Thank you for visiting Discover USG, the official news blog for The Universities at Shady Grove (USG). The Discover USG blog features news stories and guest posts from students, faculty, staff, program directors, and community members. We want you to have a voice and engage with us on the news and events that are happening at USG.

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A look back on my time at USG. Guest Post: Lucas Perez, a recent UMD at USG alum

Lucas Perez, ’22 Graduate from University of Maryland, College Park at USG – Communication Program

I first heard about the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) through my brother, who attended the campus in 2019. However, it wasn’t until a University of Maryland, College Park (UMD)Communication Program at USG advisor visited one of my classes at Montgomery College (MC) that I really learned about everything the campus had to offer. Prior to MC, I had also briefly attended Bethany College in West Virginia for a year in an attempt to continue my athletic and educational career after high school.

When COVID-19 hit in early 2020, it really allowed me to take a step back and think through what I wanted to do with my life. In high school and college, I had always had a passion and interest in writing, journalism and public relations. I eventually realized that a degree in communications could be a great fit for me, and I was pleased to find that the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) offered their communications program at USG. I knew from the moment I began learning more about USG that I wanted to attend the campus based on the campus size, student to professor ratio, and distance, as it was only a 10-minute commute from my home. So, after contacting the program advisor for UMD’s communication program at USG, I figured out exactly how many more credits and which classes I still needed at MC to make the transfer, and I was accepted into the program in the Spring of 2021.

Due to the pandemic, my very first semester at USG was virtual, so it wasn’t until the fall that I was actually able to meet my professors and peers in person. Prior to USG, I was always one of those students who would come to campus and leave as soon as my classes were over. However, through my time at USG, I had fallen in love with the campus and the close-knit community it offered. By the Spring of 2022, I was catching myself spending hours in the breakout rooms in the Biomedical Sciences and Engineering (BSE) Building, which was by far one of my favorite features about the campus. Whether it would be studying for finals, writing a paper or just hanging with friends, you could always catch me there after classes!

I also had the honor of interning with USG’s Marketing and Communications department on campus. Here, I created and edited content for USG’s website and social media channels, provided on-site support for events on campus, assisted with photography or video-capturing, and more. This showed me firsthand how tasks are handled from an organization’s standpoint, and I am extremely appreciative for the opportunity and the connections I was able to make.

I graduated in December of 2022, and before I enter the real world, I’ve decided to take a break and travel to Spain. Ever since I can remember, school has been my entire life, something that has always been creeping around the corner come summer or winter time. And while it does feel awfully weird not having a specific path for once, I could not be more excited for what’s to come. I am forever grateful for USG and the endless opportunities it has presented to me, as well as allowing me to call a campus my home.

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A reflection on my experience in the Karel Fellowship. Guest Post: Millena Prather, a current student from UMBC at USG

Millena Prather, UMBC at USG, Social Work and Psychology program

It’s internship application time! That time in the school year when you’re not only finishing up schoolwork for the semester but also looking and applying for internships. 

My name is Millena Prather and I was in your shoes a year ago. I was a junior at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), looking for internships that involved Social Work or Psychology since I’m majoring in both. It never occurred to me to do a fellowship involving public interest communications. However, when I learned about the Karel Fellowship, I knew I had to apply immediately. The Karel Fellowship is a two-month-long paid internship that includes paid housing and travel. It allows students to advance social justice with an organization that matches their interests and major. 

When applying for the Karel Fellowship, I had to do two applications. One just for students at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) and the general application which is open to everyone across the USA. The USG application consisted of five essay questions, a resume submission and eligibility questions. In order to be eligible for the Karel Fellowship, applicants must either be a BIPOC and/or a first-generation student, as well as continuing school in the fall after the internship. The USG application is there so that the USG Career and Internship Services Center and the Macklin Center for Academic Success can help students edit their resume and essay questions before they submit the general application for the program. It also allows USG staff to pick finalists for the USG spot in the Karel Fellowship. When it came time to complete the general application, it was incredibly straightforward because all I had to do was submit the same materials as I did for the USG application. 

Once that was all done, I learned a few weeks later that I was a finalist for the general application. I was so excited and proud of myself. I immediately scheduled a practice interview with the Career and Internship Services Center on campus, so when it came time to do my interview, I was fully prepared. 

