“Because We Can”: Endowed Scholarship Luncheon Celebrates Philanthropy at UMBC

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As UMBC heads into its 50th year, we’ve been looking back on our tales of grit and moments of greatness. What better time to do that than the Endowed Scholarship Luncheon, a yearly event where donors meet the students who’ve benefited from their contributions? Throughout this spring’s luncheon, speakers stressed the importance of investing in young people, and how education can bring forth greatness from humble beginnings.

Sylvia Brown came from such beginnings in rural Virginia, and said that she wouldn’t have been able to get where she is today – teacher, administrator, philanthropist – without the help of caring parents and teachers in her youth. She’s since dedicated much of her life to ensuring access and opportunities for young people across the Baltimore area. She and her husband Eddie Brown were some of the first donors to invest in the Meyerhoff Scholars Program, and they have provided abundant support to UMBC over the years.

Mrs. Brown spoke of the importance of giving, and said that it fills her with gratitude to see a beneficiary of her gifts turn around to help someone else. As she looked around the room at students sitting with the donors who funded their scholarships, she said, “I think it’s been working.”

Jackie Hrabowski, former faculty member at UMBC, current board member at T. Rowe Price, and wife of UMBC President Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, also cited key influences from her childhood on her choice to give back. Her parents were known in their community for their generosity, and she remembered asking her father, as a teenager, why their family had to be the ones to help out all the time.

Her father answered, quite simply, “Because we can.”

The people who have established scholarship funds for UMBC students have done so not out of obligation, but because they could, because they wanted to invest in the success of future generations. Scholarship recipients, in turn, have a habit of paying it forward.

Awardees use their gifts not only to put themselves through school, but to give back to the institution and the community. One such beneficiary is Parker James ’16, health administration and policy, who, as a France-Merrick Fellow and Sondheim Public Affairs Scholar, co-created Students for a Healthy Baltimore, an organization that places undergraduate volunteers at health clinics throughout the city. He says these opportunities have affirmed his commitment to removing barriers to health care access for the underprivileged.

As Vice President of Institutional Advancement Greg Simmons ’04, M.P.P. public policy, put it, stories like these matter, and the establishment of endowed scholarships demonstrates the university’s commitment to elevation. Dr. Hrabowski agreed, citing UMBC’s contribution to the growth of the middle class and to the next generation of leaders.

As Dr. Hrabowski said, if we can do all this in 50 years, imagine where we’re headed next.

— Julia Celtnieks ’13

Give our students a hand, and pay it forward by making a gift today. For more photos from the event, head to Flickr.

Scholarship Q&A: Cindy Alms ’17, Biological Sciences

As the academic year draws to a close, we thought we might take the time to introduce you to some of our Alumni Association Scholarship recipients. Today, we hear from Cindy Alms ’17, biological sciences.

cynthiaName: Cindy Alms

Major/Minor: Biological Sciences/Mathematics

Grad Year: 2017

Extracurriculars: Cross country and track team, Couple and Family Relationships Lab, RAC staff member, Peer Advisor in the Office of Academic and Pre-professional Advising, Scribe at Baltimore Washington Medical Center, SUCCESS Peer Volunteer

Why did you decide to attend UMBC? UMBC is a strong STEM school and I love how students really care about their academic work. I value a quality education, and there are so many other ways to become involved and gain experience on campus.

What’s been the most amazing discovery you’ve made so far as a student here? The most amazing discovery [I’ve made] is the amount of opportunities to get experience and be involved, as well as the amount of people willing to help you reach your goals. I have made close relationships with professors and staff on campus who genuinely want to […] see their students succeed.

What are you most proud of accomplishing in your time at UMBC? My involvement on campus. I feel like I have met so many people and made so many connections from my time here. Some of the relationships are going to last for the rest of my life.

What would you say to the people who provided your scholarship? I cannot begin to explain the gratitude I feel for the people who provided my scholarship. I am very lucky to be a recipient and I will continue to work hard at UMBC.

What do you hope to do after graduation? I am hoping to go to medical school to get a doctorate in medicine.

Give to UMBC today to support scholarships for students like Cindy.

