UMBC's Class of 2008
Learn more about the first graduating classes in Gender and Women's Studies and Media and Communication Studies.

Lisette Abreu

Plans: Obtain a Master of Music degree and continue performing locally
B.A., Music, Vocal Performance
Hometown: Rosedale, Maryland

In April, Abreu had the honor of being one of only two artists from Baltimore who were invited to perform at the Papal Mass festivities at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. In addition to studying with UMBC music professor David Smith, she has studied at the New York Opera Studio. Abreu sang a major role in the first fully-staged opera at UMBC since 1977. She has performed with the UMBC Camerata for five years, both as soloist and soprano section leader, and was among those invited last spring to perform at Carnegie Hall with renowned composer and conductor John Rutter.  She has been a UMBC Music Department Scholarship recipient for two consecutive years. Abreu sings at the Church of the Nativity in Timonium, Maryland. She also served as a recruitment guide for UMBC's Panhellenic Association.

“The genuine care of my professors in the music department, along with their desire to cultivate raw talent, has opened my eyes to the possibility of a music career. I have been blessed with a fertile environment to passionately grow as an artist, a student and a person.”

“The Commons is one of my favorite places on the UMBC campus.  It is a great place to unwind, have a cappucino, catch up with friends and meet new people.  I also am reminded of UMBC's rich diversity when I look at the international flags overhead.”


Michael Atamas

Plans:  Teaching 9th grade algebra at Edmondson Westside High in Baltimore, Maryland, as part of the Teach for America program
B.S., Mathematics
B.A., Philosophy
Summa Cum Laude
Hometown: Ellicott City, Maryland

As a freshman, Michael Atamas had a paper on artificial intelligence accepted for publication in the Proceedings of the 8th International Colloquium on Grammatical Inference. During his time at UMBC, he conducted research in cognition and learning at the Cognition, Robotics and Learning Lab, led by Professor Tim Oates, and in neuroscience at the University of Maryland Medical School and the Veteran’s Administration Hospital with University of Maryland Professor David Trisler. Atamas was president of both the Mathematics and Psychology Councils of Majors.

“The people at UMBC helped me succeed more than anything. Even before my first day here, whenever I spoke to faculty, it seemed that they were waiting the whole day just to talk to me.”

“My favorite place is the math lounge in the Mathematics/Psychology building. It really embodied what UMBC was to me. It was a place where I could work with other students and faculty would often drop by and just talk to us. I always felt at home there.”


Tawny Barin

Plans: Information Management Leadership Program, G.E. Energy, Atlanta, Georgia
B.S., Information Systems
Certificate, Web Development
Hometown: Columbia, South Carolina

A Center for Women and Information Technology Scholar, Tawny Barin also was a 2008 captain of the women’s cross country team. In addition to competing in cross country, indoor and outdoor track, she was  involved with the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. She was highly active in the Filipino American Student Association. Barin did a variety of research as an undergraduate, taking part in a National Science Foundation-funded human-computer interaction program and studying cultural implications of information seeking with Professor Anita Komlodi. She traveled to Hungary as part of her work on the International Children's Digital Library Communities study, which focused on cross-cultural communication and technology to develop an online, global community of children. She was awarded an Undergraduate Research Award to study gender and the use of social networking sites.

“UMBC opened so many doors to opportunities that I never could have expected. The wide variety of experiences that I've had over the past four years have helped me to grow personally on so many levels—academically, professionally and athletically.”

“The outdoor track is my favorite place. There's just been so much time, hard work and growth that I associate it with. It's been my favorite and dreaded place at various points, but I guess that's why it will have such a special place in my heart.”


William Becker

Plans: Industrial sales engineer, ExxonMobil Corporation
B.S., Chemical Engineering
Hometown: Frederick, Maryland

William Becker combined his technical expertise as a chemical engineer with leadership and service experiences to enrich his education at UMBC.  As a University Research Award Scholar, Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics Scholarship recipient, and member of Sigma Alpha Lambda honor society, Becker academically prepared himself for success beyond the classroom.  He balanced the technical details of chemical engineering with music, participating in such ensembles as the Mama's Boys a cappella group, Pep Band and Jazz Band. With a strong commitment to service he regularly volunteered at the Maiden Choice School for children with disabilities.  In his final year at UMBC, William served as president of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity and gained the confidence and leadership necessary to succeed in his future position at ExxonMobil.

“Upon reflection of my years in college, I now view my selection of UMBC to be one of the best decisions I have made. UMBC is the place where I grew up and developed into the person I will be for the next chapter of my life.”

“My favorite place to study has been those tiny florescent lit cubicles on the third floor of the Engineering building. The building is always open and aside from the occasional janitor, the floor is devoid of noise and distraction, allowing for ideal cramming conditions.”


Sarah Blusiewicz

Plans: To pursue a doctorate degree and work in labor policy at the state or federal level with a government or non-governmental organization
B.A., History
Minor in Geography
Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland

A Sondheim Public Affairs Scholar, Sarah Blusiewicz is a member of the Honors College and Golden Key International Honour Society member, recipient of the Department of History’s John Bell-Clifford Maas Prize for Academic Excellence and a Governor’s Citation for research presented during the Governor’s Summer Internship Program. Blusiewicz was active on campus as a "Woolie" Welcome Week Leader and a member of the Israeli and Ballroom Dance Clubs. As part of the Sondheim Scholars program she completed a service-learning project at Southwestern High School.

“UMBC has helped me succeed by providing me with the resources I needed to pursue my goals both inside and outside the classroom. The faculty could not be more supportive and the campus promotes an environment of academic achievement and cultural diversity.”

“My favorite spot is the Commuter Lounge in The Commons because it provides a space for students to study, eat and socialize. It also is the place where I have met most of my UMBC friends.”


Christopher Borg

Plans: Working at Baltimore's Everyman Theatre as the production assistant for its upcoming production, Art, then begining work in August as the stage management intern at Baltimore’s Centerstage
B.A., Theatre
Minor in Spanish
Summa Cum Laude
Hometown: Washington Township, New Jersey

Since his freshman year, Borg has stage managed six UMBC theatre productions and worked on eight others in one or more of the following capacities: assistant to the costume shop supervisor, costume construction, light board operation, scenic construction, wardrobe crew, house management and box office management. He also completed a professional internship in stage management at Everyman Theatre. Following his internship, he continued to work at Everyman in various capacities, including stage manager, production assistant, running crew member, assistant house manager and audition assistant. Borg stage managed two professional productions directed by UMBC theatre faculty: Basura! at the 9th Annual Fringe Festival in New York and Demotic at Theatre Project in Baltimore. He studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain in summer 2007. He is the recipient of a UMBC University Fellow Award and the 2007 Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Student in Theatre.  
“UMBC has provided outstanding opportunities for me and continues to do so as I enter the professional world of theatre.  The faculty and staff have given me the freedom to explore and develop on a very personal level, and I am grateful for their trust and support.”