My interview was nerve-wracking, but thinking back on it, it wasn’t that hard. They asked me typical interview questions as well as questions like “Why did you apply for this fellowship?” and “How have you used social media to advance social justice?” A week to two weeks later, I received a call from the head of the fellowship. At first, I didn’t pick up the phone because I didn’t have the number saved, but when I listened to the voicemail, I called back immediately. After our conversation, I cried, hugged my friend, and called my mom. I got the sole USG spot for the fellowship!

During my time in the program, I stayed and worked in D.C., on various projects for Mary’s Center, a healthcare organization that provides healthcare, education, and social services for the public. I worked on a breastfeeding social media campaign for National Black Breastfeeding Week and researched different prenatal clinics, hospitals, schools, etc. for their Prenatal Symposium. I also worked on various other projects for the fellowship. Everyone has to do one presentation a few weeks into the program on their host organization, as well as an end-of-the-year presentation on a topic that connects back to their host organization. We also were required to write two blog posts. 

But my time in D.C. wasn’t all work! I got to know my cohort since we all lived in the same dorm together right near the Lincoln Memorial! We would make dinner together, go out dancing, go grocery shopping, and visit museums. 

If I could go back, I wouldn’t change a thing. I loved being involved in the Karel Fellowship, made lifelong connections, and gained invaluable experiences that I’ll never forget.

If you’re interested in the Karel Fellowship for next year, the application is currently open! Go to shadygrove.umd.edu/student-services/CISC/student-services/CISC/2023Karel and apply by Tuesday, January 31, 2023!

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Discovering my passions and finding my home. Guest Post: Millicent Sasu, UMD alum and current graduate student from UMB at USG

The Universities at Shady Grove (USG) is a second home to me, and if I were to explain all the positive experiences the campus provided me, this blog post would go on forever. So, I will limit the list of my positive experiences to just a few.

First, I received a quality education through the University of Maryland, College Park’s Criminology and Criminal Justice (CCJS) program at USG which enhanced my passion for juvenile justice. The classes I took on juvenile delinquency, criminal investigations, domestic violence, and many others, provided me with a practical and theoretical framework of the criminal justice system. I thoroughly enjoyed my program not only because the material was intriguing, but because I was learning from local defense attorneys, prosecutors, and law enforcement officers; all of whom helped me develop my own understanding of what justice is.

Second, as a former undergraduate student and current graduate student, I understand the stress that comes along with academics. But in the moments when things got challenging, I found comfort in knowing I was not alone. My study squad in undergrad were there to lean on for support, study sessions in the library, and most importantly, encouragement. But it was not just the friends in my program that provided this support. My peers in other programs and I would send each other internships and job postings related to our respective fields of interest. Now, USG is not solely a place to take classes and leave. No, USG is a place where my friends and I stayed late on campus to attend events (with free food!). USG is a place where students celebrate diversity at events such as International Night and give back to the community by volunteering at mobile market food distribution events. USG helped me develop lifelong relationships and a community right here in Montgomery County.

Lastly, and most importantly, USG gave me the opportunity to become a leader as a Student Ambassador, a role that I came back to hold now as a graduate student. As someone who once feared public speaking, I now find myself standing before large groups at events, such as the USG Open House, and giving tours of the campus. I watch as parents grin when they learn about the wide range of scholarship opportunities that are available for students. I get to see students’ eyes light up as they learn about their programs, student life, and begin to envision themselves at USG. These are experiences that make me feel fulfilled, knowing that I am able to help students for whom college may have once seemed far-fetched, with the realization that their dreams can be achieved. I can attest there is no greater feeling than this.

Now, there is so much more that I could say about USG, but I had promised to keep this short. I am glad to be back at USG and learn with and from my social work classmates and professors who are passionate about social justice and dedicated to creating positive change in Maryland. USG has created a community that cares. A community that students each day get to walk into where they feel valued, supported, and a part of a family. USG to me, and to many students, is more than just a campus. USG is home.

The USG Open House will provide high school through graduate-level attendees a chance to explore all degree programs offered at USG from our 9 partner universities, as well as learn about scholarships, take campus tours, explore student life, and get customized next steps. More information and registration can be found at shadygrove.umd.edu/openhouse.

