Thank you for visiting DiscoverUSG, the official news blog for The Universities at Shady Grove.

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Whenever you transfer, will you be ready?


By: Marcie Povitsky
Transfer Access Coordinator,
Center for Recruitment and Transfer Access

As someone who has been a part of the USG community practically since it opened (I transferred from MC way back in 2001 and have worked at this campus since I graduated with my undergraduate degree in 2004), I can attest that the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) campus culture has never wavered from its commitment to student success.  Did you know that this commitment extends to students before they arrive at the USG campus?

We know that community college students can experience a lot of stress when it comes to transferring. Not only are students narrowing down what they want to study, but many are probably asking:

  • Where do I want to transfer to?
  • Am I doing everything at my current school to be an ideal candidate for my future school?
  • Will I like it at my new school?
  • Will I fit in with the students/campus community?
  • What opportunities beyond the classroom will allow me to expand my skills?
  • Will my new school help me prepare for my future career?

USG is dedicated to helping all students answer these questions and navigate the transfer process!  One of the ways that we express that commitment is through special pre-transfer programming called “Transfer Access Programs,” or TAP.

Are you a current MC student and looking to transfer? The universities listed below have transfer programs for certain majors offered at USG:

  • University of Maryland, College Park (UMD)
    Biological Sciences, Communication, Criminology & Criminal Justice, Embedded Systems and Internet of Things, Information Science, Public Health Science, Robert H. Smith School of Business — Accounting, Marketing, Management
  • UMBC
    History, Political Science, Psychology, Social Work, Translational Life Science Technology
  • University of Baltimore (UB)
    Health Systems Management, Simulation & Game Design
  • University of Maryland, Eastern Shore (UMES)
    Construction Management Technology, Hospitality & Tourism Management

If yes, then you may be eligible to apply for a Transfer Access Program!  Participating in a TAP program will give you early access to USG services including:

  1. Individualized, pre-transfer advising with your intended major
    (to help ensure that you are meeting all of the academic transfer requirements!)
  2. Access to special workshops offered by our Center for Academic Success
    (to help you prepare for the increased academic demands of your upper-level courses!)
  3. Invitations to a majority of student life events at USG
    (to help get you acclimated to our campus culture!)
  4. Full access to our Career and Internship Services Center
    (to give you an edge on your career-readiness skills!)

Transfer Access students participate in opportunities that strengthen their confidence with the transfer application/admissions process and with the transition process.  Students who complete TAP are ready for academic and social life at USG from day one.

These programs are free of charge for participants, including the TAP application process and parking while attending TAP events.  Some TAP programs have additional benefits, such as guaranteed admission and transfer application fee waivers.

If you are interested in learning more attend our upcoming Undergraduate Expo, where you can apply for TAP on-site. You can also tour campus, meet current students, and speak with program representatives from ALL undergraduate programs (including those that participate in TAP). Even if you are not interested in a TAP program you can still attend the Undergraduate Expo to learn about other majors offered at USG.

If you have any questions about the information provided in this post, or there is any way that USG can help you be more successful in your transfer process, please email us at shadygrove@umd.edu.

Best of luck in your transfer endeavors!

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Human Trafficking in Context…. Students Come See for Yourselves

Wendy Stickle

Dr. Wendy Stickle, UMCP Criminology and Criminal Justice Program Director

Last Fall I had the honor of writing about human trafficking on this blog.  I talked about how this crime occurs right here in Montgomery County.  I talked about how I got involved in combatting this crime, locally and globally.  I feel lucky to be given the opportunity to share my thoughts with you once again on this challenging and complicated topic.  My goal, this time around, is to focus on human trafficking as a global issue, the importance of context, and how students can see for themselves human trafficking in context.

Human trafficking comes in several forms, including sex trafficking, labor trafficking, organ trafficking, child marriage, and child soldiers. Human trafficking is happening on every continent on earth.  Men, women, girls, and boys, can become victims of trafficking.  The push and pull factors of trafficking, however, look different in different regions of the world.  Unstable borders, poverty, gender discrimination, war and violence, government corruption, all play different roles in pushing vulnerable individuals into trafficking situations.

