There’s No Place Like … a Classroom

A pair of Knights fall head-over-heels for education — and each other — at UCF

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Will Furiosi II, ’13, ’14 & Jessica Ortega, ’13 | Teachers, Oviedo High School

By Angie Lewis, ’03

Fascinated with infectious disease and pathogenic bacteria, Will Furiosi, ’13, ’14, had dreams of working at the Centers for Disease Control. But, during his senior year of pre-med classes at UCF, he decided that teaching science might be more fun.

So, after completing his bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences (with a minor in business administration) in 2013, he continued his education at UCF, on a full scholarship, graduating with his master’s degree in teacher education in 2014. Now, instead of wearing head-to-toe protective garb in a lab every day, he only needs to slip on a pair of safety glasses when conducting experiments with his AP biology and chemistry students at Oviedo High School.

And, in case he has any accidents, his emergency contact, fellow Knight and bride-to-be Jessica Ortega, ’13, is just a few hallways away, teaching AP art history and honors humanities.

To call this couple of Knights ambitious is an understatement.

During their time at UCF, both were active members of The Burnett Honors College and the President’s Leadership Council.

In addition, Furiosi was a recipient of the 2013 Order of Pegasus (the most prestigious and significant award a student can attain at UCF) and graduated top of his class in the College of Medicine, as well as Summa Cum Laude from the university. And, to get in some physical exercise (and fun!), he also played four years on the university’s Ultimate Frisbee team.

When asked about the proudest moment of his life so far, he says it was the near flawless execution of his engagement plan that was six months in the making, but, he adds that a close second is a toss-up between finishing with perfect 4.0s as valedictorian of his high school and finishing top of his class at UCF.

“While there is more prestige accompanying the UCF distinction, completing the feat in high school showed that I could set my mind to something years in advance and achieve it,” he says.

Educating Q&A

Why did you choose to attend UCF?
JO: My family made an unexpected pit stop on the way to a ski trip on President’s Day weekend senior year and I applied to UCF that night. I felt just like Dorothy (in “The Wizard of Oz”) coming home the moment I stepped onto the campus. I knew I couldn’t go anywhere else after that moment.

Do you have any hidden talents?
WF: I can play multiple musical instruments — bassoon (it’s been a while for this one), flute and saxophone — and, I have a knack for taking musical tunes and making my own lyrical renditions.

If life were a song, what would the title be?
WF: I’m going to take a different spin on this and choose a good song for life: “Warning” by Incubus. It’s about a warning that you shouldn’t let life pass you by. Instead, you should live life to the fullest because everything could be gone in an instant.
JO: “I’m On Top of the World” by Imagine Dragons, because that’s how I try to feel every day, especially in front of 100-plus high school students!

Most embarrassing moment?
WF: I’m sure I’ve had more embarrassing moments, but … I ripped my pants, right in the center of my butt, right in the middle of the school day earlier this school year.

What were you most surprised to learn after becoming a teacher?
WF: I was most surprised to hear how much unsubstantiated or biased research is used to influence educational policy and how much time and money is wasted in constantly trying to reinvent the educational wheel.
JO: That kids (or anyone for that matter) never listen to you the first five times you say something. It drives me nuts having to repeat what I already have written on the board a million times a day. I seriously waste at least a few minutes a class period repeating myself and that adds up!

What kind of life advice do you give to your students?
WF: I encourage students to continue to learn as much as possible, get involved in activities to determine their interests, and become financially literate (something we should do more of in public school).
JO: Figure out your passions and pursue them regardless. These students have too many people telling them what they “should” do with their lives. They need more quiet time to just sit there and thing about what THEY want to do, not what their parents, counselors, friends or teachers think is best for them. They’re too afraid of making the “wrong” choice, but I tell them that if they learned something for the experience, it can never be a “wrong” choice.

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

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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

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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

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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:

Alumna’s Capstone Project Turns into Reality at Nemours

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Call it a case of excellent timing.

When executive health services administration student Jennifer Hamilton, ’14, was provided with the final assignment for her capstone course, she knew exactly what she was going to do.

The assignment was to create a research project that would build upon all of the prior concepts and coursework covered in the executive HSA program. As luck would have it, Hamilton, who is the director of clinical support for Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando, had just been asked to evaluate the cost of a new epilepsy unit for the hospital.

“I said to my teammates, ‘Hey, I was just assigned this [evaluation],” she explains. “I have the info at my fingertips. And that was how we decided.”