About Millicent Sasu
Millicent Sasu graduated from Clarksburg High School in 2016, obtained her Associates degree from Montgomery College in 2018, and attended the University of Maryland, College Park at USG where she graduated in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Currently, she is a dual JD/MSW student, entering her second year at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law and completing the first year of her Masters in Social Work (MSW) program with the University of Maryland, Baltimore at USG. She plans on pursuing a career as a juvenile defense attorney and supporting children and families impacted by the criminal justice system.

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Turn a hobby into a career? Yes, really! Guest Post: Juleka Hundley, current student from UMD at USG

Juleka “Jules” Hundley, Communication student at University of Maryland, College Park at USG
(Pit lanes at Lime Rock Park, CT after JDC Motorsports Unitronic TCR car win)

Have you ever truly enjoyed an activity and thought about turning it into a side hustle or even your full-time career? I had this same thought during my senior year of high school. I had so many interests and passions that I wanted to pursue but was fearful that I couldn’t fulfill them all. . . that is, until I found my program at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG)! 

The University of Maryland’s Communication program at USG offers a focus in digital media, which allows me to dabble in all of the creative areas I love: writing, event planning, photography, production, and graphic design. Since being surrounded by like-minded communicators and creatives, I have learned how to put my love of my hobbies and my studies into a career. Here I found my love for all things marketing and creative management. This blog post is a simple guide using four steps I’ve learned to transform your passions into a career:

Step One: Find something you’re truly passionate about.

You won’t enjoy the hustle of profiting off of a hobby if you aren’t doing what you love.

For me, this looked like combining my love for digital media and cars with content creation. Growing up, I was always at car shows or the track. I often loved pretending I was one of the professional photographers around the track and in the pits with the teams. Remembering times like this made me really think — why not combine my hobby of cars with what I’m studying in school? That’s how I found my niche!

Step Two: Find your niche.

It’s true! Finding a niche is an important step to making your profit a unique experience. Not only does having a niche allow you to have unique experiences, but it often creates loyal consumer relationships. A niche can be anything from eco-friendly content to tourism and travel. Whatever floats your boat! 

No matter what your ball game is, there is always someone that will be looking for what you’re producing. 

Step Three: Research

Explore the market of what you’re passionate about and what your goals are to see if it’s already being done. If it is, you can join a team to learn the ropes and join in on the fun. 

In 2021, I stumbled upon Out Motorsports, an LGBTQ+ car enthusiast and motorsports competitors company connecting people within the community all over the nation. Out holds car events, posts reviews, and even has a membership program. On a whim, my partner and I reached out to get involved and connect with others by creating content for their social media accounts. After they accepted our offer to do an Instagram takeover, we traveled to Lime Rock Park in Connecticut to brainstorm and create content. Shortly after this project, I learned from Out about how they connect with their audience and how it all started for them. Then, I applied those skills to my current marketing intern roles where I get to create, write and post social media content, including fun animations!

Turn 7 bridge at Lime Rock Park, CT.

Step 4: Put the process into motion!

And just like that, you’re ready to put your skills into motion to turn your passions into a profitable market! It may be a slow and difficult process at first, but it will eventually be worth it. Continuing to network while building your passions is the best way to have a steady source of income and mentors in times of need. 

Good luck, and don’t forget to never stop driving! : )

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Getting Involved Through the GSA. Guest Post: Alyssa Berrios, Alum and Current Graduate Student from UMD at USG

Alyssa Estrella Berrios
University of Maryland, College Park – M.Ed Human Development (anticipated ’23) | B.A. Communication ’21

My name is Alyssa Berrios and I am finishing up my first year as a graduate student. I am currently studying Human Development with the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG). I recently graduated from UMCP at USG with my B.A. in Communication. I loved my undergraduate experience at USG so much, even though most of it was virtual, that I decided to stay a bit longer as an M.Ed graduate student.

When I first started out at Montgomery College (MC), I wasn’t involved at all. Truthfully, I was really busy with classwork, working three to four part-time jobs, and just trying to balance out everything in college. Once I got to UMCP at USG, I made it a priority to get more involved on campus. Being involved on campus was essential to me since I wanted to build my portfolio up, meet new people, and network with my community.

