Narrative Arc: Stephen Morgan ’72, Psychology

Stephen MorganSometimes a person’s journey to become one of the state’s most effective CEOs is surprisingly direct.

Take Stephen Morgan ’72, psychology, who is the executive director of The Arc Baltimore. Morgan began his career at the organization as an undergraduate, teaching at a summer camp for disabled adults.

Fast forward to 2014, and the Maryland Daily Record names him as one of “Maryland’s Most Admired CEOs.” It’s an achievement that Morgan observes is as much about the organization as it is about his leadership.

“The award is flattering,” he says, “but what I like is that it’s for the ‘most admired.’ It’s not just about what we do, but how we do it. It’s really about all of us at The Arc, not just me.”

Continue reading Narrative Arc: Stephen Morgan ’72, Psychology

Alums in the News: Jones, Mason, Ferrero, and Shafie

Here at UMBC, we take pride in what our alums accomplish after graduation. Take a moment to see which Retrievers have been on the move and making news!

JosephtJonesJrLast week, Joseph T. Jones ’06, social work, was interviewed on “Baltimore’s Future,” a feature segment on WYPR. Jones talked with host David Warnock about the difficulties ex-offenders face in gaining employment and how one can support the Center for Urban Families.

Jones founded the CFUF in 1999 as a means to strengthen urban communities by helping fathers and families achieve stability and economic success.

You can listen to Jones’ interview here.


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Last week, the Baltimore Business Journal posted a new interview with Gib Mason ’95, economics, which focuses on his experiences both as an educator and entrepreneur.

In the interview, Mason, who is the chief operating officer of UMBC Training Centers, shares lessons he learned working as the chief operating officer at Big Bang, a Baltimore sportswear company that popularized foldable wraparound ear warmers. He also discusses his passion for teaching entrepreneurship and the essential role of failure. “Be open to the perspective of the people around you,” he advises. “Don’t ever believe you have it all figured out.”

Click here to read the interview. (subscription required).


2a20089Last month, Micaela Perez Ferrero ’13, political science, published an article on Gazette.Net thanking the teachers that helped shape her own path to becoming an educator.

Ferrero goes on in the article to discuss her frustration with an unequal education system, her work with Teach for America, and her own experiences as a teacher in Baltimore striving to give her students the keys for their academic success.

Click here to read her article.


hadieh-shafie-alumni_award_recipientHadieh Shafie ’04 M.F.A., imaging and digital arts, has her first one-person show coming up in New York this spring. Surfaced will be on view from February 26 through April 11 at the Leila Heller Gallery. The exhibition will feature twenty new works from Shafie that both build on her past work as well as explore new territory and mediums. The opening reception will take place on Thursday, February 26, from 6 – 8 pm.

For more information, click here.

Shafie was also named an Outstanding Alumna for 2014 by the Alumni Association and was honored during last year’s Alumni Awards. Click here for a brief interview we conducted with her.

Meet our Newest Alums: Donovan, Amazu, Fung Chim, and Connor

UMBC is always full of hard-working people who aspire to do great things, and the class of 2014 is no exception. Today, we wanted to share with you what some of our recent graduates are planning to do with their Retriever education.

After winning the Maryland Sea Grant to
study the health of the Chesapeake Bay, Donovan2014-0162_modMitchell Donovan, M.S. geography and environmental systems, was also able to present his work at the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee’s Chesapeake Bay workshop. Donovan’s research has been used to justify amending future models of sediment and contaminant sources. He now plans to fulfill his Fulbright Research Grant at the University of Turku, Finland, and earn his Ph.D. in watershed sciences at the Utah State University.

Amazu2014-7057_modChinwendu Amazu, biochemistry and molecular biology, came in to UMBC as a Meyerhoff Scholar, a MARC U*Star Trainee, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Scholar. With her hard work she joined the Phi Beta Kappa Society and the Golden Key International Honor Society. Amazue also  won the Faculty Award for Excellence in Biochemistry, Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Award, among others. Along with tutoring her peers in general and organic chemistry, Amazu has worked with research scientists at the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute, the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. She plans to continue working towards an M.D./Ph.D. at the Washington University School of Medicine.

Cho Fung Chim, psychology, used his
talents while at UMBC to work as a research Chim2014-0183_modassistant at Robin Barry’s Couple and Family Research Lab and in Charissa Cheah’s Culture, Child, and Adolescent Development Lab. For his honors thesis, Chim managed all of the work, from beginning to end. He wrote the research question, completed the literature review, and analyzed the collected data. Graduating with a 4.0, he now plans to continue his work with family counseling, especially those who have immigrated to the U.S., and
pursue an M.A. in counseling psychology at
Johns Hopkins University.