The most lively and energetic place on campus is the costume shop in the Theatre building.  It is a space that inspires creativity and allows students to be themselves.  Even at the busiest time of the semester, the people in the costume shop reminded me to laugh and enjoy my work.” 


LaTese Briggs

Plans: Post doctoral appointment, the Broad Institute, Harvard University/MIT
Ph.D., Chemistry
Hometown: Temple Hills, Maryland

LaTese Briggs was a Meyerhoff Graduate Fellow, a Gates Millennium Scholar and a Southern Regional Education Board Dissertation Fellow. She was a PROMISE peer mentor and co-founder/CEO of E-Vision: UMBC's first entrepreneur club for graduate students.

“Pursuing a Ph.D. at UMBC was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. Being a part of programs specific only to UMBC such as Meyerhoff and Promise has exposed me to a variety of networks that have contributed immensely to my success as a graduate student, and actually led me to my current position at the Broad Institute.”

“Hilltop Circle (“The Loop”) is my favorite place on campus.  It is nice to go for a walk or run around the perimeter of campus to clear my head and prepare for the remainder of the day.”


Devin Burns

Plans: Ph.D., Mechanics and Materials, Johns Hopkins University
B.S., Mechanical Engineering
Magna Cum Laude
Hometown: Smithsburg, Maryland

Devin Burns is a Meyerhoff and Goldwater Scholar and served as president of Tau Beta Pi. He received Honorable Mention for the National Science Foundation fellowship and was awarded a Whiting School of Engineering Fellowship. Under the mentorship of Professor Marc Zupan, Burns presented his work to a major journal and at prestigious research conference in his field. He completed summer research internships at the Army Research Lab, MIT and the Johns Hopkins University.

“I have been able to work closely with faculty at UMBC. This close contact has allowed me to hone my research interests and to gain valuable skills.”

“I enjoy walking and running UMBC's CERA trail. It's where I go to put things in perspective.”


Liwei Dei

Plans: Usability Specialist, Industrial Design and Human Interface Group, Xerox Corp., Rochester, New York
Ph.D., Information Systems
Hometown: Nanjing, China

Liwei Dei was selected to intern at IBM’s T. J. Watson Research Center in 2005 and 2006 and was awarded a prestigious IBM Ph.D. Research Fellowship in 2007. Her research was published in high profile scientific journals and presented at top research conferences. She also had two U.S. patents awarded in 2006.

“The Ph.D. program in the information systems department provides a collaborative and encouraging environment. The tremendous help and support from professors and fellow graduate students have made my life so much easier both professionally and mentally.”

“My favorite place on campus is my office in the Information Technology/Engineering building where I spent most of my time. I like my office not because I am a workaholic, but because of my lovely officemates, who have shared so much fun with me.”


Katie DiBlasi

Plans: Civil engineer intern, Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore district 
M.S., Civil Engineering, Environmental Engineering focus
Hometown: Gwynn Oak, Maryland

Katie DiBlasi was able to focus her concern about the environment into a career path while at UMBC. DiBlasi studied how pollutants from Baltimore City stormwater runoff can damage the Chesapeake Bay watershed. She participated twice in the Graduate Research Conference, winning best oral presentation in 2008. She also presented her research at an international conference on Sustainable Engineering and Science in Auckland, New Zealand. DiBlasi is now beginning a career with the Army Corps of Engineers which will put her skills to work improving Maryland’s environment.

“The faculty in my department emphasized the importance of presenting your research frequently, in a variety of settings and to many different audiences. During my time at UMBC my public speaking skills improved immensely, and I know this skill will benefit me throughout my career.”

“My favorite place on campus is the office I shared with fellow civil and environmental engineering graduate students in the Technology Research Center. The friendship and support I found in that office enabled me to get through difficult courses and challenging research with hard work, laughter and a positive attitude.”


Kristin Drabyn

Kristin Drabyn

Plans: Graduate assistant coach for the women's basketball team and M.S. in Exercise Science, Texas Tech University
B.A., Interdisciplinary Studies, “Exercise, Physiology and Communications”
Hometown: Avon, Indiana

A team captain on UMBC's women's basketball team and a key player on the Retrievers' 2007 America East Championship squad, Drabyn's four-year career culminated with All-Conference Third Team honors and the school record for career three-point field goals and career free throw percentage. She served as president of UMBC's Student-Athlete Advisory Council and was invited to speak at UMBC’s Convocation in August 2007. An active member of the UMBC community, Drabyn spent spring break 2006 with three teammates in New Orleans, working with Habitat for Humanity in its rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Last June, she won the prestigious America East Conference Sportsmanship Award.

“UMBC gave me a chance to play basketball for four years at the Division I level. There were many tears along with laughs and triumphs. I learned more than anyone can imagine. Many times life throws curves and you make mistakes; it is how you respond to those struggles that makes you who you are. UMBC gave me a place to find out who I am and who I want to be.”

“My favorite place on campus was the gym on game days, when the bleachers were out and everyone was getting ready for tip-off. Nobody was there early, so the floor was clear to shoot with no distractions. Then when the ball goes up, there is nothing better than playing in an America East game with your teammates and friends.”


Carly Engelke

Plans: Moving to New York to teach, audition and study dance
B.A., Dance
Magna Cum Laude
Hometown: Glen Burnie, Maryland

A Linehan Artist Scholar, Engleke received an  Undergraduate Research Award to study dance for three weeks at Pro Danza Italia in Italy. She used her research to create her senior project, a 10-minute dance entitled “Outside the Inside” dealing with people's struggles with body image. This piece was performed in the Senior Dance Showcase in fall 2008, and was selected to be performed at the American College Dance Festival and at UMBC’s Undergraduate Research Award Day in spring 2008. Engelke received Department of Dance Scholarships in 2007 and 2008. She was named Outstanding Junior in Dance and Outstanding Senior in Dance Performance and Composition.

“I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and without UMBC I would not have made the friends or connections I have made. Thanks to my professors I have become a better dancer and they nurtured my passion for learning. Thanks to the friends I have made I learned about myself and became a better person.”

“My favorite place on campus is what the dance department calls "The Red Carpet." There is a patch of carpet right outside of Fine Arts Studio 317 that serves as a bed for quick naps between classes and rehearsals, a great place to stretch after class, a cafeteria when you have ten minutes to eat lunch, a rehearsal space when all the studios are booked and a great place to get inspired for choreography. I spent a lot of time on this carpet with other dancers and created strong bonds through my time there. It isn't much, but I know every dance major needs "The Red Carpet" to survive.”


