UCF Alumni Announces 2018 30 Under 30 Awards

By Jenna Marina Lee

ORLANDO, Fla. (March 30, 2018) – UCF Alumni announced the recipients of its fourth annual 30 Under 30 Awards on March 30. This year’s class includes marketing and communications professionals, entrepreneurs, engineers, software specialists, attorneys, education leaders, doctors, nurses, the youngest-elected Florida state representative and a football star, among others.

“This year’s 30 under 30 class is a group of trailblazing young alumni who have made an impact within their professions, communities and this university in the early stages of their careers. The record breaking accomplishments of this group is inspiring, and they rank as the best of the best from UCF’s accomplished young alumni base,” said Mike Kilbride ’12, chair of UCF’s Young Alumni Council. “UCF is a special place, and it is inspiring to see so many of our graduates building on their UCF experience to make an impact in our community and around the country. The entire Young Alumni Council is proud of this group of finalists, and on behalf of UCF, I extend my sincerest congratulations on this well-deserved accomplishment.”

The 30 Under 30 Awards program recognizes outstanding young alumni who strive for greatness in their professional and personal lives.

Open-nominations for the 2018 class were accepted on UCFAlumni.com from January-February. Nominations were reviewed and scored by UCF Alumni staff and previous 30 Under 30 recipients, and winners were selected by the UCF Young Alumni Council. The finalists were then confirmed by the UCF Alumni Board based on the following criteria:

• Must be a graduate of the University of Central Florida (undergraduate or graduate degree)
• Must be age 29 or under on May 19, 2018
• Nominees for 30 Under 30 must demonstrate a commitment to maintaining a lifelong relationship with Knights and strive to uphold UCF Young Alumni values of “Scholarship, Bold, Trailblazing, Generous, Resilient”
• Self nominations are not accepted

The winners will be recognized in a formal ceremony on campus at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center on May 19. Below is the complete slate of honorees, listed in alphabetical order by last name.

Yazen Abdin ’12
Immigration Attorney, NeJame Law
College of Sciences

Michelle (Skaf) Anderson ’12
Human Resources Manager, Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
Rosen College of Hospitality Management

Arielle Bardzell ’13
Associate Attorney, Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP
College of Sciences | College of Health and Public Affairs

Shane Chism ’12
Principal Program Manager Lead, Microsoft
College of Engineering and Computer Science

Shantavia Conner ’11 ’13MBA
Finance Director, City of Haines City
College of Business

Gregory Eisenberg ’13
CEO/Founder, The Commission on Local Debates
Executive Director, Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida
College of Undergraduate Studies

Jamison Gavin ’11
CEO, LegendVest
College of Sciences

Alexandra Gentry ’09 ’10MS
Director of Tax and Treasury, Bonnier Corporation
College of Business | Burnett Honors College

Sarah Gitto ’11 ’14MS ’17PhD
Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of Pennsylvania
College of Health and Public Affairs | College of Medicine

Shaquem Griffin ’16
Former Football Student-Athlete/Aspiring NFL Draft Pick, University of Central Florida
College of Sciences

Marlon Gutierrez ’11
Senior Marketing Manager, Student Loan Hero
College of Business

Joshua Haley ’12 ’14MS
Software Engineer, Assistant Technical Staff Lead, SoarTech
College of Engineering and Computer Science | Burnett Honors College

Shannon Hassett ’16
Registered Nurse II, Orlando Health
College of Nursing | Burnett Honors College

Ron Hawks ’12
Crisis Management Lead, Lockheed Martin
College of Health and Public Affairs

Brittany Howell ’10, PsyD
Psychologist, James A. Haley Veterans Hospital, Lakeland Outpatient Clinic
College of Sciences

Samuel Jimenez ’11 ’14MFA
Innovation Product Designer, AARP
College of Arts and Humanities

Michele (Mixon) Jones ’11 ’14MPA
Emergency Management Director, Martin County Fire Rescue
College of Sciences | College of Health and Public Affairs

Amber Mariano ’17
State Representative for Florida House District 36, State of Florida
College of Sciences | Burnett Honors College

Michael McGriskin ’10
Associate Attorney, Phelps Dunbar LLP
College of Business

David Moskovitz ’12
Director of Brokerage and Leasing, Cardinal Point Management
Rosen College of Hospitality Management

B. Mia Mota ’12
Attorney for Emerging and Established Technology Enterprises, The Tech Law Firm
College of Health and Public Affairs

Katherine Payares ’12 ’13MSW
Bariatric and Oncology Clinical Social Worker, Florida Hospital Celebration Health
College of Health and Public Affairs

Allison (Blum) Peterson ’10
Practice Manager, Pediatric Pulmonology and Dermatology, Memorial Healthcare System
College of Business

Eugene Pringle ’17EdD
Assistant Principal, Odyssey Middle School
College of Education and Human Performance

Kristi Ray ’13, DO
Family Medicine Resident Physician, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
College of Sciences | Burnett Honors College

