Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—Oct. 9


1. UCF Football rose in the national rankings to No. 21 thanks to its win at Cincinnati. At 4-0 this season, UCF is one of just 13 remaining undefeated teams in the nation. Thanks to all who attended our official watch parties or traveled to Ohio for the game, and a special shoutout to our Cincinnati and Nashville Alumni Clubs for their spirited tailgate and representing the Black and Gold well!

By the way, if you have plans to travel to the Oct. 21 football game at Navy, our alumni chapters from Washington D.C., New York, Boston and Baltimore have joined forces to host a pregame tailgate for all Knights fans. Click here to learn more about the tailgate.

2. Happy Homecoming! There are events on campus throughout the week, but our personal favorites are Friday’s ChargeOn: Behind the Sport panel at 2 p.m. and Saturday’s Indoor Tailgate. Also, check out this special social media promotion from UCF Athletics:

3. A team of UCF students who are experts in cyberdefense took third place last week in the Global Cyberlympics World Finals in the Netherlands. The six-member team – all of them under 21 years old – faced teams of professionals from major tech companies including Cisco and Kapersky Lab.

4. UCF alumnus Eric Ulloa ’04 was featured in the Orlando Sentinel last week for his work on his play, “26 Pebbles,” which had performances over the weekend in Orlando. “This play’s about how communities come together, like Orlando, in the face of tragedy,” said Ulloa in the story. “It shows Americans at their absolute best when handed the absolute worst.”

5. For the first time since it was created in 1999, an Orange County Sheriff’s Office internship program for UCF students has its first all-female class of interns. The six women, all seniors, were chosen by the sheriff’s office from among 42 UCF criminal justice students who applied for the internship.

Looking ahead: As part of Diversity Week, on Oct. 16 and 17 you can help UCF create a special mosaic by adding your own photo to the bigger picture. If you’re interested in contributing, make sure you hashtag your images with #WEAREUCF. Visit the Facebook event page for more details.

 

Once In A Generation

Samantha and mom Jodi_2
By Jenna Marina

ORLANDO, Fla. — Samantha Ogden was sitting on a patio looking out at nature in her hometown of Sorrento, Florida, when she got the email. The email from UCF that stated she was graduating this summer with her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a minor in psychology.

“I closed my phone, and I cried,” she said. “Nobody in my family has gone on to higher education.”

Ogden is from a two-stoplight town on the outskirts of Mount Dora. The population from the 2010 Census was listed at 861.

“It’s the town everyone passes through to get gas,” she said.

Ogden came to UCF as a DirectConnect student from Lake-Sumter State College. Just before earning her associate’s degree, she was brought to UCF’s campus for the first time by a friend who was a Knight.

They walked from the education building to the Reflecting Pond, and Ogden thought they had covered campus and the tour was done.

“I was like, ‘This is it? Cool.’ He said, ‘Oh no. Come with me,’” she recalled. “We walked and we walked and we walked, and we stopped in front of COHPA (College of Health and Public Affairs). He said, ‘You see that down there? The Arena? There’s more. All of these are classrooms. And this is your college.’ I was so intimidated by it.”

Ogden had her heart set on a criminal justice degree ever since the fourth grade when her school held career week. She said it is an accomplishment in Sorrento to graduate from high school, let alone college.

Her mother, Jodi, was a driving force behind Ogden’s desire to achieve more.

Ogden took her mother to campus for the first time last week to pick up her gown and cap, which they decorated together with a ‘Country Bumpkin’ theme. It’s the nickname her co-workers gave her.

“She’s the only person I want going with me to do this,” Ogden said. “She has been so hard on me to complete it and do it. All she’s been talking about for the last year is me graduating. She should be here. She should get to enjoy it.”

Jodi was diagnosed with chronic Hepatitis C while Ogden was in school at UCF. She went through treatment for three months.

“I was stuck in bed, and she was always there. She continued school and we carried on,” Jodi said. “I’ve been a single mother for 18 years. I raised three kids. We all know how to pull together, work together.”

Ogden not only helped care for her mother and continued school, she started her own wallpaper company, Water Lilly Construction.

Ogden developed a deep interest in set design and carpentry in her spare time, which led to her professional endeavor. She plans to continue growing her business after graduation.

She said the biggest takeaway from her college experience was embracing the transformation that comes along with the journey.

“There’s a big world out there and this (college) is how you get there,” she said. “The purpose of the university is to expand your mind. Along with change comes friction and difficulty and dissonance in yourself. You’re going to feel discouraged or like it’s too much pressure. But every time things get really difficult, you have to remember that’s a sign that something is happening, something is changing, and you’re going to crest over that hill.”