 

Scholarship Q&A: Joelle Cusic ’16

As the academic year draws to a close, we thought we might take the time to introduce you to some of our Alumni Association Scholarship recipients. Today, we hear from Joelle Cusic ’16, biochemistry and molecular biology.

Name: Joelle CusicIMG_0253

Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Grad Year: 2016

Extracurriculars: Shock Trauma volunteer at UMMC, URA scholar, Woolie, hospital lab volunteer, violin

Why did you decide to attend UMBC? I decided to attend UMBC because I felt that I would receive a strong science education with the opportunity to do research, which would provide me with a strong foundation upon which I can build when I enter medical school.

What’s been the most amazing discovery you’ve made so far as a student here? The most amazing discovery I’ve made so far as a student at UMBC is that I can achieve my goals and far exceed my own expectations. I’m still amazed that I’m a Biochem major. There is always room to improve and grow and looking back over the last few years here, I have seen just how far I’ve come as an individual and as a student.

What are you most proud of accomplishing in your time at UMBC? If there is anything I’m most happy about accomplishing, it is that I have had the opportunity to expand my own mind through research while helping other through being a teaching assistant.

What would you say to the people who provided your scholarship? I would say thank you for helping me pursue my dream of becoming a medical doctor. Your gift has helped me immensely as I finish out my last year of undergrad and my parents and I are truly grateful. Your gift has allowed me to take another step closer to reaching my goal.

What do you hope to do after graduation? Once I graduate with my bachelor of science in biochemistry and molecular biology in May 2016, I will be applying to medical school in the hopes of matriculating in fall 2017. During my year off, I plan to find a position in a local hospital and perhaps a research internship. I am also in the midst of applying for a spot in a six-month medical missions trip, which is based in New Zealand and will run from January to June of 2017, that will serve the islands of the South Pacific. However, my ultimate goal is to become an oncologist, which I believe would allow me to be able to have the opportunity to treat patients and promote health wellness and prevention within the community while also opening the door for me to do research on genetic diseases.

Help students like Joelle pursue their educational goals by making a gift today.

 

Scholarship Q&A: Sarah Bach ’16, Biological Sciences

As the academic year draws to a close, we thought we might take the time to introduce you to some of our Alumni Association Scholarship recipients. Let’s hear from Sarah Bach ’16, biological sciences, who received an Alumni Legacy Scholarship for the 2015-16 academic year.

HeadshotName: Sarah Bach

Major: Biological Sciences

Grad Year: 2016

Extracurriculars: Global Brigades Dental Program, Pre-Dental Society

Why did you decide to attend UMBC? I chose UMBC because of its strong STEM program. I was also impressed by the amount of undergraduate opportunities in research. At many other schools that I toured, research was limited to graduate students. My dad also attended UMBC!

What’s been the most amazing discovery you’ve made so far as a student here? Joining a club or campus organization can really shape your undergrad experience and help you discover where your passion lies!

What are you most proud of accomplishing in your time at UMBC? During my time at UMBC I have changed so much as a person. The diversity at this school has allowed me to broaden my understanding of other cultures [,and the] opportunities I’ve had here have helped me grow into a more mature and well-rounded individual.

What would you say to the people who provided your scholarship? Thank you! There is so much value in education and I am so glad you have chosen to support mine!

What do you hope to do after graduation? I just got accepted at [the] University of [Maryland] dental school, so for the next four years I’ll be working towards my dream!

Help students like Sarah pursue their dreams by making a gift today.

Scholarship Q&A: Michael Wallace Karugu ’15, Information Systems, and M.S. ’17, Cybersecurity

As the academic year draws to a close, we thought we might take the time to introduce you to some of our Alumni Association Scholarship recipients. Today, we hear from Michael Wallace Karugu ’15, information systems, who is currently working toward a master’s degree in cybersecurity here at UMBC.

IMG_20150713_135034Name: Michael Wallace Karugu

Major: Information Systems (current master’s student in Cybersecurity)

Grad Year: 2015, 2017

Extracurriculars: Soccer and billiards

Why did you decide to attend UMBC? UMBC is a renowned institution offering recognized STEM programs. I wanted to experience the learning environment and opportunities offered by UMBC. Furthermore, since I was a transfer student, UMBC was ready to accommodate the credits that I wanted to transfer.