Ivy Flores

Plans: Pursuing a career in the broadcast/film animation industry focusing on content for young children and their families
B.A., Visual Arts (Animation) and Psychology
Cum Laude
Hometown: Silver Spring, Maryland

Flores was part of a group of  Imaging Research Center (IRC) Fellows who recently won an animation competition presented by the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra. The Fellows created a video to accompany a five-minute contemporary violin composition, Try to Believe, by Randall Woolf, that was screened during the Orchestra’s performances in New York in April. She is currently bringing life to characters in the art installation and short film project “Bellows,” directed by Professor of Eric Dyer ‘95, which will be presented at the SIGGRAPH 2008 conference in Los Angeles this summer. Flores also worked with IRC Artist-in-Residence and renowned political cartoonist Kevin “'KAL” Kallaugher on “The Choice,” an animated voting advocacy video for broadcast and broadband. Flores is a Linehan Artist Scholar, a Maryland Distinguished Talent in the Arts Scholar and a member of the Psi Chi and Golden Key Honor Societies.

“From stimulating academic programs, to encouraging staff and faculty, to full-ride scholarships, UMBC continuously provided me with a wide range of opportunities with which to succeed.”

“More often than not, you can always find me hanging around the Imaging Research Center in the ITE building. Whether I'm working on a faculty project, school project or spending time between classes, it's a great place to meet knowledgeable students and staff who are passionate about art and technology and who are always rising to meet new challenges.”


Katie Gibson

Plans: Interning at Microsoft in Redmond, Wash., then Ph.D., Computer Science, University of Pennsylvania
B.S., Computer Science
Hometown: Fairfax, Virginia

Gibson was a “C3,” or a member of the third class of the UMBC CWIT (Center for Women and Information Technology) Scholars. As a junior, she began tutoring in the Computer Science Help Center while serving as a lab assistant for Introductory Computer Science.  As a senior, she was an undergraduate teaching assistant for the same class, teaching labs, holding office hours, grading exams and answering questions. As a senior, Gibson was a role model at Computer Mania Day 2008, holding three sessions of the same workshop. She has been selected to receive an Outstanding Senior Award from the computer science faculty as well as the department’s Student Leadership Award. She has held summer internships on the corporate and governmental-agency levels.

““The CWIT Scholars program at UMBC helped me succeed by giving me a group of students to talk to, live with and work with while studying in a field that has few women students.  This additional support was particularly helpful during my first two years and the leadership opportunities with CWIT have helped me grow and given me the skills and confidence to seek additional opportunities. The UMBC faculty has also been accessible and supportive, helping me to excel in my studies throughout my four years here.”

“My favorite place on campus is the Information Technology/Engineering building, specifically room 201B. It is where I go to study, and where I have spent many weekends working on homework and projects with my friends.”



Philip Graff

Plans: Ph.D., Astrophysics, University of Cambridge, on a Gates Cambridge Scholarship
B.S., Physics
B.S., Mathematics
Summa Cum Laude
Hometown:  Manalapan, New Jersey

Philip Graff will follow the path of science greats Isaac Newton and Stephen Hawking to Cambridge University as the third UMBC student in the past two years to win the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, one of the world’s most selective academic awards. He was also named the Outstanding Graduating Senior in Physics and Mathematics and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He attended UMBC on a University Fellows full scholarship and is a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity and Sigma Pi Sigma Physics Honors Society. He served as director of student advocacy for the Student Government Association, was a teaching assistant for Physics 121 and presented research at Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Day. He worked with one of the world’s most sensitive scientific instruments, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, during a National Science Foundation fellowship at Caltech. He created a computer model of quasar radiation that is the topic of a research paper currently under refereeing with the Astrophysical Journal.

“UMBC challenged me without the competitiveness and pressure of an Ivy League school. I made great friends here that helped me through my courses and made the experience more than just academic.”

“My favorite place on campus has always been my bed, despite being under-utilized many times in the past four years. In all types of weather and no matter how much work I have, my bed has always been there for me as a place to relax and forget all other stresses.”


Simon Gray

Plans: M.Phil., Advanced Chemical Engineering, University of Cambridge, on a Gates Cambridge Scholarship
B.S., Chemical Engineering
Summa Cum Laude
Hometown:  Towson, Maryland

Simon Gray is a scholar of exceptional energy, dedication and humility. Gray is UMBC’s third winner in the past two years of the Gates Cambridge Scholarship -- one of the world’s most selective academic prizes. After completing college ahead of schedule, he is poised to continue his record of achievement, success and service to others. Following his studies at Cambridge, Gray plans to attend medical school and complete a combined MD/Ph.D. program. His twin ambitions are to run a research laboratory and become an entrepreneur. Gray’s studies at UMBC have also been supported by a University Scholar Award, the Maryland Distinguished Scholar Award and the American Architectural Manufacturer's Association Scholarship. Gray is a hobby beekeeper and enjoys competitive sailing, kitesurfing and scuba diving. He also is an active member and elder at Maryland Presbyterian Church.

“As a young applicant, UMBC welcomed me to higher education. That open-minded attitude and the dedication of UMBC's professors to their students have ensured my continued academic success.”

“My favorite place at UMBC is the desks on the 1st floor of the Math building. It's a quiet place to work without feeling isolated from the rest of the world.”


Elyse Grossman

Plans:  J.D., University of Maryland Law School, and Ph.D., Public Policy, UMBC
Master of Public Policy
Hometown: Rockville, Maryland

Elyse Grossman heads to law school at the University of Maryland as part of the Leadership Scholars Program. She also will return to UMBC to complete a Ph.D .in Public Policy. Grossman was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi and Omicron Delta Kappa honors societies and served as the vice president of the Graduate Student Association and the president and co-founder of the Jewish Graduate Student Association. Grossman planned and organized the first-ever Graduate Student Week in 2007 and chaired the event again in 2008.  She also served as the graduate advising coordinator and pre-law advisor for the political science department. Grossman’s master's thesis explored factors related to college women's alcohol consumption.  Her work has been published and presented at industry conferences.

“To paraphrase Sir Isaac Newton, if I have succeeded at UMBC it is because I have had wonderful teachers, inspiring mentors, wise advisors, loyal friends, a supportive department and the knowledge that everyone was rooting for me to succeed.  The whole experience has been excellent, and I know that I have developed and grown in so many ways.  Although I hope I leave UMBC with a more in-depth knowledge of public policy, I know that I am leaving with the knowledge of how to be a better student, a better leader, a better person.  I have gained so much from my experiences at UMBC and I can only hope that some day I can give a little back.”

“My favorite spot on campus is the patio area in front of the Public Policy building.  It is a place that has accommodated my every need.  It provides me with a place to read when I am feeling studious, a place to relax and sun-bathe when I am feeling stressed and a place to mingle with friends and colleagues when I am feeling sociable.”


Shirley Guerrier

Plans: Middle school science teacher, Baltimore County Public Schools
M.A.T., Elementary Education
Specialization: STEM Education

A STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Sherman Scholar, Guerrier was a member of the fourth cohort of students selected to participate in the education project funded by the National Science Foundation. The project’s mission is to attract individuals with career backgrounds in STEM and facilitate their transition into teaching in STEM disciplines. Guerrier joined UMBC President Hrabowski in addressing members of the Maryland House of Delegates about the importance of continued funding for UMBC and its educational mission. She has been a speaker at Scholar Selection Day and served on a variety of other campus panels. Guerrier’s ultimate goal is to become a dean at a respected university.

