Alumni Updates

From Nick DeStefano, May 2012 graduate, Biopsychosocial Health:
"I've just completed my first year at Wayne State University School of Medicine, and will be returning for year 2 in the fall. I joined the military through the Health Professionals Scholarship Program and am currently a Second Lieutenant in the US Army."

From Wuya Lumeh, December 2009 graduate, Neuroscience and Illness:
"I've just finished my first year of medical school at Georgetown University and am living in Washington, DC. You'll be happy to know I found my INDS degree highly useful. Especially since the last 2 preclinical classes I took revolved around medical neuroscience (lucky, I know)! I also found that the interdisciplinary approach/education I received was really respected when I was making the rounds on the interview trail. It definitely gave me an edge I think when I was applying/interviewing. I was definitely well prepared! I'm set to graduate in May 2016 if all goes according to plan!"
From Kendyl Downey, May 2009 graduate, Intercultural Medical Treatment:
"During my clinical rotations as a PA student, an OB/GYN physician was asking me about my educational background.  He told me, "I know you have good grades, but everyone has good grades these days, what else can you tell me about your educational background?"  I told him about my INDS program, and the opportunity to design a major and defend it in a research paper which was a culmination of my studies.  He said:  "Wow, see now THAT is something that shows true innovation and discipline, that makes you stand out." 

From James Valentine, May 2010 graduate, Social Perspectives on Biomedical Ethics:
"...With the help of web developer contractors, I did focus groups, content development, usability testing, and basically designed this from scratch so patients and patient advocates would have easy-to-comprehend, accessible information about pertinent information from FDA and give them a gateway to engage with FDA staff in my office. The site was launched and announced by the FDA Commissioner in a blog post last week: Check it out (and don't skip the promo video at the bottom)! Also, here is a great interview piece I did with RAPS Regulatory Focus, which helps explain the background of the project and how it fits into the bigger picture at FDA:"

  •  James also organized a health law conference as part of being President of the Student Health Law Organization at law school: Emerging Issues in Food and Drug Law: Implementation of FDASIA.  It was a one-day conference on April 17, 2013 in Washington, D.C. focusing on the implementation of FDASIA, 9-months after its passage, as well as focusing on hot topics such as pharmacy compounding and drug shortages.  A full agenda is available at"
From Cheryl Jaworski, May 2008 graduate, Evolution and Literary Theory:
"I plan to file my Ph.D. next spring. I just passed my second qualifying exam about a month ago, to get the dissertation idea approved. The current title is "Etchings on the Self: Neuropsychoanalysis and the Scene of Reading from Austen to Woolf" -- it's an exploration of depictions of family dysfunction in six 19th-c. English domestic novels. The thesis I wrote for the INDS Department at UMBC, with your help, will lay the basis for the final chapter of the dissertation."

Matthew Sherman, May 2008 graduate, Psycho-social Studies in Sports, news was featured in the most recent UMBC Magazine. He has used his entrepreneurship skills to sell healthy juices in Miami. 

Marquita Taylor, May 2010 graduate, ”Social Entrepreneurship and Community Arts” is working at the Sickle Cell Disease Association and is looking for interns to work as a Communications Assistant in special projects to help promote the visibility of SCDAA and to encourage membership growth with communication materials.

Alyson Becker recently sent us an update from South Korea: "I just wanted to provide you with an update on my time abroad - I'm living in Gwangyang, South Korea, which is at the southern tip of the country. My little city is pretty cozy, and the school I teach at is in a gorgeous, albeit super rural, location about 10 minutes away. I teach 1st-6th grade afterschool classes and 5th/6th grade regular curriculum classes. For the curriculum, I teach from a book, but for the afterschool lessons, I have a little more leeway. I can teach what I feel the kids need to work on and then move from there, helping with sentence structure and pronunciation."
Jimmy Spamer is working with UMBC Athletics and the Baltimore Orioles (scoreboard operator) and just accepted a position with US Lacrosse as a Database Assistant.  He has also been working part-time with ANC Sports up until last week as a LED Field Technician.  Jimmy worked the past three seasons of Ravens games and helped with offseason projects/repairs involving the scoreboards and video boards at Oriole Park, Nationals Park and the Verizon Center.

