Small World Moment for Knights in Texas

Alumna Shelby Shankin mentors current UCF student Justin Tejada, whom she met by chance in Austin, Texas, at his summer internship

By Jenna Marina

ORLANDO, Fla. (July 13, 2017) – Nearly four years ago, UCF alumna Shelby Shankin ’13 found herself in Austin, Texas, for the first time in her life to work on mega festival South by Southwest.

Justin Tejada is a current first-generation student who has made it his mission to grasp every opportunity he finds at UCF. That’s how he ended up in Austin, Texas, for the first time in his life this year for a summer internship.

Tejada said it’s unusual for an out-of-state candidate to be selected to intern at marketing agency George P. Johnson, which has worked with clients such as American Express, Google, Lexus, Under Armour and Samsung. So when the powers-that-be at the company found out Tejada was a UCF student, they knew exactly who his mentor should be — one of its event logistics managers, Shelby Shankin.

“From the moment I met her, I could tell she was super excited and eager to help me learn,” he said. “It was just because of that connection of UCF. That was awesome.”

Although Shankin recently accepted a job with a historical boutique hotel, Hotel Ella, she intends to keep in contact with Tejada well after his internship ends in August. While he is in Texas, the two meet for an hour once a week and discuss his internship as well as general questions he has about life, career and his upcoming senior year at UCF.

“As a first generation student, I’m super nervous about what’s to come. I’m always worried about, am I going to get a job? That’s something I wanted to work on myself this summer – putting that aside and focusing on the now and enjoying the present,” he said. “I think she has helped me understand that I need to worry about the future, but not as much as I do.”

The two are somewhat of kindred spirits. When Shankin was studying at the Rosen College of Hospitality Management, she gained valuable experience in several internships, working for companies like Universal Orlando and the Orlando Science Center. She even studied abroad in France for a semester.

She moved to Austin after graduation as a contracted event coordinator for High Beam Events and flip flopped with the company and George P. Johnson in different positions before accepting her newest venture as a venue event coordinator for Hotel Ella.

“Whenever a good opportunity has come up I just say yes. I just like to try everything,” she said.

Tejada’s resume reads with that same philosophy.

He worked as an external relations assistant for the College of Business Administration; interned for UCF Athletics, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando; served as public relations director of Children Beyond Our Borders and is currently the marketing director of CAB, the UCF campus activities board.

An advertising-public relations major who is also minoring in political science, Tejada is studying for the LSAT and thinking about law school. Like Shankin, he has tried different opportunities to see how they fit for him and knows he has Shankin in his corner to help him along the way.

“He’s seeking as much information as he can and trying to get as much out of this experience and life as possible. No matter where he ends up, I see him being very successful because he wants it,” Shankin said. “I’ve encouraged him to try everything. Take as much advantage of senior year as possible. I don’t think there’s anything wrong from having that urge to try everything. I think that’s where you learn so much. You just don’t know where life can take you.”

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — Aug. 24, 2015

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Entrepreneur James Wurst, ’05 (shaking hands), presented Knightro with a new ride on Friday —
a three-wheeled “skateboard” from his company, Trideck.
(PHOTO: Michael Callahan)

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. New projects and construction will greet students, faculty and staff headed back to campus today. They include a Garage C expansion, UCF Health Center expansion, the Carl Black & Gold Cabana, the Wayne Densch Student-Athlete Leadership Center and the Libra Drive expansion.
  2. On Friday, UCF alumnus James Wurst, ’05, presented Knightro with a new ride — a three-wheeled skateboard from his company, Trideck (see photo above).
  3. PBS “NewsHour” premiered a segment on the Direct Connect to UCF program, which is helping more students to graduate, as well as save thousands of dollars for low-income students who may not have otherwise had the opportunity to earn a four-year degree.
  4. UCF marketing lecturer Carolyn Massiah will speak to College of Business alumni in Tampa on Tuesday about protecting their brands in the social media economy.
  5. To help students become excellent doctors with the kind of bedside manner you’d trust your elderly grandmother to, a private foundation provided the College of Medicine with a $116,225 grant that will establish the “Chapman Humanism in Medicine Initiative” at UCF.

