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!

Legends of Excellence 2017: Earnestine Baker, Former Executive Director of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program

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…

IMG_3495_cropEarnestine Baker, known affectionately to her colleagues as “Ernie,” was first hired as UMBC’s Coordinator for Minority Recruitment in 1983. In 1992, she became the first Program Director of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program, and was promoted to Assistant to the Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program in 2002. Under her direction, the Meyerhoff program became an integral part of campus life and culture, and achieved a sterling reputation for preparing minority students for graduate and professional programs in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering. Mrs. Baker presented the program as one of the blue ribbon reports to Congress in 2003, and in 2009, the program was recognized by Science, the nation’s leading journal of scientific research, news, and commentary, for having “what it takes” to help more minority students earn science degrees.

Since its inception in 1993, the Meyerhoff program has graduated over 1,200 students, and counts 231 Ph.D. graduates, including 45 M.D./Ph.D.s, among its alumni. Mrs. Baker was instrumental in increasing its cachet among institutions of higher learning, and has represented UMBC on both the national and international stages, from participating at the 2012 College Completion Symposium with then-U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, to accompanying a delegation of University Members to Beijing, China, Cape Town, South Africa, Seville, Spain, and Bali, Indonesia.

Mrs. Baker is remembered by those who worked for and with her for her steely resolve in the face of challenges, especially in the early days of the program, and for the values she instilled in her students and staff. In many instances, the connections Mrs. Baker forged with her students stayed intact long after they left UMBC, as she continued to offer them guidance and network on their behalf as they pursued graduate study. In 2008, she received the University System of Maryland Board of Regents’ Award for Extraordinary Public Service to the University or the Greater Community for her dedication to the Meyerhoff Scholars Program and the students it served. Since her retirement in 2013, Mrs. Baker has continued to serve on several STEM advisory boards, and is currently serving as a contractual worker at UMBC.

“While growing up, I had a community who inspired me to work hard and to be the best that I could be,” she writes. “I knew that I wanted to [and needed to] give back and help others in the manner that I had experienced.” With the Meyerhoff Scholars Program in the place it is today, both within the UMBC community and in the national sphere, Mrs. Baker has more than paid it forward.

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

Legends of Excellence 2017: The Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington, Former Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs

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…

Jamie Washington_500x500 2014 MCCAThe Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington arrived at UMBC in 1986 as the Assistant Director of Residential Life, and at first, he says, he “wasn’t sure how [he] would be received” by the campus community. “As an openly gay, African-American, Christian man,” he writes, “I had experienced my share of people not being willing to engage fully.” However, he inspired a generation of students by being his most authentic self, and “[showing] up in truth, compassion…and excellence.”

Given his background in social justice work, the Rev. Dr. Washington was initially hired to help improve diversity training for resident assistants and professional staff in ResLife. Over his 16-year career at UMBC, he played several key roles in the administration, serving as Multicultural Affairs Coordinator, Assistant to the Vice President for Student Affairs, Director of Student Life, and, finally, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs. Washington also taught as an affiliate faculty member in the Departments of American Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, and Social Work.

The Rev. Dr. Washington left UMBC in 2002 to answer a call to ministry and attend Howard University School of Divinity.  During his time in divinity school, the Washington Consulting Group (WCG), his diversity consulting firm, began to grow. In 2015, WCG was named one of the top 10 global diversity consulting groups in the world. Dr. Washington serves as the company’s president and CEO, as well as the co-pastor of Unity Fellowship Church of Baltimore and the President and Co-Founder of the Social Justice Training Institute. In addition to his M.Div. from Howard, he holds a B.S. in therapeutic recreation and music therapy from Slippery Rock State College, an M.S. in higher education and student affairs and a second M.S. in counseling and counselor education from Indiana University, and a Ph.D. in counseling and personnel services from the University of Maryland.

Washington’s former students remember him as a man of integrity, who was “instrumental in developing leaders at UMBC.” Washington, for his part, counts them as his “greatest success.”

“They taught me what it means to be a servant leader, [and] that authenticity would, in fact, lead to deeper and more impactful relationships,” he writes. He remains connected to campus today by working with the Meyerhoff Summer Bridge Program, as well as through Residential and Student Life, the departments where he made his mark on the university.

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

Legends of Excellence 2017: Simmona Simmons ’74, Service and Special Projects Librarian

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…

Simmona-Simmons-4004Simmona Simmons ’74, American studies, started working as a technician at the Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery in 1966, the very same year UMBC opened its doors to students across Maryland. After earning her degree, she was UMBC’s only African American librarian in the university’s earliest days, and many young minority students saw her as a role model and inspiration.

Now the Service and Special Projects Librarian at UMBC, she has served in several capacities over the years, including Head of Circulation, Head of Reserves, Head of Serials, and Head of Reference. After completing her bachelor’s degree in American studies here in 1974, she earned a master’s of library and information science from the University of Maryland at College Park in 1976, as well as a second master’s degree in American studies.

Ms. Simmons serves as the library liaison to the Department of Africana Studies, and is also a former adjunct faculty member at the University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies, has contributed to several academic publications, and has served on the Board of Trustees for the Anne Arundel County Public Library and the Oncology Foundation of Maryland and the District of Columbia. She has contributed to such scholarly publications as the Handbook of Black Librarianship, Notable Black American Women, and The Encyclopedia of American Gospel Music, and written the essay “It’s a Personal Thing” for Library Mosaics.

