Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—Nov. 14


1. The 2016 30 Under 30 class gathered to be honored Saturday at FAIRWINDS Alumni Center during the Indoor Tailgate. They then were recognized on the field at Bright House Networks Stadium during the football game. This incredible group of individuals includes CEOs, researchers, an NBA referee, teachers, medical professionals and game developers. VIEW THE CLASS.

2. If you live in Central Florida and love UCF (who doesn’t?), then you don’t want to miss an unforgettable evening this Wednesday at the Country Club of Orlando. AlumKnights and friends of UCF are cordially invited to a social reception and a special conversation with President John C. Hitt that discusses the importance of IGNITE: The Campaign for UCF’s impact on the university’s future. For more information and to register, click here.

3. UCF Football is bowl bound! Thanks to a 24-3 victory over Cincinnati on Saturday, the Knights will be heading to a bowl game for the seventh time in the last 10 years. For more information and to secure bowl game tickets, click here or call 407-823-1000. The Knights’ bowl destination will likely be announced on Dec. 4.

A big thank you again to all our service members who were honored on Military Appreciation Day! The Marching Knights put on quite a #UCFSalutes halftime show.

P.S. Twenty-five of the special helmets worn by the UCF football team last Saturday are now available for sale. Part of the proceeds will be donated to charity. Learn more information, and purchase now.

4. UCF political science student Amber Mariano made headlines late last week after becoming the youngest person elected to Florida’s House of Representatives. The 21-year-old’s win was one of the biggest upsets of the Florida state races. She ran against incumbent Rep. Amanda Murphy, and defeated her in a squeaker by less than 750 votes. “It’s awesome that I get to fight for my community. “I’m ready to work,” she said. Spoken like a true Knight.

5. As we gear up for football’s final home game of the season, here are some Must Knows:

– UCF Alumni Indoor Tailgate will start at 5 p.m. Here’s a look back at last week’s fun: PHOTO GALLERY.
– Gameday attire is a little trickier this Saturday: Lower Level and Student Section #UCFansWear white, Upper Level #UCFansWear black
– If you aren’t in town and need a watch party, check out our official locations. The game will air on ESPNews.
– Traffic alert: Due to Light Up UCF, part of West Plaza Drive is closed until January.  Speaking of Light Up UCF, it officially opens this Friday (Nov. 18).


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

(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
  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.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — Dec. 14, 2015

Wondering what this pic is all about? Check out No. 5 on our list!

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. For only the second time in its history, all three branches of UCF SGA’s Senate are led by women. The 48th Student Senate’s executive branch is led by Student Body President Cait Zona, the legislative branch is led by Speaker of the Senate Meghan Kircher, and the judicial branch is led by Chief Justice Taylor Scimeca. Congratulations, ladies!
  2. Throughout final exams week, which finally comes to an end tomorrow, the Student Union, Student Academic Resource Center, Counseling and Psychological Services, and UCF Police’s Safe Escort Patrol Service have been helping students ease some of the stress that can come with test taking (and the holidays).
  3. UCF chemistry Ph.D. candidate David Nash, ’11, MS14, and his team, which is developing a smartphone-based handheld drug system for law enforcement applications, was selected to further advance their innovation at the national level through the National Science Foundation I-Corps program.
  4. Last week in Tallahassee, Florida Gov. Rick Scott presented the Champion of Service Award to UCF mechanical engineering Ph.D. candidate Albert Manero, ’12, MSAE14, for his work with Limbitless Solutions.
  5. A group of student-athletes is spreading Christmas cheer with the help of Mariah Carey, some jolly dance moves, and a video that’s making its way around the Internet.

Rosen College Grad Takes Event Management Talents to the White House

Rosen College Dean Abraham Pizam with Jade Tate, '14
Rosen College Dean Abraham Pizam with Jade Tate, ’14

By Kathy Dorf
Rosen College Public Relations

Jade Tate, ’14, spent this spring as a White House intern in the Office of the First Lady in Washington, D.C. Using skills gained from internships and a bachelor’s degree in event management from UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management, Tate assisted with a variety of events, from press conferences, dinners and receptions to bill signings, national championship team visits and movie screenings.