I quickly got involved with the Undergraduate Communication Association (UCA) and became a USG Student Ambassador. Although my time in person was cut short because of the pandemic, USG made it easy to become more involved. My undergraduate experience at USG quickly finished and I graduated in May 2021. I knew that going into graduate school would be tough, but I wanted to continue making new connections with my community at USG, and that’s why I applied to become a part of the Graduate Student Association (GSA).

The GSA was created in order to increase graduate student involvement within the USG community. I currently serve on the GSA as the Institutional Representative (IR) for UMCP graduate students and as the Chair of Events & Initiatives. In these roles, I have been able to create events connecting students at USG. This winter, I helped foster a better connection with the undergraduate Student Council members and GSA members through a fun mixer. I also serve as a member of the Student Advisory Board, Sidney Katz Student Advisory Board, and USG Student Member on the University System of Maryland Student Council (USMSC). As you can see, I’m extremely involved on campus, and love it! All of these positions encompass my passion for promoting the Shady Grove campus and have provided me with more opportunities for my graduate student experience to be heard. Through my time on the GSA board, I have felt represented on campus and continue to meet new and amazing people.

If you’re a graduate student at USG and would like to serve on the GSA board, I would highly recommend applying for the 2022-2023 academic year — the priority deadline is May 31!

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Advancing Teacher Leadership by Uniting STEM Communities

By: Amy Green, Ph.D., Program Coordinator, M.Ed. STEM Teacher Leadership, UMD at USG; Jonathan Rivera, Elementary STEM Specialist, MCPS; Laurel Czajkowski, 4th Grade Teacher, MCPS; and Gianna Gianna Morales, 4th Grade Teacher, MCPS and Student in UMD’s M.Ed. STEM Teacher Leadership program

Today’s schools are working hard to prepare students to understand and respond to the ever-evolving, increasingly complex challenges of the 21st century. Transdisciplinary STEM education can be a powerful way to support students with the development of skills necessary to succeed in the modern and future workforce. Students need (and want!) school learning experiences that are both meaningful and relevant to their lives. Transdisciplinary STEM allows us to soften the traditional boundaries between school subjects such that the core ideas and practices of multiple disciplines come together in the service of real-world problem-solving. 

A resident of the new Biomedical Sciences and Engineering (BSE) Education Facility, UMCP’s STEM Teacher Leadership M.Ed. at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) campus is an innovative program designed to prepare teachers to advance K-8 STEM education. This semester, teachers in the program are engaging with stakeholders in a variety of STEM fields through the program’s “Uniting STEM Communities” series, which allows them to explore community resources for sparking their students’ interest in STEM through life-relevant and real-world learning experiences. 

Liza Manfred, the Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives with KID Museum, facilitated a session on design-based learning and makerspaces. Based in Bethesda, KID Museum is an experiential museum and educational makerspace that offers a variety of programs for families, students, and teachers.  Liza engaged the teachers in one of KID museum’s project-based lessons. Teams of teachers were given design challenges to solve using the Mind of a Maker framework and presented their prototypes to the class. Liza, course instructor, Amy Green, and the teachers then discussed ways the BSE could be incorporated into design challenges. Joyce Fuhrmann, USG’s Director of BSE Operation and STEMM Initiatives, explained that “this is exactly the type of education and engagement the BSE was built for. KID Museum is an important part of our pathway work at USG and it’s very powerful to see how these teacher leaders integrated sustainability concepts in the BSE, STEM teaching and learning from KID Museum, and their own experience as educators to develop lessons for future students.” The collaboration also helps support KID museum’s mission for advancing design-based learning.  Liza shares, “We are excited about the opportunity to partner with USG and connect with the UMCP STEM teacher leaders. Delivering student programs on campus and collaborating directly with their teachers is core to our mission. Through discussions, brainstorming, and partnering with classroom teachers who work with students every day, we can create and deliver meaningful programs for students.” 

The Uniting STEM Communities series also connected the UMD STEM Teacher leaders with the Port of Baltimore to learn more about how sediment that is dredged from the Chesapeake Bay to maintain shipping channels is being used to restore Poplar Island from the effects of weather, erosion, and subsidence. The restoration of this island has resulted in new wetland habitat for a variety of local species, including the Maryland state reptile, the diamondback terrapin. Laura Baker from the Port of Baltimore environmental education team visited the STEM Teacher program accompanied by three terrapin ‘ambassadors.’ She explained that a research partnership between the Maryland Port Administration, Ohio University, the National Aquarium, and several local education agencies allows for hatchling terrapins to be collected from Poplar Island and provided to Maryland schools.  Students contribute to authentic scientific research by collecting growth data, observing behaviors, learning animal care techniques, and researching the natural history of the species before the terrapins are released back into their natural habitat at the end of the school year. 