Katie Heasley recently sent an update: "I got a job as a Software Engineer back in September and I love it! I'm working at a company called Oceaneering. We're the ones that own the ROVs that fixed the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Another division manufactures (or at least used to) all of the space suits and space tools for NASA! Needless to say, I love my job (who wouldn't love programming robots). INDS has proven to be invaluable despite working a bit outside my degree field. My boss is constantly reminding us to think of the big picture when we're working on the smaller parts. Looking back, I'm so glad I went with INDS!"

Allison Isberg completed her Master's program in medieval studies and will be graduating with a "mark of distinction" for her dissertation and with honors for the program overall. She  has been accepted to the medieval studies PhD program at the University of York.

Carla Mike recently wrote from Washington D.C.: "Since graduating in 2009, I have been working in Washington, DC at a small education nonprofit, Turning the Page.  I work directly with a few Title I DC Public Schools to strengthen their family engagement efforts.  I have always been extremely passionate about a range of education issues, and this work solidified my  hope to remain in this field."

A note from Natalie Cullers: "Currently, I work for the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation, within Corporate & Foundation Relations. I deal not only with corporations and foundation who support the Academy, but also professors, Deans, and the Superintendent on a daily basis. The skills I acquired throughout my four years at UMBC, as an Interdisciplinary Studies major, have been invaluable to balancing the people and programs I support today. Yesterday, I was visiting with Saudi Aramco to discuss the accomplishments and progress the Academy’s Center for Middle East & Islamic Studies has made within the last year, and today I hosted the CEO of the Boeing Company so he could present to the midshipmen their trophy for winning a project-based learning competition amongst the service academies (Air Force, West Point). To have the capability to bridge the gap between disciplines, and to see questions or issues from a variety of perspectives makes me better at my job!!"

From Amie McDaniels: "I'm working for the School Leadership in Urban Runoff Reduction Project at Living Classrooms Foundation - I absolutely love it. Currently working on developing a summer fellowship program for high school students that are in the Cherry Hill/Baybrook area!"

Rob Bonfante writes, "I have taken a job at the Oregon Ridge Nature Center as a part time Naturalist.  I feel this is an excellent way to get my foot into naturalist/interpretive ranger type work and I get to see if its the right career for me." 

An update from Ashley Sky Litecky: "After graduating in 2003 (or was it 2004??) with my INDS degree in Integrative Health Studies, I went on to complete a M.S in Clinical Herbal Medicine in 2008.  Earlier this year we opened a wellness center, yoga studio and I operate my herbal apothecary and see herbal clients in the studio. The INDS program helped me so much in fine-tuning my interests and possible career paths, and now I can happily say that I LOVE my job!
Thank you again for your positive 'can-do' attitude.  I can't imagine what I would have done without the INDS program and your support. If you are ever in the Silver Spring area please stop by!  Our website is"

Former Retriever midfielders Terry Kimener and Peet Poillon will be part of the United States national lacrosse team which will conduct an intrasquad scrimmage Sunday October 28th at 3 p.m. at the Capital Lacrosse Classic at Landon School in Bethesda. This is the latest step for the U.S. team as it prepares for tryouts next summer before the 2014 Federation of International Lacrosse World Championships in Commerce City, Colo. Poillon, who plays for the Denver Outlaws tied for ninth in scoring in 2012 with 40 points (24-13-40) and surpassed the 100-point plateau (75-32-113) in his fifth MLL season. Poillon was a Second Team All-American for UMBC in 2009.

Cathryna Brown is the Visual Communications Associate for the Maryland Film Office. A recent video interview with Cathryna is featured on the UMBC web site.

Evan Ponter now works full time at the UMBC Training Centers at their new location in Columbia, MD as Program Coordinator. They offer training and certification in numerous areas including IT, HR, Project Management, etc. His responsibilities include coordinating all aspects of a course- purchasing textbooks, printing materials, securing a classroom (on-site and at client locations), and communicating with instructors and students.

Amie McDaniels is now a full-time teacher at Living Classrooms Foundation at Masonville Cove and part-time naturalist at Marshy Point Nature Center. At Living Classrooms she is a SLURRP (Student Leadership in Urban Runoff Reduction Program) teacher. They are gearing up to go into city schools and educate students about their actions in relationship with the Chesapeake Bay, and how runoff from the community is harming the bay. She is currently working on creating a curriculum that will show teachers how to incorporate common core/MSC standards into environmental education.

