A Time of Grit and Gravy

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All of us here at the UMBC Alumni Association would like to wish you and yours a warm, safe, and happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy the post-dinner coma, and we’ll see you after the holiday break!

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Got time over the holiday? Why not update your contact information?

 

 

Alums in the News: Nov. 16-22, 2016

Let’s see who made the news this week…

stubenbergMatthew Stubenberg ’09, political science, received the Award for Legal Excellence in the Advancement of the Rights of the Disadvantaged from the Maryland Bar Foundation last month. Stubenberg, who works with the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service as a staff attorney and IT director, created MDExpungement.com, which expedites the process of removing eligible criminal charges from citizens’ records. Read more at The Daily Record.

Ana Isabel Leal Lobato, M.A. ’13, intercultural communication, was one of over 1,500 Fulbright scholarship recipients to sign an open letter, published on The Huffington Post, in response to the results of the U.S. presidential election. Leal Lobato is originally from Spain, and now works as a “conference interpreter, intercultural trainer, and teacher.” You can read the letter here.

Share your big news with us in a class note, or email retrievernet@umbc.edu!

Alums in the News: November 9-15, 2016

Let’s see who made the news this week…

taiwoAdeyinka Taiwo ’10, visual arts, spoke with Volunteer Maryland about her work with the Montgomery County Community Action Agency, which partners with various groups in the area with the goal of alleviating poverty. Read more about Yinka here.

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Delali Dzirasa ’04, computer engineering, and his software company, Fearless Solutions, were awarded a contract by the U.S. Small Business Administration to upgrade the agency’s web presence and user interface. Read more here.

Tell us your news in a class note!

 

Meet the Staff: Jessica Wyatt, Assistant Director of Alumni Relations

Here in the Office of Alumni Relations, we spend a lot of time telling stories about and talking with our wonderfully supportive alums. However, we’ve decided to turn the tables and take time to get to know the people behind the scenes – the  advancement and alumni relations staff members who are hard at work on behalf of our alumni. Today we’re talking with Jessica Wyatt, who started as our newest Assistant Director of Alumni Relations this summer.

jessica_wyatt-0128Name: Jessica Wyatt

Job Title: Assistant Director of Alumni Relations

How long have you been here? Since July

Where are you from originally? That’s a really hard question to answer. I was born in Massachusetts, and we stayed there until right before high school. [Then] my family moved out to Kansas. So I was in Kansas for high school, and then I went to college in Wisconsin, and I’ve moved around ever since. So if you ask me where I’m from, my answer will be Kansas, because that’s where my parents are now.

What do you like most about UMBC? Definitely the staff. […] It’s a creative, wacky group of people, and I’ve never felt more included so quickly. When I started here, it felt really comfortable, and it was kind of hard to have “think time” because there’s always someone who wants to engage with you, hang out with you, go to lunch with you, take a walk with you, stand in line at Starbucks for 45 minutes with you. There’s always someone who’s interested in what you’re doing, and there’s always somebody who will push you outside of your comfort zone for good reasons, and there’s always somebody who’ll challenge you in a way that’s unexpected.

What’s your favorite thing about your job? I love the variety of what we do in Alumni Relations. No day is ever the same, and that’s the world I came from. Coming from the nonprofit world, it was chaos all the time, and this feels like slightly more organized chaos. In a good way. And I think for my realm specifically, I love working with [the Student Alumni Association]. It’s the best, and the students I’ve been given to work with are just great. Love them. Love them.

Who do you admire and why? Can I give two? [As far as] people I actually know, I really admire my husband, who is a strategic thinker, a rational human being, and somebody who is willing to figure it out to make it right. In the world of people I am not engaged with, I really admire David Lynch, and his history and career of being a visual artist and kind of taking a chance on film, and continuing to take chances in more of a mainstream media realm, and then being like “Who cares?” and going into whatever the heck he wants to do. [My] first exposure to mindfulness and meditation practice was reading one of his books years and years and years ago, and having that seed planted and being able to come back to it has been really exciting. I really admire his work and all that he does.

Have you ever done anything crazy or out of the ordinary? Have you met me? That’s like my goal, is every day is a little bit crazy and out of the ordinary. So after college I went into the Peace Corps. I lived in Senegal for two years, and every day was a crazy, out-of-the-ordinary scenario, [like] killing scorpions with my Vogue magazine (which was a really devastating experience, because you had to make a decision: you could either get stung or ruin your Vogue). […] I feel like getting up every morning is crazy. It’s amazing how our bodies still function and we can get through each day.

Are you a cat person or a dog person? Now there’s a great question. So I grew up with dogs, and I love, love, love dogs and I thought that was gonna be my life, but with living in a small apartment, and with my husband being allergic to dogs [and cats]…we got our first cat, and his love overcame his allergies, and we now have two cats.

If you could be another staff member for a day, who would it be and why? Somebody on the grounds crew who gets to deal with the plants. I would love [that], for a variety of reasons: I love a good day of manual labor, where you get to see a tangible outcome. […] So much of what we do here, there’s so many intangibles that you can’t see, so knowing that you’re working towards something but not having a clear picture of what that “something” is is exciting and frightening. Being able to work on the grounds crew, I’d even say [for] a week, and being able to physically transform a space, I think, is really exciting. Physically transforming a space for the betterment of a community. People feel better when things look nice, and plants are cool. […]

Tell me more about your educational background. [I have] an M.F.A. in Community Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art, and [while I was there] I worked with the Refugee Youth Project, and that’s where I had my first [epiphany] about how murals can be transformative, not only from a service perspective but also how you community organize to create a mural and the different levels of change that are involved when that happens. I worked with a group of high school youth, and we did a week-long mural facilitation project, and so now the Baltimore Resettlement Center [has] a mural on the side there, and that’s…it’s not mine, it’s my kids’. […] [Community arts is about] space: how do you navigate it, and how do you leverage that to achieve an outcome? […] It’s creating connections, breaking down barriers, and leveraging people’s strengths to move a collective forward. People who don’t even know that they’re part of the same network [learn] that they’re part of a larger thing, and helping people understand how the little impact that you make helps create those waves, to help facilitate great change. If we all take one step forward, we’re all taking many thousands of steps.