The importance of context is what prompted my colleague, Christine White and I, to design a study abroad course studying human trafficking in context.  Since 2016, over 60 students have participated in this program.  For approximately two weeks each year, Professor White and I take students to a country to study human trafficking.  What types of trafficking can be found? What are the major factors driving trafficking in the country?  What makes migrants and citizens vulnerable in that country? What is happening in the region that might make individuals vulnerable to traffickers?


Professor White and I, during our 2018 Human Trafficking in Context program in Italy

Over the past four years we have traveled with students to Thailand, Cambodia, and Italy.  This summer we are thrilled to be traveling to South Africa to study what human trafficking looks like there.  From June 24-July 9, students will reside in Cape Town South Africa.  Students will work with human trafficking NGO’s, hear lectures on current issues with human trafficking as well as this history of slavery in South Africa.  Students will also experience the culture of South Africa, visiting historical sites such as Robben Island, visiting a penguin colony, participating in cooking classes, and hiking the beautiful coast.

The experience of studying abroad has many benefits.  As a prior student who participated in our Italy program commented, “[the trip] caused me to broaden my views on the world and to consider other countries’ views on certain situations, such as human trafficking and refugees. This trip was a once in a lifetime experience that will influence me and my career for years to come.”


Join us this summer to learn more about human trafficking in South African!

Students from any University are eligible to apply.  All participating students will earn three credits.  Interested students can learn more about the program and scholarship opportunities by visiting the program’s website.

Human trafficking is one of the biggest challenges of our time.  It is deeply embedded in communities around the world, just as gender discrimination is embedded in cultures, and racism is embedded in policy. This summer, we are giving students a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn about this stain on society, to making lasting friendships and memories, and to have an experience unlike any other.  We hope you join us! Please feel free to reach out if you would like more information. 

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Guest Post: Ruqiyyah Muid, UMCP Communication student

Ruqiyyah Muid

Ruqiyyah Muid, University of Maryland, College Park at USG Communication student

Have you ever wanted to be a part of a club but don’t know where to start? Maybe you’re shy or you’re not sure where your interests are yet.  It’s okay, that was me too at many points during all four years of college. My name is Ruqiyyah Muid, but I go by Kiyah, I’m a senior at the University of Maryland, College Park at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) majoring in Communication.  It took me three years to figure out what I was looking for socially from a student organization.  After figuring it all out, I discovered this awesome club called the Undergraduate Communication Association (UCA).

They say college is all about the experiences, the people you meet along the way and the endless opportunities that arise.  I remember my first week at USG, it seems like it was just yesterday, when I met Joshua Briggs and Jason Ramirez. It was during welcome week and all the different student organizations were tabling, there were many different clubs but the Undergraduate Communication Association sparked my interest the most. My initial interaction with the former President Joshua and Vice President Jason, was a very welcoming one.  Thinking back now, I was in search of a club that was more than just that; one that offered a sense of community, participating in community outreach and helping its members gain access to resources post-undergrad. I later learned that these are just some of the things the UCA works towards completing every semester.

It was a cold Thursday and I was contemplating whether or not I wanted to break out of my comfort zone and attend UCA’s meet and greet event.  I decided to go and at that moment I realized I had made the right choice in following my instincts. Everyone at the meeting was so welcoming and outgoing, we shared ideas and career goals with one another and most importantly, what we were looking to gain from the club.  I have already learned so much valuable information that will be useful to me in the short and long-term future. One of the most impactful events hosted by the UCA was the Networking Panel, where I had the pleasure of meeting established individuals who offered networking advice and tips on how to venture out into the workforce after college.

The UCA has been a support system and a learning tool where I have met many diverse college students with whom I share many similar interests. The UCA is really an organization filled with positivity and good vibes, I learned this even more when I became the Director of Marketing & Social Media this past Spring semester.  The executive board members’ passion for fellow student engagement and community outreach is unmatched, and I am honored to have the experience and ability to work alongside this team. With the start of Spring semester freshly upon us, I am excited to meet all the new and prospective UCA members and hope to see you all at the exciting events we have planned this semester. If you find yourself in search of a new rewarding experience, similar to me during my first week, then the UCA is right for you. #ucausg #jointhecommunity

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Launching a New Decade at USG

Dr. Stewart Edelstein

Dr. Stewart Edelstein, USG Executive Director

Dear USG Community:

Welcome back to campus for the beginning of spring 2020 classes. It’s hard to believe that we are not only starting a new decade, but that we are also now in our 20th year of operation as the Universities at Shady Grove. I want to start by wishing all of you a successful and productive semester.

