Alumni Awards 2018


(classical music) – [Announcer] Ladies and
gentlemen, a round of applause as our awardees and
speakers take the stage. (applauds) Welcome to UMBC’s 2018
Alumni Awards ceremony and to the Earl and Darielle
Linehan Concert Hall. Our first speaker is Mr. John Becker, president of the Alumni
Association board of directors and a 2001 graduate with a
degree in information systems. – Good evening. Good evening! – [Audience] Good evening. – Welcome to the 30th Annual
Alumni Awards ceremony as a representative body of
more than 77,000 graduates. 77,000, that’s a lot don’t you think? (applauds) The UMBC Alumni Association
and its board of directors are proud to host this
signature event every year. Taking a look around at the 340 of you that chose to be with us tonight I am so happy that
retriever pride is thriving. We had more than 100
more alumni and friends register this year than last year and I would like to thank you for continuing to support
the Alumni Association. (applauds) The awards bestowed tonight
are presented in coordination with the office of
institutional advancement and with the support
of the UMBC community. The nomination and selection process is a year round endeavor led
by the Alumni Association board of directors
alumni awards committee. Before we begin I’d like to
acknowledge Jennifer Herson, our alumni awards committee chair. Please stand, Jen. (applauds) The alumni and faculty who we
who we will recognize tonight truly capture the depth
of the UMBC community. I’m humbled to share the stage tonight with these remarkable honorees. I’d also like to take
a moment to acknowledge our generous event sponsors. Sponsorship of this event benefits the Alumni
Endowed Scholarship Fund which strives to make
a meaningful difference in the lives of deserving students. We aim to help them achieve the dream of receiving a degree from UMBC and joining the ranks of the alumni. The UMBC Alumni Association
has awarded more than $135,000 in scholarships over
the past 11 years alone and has helped nearly 100
UMBC students graduate. (applauds) We’re happy to recognize
tonight’s flagship sponsor at the Grit and Greatness level, the alumni owned Miner and Cash. At the Retriever Believer
level we have Ron Lee and Kara Freeman Lee, class of 1991. Jeremy Reed, class of 2008 and 2010. Kevin Yang, class of 2007 and Katelyn Niu, class of 2005. Scalable Technologies LLC and the Maryland Association of CPAs. Let’s give these and
sponsors at every level a round of applause for their support of the Alumni Endowed Scholarship Fund. (applauds) We’re also honored this
year to welcome over 25 of our former Alumni Award
recipients back to campus to celebrate this event’s 30th anniversary and to join us in recognizing
this year’s awardees. I am heartened by the respect and goodwill that our alumni show one another and tonight is another
example of that respect. Thank you very much. Former Alumni Award
recipients please stand now and allow us to recognize you. (applauds) Heartfelt thanks. In addition to our generous
sponsors I would like to thank Eli Eisenberg, class of 1986 and the founder of VPC
Incorporated for producing three excellent videos for the ceremony, including one that was featured
in our scholarship awardees and one which you saw at the
beginning of tonight’s program. The Alumni Association greatly
appreciates Eli’s support. (applauds) This year the Alumni
Association awarded scholarships to seven deserving students. I would like to take a
moment to acknowledge the awardees who are here tonight. Ifeoma Azinge, biology and psychology. Jessica Davis, information systems. Julie Homans in history. Jumina Ito in biochemistry. Araby Kaba, Rachel Mansir in social work. And Alexia Petasis in
interdisciplinary studies. Please stand and let’s give them all a welcome deserved round of of
applause, where are you guys? (applauds) Each of you embodies the
very grit and greatness that will carry you to
UMBC to continued success. We are so proud of you and have a feeling that we’ll be seeing
you up here on the stage getting your own Alumni Awards very soon. Before I ask President
Hrabowski to say a few words, I would like to offer one reflection about our panel of award
recipients this year. We’re in a place and time
in our nation’s history in which we have seen pressure
on public civil discourse. Coincidentally or perhaps not, several high profile movements have arisen such as Black Lives Matter and Me Too. The committee did not make
a conscious effort this year to award almost a full slate of women, but it was not a surprise
to me and in my opinion it’s a testament to the
diversity of our alumni body that such a serendipitous
outcome occurred. It’s now my pleasure to ask
President Freeman Hrabowski to offer his welcome. (applauds) – Thank you very much. Thank you, John. Give John a round of
applause for his leadership. (applauds) They’re thanking you. Good evening. – [Audience] Good evening. – I am delighted to… How many of you are in this
facility for the first time? Yeah, so you… How many of you are alumni? Let every alum in the camp, the alumnus, alumni, all
of the alumnus, stand up, everybody who’s an alum, stand
up, let me see who you are. (applauds) Wow, very nice. All of the alums, all of the alums, this is for a minute, just for a minute. And most of you will appreciate this that when most of you were here, you probably could not have imagined having a facility looking like this, especially in the arts and humanities. Give the arts and humanities a… (applauds) We are here to celebrate and I want… Based on what John just said let me say I think UMBC has the most amazing students anywhere in the world. Give our students a round of applause. They really are, they really are. And so those of you who
saw a protest last week probably thought back to
the time when you were here when we also had protests and it is a part of
the American democracy. Thank God that we allow people to say what they really believe
and to care about others. Give our students another
round of applause. (applauds) And so you need to know
UMBC is better than ever because anytime you have