Sara Singer ’10
Associate Attorney, Brydger & Porras LLP
College of Sciences

John Sparkman ’13 ’15MS
Vice President and Director of Research and Development, Limbitless Solutions
College of Engineering and Computer Science

Lindsey Turnbull ’10 ’12MA
CEO/Founder, MissHeard Media
College of Arts and Humanities | College of Sciences | Burnett Honors College

Heather (Grenitz) Ulbrik ’10
Test Engineering Associate Manager, Lockheed Martin
College of Engineering and Computer Science | Burnett Honors College

Demitria Vasilatis ’11, DVM
Post-Doctoral Residency, Clinical Pathology, William Pritchard Veterinary Teaching Hospital, University of California, Davis
College of Sciences | Burnett Honors College

Shining Knights Honored

From left to right: President John C. Hitt, Michael Manglardi ’84, Michael Corey H’17, Loretta Corey H’17, Carey Sobel ’09, Julie C. Stroh, Michael Morsberger

By Jenna Marina Lee

ORLANDO, Fla. (Oct. 13, 2017) – Four individuals were recognized for their outstanding service and philanthropy at the Shining Knights Alumni Awards held at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center on Oct. 13.

The Shining Knights Alumni Awards is a program that highlights UCF Alumni Engagement and Annual Giving’s three major awards: Young Alumni Award; John C. and Martha Hitt Honorary Alumni Award; and Distinguished Alumni Award. It was implemented in 2017 in place of the now retired Black and Gold Gala.

This year’s honorees are:
• Carey Sobel ’09, Young Alumni Award
• Loretta Corey H’17 and Michael Corey H’17, Honorary Alumni Award
• Michael Manglardi ’84, Distinguished Alumni Award

“We are proud of this incredible and faithful group of UCF supporters,” said Julie C. Stroh, senior associate vice president for Advancement, Alumni Engagement and Annual Giving. “They all have given back to the UCF community with their time, talent and treasure. On behalf of UCF Alumni, it is our honor to thank them for their service and for representing the best of UCF as our inaugural Shining Knights.”

Carey Sobel ’09 was selected as the first recipient of the Young Alumni Award. A management graduate of the College of Business Administration, Sobel was a member of the 2017 30 Under 30 class. He has started eight different businesses in Central Florida, ranging from hospitality, marketing, entertainment and real estate/brokerage, all before the age of 30.

He currently serves as partner and chief strategy officer for Three21, a full-service digital marketing company that has grown into a multi-million dollar, award winning agency. The firm employs many UCF alumni, and offers internships to UCF, Valencia and Full Sail students. Sobel is also a partner at Boss Group International, a business brokerage firm where he helps people buy and sell businesses.

An avid UCF fan and supporter, he is a board member of the Young Alumni Council and the UCF College of Business Alumni Chapter, actively participates in speaking engagements for students, and is also involved in the College of Business mentorship program.

Loretta Corey H’17 and Michael Corey H’17 were given the John C. and Martha Hitt Honorary Alumni Award. The Coreys are parents of three UCF graduates and have been longtime supporters of UCF. They have traveled all over the United States and as far as Dublin to cheer on the Knights, and they maintain a box at Spectrum Stadium where their family can gather every home football game.

They are as equally invested in the importance of education. In addition to their major gift commitment to the Everyday Champions program, which provides scholarships for student-athletes, they recently contributed to the new downtown campus.

Loretta is also the founding co-chair of the UCF Parent and Family Philanthropy Council and serves on the UCF Foundation Board.

Michael Manglardi ’84, a political science graduate from the College of Sciences, was recognized with the highest honor given to a UCF graduate, the Distinguished Alumni Award. The award has been given annually since 1979.

Manglardi is a former chair of the UCF Alumni Board and member of the Golden Knights Club Board of Directors, and is emeritus director of the UCF Foundation Board. Two of his sons and four of his nieces and nephews have all graduated from UCF, and his son Jonathan is currently pursuing his degree.

Manglardi, who has built a successful law career in Central Florida, has offered UCF students internships and job shadowing experiences, spoken for LEAD Scholars and UCF Commencement, and has contributed annually since 1988.

He has previously received the Service to UCF Award in 2004 and the Jefferson Award’s Lifetime of Service in 2010, which recognizes outstanding public service by alumni to the organization and the community.

UCF Advancement senior leadership vetted candidates during the summer, and the UCF Alumni Board voted to confirm the selected honorees.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—June 26

UCF student Cole Kolasa is kayaking 800 miles this summer

1. The Rosen College of Hospitality Management is getting a new food service lab thanks to a $1.5 million commitment from the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation. Construction is expected to be completed by 2019. By the way, Rosen is ranked among the top five hospitality management programs in the world, enrolling more than 3,700 students and offering five undergraduate and two graduate degrees, in addition to a doctorate in hospitality management.

2. UCF stands for opportunity, and that’s true of a recent study of head coaches nationally. UCF was the only school to earn an ‘A’ for racial and gender hiring practices for women’s teams’ head coaches in a new report released June 23 that examined 94 schools from eight different conferences. Charge On!

