A Winning Strategy: Kathleen Warnock ’80

If you’re ever in the position of having to choose teammates, pick Kathleen Warnock.

Not only was she calm and collected in “the hot seat” on ABC’s “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” she walked away from the game with a cool $50,000.

“I’m a big fan of game shows,” said Warnock, an editor with Frommers travel guides in New York who graduated from UMBC with a degree in interdisciplinary studies in 1980.

Warnock may be understating her devotion a bit. In fact, she has appeared on no less than four trivia game shows – from an obscure VH1 flop to the heights of gamedom, Jeopardy – always leaving at least a little richer than when she arrived.

Warnock seems the perfect candidate for tests of random knowledge. In addition to her work as a travel editor, she’s a playwright – one of her shows, “Grieving for Genevieve,” will be performed in New York this summer – and she’s a contributing editor with ROCKRGRL magazine. While a student at UMBC, she acted as sports editor and editor-in-chief of the Retriever, minored in ancient studies, and even took a stab at fencing.

But her winnings on the daytime version of “Millionaire” in March blew all of her other game show appearances away. Warnock attributes her good fortune to the fact that she was able to sit in on a taping before hitting the hot seat herself.

“I had a chance to spend the day watching and coming up with my strategy,” which was to use all the tools provided to her, she said. “I used all of my life lines, and all of them got me further along in the game.”

Warnock breezed through the early rounds, easily answering questions concerning compote and geldings. When a tough math question came up, however, she called her first life line, her brother-in-law, a science teacher in Montgomery County. Later on in the game, the audience helped her correctly narrow down the answer to a question about a NATO embassy bombing and up the stakes to $25,000.

After successfully using up her final strategic play – the option of switching one question for another – Warnock finally met her match with the following $100,000 question: What planet was once named “Georgium Sidus” in honor of England’s King George III?

Really, now. Does anyone know the answer to that? (It’s Uranus, by the way.)

“It was like, OK, it’s time to go home,” said Warnock, happy enough with the fifty grand. “And I walked away a winner.”

– Jenny O’Grady
Originally posted May 2005

2006 UMBC Alumni of the Year & Distinguished Service Award Winners

Originally posted Spring 2006

Outstanding Alumna

Natural & Mathematical Sciences
Diane Auer Jones ’88, M.S. Applied Molecular Biology

In addition to a successful career as an entrepreneur, government policy maker and administrator at Princeton University, in November Jones was appointed Deputy Associate Director for the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy. She also has served as an active member of the UMBC Research Park Corporation’s board of directors for the past eleven years.

Outstanding Alumnus
Steven Eidelman ’73, American Studies

After serving for three decades as an advocate for people with disabilities – most recently as national executive director of The Arc of the United States – Eidelman last fall was named the University of Delaware’s first Robert Edelsohn Chair in Disabilities Studies, as well as a Senior Fellow at the university’s Center for Disabilities Studies. In his new position, Eidelman also develops leadership training programs for government and not-for-profit managers who support people with disabilities.

Outstanding Alumnus
Visual & Performing Arts
Billy Kemp ’95, Visual and Performing Arts – Music

An accomplished multi-instrumentalist and producer, Kemp received three nominations from the Washington Area Music Association (WAMA) in 2004 including best producer. In 2003 Kemp produced Grammy-nominated and Wammy award-winning singer Debi Smith. He has been the composer for the regional Emmy award-winning Maryland Public Television series, “Outdoors Maryland,” since 1997. He has been adjunct faculty at UMBC since 1996.

Outstanding Alumna
Social & Behavioral Sciences
Lisa L. Dickerson ’78, Political Science

Prior to her appointment as the first African-American female Administrator for the Maryland Transit Administration in 2005, Dickerson served as Assistant Secretary for Equity and Economic Empowerment at the Maryland Department of Transportation, and before that garnered successes working as a congressional fellow in Washington and serving as vice president of a national telecommunications firm. During his time in office, President George H.W. Bush also appointed Dickerson to the prestigious Committee for Small Business and the Republican Council of 100.

Outstanding Alumna
Engineering and Information Technology
Donna Stevenson ’87, Information Systems

As head of Early Morning Software, Stevenson is one of only a few minority women CEOs of an IT company in Maryland and the rest of the United States. She remains an active volunteer at UMBC, most notably as a member of the Center for Women and Information Technology advisory board and a mentor-in-residence for the ACTiVATE program, which promotes entrepreneurship among women.