those kinds of activities from the ’60s when I was involved as a kid is things can have the
opportunity then to get better. And you get a chance to
hear and listen to people and so for this campus it’s about safety, it’s about respect, it’s about understanding
another’s perspective, it’s about making sure that people feel that we are hearing what they say. And for that I am very
grateful that this is a campus that believes in community, that believes so strongly in the power of every voice to make a difference and that’s what tonight is about. It’s about the fact that we
have some of the most amazing alumni ever anyplace
and amazingly 52 years that we can talk about having people who are lawyers and doctors and physicians and scientists and
teachers and social workers and judges and artists
and we can go on and on. We have graduates now in the faculties from Harvard to Stanford. The faculty member at
Columbia in the classics, the president of Clemson, the head of the applied physics lab at Johns Hopkins University, the chair of neurosurgery at Vanderbilt, many other faculty at
Hopkins, some of them here and I can go on and on. And it’s all because of two things. Number one, the sense that we
can work to be our best selves and number two and most important, we’ve got great students and
excellent faculty and staff. So I want all the faculty and retired faculty and staff to stand. Please, let’s see who you are. (applauds) That’s really nice. It’s wonderful. It’s just wonderful. And so I congratulate all
of our awardees tonight. I congratulate all of you who are back because you have already been celebrated at one time or another. This is a night for celebration. I’ll be coming back at the end to talk. I will tell you just
two of our achievements that we can think of so many
when you think about it. You look and you see the new facility in interdisciplinary life sciences, but nobody in the country
would’ve imagined in March that we would become
the darlings of America. Give the basketball team
a round of applause. (applauds) And quite frankly people
would not have thought that in this young period of time that we would be able to
talk about a Road Scholar who is now at Oxford doing a
PhD in nuclear engineering. Give her a round of applause. (applauds) And there are so many
more we can talk about, but I wanna get her on and be inspired. My challenge to you tonight is to listen and learn and be inspired. I’ll be back at the end. Thank you all very much, thank you. (applauds) – [Announcer] Please welcome Greg Simmons, vice president for
institutional advancement. Mr. Simmons will introduce
Kimberly Ellison-Taylor as the outstanding alumna of the year in engineering and information technology. – Good evening, everyone. – [Audience] Good evening. – It is my pleasure to
introduce as the voice said, the outstanding alumna
in engineering and IT, Kimberly Ellison-Taylor. Kimberly has a great cheering
section here tonight. I will take a moment
of executive privilege as the chief fundraiser for the campus. In her time here Kimberly
was a charter member of the sorority Sigma Gamma Rho and a number of her sor-rhos
could not be here tonight so they called at a very
pointed direction to me today. They said make sure she knows that we are donating money to the alumni scholarship in her honor, knowing that they couldn’t be here. So give them a round and… (applauds) So I’m gonna encourage you to read Kimberly’s bio in the program. I think when you do you will see signs of the gifted professional who’s really been a
visionary for her field, someone who has seen the future
in the work that she does and understood that that
confluence of technology and globalization and
where the money matters and how that money’s managed, we’re gonna create problems and solutions that needed to be addressed. And because of her work and
her ability to see ahead, it’s given her this
extraordinary career trajectory which is outlined in the bio where she’s had leadership positions from county government to federal agencies to corporate America. Today she’s the global strategy director for Oracle’s financial
services industry group. It’s an astonishing career that we know is really gonna continue to go
onward for many, many years. You’ll see a dedicated
volunteer who’s understood the importance of her profession and taken that to really do
outreach to all kinds of people, to help them come into the
profession, understand pathways and because of that she’s gotten additional
leadership opportunities. She’s the first African American chair of the American Institute of
Certified Public Accountants which is an extraordinary accomplishment. (applauds) I think what you will see
not just through the program, but through her remarks tonight
and as you get to know her is that she’s that and all
more, so many things more. She is a loving mother
and spouse and daughter, she’s a dear friend, she’s somebody who
understands what she wants. She’s worked extraordinary hard to get it and she’s reached a pinnacle of her career and more importantly she’s never forgotten where she’s come from and she’s made sure that she’s opened pathways for others to continue to have success
that she’s modeled so well. It’s my pleasure to introduce
Kimberly Ellison-Taylor. (applauds) – Thank you. Good evening, everyone. – [Audience] Good evening. – How excited am I to be here and Dr. Hrabowski, yes, we
are the darlings of the world. I can tell you I have
colleagues all over the world who were sending me congratulations and I graciously accepted them just like if I was on the court
and I was giving the plays and I said see, this is what happened. So I was delighted to see us
recognized in yet another way. And so I just wanted
in my very few remarks that we have here this evening is just to tell you how grateful I am that I am standing on this stage. There are so many accomplished individuals who have come through
UMBC and yet here I stand among the most amazing people that I have ever met in my life. UMBC provided a foundation
of unparalleled opportunity. It empowered, enabled, equipped
and energized me to succeed. Today I stand at the intersection of accounting and technology. The CPA part of me is