3. Two alumni walk into an Italian restaurant… no joke here. UCF Alumni Board member Dean Caravelis ’02 ’03MBA recently sat down for a Q&A with co-founder and CEO of RIP-IT Jason Polstein ’02 ‘03MS to discuss successful startups, career challenges and life as an entrepreneur. Here’s a snippet of the full interview:

“The people who really stand out during interviews are the people who show up and say, ‘Hey, this is my skill set. I can show you in the past how I move x to y, I can tell you how I did it, and by the way, this is my 90-day roadmap of how I can create value for your company once you hire me.’ That really shows that this person hasn’t only done something in the past that’s of value, but spent the time to try and understand our business and came to the interview prepared in pitching themselves in how they’re going to generate more value for our company.”
— Jason Polstein ’02 ’03MS, co-founder and CEO of RIP-IT

4. UCF has received a silver rating for its sustainability by a program within the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. UCF’s ranking is credited to numerous categories including its energy-efficient buildings, how campus is used as a living laboratory and its commitment to diversity.

5. Cole Kolasa, a UCF environmental engineering major, is making waves as he paddles nearly 800 miles down Florida’s Gulf Coast this summer. Why? He hopes to raise $10,000 to support artificial reefs in Hernando County. Follow along with his journey.

Hitt It Big

By Jenna Marina

ORLANDO, Fla. (March 1, 2017) – A key to the city, numerous proclamations of praise and a special honorary alumni award were all bestowed to UCF’s transformational leader, President John C. Hitt, in honor of his 25th anniversary Wednesday at the UCF Student Union.

VIEW PHOTO GALLERY

Hitt, along with his wife Martha, not only both received the alumni distinction, but will also have the award named in their honor in future years.

Dan Ward, chair elect of the UCF Alumni Board and a member of Hitt’s first class of graduates in 1992, commended the couple before presenting them with the award. Honorary alumni are recognized for their outstanding service and philanthropy to UCF; lifelong devotion and loyalty to the university; and upholding the UCF creed of integrity, scholarship, community, creativity and excellence.

“Today, on the 25th anniversary of the black and gold’s most dynamic duo, a grateful community knows we are better because of you,” Ward said. “We also know that you are better because of each other. And, because you have made us part of your family, it is with great joy and pride that we take the step today of officially making you part of ours.”

Dan Ward ’92, UCF Alumni Board chair-elect, presents a citation to John and Martha Hitt declaring the couple as honorary alumni of UCF.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, UCF Board of Trustees Chairman Marcos Marchena and Student Government President Christopher Clemente were among the hundreds in attendance to witness the moment.

The honor seemed only fitting given how many degrees Hitt has conferred during his 25 years at UCF.

As of September 2016, Hitt has handed out 241,918 degrees, accounting for more than 80 percent of all degrees conferred since UCF’s founding in 1963.

Nationally, Hitt is one of the all-time leaders among public university presidents who conferred degrees at a single school. In addition, he is currently the longest-serving president in the Florida State University System. He ranks third among the longest-serving presidents in Florida SUS history.

It appears he has no intention of slowing down. When he was prompted with the question of “What’s next?,” Hitt stated matter-of-factly:

“Well, tomorrow will be the second day of my 26th year,” eliciting laughter and applause from the crowd.

As the celebration came to a close, Hitt spoke from the heart to express his gratitude to his colleagues, partners and students at the university.

“As with most anniversaries, today’s celebration is infused with nostalgia. It’s a potent and powerful feeling. But more powerful is the belief I have in our future,” Hitt said. “My belief is, for our beloved UCF, the best is yet ahead. Thank you. Go Knights.”

What They Are Saying
“Through Dr. Hitt’s leadership UCF has become a school that attracts talented, ambitious and diverse students from near and far. It is a place where students go to not only continue their education, but also thrive. A place where they can foster new relationships, explore their interests and gain experiences that will open the doors to their future.” – Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs

“Without UCF and Dr. Hitt’s 25 years of leadership, Orlando, Orange County, all of Central Florida might not be one of the nation’s fastest-growing regions as it is today.” – Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer

“Mr. President, let me first start with an apology. I know your humility makes you averse to praise. I know it is your wish for this day to be less about you and more about this university. However, I find it impossible to talk about the success of UCF without you. I have had the privilege and honor to speak after you on various occasions and each time I am left inspired by your leadership.” – UCF Student Body President Christopher Clemente

“The university has made great advances under his leadership including an expansion of programs, facilities, student access, faculty hires and achievements.” – Professor Keith Koons, chair of the UCF Faculty Senate, reading from a resolution passed unanimously by the Faculty Senate.

“I must confess that when I started work at Florida Technological University eons ago I was not sure I would stay. The university was in its embryonic stage. And after gradual improvements John and Martha Hitt arrived and the university went into overdrive and improved beyond even my wildest imagination…Thank you, John and Martha for this E-ticket ride.” – Maggie LeClair, university employee since 1974 and currently assistant to the dean of the College of Sciences.