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!

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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!

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

UMBC at Light City 2017!

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Remember last spring, when UMBC set up camp at Baltimore’s debut Light City festival? Remember all the art, the music, the glow-in-the-dark beer glasses? Dear readers…we’re glad to inform you that this year, we’re back! From March 31 through April 8, Light City Baltimore will once again illuminate the Inner Harbor, and UMBC will be there to help light the lamps.

This year’s exhibition features large-scale artworks by faculty members Tim Nohe and Eric Dyer, and the UMBC Spark gallery space on Calvert Street will house works by UMBC faculty, alumni, and current students. During the day, catch President Freeman A. Hrabowski’s keynote address at Light City’s EduLab. Faculty members Gymama Slaughter, Lee Boot, and Kimberly Moffitt, along with alumni Greg Cangialosi ’96, English, Maritha Gay ’84, health science and policy, and Joseph T. Jones, Jr. ’06, social work, will also be present at the conferences.

26204540931_8e853358d7_oOn top of all that, we’re hosting a shindig of our own! Join us at the Harbor Club at the Pier V Hotel on Saturday, April 1 from 8 to 11 p.m., where you can take in a full panoramic view of the festival, enjoy food and drinks on us, and score some glow-in-the-dark UMBC swag. We can’t wait to see you there!

For more information on our presence at Light City, click here. You can also check out photos from last year’s festival here.

Top Honors: UMBC Alumnae Make The Daily Record’s Top 100

In honor of International Women’s Day, we wanted to give a special shout-out to the eight UMBC alumnae who made The Daily Record’s 2017 “Top 100 Women” list. These women are leaders in both their professional fields and their communities, and we couldn’t be prouder of their achievements.

  • Debra Reznick Attman ’74, American studies
    • Realtor, Long & Foster Real Estate
  • Dr. Mary Way Bolt ’88, nursing
    • President, Cecil College
  • Julie Gaver, M.A. ’11, instructional systems development
    • Owner, Julie Gaver Training and Development
  • Susan Hahn ’79, sociology
    • Founder and President, HobbleJog Foundation and Swan Consulting Group, Inc.
  • The Hon. Wanda Keyes Heard ’79, political science
    • Associate Judge, Circuit Court for Baltimore City
  • MaryBeth Hyland ’06, social work
    • Founder and Chief Visionary, SparkVision
  • Alicia Wilson ’04, political science
    • Vice President of Community Affairs and Legal Advisor, Sagamore Development Company
  • Michelle Wright ’86, mathematics
    • Senior Vice President of Human Resources, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield

To purchase tickets to the awards ceremony on Monday, April 24, at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, click here.

ICYMI: Ejiofor Ezekwe ’09, biological sciences, on diversity and mentorship

Ejiofor Ezekwe ’09, M17, biological sciences, is now in his final year of the M.D./Ph.D. program at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, and recently gave an interview for Diverse Medicine’s “Black Men in White Coats” series, which aims to highlight the contributions of African-American men to the medical profession.

As a physician-scientist, Ezekwe speaks of the importance of mentorship for young people of color pursuing careers in medicine and the sciences. “The more folks of color you have on any faculty,” he says, “the more realistic the possibility seems. That’s why mentorship is key to me, and I want it to be a massive part of my career and my life.”

Catch the full video below:

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