“Having attended other institutions, I can say without hesitation that UMBC is more than just a university. It is that place that your parents told you about. UMBC is the place where you will make lifelong friends and be cultivated into an independent functioning part of society with a stellar education.”

“Without a doubt, my favorite place on campus is the place I felt the most at home. That place is the Center for Excellence in Science, Technology, Education and Mathematics Education in Academic IV. Not only did the Center provide me with a dynamic staff of educators and resources that were vital to my success at UMBC, but just beyond the doors of the center is a place that has an ambiance of light and a direct view of the beautiful UMBC landscape. It offered a wonderfully peaceful spot to study.”


Richard Hardesty

Plans: Ph.D., History, and publishing articles on Maryland history
M.A., Historical Studies
Hometown: Apollo Beach, Florida

Richard Hardesty is a National Trio Scholar and member of Phi Beta Kappa and the Golden Key International Honours Society. While working as a graduate research associate at the Center for Immunization, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, he was awarded the “Beacon of Hope Award” by his colleagues. Hardesty is a volunteer firefighter with the Deale, Maryland, Fire Department. 

“UMBC provided me with the opportunity to learn under some of the most learned professors in the country.  In working with them, I gained invaluable experience which will only help me become a better historian.  They encouraged me to seek answers to difficult questions, but, equally important, they pushed me to place my own interpretation on historical events.  Last, but definitely not least, I had the pleasure of working with a diverse group of students.  They provided me with different insights that I would not have normally gained.  More importantly, I made several lifelong friends that I will always appreciate.”

“The seventh floor of the Albin O. Kuhn Library often provided me with a quiet place to study.  More importantly, I loved to look out at the Baltimore skyline, especially during the evening.  It provided a nice diversion for me, especially when faced with important deadlines.”


Christina Hawkins

Plans: M.A., Georgetown University, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service
B.A., Interdisciplinary Studies, “Political and Economics Affairs in Latin America”
Hometown: Thurmont, Maryland

Christina Hawkins was a member of the Honors College and a student representative to the Interdisciplinary Studies Committee. She was president and captain of the UMBC Women’s Volleyball Club and won several awards during her participation in the Model United Nations, where she served as vice president. Hawkins is fluent in Spanish and traveled to Venezuela as part of an educational delegation to witness the “Bolivarian Revolution” of President Hugo Chavez.

“UMBC has given me a place to call home.  Both the campus atmosphere and especially the Interdisciplinary Studies program, allowed me to have an enormous amount of control over my undergraduate degree in pursuing my own unique interests.  I feel that 10 or 20 years from now I can come back here to UMBC and have a mind full of excellent memories, and that is everything one can ask from their college experience."

“By far my favorite place on campus is the Retriever Activities Center (RAC). Not only did I work here for three of my four semesters here at UMBC, but I also re-started the club volleyball program here after a few years of being inactive due to lack of participation.  The RAC carries with it a sense of camaraderie and friendship, and it is a place of reprieve when faced with a plethora of deadlines and exams.”


Cheryl Lynn Jaworski

Plans: Ph.D, English Literature, University of California, Santa Barbara on a Humanities Special Fellowship
B.A., Interdisciplinary Studies, “Evolution and Literary Theory”
Minor in Modern Languages and Linguistics Certificate in Human Context of Science and Technology
Summa Cum Laude

Hometown: Fallston, Maryland

In crafting her interdisciplinary studies degree, Cheryl Lynn Jaworski combined her passions in studying the interconnections between literature and science, evolutionary theory and the implications of evolutionary social science for literary study.  Jaworski is a Humanities Scholar and a member of the Honors College, the Golden Key International Honours Society and Sigma Delta Tau and Omicron Delta Kappa Honors Societies. She studied abroad at the University of Salamanca in Spain, where she became fluent in Spanish. She was awarded an Undergraduate Research Award to pursue research toward her capstone thesis. Jaworski wrote for The Retriever Weekly, served as the poetry editor for Bartleby, UMBC’s creative arts journal, and rowed on the UMBC crew team.

“I probably never would have decided to study what I have if I had not come to UMBC. The breadth of topics of the courses on offer during that first year or two (especially the First-Year Seminars) really helped me to open my mind and explore new areas of knowledge. As a result, my undergraduate career has set me on the best possible path for pursuing my professional goals.”

“My favorite place is the seventh floor of the Albin O. Kuhn Library—it’s quiet, has nice chairs and the best view on campus.”


Jay Lagorio

Plans: Starting a job with the Department of Defense
B.S., Computer Science
Hometown: Salem, Massachusetts

Jay Lagorio has been a tireless and successful advocate for campus life and student involvement during his time at UMBC. As president of the Student Government Association, he initiated the “Prove It” campaign, which awarded $50,000 to the best student-submitted idea for improving UMBC’s campus. He started a campus-wide recycling program, brought food service to the Study Place and helped spearhead a Web-enabled, GPS-tracking system for UMBC Transit, the campus bus system. He was one of the first members of the UMBC Mama's Boys all-male a cappella group and was a member of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity.

“Coming from so far away, UMBC threw me head first into a brand new environment with 10,000 total strangers. The values the school holds in openness and engagement helped me make many connections to close people I'm sure I'll have for a long time to come, as well as giving me the tools I need to succeed in a very competitive job market.”

“My favorite place is Market Street in The Commons. There's always someone you know when you walk by on the way to class, and it makes it much easier to catch up with people you haven't seen in a few days.”


Ashley Leonard

Plans: Teach foreign languages in the Howard County Public Schools System while pursuing an M.A. in Latin at the University of Maryland College Park
B.A., Ancient Studies and Modern Languages and Linguistics, French and German
Magna Cum Laude
Hometown: Columbia, Maryland

As an ancient studies major, Ashley Leonard traveled to Italy as part of the department’s yearly study-travel program. She helped curate an exhibit, The Glory of Ruins, displayed in the Albin O. Kuhn Library Rotunda. Leonard is this year's winner of the Ancient studies Outstanding Senior Award. As a modern languages and linguistics major, she spent last summer in Lower Saxony, Germany. She is currently finishing her student teaching internship at Mt. Hebron High School in Howard County, where she has taught French, German and Latin.  Her long-term aspiration is to pursue a Ph.D. in Latin.

"I have really enjoyed my time at UMBC, especially with the Departments of Ancient Studies and Modern Languages and Linguistics.  You really get to know the other students in your area and your professors, who provide both guidance and support.  I wouldn't be the person I am today without the time I've spent at UMBC."

“My favorite spot on campus would probably be the sixth floor of the Albin O. Kuhn Library.  I spent a lot of time here researching, writing and studying. The chairs are comfortable, it's quiet and the view is great.”