Life after College: Expect the Unexpected, Say Three UCF Grads

Rosen-alumnae

By Kathy Dorf
Rosen College Public Relations

Graduate. Get a job. Get promoted. Climb the ladder. Succeed. That’s what most students think life after college is all about. Three alumnae recently spoke to Wilfried Iskat’s Introduction to Lodging class at Rosen College about the unexpected curves and swerves that come after graduation and how to make the most of the journey.

Jamie Realander, ’11, Kate Thomas, ’05, and Jennifer Garcia, ’09, all traveled unconventional paths to their current jobs, but found that their experiences helped them realize their true potential and discover their professional passions.

Realander is a conference center sales manager for the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando, and, although she just graduated in 2011, is already a veteran employee of the company. Realander started working for Rosen Hotels & Resorts in February 2006 and rotated through multiple positions learning hotel operations. Then, in June 2011, she took an opportunity to work for the new JW Marriott in Indianapolis. Personal matters led her to return to Orlando and the company she refers to as “family.”

Realander hopes the future holds the opportunity to open her own boutique hotel and credits Rosen College for guiding her in the right direction to someday realize that goal. She encourages students to make the most of their time before graduation.

“Life after Rosen has drastically changed and I am not quite sure how I juggled school and a full-time career before,” Realander said. “Take advantage of every opportunity and be sure to get your name out there. There is something to be learned in every experience. You may not realize it at the time, but hindsight is 20/20.”

Thomas, a marketing manager for the Hyatt Regency Orlando, found herself doing work she never expected on her way to her current position, including human resources, revenue management, digital media and email marketing. Thomas stressed the importance of volunteering for projects and trying new things, despite lacking prior education and training, in order to continuously learn and provide value to your employer.

“My life after Rosen has been unpredictable as far as a career path goes,” Thomas said. “What was predictable is that I graduated with the skills and work ethic to make a go of anything I pursued. Every experience counts, no matter what the job, volunteer experience or interaction — it will teach you something.”

Garcia says Rosen College taught her to dream big and reminded students to believe they can achieve their goals even if they can’t see a straight path to success. Garcia currently works for the Florida Panthers hockey team as a client management specialist, but infiltrating the sports industry proved difficult despite her persistence. With aspirations to become the senior vice president of events for the NFL and produce the Super Bowl, she encourages students to prepare for professional rejection, no matter how focused or accomplished they are while pursuing their degrees.

“Life after Rosen was eye opening,” Garcia said. “No matter how strategic your internships or how many hands you shake in college, there comes a time where you lose the ‘help me and hire me because I’m a student’ umbrella. My advice would be to prepare yourself for rejection because it makes it easier to power through. You learn the true value of resiliency and you become hungrier and hungrier to land the next interview.”

See original story on UCF Today.

Rosen College Alumna to Lead Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce

Rosen-KatieWorthington

By Kathy Dorf
Rosen College Public Relations

At just 30 years old, UCF graduate Katie Worthington, ’05, will be the new chief executive of the Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce, bringing a fresh perspective to a budding area of Central Florida. Like most success stories, Worthington’s was neither predictable nor planned, but for her, it started at UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management.

After graduating from Rosen College with a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management, Worthington left her job working at the front desk of the Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes, a hotel she helped open, and relocated to Polk County. After brief stints in financial services working for State Farm Insurance and SunTrust Bank, she spent several years as the director of reception, public relations and customer service for a local medical clinic.

In 2011, she joined Clark/Nikdel/Powell , an integrated marketing strategy firm located in Winter Haven, where she currently serves as media and account director for clients such as Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing, the Central Florida Development Council, Enterprise Florida and Fantasy of Flight. She also volunteers for various community organizations, including the Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce, founded the Winter Haven Young Professionals Group, organized the first Polk Emerging Leaders awards ceremony and received the 2013 Leadership Winter Haven Distinguished Alumnus Award.

