Five Things Alumni Need to Know — Jan. 25, 2016

CON-white-coat
The UCF College of Nursing is one of just 60 nursing schools in 33 states to receive funding to participate in this year’s white coat ceremony, which promotes humanistic, patient-centered, compassionate care among future generations of registered nurses. (See No. 2 below.)

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. Oviedo High School teachers Will Furiosi, ’13, MAT14, and Jessica Ortega, ’13, fell head-over-heels for each other — and education — at UCF. READ MORE
  2. On Jan. 10, nearly 200 students from the UCF College of Nursing ceremoniously began their clinical practice with an inaugural white coat ceremony and joined a nationwide initiative to promote compassionate care.
  3. UCF freshman Nick Drivas has been invited to perform with Grammy Award-nominated entertainer Michael Feinstein as part of the “Michael Feinstein: A Sinatra Centennial” concert Jan. 29 at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
  4. On a career break and thinking of returning to work? Unsure about what you want to do and where to start? Interested in changing career paths? Join UCF alumni and other returning professionals for an information-packed, half-day program that includes return-to-work strategies, and tactics on resumes, interviews and job searches.
  5. Running through Jan. 31, Theatre UCF, in collaboration with the Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community, presents “Spunk and the Harlem Literati,” an adaption of the play “Spunk” by Zora Neale Hurston. The production is part of the 27th annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities.

Black & Gold Gala 2015 — Professional Achievement Award
College of Sciences

COS-Rosengren
College of Sciences Dean Michael Johnson presented the college’s 2015 Professional Achievement Award to James Rosengren, ’81.
James Rosengren, ’81 | Founder/Chairman/CEO, Heritage Health Solutions Inc.

The UCF Alumni Association and College of Sciences presented their 2015 Professional Achievement Award to James Rosengren at the annual Black & Gold Gala on Oct. 22.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in biology from UCF, Jim went on to earn his master’s degree in healthcare administration at Baylor University in 1991. 

Before becoming the chairman and CEO of Heritage Health Solutions Inc., he was the vice president of political and government relations for Health Net Federal Services Inc. He also served in the U.S. Army, earning multiple medals, the Legion of Merit Award and Congressional Veteran Commendation.

Jim is a fellow at the American College of Healthcare Executives, and is a member of several veterans and military organizations.

Learn more about Jim:

Black & Gold Gala 2015 — Professional Achievement Award
College of Nursing

CON-Weichart
College of Nursing Dean Mary Lou Sole presented the college’s 2015 Professional Achievement Award to Thomas Weichart, ’04, ’14.
Thomas Weichart, ’04, ’14 | Clinical Nursing Director, ONI Medical Associates

The UCF Alumni Association and College of Nursing presented their 2015 Professional Achievement Award to Tom Weichart at the annual Black & Gold Gala on Oct. 22.

Prior to his current career ventures, Tom held various nursing positions, including the role of presidential executive nurse with the White House Medical Unit. He also served in the U.S. Army, with stints at Womack Army Medical Center in Fort Bragg, N.C.; 86th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad, Iraq; and 240th Forward Surgical Team in Macedonia and Kosovo.

His education in the health-care field began in 1993 and continues to this day. He earned a BS in nursing from the University of Florida in 1995; an MS in health services administration from Central Michigan University in 1999; an MS in critical care nursing from UCF in 2004; a post-graduate health profession education certificate in 2004; an MA in theology/theological studies from Liberty University in 2010; post-graduate certificate as a family nurse practitioner from UCF in 2014; and is currently attending UCF for a nurse practitioner doctorate, scheduled to graduate next year.

Learn more about Tom:

Black & Gold Gala 2015 — Professional Achievement Award
College of Medicine

COM-Makowski
College of Medicine Dean Deborah German presented the college’s 2015 Professional Achievement Award to Dr. Michael Makowski, ’80.
Dr. Michael Makowski, ’80 | Eye Physician/Surgeon, Tomoka Eye Associates

The UCF Alumni Association and College of Medicine presented their 2015 Professional Achievement Award to Michael Makowski at the annual Black & Gold Gala on Oct. 22.

Mike earned his bachelor’s degree in molecular biology/microbiology from UCF, then went on to earn his medical degree from the University of South Florida in 1984. He did his internship at Greenville Hospital System in South Carolina, and his residency at the Medical College of Georgia. 

He is an ophthalmologist and partner with Tomoka Eye Associates, Daytona’s largest and most popular ophthalmology group, with multiple subspecialists and the latest diagnostic technology. His focus is on cataract surgery, glaucoma, oculoplastics and corneal transplant. He’s a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Medical Association, American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons, Volusia County Medical Society and Flagler County Medical Society.

Mike received the Patients’ Choice Award in 2008, 2011 and 2014, and Compassionate Doctor Recognition in 2011 and 2014.

