Knights Participate in Third Annual
Student Philanthropy Week

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It takes many hands to smoothly and effectively run the second-largest university in the nation. Busy students often don’t realize where our school’s resources come from, so the UCF Student Philanthropy Council started spreading the word of philanthropic giving with Project ’63.

The mission of Project ’63 is to remind students of the importance of philanthropy and its impact on higher education. To accomplish this, the SPC is hosting its third annual Student Philanthropy Week, bringing the spirit of giving back to campus.

This year’s celebration takes place Feb. 22-25, and includes the following daily events to inspire tradition:

Monday – Education Day
Students host a table outside the Student Union and play educational/trivia games.

Tuesday – Appreciation Day
Students sign a “Thank You” banner for young alumni donors, which helps stewardship with donors and gives students a better appreciation for and understanding of how philanthropy impacts their education.

On both Monday and Tuesday, the Student Philanthropy Council also introduces Philanthropy Cab, like the TV show “CA$H CAB,” where members pick up students and drive them to their classes on a golf cart, all the while testing their knowledge and school pride!

Wednesday – Participation Day
Students focus on peer-to-peer solicitation to cultivate donations in anticipation of launching a senior giving program.

Thursday – Celebration Day
The week concludes with all of the previous days’ activities, plus the Student Philanthropy Symposium, featuring a panel of some of the UCF Alumni Association’s 30 under 30 award winners.

“Student Philanthropy Week is one of the first opportunities many students have to learn about the impact of philanthropy on their education,” says Danielle Warren, coordinator of the UCF Fund. “Facilitating experiences through which students might recognize that many academic, scholarship and programmatic opportunities are funded by donations cultivates the spirit of philanthropy on campus — an important step toward assuring the future of private support at UCF.”

For more information about the Student Philanthropy Council and Student Philanthropy Week, contact Danielle at 407.882.1254.

Intrusion into UCF Network Involves Personal Data

 

NEWS ALERT:

An intrusion into the University of Central Florida’s computer network has resulted in unauthorized access to certain personal information of some current/former students and employees.

UCF has established a web page — www.ucf.edu/datasecurity — with details about the incident, including the groups of current/former students and employees involved, and recommendations for those impacted. UCF also has established a call center, available at 877.752.5527 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Those impacted by the incident will be notified via letters, which should be received the week of Feb. 8.

UCF is also offering a free year of credit monitoring and identity protection services to those impacted.

“Safeguarding your personal information is of the utmost importance at UCF,” President John C. Hitt says. “To ensure our vigilance, I have called for a thorough review of our online systems, policies and training to determine what improvements we can make in light of this recent incident.

“Every day, people and groups attempt to illegally access secure data from institutions around the world. Higher education institutions are popular targets.

“UCF will continue to work diligently to protect this important information from those who would break the law to get it.”

UCF Alumni Association Aids Students with Scholarships

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By Isabelle D’Antonio
Contributing Writer, Central Florida Future

The UCF Alumni Association collects thousands of dollars each year to give right back to students through its many scholarships.

Senior Erica Chu received the alumni association’s UCF Alumni Legacy Scholarship — a $1,500 award for outstanding students with parents who graduated from UCF — to make her dreams of attending UCF possible.

“I was ecstatic when I found out I won the scholarship,” the biomedical sciences major says. “Every little thing counts when you’re paying for college.”

Chu says receiving the scholarship has not only helped her financially, but has also increased her networking with alumni, including those who selected her to win the scholarship.

“It’s great to meet people who graduated from UCF, and are now so successful and want to give back,” she says. “That’s something I want to do when I graduate.”

The alumni association awards 25 scholarships annually, including scholarships from alumni chapters and clubs.

“Last year, we had a good year in our endowments, and we were able to increase the majority of the scholarships by $500,” explains Carla Cordoba, associate director of alumni and student relations.

In fact, in 2015, the alumni association awarded more than $55,000 in scholarships to UCF students.

Heather Junod, director of the UCF Fund, says there are many ways the alumni association receives the money to fund these scholarships.

The UCF Fund utilizes e-solicitation, direct mail, phone campaigns, faculty/staff campaigns and a student philanthropy program to reach out to potential donors. Staffers prefer more face-to-face solicitation rather than phone calls because it often garners better results. For example, the average donation is $86 on the phone, $270 for e-solicitation and $130 by mail, but face-to-face gifts are much larger — sometimes in the millions.