“Because I’m a tourism nerd, I tried to get involved in anything I could do volunteer-wise within my clients’ business areas, the Chamber of Commerce and economic development,” Worthington said. “Over about six or seven years, I did of a lot of volunteering and became very familiar with the Chamber and all of Polk County.”

As her local reputation and professional brand grew, people started to take notice of Worthington’s talents and passion. When current Chief Executive Bob Gernert decided to retire after a 17-year career that saw CSX and Legoland Florida arrive in Winter Haven, she was encouraged to apply. Following a national search, Worthington was named to lead the Chamber on January 17, 2014, and will officially assume the role on March 1.

Worthington credits her education and experience at Rosen College for making her well-rounded in various aspects of business, including customer service, operations, marketing and public relations, a foundation that translates across industries. She also benefited from learning about the economic impact of tourism and how it can transform communities.

“I think having that holistic view of the economic impact of tourism is probably what’s prepared me most,” she said. “I think of restaurant management and even thought I never wanted to own a restaurant, knowing the challenges of running one makes me much more prepared since many of the chamber members are small business, family-owned restaurants. I certainly have an appreciation for them since I had to come up with a business plan for a restaurant, do a financial analysis and learn about operations in class.”

Worthington hopes to guide Winter Haven through what she calls a pivotal point in the city’s history as community leaders work to formulate a strategic plan for the future. She points to Winter Haven’s strengths as both a tourism and residential destination with its traditions, natural assets and potential to attract young professionals to live and work.

As she reflects on the journey to her new leadership post, she advises students to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible whether it’s through volunteering, shadowing professionals, doing internships or getting involved in student organizations. Also, never underestimate the value of hospitality education to various industries.

“A hospitality management degree is, in my opinion, great because it teaches you the business element as well as customer service, public relations and marketing,” she said. “There’s an emphasis on customer service, which in reality, is the real reason businesses succeed, no matter what industry you’re in.”

See original story on UCF Today.

2015 College of Business Hall of Fame

A formally dressed Knightro posed on the red carpet with his buddies, "24K" Kevin Smith, former Knights' running back,  and Jessica Reo, senior associate athletics director.
A formally dressed Knightro posed on the red carpet with his buddies, former Knights’ running back, “24K” Kevin Smith, 
and Jessica Reo, UCF senior associate athletics director, at the 2015 UCF College of Business Hall of Fame.

On Thursday, Feb. 26, alumni, faculty and friends walked the red carpet for a Hollywood-themed evening honoring three successful business grads, who were inducted into the 2015 College of Business Administration Hall of Fame.

Guests arrived at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel to camera-wielding “paparazzi,” and got to pose for pictures with a tux-clad Knightro. VIP guests and sponsors were treated to a special cocktail party before everyone headed into the main ballroom for hors d’oeuvres and networking.

Business students dressed as Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin and Audrey Hepburn were on hand for more photo ops, which also included the iconic DeLorean and another student dressed as Doc Brown from the “Back to the Future” movie series. In addition, guests could take to the virtual skies in an Occulus Rift flight simulator before enjoying dinner and the awards ceremony.

The College of Business Administration Hall of Fame recognizes business alumni who have demonstrated exceptional professional success in their career fields. This highest honor is given to those who have been in the industry for at least 20 years and have brought notoriety to their alma mater through their professional achievements.