He’s married to fellow Knight Sandi (Wing), ’80, with whom he has two adult sons.

Learn more about Michael:

Space Coast Chapter Volunteers at Cocoa Beach Marathon

SpaceCoast-marathon-shoes SpaceCoast-marathon

By Angie Lewis, ’03

On Sunday, Oct. 25, members of the Space Coast UCF Alumni Chapter (above) manned water stations and cheered on runners in the Cocoa Beach Half Marathon. They also collected used running shoes — 104 pairs to be exact! — to be donated to local charities. SEE MORE PHOTOS


In addition, the UCF Alumni Association’s own Shawna Duane (below), administrative assistant to Executive Director Julie C. Stroh, ran the half marathon (her first one), finishing in 2:54.39, earning her a miniature “I Dream of Jeannie” bottle (since the series took place in Cocoa Beach). “Jeannie” herself, Barbara Eden, was even in attendance to congratulate the runners. Way to go, Shawna!

Shawna-marathon-running Shawna-marathon Shawna-marathon-BarbaraEden

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — Oct. 19, 2015

(PHOTO: Steven Diaz)
Homecoming fireworks will light up the sky over campus Friday night.
(PHOTO: Steven Diaz)

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. It’s time to “Come Together” and celebrate Homecoming 2015! There are plenty of activities to attend this week, including the family-friendly Kidz Carnival, Movie Knight and fireworks, in addition to all of our great alumni events. Plus, this year, for the first time, you can watch Spirit Splash live!
  2. Fewer UCF alumni give back to their alma mater than those at UF and USF. A Homecoming week campaign is hoping to change that! Stay tuned to your email and social media accounts for some inspirational videos, and let’s show those other universities who has the most alumni pride! Are you ready?
  3. Besides all of the Homecoming fun this week holds, the UCF College of Sciences will also host an important discussion on “Examining Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” presented by Deborah Beidel, Pegasus Professor of Psychology and Medical Evaluation, as part of its Distinguished Speaker Series.
  4. The UCF College of Medicine and Hospital Corporation of America are expanding their partnership to create more than 550 residency slots in hospitals across northern Florida, including communities in Orlando, Gainesville and Ocala.
  5. Did you know that UCF produces more graduates who get jobs with aerospace and defense companies than any other university in the nation? It’s true!

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — Oct. 5, 2015

kitten
After discovering her under the hood of his car last Monday, Steve Collins,
a UCF journalism professor, adopted 6-week-old Honda,
who joins a 12-year-old sister named Cocoa.
(PHOTO: UCF Nicholson School of Communication Facebook page)

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. We’ve got lots of fun alumni events happening this week, including the return of UCF MedTalk, which will discuss “Tackling Breast Cancer,” on Wednesday; the UCF Alumni Indoor Tailgate for the UCF vs. UConn game on Saturday; and the Tampa Bay UCF Alumni Chapter’s AlumKnight Out at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, as Blake Bortles and the Jaguars take on the Buccaneers! The Space Coast UCF Alumni Chapter will also be making the trip to Tampa for the game!
  2. On Wednesday, President Hitt discussed the transformative power of higher education, his belief that a university has a responsibility to lift up its community, and — when it comes to the size of the student body — you can be both big and good during his annual State of the University address.
  3. Two UCF professors landed multi-million-dollar NASA grants, focused on asteroids, comets and Venus, for missions that could take flight as early as 2020.
  4. It was a purrrfect ending for a 6-week-old kitten that was discovered under the hood of a UCF journalism professor’s car last Monday.
  5. An Orlando bar made national news, offering patrons free beer during UCF football games until the Knights can break their losing streak.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — Sept. 28, 2015

Rock-Em-Apparel-UCF-socks

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. On Oct. 1, the UCF College of Arts and Humanities Alumni Chapter, and the Orlando Museum of Art, will host Eclectic Knights VII, part of OMA’s 16th season of 1st Thursdays. The event features more than 50 pieces of artwork, made exclusively by UCF alumni, faculty and staff.
  2. On Saturday, Oct. 3, the UCF Alumni Association will participate in beautification efforts at Orlando’s historic Greenwood Cemetery, as part of UCF’s annual day of service, Knights Give Back. In addition, the UCF College of Sciences Alumni Chapter will assist the biology department’s efforts to restore degraded shorelines and oyster reefs at the Indian River Lagoon.
  3. UCF College of Business Administration student Jesse Wolfe, owner of O’Dang Hummus, will be featured on the Oct. 2 episode of ABC’s “Shark Tank” with his company’s custom flavors of hummus and hummus-based salad dressings.
  4. UCF MedTalk returns on Oct. 7, when Dr. Annette Khaled will discuss “Tackling Breast Cancer,” as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This popular event, hosted by the UCF College and Medicine and UCF Alumni Association, presents informal talks about current and innovative issues in medicine in a casual setting.
  5. Former UCF student Rob Starkman launched Rock ‘Em Apparel from his college apartment, and has since brought in more than $1 million in revenue each of the last two years for his unique brand of socks, which include UCF designs.