Junod says the UCF Fund asks every alumnus and alumna with up-to-date information to donate, which is more than 226,000 Knights. Of this, about 7,000 donate, or a little more than 3 percent of alumni.

“At our call center, students like to talk to alumni about donating to scholarships because the student callers are often on scholarships,” Junod explains.

To apply for alumni scholarships, students must fill out the applications on their myUCF account. If a student is eligible for an alumni scholarship, it will automatically appear in his/her scholarship listing. Most scholarships also require an essay, recommendation letter and activities summary.

“Scholarships aren’t going to come to you — you have to look for them,” Chu says. “The alumni association does a great job advertising the scholarships. People just have to take the next step and actually apply.”

She also says it is important for students to be themselves when writing application essays.

“They can tell in your writing if you’re being fake or lying,” she says. “Stand out and have a personal story that they can connect to.”

In Chu’s application, she wrote a personal essay about how UCF has opened so many doors for her father. She also described how the university has already given her innumerable opportunities, such as research and networking.

After the applications are submitted, the four-month-long reviewing process begins.

“We want to make sure we are being diligent in reading everything and paying attention because students took the time to submit their applications,” Cordoba says.

A team of student assistants first checks the applicants’ eligibility to make sure they meet all of the necessary criteria for the scholarship, and then the applicants are scored using a point system.

“For example, if you’re a member of a club, you get so many points. If you’re an officer, you get more points,” Cordoba explains. “Everybody gets the same formula applied to them across the board.”

Once the applicants have been rated, a selection committee of alumni, faculty and staff reviews the top five to 10 students. The committee then gives its recommendations and a staff committee selects the final winners.

Reaching out through email, postcards and banner advertisements, there’s been an increase in students who have been applying for the alumni association’s scholarships.

“We had more than 500 applications in 2015, which is a third more than we had the year before,” Cordoba says. “Students are taking advantage of the scholarships!”

However, with more applicants comes more competition.

“The caliber of students who are applying is amazing,” Cordoba says. “We’re choosing from the top echelon of students who are extremely involved with their university and in their communities.”

Alumni who wish to contribute can name a scholarship for $10,000, or they can endow a scholarship for $25,000, which gets invested and earns appreciation.

“The idea is to keep building the endowment so it lives on in perpetuity,” Cordoba says.

How to apply for UCF Alumni Association scholarships:

  1. Visit ucfalumni.com/scholarships. (The application window opens Feb. 1 and closes Feb. 28 each year.)
  2. Read all scholarship criteria and complete all required supporting documents.
  3. Log on to myUCF.
  4. Select “Student Self Service.”
  5. Click on “Scholarship Application” > “Home Page” > “Add New Scholarship.”
  6. Complete and submit application(s).

Questions?

Read the Scholarship FAQ, or contact Carla Cordoba at 407.823.3453.

This story appeared Dec. 4, 2015, in the Central Florida Future online. It has been updated and edited in accordance with AP and alumni association style guidelines. See original article.

These Guys Know what they Want for Christmas

A group of UCF student-athletes is spreading Christmas cheer with the help of Mariah Carey, some jolly dance moves, and a video that’s making its way around the Internet.

When seven Knights, including four UCF cheerleaders and a former UCF baseball player who met through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, posted the above video to YouTube, they had no idea it would attract more than 20,000 views in less than a week!

“We honestly just wanted to make a fun Christmas video for something to look back at when we have kids one day, and be like, ‘Hey, look, your dad was cool!'” explains UCF junior Joshua Gicker. “We’re all single, so, maybe before it’s over, we could meet our future wives through this!”

Guess you never know! Happy holidays, Knights!

This information was originally published Dec. 10, 2015, by Brigitte Snedeker on KnightNews.com. It has been edited in accordance with AP and alumni association style guidelines. See original post.

UCF Salutes Veterans

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In honor of Veterans Day, the UCF Alumni Association thanks all of the members of our U.S. Armed Forces — past and present —
for their service, dedication and sacrifice.

Since 2001, 2.7 million troops have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nearly one in 10 returns with post-traumatic stress disorder. Within a year of returning home, three in 10 will be diagnosed.

