 successful Knights.

Young alumni currently make up one-third of UCF’s alumni population, making them the university’s largest constituent base. The 30 under 30 awards program allows the UCF community to celebrate the achievements of these young alumni and the impact they’ve made in the areas of business, research, leadership, arts, community, education or philanthropy.

Awardees were chosen based on nominations submitted by fellow Knights, friends, families and co-workers.

Many of this year’s recipients — most of whom traveled back to campus from locations across the country — were also recognized on the field during the UCF vs. ECU football game Thursday night, alongside the UCF Alumni Association’s 2015 Distinguished Student Award winner, Yudeysis Cores, and 2015 Michelle Akers Award winner, UCF’s Limbitless Solutions.

The following evening, alumni, families and friends, as well as members of university administration, advancement staff, and academic and volunteer leadership, and the evening’s host, UCF alumnus Todd Woodard, ’95, gathered for the awards celebration, held in the Grand Ballroom of the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center.

This year’s 30 under 30 inaugural class included:

Joshua A. Andone, Esq., ’11

Attorney, Hale, Hale & Jacobson
College of Business Administration

Stephanie C. Bolyard, MSENVE12

Graduate Research/Teaching Assistant, UCF
College of Engineering and Computer Science

Keith Brawner, ’08, MSCPE10, PhD13

Adaptive Tutoring Scientist, United States Army Research Laboratory
College of Engineering and Computer Science

Naomi Brownstein, ’08

Assistant Professor, Florida State University College of Medicine
The Burnett Honors College & College of Sciences

Janelle N. Burrowes, ’13

Service Director, Boys & Girls Club
College of Arts and Humanities

Shelby J. Campbell, ’08

Doctor of Audiology, My Family ENT
College of Health and Public Affairs

Amanda N. Castro, ’12

Anchor/Reporter, 41NBC/WMGT
College of Sciences

Chris Castro, ’10

Program Manager, Office of Sustainability & Energy/Senior Energy Advisor to Mayor Buddy Dyer, City of Orlando
College of Undergraduate Studies

Brett R. Chiavari, ’07

Owner & President, BC Restaurant Group
College of Business Administration

Aaron Dietz, MA13, PhD14

Research Associate, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
College of Sciences

Reshad D. Favors, Esq., ’10

Attorney & Fellow, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation/United States Congress
College of Business Administration

Julie Frost, ’12

Performer, Comfort Crew for Military Kids
The Burnett Honors College & College of Arts and Humanities & College of Sciences

Christopher R. Frye, ’13

Physics Ph.D. Candidate, Harvard University
The Burnett Honors College & College of Sciences

Andre Garcia, ’08

Human Factors Engineer, Northrop Grumman Corporation
College of Sciences

Lindsay C. Gartrell, ’10

Corporate Training Manager, The Kessler Collection Inaugural Class
Rosen College of Hospitality Management

Adam J. Giery, ’08, MA11

Principal, Strategos Group
College of Education and Human Performance

Jen Glantz, ’10

Founder and CEO, Bridesmaid for Hire
College of Arts and Humanities & College of Sciences

Kristin Harris, ’11

Associate Celebrity Editor & Talent Relations, Buzzfeed
College of Sciences

Jake Junot, MBA11

Vice President of Global Accounts, C3Research
College of Business Administration

Bridget D. Keefe, ’09, MPA11

Executive Director, Downtown Orlando Partnership
Rosen College of Hospitality Management & College of Health and Public Affairs

Jamile M. Kitnurse, ’08, MBA10, MSBM11

Regional Marketing Manager, Diamond Resorts International
College of Business Administration

Stephanie Ann Koszalka, MSW12

Director of Human Trafficking Victim Services, Florida Abolitionist Inc.
College of Health and Public Affairs

Albert C. Manero, ’12, MSAE14

Lab Director, The Limbitless Project
The Burnett Honors College & College of Engineering and Computer Science

Lauren Niederhiser, ’12

Assistant Project Manager, Walt Disney Imagineering
The Burnett Honors College & College of Engineering and Computer Science

Gregory A. Pearlman Jr., ’08

Financial Advisor, Northwestern Mutual
College of Business Administration

Leigha Audrey Proctor, ’10

Director of Business Development, Transperfect Translations
College of Sciences

Aubree A. Rider, ’10

Co-founder & Owner, The Heroes Group
College of Business Administration

Danny A. Rivera, ’12, MPA14

Special Assistant to Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Orange County Government
College of Health and Public Affairs

Colton J. Tapoler, ’12

Instructional Lead, Florida Virtual School
College of Arts and Humanities & College of Education and Human Performance

Victoria Vighetto, ’10, MNM13

Executive Director, March of Dimes Central Florida Division
College of Health and Public Affairs

Congratulations to all! Go Knights! Charge On!