Matthew Levy

Plans: Chief resident in emergency medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
M.S., Emergency Health Services
Hometown: Fair Lawn, New Jersey

Matthew Levy, DO, received his B.S. in Emergency Health Sciences from UMBC and became a paramedic in 2000. He subsequently worked with the Department of Emergency Health Services for several years, designing training programs for clinicians in the National Disaster Medical System, during which time he also served as a disaster medical responder to the September 11th attacks in New York City and to several hurricanes, including Katrina in 2005. Levy completed his medical doctorate at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2006. As a third-year medical student, he began his graduate work online through UMBC's distance education program. Now a physician, Levy remains active with the UMBC community. He serves as a clinical mentor to UMBC emergency health services students, continues to have a role as a guest lecturer in undergraduate courses and assists with in-field search and rescue courses.

“The personal nature of the faculty and small class sizes at UMBC have helped me foster the academic and life skills that have helped me to achieve my success.”

“My favorite spot on campus will always be top floor of the Albin O. Kuhn Library. On a clear day you can see for miles, yet at the same time still be in the center of everything on campus.”


Debora W. Lin

Plans: Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, Stanford University
B.S., Chemical Engineering
Minor in Biological Sciences
Magna Cum Laude
Hometown: Rockville, Maryland

A Meyerhoff Scholar, Debora Lin compiled many other honors while at UMBC, including the MARC U*STAR Fellowship, Outstanding Senior in Chemical Engineering Award, Tau Beta Pi and Phi Beta Kappa. She participated in Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Day twice and worked with 4th and 5th graders as a NASA Goddard/Federal Hill Preparatory School Fellow. Win participated in  undergraduate research programs and internships at MIT and the Johns Hopkins University.

“UMBC provided a nurturing environment for me to achieve goals I would have never thought I could reach.”

“A place I will miss most about UMBC is the tables on the 3rd floor of the Engineering building by the Department of Biochemical and Chemical Engineering. It’s a place I have grown a love-hate relationship with. As many of my fellow chemical engineers know, I can be found here working late nights on problem sets but also sharing great memories and stories with friends.”


Melissa Minogue

Plans: M.A., International Relations, University of Chicago
B.A., Political Science
Minor in Creative Writing
Magna Cum Laude
Hometown: Cortlandt Manor, New York

Melissa Minogue is a Sondheim Public Affairs Scholar, recipient of the Political Science Outstanding Senior Award and is president of Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honor Society and treasurer of the Political Science Council of Majors. She was a representative for the UMBC Model United Nations team and vice president of the Staff/Security Council for the American Model United Nations. Minogue interned at the Social Security Administration’s Office of Communications and tutored for The Learning Bank, Inc.

“UMBC has provided me with incredible opportunities—to study abroad, pursue my interest in the United Nations and focus my education on international relations while still dabbling in philosophy and British literature—and also incredible mentors. While my activities and academic opportunities gave me the knowledge to pursue my goals, I wouldn't have been able to isolate those goals in the first place without the constant guidance of very committed members of the faculty and staff.”

“My favorite place on campus is the third floor of the Public Policy building, Department of Political Science. At least this year, it's probably where I've spent most of my time on campus! Even when I'm not there for a meeting or class, there is always someone who wants to talk about what they're doing, and it's usually something fascinating.”


Lindsay Morrell

Plans: University of Maryland School of Medicine
B.S., Biological Sciences
Summa Cum Laude
Hometown: Perry Hall, Maryland

Morrell was a Meyerhoff Scholar and a member of Sigma Alpha Lambda National Leadership and Honors Organization, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Golden Key Honor Society and Phi Beta Kappa.  She was awarded the 2007 Alumni Association Outstanding Student Award for Biological Sciences and named the 2008 Outstanding Graduating Senior in the Department of Biological Sciences. She presented research at the UMBC Undergraduate Summer Research Fest, the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students and gave an oral presentation at Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Day. She served as a volunteer, helping to stretch people with multiple sclerosis at the local YMCA and was a member and president of the Lutheran and Episcopal campus ministry.

“The amazing pride that the students at UMBC take in their academics made it an ideal setting for me. The students, faculty and staff have helped motivate me to work hard and achieve tasks that I didn’t think were possible. In this way, UMBC has helped me realize my potential and given me the skills I need to succeed in the future.”

“The Commons during free hour is always an exciting place to be. There always seems to be an event taking place on Main Street and it’s great to catch up with friends and have lunch.  Since so many people are there to hang out, get lunch and relax between classes, it has been a place where I could go to regroup and see people that also are busy throughout the day.”


Jack Mullee

Plans: Spending nine months in Buenos Aires, Argentina on a Fulbright Research Grant
B.A., American Studies
B.A., Sociology
Minor in Spanish
Summa Cum Laude
Hometown: Ashburn, Virginia

As a Fulbright Research Scholar, Jack Mullee will study Buenos Aires’ informal economy through ethnographic interviews with salespeople working in the subways. Mullee plans to pursue a Ph.D. in either Latin American Studies or Economics after completing his Fulbright research. As a Humanities Scholar, Mullee spent last spring in Buenos Aires, taking classes with Argentine students and studying Spanish and sociology at the University of El Salvador. In the summer of 2006, he interned in Washington, D.C. with the Charles G. Koch Foundation, a non-profit, free-market research institution. Mullee received Outstanding Achievement Awards from both the American studies and sociology departments.

“UMBC provided me with a network of energetic, friendly and intelligent people who took an interest in my success from the beginning. For four years, I have had faculty and staff alike encouraging me at every turn and offering whatever advice or aid they felt I could use. I am still almost blown-away by the selflessness of these people. I would not be where I am, or who I am, were it not for the many good friends I found at UMBC.”

“There's this grassy little hill that sits between the Terrace and Hillside apartments, just behind the Wicomico and Patuxent apartments. It's one of the few areas of the apartments that's thickly lined with vegetation and visited by a lot of wildlife. When the weather has been warm, I've found myself using that grass for studying, socializing and just pondering the day's events. I'm there all the time. I'll miss it.”


Sarah Oberlander

Plans: Postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Maryland Baltimore
Ph.D., Human Services Psychology
Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland

Oberlander's Ph.D. and postdoctoral research interests are adolescent pregnancy and parenting, sexual initiation and contraceptive use. Oberlander was project coordinator of the Three Generation Project, a seven-year longitudinal study of adolescent mothers, grandmothers and children in Baltimore. She worked at the Johns Hopkins Center for Adolescent Health for three years investigating adolescent pregnancy prevention programs. Oberlander has published six articles based on her research.

“I am incredibly grateful for my mentors, Professors Raymond Starr, Jr., and Maureen Black. Their guidance, along with the support of psychology department faculty and students, allowed me to succeed at UMBC.”

“My favorite place at UMBC is one of the windows in the psychology department (Mathematics/Psychology building) that overlooks the campus. I found myself returning to that window during pivotal points in my career as a student: during my visit to UMBC as an applicant, before a final exam, during a break in my qualifying examinations and throughout the deliberations of my thesis and dissertation committees.”