Students Who Use Wheelchairs Find Freedom on
Rock-Climbing Tower

students-wheelchairs-rock-climbing-Torres-548x364

By Gene Kruckemyer
UCF Today

Inch by inch, participants pull themselves to the top of UCF’s adaptive-climbing rock tower, ascending high above their wheelchairs and achieving new heights that others sometimes think they can’t reach.

“It feels like a bit of freedom,” said Katherine Torres, a student majoring in health services administration who has a muscle weakness that doesn’t allow her to stand or walk. “I’ve always been one to challenge myself. And when a lot of people say I can’t do something — just watch. I didn’t know what to expect, but when I got half way there I thought to myself ‘I’m going to keep on going. I can do this.’”

Some other universities in Florida offer rock climbing to their students, but UCF is the only one to have an adaptive climbing wall, giving students with limited mobility a chance to climb, said Nathan Vink, assistant director of UCF’s Outdoor Adventure program.

This summer the Recreation and Wellness Center provided special training to eight staffers to jump-start its new adaptive-climbing program.

“This is a growing focus in recreation — to look beyond the able-bodied student and offer opportunities to all students, whether with physical or mental disabilities,” Vink said about the campus Student Assisted Workout program. “Our goals are also to try to reach the students who aren’t here yet, to open up opportunities. We have students who don’t have the same abilities, but they do have abilities.”

The adaptive-climbing program empowers students, whether beginners or experienced, to reach their potential on the 41-foot tower.

“They challenge themselves. They set their own goals,” Vink said. “We don’t tell them they have to reach the top. We’re supportive of what they want to achieve.”

The center trained staffers in the techniques of harnessing climbers in the equipment and controlling the safety ropes as the participants ascend. The climbers use a handlebar-style device that grips a rope and slowly ratchets them upwards as they repeatedly pull downward on the bar.

The ratchet system requires a quarter of the strength that other climbers would need to ascend the rope. There are different seat harnesses with various strapping and padding to help with pressure issues, and participants with prosthetic limbs can use the equipment in a way to help propel them up the rock face.

Torres, who also works in the Recreation and Wellness Center, said she heard about the campus climbing tower two years ago when she was a freshman, and has long wished she could somehow try to scale it — even if the prospect of ascending the tower was a little intimidating. And now with the staffers on duty to help, she has made the trip up twice.

Kristen Cioce, who uses a wheelchair because of a spinal cord injury, was hesitant at first to try the tower, but said she went up to fulfill a promise to one of her physical trainers — and it was an exhilarating experience that she’d do again if the opportunity came up.

“It was not something I was looking forward to doing. At first it was something I was trying to get out of,” said Cioce, who graduated last month with a master’s degree in social work. “But it’s an amazing opportunity that UCF offers.”

Vink said the staffers also talk with the climbers to allay any fears about heights or falling. And as the climbers ascend, staffers “belay” the safety ropes — or take up the slack to prevent slips.

“Every student is unique,” he said. “We just try to see how we can help them.”

Three students used the system during the summer, and now that the fall semester has started, Vink expects others to check out the adaptive-climbing experience.

What advice do the veteran climbers have for others?

“I highly recommend it to any student who has inabilities,” Cioce said. “Just follow your gut if you’re being led to do it. You don’t have to get to the top.”

And while people in wheelchairs usually feel smaller than others, Torres said, “This is a time to feel bigger than everyone. You can have a different perspective.”

For more information about the climbing program or to schedule a climb, visit http://rwc.sdes.ucf.edu/facilities/climbing-tower.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — Sept. 7, 2015

(PHOTO: Gustavo Stahelin)
For the past 30 years, the Marine Turtle Research Group at UCF has been monitoring all turtle nests on the 13-mile stretch of beach at the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in Brevard County.
(PHOTO: Gustavo Stahelin)

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. If you’re headed to the UCF at Stanford game on Friday, be sure to join the San Francisco UCF Alumni Club, which is hosting an AlumKnight Out the evening before the game!
  2. New research on “heat shock protein 90,” or HSP90, at UCF could have future implications for the treatment of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.
  3. UCF students created an app to help their peers stay organized and motivated for classes. Schoolflow will sync assignments, remind users when they’re due, and more.
  4. Green sea turtles have broken a record this year, with more than 12,000 nests in the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, where UCF’s Marine Turtle Research Group is based.
  5. The university is hosting Campus Safety Awareness Month, featuring weekly sessions throughout September.