Connor2014-6863_modAfter facing a life-threatening illness, non-traditional student Amy Connor, biochemistry and molecular biology, stepped back from her work as an artist and found a passion for science. Her goal now is to “inspire young students to think critically and creatively about science.” Connor plans to obtain a master’s degree in education from UMBC and teach chemistry.

Find out more about the Class of 2014!

Round Up: UMBC in the News, 9/19

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!

#GivingTuesday at UMBC, 12/3

We’re less than a week away from #GivingTuesday, a national day of giving on December 3rd. UMBC’s students and alumni are working to change the world, and on #GivingTuesday, you can be a part of it.

Throughout the last month, the UMBC Annual Fund has shared stories of how our students, faculty, staff, and alumni are working to change the world. We’ve gotten a peek at how the Engineers Without Borders group will bring clean water to Isongo, Kenya. We’ve learned about UMBC’s mission to create a more inclusive campus through LGBTQ programs and initiatives. And we’ve tapped our feet to songs that will be on the Down and Dirty Dawg Band’s new CD.

Here are just a few things the people involved with those projects had to say:

Giving Tuesday_EWB_Square

“Engineers Without Borders-UMBC relies on gifts to fulfill our mission of implementing environmentally and economically sustainable engineering projects, while developing globally aware and internationally responsible students and engineers. We especially appreciate gifts from alumni because we believe that EWB-UMBC not only promotes projects in the developing world, but also transformative experiences for UMBC students.”

~Lee Blaney, assistant professor and advisor for EWB


Giving Tuesday_DDB_Square

[Your support] means the world to the band. If you’re an alumni of the band and had a great experience, your donation will help ensure that the next generation of students have the same positive experience.”

~Matt Basch ’08,  ’10, Director, Down and Dirty Dawg Band


GT_rainbow flag_square“To support UMBC as an alum is a no-brainer. As a student, I felt the positive impact [of donor support], and I want to live up to Dr. Hrabowski’s motto that of those to whom much is given, much is expected.”

~Chris Magaha ’03, donor to LGBTQ programs & initiatives


They’ve had their say. Now it’s your turn.
Will you join us in making a difference on #GivingTuesday?

Yvette Pappoe ’13, sociology, on UMBC’s BreakingGround

Yvette_Blog110713Yvette Pappoe ’13, sociology discovered her passion for learning during her time as a student at UMBC. Now, an intern with the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education, she’s continued pursing that passion after graduation. Her current project is to develop a strategy to recruit and engage college students with the Maryland Scholars Speakers Bureau.

I believe it is our responsibility as members of the community to be directly involved in shaping the lives of our next generation.

Learn more about Yvette and find out how you can help.

Career Q&A: Jennifer Mercer ’12, INDS, Intern with Free State Legal Project

Every so often, we’ll chat with an alum about what they do and how they got there. Today we’re talking with student attorney Jennifer Mercer ’12, interdisciplinary studies, about how her time at UMBC helped prepare her for her work with the FreeState Legal Project and how both experiences are shaping her future career.

Jennifer Mercer at GraduationName: Jennifer Mercer
Job Title: Student Attorney
Employer: FreeState Legal Project

Q:  Tell us a little about how you wound up at UMBC. What’s your background?

A: I am originally from Lutherville, Maryland. When I was in high school, I got a postcard in the mail for the Just for Juniors visit day. To be honest, I didn’t want to go because I thought I wanted to go to college out of state. My mother made me go, however. Once I went, I had a very positive experience. It’s hard to describe, but I felt a certain energy in the air on campus. The students seemed to be excited to be there. The professors I spoke to seemed to be genuinely interested in me. Needless to say, I am sure I was not the first prospective student to be powerfully impressed upon by Dr. Hrabowski’s words. And to think that if I’d had my way, I would have blown it off! I learned a lesson no teenager particularly relishes: my Mom was right.

I liked UMBC so much, I just couldn’t wait until I graduated high school to enroll. I spent my senior year of high school taking classes part time, then taking six credits per semester at UMBC as part of the concurrent enrollment/Young Scholars Program. I got a head start on college, and knew I was where I needed to be.

Q:  You’re in the middle of an internship right now, so a few questions: What have learned so far? What are you most excited about working on this summer? How do you feel this internship will help you in your career?

