Alumni with Grit and Greatness

UMBC alumni and faculty greeted each other with beaming smiles and excited chatter at this year’s Alumni Awards Ceremony, held on October 8, 2015. Among bright arrangements of orange roses and green orchids, caterers weaved through the crowd as everyone reconnected before finding their seats for an emotional program honoring the achievements of alumni and the faculty, staff, and other community members who shaped their time at UMBC.

As President Freeman Hrabowski kicked off the event, he offered advice to alumni back at UMBC for the first time in a few years, who might not recognize the campus after its tremendous growth. “Don’t feel old,” Hrabowski suggested, “just feel…vintage.”

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UMBC’s 2015 Award Winners

It was an evening for storytelling—sharing memories of courage, creativity, commitment, and grit.

This year’s honorees included Distinguished Service Award winner Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman ’81, political science, a former state senator who worked across party lines to support marriage equality for same-sex couples.

As a child, Nicole DeBlase ’06, financial economics, had dreamed of dancing on Broadway. Through her studies at UMBC she found a new path to New York, where she is now a star on Wall Street as a Morgan Stanley executive.

Andre Gudger ’99, information systems, who currently serves in the Obama administration, received the Engineering and IT Award. Gruger was previously chairman and CEO of Solvern Innovations, which he grew to 1,300 employees in eight years.

Natural and Mathematical Sciences Award winner Yoon-Ho Kim ’01, Ph.D. physics, wrote his doctoral dissertation on quantum teleportation. Professor Todd Pittman, M.S. ’92, Ph.D. ’96, physics, who accepted the award in Kim’s absence, told the audience that his work is “almost as Star Trek as it sounds.”

Bryan Kelly ’92, economics, winner of the Social and Behavioral Sciences award, was honored as a business leader with a distinctive personal commitment to his community, as evidenced by his tangible support and mentorship of others.

The Visual and Performing Arts awardee, Lisa Urkevich ’86, music, received honors for her work as a global leader in ethnomusicology research and teaching whose work in the Arabian Peninsula transcends cultural difference.

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Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, Andy Gotsch ’12, and Tara Carpenter enjoy the Alumni Awards.

Andy Gotsch ’12, chemical engineering, told a particularly moving personal story in presenting this year’s Outstanding Faculty Award. He shared the tremendous, lasting impact Tara Carpenter, senior lecturer in chemistry and biochemistry, has had on his life. Gotsch failed Carpenter’s Chemistry 101 course twice and was looking at a third failure, despite his putting in hours of extra study time. Carpenter urged Gotsch to be evaluated for test anxiety and connected him with supportive resources that eventually enabled him to pass the class and go on to earn a chemical engineering degree.

As the crowd cheered, Carpenter accepted the award with tears in her eyes, telling Gotsch, “I’m so proud of you.”

Photos by Marlayna Demond ’11

See more photos from the event.

Alumni Awards 2015: Allan Kittleman ’81, Political Science

In the weeks leading up to the Alumni Awards Ceremony, we’ll be profiling each of this year’s honorees in detail here on the blog. Our last winner, in the Distinguished Service category, is Howard County Executive and former Maryland State Senator Allan Kittleman ’81, political science.

KittlemanAllan Kittleman was elected Howard County Executive in 2014. Prior to that, he had served as Minority Leader in the Maryland State Senate, on the Howard County Council, and as an attorney on workers’ compensation cases. He grew up in Howard County, working on his family’s farm in West Friendship and commuting to UMBC to earn his political science degree. After graduating, he received a J.D. from the University of Maryland Carey School of Law. His father Bob Kittleman served in the State Senate from 1982 until his death in 2004. Allan was appointed to succeed him that year, and won election in his own right in 2006 and 2010, becoming minority leader in 2008. He stepped down after publicly expressing his support for marriage equality, and ran for Howard County Executive in the 2014 election cycle.

The Alumni Awards Ceremony is tomorrow, October 8. There’s still time to register!

Alumni Awards 2015: Andre Gudger ’99, Information Systems

In the weeks leading up to the Alumni Awards Ceremony, we’ll be profiling each of this year’s honorees in detail here on the blog. Today we introduce our Engineering and Information Technology award winner, Andre Gudger ’99, information systems.

Gudger,AndreAndre Gudger serves in the Obama administration as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy at the Department of Defense. In his current role, he provides analysis and advice to the government on the workings of the industrial supply chain as it relates to our national defense. He is also the DoD lead for President Obama’s National Network of Manufacturing Innovation, and has spearheaded several initiatives to study new defense manufacturing technologies. He previously headed the Office of Small Business Programs at the DoD, where he advised the Secretary of Defense on matters related to small businesses and helped the department meet both its small business prime contracting and Service Disabled Veteran Owned goals for the first time in history. Mr. Gudger came to the DoD with a lengthy resume in the defense, intelligence, and investment banking industries, the most notable entry being his tenure as Chairman and CEO of Solvern Innovations. In eight years, he grew the company’s ranks to 1,300, and worked with the University of Maryland’s Human Computer Interaction Lab to develop data visualization and executive dashboard technologies. After the company was acquired by TeleCommunication Systems in 2009, he served as the Senior Vice President of that company’s Cyber Security Group. In addition to his bachelor’s from UMBC, Mr. Gudger holds an M.B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and has studied in Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Mexico, Brazil, and Poland. He counts UMBC’s President’s Advisory Council as one of many boards he has served on, and continues to drive for innovation as a leader within the federal government.

