Student Scholarship Corner: Carrie Cleveland ’16, Social Work

After a series of stops and starts in her pursuit of higher education — up to and including marriage and children — Carrie Cleveland graduated from UMBC this past May with a degree in social work. During her time here, Cleveland was the recipient of multiple scholarships made possible by the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation, including the Susan Bernstein-Charlotte W. Newcombe Memorial Scholarship for returning students in the social work field. The Newcombe Foundation provides support to students over the age of 25, and has helped over 5,000 UMBC students achieve their goals since 1981.  In her own words…


“What I appreciated about these awards is that these scholarships were meant to help a student who had additional challenges. Trying to manage three young kids while in school is challenging. I have the expenses of a working person, like daycare, but not the income that is needed to help pay for those expenses. These scholarships helped me to be able to afford my tuition and the cost of care for my children while I took classes or was in my social work field placement. If it was not for these funds, I would have had to take out more loans to cover the cost of care for my children. I am so appreciated of scholarships that look at not just the student, but their unique circumstances as well…

“[After graduation,] I will be attending University of Maryland, Baltimore as an advanced standing student at the School of Social Work. My clinical field instruction will take place at a school for middle schoolers who are federally classified as emotionally disabled.”

Read more about Carrie Cleveland at UMBC News.

John W. Jeffries Dean’s List Award honors high achievers

UMBC is about to celebrate its 50th anniversary, and we didn’t get this far without the dedication of some incredible people. People like Dean Emeritus John Jeffries, who joined the UMBC History Department in 1973, and spent the next 40 years helping his students and the university excel.

When Dean Jeffries retired as Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (CAHSS) in 2013, an anonymous donor established the John W. Jeffries Dean’s List Award in his honor. The fund—which recognizes Dean Jeffries for his dedication to UMBC students and his commitment to seeing them excel—provides critical support for high-achieving students who aren’t already receiving a specialty scholarship. If they’ve demonstrated their drive by reaching the Dean’s list for three consecutive semesters, they’re eligible for the award.

This spring, Dean Jeffries had the chance to meet with some of the students who had received the award and learn a bit about their UMBC journeys.

Sunita Mengers ’16, biological sciences, had just returned from Spain when she met with Dean Jeffries. “Receiving this award helped me fully immerse myself in the local culture and allowed me to adapt to a new environment,” she explains. Hoping to continue her studies at med school, Sunita said UMBC’s close-knit and supportive environment played a big role in helping her reach her goals.

“The whole [UMBC] community helps you succeed,” she adds.

That sense of community and support is a feeling common across campus, especially among the award recipients. “I received personalized classroom instruction from quality professors who truly care about the well-being of their students,” says Ayushi Aggarwal ‘16, biochemistry and molecular biology.

The students also felt the impact of the reward well beyond their initial acceptance. Thanks in part to this scholarship, Olsi Leka ’16, computer engineering, is achieving his career goals.

“I have accepted a position [at Texas Instruments in Dallas] as a product engineer, a position that will allow me to continue my learning process beyond the doors of UMBC,” he says.

For Marianne Kirchgessner ’16, social work, the Dean John Jeffries Award is allowing her to continue her education. “[Receiving this scholarship] was a blessing because it lessened the burden for me and my parents and freed up some money to pay for grad school,” she says.

Given Dean Jeffries’ long history of helping students, it seems fitting that the fund established in his honor should do the same, as it prepares these talented Retrievers to take everything they’ve learned at UMBC into their bright futures.

“I’m both delighted and honored by the award, which helps high-achieving Dean’s List students who do not hold UMBC specialty scholarships complete their undergraduate education,” said Dean Jeffries. “I’m especially honored to have my name associated with these remarkable young men and women.”

Katharine Scrivener

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Phenomenal World: Juliana and Homer Schamp Memorial Scholarship seeks to inspire the next generation of teachers

Think back to the science classes you took as a child. What do you remember about them? Did you watch a caterpillar spin a cocoon and emerge a butterfly, or a tadpole grow into a frog? Did you turn baking soda and vinegar into a fuming volcano, or set off a homemade hot air balloon from the school parking lot? Did you feel a sense of wonder as you watched the world work its unique magic?

That’s the sense of wonder the late Homer W. Schamp, Jr., UMBC’s first dean of the faculty, professor emeritus of education, and trained physicist, pursued science with, and one he sought to instill in both his students and his own children. His wife Juliana Reese Schamp, who worked on important sociological research for the state of Maryland, treated life the same way, until her passing in 2009.

With the Juliana and Homer Schamp Memorial Scholarship, their sons, Brough and David Schamp, hope to keep their parents’ legacy of intellectual curiosity alive in the next generation of K-12 science educators.