This year’s inductees included:

cba-hof2015-gearhartTherese Gearhart, ’85 | President, Southern Africa Business Unit, The Coca-Cola Company

Prior to her current role, Gearhart served as group marketing and commercial and customer director for the Eurasia and Africa Group, the most diverse operating group of The Coca-Cola Company, encompassing more than 90 countries.

cba-hof2015-lessMitch Less, ’86 | Partner, Grant Thornton LLP

Less is an audit partner with 25 years of experience with Grant Thornton, a global accounting and consulting firm. His professional experience includes serving clients in auditing and financial reporting, as well as consulting, with particular emphasis in large, privately owned businesses. In addition to being a client-service partner, he has held leadership roles in the Florida practice and is currently partner in charge of recruiting, and serves on the National Privately Held Business Initiative.

cba-hof2015-schmidJohn Schmid, ’92 | President, Schmid Construction

In 2002, Schmid activated his CGC license and started his own business in land development and commercial construction with the formation of Schmid Construction and Development Inc.

A hall of fame committee selected all of the evening’s awardees, which also included:

Partnership Awards

These awards are given to organizations that have initiated successful partnerships with, or on behalf of, the UCF College of Business Administration, resulting in the advancement of the college’s academic offerings or public outreach. These organizations embody the spirit of collaboration and are recognized for their initiative, leadership and involvement in the betterment of business education.

Entrepreneurial Alumni Awards

These awards are given to UCF alumni from any discipline who exemplify commitment, vision, calculated risk-taking and growth potential. In their professional careers, these Knights demonstrate perseverance in the face of adversity, and overcome obstacles. 

Notable Knights Awards

These awards are given to UCF business alumni who have displayed promise and excellence early on in their respective career paths.

In addition, a special recognition award was chosen by Dean Paul Jarley:

Lifetime of Service Award

  • Tom Messina, ’84 | Former Executive Director, UCF Alumni Association, and 2006 CBA Hall of Fame Inductee

After the evening of awards, many attendees hit the links on Friday morning for the college’s annual golf tournament, which took place at the Shingle Creek Golf Club. Proceeds from the tournament benefit UCF business student scholarships and alumni initiatives.

Congratulations to all of this year’s winners! Go Knights! Charge On!

View photo galleries:
CBA HALL OF FAME
CBA GOLF TOURNAMENT

View list of PAST CBA HALL OF FAME WINNERS.

Marketing Wizard

Magical marketing behind Universal’s “Harry Potter” attraction casts alumna in 2014 Nicholson Alumni Hall of Fame

Former Nicholson School of Communication Hall of Fame inductees (left to right) Roger Pynn, ’73 (2000); Michele Cooper, ’83 (2002); Dan Ward, ’92 (2011); Heissam Jebailey, ’00 (2012); Kim Strong, ’93 (2006); and Peter Cranis, ’84 (2003), were happy to welcome 2014 inductee, Donna Mirus Bates, ’93 (center), to their elite group. (PHOTO: Shaloni Prine, '07)
Former Nicholson School of Communication Alumni Hall of Fame inductees (left to right) Roger Pynn, ’73 (2000);
Michele Cooper, ’83 (2002); Dan Ward, ’92 (2011); Heissam Jebailey, ’00 (2012); Kim Strong, ’93 (2006); and Peter Cranis, ’84 (2003), were happy to welcome 2014 inductee, Donna Mirus Bates, ’93 (center), to their elite group.
(PHOTO: Shaloni Prine, ’07)
Donna Mirus Bates, ’93 | Senior VP, Marketing Communications & Content Development, Universal Orlando Resort

Lightning never strikes twice — except in the case of Donna Mirus Bates, ’93, who worked on the marketing opportunity of a lifetime, then created an encore marketing campaign to reignite global excitement for a theme park expansion of infinite magnitude.

Bates and her team first helped to launch The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort in 2010. Following its success, Bates and her team partnered with Warner Bros., the “Harry Potter” cast and filmmakers, author J.K. Rowling, and a team of creative geniuses to once again capture the world’s imagination, bringing Diagon Alley to life for the devoted fans of the books and movies.

On Thursday, Nov. 6, Bates was celebrated for her successes, as well as her continued involvement at the university, becoming the 31st inductee in the UCF Nicholson School of Communication Alumni Hall of Fame, which was established in 2000.