The Alumni Awards Ceremony is this Thursday, October 8. Don’t forget to register!

Alumni Awards 2015: Bryan Kelly ’92, Economics

In the weeks leading up to the Alumni Awards Ceremony, we’ll be profiling each of this year’s honorees in detail here on the blog. Today we’re featuring our Social and Behavioral Sciences award winner, Bryan Kelly ’92, economics.

KellyBryan Kelly is a managing partner and co-founder of The Kelly Group, a “boutique wealth management firm” based in Bel Air, Maryland. Originally a computer science and mathematics major at UMBC, he was inspired by Dr. Charles “Chuck” Peake to switch his focus to economics and finance, where he found his passion: financial planning. He worked for Fidelity Investments during and after his undergraduate studies before establishing The Kelly Group with his uncle, Bill Kelly, in 1997. In the years since its inception, The Kelly Group has grown to nearly 20 employees, and has established a company culture based on the idea of “[the] Norman Rockwell Hometown Doctor of Finance,” taking a community-based approach to hiring and development. Mr. Kelly, a 2007 departmental Alumni Award honoree in Economics, holds a Certified Financial Planning Designation from the CFP Board of Standards and an M.S. in Financial Planning from the College for Financial Planning. He lives in Harford County with his wife Katherine, whom he met at UMBC, and their two children.

Register now for the Alumni Awards Ceremony on Thursday, October 8!

Alumni Awards 2015: Nicole DeBlase ’06, Financial Economics

In the weeks leading up to the Alumni Awards Ceremony, we’ll be profiling each of this year’s honorees in detail here on the blog. Today we’re featuring our 2015 Rising Star alumna, Nicole DeBlase ’06, financial economics. 

DeBlaseNicole DeBlase is an Executive Director at Morgan Stanley, a position she has held since early 2014. Prior to this, she worked her way up the equity research ladder from Baltimore to Wall Street. She started off as an undergraduate intern at the Mercantile Safe Deposit and Trust Company and moved into their rotational analyst program after graduation. When that bank was acquired by PNC in her second month on the job, effectively eliminating her department, she decided to fulfill her longtime goal of moving to New York City. She started out on Wall Street as an Equity Research Associate at Deutsche Bank. During her time there, she and her supervising senior analyst built an Industrial Conglomerate team that leapt the ranks on the Street under their direction, and she was promoted to Vice President a year earlier than normal. When her supervisor left Deutsche Bank for Morgan Stanley in 2011, she decided to join him. Since then, she has risen through the ranks from a Senior Analyst covering machinery stocks to an Executive Director, and achieved “runner-up” status in the Machinery category in Institutional Investor magazine. In addition to building a career in finance and a life in Manhattan, Ms. DeBlase has traveled to Europe, Asia, and South America, and has run her first 5K after an extensive amount of training.

Register for the Alumni Awards Ceremony on Thursday, October 8!

Alumni Awards 2015: Dr. Lisa Urkevich ’86, Visual and Performing Arts

In the weeks leading up to the Alumni Awards Ceremony, we’ll be profiling each of this year’s honorees in detail here on the blog. Today we’re featuring our Visual and Performing Arts award winner, Dr. Lisa Urkevich ’86, visual and performing arts (music).

UrkevichDr. Lisa Urkevich is an ethnomusicologist and academic who has been based primarily in Kuwait since 2003. She is a 2015-16 Visiting Scholar at Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and her book, Music and Traditions of the Arabian Peninsula: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar–which is based on years of research conducted in that part of the world–was published earlier this year. Dr. Urkevich chose UMBC for its renowned ethnomusicology program, and says she was inspired by all of her music professors, who “exposed [her] to a world of new ideas and cultures.” After graduating from UMBC, she received a second bachelor’s degree in music education from Towson University, followed by a master of music from Florida State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland. Her first professorship at Boston University led to a Fulbright grant to Kuwait, and when a new university opened up there she was asked to stay on. In addition to her field research, she has collected Peninsula instruments for a U.S. museum, brought traditional folk musicians along on her public speaking engagements, and developed a course called Music in Arabian Culture, which is not taught in any other Western-style university across the globe and is considered by UNESCO to be “safeguarding […] intangible cultural heritage.” She is proud to be a “bridge between [Western] cultures and those of the Arabian Peninsula.”

There’s still time to register for the Alumni Awards Ceremony, Thursday, October 8!

Alumni Awards 2015: Dr. Yoon-Ho Kim, Ph.D. ’01, Applied Physics

In the weeks leading up to the Alumni Awards Ceremony, we’ll be profiling each of this year’s honorees in detail here on the blog. Today we’re featuring our Natural and Mathematical Sciences award winner, Dr. Yoon-Ho Kim, Ph.D. ’01, applied physics.

Kim2Dr. Yoon-Ho Kim is a physicist, researcher, and professor at Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) in South Korea. He received his Ph.D. in applied physics from UMBC in 2001 and worked as a Wigner Fellow at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory before starting at POSTECH in 2004. Currently, his research involves the experimental aspects of quantum information and quantum optics. He chose UMBC precisely for its reputation in optics and says he was inspired by several of his professors here, including his thesis advisor Dr. Yanhua Shih and professor emeritus Dr. Morton Rubin. Getting his research re-established upon returning to Korea was a challenge, he says, but today he has his own research group, and greatly values the chance to do interesting work in physics. He also takes pride in seeing his students earn their degrees and go on to their own research positions.

Don’t forget to register for the Alumni Awards Ceremony on Thursday, October 8!