We’re excited and there is a buzz around campus as we launch the first semester of classes in the new Biomedical Sciences and Engineering (BSE) building and also welcome new students, faculty and staff. Our slogan for the BSE is “Built for Breakthroughs.” I look forward to this being just the start of many exciting breakthroughs for students as they begin to experience the active learning teaching facilities within the BSE.

Another part of the BSE that I am excited about is the upcoming opening of a community dental clinic that will be operated by the University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Dentistry. Please look for details on its opening date through our website, USG Weekly and other communications. The clinic will be open to anyone within our campus community who is interested in accessing its services, as well as to those in the greater community.


New Grover Cafe in the BSE

One important information item about the BSE:  The new Grover Café is now open.  It is located on the first floor of the BSE, next to the offices of our Career and Internship Services Center and the Macklin Center for Academic Success. With the opening of this new, improved shop, the former Corner Bistro coffee shop – which had been located next to our Green Grove Café in the Kendall Academic Center – is now closed.

New Decade, New Chancellor for USM

Congratulations to Dr. Jay Perman, the new Chancellor of the University System of Maryland (USM), who served previously as president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Dr. Perman has always been a strong advocate and partner of USG and we are delighted to welcome him in his new role. We look forward to having him visit the campus in the near future.

Advocacy for USG in Annapolis

The Maryland General Assembly’s 90-day legislative session is underway and USG will be working closely with USM and legislators to advance recommendations of the recently completed study commission that focused on Ensuring the Fiscal Viability of USG. I want to thank our USM colleagues and those who served on the commission and delivered the final report to the General Assembly in December.

USG Student Advocacy Day in Annapolis is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 14. As many as 20 of our student leaders will head to the state capital that day to meet with state senators and delegates, and to engage them on issues of importance to USG. I want to thank our student services team for their help in organizing this event and to thank the students who will be participating. There is no better way to share the story of USG’s success and its importance than through the eyes of the students.

Student Speaker at UM Commencement Attended USG


UMD Commencement speaker, Bita Riazi ’19, B.A. Communication at USG

I was so proud to attend the winter commencement recently at the University of Maryland, College Park, and to have the chance to hear the wonderful student speaker Bita Riazi, who graduated with her degree in Communication and took her classes here at USG. It was a powerful and uplifting speech and if you have about seven minutes to spare, I invite you to hear it, starting at the 38:00 minute mark on this video of the December ceremony.

State of Education in Montgomery County Forums

Montgomery County is known for its commitment to quality education, with a world-class school system and one of the nation’s top community colleges, in Montgomery College. The presence of USG – with the unique opportunity we provide for residents to conveniently earn undergraduate and graduate degrees from any of nine leading Maryland universities – takes that commitment to educational excellence to the next level.

In recent years, Montgomery County Councilmember Craig Rice – who chairs the Council’s Education and Culture Committee – has hosted forums on the “State of Education in Montgomery County,” together with Dr. Jack Smith, Superintendent of Schools, and Dr. DeRionne Pollard, President of Montgomery College. I am delighted that this year he has expanded the forums to include USG in the discussion and I will be representing our campus at the forums.

The first of the two public forums will be held this evening – Tuesday, January 28 – at Montgomery College’s Germantown Campus in the Bioscience Education Center, from 6-8 p.m. The second will be held on March 4 at Northwood High School in Silver Spring.

Highlighting Successful ACES Program Graduates

ACESLogo_Modified_PMS3025BlueFor several years, USG has partnered with Montgomery County Public Schools and Montgomery College on a program to support students who are from demographic groups that are historically underrepresented in higher education. Called ACES (Achieving Collegiate Excellence and Success), the joint program helps students by providing a structured and supportive pathway to college completion. Fourteen MCPS high schools participate in the program, together with MC and USG, and there are, in total, more than 2,500 students in the ACES pipeline.

I wanted to share this recently produced video, which showcases the program’s accomplishments and highlights five students who graduated with bachelor’s degrees they completed in programs offered at USG.

Upcoming Events of Note…

Although the semester is just getting underway, I want to highlight the dates of a few noteworthy, upcoming USG events.