Poplar is a great authentic example of how the environment and the economy are intertwined in this mutually beneficial and unique restoration project.  Laura explains, the “Terrapin Education and Research Partnership (TERP) program is the longest running K-12 turtle raise-and-release program in the world and would not be possible without strong support from teachers in the community.”  From a STEM teaching perspective, the Poplar Island and TERP project are powerful examples of anchor phenomena through which academic learning objectives may be met. Laurel Czajkowski, a 4th grade teacher in MCPS explains, “It was truly insightful to learn about restoration efforts currently taking place here in Maryland and the positive impact these efforts have on native species. Students of all ages would undoubtedly enjoy learning science through the hands-on experience of raising terrapins while contributing to scientific research projects.” Gianna Morales, a 4th grade teacher, agrees, explaining, “The TERP program is an example of what authentic learning experiences can look like for students. Students are given the opportunity to inform local environmental initiatives efforts in the classroom. They become active agents in restoration and research efforts. I’m sure this program is inspiring future environmental scientists and biologists.”

The Uniting STEM Communities series engaged several other STEM partners this semester. Representatives from the Maryland Department of Education’s (MSDE) STEM and Computer Science office and the Maryland Center for Computing Education met with the teachers to introduce and facilitate a training on the newly annotated elementary computer science standards. Cindy Hasslebring from the NASA Office of STEM Engagement will also join to share the new NASA CONNECTS platform, which connects educators to NASA content, resources, and opportunities.  Guests also include academic program specialists from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, a STEM Education program evaluator from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and a UMD researcher who is an expert in developing online educational videos will also share their expertise and resources with the teachers. 

Connecting teachers with community STEM leaders is just one way that the M.Ed. STEM Teacher Leadership program supports the next generation of STEM learners. As teacher leader Gianna Morales shared, “This program has been invaluable to the learning experiences I’ve facilitated in the classroom for my fourth graders. I’ve often left my courses feeling even more inspired and encouraged to integrate more and more applied STEM disciplines into not just my students’ projects, but to passionately encourage other educators to do the same. Transdisciplinary learning experiences are more accessible than many educators realize. Plus, STEM learning experiences are a much-needed confidence booster for our students as well as for the educators who bring them to life in the classroom.”

UMD is currently accepting applications for the next cohort of STEM teacher leaders to begin the program this fall. For more information, including details about $1,000 in scholarship credits for teachers who are accepted into the program, contact Amy Green at amygreen@umd.edu or visit go.umd.edu/medstem.

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Why An Entrepreneurial Mindset is Important in Any Industry. Guest Post: Katherine Zmoda from USG’s Entrepreneurship Lab

By: Katherine Zmoda and co-authored by Tchuissi Mbu Nyamsi

Not every student that participates in the activities at the Entrepreneurship Lab will necessarily go on to create their own business. Many students, in fact, find that by developing an entrepreneurial mindset, they can be more successful in whatever career path they choose, and in any industry they work. The Entrepreneurship Lab aims to provide a solid foundation to hone your critical thinking, communication, creative problem-solving, and professional skills.

The Lab for Entrepreneurship and Transformative Leadership at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) was created to provide resources and mentorship to students, empower local entrepreneurs, and support emerging startups in Montgomery County. 

To showcase how students at USG have benefitted from the Entrepreneurship Lab since its inception in 2020, we asked three students to share their own experiences with the activities offered by the lab:

Camelia Khansari, University of Maryland College Park, Robert H. Smith School of Business
B.S. in Management

Camelia participated in our Social Innovation Hackathon and is now enrolled in IDEA430: Creating Your Own Venture, a 3-credit course led by Lab Director Marc Steren.

“All the activities helped me to build a team spirit, as I typically like to work alone. I really enjoyed working in teams and I was able to collaborate and learn from others…I was able to further develop my communication skills through the final presentations during this [Social Innovation Hackathon] competition,” said Khansari. 
As someone who often prefers to work alone, the Hackathon helped Khansari improve her collaboration and public speaking skills —  both of which are very critical for any educational and professional setting.