Throughout his life, Dr. Schamp, a former College Park physics professor who joined UMBC in 1965, emphasized early education as a crucial part of a child’s intellectual development. His own introduction to science began during his childhood in rural Ohio, when, according to his son David, he became fascinated with the engineering of farm equipment. It’s a curiosity he emphasized to the education classes he taught here, and something he brought up his own children with as well.

“He exposed us to all kinds of different things as we were growing up,” says Brough. “Mushroom hunting, […] botany, the stars, everything. […] His main field was physics, which is really pretty abstract, but what he really was interested in was the phenomenal, real world that we live in.” After his retirement, Brough says, Dr. Schamp built several kinetic sculptures and interactive physics-based artworks, including a large kaleidoscope on display at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore.

Brough shares his father’s belief that science “should be a hands-on subject,” and says that computers and technology can create a distance between students and the physical world around them.

“The kids should be inspired by something they saw, heard, felt, experienced,” he says. “[That] inspiration is something that is often lost if you’re just looking at something on a computer and answering questions.”

In keeping with his philosophy on education, Dr. Schamp made sure to hire only the highest-quality professors, and it’s doubtful that UMBC would be the hub for innovative teaching and experiential learning it is today without the Schamps’ early influence.

“UMBC was my father’s life’s work and both of my parents conceived of it as a first rank teaching institution,” David says. While his mother, Juliana, was never a faculty member, she was “instrumental in [UMBC’s first faculty] being hired, as recruitment usually began as an evening in our home where my parents could converse [with candidates] on almost any topic.”

Giving back to UMBC seems to run in the family: Homer and Juliana Schamp established the Joseph D. Reese Memorial Prize, a biennial award given to history students, in memory of her father. “It seemed only natural to want to contribute to a place so dear to [our parents],” says David.

He agrees with his brother that their parents raised them to be thinkers, to ask questions.

“I often later felt I had learned my most important lessons at home — specifically how to learn — [and] that curiosity and thoroughness were rewarding and that it had to come from within. Knowing how to learn is the most crucial skill a teacher can pass on and my parents really encapsulated that skill. I would hope any future teachers would want to engender that in their pupils,” he says.

We don’t know exactly what science education will look like when the first Schamp scholar teaches their first class, but we do know that they’ll have the intellect, leadership, and natural curiosity to inspire a new generation of learners.

Julia Celtnieks ’13

Make a gift to UMBC today, and help inspire a new generation.


Hacking the Real World: Donor support gives students hands-on experience in their fields


This spring, more than 350 students joined in this year’s annual HackUMBC, a 24-hour “tech innovation marathon” where participants were challenged to come up with creative solutions to specific challenges. The slogan: “Dream big. Make it happen.”

Students worked individually and on teams to build projects, or “hacks,” which were judged on technical complexity, elegance, and creativity during an expo at the conclusion of the event.

Contrary to popular belief, not all hacks require computer coding. “We call it an idea marathon,” explains Michael Bishoff ’16, computer science, a founder of HackUMBC. “It doesn’t have to be an app or a computer program.” In the past, participants have built tangible things like pop-up showers and coffee makers. Next year, HackUMBC would even like to incorporate a social good component, challenging students to come up with solutions to societal challenges.

“I’m trying to see where tech could come into play for disadvantaged groups,” says current HackUMBC co-president Celestine Wong, a rising senior studying computer science and social work. “I find a lot of joy in doing good for someone else.”

Wong’s dual major in social work and computer science has fueled her interest in finding real-world intersections between the fields, and she’s not alone. Many hackathons focus on how hacks can make the world a better place. As both Bishoff and Wong point out, these events can be great resume builders, but they’re even better when they create an opportunity to help the community.

The event has drawn interest and sponsorship support from a variety of leading tech companies and government agencies. Dan Hood ’01, computer science, is the chief technology officer for one of those companies, ClearEdge IT Solutions, which provides provides software engineering and data solutions and services. Hood says that for ClearEdge, getting involved with UMBC and the hackathon makes sense — it gives their company a chance to see some of the brightest upcoming students, and they get to help those students by providing learning opportunities and exposure to the career options that await them.

“I think it’s important to support the next generation of the workforce,” says Hood.

The National Security Agency (NSA), a top employer for UMBC alumni, provided “technical talks, mentors, and recruitment opportunities” for students during the event, says Kathy Hutson, NSA’s associate director for human resources.

“NSA and UMBC work closely together to help build the leaders of today and tomorrow to ensure that the Agency can protect and defend the country,” Hutson explained. “UMBC graduates have contributed greatly to our mission and we are proud of all we have accomplished together.”