What started off as a task for work ended up as the final capstone project for Hamilton and her classmates, Chau Duong and Lori Galanida. That capstone project, in turn, became the business proposal for Nemours’ newest unit — the Sleep/EEG Center — which officially opened on July 17.

“It was pride and joy — so exciting,” Hamilton says. “I’m not a clinician, so everyone was saying, ‘Why is she so interested?’ But, it was a really big deal.”

The Sleep/EEG Center is not only a big deal for Hamilton and her teammates, but it’s a big deal for Nemours as well as its patients. The initial scope of the project was to determine the strategy for building an Epilepsy Monitoring Unit. As the trio delved deeper into their research, they discovered that the hospital didn’t just need an epilepsy unit. Physicians were also conducting electroencephalogram tests as well as sleep studies, and they were doing their work in a small, tucked-away area within the hospital with limited growth potential. What they needed was a new unit, within the ambulatory side of the facility that would be more accessible to patients and provide increased capability to service patients with neurological and/or sleep disorders.

“It wasn’t just ease of access,” Hamilton explains. “Some of these kids — sometimes just by the nature of their medical condition — were at risk of coding, and, in a few situations, did code. Prior to the Sleep Lab moving to the downtown facility, you would have to call 911, stabilize them, then take them to the emergency room. This served as the impetus for moving that service to the hospital, but we encountered other ramifications resulting from this location change.”

They also found that the hospital was not being reimbursed as much because the procedures are typically intended to be performed in an outpatient setting, as opposed to what was now considered an inpatient setting.

The project team, having researched cost benefit, proposed that the hospital combine EEG and sleep services in a shared setting. With that idea in mind, the executive HSA students decided to pitch their idea to executives at Nemours.

Hamilton says it’s been rewarding to see their work turn into a world-class center that will serve the thousands of children in Central Florida who are in need of the services this unit can provide. She credits her teammates, as well as the executive HSA program, for helping her turn her class project into a reality.

“It was worth taking those courses and being a part of the program.”

This story was posted Aug. 4, 2015, on the UCF College of Health and Public Affairs website. It has been slightly edited in accordance with AP and alumni association style guidelines. See original article. 

UCF MedTalk Series Wraps Up for Spring

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Stephen Lambert, Ph.D., associate professor for medicine in the UCF College of Medicine, presented the first MedTalk, “The Cannibal and the Railway Worker’s Wife: Why Your Brain Gets Sick,” on April 22 at the Downtown Pour House. The series, a partnership between the UCF College of Medicine and UCF Alumni Association, will continue in the fall.

Since April, the UCF College of Medicine and UCF Alumni Association have partnered to host a monthly series of MedTalk events. These informal discussions allow attendees to hear about current and innovative issues in medicine, all in plain language and a casual setting, where a researcher or physician gives a brief presentation, followed by a Q&A session.

So far, the three MedTalks have included:

  • “The Cannibal and the Railway Worker’s Wife: Why Your Brain Gets Sick” (presented by Stephen Lambert, Ph.D., on April 22), which covered how our brains get sick and what we can do to maintain brain health, and what works and doesn’t work with some of the most debilitating diseases we face today as a society of people living longer than ever before.
  • “Wine, the Sun and Food: Keys to a Long Life” (presented by Dr. Sampath Parthasarathy on May 13), which covered what’s going on in laboratories around the world and answered the questions: Is all wine equal? Are there foods that can harm you? What can sunlight do?
  • “The Upshot of Viruses and Vaccines” (presented by Dr. Griffith Parks on June 17), which covered why viruses are among the most deadly known diseases of mankind, including smallpox, measles and the influenza virus, as well as what viruses are and why they’re hard to control, how vaccines are made and why you need to get them annually, and where all these new viruses are coming from.

All of the events are free and take place at the Downtown Pour House.

The series will pick up again in the fall.

Swinging for Scholarships

UCF alumna puts on her dancing shoes to help raise money for nursing students

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Joyce DeGennaro, ’03, practices with dance partner Tony Sterling for Femmes de Coeur’s “Let Us Entertain You” competition
to help raise money for UCF nursing scholarships. (Photo: Zack Thomas, UCF Foundation)

By Angie Lewis, ’03

When Joyce DeGennaro, ’03, decided to apply for the College of Nursing’s accelerated B.S.N. program, she needed some assistance to help ease the financial burden of pursuing another degree. After all, she was a little older, and had a 6-month-old baby and mortgage at the time. That’s when she discovered the Femmes de Coeur scholarship, for which she applied and was awarded, helping her to pay for tuition and books, and graduate without student-loan debt in 2009.

