Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—July 17

1. A story for those young at heart: A new program at UCF pairs seniors and children to play games together. The goal is for participants to become more active and to have positive social experiences, where the adults feel a greater sense of well-being and purpose by helping the children, and the kids learn more about aging.

2. UCF recently was selected to receive two awards totaling $3.1 million from the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative that is focused on making solar energy systems more efficient and affordable. The research projects will be led by two alumni, Kristopher Davis 07 ’11MS ’15PhD and Joe Walters ’13MS.

3. The American Athletic Conference preseason poll for football will be unveiled Tuesday at its annual media day. Fans can tune in at 8:30 a.m. on The American’s Facebook and YouTube pages.

4. You might learn a thing or two in this Ted Talk with alumna Gail Lovelace Menasco ’08:

5. The latest issue of Pegasus examines how UCF grads are at the center of a creative boom in Central Florida.

Engineering Students Repair Vandalized Pegasus Sculpture

Engineering students, from left, Anthony Defilippo, Cullen Fitzgerald and Jennifer Ambrose repair the damaged "Wind Dancer" sculpture of Pegasus, which lies hobbled on its back in the Manufacturing Lab at the College of Engineering and Computer Science.
Engineering students, from left, Anthony Defilippo, Cullen Fitzgerald and Jennifer Ambrose repair the damaged “Wind Dancer” sculpture of Pegasus, which lies hobbled on its back in the Manufacturing Lab at the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

By Mark Schlueb

A group of engineering students are repairing a sculpture of Pegasus vandalized two weeks ago.

The “Wind Dancer” sculpture of Pegasus that sits in front of the Burnett Honors College was damaged on Sept. 3 after UCF’s first football game of the season. Security camera video captured a man trying to climb atop the winged horse, which was left bent and staring skyward. Despite the offer of a reward, police have not yet caught the vandal.

Burnett Honors College alumnus Jeff Douglass, ’02, founder and CEO of Cybis Communications who contributed significantly to the original cost of the sculpture in 2007, has offered to cover the cost of repairs. As it turns out, those costs should be minimal.

College of Engineering and Computer Science Professor Ali Gordon recruited several seniors majoring in mechanical and aerospace engineering to repair the sculpture. Students Jennifer Ambrose, Anthony Defilippo, Cullen Fitzgerald and Chad Robinson removed it from its base on Tuesday and moved it to the Manufacturing Lab at the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the same lab where the Limbitless team produces 3D-printed arms and hands for children.

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The students found that the vandal’s rough treatment of the relatively delicate aluminum sculpture had sheared off its mount and caused several pieces of its “mane” to come loose.

On Wednesday, Ambrose, Defilippo and Fitzgerald designed a new mount for the sculpture and used a machine lathe to begin forming it. They expect to weld the aluminum sculpture where needed on Thursday, with the hope of having it back in place before the next home football game this Saturday.

Defilippo says it should be much sturdier after they make the repairs and modifications.

This story appeared Sept. 17, 2015, on UCF Today. It has been slightly edited in accordance with AP and alumni association style guidelines. See original article. 

Equestrian Club at UCF Expands Outside of Stables

UCF's Hunt Seat member Alex Sipos rode to third place in an Intermediate Fences class at a UCF horse show on March 14. (Photo: Courtesy of Cy Cyr/Central Florida Future)
UCF’s Hunt Seat member Alex Sipos rode to third place in an Intermediate Fences class at a
UCF horse show on March 14. (Photo: Courtesy of Cy Cyr/Central Florida Future)

By Noelle Campbell
Digital Producer, Central Florida Future

What’s a Knight without his horse?

The Equestrian Club at UCF knows that statement all too well. It brings together students of all levels, who have a passion for horses, to participate in monthly competitions that span from Savannah, Ga., to Miami, Fla.

In the National Reigning Horse Association Collegiate Riding Championships on June 27, Hunt Seat rider Morgan Sykes proved to be good on his horse. He finished second in the nation, just a half point behind the national champion.