Tenable Network Security, a firm that provides comprehensive security technology solutions, supports the Hackathon because it values UMBC’s educational initiatives, its students, and its cyber-focused extracurricular activities.

“The platform UMBC provided, which allowed companies to help students with hacking-related questions, was very useful in creating an innovative and collaborative atmosphere,” said Tenable Network Security’s spokesperson.

That innovative atmosphere goes a long way to helping students gain the valuable real-world experience they’ll need to land a job. In fact, those extracurriculars can help students stand out amongst a crowd of applicants.

“While classroom experience is fantastic, we encourage students to engage in personal projects that help them apply the skills learned within the curriculum,” says Tenable Network Security’s spokesperson. “These are qualities of very successful employees at Tenable and something we feel is important for students to realize early on.”

Hands-on experience is one of the chief benefits of HackUMBC, says Bishoff. “It’s like a 24-hour recruiting event,” he explains. “The students who come to these events are passionate about programming. They’re the kinds of people who want to work on weekends.”

Hood adds that the Hackathon gives students the chance to work in a team environment, navigate the stress of a time crunch, and be innovative. “To see [participants] go from nothing to concept to prototype in a day is pretty remarkable,” he says.

See more news coverage: AND

Learn about Hack UMBC:

HackUMBC was sponsored by Tenable Network Security, ClearEdge IT Solutions, the NSA, McCormick, TowerSEC, Northrop Grumman, PayPal, T. Rowe Price, VentureStorm, Namecheap, Soylent, Google, and Square.

— Meredith Purvis

“What An Unbelievable Place This Is:” Linehan Reception Celebrates UMBC’s Commitment to the Arts

When we think of art, we tend to think of finished pieces: paintings in galleries, dances and plays performed to a sold-out crowd, freshly pressed full-length records and live symphonies. But the reality is that art is so much more than final product. It’s what we can’t see — the equipment, the time, the relentless pursuit of creativity, and donors like you — that makes it possible.

At the end of each academic year, we celebrate the hard work and creative achievements of some of UMBC’s most talented student artists at the Linehan Artist Scholars Reception. This year, guests at the reception were able to take in a student showcase in the Performing Arts and Humanities Building’s Dance Cube, a massive glass structure overlooking Hilltop Circle.

Since 1999, the Linehan program, established with a generous gift from Earl and Darielle Linehan and currently headed by Doug Hamby, associate professor of dance, has been advancing UMBC’s reputation as a center for the arts as well as STEM, and the PAHB is a centerpiece of that effort. Much like any fine work of art, the building took several years of planning and multiple phases of construction before the finished product could be shown, inhabited, and practiced in. The past several Linehan receptions have been held here: achievement within achievement.

According to Scott Casper, dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, the Linehan program prides itself on being not just a scholarship, but a community. Students live together on the Visual and Performing Arts floor in Harbor Hall, and have several opportunities a year to visit museums and performances in Baltimore, New York, and Philadelphia. Students at the reception related their experiences within the Linehan program (among them: seeing the Paris Opera Ballet perform Jonathan Safran Foer’s Tree of Codes and visiting the Museum of Modern Art).

This year’s showcase featured a variety of student art from across disciplines. On the visual arts side, Adan Rodriguez ’17 assembled a short video presentation, compiling various works from design, animation, and film students, as well as their commentary on their work, their influences, and what art means to them.

Art, says animation major Justyna Kurbiel ’18, is “a sharing of ideas,” but it also takes a lot more work than people realize.

“They never really know what’s just outside the frame,” she says plainly, before the camera pans back from her face, revealing microphones, monitors, and the screen behind her.

Ryan Bailey ’16, dance, choreographed and performed a piece set, intermittently, to Earth, Wind, and Fire’s “September” and long periods of frenetic, movement-filled silence. Chanel Whitehead ’17 performed Romani Lachrymose, an original and deeply melancholy composition by Samuel Winnie ’16, music, on cello, with Winnie accompanying her on a laptop and synthesizer.

Ally Kocerhan ’16, theatre and gender and women’s studies, who, at the time of the reception, was facing a choice between the California Institute of the Arts and New York University for graduate school, directed Jessie Gilson ’17 in a scene from Christopher Durang’s Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You. Gilson’s character, Diane, an ex-Catholic, tells the story of the loss and trauma that destroyed her faith to one of the nuns who taught her in school.

The performance moved Earl Linehan, who told Gilson, “I’m a Catholic [and I get it]…I could hear Sister Madeline talking to me.”

“What an unbelievable place this is,” Linehan told the crowd. “I choke up every time.”

Julia Celtnieks ’13; photos by Marlayna Demond ’11

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“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.