May 2012 graduate Amy Fowler just completed a summer program in Taiwan where she intensively studied Chinese. She has also accepted a full scholarship to a 3-years Masters program in Tianjin, China in Modern and Contemporary Chinese History. The graduate program said they were most impressed with her Capstone Project where she conducted an analysis of the Hukou system in China.    

Patrick Letterii  is acting and producing a new play in New York:
Tenement Street is putting on a new play called "Rough Approximations" at the Incubator Arts Project the last weekend of October and the first weekend in November. 

Rough Approximations
by John Macdonald
Directed by Eddie Prunoske
-- In a small New England town a band of bothers and sisters come to terms with the mysterious death of their dear mother while exacting revenge on their mad father in Tenement’s take on a devil tale. --

October 26, 27, 28, 30
November 1, 2, 3, 4
All performances at 8pm

Incubator Arts Project 
131 East 10th Street (at 2nd Avenue)

Joseph Schwartz designed an INDS major in  Social Sustainability and graduated in May 2011.   Now a graduate student at the Kogod School of Business at American U. and an intern in their Office of Sustainability, he is featured on American U.'s homepage for his participation in the Rio + 20 World Summit on Sustainabliity with an official UN conference badge.

Lee Van Iderstine is in South Sudan working with Medair as the Health and Hygiene Promotion (HHP) Manager, overseeing the HHP activities throughout Medair's static bases and emergency responses throughout the country for the next 18 months. She is keeping a blog at (02-02-2012)

Shari Elliker ’83, interdisciplinary studies, and Neil Beller ’83, interdisciplinary studies, were recently featured in the UMBC Magazine Summer 2010 issue.

Elizabeth Barr (Art as Activism, 2009) presented her capstone research project entitled "AIDS Art, AIDS Activism" at The 33rd Annual Southeastern Women's Studies Association Conference in March of 2010 at the University of South Carolina.

James Valentine (Social Perspectives on Biomewdical Ethics, 2008),a graduate student at Johns Hopkins' Master's of Health Policy program, presented his INDS Capstone Project, "The Ethical Implications of Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Pharmaceutical Drugs on Physician Prescribing Behaviors," as a student poster presentation at the Drug Information Association's Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA in June of 2009. Additionally, an abstract of his research was printed in the July issue of the Drug Information Journal.

Laura Dress (Biological, Social, and Ethical Dimensions of Health Care, 2007) won an award for "Best Social Issue" at the 4th International Conference on Synthetic Biology in Hong Kong in 2008. Her capstone research project was entitled "Introducing a Self-Regulatory Structure to Synthetic Biology for its Future Delivery into Our Health Care System: Economic, Ethical, and Social Challenges."

Brian Montgomery (Geographic Information Systems, 1994) is the Senior Decision Support Intelligence Analyst for the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. He worked on disease tracking for his capstone project in 1997. 

Achsa Joseph
B.A., Interdisciplinary Studies: Genocide, Human Rights and International Diplomacy


Achsah received Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award to Malaysia. She will be going there for 10 months to help teach English. She will also be working on a community project where she will be exploring Malaysian arts and crafts.

Natalie Cullers
Currently: Coordinator for Corporate & Foundation Relations in higher education development at the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation
B.A., Interdisciplinary Studies: Media and Marketing in the Sports Industry
Hometown: Annapolis, MD
"INDS was an amazing experience when I was at UMBC and it has been so very helpful throughout my job interview process as well as my job today. Given the economy, it has been invaluable to be versatile and to have the ability to "Bridge the Gap" between disciplines, making myself a better candidate for employment and for creating relationships with our donors in my current position. Being at the Naval Academy, I work with a variety of people from engineers to economists, to those in the humanities. I would not have the relationships I have now without having had my experience and training as an INDS student-so, thank you!"             