Tim Andrianarison,
University of Maryland College Park, Robert H. Smith School of Business
B.S. in Accounting

Tim was a student in IDEA430 last year. During the class, he founded his non-profit organization called Malagasy in the U.S.A. (MUSA), which serves to promote the Malagasy culture, their talents and projects. Tim was later accepted to the Equity Incubator where he won $1,000.

“Before my connection with the lab I hadn’t really had any entrepreneurship experiences,” Andrianarison remarked. “When I took IDEA430 I was able to help co-found a non-profit called MUSA where our goal is to connect and empower Malagasy community here in the United States and all around the world.” 
Andrianarison hopes that this entrepreneurial experience will prepare him for launching his own  financial advising firm for underrepresented minorities in the future. “I really plan to use these entrepreneurial aspects for the rest of my life,” said Andrianarison.

Francisco Cartagena,
UMBC, M.P.S in Cybersecurity

Francisco participated in the Social Innovation Hackathon and has sought guidance from Marc Steren during the open office hours every Tuesday at the lab. His experience with the lab helped him gain a different perspective that proved to be beneficial in his current job.

“My participation at the lab changed how I approach problems and solutions. I was able to see things through a different lens and it really prepared me for my current job, where I’m an IT project manager. Having a business mentality is critical for thinking through how to improve business processes and knowing how to measure impacts that affect costs.” said Cartegena.

Entrepreneurial skills can be applied to any career path or field of study and are highly sought after by employers. Even if you do not plan to create your own business, developing your entrepreneurial mindset can set you apart from others in the job market.

Katherine Zmoda, Program Manager, USG’s Lab for Entrepreneurship and Transformative Leadership
Tchuissi Mbu Nyamsi, Intern at USG’s Lab for Entrepreneurship and Transformative Leadership and M.P.S. Data Science student at UMBC-Shady Grove

Programs and activities at the Lab for Entrepreneurship and Transformative Leadership are open to students from any academic program. Please stop by to check out our space in the Biomedical Sciences and Engineering building (Building IV), Room 3137 and learn more about our offerings! You can also visit our webpage to learn more.

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Choose Your Own Path. Guest Post: Jennifer Fletcher, UMD Alum & Pathway and Operations Specialist at USG

Jennifer Fletcher is a Pathway and Operations Specialist at the Universities at Shady Grove and is also a USG alum. In 2019, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of Maryland, College Park at USG. During her time on campus, Jennifer was a highly engaged student; serving as a Student Ambassador, Orientation Leader, and UMD Peer Communication Consultant, among several other student leadership positions. Jennifer is passionate about working with students and those in transitional phases of life to help them gain confidence and develop skills to accomplish their personal and professional goals. In her current role, she works closely with the Student Ambassador program and helps to market campus opportunities to prospective students and partners.

By Jennifer Fletcher

For many of us, our futures are already being planned before we’re even born. While we’re learning our A, B, Cs, the conversations have already started: I want my child to be a doctor; a lawyer; an engineer.

As we grow older, the adults in our lives start to ask, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” And naturally, we echo back the same few titles we’ve always heard. The problem with this is when the decisions have already been made, there’s not much room left to explore which path is best for you

Growing up, I always wanted to be a doctor. No one ever told me I had to, but I was good at math and science, and figured it was the most socially acceptable choice. Eventually I discovered there were other ways to help people within the health field and decided to study Nursing.  

And I loved it—at first. 

But after three semesters in, I couldn’t ignore the feeling that something was missing. As I contemplated, if not nursing, then what? I was brought back to a memory of me on stage, delivering a speech at a national oratorical competition my senior year of high school. At the time, I did it to help pay for school, but looking back it was the moment that ignited my passion for speaking and allowed me to realize the difference my words could make in the lives of others. 

After this realization, my next decision was easy: change my major from Nursing to Communications. After I graduated with my Associates Degree in Communication Studies from Montgomery College, I transferred to the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) to complete my Bachelor’s degree in Communication with the University of Maryland. A decision that would soon open up a world of opportunities.

Within my first semester at USG, I was immediately immersed into the community. I went from a student that barely participated to being highly involved on campus. I joined the Ambassador Program, participated in USG’s Leadership program, and even served as a Peer Communication Consultant for my main campus, amongst many other leadership roles. During my time at USG, I was able to discover my strengths as a student leader and gain the confidence and skills needed to prepare me for whichever path I decided to take.

