Alums in the News: Christos FC, home to several UMBC alumni, faces off against D.C. United

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Christos FC; photo by US Soccer.

Baltimore-area soccer club Christos FC, whose roster features several UMBC alumni, faces off against D.C. United tomorrow as the last amateur team in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

Among Christos’ ranks are Pete Caringi III ’15, psychology (also an assistant coach here at UMBC), Phil Saunders ’15, health administration and policy, Geaton Caltabiano ’14, psychology, and Levi Houapeu ’15, financial economics. 

You can read more about the highly decorated “team that doesn’t practice” in this Baltimore Sun profile. Tickets for tomorrow’s game are available here.

Support tomorrow’s champions by making a gift to UMBC Athletics today.

Ticket to Wine: 12th annual Wine Tasting & Silent Auction raises over $4,800 for student scholarships

CYA-Wine-Tasting17-9500Who doesn’t love trains? Guests got to revisit their love of the rails at the B&O Railroad Museum on Friday, May 19 for the Chapter of Young Alumni’s 12th Annual Wine Tasting & Silent Auction. Members and supporters of the UMBC community came together for a night of fundraising that raised over $4,800 for student scholarships.

The night featured remarks from Leslie Walker-Wilson ’74, psychology, past president of the UMBC Alumni Association, and Courtney B. Wilson, Executive Director of the B&O Railroad Museum.

Another highlight: a special video message from Dr. Freeman Hrabowski.

CYA-Wine-Tasting17-9223While guests mingled and ate delicious food, they listened to music from UMBC’s own Jazz Ensemble. They also had the opportunity to purchase raffle tickets and bid on silent auction items. Thanks to our local business partners, we featured packages such as Charm City Date Night and Northern MD Wine Tour.

Relive the night by visiting our Facebook album or the Pixilated photobooth gallery.

Want to help us raise more scholarship funds? It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!

  1. Visit giving.umbc.edu and select Give Now from the menu.
  2. Select Event when asked what prompted you to give to UMBC.
  3. Select Other from the gift designation drop-down, and add Alumni Association Scholarship – Current Use in the field below.

Thank you!

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— The Chapter of Young Alumni Board

All photos by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.

A Step Up: Alumni return for Career Month volunteer opportunities

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Just under 30 alumni returned to campus to help students hone their networking skills at Sweeten Up Your Network on April 11. Photo by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.

Every April, the Office of Alumni Relations is proud to participate in UMBC’s Career Month programming. From our signature Sweeten Up Your Network event to alumni-led panels on subjects ranging from work-life balance to the graduate and professional school experience, we provide opportunities for alumni to reconnect to campus and share their experience and expertise with students looking to get a leg up in their post-graduate lives. This year, over 50 alumni volunteered, and we reached out to some of them to get their take on the experience.

Emily Brown ’14, computer science, returned to campus for Sweeten Up Your Network and our panels on Balancing Expectations and Affinity Groups. She says that UMBC’s 50th anniversary celebration last fall inspired her to get involved on campus in ways that she hadn’t been as a student.

“As a CWIT [Center for Women in Technology] scholars, I didn’t participate much in the Career Center’s programs [as an undergrad], and wanted to enhance the experience for non-scholar students by giving the same level of alumni volunteer attention to their activities,” says Brown.

Brown, who works as a cyber systems engineer for the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, also says she gained valuable insights from the stories and experiences of her fellow panelists. “In both cases, learning the similarities and differences between where I work and where the other alums were working was [enlightening] to me, and hopefully to the students as well.”

Shelley Bailey ’09, mathematics, and M.A. ’10, economic policy analysis, agrees. Bailey, who works for the Social Security Administration, participated in a panel on “What I Wish I Knew in College.” She says that the panel’s diversity regarding age, background, and experience made for a thought-provoking discussion between the alumni and students.