because the foundation I received in critical
thinking and good judgment, those skills that I learned
from my classes at UMBC have served me in good stead. What I learned from a
technology perspective has enabled me to speak
all around the world about digital disruption,
engagement, transformation and how technology is changing the world at an unparalleled pace. I learned all of those things at UMBC. I met my husband here so
that was awesome, right? So I was getting my MRS while
I was working on my BA and BS. So I’m very grateful for that. I learned about compassion at UMBC. I came from the inner city of Baltimore, a Sandtown-Winchester
community, graduating from, let me see, there must be some other Sandtown-Winchester
people here. I graduated valedictorian from Carver Vocational-Technical
High School. I know that statistically I
should not be standing here, but I’m here to say that I
learned about the A game. My parents provided the
fertilization for the seeds that gave me good core values. Work hard, pay your dues, don’t step on people’s toes
on your way to the top, remember everyone is the same. Regardless of whether they’re
the janitor or the CEO, everyone deserves respect and dignity. (applauds) Thank you, thank you. But what I also learned is
about community service, greater service, greater progress was Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Incorporated and so I learned a lot
about paying it forward. I learned what to whom much
is given much is required, what that meant in my life and I know that the principles of sowing
and reaping are ever so true. And so as I stand here
hopefully representing you as an alumna of UMBC, I hope I’m making you proud so that you can also
tell others of the story that when people say it’s impossible, that we can’t learn, we
can’t do, we can’t think, that you can say I met a young lady from the inner city of Baltimore and UMBC helped her realize that the
difficult is really easy and impossible takes
just a little bit longer. Thank you so much, UMBC,
for all that you’ve done. Thank you, thank you. (applauds) – [Announcer] Please welcome
the Honorable Allan Kittleman, a previous outstanding
alumnus award recipient. Mr. Kittleman will
introduce Ms. Zainab Alkebsi as this year’s rising
star award recipient. – Thank you very much. It is a pleasure to be with you and as of a 1981 graduate of UMBC. – [Man] Give him a hand. – Yeah, right. Most of you in the
audience weren’t even born when I graduated from here. And I did not expect
ever to see this at UMBC. But it’s a pleasure to be with you and it’s a pleasure to
be able to introduce an amazing young woman. At a point of personal
preference for me as well… My wife Robin is here and my wife Robin taught this young woman
when she was in preschool and that’s what makes this
even more special for us to be with Zainab tonight. (applauds) So it is my pleasure to introduce our next
honoree, Zainab Alkebsi, a policy counsel for the National
Association for the Deaf. Ms. Alkebsi provides
analysis, recommendations and counsel to the NAD on
policy issues affecting deaf, hard of hearing and
deaf-blind individuals. Growing up Ms. Alkebsi always knew she wanted to become a lawyer, I’m a lawyer, that’s good, hoping to break down
barriers to accessibility for the deaf and hard
of hearing community. In her role with NAD, Ms. Alkebsi is tasked
with doing just that. Interfacing with government
agencies, congress, coalitions, media and
businesses on all issues affecting deaf and hard
of hearing communities. Lending her advocacy efforts
to current UMBC students, Ms. Alkebsi serves as a guest
lecturer in a class focused on the deaf community and its culture. She also serves on the board of Deaf VISA which partners with UMBC
Signs of Life ASL Club for deaf friendly events on campus. Please join me in welcoming Zainab Alkebsi as UMBC’s 2018 rising star recipient. (applauds) – [Interpreter] Thank you so much. So I also have to say I’m amazed to see this beautiful building here on campus and I’m thrilled for the basketball team. So I also wanna say
thank you so much to UMBC and to Howard County executive Allan Kittleman for his honor. It is very humbling to be back
on my old stomping grounds and be recognized for my work. This has been a long
yet rewarding journey. Ever since I was 11 years old, I always knew I wanted to be a lawyer advocating for the rights of deaf and hard of hearing people. And now here I am. I remember sitting in the movie
theater as a young preteen upset that the other moviegoers were laughing at the comedic dialogue while I could not understand a thing. There were no closed captions
in movie theaters back then and in that moment I
resolved that I was going to go to law school and
advocate for full equal access. (applauds) And now here I am, part of a select group
of a few hundred deaf and hard of hearing attorneys nationwide and in the trenches of the
battle to break down barriers to accessibility for the deaf
and hard of hearing community. In my role as policy counsel of the National Association of the Deaf, I advocate for stronger regulations to ensure that all deaf
and hard of hearing people have access to all walks of life. Employment, education,
transportation, telecommunications, emergency communications,
video programming, technology and more. My greatest professional
success and challenge to date has brought me full circle
from my 11 year old self. After seven months of
grueling negotiations with major airlines for caption access to
in-flight entertainment, we’ve reached consensus
for 100% captioning. (applauds) On my next flight I saw captioning on the in-flight entertainment
for the first time. I had goosebumps. I imagine my daughter who
is now five months old when she is older in the future boarding a flight or going to the movies and knowing the role her mother played in ensuring greater
accessibility in such instances. I would be remiss if I did not thank the wonderful professors and
interpreters here at UMBC who encouraged my personal
and professional growth. I also want to thank my loving parents who provided me every opportunity. Their determination and