Distinguished Service Award
Michael L. Oster ’74, Economics

As chairman of the UMBC Economics Advisory Board since its inception in 2001, Oster has helped shape the council’s objectives, facilitate scholarships and internships for students and created many valuable connections for the University. An accomplished banking executive, Oster joined BB&T in 1999 as a regional president and became Maryland Group President in 2001. His time and talents also benefit the boards of a number of worthy organizations, many of them in his home, Carroll County.

Visionary Leadership Award

The Alumni Association Executive Board will present this special award to the Reginald F. Lewis Event Committee in recognition of their achievement in advancing the mission of the Alumni Association. The committee members are:

Kisha Matthews ’03
Yvette Mozie-Ross ’88
Devin Walker ’89
James Wiggins ’75
Gary Brooks ’79
Michael Sterling ’85
Juan Holcomb ’81
Crystal Watkins ’95

UMBC Athletic Hall of Fame

The UMBC Athletic Hall of Fame was instituted in 1970’s, and has grown to include 96 members. Hall of Famers are chosen by a committee of athletic alumni based on their excellence on the fields and courts and their subsequent graduation from UMBC.

Visit the UMBC Athletic Hall of Fame online

Past UMBC Alumni Award Winners

Distinguished Alumna/us of the Year Award

Established in 1988, the Distinguished Alumna/us Award was presented to an alumna/us who has achieved national recognition for excellence in his/her profession or field of endeavor.   This award was presented until 2003. Past recipients were:

2003:    Diane L. Bell-McKoy ’73
2002:    Ram S. Mohan ’92
2001:    Richard Chisolm ’82 and William Whiteford ’80
2000:    Dr. Tayebeh Pourmotabbed ’86
1999:    Robert G. Seasonwein, Esq. ’71
1998:    Charles L. Bevins, M.D., Ph.D. ’76 & ’86
1997:    Dr. Charles A. Taylor, ’73
1996:    Dr. Richard Lytel ’75, Dr. Lauren A. Schnaper ’71 and Peggy Southerland ’75
1995:    Dr. Jo Ann E. Argersinger ’74
1994:    Dr. Blair Grubb ’76
1993:    Ruth Williamson ’77
1992:    Dr. Stephen Vicchio ’73
1991:    Dr. Rita Berndt ’71
1990:    Dr. Paula Grabowski ’76
1989:    Dr. Robin West ’76
1988:    Dr. Winston Griner ’74

Outstanding Alumna/us Award

Established in 1991, the Outstanding Alumna/us Award was presented to an alumna/us who received recognition for the contributions s/he had made to his/her profession or community, and for the individual’s volunteer participation and advancement of UMBC.   This award was presented until 2003. Past recipients were:

2003:    The Honorable Adrienne A. Jones ’76
2002:    Paul W. Behrens ’80 and ’83
2001:    Karen Johnson ’85
2000:    Jennifer Anne Cooper ’94
1999:    Roosevelt Hairston, Jr., Esq. ’87
1998:    George Thomas Grace, M.D. ’77
1997:    Richard S. Foster ’73 and Richard Moreland ’83
1996:    W. Jack Mullen ’72 and Kimberly Joseph ’83
1995:    Dr. Scott M. Rifkin ’81
1994:    Nathan Chapman, Jr. ’80
1993:    The Honorable Dana Levitz ’70
1992:    The Honorable David Young ’74
1991:    The Honorable Lawrence LaMotte ’71

Alumni Community Leadership Award

Established in 1994, the Alumni Community Leadership Award recognized an alumna/us who had demonstrated, through dedicated service and leadership, including voluntary service beyond employment, a commitment to strengthening the community and creating positive change for society. This award was presented until 2003. Past recipients were:

2003:    Emily A. Byrne ’70
2002:    Elsa T. Collins ’95
2001:    Gary M. Brooks ’79
2000:    Cheryl Burke-Schwarz, D.V.M. ’82
1999:    James P.M. Atsaides, Ph.D. ’71
1998:    Anita Maddox Jackson ’80 and Karin Wagner Walker, M.Div., D.Min. ’85
1997:    Jack B. Neil ’77
1996:    The Honorable Thomas H. Dewberry ’73
1995:    Dr. Michael L. Zollicoffer ’80
1994:    Bobby Richardson ’89