  • USG International Night is set for Thursday, February 20.
  • Our next Civic Engagement Series event will be held on Tuesday, March 10, at 2 p.m., with a focus on the issue of human labor exploitation.
  • The annual Student Achievement and Leadership Awards Breakfast is set for Friday, April 17.
  • Our annual Graduation Celebration at USG will be a combined event to honor all of the year’s undergraduate and graduate degree recipients, and that event will take place on the evening of Thursday, May 7.

Have a great spring semester, everyone! See you around campus.

– Stewart Edelstein

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Guest Post: Saqib Rana ’19 UMD at USG publishes book, ‘The Story of Life, In a Tale of Words’

Saqib Rana03

Saqib Rana ’19 University of Maryland, Public Health Science at USG

A year ago, when I was a senior at the University of Maryland, College Park in the Public Health Science program at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG), I never thought I would self-publish a book of my poetry only months after graduating. The poems in this book, ‘The Story of Life, In a Tale of Words’, were not written with the intent to be part of a book. They were written because I poured my feelings and emotions out on paper when no other form of expression would allow me to chronicle how I felt about certain things, as these feelings and emotions were as eager stallions running wildly in my heart and vehemently through my soul. If I felt it, I wrote about it. If I saw it, I wrote about it. If I cared about it, I wrote about it. If it kindled the heartstrings at my core, I wrote about it. I had to. Because all the things I believe to be important to life- to my life, to your life, and to the lives of all who have come before us since the beginning of time- are the instruments of goodness in life that are there to help us and guide us as a people. And if I strive for this goodness, if I aspire that this goodness shines like the sun in a world that is full of darkness, then I make it my duty to reach those who care about this goodness, reach those who care about what is right in life, with my words. And the realization for and care for that duty is the origin story of how poems I was writing simply to express what I cared about and that initially I thought were not linked became pieces to a puzzle, parts to a whole, that became the story-poem ‘The Story of Life, In a Tale of Words’.

Saqib bookIf interested, below is the back-cover description that delves deeper into the contents of the book:

“Why is there so much pain in the world? Why is there no peace? So many people around the world are dying, hurting, suffering, and yearning for hope, freedom, justice, and peace. Why have we failed to help them? Why have we failed each other? Do we truly understand each other? Why do we still fight? Where is the love we speak of but fail to embody?

The Story of Life, In a Tale of Words is a story-poem meant to reverberate the heartstrings of goodness within us. The Story of Life, In a Tale of Words strives to relinquish the curtain over our hearts that causes us to hate instead of love. We are all lost, we are all in pain, and we are all broken. But that pain is precisely what bonds us as a people, as kindred kind. The Story of Life, In a Tale of Words serves as a beacon of hope to remind us that together, we can help each other end the pain in all our hearts and in the world. Together.

Open your heart to the Story of Life, and it will open its heart to you.”

Available on Amazon now! Furthermore, a significant portion of the profits go towards helping those in need.

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Grover Essentials: Increasing Food Access & Wellness at USG


By: Mahmoud Nofal
CCMA Americorps VISTA 
Grover Essentials Food Assistance

One day, when you’re sitting in the Green Grove Cafe for lunch or lounging in the beautiful new Biomedical Sciences and Engineering (BSE) building, take a look around at those around you. Did you know that as many as one third of the people you see may be worrying about how they will afford their next meal? Or, perhaps, you are in that position. If so, know that you’re not alone. Food Insecurity is prevalent across university campuses nationwide. A 2018 study by the Wisconsin Hope Labs found that 29% of university students struggle with food insecurity, while a survey at USG found that 36-38% of students may be dealing with this issue. This far outstrips the approximately 11% of Americans who experience some degree of food insecurity. For the next year, in my role as a CCMA AmeriCorps VISTA I will help tackle the problem of food insecurity in the USG community by growing and developing Grover Essentials, USG’s on-campus food pantry, and by working on comprehensive resource guides and planning informative events to address this pressing issue.

During my time working with the Center for Student Engagement and Financial Resources (CSEF) team on Grover Essentials, I’ve found that one of our fundamental goals is to decrease barriers and stigma around food insecurity and the use of programs and services to increase food access. One surprising barrier is the general lack of understanding about exactly what food insecurity is, and some people not recognizing that they may be experiencing food insecurity themselves and thus are eligible to use the wide array of resources available at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) and in Montgomery County as a whole.

