Palm Beach Chapter Provides Valentine’s Dinner with Love

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By Angie Lewis, ’03

On Feb. 11, the Palm Beach UCF Alumni Chapter made its second visit to the Quantum House, which lessens the burdens for families with children receiving treatment in Palm Beach County for serious medical conditions.

This time, chapter volunteers prepared a Valentine’s Day-themed meal, complete with heart-shaped grilled cheese sandwiches, organic tomato soup and a salad bar with heart-shaped tomatoes. After dinner, the kids got to decorate cupcakes, brownies and chocolate-covered strawberries with a variety of red and pink icing and candies. (The groceries were provided by Loggerhead Marina.)

“Our group left feeling inspired,” says Brittany Miller, ’07, chair of the Palm Beach UCF Alumni Chapter. “Many of our volunteers were asking how they can stay involved with the Quantum House on their own time.”

The chapter participates in many different volunteer projects throughout the year. It’s previously worked with Loggerhead Marinelife Center, Boys Town South Florida, Big Heart Basket Brigade and Paint Your Heart Out/United Way.

Miller adds, “It’s great being able to connect our UCF alumni with these organizations, broadening the impact we have in the Palm Beach community.”

SEE THE PHOTOS

Family Tradition

For one alumna and nine of her family members, black and gold runs in their blood.

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Alisha Kissee, ’09 | Black & Gold Family

Front row (left to right): Connie Kissee, Alisha Kissee, Julie (Kissee) Sneed; back row (left to right): Madelyn Shafar, Donnie Shafar, Jennifer Kissee, George Sneed, Ashley (Sneed) Monnier, Courtney Sneed, Alyson Shafar

By Angie Lewis, ’03

After going to many homecomings as a child and watching four of her family members attend, Alisha Kissee, ’09, knew UCF was the school for her — so much so, that it was the only one to which she applied.

“Tradition is a big part of our family, and it’s an honor to be a part of our legacy,” she says.

The family of Knights includes Alisha’s uncle George Sneed, ’83; aunt Jennifer Kissee, ’96; aunt Julie (Kissee) Sneed, ’98; cousin Ashley (Sneed) Monnier, ’08; mom Connie Kissee, ’10; cousin Donald Shafar III, ’11; and cousin Courtney Sneed, ’12. Plus, cousins Alyson Shafar and Madelyn Shafar will graduate in 2014 and 2017, respectively.

With several of the family members in school at the same time, sharing a class was bound to happen at some point. Cousins Courtney and Donald shared a chemistry class together. And, for Alisha, it was biology with her mom.

“Most people wouldn’t dare think to take a class with their parents, but I was quite the opposite and found it to actually be fun,” Alisha says. “We used each other as resources, and she was a great study partner.”

Alisha says their mother-daughter relationship grew stronger because they had the opportunity to see each other in a role that they would probably have never seen had they not taken a class together. “We had much respect for one another.”

They were also able to help each other with tougher classes.

“At the time, we were also taking pre-calculus together, [but], in the middle of the semester, I ended up withdrawing because of my workload and the fact that math never was my strong point,” Alisha explains. “On the other hand, math was my mom’s strongest subject. So, she was able to help me in math, while I was able to help her in biology, because that was one of my stronger subjects. It worked out well and, as a result, we now have a closer relationship and can look back on those great times.”

But, what happens when a family of Knights comes together outside the classroom? They celebrate games and birthdays in UCF attire, of course. In fact, Alisha’s cousin, and current UCF student, Alyson’s 21st birthday was a UCF tailgating party.

To top it off, Alisha’s mom Connie adds, “We even celebrate Christmas in UCF fashion, with black and gold Christmas decorations.”

No matter how different their majors or professions (see “Family Resumes” below), this spirited group will always have one thing in common: Knight pride.

Family Resumes

Although they all attended the same university, their degrees and professions are plenty varied. Take a look:

Alisha: advertising/public relations, psychology (minor); marketing assistant for the Orlando Regional Realtor Association and co-owner of Prime Processing LLC
George: marketing; teacher/athletic director for Leesburg High School in Leesburg, Fla.
Jennifer: elementary education + curriculum and instruction (master’s); 3rd grade teacher for Orange County Public Schools
Julie: nursing education manager for Cornerstone Hospice
Ashley: public administration, urban and regional planning (minor); civilian in the Department of the Navy
Connie: early childhood education; special needs teacher
Donald: criminal justice; border patrol agent in Casa Grande Station, Ariz.
Courtney: social science education; 8th grade American history teacher

Family Successes

We asked the family’s eight alumni how they felt their UCF education prepared them for life after graduation. Here’s what each said:

Alisha: My degree has helped me find a position in my chosen career path. The marketing field is very competitive to enter, and I feel UCF helped me break into the industry.
George: U Can Finish!
Jennifer: It prepared me to be the best teacher I can be.
Julie: The B.S.N. program is geared toward leadership in nursing. And, I am in a leadership position.
Ashley: I was fortunate to be able to attain a job in my career field right after graduation.
Connie: The school and classes helped me prepare for becoming a teacher and working with students.
Donald: I felt that the education was significant, however, the internship with the U.S. Marshals was invaluable to my current successful position.
Courtney: UCF’s education program is incredible. I was able to start teaching immediately after graduation, and was able to work on the same level with my peers.