She credits her professors for preparing her not only to excel in this prestigious internship program, but also for supporting her during the competitive application process. Although Tate’s internship ended on May 1, she already secured a full-time job in the events industry as a sales assistant at The Jefferson, Washington, D.C.’s finest, small historic hotel.

For the benefit of other students considering the program, Tate shared details about her experience as a White House intern and what it took to get there:

Why did you decide to apply for a White House internship?
As my graduation date approached, I began to realize the Orlando area is highly saturated with hospitality seeking professionals specializing in the hotel industry. I knew that I wanted to work in the events field and only the events field, so I needed to place myself in a city where I felt I would thrive. Quite frankly, I knew that I would be in a highly vulnerable and transitional phase of my life and wanted to put myself in a position to succeed. A few months before [the White House Internship application deadline], my active duty Air Force parents were notified they were going to be stationed in the National Capital Region. I researched internships in the Washington D.C. area and came across the White House Internship Program and saw that the Social Office within the Office of the First Lady was an option. I realized I would have the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself and gain invaluable experience and exposure to event planning in a highly visible office. Additionally, I would be able to depend on my family for emotional, spiritual and financial support.

What was the application process like and how did you prepare?
As with any major decision in life, conducting research is very important! Just like any application, I started off with researching the White House Internship Program and previous events conducted by the Social Office within the Office of the First Lady, my primary office of interest. As I gathered more information about the possible office I could be selected for, I definitely fell more in love with the positions and that helped fuel my desire to complete the application to the best of my ability.

This program is highly competitive. Why do you think you were chosen? What do you think made you stand out?
Yes, definitely highly competitive! It was something that kept ringing in my head when I was applying. Washington, D.C. is the political epicenter of the United States and as an event management major with no political experience or involvement, it scared the living day lights out of me! Interns however come from a wide variety of academic and professional backgrounds. Coming from a hospitality background, I knew I would be a different type of candidate, but nonetheless very useful in the Office of the First Lady. Throughout my college career, I was constantly involved in the event industry, from internships to catering to my starting my own business. I made sure I was constantly getting a wide variety of experience.

Describe a typical day as a White House intern.
First, when planning events, no day is typical…ever! In my office, when I arrive at work, I do my morning rounds to make sure everything is set for my supervisors that day. E-mails are always the second thing I do because they give me a sense of what is happening in the office that day; I also respond to any outstanding event requests we receive. As interns, we help things flow more smoothly for the event directors. Personally, I handle a lot of photos from events – processing and staying in contact with the right people to make sure those who come to our events receive their photos. On event days, I assist the event’s point of contact with any last minute details that need to be finished (photo cards, announcement cards, seating card placement, interoffice communications) before doors open for the event.

What kinds of events are you assisting with?
One of my favorite things that attracted me to this internship and has proven to still be one of my favorites is the varied event experience I’ve received. We do movie screenings, dinners, receptions, message events, The First Lady’s Let’s Move! or Reach Higher initiative events, bill signings, national championship team visits (pro-sports) and press conferences. Every day is a new adventure and each event has its own personality.

What’s the best or most memorable experience you’ve had so far?
The best experience I had so far would definitely be our African American History Month Reception. For this specific event, I helped bring in a youth orchestra from the local D.C. area to play. It’s fulfilling to know that it was more than simply putting on an event; it also touched lives.