The Oxford dictionary defines food insecurity as “the state of not having reliable access to enough healthy food that you can afford,” with the USDA breaking food security into 4 different levels, from High Food Security to Very low food security, the latter being defined as an individual reporting “…. disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake” on many occasions. Too many consider being food insecure as resembling only the “very low food security” category, whereas in reality one is experiencing food insecurity if they have any level of anxiety over how they will be able to consistently afford sufficiently nutritious meals. While the idea of the ‘starving college student’ may sound somewhat romantic to the more privileged and can almost seem like a rite of passage to some, difficulty obtaining nutritious food is severely detrimental to the educational experience and hurts a student’s ability to succeed academically and personally. Recognizing food insecurity in all its degrees is an important step to developing effective and meaningful ways to enhance food security and promote wellness at USG.

Grover Pantry.jpg

Grover Essentials Pantry

Another important step we’ve taken is paying close attention to feedback from Grover Essentials customers and the wider USG community. We’ve all filled out satisfaction surveys before and have had the sneaking suspicion that nobody will actually read your feedback, or at the very best your comments and concerns will get a brief once-over by someone with no intention of taking them seriously. Not so at Grover Essentials. Part of my daily routine includes carefully reviewing the feedback we receive from our customers for ideas and inspiration and sharing some of the best suggestions and most pertinent concerns with the rest of the Grover Essentials team. We often make decisions as a direct result of this feedback. For example, several customers mentioned that check in times were too long because intake forms were only loaded on a single iPad, and the shelves were sometimes lacking variety. So, we responded by adding additional Grover Essentials dedicated iPads and making an effort to increase the variety of items on offer. These are small but important changes that keeps Grover Essentials a pleasant service to use, which increases the likelihood that those who need it most will continue to visit regularly.

My overall goal as a VISTA is to build capacity at Grover Essentials and help institute lasting changes that will enable USG to continue addressing food insecurity for years to come. I’ve been overwhelmed by the support I’ve seen on campus for increasing food access and learning more about this important issue, and I’m confident that there’s enough interest, passion, and concern among the students, faculty, and staff at USG to ensure that the entire community continues to work towards a future where all of our friends and colleagues have ready access to safe, healthy food and basic necessities.

Grover Essentials flyer

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From Student to Commencement Speaker


Bita Riazi, UMCP at USG Communication student, will be the UMCP student speaker at the campus-wide winter commencement ceremony.
(Photo by John T. Consoli)

For Bita Riazi, graduating from the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) is the culmination of the hopes that her immigrant family carried to the United States nearly 30 years ago.

Her parents left Iran and all their relatives behind for Maryland in 1991, hoping then-one-year-old Riazi’s educational prospects would be brighter. And while the journey to a degree wasn’t a straight line, it has been rewarding.

“I had a lot of faculty who believed in me,” she says.

Riazi earned an associate’s degree in general studies from Montgomery College in 2011 and planned to immediately transfer to UMCP. But when her parents faced several health crises, Riazi, an only child, instead took care of them and worked full time at a spa in Gaithersburg.

“I always did want to go back and finish school, but sometimes life happens,” she says. “Family is first.”

Beset by doubts about being able to navigate a return to higher education, Riazi attended three open houses at the Universities of Shady Grove (USG). USG is a campus in Rockville that offers degree programs from nine Maryland public universities including UMCP. Learning that UMCP at USG offered a bachelor’s degree in communication enabled her to take the leap. It was the best way, she says, to honor the sacrifices that both she and her family had made.

“I’m going back for me,” she told her parents at the time, “but I’m really going back for you guys.”

Over the next two years of pursuing her bachelor’s degree in communication, Riazi made Dean’s List every semester and was nominated for the dean’s Senior Scholar Award. Since August, she has also been a programming and production intern in the D.C. Office of Cable Television, Film, Music and Entertainment, booking guests, researching stories, writing scripts and other duties.

While interested now in a career in media and entertainment reporting, Riazi ultimately wants to work in a field that can help and inspire people, be it through writing or speaking. Her experience at UMCP has been a key step toward that goal.

“Between the faculty and my fellow Terps, they all have such impeccable vision,” Riazi says.

The 2019 University of Maryland, College Park Winter Commencement Ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. Dec. 17 in the Xfinity Center. Individual college and school ceremonies will be held on Monday, Dec. 16 and 18. For more information, visit commencement.umd.edu.

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