A Day with a Knight — Police Deputy

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Orange County Sheriff’s Office Deputy First Class Autumn (Gill) Chouinard, ’11, poses with Oscar, one of the horses in OCSO’s Mounted Patrol, to which Autumn plans to transition from street patrol once a spot opens up.
Autumn (Gill) Chouinard, ’11 | Deputy First Class, Orange County Sheriff’s Office

By Angie Lewis, ’03

It was 3 p.m. on a Tuesday, just 10 days before Christmas, when Deputy First Class Autumn (Gill) Chouinard, ’11, pulled out of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office police substation on Lake Underhill Road in Orlando, with me riding shotgun. It was my first squad car ride-along, and it began just as I’d hoped — speeding through traffic, lights on and sirens blaring (aka “running code”), to get to our first call.

We were responding to a transient fight in a camp behind a local Winn-Dixie. However, when we arrived, the man who was injured had already left the scene, and, after speaking to a woman who explained the events that led up to the altercation, there was nothing Autumn or the other deputies could do, so everyone went on their way.

It wasn’t quite the outcome I’d expected after our rush to the scene (nobody was arrested?!), but, as the night went on, I would discover anticlimactic endings are pretty typical.

From the transient fight location, we made our way over behind a CVS, where Autumn called a young woman to start a report on her stolen iPad. Once she got all of the information, two other deputies met us at the alleged thief’s home, but no one answered the door. So, the case was put on hold until she could make contact.

We responded to a few more calls — a panhandler at a local Publix, a claim of parental sexual assault at an area middle school, and shoplifters at a nearby Walmart — before we found ourselves back on University Boulevard near campus. As we were chatting more about her job, a young man in a Mazda sedan ran a stop sign right in front of us, so Autumn “lit him up” and pulled him over.

Since the man admitted to his mistake, had all of his appropriate documents and didn’t have any outstanding issues on record, Autumn let him go with a warning, reminding him how many people ride bicycles down the sidewalk on that street, and told him to be more careful.

By then, it was about 8:30 p.m., so we took a break and met a couple of Autumn’s fellow deputies for dinner at a local Panera. We got to hear about some of their cases that evening, as well as stories from previous cases, and I learned how often the police have to “Baker Act” the people they’re responding to help. (The Baker Act allows for involuntary examination by law enforcement, or other authorities, of possible mental illness.)

The other deputies told us about a call they’d had earlier in the evening, during which a young woman refused to put her clothes on after neighbors reported her for public nudity. She even kicked one of the deputies, which prompted them to have her taken in for a mental health evaluation.

We barely finished our meals before a call came through about an 8-month-old boy who nearly lost a finger pulling a game console off an entertainment center. After running code to the house, we found firefighters already on the scene, wrapping the baby’s hand as he sobbed in pain on his crying mother’s lap. Then, paramedics showed up and put him inside the ambulance, where his distraught mom accompanied him for the ride to Arnold Palmer Hospital. Since the incident appeared to be an accident, and everything was under control, we left the scene.

We didn’t even make it out of the neighborhood when a possible burglary call yet again sent us running code through Orange County’s moonlit streets. A mother at home with her kids reported hearing noises that sounded like someone was in their house. When we arrived, Autumn joined several other deputies as they searched the area around the house, which turned out to be fully secured.

Taking advantage of a quiet period, Autumn started tackling the mountain of reports she would have to complete by her shift’s end at 2:30 a.m. So, we pulled into the median on University Boulevard, where she said she can keep a better eye out in case anyone should approach the car.

As she typed up the repetitious lists of stolen items from the Walmart shoplifters’ call earlier that night, I jokingly said, “So, this must be your favorite part of the job?” Her answer, of course, was a sarcastic “Oh, yeah.”

After what seemed like an eternity, watching her type up reports on her laptop, we received a call to respond to a house where a 26-year-old woman was arguing with her elderly parents. When we got there, we learned the parents were angry that the daughter kept turning down the air conditioning. Yep, the police were called to settle an argument about an electric bill.

After the daughter took her kids and left the house for the night, we were pulling away when Autumn got a call to respond to an attempted home invasion and car theft. So, once again, it was lights and sirens all the way! Before pulling up to the location, Autumn turned off her lights to avoid possibly scaring the suspect away, and told me to stay in the car. She was the first deputy on the scene, and quickly jumped out of the patrol car, flashlight in hand, and began searching the area. Within seconds, another deputy joined in the search. After a few minutes, they knocked on the door of the house from which the call came.

