Colleges of Business, Engineering and Sciences Host Joint Networking Knight

CBA-CECS-COS-Networking-Knight-Jan2016

Nearly 70 UCF alumni gathered for an evening of professional networking on Jan. 21. Alumni chapter volunteers from the College of Business Administration, College of Engineering and Computer Science, and College of Sciences partnered to host the event, which took place at the law offices of GrayRobinson in downtown Orlando.

While guests mingled with other professionals from a multitude of diverse fields, Dean Paul Jarley (business), Dean Michael Georgiopoulos (engineering) and Dean Michael Johnson (sciences) each addressed the group of Knights, speaking on the importance of networking, mentorship and advancement.

It was a great Networking Knight to kick off 2016!

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Charles Gray, founding director of GrayRobinson, played an instrumental role in the history of the University of Central Florida. Gray was honored by the UCF Alumni Association in October with the 2015 Champions Award for his continuous support and advocacy for the university.

UCF Helps Evans High School Students, Community

(PHOTO: Evans Community High School website)
(PHOTO: Evans Community High School website)

By Nada Hassanein
Digital Producer, Central Florida Future

Last October, Thomas Milbry set aside his marketing studies once or twice per week to mentor freshmen at Evans Community High School in Pine Hills. In this troubled, high-crime neighborhood, many students lack support at home to succeed in school. But with the help of UCF and volunteers like Milbry, ECS has been changing that.

Tucked away off Silver Star Road, ECS is the first “community school” in Florida, providing Pine Hills’ high school students with extra development initiatives, such as tutoring after normal school hours. ECS also aims to help students flourish during difficult home situations, whether that means donating a handicapped van to a disabled student whose parents couldn’t afford one, or providing a student’s mother, who was suddenly and tragically shot, with an at-home nurse aide.

In 2013, the U.S. Census reported that 23 percent of the town’s population was living below poverty level — compared with 19 percent in Orlando — and about 30 percent of the city’s residents were children.

The “community school” concept aims to address those issues by giving students holistic care. Along with extra academic services and mental health counseling, the school has its own wellness center with a physician, dentist and nurse on staff.

UCF is one of four partners that support ECS with mentoring through a Freshman Success class. Volunteers from campus also help organize focus groups with community members and families to analyze what other projects need to be implemented at the school.

“The main reason is because the needs of this community are great,” says Amy Ellis, assistant director of the UCF Center for Community Partnerships. The center, which is behind UCF’s involvement with ECS, has a goal of becoming a model for other areas in Florida to establish their own community schools.

“When we first began, the school was a D/F school,” Ellis says. “It was a struggling, inner-city high school.”

Nine years later, the Orange County school is rated a B/C, with 2,484 students enrolled last year, and more than 300 enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program.

According to data provided by the school, only 64 percent of seniors graduated in 2005, but now that statistic has increased to 78 percent.

“I’m a product of a great mentorship,” says Jarvis Wheeler, ECS director, remembering his own mentor in college at Florida State University, whom he is now naming his son Lawrence after. “He was a leader on campus. I didn’t even think that existed.”

Wheeler extended an invitation to UCF to begin a mentoring program at ECS last fall.

UCF molecular and microbiology alumnus Nathan Wooding, a volunteer coordinator last spring semester, dedicated six days per week to help ECS grow and sustain its programs. Along with recruiting other volunteers from UCF, Wooding managed the school’s food pantry, helped organize school events and spearheaded the freshmen mentoring program.

Wooding’s own mentee was a senior track runner who had to leave his dedication to the team to focus on grades in order to graduate.

“A lot of [students] at Evans High School may not have family who have gone to college,” Wooding says. “[My mentee] wasn’t aware of scholarships or how university admissions work. … He didn’t always have someone to talk to.”

Wooding says his former mentee, now a Valencia College student, is hoping to pursue a business degree.

Also involved with ECS is Hannah Nguyen, a UCF health services administration graduate student. Nguyen says her department is working on streamlining programs to train mentors, and is brainstorming for ways to bridge together prospective UCF volunteers with the school itself.

“The system would guide mentors if they don’t know how to mentor in a certain situation,” she says. “We’ve [also] identified a disconnect between UCF and Evans students. … There are still a lot of students not familiar with Evans.”

To help connect UCF and ECS students with one another, Nguyen said a weeklong “UCF Take-Over” event is planned for October. More than 30 campus organizations will showcase their services to ECS students.

This story was posted in a Sept. 13, 2015, edition of the Central Florida Future online. It has been slightly edited in accordance with AP and alumni association style guidelines. See original article. 

UCF Communication Alumni Launch Mentorship Program

Nicholson School of Communication student Vanessa Rodriguez (left) talks with Paula Machado, '12, a reporter for InfoMas.
Nicholson School of Communication student Vanessa Rodriguez (left) talks with Paula Machado, ’12, a reporter for InfoMas.

By Anne Shirley Lewis, UCF Knightly News
Co-authored by Julia Anderson, UCF College of Sciences

UCF Nicholson School of Communication students met with their mentors for the first time at the pilot mentorship program breakfast, which was held by the UCF NSC Alumni Chapter on Wednesday morning in the FAIRWINDS Alumni Center.

The purpose of the program is to connect students with alumni who share similar academic backgrounds, professional interests and career fields.

This is the first program of its kind, said Shaloni Prine, ’07, assistant director of the UCF College of Sciences Alumni Relations. If this pilot does well, it will be implemented throughout the entire college.

Mentors share experiences, provide new perspectives and insight into their specific industry, enhance the mentees’ skill sets and add knowledge about advancement, according the mentorship handbook.

Alumni working in the areas of radio-television, journalism and public relations were selected as mentors for the pilot program. The diverse selection of alumni represent companies including EA Sports, Hearst News Corp., News 13 and the Orlando Sentinel.

Students in the Nicholson School are nominated by their professors to be a part of this program. The nominated students are paired with alumni for a three-month mentorship program ending in July.

Each mentor and mentee is required to meet a minimum of three times — whether that be face to face, via phone or by email — and discuss career information, common interests, accomplishments and dos and don’ts of networking.

“It’s really your network, which is key to your development,” says Lauren Gustafson, ’08, chair-elect of the UCF NSC Alumni Chapter. “It’s the network that you build that is crucial to moving to the next step. Every job I’ve had, I’ve gotten from people I know.”

UCF faculty members Tim Brown and Rick Brunson attended the event on behalf of the Nicholson School of Communication.

If you’re interested in participating as a mentor in the Knights & Squires mentorship program, please email [email protected].

Read the original story.