The title is a big leap from the club’s inaugural year when it boasted only four members.

Today, there are more than 50 members participating in one non-competitive and two competitive teams within the club. The competitive side of the club is divided into two parts: Hunt Seat and Western.

Hunt Seat competes in four divisions: walking, trotting, cantering and over fences, where riders must complete a course in the correct order and positioning.

“You’re judged in Hunt Seat on the way you perform with the horse — on how you ride as a rider, how correct you are and how effective you are in your positions as a rider,” explains Josie Graham, club treasurer and Hunt Seat captain.

For fairness’ sake, the names of competing horses are drawn from a hat and assigned to a rider, who only has about five minutes with the horse before competing.

“You have this horse and you have to adapt yourself to this horse, and it really makes you into an effective rider,” Graham says.

Western team members compete in Western pleasure horsemanship and reining. Like Hunt Seat, competitors rely on a random draw for their horses.

The horses could be donated to the show for the day by volunteers or belong to the schools the at which the team competes.

The Western team is available to anyone from beginners to the open class, who are allowed to show in the reining class. Reining incorporates Western-styled patterns, spins and sliding stops into its horsemanship.

But competing isn’t the only thing on riders’ minds. Since its founding, the club has taken care of Knightro’s partner in crime, Pegasus, who circles the field at every home football game.

The non-competitive team works with the Pegasus Mascot Program, which was created in 2001 by the UCF Alma Mater Society.

The well-being of Pegasus is in the hands of squires, who spend four to five hours volunteering and watching over Pegasus during football games. They also get the mascots ready for appearances and do crowd control, says Jennifer Steele, club president and Pegasus Mascot coordinator. During the 2014-15 football season, there were 10 squires.

All members of the club also volunteer twice per semester with the club’s philanthropies.

One such organization is Heavenly Hooves, a therapeutic riding center in Kissimmee, Fla., for people with disabilities such as autism, Down syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder. The volunteers assist in many areas of the organization, including helping with lessons, fundraising and cleaning stalls. Amy Lesch, manager of the volunteer services, says the club’s presence at Heavenly Hooves is beneficial because of their passion and experience with horses.

But, whether they’re riding their way to victory or volunteering their time, club members are all about the teamwork.

“At the end of the show, it doesn’t matter how each one of us did because we’re all a team,” says Cara Spirazza, club vice president and captain of the Western team. “I think the teamwork and the team effort of it is the most rewarding part, because we’re all there for each other. We’re all riding together and putting in all the hard work together.”

Learn More

This story was published in a July 27, 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. 

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — March 30, 2015

CinemAbility-YouTube

Here are five things you need to know this week:

  1. College of Arts and Humanities alumna Jenni Gold, ’92, is helping UCF gain attention with a new documentary that will be shown in Regal Cinemas, titled, “CinemAbility.” The film focuses on how people with disabilities are portrayed on the big screen and on television. Actors include Ben Affleck, Jamie Foxx, Gary Sinise, Jane Seymour and others.
  2. The UCF Joust New Venture Challenge, hosted by the College of Business Administration, is getting visibility thanks to its earnings of up to $75,000 in cash and essential business services for the top four ventures. The college also has introduced a new master’s program in business analytics.
  3. Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center is in the spotlight, as the project is a partnership between UCF, Osceola County, the Florida High Tech Corridor Council, the University of Florida, the University of South Florida, Florida International University and the State of Florida. The center will be a future high-tech campus on 350 acres.
  4. The Nicholson School of Communication Alumni Chapter hosts its Knights & Squires Mentorship Breakfast on Wednesday, April 8. The chapter selected a group of 30 NSC alumni and students to participate in this new pilot mentorship program.
  5. The UCF Alumni Association’s Journey to Career Success Workshop takes place Tuesday, April 7, and will provide valuable information to help you get noticed and better position yourself against the workforce competition. Learn about the essentials of a successful cover letter, resume and more.