Femmes de Coeur (Women of Heart) is an Orlando-based, not-for-profit volunteer organization that regularly hosts fundraising events to support numerous local community projects, including nursing scholarships at UCF, Valencia College, Seminole State College and the Florida Hospital’s Adventist University of Health Sciences.

Becoming a nurse wasn’t DeGennaro’s original plan, however. She grew up thinking she wanted to become a counselor or forensic psychologist, which is why she earned her first UCF bachelor’s degree in psychology, with a minor in criminal justice, in 2003. But, it was her work in Florida Hospital’s inpatient placement program that inspired her to go back to school to become a nurse.

Forever thankful for her opportunity to follow her passion, DeGennaro recently had the opportunity to participate in Femmes de Coeur’s annual dance competition, “Let Us Entertain You,” which raises money for exact scholarship that helped put her through nursing school.

She had no previous dance experience before the competition, but was in good hands with her 19-year dancing veteran and partner, Tony Sterling. The pair practiced twice a week since March, and took the stage June 14 in the ballroom at Church Street Station, dancing the West Coast Swing to Florida-Georgia Line’s “Cruise.” While they didn’t take the top prize, they did place third, which means about $10,000 in nursing scholarships for UCF.

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“It was my way of being able to give back to something that helped me.” DeGennaro says.

She also gives back daily, in a different way — helping to educate future nurses in the College of Nursing, where she was hired as a permanent nursing instructor in January.

Her journey from practical to practicum began while she was working as a nurse in the multisystem-transplant ICU at Florida Hospital South, where she became a certified preceptor and discovered a love for teaching. So, once again, DeGennaro re-enrolled at UCF — this time in the nurse educator master’s program, from which she graduated in 2013.

“I love being a nurse,” she says. “I love caring for people. [But,] as a nurse educator, I’m able to impart my knowledge and experience into my students. Every time they help or care for someone, I feel as though I’m a part of it. So, in essence, I’m able to touch more people’s lives than ever before!”

While she’s not planning to make a career out of dancing, DeGennaro is planning to continue her UCF education, beginning her Ph.D. in summer 2016, with plans to do research in critical care.

A Day with a Knight — ARNP

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Kate Hughes, ’10 | ARNP, Winter Park OB-GYN

By Angie Lewis, ’03

“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” It’s a quote that Kate Hughes, ’10, lives by as an advanced registered nurse practitioner for Winter Park OB-GYN. I spent a day with her to gain more perspective on what it’s like to be a women’s care nurse.

It was just after 9 a.m. on Wednesday, May 6, when I joined Kate in her office, after meeting with the office manager to sign a confidentiality agreement. She had already seen her first patient by the time I greeted her.

While waiting for her next patient to get settled in the exam room, she checked messages and lab results on her laptop. Then, it was off to see her second patient of the day, an 18-year-old who wanted to renew her prescription for birth control after moving to Florida.

Kate entered the room, introduced herself and me, then asked the teen to tell her about herself. It’s part of how she was trained as a nurse practitioner — to treat mind, body and soul. She says getting to know more about her patients’ lives not only helps her develop a trusted bond with them, but also gives her insight into issues that could potentially cause health issues.

After learning more about her newest patient, Kate reminded her about the risks of birth control pills, and made sure she understood that they don’t protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

Her next patient was a returning 42-year-old, who came in for an infertility consultation. Kate explained the initial tests she wanted to run, as well as the next steps, which seemed to give the patient some hope.

She was followed by a 33-year-old who was there for her 38-week pregnancy checkup on her third child. While performing the exam, Kate felt something abnormal. However, not knowing what it was, and not wanting to unnecessarily concern her patient, she stayed calm and told her she was having a difficult time finding her cervix.

After my arrival earlier that morning, Kate had explained that Winter Park OB-GYN was a collaborative practice. And, this particular patient was a perfect example of that collaboration at work, as she consulted a fellow nurse practitioner about her unusual discovery.

Thankfully, it turned out to be a varicose vein on the uterus and not an umbilical cord, which would have required emergent care.

As the morning proceeded, Kate saw four more patients — a 34-year-old for a 34-week pregnancy check, a 24-year-old in for her first pap smear, a 25-year-old with a yeast infection and a 24-year-old who came in for a Nexplanon birth control implant — before getting to take a break for lunch, through which she worked on charts, and again checked messages and lab results.