What’s been the most amazing discovery you’ve made so far as a student here? The faculty, staff and students at UMBC are very friendly and always willing to assist. This friendly environment promotes a healthy learning environment.

What are you most proud of accomplishing in your time at UMBC? I am currently the student manager of the Desktop Student Support section in DoIT. Having started as a regular student employee here two years ago, I feel this is my most proud accomplishment during my time at UMBC.

What would you say to the people who provided your scholarship? I would like to thank them from the bottom of my heart for supporting me financially. This assistance enabled me to focus more on my studies as compared to stressing about how I would meet my school related costs. This assistance goes a long way in nurturing deserving students.

What do you hope to do after graduation? I graduated from my undergraduate program in fall 2015 and I am now pursuing a master’s program in cybersecurity here at UMBC. I plan on graduating in the Spring of 2017. After earning my master’s degree, I will pursue employment from the private sector as a cybersecurity specialist, and in future I plan on establishing a cybersecurity consultancy firm.

Students like Michael rely on the financial support of our donors. Please consider making a contribution today.

Scholarship Q&A: Grace Kim ’16, English

As the academic year draws to a close, we thought we might take the time to introduce you to some of our Alumni Association Scholarship recipients. Today, we hear from Grace Kim ’16, English.

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 2.13.28 PMName: Grace Kim

Major/Minor: English/Dance

Grad Year: 2016

Extracurriculars: Member of Major Definition and Reading Tutor at Arundel Elementary/Middle School

Why did you decide to attend UMBC? I fell in love with the “homey” feel of the campus. Right away, I knew I could see myself making a second home here.

What’s been the most amazing discovery you’ve made so far as a student here? I’ve discovered that I have the ability to make goals happen if I put my mind to it.

What are you most proud of accomplishing in your time at UMBC? I am proud that I’ve made my parents proud. Their support has been a huge factor in my success at UMBC.

What would you say to the people who provided your scholarship? Simply, thank you. This scholarship has allowed me to focus on my studies and not on the financial aspect. Thank you so much for your contribution to my successful college career.

What do you hope to do after graduation? I hope to attend Towson University for their Master of Arts in Teaching program for Early Childhood Education.

Please consider making a gift today to help students like Grace pursue their goals.

 

Scholarship Q&A: Samantha Eng ’16, Biological Sciences

As the academic year draws to a close, we thought we might take the time to introduce you to some of our Alumni Association Scholarship recipients. Today, we hear from Samantha Eng ’16, biological sciences.

DSC_0109_ppName: Samantha Eng

Major: Biological Sciences

Grad Year: 2016

Extracurriculars: Undergraduate Research Award (URA) Scholar, Biology Teaching Assistant, Meyerhoff Program Peer Advisor, UMBC Office of Undergraduate Admissions Student Assistant

Why did you decide to attend UMBC? I was part of the pre­med college program at Brooklyn Technical High School in NYC. UMBC was one of the schools we visited on our tour of the Baltimore area. I chose UMBC for the school’s dedication to research and the Meyerhoff Scholars Program. When I was applying to colleges, the program’s staff, mentorship, and record of success in encouraging students to pursue graduate studies after UMBC always stood out to me.

What’s been the most amazing discovery you’ve made so far as a student? I am amazed about how much I was able to accomplish and experience during my short time at UMBC. This was made possible by my supportive advisors, mentors, and classmates who constantly motivated me.

What are you most proud of accomplishing during your time at UMBC? I am proud to leave my comfort zone and try new things. UMBC has so many opportunities for students to get involved. I currently study darter fish in Dr. Mendelson’s lab in the Biology Department, serve as a lead teaching assistant for Biology Lab, work in the admissions office, and work closely with my scholarship program. There really is something for everyone as long as you are willing to put yourself out there and participate.

What would you say to the people who provided your scholarship? I am honored to have received the UMBC Alumni Association Scholarship. Thank you for investing in my future as I apply to medical and graduate school programs. I am thankful to those who continue to give back to UMBC and who have really shown me their support.