drive served as my model. I would not be the person I am today if not for their support
and encouragement. And last but certainly not least, I would like to thank
my husband and daughter. You both make me want
to be a better advocate. Thank you. (applauds) Also I would… My… Former professors who
are here in the audience. My former professors. (applauds) Robin. Alright thank you, you’re the best. (applauds) – [Announcer] Please welcome
Dr. Kathleen Hoffman, professor of mathematics and statistics and Dr. David Mitch, professor and chair of the
department of economics. Doctors Hoffman and Mitch
will introduce Dr. Mark Doms as the outstanding alumnus of the year in natural and mathematical sciences. – Thank you. Dr. Mark Doms has spent
his career as an economist focused on public policy,
particularly economic policy. With his educational background in mathematics and economics, he developed an interdisciplinary approach to his specialties of
monetary policy, forecasting, labor force development,
innovation, big data and applied microeconomics and working with extremely large datasets. As a UMBC student with the help
of numerous faculty members, Doms was able to participate in research, allowing him to publish his
first paper before graduation and begin his career
examining the cost and benefit of state policies and programs. He continued on to pursue a PhD, completing his dissertation working at the U.S. Census Bureau, the home of big data at the time. – As Dr. Doms’ career has grown he’s given hundreds of presentations,
appeared regularly on television and is also a prolific writer
with research placing him in the top 3% of economists
as measured by citations. In 2009 Dr. Doms joined
the Obama administration as chief economist at the
Department of Commerce, advising the Obama administration on a wide variety of issues including trade, competitiveness,
innovation and education. In January 2013 the U.S.
Senate confirmed Mark Doms as undersecretary for economic affairs at the Department of Commerce. After leaving the Obama administration Dr. Doms worked for two
years at Nomura Securities, Japan’s largest investment bank. Mark is unable to join us in person. However he sent remarks from Europe so please turn your
attention to the screen for Dr. Mark Doms, the 2018 outstanding alumnus in natural and mathematical sciences. (applauds) – [Announcer] Please
welcome Christopher Corbett, professor of the practice in
the department of English. Mr. Corbett will introduce Ms. Saira Khan as the outstanding alumna of
the year in the humanities. – Thanks. In less than a decade
Saira Khan has accomplished more than some aspiring journalists might achieve in entire career. Today she holds a very vital
and challenging position as social media director at the New Yorker which is generally regarded
as the most significant literary and cultural
magazine in the country and soon to celebrate
it’s 100th anniversary. Ms. Khan was a founding member
of Facebook’s trending team, providing real time editorial
insight and curation for the social media platform. After graduating from UMBC in 2009 where she was an English major. I wanna remind you of that. She worked in financial publishing and in freelance writing for DAWN which is the major English
newspaper in Pakistan. She also worked for the Baltimore Sun before moving on to New York where she pursued graduate study at Columbia University’s
graduate school of journalism. A native speaker of Urdu,
Ms. Khan moves seamlessly between two very complicated worlds, a particularly important
asset for a young journalist. And in addition to being
published in the New York Times, as a freelance writer Ms.
Khan’s work has also appeared in numerous publications
including the Atlantic and Bustle. And in addition to these accomplishments, in December of 2016 she was involved with the founding of High-Strung, a monthly enewsletter with
fellow New York based creatives. Their work has been featured in a variety of local and national publications. Please join me in welcoming Saira Khan. (applauds) – Thank you. I’m gonna keep this very short. I came to UMBC through my sister. She actually recommended the school to me and it was one of the best
decisions I have made in my life. I graduated from here in 2009
with a degree in English, but beyond that I left this
place with the relationships that I have carried with
me for the past 10 years, those people sitting right here. (applauds) I left with relationships with professors like Professor Corbett
who have helped me make almost every decision I’ve
made in my professional career from the direction I was
gonna go in after I graduated to applying to grad school and making career decisions after that. And when people ask me
about my college experience, that’s what I say. I left here with relationships that I’ve carried with me for 10 years and I know that I will have
with me for the rest of my life and for that I will be forever grateful. Thank you. (applauds) – [Announcer] Please
welcome Dr. Kathy O’Dell, associate professor in the
department of visual arts. Dr. O’Dell will introduce Dr. Mina Cheon as the outstanding alumna of the year in visual and performing arts. – Greetings. I am thrilled to introduce
this year’s outstanding alumna in visual and performing
arts, Dr. Mina Cheon. Mina is a global new media artist, a scholar and an educator. Most recently she was
featured in the Busan Biennale and that’s a major exhibition in Korea. And there she became a press sensation when Korea’s president and first
lady came to the exhibition and spent a good deal of time
at part of the exhibition, an installation in which was featured hundreds of Korea’s favorite
confection, the choco pie. And they ate choco pies with Mina. This is the most frequently smuggled item across the border from South
to North Korea, the choco pie. Speaking of smuggling, Mina is also known for
her risk-taking work titled UMMA: MASS GAMES –
Motherly Love North Korea. Central to this project were
10 videos, are 10 videos, they’re still in existence, which she loaded onto thumb
drives, put in balloons and flew over the South