Other notable news:

Pegasus Magazine started hitting mailboxes last week, and includes a poignant story about homeless students, as well as the provost’s goal of hiring 200 new faculty members by fall 2015.

Pegasus and the UCF Knight

The history of UCF’s live mascot program

Pegasus_UCF-Knight

By Angie Lewis, ’03

Tradition is in full force on game days at Bright House Networks Stadium. The UCF Marching Knights enter the stadium, followed by the cheerleaders, who lead fans through the War Chant. But, before the team arrives and the crowd starts jumping to “Zombie Nation,” there’s one more tradition to cheer, as Pegasus and the UCF Knight charge onto the field, rearing as Knightro draws the sword from the ground. While you may have seen this choreographed entrance many times, you may not know how this particular tradition got started, or where our “Pegasus” comes from.

The university has had a variety of Pegasus mascots over the years, including horses donated by Burt Reynolds in the ’80s, and Rick Walsh, ’70, retired Darden executive and UCF Trustee, in the ’90s.

In 2001, the UCF Alma Mater Society, comprised of the university’s Distinguished Alumnus Award winners, established the official mascot program, after presenting a proposal to the alumni association, which partnered with Medieval Times and received a donated horse named Centauro. That same year, the Equestrian Club at UCF and the Pegasus Mascot Team were established.

The “World Famous” Lipizzaner Stallions also donated horses to the program, until last year, when the UCF Alumni Association formed a relationship with Arabian Nights and Al-Marah Arabian Horses in Clermont, Fla.

The university’s current “Pegasus” is a 24-year-old Gray Arabian gelding, also known as Clemmy in the stables, who joined the mascot team in August 2013. His job in the former Arabian Nights dinner show was to rear off the bad guy.

“The light work load he does for UCF and our lesson program keeps him in shape and his mind active,” says Zach Becker, breeding manager for Al-Marah Arabians.

Arabian horses, named after the peninsula, are the oldest breed in the world, known for their small, refined, dished faces, Becker explains.

“Originally, they came from the desert, [which is how they got] their compact bodies and great stamina,” he continues. “They have a great temperament and willingness to please, as they slept in the tents with their riders when sandstorms arose in the desert.”

In addition to Clemmy, UCF also uses a 14-year-old Gray Arabian gelding named Kizmet for parades and other event photo ops.

“Thanks to Arabian Nights, our horses are used to large numbers of people, as well as lights and music,” Becker says. “Also, any new up-and-coming horses ride with us to the game and just hang out at the trailer for the day to get used to the sights and sounds of UCF. The more things we can acclimate them to, the better.”

The horses aren’t the only ones who are trained, however.

Carla Cordoba, ’94, associate director of constituent programs at the UCF Alumni Association, has been the advisor for the Pegasus Mascot Team since its inception. During that time, she’s overseen five horses and about 15 Knights.

Knights have to go through an audition process, which includes an in-person interview, as well as a riding evaluation, with current mascot team members, Cordoba and Becker, to see what their riding capabilities are, and to make sure they get along with the horses. Becker then works with those chosen on how to cue and ride each movement, teaching them how to speak the language Al-Marah’s horses will understand.

More Info

Follow Pegasus and the UCF Knight on Facebook.
Find out more about the Equestrian Club at UCF.

DID YOU KNOW…?

  • Knightro is the athletics mascot and takes on a character persona, while Pegasus and the UCF Knight are a university mascot, although they both appear at athletic events.
  • In addition to the other criteria required to be a Knight, each rider must also be able to fit into the small costume.
  • All Knight rider candidates must squire for at least one year before applying. A squire’s main duties including grooming Pegasus, getting him and the Knight into their costumes, interacting with fans, and escorting Pegasus and the UCF Knight onto the field.

SUPPORT THE PEGASUS MASCOT PROGRAM
Want to be a part of UCF’s history and traditions by helping to keep the Pegasus Mascot Program alive? Contact Carla Cordoba at [email protected] or 407.823.3453 for more information.