While her current role involves outreach to faculty, Ms. Simmons says she has “always loved” working with students: “As they discover new information and as they mature, it is exciting to contribute a small part to their success.” She is remembered by former students for her grace, modesty, and for being an inspiring presence within the library’s halls.

Tickets for the Legends of Excellence event on Saturday, May 6, are still available here.  We hope to see you there!

A Sweet Success: Reflections on Sweeten Up Your Network 2017

33206351623_3f2bc1eabe_oIn partnership with the Career Center and the Office of Alumni Relations, the UMBC Student Alumni Association (SAA) was proud to host the annual Sweeten Up Your Network event on Tuesday, April 11. As one of Career Month’s staple events, Sweeten Up Your Network is open to students and alumni from all majors and years, and is almost entirely planned and executed by a team of SAA members. Because of their amazing efforts, this year we had just under 30 alumni and over 50 students participate!

As the Assistant Director of Alumni Relations, I have the honor and privilege of supporting both current students and alumni in developing programming that connects them to campus and one another. Sweeten Up Your Network is one of the most special examples of how these types of programs can really impact both sides of the speed networking table. I asked two participants from the evening to share a little more about their experience.

Julia Celtnieks ‘13, Media & Communication Studies

Despite being a relatively recent alumna, as well as a staff member, I’d never made it to Sweeten Up Your Network before this year. Nonetheless, I was intrigued by the opportunity to help students hone their networking skills, as well as offer some of my insights as a young professional. As it turned out, I had as much to learn from this experience as they did!

Most of the students I met and spoke with were going into fields completely different than my own: the sciences, psychology, engineering. At first it was challenging to tailor the conversation to their specific experiences, but then I realized I didn’t have to. There are plenty of ways to make connections, and many things I’ve learned over the course of my post-grad life, like the ins and outs of entry-level job searching, can apply to almost any area. Sweeten Up Your Network is really about getting students used to the idea of networking in general, and I think giving them the chance to talk with alumni in a variety of careers is what makes it so unique…and so perennially popular.

Alida Hartwell ‘19, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

I have been with SAA since the fall 2016 semester. SAA is full of amazingly motivated and helpful people. They always manage to make our meetings not only productive, but fun as well. All SAA events that I have participated in have felt like that, too. I also love that our events are planned and run by the SAA members.

Specifically relating to this event, I was very excited going into it. Ever since I joined SAA, the upperclassmen have talked up Sweeten Up Your Network. My experience was even better than what I was expecting. There were so many alumni from all different fields. I got the chance to speak with people who are in fields that I am considering going into, which was awesome for me because I got to see how powerful a degree from UMBC can be in the real world. Even talking to people from different degrees and fields was eye-opening. All of the alumni were passionate about UMBC and still love it […] it made me feel very proud to be attending this university. Overall, I think the best thing about Sweeten Up Your Network was the chance to see what it will be like years after graduation, whether that is what careers people with my major have or how much Retriever pride alumni carry with them!

33206351523_5884d6e832_oSo there you have it! If you’re an alum who wants to give back to the UMBC community, click HERE to learn about all the pathways to get involved. We’ve always got events and programs going on that could use your support.

Jessica Wyatt, Assistant Director of Alumni Relations

Postcards from True Grit: CAHSS alumni send their well wishes to admitted students

With college admissions season kicking into high gear, we got a few on-campus alumni together last week to send personalized notes to students accepted into the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (CAHSS). Retrievers shared their memories and well wishes with accepted students across Maryland and all around the country. 

The project caught on off-campus, as well: all told, we had 61 alumni from a variety of CAHSS majors send out over 1,400 postcards to prospective students. We can’t wait to meet the Class of 2021!

dietrich
Photo courtesy of Mimi Dietrich ’70.

To learn more about opportunities to get involved as an alum, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website!

Alums in the News: UMBC’s Legal Eagles

Our alumni are making headlines! Today, we focus on Retrievers who are making waves in the legal profession.

Travis Bell ’14, political science and psychology, now in his final year at the UCLA School of Law, is one of 14 American law students receiving this year’s Gideon Fellowship. This prestigious award, part of the Gideon’s Promise Law School Partnership Program, is a three-year fellowship that places law school graduates in public defenders’ offices across the Deep South. Bell, who was the Class of 2014 valedictorian, will serve out his fellowship in Montgomery, Alabama.

Yvette Pappoe ’13, sociology, has been named a Law Student of the Year for 2017 by the National Jurist magazine. Pappoe is a third-year student at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, where she is articles editor of the University of Maryland Law Journal of Race, Religion, Gender, and Class, a fellow in the Women, Leadership, and Equality Program, and a student attorney in the School to Prison Pipeline legal theory & practice course, to name a few.

Steven Fedder ’72, American studies, is one of The Daily Record’s 2017 Leadership in Law honorees. This award recognizes members of the Maryland legal community who have gone above and beyond in their profession. Fedder is a partner at Fedder & Janofsky LLC, a Baltimore-based firm specializing in trial litigation and employment law.

And finally, the UMBC Mock Trial Team may not have graduated yet (though their head coach Ben Garmoe ’13, political science, is an alum), but they’re taking over UMBC’s Instagram account this weekend to give us a firsthand look at the Opening Round Championship Series! Take a look here, and be sure to wish them luck!

mock trial

Have news of your own? Send us a class note for a future issue of UMBC Magazine!