Do you feel Rosen College prepared you for this opportunity? Are there any skills or lessons you learned that you’ve been able to apply to your work at the White House?
Rosen College provided so many opportunities to grow as an event professional! The professors are honestly the most influential part. In an industry where experience and working in the field are where you gather the most information and knowledge, the staff is what makes the difference. Don’t get me wrong, the education behind the industry has helped me prevent myself from making mistakes that ignorance could have caused and helped me gain a worldly perspective on the industry that I love to be a part of, but there is no comparison to the professors/mentors that I have gained through my time at Rosen College. Ms. A’Rion Raymond — I took every one of her classes that I could — was one of the most inspiring and down to earth professors. She graciously wrote one of my letters of recommendation for this internship. Ms. Deborah Weissberg was a gem from my first Intro to Hospitality class in my first semester at Rosen College to my senior year Communications class. She was such an inspiration and a driving force behind my confidence to apply. She also edited my resume before I submitted my internship application. I cherish the professors so much and the education they are willing to instill in their students — they truly love us.

What’s next for you after the internship ends? What are your plans?
I recently accepted a full-time position as a sales assistant at The Jefferson, a luxury hotel in D.C. I am currently applying to graduate schools and public relations programs to complement my Event Management degree. In addition, I am taking this time to really enjoy this new phase of life and being back home with my family. The possibilities are endless in D.C. and honestly, that is one of the most invigorating feelings.

See original story on UCF Today. To learn more about event management education at Rosen College, please visit

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — April 6, 2015

Click on the image to watch the YouTube video.

Here are five things you need to know this week:

  1. A UCF scientist developed a $1 prostate screening test that’s more accurate than the standard PSA test currently being used for early-stage detection.
  2. On Wednesday, alumni and students will take over Tallahassee for the annual UCF Day at the Capital, where Knights Advocates and SGA will meet with our lawmakers to discuss UCF’s legislative priorities and ask for their support.
  3. Aerospace engineering graduate Matt Harrison, ’13, established a leadership scholarship in the College of Engineering and Computer Science. “My goal is to not only give back, but also to inspire others to see their full potential,” he says.
  4. UCF Celebrates the Arts is a free, seven-day festival celebrating Central Florida’s performing and visual arts. It takes place April 10-15 at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and will showcase UCF theatre, dance, film, and more.
  5. Starting Wednesday, members of the 2015 senior class will take part in #MyUCFStory on Instagram — a photo challenge started by the alumni association to increase social interaction with our newest alumni to be! Click on the hashtag above to follow along!

Knights in Office — 2015

Eight UCF alumni take their seats for the 2015 Florida legislative session 

Florida Sen. Jack Latvala was a proud papa on March 3, 2015, as his son, Chris Latvala, '04,  took his newly elected seat on the floor of the Florida House of Representatives.
Florida Sen. Jack Latvala was a proud papa on March 3, 2015, as his son, Chris Latvala, ’04,
took his newly elected seat on the floor of the Florida House of Representatives.

By Angie Lewis, ’03

On Tuesday, March 3, a new legislative session began in the Florida House of Representatives, where eight Knights are in position to help promote their alma mater. They include:

Click on their links above to view each representative’s photos, committee memberships, and member and contact information.

During opening day remarks, newly elected House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, ’96, presented his “Work Plan 2015” agenda, developed in partnership with Senate President Andy Gardiner and colleagues, saying, “Let’s put aside the politics and work together to pass our agenda — an agenda that will put the average Floridian on firmer ground and pave a stronger path for Florida,” he added.

The specific legislative priorities for the University of Central Florida are to:

  • Secure the necessary funding for the downtown presence, a joint-use campus between UCF and Valencia College, projected to open in fall of 2017.
  • Secure the necessary investments for UCF’s Partnership IV building in order to protect and sustain the Department of Defense Modeling, Simulation and Training cluster in Central Florida.
  • Support the statewide economic development project funding requests for the Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center in Osceola County.

Knights Advocates are looking forward to a productive 2015 legislative session. Stay tuned for alerts on important issues!

Congratulations to all of our alumni representatives! Go Knights! Charge On!

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Help our legislators understand that UCF and its graduates play a key role in economic development through science, research, business and the development of a highly educated workforce by becoming one of our Knights Advocates!