A: Interning for FreeState Legal Project has been a wonderful experience so far. My clients are low-income members of the LGBT community. I help them get access to critical legal services which they need but cannot afford. Since FreeState is very small, no two days are the same, as there is so much to be done! We are a fairly new organization, but we have grown tremendously in the past few years. This is due in no small part to founder and Executive Director Aaron Merki ’05, political science, who is also a UMBC graduate (and UMBC’s Rising Star Alumnus of the Year in 2010).

I have learned a great deal already about the substantive law issues affecting low-income LGBT clients, such as family law issues, legal name and gender changes, discrimination cases, immigration, and more. Due to the rapid and relatively recent advance of society’s acceptance of LGBT people, there is a striking lack of legal precedent in these areas. Therefore, a large part of my job is researching issues and constructing the best possible work product out of limited information. I do this with my clients in mind, as important parts of their lives depend on it. After my work is reviewed by my supervisors, it gets sent to clients or to the court. I’m proud to do work that makes a direct impact.

It is hard to pick a thing that I am most excited about, but the first thing that came to mind was my work on juvenile justice. FreeState sponsors a LGBT Youth Roundtable which consists of leaders from many agencies which impact the lives of LGBT youth. I work on the Juvenile Justice Subcommittee along with several juvenile public defenders and prosecutors. Right now, I am surveying existing research on the state of incarcerated LGBT youth in order to develop strategies for further research. We are looking at best practices for caring for these youth, and will draft a model policy to show to policymakers. The assignment is perfect for me, considering my senior capstone project (and URCAD presentation) was about incarcerated adolescent girls more generally. I have the opportunity to build on my existing knowledge, which is wonderful.

I think the most vital skills I am learning come from the actual interactions I have with my clients. Learning how to talk to clients, who are often distressed at their situation, and to meet their problems with legal solutions, is critical. That being said, I think it is equally important to be able to take out the legalese when speaking to clients. I do my best to make sure they understand what is going on with their cases, and answer their questions as needed. My internship is teaching me how to be a compassionate, client-focused attorney. That is something I will use for my whole career, as are the connections I have made with others in the legal community who are similarly minded.

Q:  Tell us about your career plans for the future. What would you like to do after law school? Were there any lessons you learned, in particular, at UMBC that have stuck with you?

A: I came into law school with the experience I had as an undergraduate intern at the Office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City, Juvenile Division (thanks Shriver Center!). Between that internship and my coursework at UMBC, I knew I wanted to become a public interest attorney. While it is absolutely true that public interest attorneys do not make as much money as their colleagues in the firm world, I know that this path is for me. My experience at UMBC helped to give me that confidence.

I plan to spend my entire career doing public interest work on behalf of people who would otherwise not have access to the justice system. I hope that when I retire someday, I can look back at my career and know that it has changed lives. I am aware that these might be seen as lofty goals by some, but my time at UMBC taught me that I can achieve more than I may believe. If you would have told me when I was in high school that my college career would have gone so well, that I would apply to and be accepted to five different law schools, that I would choose a top tier law school and secure an internship I love helping clients who need it, I would not have believed you. And yet here I am!

Q:  Is there a particular class or professor who really inspired you?

A: It would be impossible to fully describe my UMBC experience without acknowledging the Interdisciplinary Studies department. The great thing about INDS is that truly does not limit students, but encourages them to pursue their intellectual interests at the highest level. My departmental adviser was INDS Assistant Director Steven McAlpine, who nurtured my curiosity and allowed it to grow and blossom. Former INDS (now POLI) faculty member Dr. Lisa Vetter also helped me along, giving me advice when I needed it. The course that stuck with me the most was Civil Rights, taught by Dr. George LaNoue. The lessons I learned in that course have proven practical in this line of work. Additionally, that course introduced me to the power of law to uplift the downtrodden.

Q:  What advice would you give to students considering UMBC?

A: My advice to prospective UMBC students is to keep an open mind, and not to limit yourself based on what you think you want. Once you’re here, get to know the faculty. I still work with some of the adjunct professors I had at UMBC, including Profs. Carrie Evans and Terry Hickey. Just the other day, I had dinner with someone I originally met because she was a guest speaker in Prof. Hickey’s Problem Solving in the Urban Black Community class.  We talked about the work I have been doing, and she gave me some advice. I still see Prof. McAlpine at his monthly drum circle performances. The relationships you build with faculty can be very enriching, so stop by during office hours and get to know them.

Q: What is your favorite UMBC memory?

A: I have a lot of great memories of UMBC, but many of my favorite memories are related to my experience as a member of the UMBC Down and Dirty Dawg Band. I played clarinet for all four years. The time I spent playing at basketball games, traveling during the conference tournaments, and just spending time with my pep band friends was time very well spent. I have an incurable case of Retriever Fever!