We’re proud to share some of the great things our alma mater is doing to assist our men and women in uniform, including:

UCF RESTORES Clinical Research Center

As part of the UCF Department of Psychology in the College of Sciences, UCF RESTORES is a clinical research center dedicated to the study of all facets of anxiety, trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder, including etiology, psychopathology, treatment, resilience and prevention.

The following video highlights the remarkable success that the UCF RESTORES clinic is finding in helping veterans master traumatic memories:

Veterans Academic Resource Center

The Veterans Academic Resource Center is a one-stop solution for the needs of student veterans.

The center ensures student veterans access to all available campus resources, provides study space and special tutoring, helps faculty and staff understand these students’ unique needs, and provides them the tools needed to stay on track and complete their degrees.

The VARC has been designated as a center for excellence for veteran-student success. And, since 2011, UCF has been named a “Military-Friendly School” by G.I. Jobs.


A Month of Honor and Remembrance

UCF is honoring veterans all month long, with a commemorative ceremony and other activities, which, so far, have included an open house and student-veteran appreciation lunch at the Veterans Academic Resource Center, a free screening of the documentary “Debt of Honor: Disabled Veterans in American History,” a flag display on Memory Mall, and a Veterans Day parade at Universal Studios.

Still to come:

  • Saturday, Nov. 14 | Several UCF organizations and departments will participate in the City of Orlando Veterans Day Parade, honoring the men and women of the armed forces. This year’s parade will also commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.
  • Monday, Nov. 16 | Student-veterans are invited to attend Light Up UCF’s Military Appreciation Night. Contact Joshua Johnson at 407.823.5874 for more info.
  • Thursday, Nov. 19 | In gratitude of active military, reserves, veterans and first responders, they can register for complimentary tickets to the UCF vs. East Carolina football game for Military Appreciation Knight, and will also be extended to the UCF vs. USF game on Thursday, Nov. 26. GET TICKETS (Click on the “TICKETS” tab on the top banner, search “UCF Football” and select your seats. GOVX members will receive a complimentary ticket. Up to four additional tickets will be available at $20.)

Black & Gold Gala 2015 — Professional Achievement Award
College of Engineering and Computer Science

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College of Engineering and Computer Science Dean Michael Georgiopoulos presented the college’s
2015 Professional Achievement Award to Benjamin J. Patz, ’85.
Benjamin J. Patz, ’85 | Managing Director, The FAN Fund

The UCF Alumni Association and College of Education and Human Performance presented their 2015 Professional Achievement Award to Ben Patz at the annual Black & Gold Gala on Oct. 22.

Ben co-founded Coleman Technologies Inc., which provided IT and systems engineering services to public and private organizations. In 2010, the company merged with and into Presidio Inc., a professional and managed services firm delivering advanced IT infrastructure solutions.

Prior to founding CTI, he had 15 years of experience in system analysis, design and testing for the Naval Research Laboratory, Lockheed Martin and Coleman Research Corporation.

Most recently, he established the FAN Fund in which to invest professionally managed angel capital in growth-oriented companies in the technology and life sciences sectors in Florida.

The Patz family has strong ties to UCF, including Ben’s father, Dr. Benjamin W. Patz, who was a research scientist and UCF engineering professor, and his siblings and their families:

  • Dr. Mark D. Patz, ’83, ’87, ’97
    • (wife) Donna Curley Patz, ’86
    • (daughter) Lindsey Patz, ’14
    • (son) Tyler Patz — current UCF student
  • Susan Patz Pringle, ’86 — College of Education (UCF Athletics Hall of Fame 2000 inductee)
    • (husband) Bruce Pringle, ’84
  • Amy Patz Lewellyn, ’89
    • (husband) Mark Lewellyn, ’87, ’89
  • Dr. Eric M. Patz, ’15

Ben went to UCF early, doing dual enrollment, receiving his bachelor’s degree in mathematics by the time he finished high school, and entered the graduate mathematics program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the undergraduate engineering program. He returned to UCF and earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering in 1985.

He’s served on the Dean’s Advisory Board of the College of Engineering and Computer Science since 2009.

Learn more about Ben:

Students Who Use Wheelchairs Find Freedom on
Rock-Climbing Tower

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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.

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. 

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.