“Common threads running through panelist recommendations [emphasized] students opening their minds to potential opportunities, taking initiative to gain new experiences, and building relationships,” says Bailey. It was an especially good opportunity for her, she says, because “I am passionate about helping those who are trying to find their way in the world through furthering their education and pursuing work experiences.”

Students also had the chance to hear from alumni who have gone into business for themselves, as an April 19 panel sponsored by the Alex. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship brought Alex Chizhik ’97, economics, COO and general counsel of VIMRO and Rob Deford ’93, geography, owner and president of Boordy Vineyards, back to campus.

The two alumni, along with fellow panelist Kara Redman, CEO of Backroom, offered candid insights into starting and growing one’s own enterprise. “Unless your business plan is to win the lottery, nothing comes easy,” cautioned Chizhik, but all the panelists agreed that the work of building a business was a reward in and of itself.

Deford, who operates Maryland’s oldest winery, emphasized careful planning, and urged students to take stock of their personal circumstances when deciding whether or not to start a business. He also said that a focus on product quality, sustainability, and community responsibility can take a business far: young entrepreneurs, he said, can “do well by doing good.”

— Julia Celtnieks ’13

Want to learn more about our alumni volunteer opportunities? We’d love to welcome you back! Click here for details on how to get involved.

Alums in the News: Tobin, Dzirasa receive top honors

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David Tobin. Photo by Bryce Richter.

Triple alumnus David Tobin ’91, physics, M.S. ’93, applied physics, and Ph.D. ’96, applied physics, has received the University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research. Tobin, an atmospheric researcher at the Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC) at UW, was honored for his extensive work with satellite instruments, which has contributed a great deal to modern understanding of weather trends. Read more about Tobin and the award here.


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Delali Dzirasa, third from left, on stage at the Baltimore Innovation Awards. Photo by Stephen Babcock.

The Baltimore-based software company Fearless (formerly Fearless Solutions), founded by Delali Dzirasa ’04, computer engineering, has been named the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Maryland Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year for 2017. This isn’t the first honor for Fearless, or for Dzirasa himself: just last fall, the company was named the Design/Dev Firm of the Year at Baltimore Innovation Week, and Dzirasa took home an Alumni Rising Star Award back in 2011. The company, which got its start in the bwTech incubator and expanded to a new Inner Harbor office last year, counts 13 alumni and two current students among their ranks.

Got news for us? Send in a class note for the next issue of UMBC Magazine!

Alums in the News: Foisor wins U.S. Chess Championship

foisor2UMBC double alumna Sabina Foisor ’12, modern languages and linguistics, and M.A. ’14, intercultural communication, has officially been ranked the top women’s chess player in the nation after taking first place at the U.S. Chess Championship in St. Louis in April.

Foisor was seeded sixth out of 12 finalists from across the country. She won her final match 8-3 against Michigan’s Apurva Virkud in round 11 of the championship. The reigning women’s champion, UMBC chess team alumna Nazi Paikidze, placed second in this year’s tournament.

Foisor, who was born in Romania and arrived in the U.S. in 2008 to play for UMBC, is a Woman Grandmaster in chess and a former European junior champion, as well as a four-time member of the U.S. Women’s Olympiad.

At UMBC, she was part of the team that won the national collegiate championship in 2009, as well as president of the Russian Club. She now lives in Texas, and analyzes chess games and techniques on her YouTube channel.

Getting Connected: SAA and Alumni Board team up for Community Conversations

20170417_193939On April 17, about 25 students and five members of the Alumni Association Board of Directors got together for the first ever Community Conversation, an event where students living on campus had the opportunity to connect with alumni, build their network, learn valuable skills, and ask for advice in regards to professional school, career options, and more.

Two members of the Student Alumni Association (SAA), Aamin Haroon and Karndeep Singh, wanted to create a relationship building opportunity with students living on campus, since many SAA networking events attract a higher number of commuter students.