Matthew Page

Plans: Pursuing clinical psychology research positions and applying to Ph.D. programs in clinical psychology
B.A., Mathematics
B.S., Psychology
Minors in Philosophy and Modern Languages and Linguistics, French
Summa Cum Laude
Hometown: Hagerstown, Maryland

Matthew Page’s long-term goal is to become a family therapist. On campus, Page was very active as president of the Freedom Alliance, undergraduate representative for the Institutional Review Board and a member of Leadershape.  He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and received a President’s Fellows Award and the Department of Psychology Distinguished Achievement Award. Page is a member of the Psi Chi psychology honors society and was elected Homecoming king in 2005.

“UMBC has provided an incredible opportunity for me to prove to myself that I can succeed at a variety of challenges.  Learning from and working with the talented faculty has been a privilege that has made me a more confident and capable individual.  It has been an amazing journey so far, and I’m looking forward to continue into the future as a UMBC graduate.”

“My favorite spot on campus is the Ida B. Wells Social Justice Theatre.  My friends and I like to catch up in this quiet corner of The Commons to eat lunch and relax in between classes. The images on the wall remind students of the great freedom fighters the world has seen.”


Matthew Poland

Plans: M.A., English Literary Studies, University of York (United Kingdom)
B.A., English, Literature Track
Minor in History
Magna Cum Laude
Hometown: LaVale, Maryland

A semester studying in Belfast, Northern Ireland, has motivated Humanities Scholar Matthew Poland to return to the United Kingdom for graduate study. This summer, he will work as a production intern at WYPR-FM, Baltimore’s National Public Radio affiliate, and as an assistant dramaturge for a production of Shakespeare’s Henry IV (Part I) at the Folger Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C. Poland also served as creative non-fiction editor for Bartleby, UMBC’s creative arts journal, and co-editor of the UMBC Review: Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Works.

“It's no exaggeration to say that the faculty and staff at UMBC have made all of the opportunities I have received possible.”

 “My favorite spot on campus has become the Information Desk in The Commons, where I have worked for the past year. When I'm not working, it's the quietest place in The Commons to get work done, and when I am working it's where I see practically everyone I know walking by. Plus, you really can't beat my commute to work.”


Zachary Rayfield

Plans: Ph.D., Operations Research and Information Engineering, Cornell University on a Cornell/Sloan Fellowship
B.S., Mathematics
Cum Laude
Hometown: Ellicott City, Maryland

Zachary Rayfield is a Meyerhoff Scholar and a member of Pi Mu Epsilon, Golden Key International Honour and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. In 2007, he participated in a summer research program in mathematical biology at Arizona State University. He worked as a teaching assistant and grader in UMBC's math department. He is a pianist and has also been active in the music department at UMBC, working with the Collaborative Piano ensemble and performing on campus.

“What I will remember most about UMBC is its strong sense of community. This is truly a place where both students and professors alike want each other to succeed and will push each other to achieve all that they can.”

“The third floor of the Albin O. Kuhn Library is my favorite spot on campus. Since my sophomore year, it's been the place where I go whenever I really need to focus on my work or just collect my thoughts.”


Felicita Russo

Plans: Researcher, National Research Council, Potenza, Italy
Ph.D., Atmospheric Physics
Hometown: Naples, Italy

Felicita Russo excelled in both fieldwork and research while at UMBC. In addition to her teaching duties, she attended six research conferences, presenting five posters and an oral presentation. She was first author of a paper published in Applied Optics, co-author of two others in the Journal of Geophysical Research and  currently has two additional papers submitted or under review.

Through her work with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, she participated in fieldwork to help validate the NASA Advanced Infrared Satellite (AIRS) measurements at the U.S. Department of Energy's Atmospheric Radiation Measurement facility in Lamont, Oklahoma. For her work with the project, Russo received the Mesoscale Atmospheric Processes Branch's "Exceptional Scientific Support Award" from NASA-Goddard.

“UMBC is a very well-known school in the field of atmospheric physics. I'm sure that it is mostly because I studied at UMBC and I did my Ph.D. research at NASA that I was able to get my current position in Italy. For this I will always be proud of having been a student at UMBC.”

“If I think about the happiest times at UMBC for sure The Commons come first to mind. Having lunch with my friends is one of the nicest memories I have of UMBC. It was also in this building that they used to have all the graduate students happy hour events, where I had a chance of feeling like part of a family.”


Joan Kang Shin

Plans: Director of TESOL professional training, English Language Center, UMBC, and project director of the STEP T for ELLs Program, Department of Education, UMBC
Ph.D., Language, Literacy and Culture
Hometown: Ellicott City, Maryland

Joan Kang Shin earned her M.A. in ESOL/Bilingual Studies at UMBC in 1999.  She then worked for four years at Sookmyung Women's University in Seoul, Korea, training teachers at its Graduate School of TESOL before coming back to pursue her doctoral studies at UMBC. Shin was one of nine doctoral students in the country to receive the 2006 K. Patricia Cross Award for Future Leaders in Higher Education from the American Association of Colleges and Universities. Shin designed and taught an online course at UMBC's English Language Center, “Teaching English to Young Learners,” part of the U.S. Department of State's E-Teacher Program. The course trains English teachers in countries around the world to use the most current teaching methodology for teaching young learners English as a foreign language.  It was also her site for dissertation research, which will now inform her postdoctoral work at UMBC’s English Language Center directing the E-Teacher Program. The program is in its fifth year and has reached approximately 200 teachers in over 45 different countries. Last year, Shin received a $1-million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to develop a program called STEP T for ELLs (Secondary Training and Professional Training for English Language Learners).  The five-year program will train secondary math, science and social studies teachers to work with the growing population of English language learners in Maryland.

"I have greatly appreciated the guidance and wisdom of the faculty in the Language, Literacy and Culture (LLC) doctoral program, and am especially proud to have worked under the tutelage of Professors JoAnn Crandall and Beverly Bickel.”

“My favorite spot on campus is the LLC Reading Room on the fourth floor of Academic IV.  Since it opened a few years ago, it has been a wonderful place to meet with my fellow LLC Ph.D. students and have discussions about our research and our lives.  The reading room has a comfy sofa, books about research, a meeting table and a computer for students to use.  Most importantly, lined up on the shelves of one bookcase are dissertations by former LLC students, so it was a great place to get inspiration!”


Sujan Shrestha

Plans: Assistant professor (tenure track) at Towson University, teaching courses in digital art and design
M.F.A., Imaging and Digital Arts
Hometown: Germantown, Maryland

Sujan Shrestha has collaborated with several members of the visual arts faculty on digital and interactive art projects. As a graduate research assistant in UMBC Professor David Yager’s Innovation Design Lab, Shrestha worked with Yager on numerous projects, including a collaboration with Johns Hopkins Medical Center to develop “Digital Anesthesia,” a game that uses virtual reality technology. In his own work, Shrestha uses film/video and animation to critique the politics of identity, religion, ethnicity and gender, while portraying social boundaries.