Tom Alexander, ’03, chair of the NSC Alumni Chapter, emceed the luncheon, which was held at the Citrus Club in downtown Orlando. He was joined by Robert Chandler, NSC director and professor, who presented Bates with her award.

“Through all of her actions and efforts, Donna truly exemplifies integrity, community, creativity and excellence, making her a remarkable Knight,” Chandler said.

Fellow NSC Hall of Fame inductees, and members of the NSC Alumni Chapter and UCF Alumni Association, as well as Bates’ co-workers were in attendance to congratulate her.

“I’m incredibly proud to be a graduate of the Nicholson School of Communication at UCF,” Bates said. “I love seeing the high caliber of candidates our program is producing, and I’m so honored to be a member of the NSC Alumni Hall of Fame.”

UCF Nicholson School of Communication Director and Professor Robert Chandler presents 2014 Hall of Fame inductee, Donna Mirus Bates, '93, with her award.
Donna Mirus Bates, ’93, 2014 Nicholson School of Communication Alumni Hall of Fame inductee,  receives her award from Robert Chandler, NSC director and professor.

4EK Spotlight: Kelsey Moscater

KelseyMoscater

Kelsey Moscater | Ambassador/Vice President of Marketing, 4EVER KNIGHTS

By Angie Lewis, ’03

Junior Kelsey Moscater has been interning with the UCF Alumni Association since the first semester of her freshman year. During that time, she has become an integral part of the communications team, for which she uses her advertising/public relations major to monitor, plan and craft content for the association’s social media channels, update the alumni website, and run analytical data to see how content is doing and how it can be improved.

Despite taking a full load of classes, serving as an ambassador and the vice president of marketing for 4EVER KNIGHTS (student alumni association), and working on the Street Team for Hunter Vision, Kelsey never fails to bring an infectious, positive attitude and bright, cheerful smile to the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center, where she works 20 hours a week.

As she takes on an additional social media internship with Toyota of Orlando this summer, we wanted to find out more about this bundle of energy.

10 Questions with Kelsey

Q. How do you think your UCF degree will help you in your future career?
A. I’ll be facing the world with a degree from the institution that has provided me with limitless opportunities and the best experiences of my life. I think that everything this university has done for me will set me apart, and I’ll be prepared for any challenge life throws at me. Bring it on!

Q. Favorite UCF memory so far?
A. I got to take photos on the football field for the (nail-biting!) 2013 Homecoming game. The energy from the stadium pulses right through you, it’s incredible. I loved every second of the experience — especially since I got to snap photos of my friend Joe as he was crowned Homecoming King!

Q. How do you hope your leadership will affect the future of 4EVER KNIGHTS, the alumni association and/or the university?
A. I’m hoping that this year’s superstar marketing committee can work cohesively to promote our events to more students, utilize valuable feedback from students and alumni, and, most importantly, I hope the committee itself gets some great experience along the way! The more involved we are with UCF, the more beneficial the 4EVER KNIGHTS experience will be to all of our members. 4EK is the largest student organization on campus, so we have the potential to impact our university in a great way. I think our team can take on this task and work to improve our university, our alumni and the 4EK program.

Q. What’s your favorite thing about your job?
A. Expressing my creativity. When I get to write copy or come up with details of a social media campaign, I love it!

Q. Least favorite?
A. The hardest part is using all my brainpower for my internship, and then having to go do homework, or study, or work at my other job. It’s exhausting, especially when you have to turn down plans with friends or miss out on a fun event on campus. But it’s part of being responsible and building a future, so I power through.

Q. What one thing drives you absolutely crazy?
A. When someone ruins the punch line of my jokes. C’mon you guys, give a girl a chance!

Q. Hidden talents?
A. I’m great at sleeping. Just kidding. I can play the guitar and violin.

Q. If you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A. Does it have to be ONE food? Because 4 Rivers has a whole menu…

Q. What or who inspires you?
A. My parents inspire me in every way. They’ve worked ambitiously their entire lives to build everything our family has, and there’s never been a time that they haven’t given their all to give my brother and me the best life possible. I can’t thank them enough.