Alumni were stationed at tables with signs indicating the topic they wanted to talk about, and students rotated between tables throughout the course of the event. The alumni started off talking about themselves and their topic, and provided the students the opportunity to ask any questions that they had. We had the students complete a survey before they left to receive feedback for the event. Many students enjoyed it, and the alumni definitely enjoyed spending time with a very engaged group of students.

— Jessica Wyatt, Assistant Director of Alumni Relations, and Karndeep Singh ’18, Co-President of the UMBC Student Alumni Association

Alumni in Attendance:
Andrea Thomson ’11, Economics and Political
Science
Budget and Policy Analyst, Maryland Department of Budget and Management

Brian Frazee ’11, Political Science
Director of Government Relations, Maryland Hospital Association

Curtis Schickner ’12, Economics
Senior Investment Analyst, Constellation Energy

Arsham Mirshah ’08, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
Co-Founder, WebMechanix and Outbound Ops

Danielle Burnett ’00, Information Systems, and M.S. ’05, Information Systems
Founder and President, Applied Technology Services

Greg Kostrikin ’06, Financial Economics
Vice President, Poverni Sheikh Group
President, Premira Property Management

Legends of Excellence 2017: Dr. Willie Lamousé-Smith, Professor Emeritus and Former Chair of Africana Studies

Hosted every five years by the UMBC Chapter of Black and Latino Alumni (CBLA), the Legends of Excellence Awards Brunch honors the achievements and contributions of faculty and staff who have made a significant impact on the lives of UMBC’s black and Latino students. In the weeks leading up to this year’s event, we’ll be profiling each of this year’s honorees here on our blog. Read on for today’s bio…

Lamouse-SmithDr. Willie Bediako Lamousé-Smith first arrived at UMBC in 1975 to direct what was then known as the Division of Afro-American Studies. As the university re-organized its academic structure, his role evolved along with it, as he became the department’s first Chair. In his 33 years at UMBC, he established himself as both a key architect of what would eventually become the Africana Studies department, and a steadfast advocate for the students he taught.

Before coming to UMBC, Dr. Lamousé-Smith was the Associate Director of the Program of Eastern African Studies at Syracuse University’s Maxwell Graduate School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, and had taught sociology at Makerere University in Uganda and the Free University of Berlin after finishing his Ph.D at Germany’s University of Muenster. Throughout his academic career, his research focused primarily on the politics, demography, and economics of Africa and its diaspora, and he is the author of several influential papers on these subjects.

Given his expertise, he was instrumental in adding courses on the African diaspora to the program’s curriculum, and also established the W.E.B. DuBois Lecture Series, which continues to bring distinguished scholars and activists to campus each year. In 1997, the department changed its name to Africana Studies to reflect its new focus, thanks in large part to his scholarship. He has also provided expert testimony on African affairs to the U.S. House of Representatives, the United Nations, and the Organization of African Unity, and co-authored the Africa Interactive Maps CD-ROM series. He authored the initial 200-page proposal for a master’s degree in African-American Studies at UMBC, and served as the now-defunct program’s chair from 1988 to 1991.

In addition to his stature as a researcher, Dr. Lamousé-Smith is also remembered by his former students as a dedicated teacher and mentor. “As a parent who did not spare energy or resources on the education of our children,” he says, “I regarded all students in the frame of striving for quality education.” Particularly in his first two decades at UMBC, he says, many of his students were the first in their families to go to college, and he saw it as a moral duty to guide them to their full academic potential. No matter what role he held in his department’s administration, he remained a full teaching faculty member until his retirement in 2008.

He also says that one of his proudest moments, as an educator, was “standing by [minority] students, and standing up with them” in their fight for racial equality on campus. “While they could not have foreseen the consequential impact of their demonstrations on the campus for racial justice and equality,” he says, “UMBC would not be what it is today but for them.”

Register NOW for the Legends of Excellence Awards Brunch on Saturday, May 6!