to North Korea border. In these videos she delivers thinly veiled politicized art history lessons in her artist persona as Professor Kim. The teacherly incarnation of another alter ego, artistic ego, North Korean Kim Il Soon. Other and very real personi include new media artist and scholar represented by the Ethan
Cohen Gallery in New York. Scholar with two MFAs, fortunately
one from us and one PhD. Author of an ahead of its time book titled Shamanism and Cyberspace. MICA professor, devoted mentor and founder of a yearly graduate award for
our very own IMDA graduates. Dr. Cheon is a treasure both
locally and internationally. Please help me celebrate Dr. Mina Cheon. (applauds) – Good evening. – [Audience] Good evening. – Thank you, Dr. Kathy O’Dell for your introduction and your nomination for this prestigious alumni award. I’m grateful and honored to stand amongst the recipients of this award for outstanding achievements
in their respective fields. Having a six months old
son Gerson Kroiz in my arms as I received my MFA
degree in 2002 at UMBC, I’m especially honored and proud to be standing here today
as a parent of UMBC’s honored college student
who is majoring in math. (applauds) Thank you for being the leading visionary STEAM research community
where I grew abundantly and where my son will be nurtured to flourish in his academic track. Gerson, please stand up and
say hi to your community. (applauds) While I’m up here I wanted to dedicate my thank you remarks by contemplating on the role of the artist and
the influence of education. Every professional field includes leaders, advocates, team players and supporters, but I believe that all artists end up assuming the role of a leader by being producers of original work, by organizing projects to impact community and by imparting artistic
and design decisions every step of the way. The artists’ work and
message comes with a vision and to execute the work of a vision requires leadership, management,
inspiration and production. And today’s artists strive to
make a difference in society. Artists are agents of change. Not only by ways of
introducing new creative and critical perspectives, but also by promoting
solutions for a better tomorrow whether it is for equality, justice, civility, peace or safety. In turn the educational
environment is the place that helps the artist to learn and grow. It is also the place
to learn what it means to be beyond the individual and become a part of a community. As such UMBC’s community is a place where quality education is a priority and that the vision for
student and education, innovation and research
is supported equally. Inside this campus of excellence in science, technology,
engineering and math, the humanities and arts
are genuinely integrative. From there the visual arts,
imaging/digital arts, IMDA known as intermedia digital arts MFA today is the place that helps
produce the total artist who is nurtured for innovative thinking, writing, art making and use of technology. It incubates experts
in our new media field to perform art projects in
social spaces that matter as witnessed by every IMDA alumni career that are distinct and bold and that define what art is capable of today. I’m honored to be one of
them and to be amongst them. So my big thank you in celebrating
with my alumni colleagues is to my mentors such as Kathy O’Dell and to the faculty and staff
of the visual arts department for their years of
dedication and excellence in curriculum and delivery
and for shaping the future by empowering the artist in society. Thank you. (applauds) – [Announcer] Please welcome
Dr. Carolyn Forestiere, associate professor and chair of the department of political science. Dr. Forestiere will introduce the Honorable Wanda Keyes Heard as the outstanding alumna of the year in the social and behavioral sciences. – Good evening. – [Audience] Good evening. – It is truly an honor and
pleasure to be here tonight. In December of 2017 Chief
Judge Wanda Keyes Heard was appointed chief judge after serving as circuit court judge in
Baltimore City for 19 years. The first female chief
judge in the history of the 8th judicial circuit, Chief Judge Heard is well
known on and off the bench for her commitment to service, both to the community she
serves as associate judge for the circuit court for Baltimore City as well to aspiring students,
interns and new attorneys. Through her judicial internship program, Chief Judge Heard has mentored more than 25 students from UMBC, along with a host of law students, interns and new attorneys. Area elementary and middle school students still benefit from the mock trial programs Chief Judge Heard started when her own daughter,
now an adult, was young. While she has received numerous awards over her 36 year legal career, Chief Judge Heard considers the receipt of the Thurgood Marshall Award for judicial excellence
by the Baltimore chapter of the NAACP in 2013 as one of
her proudest accomplishments. It is my pleasure to introduce this year’s outstanding alumna in social sciences, Chief Judge Wanda Keyes Heard. (applauds) – Good evening, everyone. It’s funny, I prepared written remarks so judges, we kinda go on and on, but I didn’t wanna do that. And as I listened to the other honorees, they said the same thing that I’m going to say to
you so it’s consistent. President Hrabowski, I have to thank you so
much for this award. Almost 40 years ago I
set foot on this campus. My mother is here, Frances Keyes, and Mom, remember we
came down from New York and we visited all these different schools that I had interest in. We went down the road to a
place called College Park, but it was really too big for me. We were headed back to New
York and I saw the sign on I95. It said UMBC and I said
I think that’s on my list and so they took the exit
and we came past a silo. I’m a New Yorker did I say and I said okay, let’s just check it out. Well the road was a loop, it had a circle and there was a pond. But it was quaint and
nice and it caught my eye and as were driving
around I thumbed through the catalog and in the
political science department I saw the name of Dr.