UMBC Volunteer(s) of the Year

This award was presented until 2003. Past recipients were:

2003:    Robert A. Baruch ’89
2002:    Michael A. Rowe ’78 and C. Emmerson Small, II ’74
2001:    Scott E. Weber ’85
2000:    Jack Suess ’81
1999:    Maureen McCormick ’91
1998:    Diana Fertsch, M.D., Ph.D. ’82 and Stephen Rice ’79
1997:    Robert Dietrich ’70 and Mary “Mimi” Haw Dietrich ’70
1996:    Lori Smith-Watson ’85 and Yvette Mozie-Ross ’88
1995:    William Glover ’90
1994:    Michele Hayes ’85
1993:    James Andercyk ’88 and Jose Barata ’79
1992:    Tyrone Bullock, Sr. ’84
1991:    Edward Hodges ’82
1990:    Sandra Geest ’72, Mary Beth Schoch Engelbride ’84 and James L. Wiggins ’75

2005 UMBC Alumni of the Year & Distinguished Service Award Winners

Originally posted Spring 2005

See a slideshow of the event

Life Sciences
Sheldon Broedel, 1984 M.S. and 1990 Ph.D. Biological Sciences, is chief executive and science officer of Athena Environmental Sciences. This 10-year-old company, headquartered at techcenter@UMBC, specializes in “ecologically responsible and economically sound solutions to environmental problems.”

Sean Carton, 1990 English, is Dean of Digital Design at Philadelphia University, the author of Dot Bomb and a frequent contributor to Wired magazine. As co-founder of Carton Donofrio Interactive, a web and multimedia design firm in Baltimore, he created a multi-million dollar company with numerous Fortune 500 clients.

Visual and Performing Arts
Brian Dannelly, 1997 Visual and Performing Arts, whose first feature film “Saved!” was released in 2004. It was reviewed by major national media and is now on DVD. Dannelly has several other feature projects under way.

Social and Behavioral Sciences
Renato A. DiPentima, 1984 Ph.D. Public Policy, is president and CEO of SRA International, a leading provider of technology services to clients in national security, government, health care and public health. Fortune magazine has named SRA as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” for five consecutive years.

Engineering and Information Technology
Dr. Yue (Joseph) Wang, 1995 Ph.D. Electrical Engineering, an associate professor at Virginia Tech, leads a $5.5 million breast cancer research effort. He was recently inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering for his contributions to biomedical informatics.

Distinguished Service Award
Walter Kerr, 1996 B.S. and 1997 M.S. Emergency Health Services, a flight paramedic with the Maryland State Police, provides in-flight clinical training for UMBC paramedic students, a unique opportunity available only at UMBC thanks in large measure to his efforts.

A Natural Progression: Rithy Chhay ’02

Only four short years have passed since Rithy Chhay graduated from UMBC, but he is already on the fast track to success.

At just 26 years old, the computer science grad is a senior software engineer with Red Arch Solutions, a software and systems engineering firm in Columbia, Md. He’s a young husband, as well, and one of the core members of the recently re-energized Chapter of Young Alumni steering committee.

Then again, Chhay has been ahead of the game for most of his life, as least where computer science is concerned.

“I started writing my own computer programs when I was in middle school,” he explains, adding that he took several computer science classes in high school, including an Advanced Placement course. He describes his choice to continue studying computer science in college as “a natural progression.”

Chhay decided to pursue his studies at UMBC for several reasons. He liked the location, which was close to his family, and the cost was reasonable, especially with the merit scholarship he earned. Chhay’s decision was also influenced by his brother, Sinath Chhay, who graduated from UMBC in 1996. “He always spoke highly of the school,” Chhay says.

Chhay was invested in the UMBC community from day one. “I was actively involved with Greek life and Residential Life,” he explains, adding, “I worked as part of the desk staff for Potomac Hall and I was a resident assistant for two years in Erickson Hall.” He was also a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, giving him a close-knit group of friends with whom he still keeps in touch.

By combining what he learned in the classroom with the life skills he gained through leadership activities, Chhay had a solid foundation of lessons to take with him to the working world.

“Interpersonal relationship skills, teambuilding, problem solving, and time management – all of those things on top of what I learned from my coursework enabled me to be where I am today,” he says.