It wasn’t long before Autumn came back to the car and told me I could get out. By that time, several other deputies had arrived, and a police helicopter was circling the sky above.

As I observed the situation, it was obvious that the “victim” who called 911 was inebriated. She first claimed a black man had kicked in her door, grabbed her car keys out of her hand, and tried to steal the Mustang that was in the driveway. She said her boyfriend was able to stop him (the boyfriend said that didn’t happen), and explained how she got into a physical altercation with the man, showing some scrapes on her arm.

Paramedics arrived shortly after and tended to the woman’s arm with some peroxide and Band-Aids (you would’ve thought they were cutting off her arm with her over-reactive screaming!). In the meantime, a K9 unit had arrived on scene to help look for the suspect.

However, as the deputies continued to try to get more details about what happened, the woman’s story kept changing — from a black man to a Hispanic man, from the man kicking in the door after she got home to her hearing someone at the door and going to check it out with her car keys in her hand. The whole thing was fishy, and the deputies knew it. So, after a little more questioning by deputies, the woman ended up finding her car keys in her purse. She’d made up the whole scenario and, apparently, gotten into a fight with herself.

So, all of those resources — the deputies on scene, the county’s helicopter in the air, the arrival of the K9 unit and the paramedics showing up to treat some scrapes — were wasted on a drunk woman who’d imagined the whole thing. I asked one of the other deputies if they could arrest her for making the false claim, which cost the county several thousand dollars — but, he told me it really wouldn’t do much good, because they’d never recoup the money anyway.

As Autumn’s shift neared its end, we made a quick stop at the Knights Library on University Boulevard. It was about 1 a.m. on the last day of finals before winter break, so we thought things might be getting a little rowdy. After we pulled up and got out of the car, we walked toward the entrance of the bar, where Autumn spotted one of the bouncers she knows. The two chatted for a few minutes, as he told her there hadn’t had any major issues that evening, then was excited to show her a news clip of one of the bar’s former bouncers who’s now a police deputy in Brevard County. Apparently, his recent chase and arrest had made headlines.

Since all else was calm, we headed back to the substation, where she had to finish the rest of her paperwork — a stark contrast to the way her shift began!

More Info

Did you know that anyone (as long as you pass the background check) can request to go on a ride-along? Contact your local sheriff’s office or police department for more information.

I went through:
Orange County Sheriff’s Office
Sector II Substation – East Orange County
11000 Lake Underhill Road
Orlando, FL 32825
407.254.4800

SVU Agent and K9 Partner Combat Child Abuse

Jessie Holton, '10, and his therapy dog, Primus (PHOTO: Amy Floyd, UCF College of Education and Human Performance)
Therapy dog Primus with his owner/handler, Jessie Holton, ’10
(PHOTO: Amy Floyd, UCF College of Education and Human Performance)

By Sandra Carr
UCF College of Education and Human Performance

Earning his doctorate in education with a concentration in organizational sociology from the UCF College of Education and Human Performance is one of Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Special Victims Unit Agent Jessie Holton’s most rewarding accomplishments.

Before enrolling in college, Holton conducted research within his department and found that law enforcement agents with college degrees are on the rise.

“I noticed a college degree was becoming more accepted when I got into law enforcement, so I decided to attend college,” Holton explains. “The next generation of policing is becoming a lot smarter with a higher education. Getting my education from UCF refined everything and made me a much better person and police officer.”

He also received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice from UCF and has been assisting child-abuse victims with his 4-year-old pooch, Primus, a Puggle (pug-beagle mix), in his law enforcement agency’s therapy dog program, The Qualter Project, for the past two years.

Holton is a Marine Corps veteran and suffers from PTSD after serving two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Besides being his crime-fighting partner, Primus is also Holton’s personal therapy dog. He wakes him up and provides comfort whenever he’s experiencing a nightmare in the middle of the night.

He realized that therapy dogs like Primus could also make a difference with child abuse victims, so he started conducting research about Florida child abuse statutes and wrote a grant proposal targeted at fighting child abuse for UCF Professor Elizabeth Mustaine’s child abuse and society master’s course.

Holton found legislation permitting therapy dogs during child abuse victim interviews, but wasn’t aware of any law enforcement agency actually putting the law into action. Mustaine supported Holton, and had the entire class focus on drafting a grant proposal for the therapy dog project.

After the grant proposal was created, BCSO Sheriff Wayne Ivey assisted Holton with implementing The Qualter Project therapy dog program into the Special Victims Unit department in 2013, which is named in honor of Lieutenant Mike Qualter, who was an advocate for child victims. The therapy dog program, a first in the U.S., puts children at ease and has seen the disclosure rate of child abuse victims increase from 36 percent to 82 percent.