After graduating, and two years of working for a local non-profit organization, I’m back at USG helping others find their voice through student leadership and spreading the word about the amazing opportunities USG has to offer. 

Deciding which path is right for you can be hard. Especially, when there are so many options to choose from. As you explore what’s next in your journey, I invite you to attend USG’s upcoming Pathways and Programs Week, Feb 28-Mar 3, to learn more about the Universities at Shady Grove and the expansive selection of majors offered by the nine Maryland universities on our campus. Whether you know exactly what you want to study or you’re still figuring it out, this series of virtual information sessions will help you get you one step closer to completing your degree.

Register for one or all three nights to learn about majors and career paths in these in-demand industries: Health, Business, Communications, Engineering, Technology, and more. 

I hope to see you there!

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Spring Semester Welcome from USG Executive Director Anne Khademian

Happy Spring Semester, everyone!

I know it seems unimaginable that nearly two years into this pandemic, we are still unfortunately having to plan our lives around the COVID-19 virus.

And now, as we continue to deal with the Omicron variant, we find ourselves once again operating at USG on a mostly virtual basis until February 7. Most classes will be offered online through at least that time and our services and on-campus functions will be delivered on a remote basis. There will be some limited exceptions for a small number of classes that may require the use of lab facilities.

We know and understand how frustrating this is for everyone.

However, as always, our primary concern is to do all we can to keep everyone within our campus community safe and healthy. That’s why we took this two-week pause until cases of the virus would begin to level off and to give everyone a chance to get tested or to get their vaccine booster shots.

Our plan right now is to resume on-campus operations on Monday, February 7. We look forward to welcoming back students, staff and faculty at that time. If, for any reason involving the virus, we find that we may need to postpone that return date, we will notify you.

But as of right now, I look forward to seeing many of you back on campus, beginning the week of February 7.

Of course, we will still be requiring everyone to wear masks – KN95 when in classes and in close contact with others. And if you need a mask, you will be able to find them at our security desks in buildings 3 and 4.

We also expect everyone to be in compliance with the vaccine requirement of the University System of Maryland and to be up-to-date on booster shots, as soon as you are eligible.

We ask that you take a COVID test within 24-48 hours of your return to campus and that you can confirm that the test is negative.

Throughout the semester, we will have COVID-19 PCR testing clinics on campus three times a week in the BSE building.

Two of the clinics will be exclusively for members of the USG community on Mondays and Thursdays. And on Wednesdays, we will continue to host the clinic that is operated by Montgomery County Health and Human Services, and open to the general public.

You can find more details about the testing clinic hours and location, and plenty of other information about our operations during COVID-19 on our website… on the USG Onward page.

Despite the continuing challenges brought on by the pandemic, we are looking forward to a great semester and 2022.

Students, we are here to support you in your educational journey at USG, every step of the way. As we speak, we are putting the finishing touches on a new strategic plan for USG – which I call “USG 2.0.”

While this plan will help us to chart an exciting new future for our institution, at the center of it always is the student experience… and how we support and enhance the success of all students from our nine university partners.

The USG team and all of our partner university staff and faculty are all here to make sure that your USG experience is a memorable and successful one.

Please take advantage of all that USG has to offer. Join a student organization. Make use of the outstanding services of our Priddy Library, our student and academic service centers, our information technology team, our recreation center and our study rooms.

Keep track of upcoming events and other happenings by visiting our website events calendar. Follow USG on our social media platforms, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Have a great semester and to those who may be nearing graduation time in May, best wishes for a great home stretch! Let us know how we can help in anyway. USG is here to serve you.

Anne Khademian, Ph.D.
Executive Director, USG, & Associate Vice Chancellor, University System of Maryland

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Happy Holidays from all of us at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG)!

Although this year has been challenging, we are sincerely thankful to all the staff, partner university faculty, our many friends in the community, our generous donors and of course, the students at USG.

Happy Holidays, everyone! We look forward to a great year together in 2022!

This holiday season, please consider a gift to the General Scholarship fund, and help us support students at USG by providing the financial assistance they need for tuition and fees. When making your donation, select “General Scholarship” from the drop down menu.

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