After getting a few bites in, it was time for her first patient of the afternoon, a 60-year-old in for her annual exam. She was followed by a 52-year-old who had been experiencing light spotting every couple of months and thought she may be in menopause. However, Kate assured her that was not the case yet due to her lab and ultrasound results. Instead, it was a cyst that was most likely causing the irregular bleeding.

Seven patients later, she met her last one of the day — and one of the most difficult for her emotionally, as she hates causing any of her patients pain. This one, a 40-year-old mother of one was in to get a Paraguard IUD insertion under ultrasound. It’s a particularly tricky procedure that requires directly entering the uterus through the cervix, and I cringed with empathy as the patient screamed out in pain. Thankfully, it only lasted a few seconds, but it took its toll, causing her to feel light headed for a few minutes afterward. Kate apologized for causing the unavoidable discomfort and brought her patient some juice and a snack bar to help combat the physical reaction.

Regardless of the times she has to perform painful procedures — or, worse yet, deliver painful news, like a miscarriage — Kate still does so with the utmost compassion and professionalism, even praying with her patients upon request.

Kate has been with Winter Park OB-GYN for the last five years. She previously worked as an emergency room nurse at Florida Hospital East Orlando.

“Choosing one thing I love about my work is very difficult,” she says. “I love connecting with women, meeting them where they are each day and helping them work through illness, promote healthy decisions and prevent disease.”

Throughout the day, I noticed the special connection she shares with her patients. She’s extremely personable and compassionate, and it translates through the women for whom she cares, who, one after another, told me how great she is.

“My experience [at UCF] aided me in providing compassionate care that meets the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of my patients on many levels,” she says.

Her patients love her for that. And, she loves her job because of her patients.

Beyond the Stethoscope Q&A

Q. What advice would you give to current UCF nursing students?
A.  Take time to learn the anatomy and pathophysiology very well. This foundation helps everything else fall into place.

Q. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
A.  My husband and I love to travel! The National Park System in the United States has some of the most beautiful places in the entire world — oceans, deserts, rainforests, mountains, valleys, rock formations. I would love to work for the National Park system!

Q. What’s something you learned in the past week?
A.  I learned about a new drug regimen for multiple sclerosis patients.

Q. What do you fear?
A.  Clowns and spiders

Q. Last thing you Googled?
A.  Guidelines for patients of advanced maternal age

Kate Hughes is a recipient of the UCF Alumni Association’s 2012 Rising Star Award. She’s been married to fellow Knight Jimmy Hughes, ’06, for nine years, and the couple has three sons, Daniel, 6, Elijah, 4, and Jonah, 2.

 

UCF Scientist Develops $1 Prostate Cancer Screening Test

Dr. Qun "Treen" Huo of UCF's NanoScience Technology Center has developed a prostate cancer test using gold nanoparticles. Pilot studies found it to be more accurate than the standard PSA test.
Dr. Qun “Treen” Huo of UCF’s NanoScience Technology Center has developed a prostate cancer test using gold nanoparticles. Pilot studies found it to be more accurate than the standard PSA test.

By Mark Schlueb
UCF Today

A test that costs less than a $1 and yields results in minutes has been shown in newly published studies to be more sensitive and more exact than the current standard test for early-stage prostate cancer.

The simple test developed by University of Central Florida scientist Qun “Treen” Huo holds the promise of earlier detection of one of the deadliest cancers among men. It would also reduce the number of unnecessary and invasive biopsies stemming from the less precise PSA test that’s now used.

“It’s fantastic,” said Dr. Inoel Rivera, a urologic oncologist at Florida Hospital Cancer Institute, which collaborated with Huo on the recent pilot studies. “It’s a simple test. It’s much better than the test we have right now, which is the PSA, and it’s cost-effective.”

When a cancerous tumor begins to develop, the body mobilizes to produce antibodies. Huo’s test detects that immune response using gold nanoparticles about 10,000 times smaller than a freckle.

When a few drops of blood serum from a finger prick are mixed with the gold nanoparticles, certain cancer biomarkers cling to the surface of the tiny particles, increasing their size and causing them to clump together.

Among researchers, gold nanoparticles are known for their extraordinary efficiency at absorbing and scattering light. Huo and her team at UCF’s NanoScience Technology Center developed a technique known as nanoparticle-enabled dynamic light scattering assay (NanoDLSay) to measure the size of the particles by analyzing the light they throw off. That size reveals whether a patient has prostate cancer and how advanced it may be.

And although it uses gold, the test is cheap. A small bottle of nanoparticles suspended in water costs about $250, and contains enough for about 2,500 tests.