Q. Happiest/proudest moment of your life so far?
A. I was having a particularly rough semester, but I whipped myself into shape and pulled out a 4.0, landed a new internship and remembered how blessed I am. I’m really proud of that.

Will Brake for Cupcakes

Alumnus’ sweet treats are Yum Yum in the tum tum

JoeyConicella

Joey Conicella, ’05 | Owner & Marketing Director, Yum Yum Cupcake Truck

By Angie Lewis, ’03

He may have dreamed of being a Disney animator when he grew up, but little did Joey Conicella, ’05, realize then that he would, indeed, be bringing smiles to the faces of children and big kids alike — just, in a different way.

For the past two years, his Yum Yum Cupcake Truck has been the frosting on Orlando’s food truck scene. At least six days a week, you can find Joey and his partner, Alex, baking up flavors like Funnel of Love, Key Slime, Ballad of El Churro, Cookies Got Creamed and Dough Dough Bird.

And, their creativity doesn’t end at cupcake names. Joey and Alex serve their tasty treats in stylish detail—everything from their characteristic bow ties to their shiny, silver bakery on wheels, adorned with a distinctive bright yellow retro logo and stripes.

So, what’s a typical day on a cupcake truck like? Joey says that’s what he loves most about his business. “There is no typical day! Our days are always long. We start baking very early in the morning, and trucks don’t come back from the evening events until 10 p.m.”

Yum Yum does have some competition in the area, but when we asked Joey what makes his cupcakes the best, he responded humbly.

“I never like to say that we’re ‘better’ or the ‘best,'” he explains. “Everyone has his or her own taste. Some people think we’re No. 1, and some people don’t care for us. But, everyone who bites into a Yum Yum Cupcake should know that they’re made from scratch every day in small batches. Alex and our team pour their hearts into each and every cupcake. I think people can taste that love.”

These colorful cupcake connoisseurs say they started the Yum Yum Cupcake Truck as a way to get to spend more time together. “We’ve always enjoyed being in the kitchen together, whether it was baking or cooking,” Joey says. “The whole thing was a very organic process.”

Although everything seemed to fall naturally into place, there is a secret ingredient behind his success.

“I’m the person I am today because of my four years at UCF,” Joey says. “Those years were among the best in my life. I truly love UCF and the city of Orlando. It’s filled with such positive people. On top of that, the community has embraced Yum Yum, and giving back is the least we can do to show our gratitude.” (Joey and Alex regularly donate cupcakes for various UCF events.)

As a student, Joey was a Marching Knight and a member of CAB, as well as part of the ad/PR groups, and he even started his own indie newspaper called The Floridian Slip.

This fall, Joey will be part of the leadership team for the UCF Nicholson School of Communication Alumni Chapter.

Want to satisfy your sweet tooth? During the fall and spring semesters (and occasionally during the summer semesters), you can find the Yum Yum Cupcake Truck parked in front of the UCF Burnett Honors College every Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. For a complete schedule, check out the links below.

Playing with Food Q&A

Q. Bacon or Nutella?
A. Nutella, without question.

Q. If you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A. Spaghetti with tomato sauce. Morning, noon and night.

Q. If you were reincarnated as an ice cream flavor, what flavor would you be?
A. Cannoli

Q. Ideal last meal?
A. Spaghetti

Q. Favorite condiment?
A. Does olive oil count? I’m Italian…

Q. Favorite snack?
A. Italian bread with olive oil

Q. What’s your favorite flavor of cupcake you make?
A. I’m a sweets guy, so it’s hard for me to choose. I never get sick of the Peanut Butter Choco-Rama. So there, I’ll go with that one!

More Info

theyumyumcupcaketruck.com
facebook.com/theyumyumtruck
twitter.com/yumyumtruck_fl