Take one small step towards updating your contact information here, and meet some of our other staff members here!

Alums in the News: GOOOOAL! Edition

Let’s see who made the news this week…we may have a bit of a theme going with this entry.

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Geaton Caltabiano ’14, psychology, will play another season with the Baltimore Blast after seeing action in 14 games in his first year. While at UMBC, Caltabiano was named an America East Player of the Week, and also received a Coaches’ Award for his high academic achievement off the field.

Maceo Rojas ’99, modern languages and linguistics, has coached the St. Vincent Pallotti High School girls’ soccer team to the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland (IAAM) Championships. While the Pallotti Panthers fell to the top-seeded Park School in Saturday’s championship game, they had a 12-3 regular season record, and made it to the second seed in their conference.

Met any big goals recently? Send us a class note!

“Don’t Be Afraid to Do Something Weird:” Christine Osazuwa ’11 on Music, Marketing, and Making a Name For Yourself

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Photo by Marlayna Demond ’11.

When one meets Christine Osazuwa ’11, interdisciplinary studies, the one thing that stands out is her unbridled enthusiasm. She’ll talk at length about anything: her digital marketing job, what it took to get there, her advice for college students. Her energy is as boundless as her business sense is focused, and both of these earned her a spot on The Daily Record’s “20 in Their Twenties” list earlier this year.

“I’ve always had it as a bucket list item…to be on one of those ‘30 In Their Thirties’ lists or something like that,” says Osazuwa, who came into her work as assistant director for digital strategies for UMBC’s Division of Professional Studies following several years outside of higher ed. “It’s humbling to see who else is on that list with me.”

Back in college, Osazuwa knew she loved music, and she was determined to make it work. She designed a music business and journalism major through the INDS program, ran a monthly print magazine called Scene Trash, booked shows throughout the area, and, with the help of an Undergraduate Research Award, filmed Always Wanting Morea documentary  about the ups and downs of bandom. She cites Steven McAlpine, assistant director of the INDS department, and Vivian Armor ’73, American studies, head of the Alex. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship and “the one person I’ve ever met who has more energy than me,” as key mentors throughout her undergraduate career.

Osazuwa’s post-grad career narrative starts a little before graduation. In 2009, she began working for MissionTix, the concert ticketing arm of downtown Baltimore-based creative firm Mission Media. What began as a part-time gig handing out flyers at shows around the city parlayed into a full-time position by the time graduation rolled around. She fondly recalls walking to her downtown office, still clad in cap and gown, and introducing her mother to her co-workers.

“We had a huge event coming up, so I went into work full-time the next day,” she says. “I think we graduated on a Tuesday, and I started on the Wednesday.”

As one of MissionTix’s first full-time employees, Osazuwa’s job duties ran the gamut from logistics and event planning to project management and customer service, all while she was working on her M.B.A. at Loyola University. Looking to move into more marketing work, she returned to UMBC in 2014 as the web and social media coordinator for DPS, and was promoted to assistant director this summer. In addition to her full-time job here, she does outside consulting work, advising firms like r2integrated and Backroom on digital marketing and strategy.

When you ask Osazuwa what advice she’d give incoming UMBC students, she says, first and foremost, that networking and building relationships are especially important for undergrads: “People [in your field] are way more willing to speak to you when you’re a student than at any other time…It’s like the best student discount.” She herself still keeps in touch with her college mentors, and her professional network extends to the point where nearly all of the vendors for her upcoming wedding are freelancers she’s met at different events.

Osazuwa adds that college is for figuring out what you want to do with your life and, once you do, pursuing that goal, no matter how niche or specific, with all you’ve got. Students worried about whether they’ll make money as artists can combine their degrees with other disciplines, she says.

“Not everyone’s going to be a doctor, and not everyone’s going to be an engineer. [There are] other things out there. […] Don’t be afraid to do something weird.”

Let us know what’s been going on in your career by submitting a class note!

 

Alums in the News: Myers (M1), Ellison-Taylor, Adams

Let’s see who made the news this week…

myersOliver Myers ’94, M1, mechanical engineering, M.S. ’96, mechanical engineering, and Ph.D. ’07, mechanical engineering, who’s now an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Clemson University, recently spoke to the USM Foundation about the effect the Meyerhoff Scholars program has had on his life and career: “You don’t consider the impact when you’re going through school, but thinking about it now, it weighs heavily.”

ellison-taylorKimberly Ellison-Taylor ’93, information systems managementis the new chairman of the board of directors for the American Institute of CPAs. Ms. Ellison-Taylor is head of global account strategy for Oracle America, and served on the AICPA board for four years prior to accepting the chairman position.

adamsJerome Adams ’97, biochemistry and molecular biologywas honored at a Golden Laurel Professional Reception for African-American medical professionals hosted by the Indianapolis Recorder newspaper this past week. Dr. Adams is the first African-American to be appointed Indiana State Health Commissioner by a Republican governor, as well as an assistant professor of anesthesiology at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

Tell us your big news in a class note!