Donna Viola

Currently: Ph.D. student, Planetary Sciences, University of Arizona
B.S., Interdisciplinary Studies: Astrobiology
Summa Cum Laude
Hometown: Massapequa Park, New York

Donna Viola’s talents and aspirations were not confined to Earth at UMBC. She completed three rotations at the Mars Desert Research Station as a scientist, biologist and commander. She also worked alongside NASA researchers during her internship with Ames Academy for Space Exploration and while attending the SETI Institute Research Experience for Undergrads program in astrobiology. Donna presented independent research twice at Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Day. She served as vice president of the Interdisciplinary Studies Council of Majors, vice president of the UMBC Astronomy Club and captain of UMBC’s women’s rugby team.

“As a part of the interdisciplinary studies program here at UMBC, I have been able to explore my unique interests and develop a course of study to fit them. Moreover, my extracurricular activities have enabled me to interact with students from across the university, and working as a chemistry tutor allowed me to make a difference and help other students to succeed.”


Distinguished Service Award

Eli Eisenberg ’86, interdisciplinary Studies, is connected to UMBC through both service and philanthropy, as a member of the board of UMBC’s Alex. Brown Entrepreneurship Center, the “Exceptional by Example” Alumni Campaign Committee and the 2016 Alumni Strategic Planning Committee. In addition, he has endowed a scholarship in the name of his parents that supports two students per year. Eisenberg is founder and principal of VPC, Inc., a company providing multimedia production services, event management and studio and technology systems design. Guests at UMBC’s Commencement ceremonies and the spectacular 40th Anniversary celebration have seen VPC’s technical expertise at work.

Jonathan Posner, INDS alumnus in "Sports Management" May 2005, has had a very good year as the team manager for Trek Bicycles' Mountain racing team, running all the operations of their mountain bike racing progams. "It was a very adventurous and rewarding job," he writes.

Below are the season highlights:
Trek/VW Factory MTB team:
6 regional teams and a World Cup team of 5 main riders. Last years schedule had us attend 20 team races all over the US and Europe, Scotland, and New Zealand.

Christine Osazuwa

Current job: Project Manager for Mission Media
B.A., Interdisciplinary Studies: Music Journalism and Entrepreneurship
MBA Preparatory Certificate
Hometown: Rosedale, Maryland

Christine Osazuwa’s enthusiasm for UMBC, and especially the interdisciplinary studies program, led her to become a UMBC Ambassador for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, where she helped recruit students to the university. She received an Undergraduate Research Award to study “Access, Entitlement and Expectations of Popular Music Bands in the Age of Social Media,” which she presented at Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Day this year. Her presentation, a 15-minute documentary, was part of a 90-minute film she created on the subject. Christine also founded a music promotion company and has worked for several record companies.

“I love this school and wish more people acknowledged it for everything it has to offer. I think our school is quirky and incredibly accepting. I especially love interdisciplinary studies. I feel that our major gives students the most flexibility.”

Christina Gray Briscoe

Currently: Completing graduate work in the Portuguese language, University of Wisconsin-Madison and U.S. Student Fulbright Program, Full Research Grant, Brazil 
B.A., Interdisciplinary Studies: Public Health in the Latino Community
Summa Cum Laude
Hometown: Yorktown, Virginia

UMBC’s interdisciplinary studies program enabled Christina Briscoe to create a major that combined her passions for research, service and Latino culture. She was a member of the Honors College and a UMBC Premier Scholar. She conducted an independent study project through the School for International Training and the Universidade Federal da Bahia where she analyzed the characteristics and experiences of adolescent mothers in Praia Grande, Ilha de Maré, which she will continue in 2012 through a Fulbright Fellowship. She studied and interned abroad in Brazil, Perú and Guatemala. Not only has Christina demonstrated her passion for research and academics, but she has dedicated much of her time to service. She earned the Best Emerging Leader of Service Award in 2008 and was a UMBC Nominee for the Maryland Higher Education Commission Service Award in 2009. Her service initiatives include co-leading a group of UMBC students to assist with activities for para- and quadriplegic campers at Camp Boggy Creek, participating in an internship with the Maryland Office for Refugees and Asylees and working with the Baltimore City Harm Reduction and Needle Exchange Program.

“By providing opportunities for creativity, international experience and enthusiastic academic support, UMBC helped developed my passions for knowledge and service. It has truly been the work of a marvelous and multicultural group of people (staff, professors and peers from a host of different backgrounds) that has made my UMBC experience as empowering and meaningful as it has been.”