"The graduate program in Imaging and Digital Arts at UMBC has truly helped me to develop my interest in research in the digital medium. The faculty in visual arts has been a true inspiration and encouragement that created the opportunity for me to learn and work in this interesting area, as an artist, throughout my graduate studies. I consider myself very lucky to have had the opportunity to work with all of them."

"My favorite place on campus is Special Collections at the Albin O. Kuhn Library. They have a phenomenal archive that I used for my research. I am very thankful to the library staff for their all of their help."


Christopher Sims

Plans: Ph.D., Chemistry, University of Maryland College Park, on a Dolphus E. Milligan Fellowship
B.S., Chemistry
Minor in Music
Magna Cum Laude
Hometown: Reisterstown, Maryland

At home in the lab or in the performance hall, Christopher Sims received multiple honors for his studies at UMBC. He is a Meyerhoff and Maryland Distinguished Scholar, as well as a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Golden Key Honour, Phi Kappa Phi and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. For his outstanding academic and research performance in chemistry, he won the Lise Satterfield Scholarship, the UMBC Alumni Association Award and the American Institute of Chemists Award for Top Senior Chemistry Major. He played alto saxophone in the UMBC Jazz Workshop and performed research at UMBC and Syracuse University. He presented research at the National Society for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers’ national conference and at UMBC’s A Look Ahead life sciences symposium. After graduation, he will be a summer intern at the National Institutes of Standards and Technology.

“When I first visited UMBC six years ago, I was just a shy kid with an interest in math and science. Now, after four years at UMBC, I’m a confident young man pursuing a Ph.D. in Chemistry. With special thanks to the Meyerhoff Program and the chemistry department, I can’t thank UMBC enough for providing me with a great environment in which to grow and excel.”

“One of my favorite places on campus is the top floor of the Albin O. Kuhn Library. Sometimes I’ll just stand by a window and take in my surroundings. You can see downtown Baltimore, the Key Bridge and most of UMBC. It’s a great view!”


Casey Smith

Plans: Taking the CPA exam and working as a staff auditor at Deloitte and Touche
B.S., Financial Economics
Certificates in Accounting, Management and MBA Prep
Magna Cum Laude
Hometown: Raleigh, North Carolina

Casey Smith excelled in both academics and athletics at UMBC. A University Scholar, Smith was awarded the Maryland Association of Certified Public Accountants’ 2008 Outstanding Accounting Student of the Year and the Association of Government Accountants Scholarship. She is a member of Phi Kappa Phi, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. Smith played for the women’s varsity soccer team, and her co-ed flag football team also won the Regional Intramural Co-ed Flag Football Championship. Smith also served as UMBC Accounting Club president and vice president and as a mentor at Catonsville Middle School.

“UMBC's classes are small enough so that students can get to know their teachers if they want to. Having a close relationship with my teachers made me strive to perform well in their classes and, ultimately, enhanced my education.”

“My favorite spot on campus is The Commons in the early morning. Drinking coffee and doing a crossword puzzle was a great way to start my day.


Derek Smith

Plans: Dissertation work as a National Research Council Postdoctoral Research Associate, National Institutes of Standards and Technology
Ph.D., Chemical and Biochemical Engineering
Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland

Derek Smith’s research produced numerous publications and presentations at top conferences. He won the poster presentation award for UMBC’s 2008 Graduate Research Conference. He is a member of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honors society, and played semi-professional baseball in the Baltimore area.

“My experience at UMBC has truly allowed me to develop as a person and a scientist. The guidance from the professors was invaluable to my success upon switching fields of study from physics to chemical engineering. The close relationships I was able to form with the faculty, staff and colleagues are not always possible at other schools and will forever be a part of me.”

”My favorite place on campus is room 240 in the Technology Research Center where most of my research was conducted. As much of my work was performed alone in the dark, it was a place where I could sit quietly and reflect on life without a loss in research time.”


Kayleigh Somers

Plans: Ph.D., Ecology, Duke University
B.A., English, Literature Track
B.S, Environmental Science
Minor in Writing
Summa Cum Laude
Baltimore, Maryland

Kayleigh Somers combined her literary interests with her passion for environmentalism while at UMBC. She studied abroad in New Zealand and traveled to the U.K. to study Jane Austen's use of nature. She is a Humanities Scholar, a Maryland Distinguished Scholar and was a member of the Honors College and Phi Beta Kappa.

Alongside her many academic honors and lab experiences, she also served as president of the Geography and Environmental Systems Council of Majors, president of Sigma Tau Delta and as senior managing editor for Bartleby, UMBC's creative and literary arts journal. As a James B. Duke Fellow, she plans to focus on restoration ecology during her doctoral studies at Duke University.

“The research that I have been involved with at UMBC has been difficult, inspiring and gratifying. UMBC has taught me to love research, and it is one of the main reasons I have chosen to go on to, and feel prepared for, graduate school.”

“My favorite place on campus would have to be the basement of Sondheim Hall, which houses the GIS and Cart Labs, the Environmental Science Lab and many of the GES professor's own labs. I have learned so much about ecology and the research process there, including hours of bug-picking and leaf-sorting. It's been great to have a place to do work or relax, with friends and salamanders nearby.”


Christianna Stavroudis

Plans: Studying in the Erasmus Mundus European Master’s Programme in Clinical Linguistics on a full scholarship
B.A., Modern Languages and Linguistics, Applied Linguistics
Magna Cum Laude
Hometown: Austin, Texas

As part of the Erasmus Mundus European Master’s Program, Christianna Stavroudis will complete graduate study and research at universities in the Netherlands, Finland and Germany. Stavoudis, whose primary research interest in language and autism, has received one of a limited number of full scholarships available to non-European Union nationals with excellent academic records. A member of the Honors College and the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics’ Honors Program, she spent an academic year studying linguistics at the University of Munich. While there, she worked as a freelance editor and translator. Stavroudis was a student speaker at the opening UMBC'ss Dresher Center for the Humanities and at New Student Day. Stavroudis also was a teaching assistant for an introductory linguistics course. After volunteering at the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders in Rockville, Maryland, to better understand the treatment of autism, she presented an original research thesis on autism and social language at Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Day. The Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics honored her with its Overall Academic Achievement Award. Stavroudis eventually hopes to earn a Ph.D. in Clinical Linguistics (the study of language disorders) and become a full-time university professor.

“UMBC has equipped me with the skills necessary to be an interdisciplinary thinker and successful researcher. I can't get over how much life has been packed into these wonderful four years. I have all of my professors to thank for this—in particular my mentor and advisor, Professor Thomas Field.”

 “My favorite spot on campus is the fourth floor of the Albin O. Kuhn Library, which is where all the linguistics and foreign language books are housed, and the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics, where professors who never even had me in their classes greeted me by name.”