Black & Gold Gala 2015 — Professional Achievement Award
College of Education and Human Performance

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College of Education and Human Performance Dean Pamela “Sissi” Carroll presented the college’s
2015 Professional Achievement Award to Gonzalo S. La Cava, ’97, ’01, ’09.
Gonzalo S. La Cava, ’97, ’01, ’09, Ph.D. | Area Superintendent,
Central Learning Community, Fulton County Schools

The UCF Alumni Association and College of Education and Human Performance presented their 2015 Professional Achievement Award to Gonzalo La Cava at the annual Black & Gold Gala on Oct. 22.

Prior to his current role as area superintendent for Fulton County Schools’ Central Learning Community, which is made up of more than 18,000 students attending 23 schools, he served Fulton County Schools as assistant superintendent of student support services, and executive director of services for exceptional children.

In 2014, Gonzalo was honored at the White House as one of several “Champions of Change,” individuals doing extraordinary work to educate the next generation of Americans by devoting their time and energy to creating opportunities for young people to succeed, particularly in low-income communities.

He holds his doctoral and master’s degrees in educational leadership, as well as a bachelor’s degree in exceptional education, all from UCF.

Learn more about Gonzalo:

Black & Gold Gala 2015 — Champions Award

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UCF President John Hitt (left) presented the UCF Alumni Association’s 2015 Champions Award to Charles Gray.
J. Charles Gray | Chairman of the Board, GrayRobinson P.A.

The UCF Alumni Association honored Charles Gray, chairman of the board at GrayRobinson P.A., with its 2015 Champions Award at the annual Black & Gold Gala on Oct. 22.

Charles serves in his current role, as well as founding director, of GrayRobinson, where he continues to practice full time in the 270-plus lawyer firm.

He’s served as city solicitor for the City of Orlando, chairman of the Florida State Turnpike Authority, chairman of the Economic Development Commission of Mid-Florida, and chairman of the UCF Foundation (now trustee emeritus), as well as in many other leadership positions.

After winning the 1964 gubernatorial campaign, Florida Gov. Haydon Burns asked his campaign chair, Charles, what he wanted.

“Number one, I want a new university,” he said. And, Burns promised it to him, along with his other list of requests, which included an east-west expressway, a Board of Regents term for a dedicated campaign worker, and his suggested state road board member, among others. Charles didn’t ask for anything for himself.

Burns fulfilled every promise except one. After reading in a newspaper that he appointed someone else to the state road board, Charles called and questioned him. He answered: “Charles, getting a new university authorized, implemented and appropriated is not easy. I made a deal with the most powerful man in the legislature, Speaker of the House E.C. Rowell, who said he could get it done only on the condition that his best friend was appointed as a state road board member. I had to make a deal, and I’m sorry about that. That university was your first choice, and that’s what I had to do.”

Charles considered it an excellent trade-off.

Once Florida Technological University (now UCF) finally came to fruition, Charles was instrumental in the in the selection of former President Charles Millican, and current President John Hitt, and even introduced The Burnett Honors College’s namesake, Al Burnett, to the university.

As a prominent attorney and a major figure in the community, he has remained one of UCF’s strongest advocates.

The Champions Award has only been given out three other times, to the following recipients:

  • Dr. John C. Hitt (2012)
  • Dr. Charles Millican (2010)
  • FAIRWINDS Credit Union (2009)

Learn more about Charles:

Black & Gold Gala 2015 — Distinguished Alumnus Award

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The UCF Alumni Association presented its 2015 Distinguished Alumnus Award to Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins, ’01.
Alex was unable to accept his award in person due to an NBA owners’ meeting in New York.
(PHOTO: UCF Today)
Alex Martins, ’01 | CEO, Orlando Magic

The UCF Alumni Association honored Alex Martins with its 2015 Distinguished Alumnus Award, the highest annual accolade given to a UCF graduate, in recognition of his career achievements, at the annual Black & Gold Gala on Oct. 22.

With 25 years in professional sports management, Alex rejoined the Magic in June 2005 and was promoted to CEO in December 2011. He previously served as president for more than a year, and was the team’s chief operating officer from 2006-2010.

As CEO, he led the development of Orlando’s state-of-the-art sports and entertainment arena, working tirelessly for eight years with community leaders on the massive project, which has been ranked one of the best of its kind in the world. During the same time period, the business of the Orlando Magic thrived, building the largest season ticket base in franchise history, and setting countless new records for sales.