Holton has taken his mission further by initiating the Paws & Stripes College. The educational program provides women inmates with an opportunity to train shelter dogs in becoming child abuse victim therapy dogs.

The Qualter Project is expanding and will be assisting law enforcement agencies throughout the U.S. with its free training center, which is slated to open in September 2015. The BCSO facility will feature kennels, 40 dogs from the Paws & Stripes College, a classroom, Eastern Florida State College’s vet-tech school, and a homey area with a kitchen, bedroom and viewing room.

Holton wanted to take his career to the next level by working toward his doctorate in education with a concentration in organizational sociology. The program provided a customized, practitioner’s degree, which helped him develop the Law Enforcement, Academic and Direct Engagement Research System (LEADERS) Initiative through his dissertation in practice. The program analyzed a problem and worked with the law enforcement agency and others to figure out which solutions are plausible. Holton wants his project to grow beyond BCSO.

“I want to develop a full-time research and development unit,” Holton says. “I also wish to create a liaison between academia and law enforcement and then spread an idea. I would like to have multiple LEADERS Initiative sites in different cities throughout the entire country with the same work-group concept.”

UCF has made a difference with Holton’s therapy dog program and other projects.

“The Qualter Project and other programs wouldn’t be a reality if it wasn’t for UCF,” he says. “Students seeking a college degree from UCF should go for it. The Marine Corps laid the foundation for my work ethic and me striving to succeed, and UCF provided the higher education tools and plan. I love UCF and it will always be a big part of my life.”

This story was posted Aug. 5, 2015, on UCF Today. It has been slightly edited in accordance with AP and alumni association style guidelines. See original article. 

Proposal Knight

Alumnus pops the question to alumna at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center

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Knights Terrace | Rob Brunjes, ’11, and Michele McGlamory, ’10

By Angie Lewis, ’03

Michele McGlamory, ’10, thought she was going to spend the evening of Friday, Nov. 21, ice skating at Light Up UCF with her longtime boyfriend, Oviedo Police Officer Rob Brunjes, ’11, but he had other plans.

On the way to the rink, he casually suggested they stop by the Knights Terrace at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center, so they could look at the personalized bricks and possibly buy one as a Christmas gift to each other.

At first, Michele, a children’s behavior therapist, was weary of approaching the back of the building, which was fenced off for the SMU tailgate the following day, but Rob assured her it would be OK.

Lucky for him, she didn’t pay any attention to the curious lighting or GoPro camera mounted outside Ballroom B, nor did she notice the photographer hiding in the doorway of Ballroom A. In fact, Michele was so focused on looking at all of the other bricks, that Rob had to point out his favorite — and the one that would change their lives forever.

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As her eyes scanned the engraving, she saw their names and grad years, followed by a simple, two-word question: “Marry Me?” Taken by complete surprise, Michele immediately covered her face with her hands as Rob knelt beside her, held out the ring and asked her to spend the rest of her life with him. “Yes!” she exclaimed.

Michele kissed and hugged her new fiancé, looked down at the brick and then repeated everything a few more times, all while her hands trembled with excitement and tears of happiness streamed down her cheeks.

Little did she know that some of the alumni staff had been in on the surprise. As we revealed ourselves and our secret, she was thrilled that we captured the moment on camera and video, but promptly and politely asked, “Can I call my mom?”

After telling her mom about the unique proposal, we took some keepsake photos of the newly engaged couple, during which Michele kept stealing a look at the new sparkle on her left ring finger, remarking, “It’s perfect, I love it.”

She also had no idea about the other big surprise Rob had planned that night — his parents, her parents, her sister and her sister’s fiancé were waiting for them at home. Rob was able to get their families to come early for Thanksgiving from Tampa and South Florida to help them celebrate.

Congratulations, Rob and Michele! Thank you for letting the UCF Alumni Association and the Knights Terrace be a part of your legacy!

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See all of the photos and video from Rob and Michele’s Proposal Knight.


Want to commemorate a special occasion, show off your Knights pride or give an awesome holiday gift that will last a lifetime?

Buy your own brick on the Knights Terrace!

Best of all, now through May 1, 2015, alumni receive $50 off the purchase of a 4×8 brick!

Also valid through May 1, 2015, alumni receive $50 off new bookings of meeting/event space at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center, which is the perfect setting for holiday parties, birthday parties, bridal showers, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and more!

Contact [email protected] or 407.823.1978 for more info.