A Step Up: Alumni return for Career Month volunteer opportunities

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.

Staying in the Loop – A. Jay Nwachu ’03, Psychology

We are proud to announce Staying in the Loop, a new post series from the Chapter of Black and Latino Alumni (CBLA) that seeks to create connections between alumni, faculty, staff, and other supporters of UMBC and CBLA. Click here for more information about CBLA.A. Jay Nwachu_CBLA

Name: A. Jay Nwachu
Major: Psychology
Grad year: 2003

Q: What do/did you enjoy most about being a part of the UMBC community?

The academically empowering environment as well as the diversity of the student body provided an opportunity for personal, academic and professional growth.

Q: UMBC is approaching its 50th anniversary (2016) and certainly the campus has come a long way – from a small commuter school to the nation’s #1 “up-and-coming” university – in such a relatively short period of time. What, in your opinion, makes UMBC so unique/special? What’s your most memorable experience/moment at UMBC?

UMBC is rather unique given its rapid growth, not necessarily in numbers, but in its ability to compete with the nation’s best institutions in such a short period of time. My most memorable experience, out of many great experiences, was having the opportunity to partner with 2 of my best friends today to address the potential gaps in services that would result when the university administration decided to shut down the Office of Multicultural Affairs which served as an informal home for many on and off campus students. We were able to work with the administration to keep the office open but change its focus to serve the growing diversity at the university with more structured programming. The office remained open and was renamed the Office of Social Justice and Diversity Initiatives and has since been renamed to The Mosaic Center.

Q: If you could meet one person in the world who would it be and why?

Not anyone in particular. I believe that those that I cross paths with at any given space and time can contribute to my life in some capacity. I would rather live life with the anticipation of who next I can share my life with versus wishing to meet a particular person.

Q: What is the best advice you’ve received?

You can’t make everyone happy, just focus on making God happy.

Q: What is one book you think everyone should read?

This is a tough question……

Q: What is one thing you can’t live without?

Airplanes….the ability to travel.

We’re Grateful for YOU!


With the Thanksgiving holiday upon us, we would like to take the time to thank you, our alumni, for your continuous support of UMBC. Thank you for keeping the UMBC spirit alive after graduation, and for spreading Retriever Fever wherever you go.

Thank you for showing our students – through all of your amazing achievements – what can be accomplished when you reach for your goals and truly live out your experience here at UMBC.

Your dedication to the university makes it what it is today, and for that we are grateful. Thank you for being a part of the UMBC family.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Internship Opportunity: Spring 2015

umbcjumpDo you know a UMBC student who is a writing rock star? A student who loves connecting with people and telling their stories? A student who isn’t afraid to dive in head first to a fast-paced marketing team?

The UMBC Alumni & Development Communications team is looking to hire that student. We’re excited to offer a hands-on, paid internship for the spring semester. Our interns get real-world experience conducting interviews, writing for online and print publications, and promoting events–the kind of skills that are sought after in the professional world.

Interested or know a UMBC student who might be? Here are the full details:

Communications and Marketing Internship, Spring 2015
The Alumni & Development Communications and Marketing team is seeking an intern. This position is responsible for reporting and writing short stories for the UMBC Alumni and UMBC Giving blogs, as well as helping to compile Class Notes entries for UMBC Magazine. The ideal candidate will be a UMBC student pursuing a major in English, Media and Communication Studies or related area, and have an interest in working in the fields of journalism, marketing, or communications after graduating. The candidate should be a responsible person and a clear writer who feels comfortable contacting alumni or donors, and who holds high personal standards for accuracy.

This position will report to the offices in the UMBC Alumni House 8-15 hours per week for the Spring 2015 semester. To apply, submit a resume, cover letter, and 3-5 writing samples (you may include short form, but at least 2 must be long form). Applications may be directed to purvis@umbc.edu.

Highlights from the 2014 Alumni Awards

The long Homecoming Weekend was kicked off in a big way on Thursday, October 9, with the annual Alumni Awards Ceremony.

This year, the ceremony was held in the stunning Performing Arts and Humanities Building Concert Hall, with receptions preceding and following the event in the Dance Tech Studio.

Those in attendance were treated to speeches by the honorees, as well as lots of smiles and laughter.

And of all of the quotes about the night, Director of Alumni Relations Stanyell Odom said it best: “This year’s winners are an outstanding representation of UMBC. All of the members of our community should be proud of their accomplishments and contributions to the campus and their respective professions.”

Congratulations, Alumni Awards winners of 2014!

Please enjoy a slideshow of pictures taken at the event by photographer Marlayna Demond ’11.

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Round Up: UMBC in the News, 9/26

One of the things that makes UMBC great is how wonderful our alumni, students, faculty, and staff are. Because of these amazing people, UMBC often finds itself “in the news,” so each week, we’ll be sharing with you a round-up of the most newsworthy achievements from our community.


Read more at UMBC Insights!

Round-Up: UMBC in the News 7/4

One of the things that makes UMBC great is how wonderful our alumni, students, faculty, and staff are. Because of these amazing people, UMBC often finds itself “in the news,” so each week, we’ll be sharing with you a round-up of the most newsworthy achievements from our community.

Find more news here!