Levy and his credentials. I saw the program that they had set forth for pre-law or political science majors and that was my interest. And as I thumbed through
the list I saw the dorms. There were three. Dorm one, dorm two and dorm three. And then there were these
things that were circles. They looked like spaceships. That was the cafeteria. Now as I’m talking about
that some of these people in this room know what I’m talking about cause you were on that campus
when I was on that campus. So I’m gonna ask you to
stand up right now, come on. Jose Anderson, David Young. (applauds) Okay, everybody, these are my friends and when you talk about family, they’re here tonight because they’re still my
family after 40 years. I embraced this campus and it embraced me and I had found not only my academic home. Mom, I found my home away from home because I was 2250 miles from home and not a day was I ever homesick. I loved it here. I became an RA in the dorms, I got involved in student government. And I did have a bullhorn one time and I went up in the
administration building. I had a big afro and Angela
Davis was kinda my idol. We’ll not talk about that. Anyway, but that was the spring of 1976 when there was some dynamic women. They came walking onto UMBC campus wearing my favorite color, royal blue. And when they walked in
they spoke of sisterhood and scholarship and service
and they went to UMBC too, but the older ladies, they were saying that they were still
involved in sisterhood, scholarship and sisterly love. Some of my sors are here, zephi. They’re up in the back. Would you please stand up, ladies? (applauds) Everyone you see that sorority
was a perfect fit for me and 17 other young ladies
and I’m still active in Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated because of the commitment
and those principles. My sors are here, but there
are fraternity brothers here. Gary Brooks, I saw you. Where are you? And some of my other fraternity brothers. We all went to UMBC at the same time. (applauds) As I said I found not only
friends, but I found family. In 1979 I was the senior class president. I spoke at graduation. I looked at that speech, Whitney. You found it in Dad’s things. When my father passed he had my speech and he had the program from graduation. And she showed it to me and she said did you really say these things. I said yeah, I really did. I’m gonna tell you the good stuff I said cause it’s true today. I learned critical thinking
from Professor Boyan. UMBC had prepared me for law school. I was blessed to walk
the halls of congress and follow the Honorable
Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm because I had a political science internship on Capitol Hill. I was privileged to have the support of an outstanding advisor,
Professor Philip Brenner. Dr. LaNoue write a book
about UMBC, he did. He titled it Improbable Excellence and I would submit I am the product of that improbable excellence. Because of UMBC I was truly challenged by top notch professors
in every department. I even took a dance class and there was a professor called Olou. Some of y’all know who I’m talking about because she was a taskmaster. But UMBC helped prepare me to accomplish my professional goals, break through race and
gender bias and barriers because I was a woman headed into a field where people just didn’t look like me. There’s something very
special about this campus. If you went to UMBC,
if you’ve been at UMBC, you know what I mean. Some people say we’re small. Our president says grit and greatness. Over and over the school has outperformed those who would underestimate it and you can look at March
Madness as just an indication. But you need only look at the bios of those that are being
honored along with me today to know that we are more than capable of beating a number one seed. (applauds) As you know I’m the chief judge, but what you may not know is there are on the bench with me a host of UM alums and when we beat the
University of Virginia we had a little wager with some of those other
judges that went to UVA. But I’ll just tell you some of the names. They may be here tonight. Judges Kendra Ausby, Karen
Friedman, Charles Dorsey, Edward Hargadon, David
Young, I saw him over there. Marcella Holland, Yolanda
Tanner, just to name a few. So in 2019 it’ll mark 40 years since my graduation from UMBC. I’m absolutely thrilled
that you have chosen me. I am absolutely tickled
that after all these years you even thought of me. I too think that this
school has stars on horizon and one of them just left
me as an intern from UMBC. He’s sitting right there and
his name is Randall Ainsworth. He has red hair on the top, but I’m gonna tell you, watch out for him. One day he’ll be standing up here and he may be running this institution. Thank you so much, everyone. (applauds) – [Announcer] Please welcome
alumna Donna Heckler. Mrs. Heckler will introduce
Mrs. Mimi Haw Dietrich as the distinguished
service award recipient. – I’ve heard some people
tonight talking about knowing people for 30 and 40
years and having three dorms. There are some of us
who had three buildings. (laughing) And no dorms. We didn’t get dorms until the second half of our senior year. And if you walked on this
campus in 1966 when we did, we could not have imagined this. And when you’ve been friends with people sitting here
for 50+ years, it’s amazing. (applauds) If you look in the dictionary
under the word community, you will see a picture
of Mimi Haw Dietrich. Many communities benefit from her loving steadfast
commitment and leadership. Her family where her young grandson proudly wears a UMBC onesie,
her church, her senior center, her beloved high school,
Institute of Notre Dame, fellow cancer survivors
and finally, quilters where she teaches nationwide. She’s published 19 books and was inducted into the Quilters Hall of Fame and named the 1913 professional
quilt teacher of the year. Tonight we celebrate Mimi’s commitment to the community of UMBC. She taught an American
studies course on campus, is a former member of the Alumni Association
board of directors, was a pivotal volunteer
planner for the 25th reunion and is a longtime holder of
UMBC season basketball tickets. Her husband Bob was at the game. Currently she’s the leader