Alex has also given much of his time and energy to serving his alma mater since graduating with his master’s degree from the UCF College of Business Administration, currently as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Counsel for the college, and as chairman of the critical Finance and Facilities Committee for UCF’s Board of Trustees. He was inducted into the College of Business Hall of Fame in 2008, and was honored that same year with the opportunity to serve as a summer commencement speaker.

Learn more about Alex:

Black & Gold Gala 2015 — Service to UCF Award

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Marcos Marchena, ’82, current chairman of the UCF Board of Trustees, and ex-officio member of the UCF Foundation
Board of Directors, presented this year’s Service to UCF Award to Olga Calvet, ’71.
The Honorable Olga M. Calvet, ’71 | Senior Vice President/CFO, Palmas Services LLC

The UCF Alumni Association honored Olga Calvet with its 2015 Service to UCF Award at the annual Black & Gold Gala on Oct. 22.

After college, Olga joined the international accounting firm of Seidman and Seidman CPAs at their Orlando office. She continued her career at Laventhol and Horwath CPAs, eventually establishing her own CPA firm in 1979.

After selling her accounting practice in 1986, she began her current position as senior vice president and chief financial officer for Palmas Services LLC, a participant at Walt Disney World, and operator of restaurant and lounge locations at EPCOT and Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.

Olga is a member of the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. She’s also an active member of the UCF Alumni Association, served as chair of the UCF Foundation and is a charter member of the UCF Board of Trustees, as well as its immediate past chair.

She’s married to Cesar Calvet, with whom she has two daughters, Cristina, ’01, ’03, principal of CCH Marketing & Events Inc., and Alexandra, ’09, owner of Calvet Couture Bridal.

In addition to her professional accomplishments, Olga has a long-standing record of community service within Central Florida and beyond. In fact, she received the UCF Alumni Association’s Outstanding Community Service Award in 2001.

As a successful businesswoman and community leader, she is a shining example of a true UCF Knight.

Learn more about Olga:

Black & Gold Gala 2015 — Distinguished Student Award

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Vanessa Bowman Bershad, ’05 (left), the 2005 recipient of the Distinguished Student Award,
presented this year’s award to Yudeysis Cores.
Yudeysis Cores

The UCF Alumni Association honored Yudeysis Cores with the 2015 Distinguished Student Award at its annual Black & Gold Gala on Oct. 22.

Yudeysis has distinguished herself as an outstanding student and member of the UCF community through diligence, compassion and dedication. Her outstanding credentials reflect superior achievement in academics, co-curricular activities, community involvement and upholding the tenants of the UCF Creed.

Currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in mathematics education in the College of Education and Human Performance, Yudeysis is a Gates Millennium Scholar, and has served on the Education Student College Council and as a judge for the Choices Learning Science Fair. She also was recently selected to serve on the UCF President’s Leadership Council, for which she is excited to serve as a student ambassador and continue to grow as a young professional.

In spring 2013, she conducted an independent research project on how society has created a negative image of the teaching profession, and subsequently presented her work at the Knights Wrights Showcase, before being published in the 2014 Stylus Journal.

After graduation, she would like to teach abroad for a semester to develop her craft as a future teacher and learn about different educational systems across the world. Her dream is to attend Columbia or Vanderbilt University to complete a degree in education policy, and work for a state department of education. She also would like to teach mathematics in a Title I middle school, where she hopes to create positive change with her passion and dedication for teaching.

Yudeysis is motivated and enjoys being able to provide the best experience possible for students in her college who are preparing for what she calls “the most beautiful profession.”

One day, she hopes to create a nonprofit organization to help build schools in underprivileged countries. Her plans are ambitious, but, as she always says, “Just one step at at time, Yudy.”

Learn more about Yudeysis:

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — Oct. 12, 2015

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. In honor of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, UCF is hosting several events this month to encourage people to talk about domestic violence and learn more about the impact this crime has not only on the victims, but the entire community.
  2. The UCF Communications Disorders Clinic opened its doors to the public on Friday, showcasing its new state-of-the-art facility in Central Florida Research Park.
  3. The UCF Alumni Association is giving Knights an inside look at ways to help your children prepare for one of the most important decisions of their lives — applying for college! Join us this Wednesday from 6:30-8 p.m. at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center for our Legacy Admissions Workshop.
  4. Thirteen UCF Alumni chapters and clubs participated in this year’s Knights Give Back, the university’s annual day of service.
  5. The UCF RESTORES clinic is helping veterans combat PTSD, but it needs your help to continue its vital work!