Knights to Remember 2014

A few of our favorite stories from the past year

Rob Brunjes, '11, proposed to Michele McGlamory, '10, on a brick at the Knights Terrace.
Rob Brunjes, ’11, kneeled beside the brick he purchased on the Knights Terrace to propose to his longtime girlfriend Michele McGlamory, ’10, on Nov. 21.

By Angie Lewis, ’03

As we prepare to bid farewell to 2014, we can’t help but reflect on all of the great UCF stories that have been shared over the last 12 months. Celebrating a new year with a BCS bowl win, welcoming more than 16,000 new alumni over three semesters of graduation ceremonies, getting to know an inspirational teacher, helping a little boy get a “robo-arm” and witnessing a Knights marriage proposal are enough to run the emotional gamete on their own. But, we’ve got more!

Here are our top 10 favorite stories of 2014:

10. Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
On Jan. 1, 2014, our Knights won their first-ever BCS bowl after defeating Baylor 52-42 in Glendale, Ariz. (Seems like a fitting story for our list of favorites, as our Knights play in their third-consecutive bowl, facing N.C. State in the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl on Dec. 26, after celebrating back-to-back AAC championships. Go Knights! Charge On!)

9. Graduation
The UCF Alumni Association welcomed more than 5,000 new alumni during fall 2014 commencement ceremonies held Dec. 12-13. With these graduations, UCF has awarded more than 271,000 degrees since classes began in 1968. In total, the alumni association welcomed more than 16,000 new alumni in 2014, including spring and summer graduations.

8. The Origins of Pegasus Magazine
In 2014, Pegasus Magazine celebrated its 20th year in production. The inaugural issue in July 1994 was printed and mailed to 59,861 alumni. Today, the award-winning publication is sent to more than 205,000 (addressable) alumni. Pegasus was created by Tom Messina, ’84, along with fellow Knights Mike Hinn, ’92, and Jim Hobart, ’91.

7. Little Legacy
Marlie Kai Dodson dreamed of being a UCF Cheerleader and attending the College of Nursing. However, pediatric brain cancer claimed her life on Dec. 31, 2011, leaving behind a little legacy that would make a big impact. Thankful for the nurses who cared so much for her daughter, Marlie’s mom, Sarah Dodson, ’01, along with her family of other UCF Knights, established the Marlie Kai Dodson Endowed UCF Oncology Nursing Scholarship, which was awarded this year for the first time.

6. 180 Degrees
Although Jill Schenk, ’90, was an “American Gladiators” contestant, her spirit wasn’t as strong as her body. After struggling with addiction and attempting suicide, she was finally able to learn how to love herself, and now inspires her students as a teacher at San Diego High School.

5. Homecoming Highlights
Homecoming 2014 proved to be another exciting week of alumni and student events, including the Black & Gold Gala, Spirit Splash, Black & Gold Takeover, Golf Tournament, Indoor Tailgate, CECS BBQ/Reunion, and a repeat victory against Temple!

4. Magazine Names UCF Leaders, Alumni to Orlando’s Most-Powerful List
Five UCF leaders and several alumni were named to Orlando magazine’s 2014 list of the region’s 50 most powerful people.

3. Orlando’s University
UCF’s new downtown Orlando campus is in the works, and will be a “game changer” for the university, according to its top supporter, UCF President John Hitt.

2. Kid-Approved
Six-year-old Alex Pring received a new prosthetic arm, thanks to e-NABLE, an international organization that connects families with inventors and 3-D printer enthusiasts creating solutions for children with special needs. That’s where his mom, Alyson, met Albert Manero, ’12, an e-NABLE volunteer who would change their lives forever.

1. Proposal Knight
Having a brick engraved with “Marry Me?” was how Rob Brunjes, ’11, decided to propose to his longtime girlfriend, Michele McGlamory, ’10. Now, the Knights Terrace outside the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center will always hold a special place in their hearts.

We hope you enjoyed our favorites as much as we did. Here’s to bigger and better stories in 2015!

With Knight Pride,
Your UCF Alumni Association Staff