of the Fab Four committee, a group of graduates from
the first four classes. This group of about 25
alums including myself, her husband Bob and some other
people in those rows there planned and hosted the various events at the UMBC 50th anniversary celebration. The committee shares
stories of our years here and encourages Fab Four involvement in this dynamic cutting edge university. We’ve already started planning
our upcoming 50th graduation. We’re not old enough to
have a 50th graduation. And that’s gonna be in the year 2020. May I introduce you to Mimi? (applauds) – It is overwhelming to be honored just for doing something that you love. I came to UMBC in 1966 as
a member of the first class because Dr. Albin O. Kuhn promised us that we would be pioneers. He would love this, would love this. He would love this. UMBC taught me many things
that have been valuable in my career as a quilter,
a writer and a teacher. How to think bravely out of the box, how to organize my thoughts
and write concisely, how to speak without saying
the word um all the time, how to teach, how to give back,
how to live and how to love. So I need to share this award
and thank my husband Bob who I met at UMBC 50
years ago, 50 years ago. Yay, Bob. (applauds) I also share it with my
friends from the Fab Four, the first four graduating classes and I think they need a hand. They are spread all around. (applauds) We reunited to plan events
for the 50th anniversary and share our stories. Each time we got together I was inspired by my friends’ enthusiasm for get this, retrieving our memories. We planted the seeds for
UMBC’s greatness many years ago just by believing in a new university. At the last GRIT-X talks, Donna had an aha moment,
a huge aha moment. Wow, we started this. We spoke to Dr. Hrabowski about this and he acknowledged very
simply that UMBC belongs to us, belongs to all of us. That was a powerful moment. So we jokingly call ourselves
the oldest living alumni. We’ve got you all beat, we got everybody beat in
this whole room, everybody. Every time I come on campus I am astounded not only with the physical growth, but with the amazing
students and their stories. I have met engineers without
borders who travel to Africa, students who travel to Africa
to bring water to communities. I’ve met a master chess player and I have met history-making
basketball players. One of my favorites that I met last year was a basketball cheerleader. We were walking out from
one of the final games that were played here on campus and she told me that she
looks for us at all the games. That kind of blew me away. We don’t know how we’re
influencing other people. So we all strive to do great things, but sometimes it’s just important to reach out and
communicate with each other. I am proud to be a retriever. Waiting for my brother to
do something right now. Are you ready? Woof, woof, woof, woof, woof. Come on, come on. Woof, woof, woof, woof, woof. There he is, yeah. (applauds) Thank you, John. John drove all the way up from North Carolina to be here tonight. (applauds) I didn’t know if I could
do that, but that’s great. Thank you, thank you. I am proud to be a
retriever and I am proud to receive this award because I treasure my connection to UMBC. So I challenge each of you to cherish your connection to UMBC. Talk to a student, volunteer your time, support a scholarship, hug
an alum or a president. You too. UMBC is a very special place. Thank you so much. (applauds) – [Announcer] Please welcome Jeremy Drew, UMBC alumnus from the class of 2017. Mr. Drew will introduce
Dr. Mariajose Castellanos as this year’s outstanding
faculty award recipient. – Good evening. – [Audience] Good evening. – Over the course of my time at UMBC in the chemical engineering department, Dr. Mariajose Castellanos served formally as my teacher, employer and advisor. But those three categories
don’t begin to cover the roles that she played in my
undergraduate career. Notably, Dr. Castellanos or Dr.
C as she prefers we call her transformed the way we learned in class so it was more engaging. She was the first professor
who truly showed me the value in trying a problem that I
wasn’t sure how to solve. Dr. C received a 2013 Hrabowski
Innovation Fund seed grant, has advised 24 undergraduate
independent study projects, participates in the
faculty development center and professional conferences focused on pedagogy and
college level teaching and contributes to
numerous campus committees and initiatives outside of the chemical
engineering department. Yet Dr. C’s most compelling endorsements come from her current and former students whose feedback helped to earn her the rare exceptional instructor rating
from a recent ABED evaluation. As part of the nomination, former students contributed
feedback in support of this outstanding faculty nomination ranging from this past
year all the way back to the first class she taught,
the graduating class of 2008. One student writes, Dr. C cares about the
wellbeing of her students and adapts to each of
their individual needs in order to bring them the most comprehensive education possible. That quote sums up why
it is my great pleasure to introduce Dr. Mariajose Castellanos as this year’s outstanding
faculty award winner. (applauds) – It’s humbling to
stand here today tonight because as I was trying to
think what I wanted to say, I just wanted to say worth of thanks to everybody that has brought me here. Unfortunately I can’t say all the names of all the faculty that I
would like to thank today so what I can tell you
is that those faculty not only come from COED
which is my college, but also from COS and Sienna Mess. You all make being here,
I learn from you every day and I try to strive to be just like you. I also wanna thank the administration, specially Freeman and Philip who it’s a true honor to
see your governance at work. I participate in it and it’s great. Keith, Bill and Scott, I’ve
worked with the three deans and I’ve learned so much from all of you. My department, we have
such a pretty cool place, it’s amazing. It’s a supporting community. Mark, thank you for becoming chair. (applauds) And the rest of the