What do you hope to do after graduation? I hope to study developmental biology in graduate school.

Scholarships like Samantha’s rely on donations from people like you. Please consider making a gift today.

Scholarship Q&A: Amirreza Saharkiz ’16, Mechanical Engineering

As the academic year draws to a close, we thought we might take the time to introduce you to some of our Alumni Association Scholarship recipients. Today, we hear from Amirreza Saharkiz ’16, mechanical engineering.

A_Saharkhiz.Jpg (1) (1)Name: Amirreza Saharkiz

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Grad Year: 2016

Extracurriculars: President of the Persian Student Association, Member of the Honors College, Member of the Mini Baja team, Undergraduate Research Assistant

Why did you decide to attend UMBC? I considered many factors before I [chose] UMBC. First, I like small colleges and because I intended to be an engineer, the only available in-state school for me was UMBC. Also, UMBC offered me several scholarships which made me even more interested [in] attending UMBC.

What’s been the most amazing discovery you’ve made so far as a student here? The most amazing discovery that I found as a student is [that the faculty] at UMBC really care about students’ success, [especially] for undergraduate students.

What are you most proud of accomplishing in your time at UMBC? I have received an Undergraduate Research Award (URA), and [I was also] elected as the president of the Persian Student Association (PSA).

What would you say to the people who provided your scholarship? [You are] great people who care about other people’s success and [have a] great understanding of the obstacles toward higher education.

What do you hope to do after graduation? I have applied for [five Ph.D. programs] and hopefully I can get admitted.

Your gift to UMBC helps fund scholarships for students like Amirreza. Please consider donating today.

 

Meet the Staff: Chella Passante, Program Center Manager

Here in the Office of Institutional Advancement, we are always working hard to support the university and connect our donors with causes they care most about. We would like to introduce our donors — to whom we are so grateful — to the people who help make those things happen. Today, we’re talking with Chella Passante, who manages our Phonathon call center.


20150910_073827Name:
Chella Passante

Job Title: Program Center Manager, Phonathon

Focus Area: Fundraising for different departments here on campus

Years at UMBC: I’ve been here since October, so almost a year.

Where are you from? Originally I was born in New York, but I grew up in [a small town called] Talent, Oregon.

What do you love the most about UMBC? I really love the diversity [and] how everyone embraces it here. There’s always events going on, and we’re really diverse here in the call center as well. I’ve learned a lot about many different cultures, different foods, different religions, and I really love it.

What’s your favorite thing about your job? Getting to work with students…just being able to have them ask me certain questions, and trying to guide them or give them good advice. I’ve been there. I’ve been a senior in college, stressing, and [I try] to give them tips and support to help them be successful and move on to better things.

Who do you admire the most and why? I admire my mom the most, because she was always able to get everything accomplished, regardless of what was put in front of her. I definitely strive to be like her.

What is the best book you’ve read recently? I re-read The Kite Runner about three weeks ago…I haven’t read it since high school, and I forgot how well-written that book was and how many emotions it can bring out of you.

Check out more Q&A’s with our advancement staff here!

Meet the Phonathon Caller: Johnna, Class of 2018

Every so often, we’ll profile one of the amazing Phonathon students working in UMBC’s call center. Today, we’re talking with Johnna, an anthropology and global studies double major from Charles County, Maryland.

johnnaWhy did you choose UMBC, and what do you like best now that you’re here? I am a transfer student, so I chose UMBC because it was closer to home. I really like the academics here, the global studies program is really well put together, and anthropology is a subset of something I wanted to do, so I was really interested in that as well.

What activities do you enjoy outside of class? I’m part of the Red Cross Club, and I do a lot of volunteer work on my own. And, of course, Phonathon.

What do you like best about being a student caller? I like that we get to talk to people who have been here before all the big new changes and stuff, so it’s cool to see how UMBC has expanded over the years. And not even just, like, 50 years ago! Like two years ago, or three years ago. It’s such a huge change to people. 

What are your plans after graduation? I plan on hopefully getting a job with a government entity, and working towards my end goal [of becoming] an ambassador towards the Middle East.

Head to GiveCorps for more info on some of the great causes we’re raising funds for!