Chhay credits his calculus II class with Dr. Jagmohan Kapoor as being a particular turning point in his life. “I began to realize what my potential could be and what I could achieve if I really worked hard for what I wanted,” he explains. Dr. Kapoor’s class was important to Chhay’s future for another reason as well – it’s where he met his future wife, the former Lauren Boudra ’03, biochemistry and molecular biology.

Now that he’s out in the “real world,” Chhay has to use his multitasking skills even more than he did in college. He is currently balancing a career, a new marriage, and continuing his education. A computer science master’s candidate at UMBC, Chhay admits, “I’d be lying if I said balancing life, work and school was a walk in the park.”

In addition, Chhay’s involvement in the 15-member C-YA steering committee allows him to give back to the university that gave him his start. As a member of a group that is focusing on educational programming, he has been helping to organize upcoming Etiquette & Networking Dinner at the Brass Elephant, as well as a seminar on how to buy a home.

For Chhay, transitioning to the real world hasn’t been too difficult. “Life after college is definitely different,” he says, “but I always looked at college as my job.” With such a strong work ethic and positive attitude, Chhay is sure to be successful for years to come.

– Jennifer Matthews ’07
Originally posted August 2006

A Healthy Balance: Stephanie Hill ’86

Stephanie Cole Hill ’86 sometimes feels like a woman in a man’s world.

Most of the other executives at Lockheed Martin Corporation, a major engineering firm which earns most of its income from contracts with the U.S. military, are men. Hill began to face feeling like “the only one in the room” early in her computer science career, a feeling she still experiences sometimes. However, she learned not to let that feeling get her down.

“I have learned that you have a choice. You can allow others’ perceptions to define you, or you can decide to define their perception and be a pathfinder,” she said. “Although some may still wonder initially if I have what it takes to make it, working hard and performing with excellence and professionalism at all times quickly answers their question, and I get to define their view in a very positive way.”

A Turning Point

As an undergraduate at UMBC, Hill originally planned to major in economics and become an accountant. However, she became interested in computer science after taking a programming class and decided to double major in economics and computer science. During her sophomore year, Hill interned at the U.S. Department of Labor, applying her computer science knowledge to the real world. It was a turning point in her education.

“I realized at that point that all of the things that I was learning in school would be applied as I entered the workforce as a professional,” she explained. “Although I was always a conscientious student, this experience reinforced the importance of the subject matter being taught and I was more invigorated to learn.”

Putting Knowledge to Work

After graduating in 1986, Hill quickly moved up in the corporate world. She currently works as a program director and site general manager at Lockheed, where she oversees 600 employees specializing in engineering, finance, business development and production and is responsible for business growth, program execution, community involvement, and site morale.

She credits UMBC with teaching her several important lessons that helped her to get to where she is today, from the necessity of working hard to the importance of teamwork.

“The variety of classes that I was fortunate enough to take also helped me to be better rounded and able to function in the corporate environment,” she added.

Lessons in Diversity

Additionally, UMBC taught her important lessons about diversity. As a member of the Black Student Union, she enjoyed the social interaction and support of the group as well as their work on serious issues. Additionally, the diversity at UMBC prepared her for conditions she would later encounter in the workplace.

“The diversity of the student population is so very representative of the real world,” she said. “Understanding how to interact and make things happen with multiple cultures and backgrounds was an invaluable experience in preparation for corporate America.”

Today, Hill passes on this lesson in diversity in several ways. She works with the Society of Women Engineers to encourage high school girls to pursue a career in engineering. She also mentors many younger employees at work.

“I hope that I help them to see that regardless of their obstacle, whether it is perception based on physical difference or personality type, that they can show their value and make the difference for the business and grow in their career,” she says.

A Great Support System

Hill has a passion for working with children as well. She leads the children’s ministry and directs the children’s choir at her church, and is active in sports and the arts with her three children, Kori, Cole, and Cameron. Hill admits that balancing a family and a career can be difficult sometimes. However, she doesn’t let her job get in the way of her family life.

“I am fortunate enough to have been able to have an incredible family and great career. It’s hard work, but it can be done. You need to have a great support system, good priorities, and personal courage, and you need to be clear about your personal boundaries,” Hill explains. “I am a wife, mother and executive – in that order.”

– Jennifer Matthews ’07
Originally posted November 2006