“What’s different and unique about our technique is it’s a very simple process, and the material required for the test is less than $1,” Huo said. “And because it’s low-cost, we’re hoping most people can have this test in their doctor’s office. If we can catch this cancer in its early stages, the impact is going to be big.”

After lung cancer, prostate cancer is the second-leading killer cancer among men, with more than 240,000 new diagnoses and 28,000 deaths every year. The most commonly used screening tool is the PSA, but it produces so many false-positive results – leading to painful biopsies and extreme treatments – that one of its discoverers recently called it “hardly more effective than a coin toss.”

Pilot studies found Huo’s technique is significantly more exact. The test determines with 90 to 95 percent confidence that the result is not false-positive. When it comes to false-negatives, there is 50 percent confidence – not ideal, but still significantly higher than the PSA’s 20 percent – and Huo is working to improve that number.

The results of the pilot studies were published recently in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. Huo is also scheduled to present her findings in June at the TechConnect World Innovation Summit & Expo in suburban Washington, D.C.

Huo’s team is pursuing more extensive clinical validation studies with Florida Hospital and others, including the VA Medical Center Orlando. She hopes to complete major clinical trials and see the test being used by physicians in two to three years.

Huo also is researching her technique’s effectiveness as a screening tool for other tumors.

“Potentially, we could have a universal screening test for cancer,” she said. “Our vision is to develop an array of blood tests for early detection and diagnosis of all major cancer types, and these blood tests are all based on the same technique and same procedure.”

Huo co-founded Nano Discovery Inc., a startup company headquartered in a UCF Business Incubator, to commercialize the new diagnostic test. The company manufacturers a test device specifically for medical research and diagnostic purposes.

This article was republished from an April 3, 2015, edition of UCF Today. See original article. 

Young CECS Alumnus Establishes Leadership Scholarship

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Matt Harrison, ’13, didn’t waste any time giving back to his alma mater. Less than six months after graduating, he established a leadership scholarship within the College of Engineering and Computer Science, which is awarded annually to two deserving students.

By Mike Candelaria, ‘83
UCF College of Engineering and Computer Science

Matt Harrison personifies giving back to UCF. A May 2013 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering, he has already established a scholarship dedicated to excellence at the UCF College of Engineering and Computer Science: the Leadership Scholarship.

As a student, Harrison was active on campus, attending numerous engineering events, serving as chapter president of both the Theta Tau Professional Engineering Fraternity and the American Society for Engineering Education, and asserting himself as part of the UCF Engineering Leadership and Innovation Institute (eli²). In turn, as a person, he grew. Harrison, for example, attributes much of his early career success to eli²:

“I learned how to be a leader, and I learned how to communicate,” he says.

These days, those lessons serve him well as a medical engineer at 3D Medical Manufacturing in West Palm Beach, Fla., where he is largely a trouble-shooter who works to ensure quality standards. Continually on the move at 3D Medical, he solves problems involving a variety of people; interaction is a key part of getting his job done. “I use my resources to fix problems, and the ability to share my vision is one of those resources.”

Now, he’s returning the favor to UCF.

Four days after graduating, he began working at 3D Medical Manufacturing. By fall 2013, his Leadership Scholarship was in place, benefiting two students.

Each year, a scholarship will be given to two students of the College of Engineering and Computer Science who demonstrate outstanding leadership qualities. Applicants must be enrolled full-time and they must write an essay describing their current leadership roles and ambitions as a leader.

Harrison established the criteria himself. “I wanted a scholarship that was not based on GPA, but rather on leadership ability and the willingness to give back to UCF,” he says. He also selects the recipients with help from Tim Kotnour, Ph.D., a professor in the UCF Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Systems, and director of eli². The scholarship doesn’t bare Harrison’s name, with the hope that other alumni will contribute to it.

“My goal is to not only give back, but also to inspire others to see their full potential,” he says. “I will always take an opportunity to give back what UCF has given me — and that is the ability to think strategically, give willingly and lead courageously.

“My aim is to not only build confidence in the leadership recipients, but to also instill the responsibility of paying it forward.”

Notably, he opted not to wait after graduating from UCF. “If you’re going to do something, you should start early,” he says. “I figured that if I started early, I would put myself into the habit of giving back as I grow older.”

Harrison contributes to UCF in other ways, as well, returning to campus to serve as a guest speaker and as a mentor to the types of students he represented not long ago. “UCF,” he says, “means so much to me.”

More Info

UCF Engineering Leadership and Innovation Institute (eli²)

This article was republished from the news section of the College of Engineering and Computer Science website. See original article.