Alexandra Urrutia-Comas

Plans: Master of Health Services Administration, University of Michigan, School of Public Health
B.A., Health Administration and Policy
Double Concentration: Health Services Administration and Health Policy
Cum Laude
Hometown: San Juan, Puerto Rico

Alexandra Urrutia-Comas, who is completing her degree in three years, has been active in the UMBC community since her freshman year, serving as a Welcome Week leader and performing with the UMBC Dance Team. Urrutia-Comas is a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society, president of the Health Administration and Policy Council of Majors (HAPP), a member of Phi Sigma Sigma sorority and junior vice president of the Pan-Hellenic Council. She participated in the Summer Enrichment Program in Health Management and Policy at the University of Michigan, and as a result, was able to bring speakers to educate students on disparities in health care and global health issues, as a member of the HAPP Council. She worked as a research assistant at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of Health Policy and Management, and as an operations engineering intern at Life Bridge Health. She has been recognized by the HAPP program with an Outstanding Academic Performance award.

“UMBC has provided me not only with the knowledge, but also the skills that I need to be successful in the professional and academic world.  Through my academics and relationships with the professors in the HAPP program I have gotten the motivation to be more and do more. Through my involvement in extracurricular activities I have a sense of team effort engrained into everything I do, and diversity is not only a word, but it has become a way of life. UMBC gives you the tools to succeed, embrace them, ‘make UMBC yours,’—I have, and thus I have become a successful, motivated, open minded and cross-culturally trained individual.”

“My favorite spot on campus would have to be The Commons, simply because at a glance, you can see how diverse the UMBC community is. Not only that, but you see people coming and going all the time, and even though you don't always have time to chat it is always nice to see an old friend.”


Brady Walker

Plans: J.D., University of Baltimore, School of Law
B.A., Political Science
Hometown: Snow Hill, Maryland

Brady Walker is a Sondheim Public Affairs Scholar, a Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation Public Affairs Scholar and a member of the Honors College.  Walker served in the Student Government Association, the President's Student Advisory Council, the University System of Maryland Student Council and the Governor's Commission on Service and Volunteerism. He completed internships with Congressman Wayne Gilchrest, Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., Maryland Secretary of State Mary Kane and the Maryland State Department of Education.

“We are a society with values rooted in the great vision of our founders; a community with worldwide membership but with a common purpose. At UMBC, we see the coming together of people from the arts, the humanities, the physical sciences and the social sciences to invest in our future in the spirit of our past.  The culture of UMBC – one of passion, innovation and creativity – embraces the idea that all have the potential to make great change.”

“My favorite spot on campus is Market Street in The Commons.  This is a lively place where thousands of students gather every day to socialize and study.  What is most unique about this space is that, on any given day, the students at the tables reflect the kind of diversity that the more than 100 flags hanging above Market Street represent.”


Marquis Walker

Plans: Post-doctoral fellowship at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Ph.D., Biological Sciences
Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland

While at UMBC, Marquis Walker was awarded a Meyerhoff Graduate Fellowship and a National Institutes of Health Ruth L. Kirschstein National Service Research Award.  Walker also served a term as president of the Graduate Association of Biological Sciences.  He presented his research at UMBC graduate symposia and at national meetings such as the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. A portion of his dissertation research, “Photochemistry of Retinal Chromophore in Mouse Melanopsin,” has been accepted for publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“At UMBC, I had a network of support that included my advisor, the Meyerhoff Graduate Fellowship program, and the biological sciences department.  Each part of my network has provided support, funding, and guidance to help me successfully to navigate the challenges of a Ph.D.”

“One of my favorite places on campus has been in the research lab in Biological Sciences.  As sad as it might sound, the lab has been a place where I have spent a lot of my time and it has been a destination for insightful, instructive and often humorous discussion.  The environment in the laboratory kept me enthusiastic about the research that I was doing.”


Clare Wickman

Plans: Ph.D., Applied Mathematics, University of Maryland, College Park on Flagship and Brin Fellowships
B.S., Mathematics
B.A., Modern Languages and Linguistics, Spanish
Summa Cum Laude
Hometown: Ellicott City, Maryland

Clare Wickman has excelled in languages of the world and mathematics at UMBC. In 2007, she won the UMBC Alumni Association’s Outstanding Student Awards in both of her fields. She was named the Outstanding Graduating Senior and Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Assistant by the math department in 2008. In addition to Spanish, she also studied German and Arabic and tutored in Spanish, Arabic, English as a Second Language and math. She is a University of Maryland Board of Regents Scholar and a Maryland Distinguished Scholar. Wickman is a member of the Honors College, Pi Mu Epsilon math honors society and Phi Beta Kappa. Wickman also served others through the Catholic Campus Ministry, and by volunteering at an addiction recovery program and with a Center for Women and Information Technology summer program aimed at getting underprivileged girls interested in science, technology, engineering and math careers. She studied abroad in Granada, Spain, participated in a mathematical biology research program in Los Angeles and sang in the Russian Chorus.

“I've encountered so much kindness and encouragement at UMBC, especially in the math department. I've also been privileged to meet many extraordinary students full of enthusiasm for learning, particularly through the Honors College. Having to leave such a happy place is difficult, but I'm sure that the knowledge I've acquired and the friendships I've made here will stand me in good stead in the years to come.”

“My favorite place on campus is the Honors College Floor in Susquehanna Hall. Where else could you find a group of chemists, engineers, linguists and who-knows-what-elses making a music video at 2 a.m.? Each year the group of students changes, but the sense of community, intellectual curiosity and fun remains the same. My happiest memories and best conversations took place there.”


Jessica Young

Plans: M.S., Health Promotion, American University, on a full fellowship
B.A., Political Science
Minor in History
Hometown: Waldorf, Maryland

As a starting forward on UMBC's women's soccer team, Young scored 24 goals in four years in a Retriever uniform and was named to the America East All-Conference First Team in 2005. She was recognized for her prowess both on the field and in the classroom that year, earning ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District First Team honors. A Rhodes Scholarship nominee in 2007, Young was a member of the Sondheim Public Affairs Scholar Program, Phi Beta Kappa and a number of other honor societies. As part of the Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowship Program, she studied at Princeton University last summer, taking classes in international relations, policy writing, advanced economics and multicultural approaches to public policy. Young also interned for Congressman Steny Hoyer in the Office of the Democratic Whip on Capitol Hill as a sophomore. She was named Outstanding Political Science Scholar in 2008, and she has been an Arthur Ashe Sports Scholar in each of the last three years. At American, Young will study business, health policy and exercise science in the M.S. in Health Promotion program. She also is interested in pursuing an MBA.

“UMBC means ‘the future’ to me because UMBC is where future leaders are educated, nurtured and formed. I give a lot of credit to UMBC for my current and future successes because I was well-prepared and mentored to achieve not only my academic goals, but my career and societal goals as well.”

“My favorite place on campus is the wooden bridge that takes you to the stadium field. I love hearing the babble of Herbert Run stream because it relaxes me and helps me gain my focus before practices and games.”


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