faculty for supporting me when I made a choice. I decided to choose
the road less traveled. I decided to follow a pathway of teaching and leadership through service which at that time there
were less positions for that and you allowed me to do that. The next group is my students. So I counted and it’s 927
people have sat in my classes so I’m gonna round it to
1000 by presidential numbers. I learned, I learned. They are truly my teachers. They inspire me, I wanna try new things… A decent class. I wanna make them to think differently and most importantly they
encourage me to really know them so thank you. They leave a mark and because I’m a teacher I brought a prop so I can show you how they leave marks. They painted a picture
frame, then they took paint, they took their fingerprint,
they put their fingerprint and then each one of
their names is in these so this are the kind of UMBC students that we’ve been hearing about tonight. (applauds) My friends, you accept me and you love me even though I have all,
a lot of weaknesses. Lela, Jenny and Neha, thank you for that. I also have to acknowledge my parents who made school and everything
I did a joy, not a chore. My sister, to commemorate the award, she sent me a keychain that said I’m a teacher, what’s your superpower? Finally, Baranthum, my husband, he stays in our Baltimore
City house every day. He telecommutes to California
to work at his company because he has committed a choice we made and the
fact that I could not find any other place to do what I do but UMBC. So I thank you for that. (applauds) Alexander and Theodore, my kids, who remind me to look up at the sky and smell the flowers every day. And I wanna end by quoting our valedictorian from this year, Eudorah because we as faculty are privileged by this profession that we have chosen. And we have an enormous responsibility and no matter our
discipline we need to model and make sure our students are learning to be comfortable with discomfort, uphold the value of diversity and practice gratitude every day. Thank you very much. (applauds) – A big round of applause
for all of them please. (applauds) Amazing, just amazing, just amazing. Wow, wow, just amazing. Amazing. Just in closing, I was taking notes, just thinking about what I had said to you about be inspired so much. Let me start by saying the older I get the more I realize there’s
nothing in our lives more important than friends and family so I’m gonna ask all of the family members of all of the awardees
to please stand, please. And Mrs. Heard, would Judge
Heard’s mother raise your hand. Judge Heard’s mother, raise your hand. Yes, thank you, all of
you, thank you very much. None of us would be who we
are without our families whether it’s parents
and children and friends and what we heard tonight, each person talked about friends for life. Each person had generations from the ’60s all the way through the ’90s to the 2000s and people who were still there and organizations and
sororities and others. We talked about service. You heard that over and
over again, about community. You heard about the
idea of thinking bravely and of critical thinking and of excellent communication skills. I saw a young woman who started
off in inner city Baltimore who’s now the head of the
American Institute of CPA’s who left here because she
speaks in Jamaica tomorrow. I saw an amazing attorney
who was a little girl who was determined to be
an advocate for the deaf and whose dream is being
fulfilled every day. I saw an economist who’s
mathematician and an economist living in Europe now wearing his UMBC cap, working in the highest levels
of economics in the world. I saw an amazing artist who
goes between Korea and New York and all of that and here and quite frankly who’s had a brilliant
16 year old math major whom I helped to recruit
who’s in the back of the room. Give him another round of applause. (applauds) I saw a leading chief
judge who was so excited to tell me about her
mother who had come today and how proud she is of
her mother who’s here and went out to say that
you’re in the right place and who has broken down
all kinds of barriers and who could talk to us about dorm one and dorm two and dorm three just as Mimi could talk about one building and two buildings and three buildings. And I saw a quilter who
goes around the world, but who’s with her husband
at every basketball game. I can look right across
and when I’m not there they say how come you weren’t there. They love that UMBC
story who have shown us what it means to be a UMBC couple. And amazingly I saw a young woman who’s been out of UMBC just a few years who’s now the director of
social media for the New Yorker, the most prestigious of all who gets up with such great
humility to talk to us. And then I saw a person who would’ve been a little girl in Mexico who comes to this country and wins the hearts of her students. And who’s heard of a
chemical engineering faculty bringing a piece of
artwork for people to see? Give her a round of applause
just for that idea, Professor. (applauds) Perhaps most inspiring to
me, I saw all of your faces and I listened to them
and I was so deeply moved because you care so deeply
about friends and families and education and UMBC. And I had one thought, that I’m gonna go back and tell
all of my leading protestors that one day they’re gonna
be judges and lawyers. And that’s as it should be. They’re learning about democracy
and artists and humanists. They’re learning about
democracy on this campus. And so I close having been
deeply moved by the speakers, but by all of you as our community. Of all the words said from
social justice to engagement, it is the notion of community
that we are connected from students and faculty and
staff and alumni and friends. I close with words that I
continue to use from Aristotle who said that excellence
is never an accident. It is the result of high intention, sincere effort and intelligent execution. It represents the wisest
choice among many options. And then he said something that continues to give me goosebumps. He said choice, not
chance determines destiny. Choice, not chance determines destiny. We choose excellence. Thank you all, very nice. (applauds)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *