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

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The Changing Face of Higher Education


On Thursday, September 22, 2016, Universities at Shady Grove Executive Director Stewart Edelstein and UMBC student and USG Student Council President Faith Kamei joined an esteemed group of policymakers, educators and higher education experts at “The Changing Face of Higher Education,” a national forum sponsored by The Atlantic and Next America.

“USG provides the platform, the infrastructure [and] the connectivity to the school system, to the community college and to the business community, and a wide array of services that are provided by USG and each of our university partners,” Edelstein noted, when asked by panel moderator and Atlantic editor Alia Wong to sum up the value of the USG approach.

In light of an article The Atlantic published in May, “Bringing College to Students Who Can’t Leave Home,” Edelstein and Kamei were invited to share their insights on USG as a “case study” for the future of postsecondary education in the United States.

Other event participants included U.S. Representative and House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN); Hillary for America Surrogate and Education Policy Expert James Kvaal; Excelencia in Education President Sarita Brown; U.S. Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Education Policy Cheryl Oldham; President of Northern Virginia Community College Scott Ralls; and President of Paul Quinn College Michael Sorrell.

Click here to view the full event online.

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Guest Post: Tony Li, University of Maryland School of Nursing Student

From Villages Abroad to My Local Community


My parents immigrated to New York from China in 1980 with little money and support. Both of my parents did not finish post-secondary school or spoke any English so their job prospects were limited. My father worked in the restaurant business while my mother worked as a seamstress in the Big Apple. I was born a little more than a year later and from the very beginning my parents had high expectations of me. So growing up I was well behaved and always did what I was told partly because I felt my parents had gone through a lot in their life and I didn’t want to bring misery to our family by being a troubled child.

As the first born in my family there was a tremendous amount of pressure for me to go to college and be “successful.” Success was defined as a career in Medicine, Law or Engineering. I choose the engineering route and enrolled at Drexel University. My plan was to work in pharmaceutical research. But during my final semester, I heard one of my classmate’s mention that he was serving a two-year mission as a member of the Mormon Church somewhere in the United States.  He would not be paid and it was all voluntary. I remember calculating the loss earning potential and wondering why he was stalling his career. He explained to me that he could always make money later, but he felt at this time he needed to volunteer his time to “spread the word” in communities around the country. This sounded good to me, I wanted to travel overseas and help others without converting them to a specific religion. After much research during my final semester, I decided to join Peace Corps. I would serve for two years and get to travel and help those in need, especially the underserved. My parents, however, did not approve and it would be the first thing I’ve ever done in my life that was contrary to their expectations of me.

Immediately after graduating from Drexel with a chemical engineering degree, I was stationed in Vanuatu where I was assigned to teach math and science at a boarding school for two years. The prospect of volunteering overseas in a resource poor country was appealing to me even though I knew there were plenty of communities, including my community in the United States, that equally needed assistance. Besides teaching full-time I also learned about how the healthcare system works in Vanuatu and how communities come together to help each other when someone becomes sick. Some examples include, one community raised money for a plane ticket so the patient could fly into the city for treatment and in another example a community came together to help a temporarily disabled farmer till and plant his entire garden. What was supposed to be a two year service turned out to be four years, and I realized that I wanted to go back to school to study public health.

After returning from Vanuatu I spent two years at Tulane University in Louisiana where I earned my Master’s degree in Public Health. I wanted to work in international development and public health was a good fit. I was fortunate enough to find work with a non-governmental organization (NGO), the Carter Center, based in South Sudan. Similar to Vanuatu, access to quality healthcare was difficult in this country. Poor infrastructure was and still is impeding progress with delivering medical supplies to the field, but sadly the current political unrest has downgraded the priority of access to healthcare in this country.

During my time at Tulane I had met my wife, who had been offered a job at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. So it made sense that we relocate to the greater D.C. area. After returning from South Sudan I realized I wanted a clinical degree and planned on going to nursing school. I looked at several schools in the area but ultimately decided that the University of Maryland School of Nursing at USG was the best option for me.

dhhs-students-groupMy plan was to work overseas again after graduation. However, I was offered the opportunity to participate in the 2016 Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Montgomery County fellowship. I was excited to learn more about the different resources Montgomery County Health Department had to offer for those that needed assistance. The DHHS fellowship allowed my cohort of multidisciplinary professions to gain insight into the financial, social and educational services available in Montgomery County. We visited detention centers, women/children/men’s shelters, and health centers. At the end of the fellowship my cohort presented to the Montgomery County DHHS and our respective universities about interprofessional collaboration from different organizations.

It was through this fellowship that I was reminded that there are several communities throughout the United States and specifically the one I now call home, Montgomery County, that need my help. Upon graduation, I would like to work with community health, which would combine my public health experiences and nursing background.

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The Universities at Shady Grove Receives $50,000 Grant To Help Underrepresented Students Achieve Financial Stability, Grow Regional Workforce

Funds to support students through college, earn academic credentials and develop workplace skills necessary to succeed in high demand careers

The Universities at Shady Grove (USG) has received a $50,000 grant from the Meyer Foundation to support two programs designed to help build a diverse, highly skilled workforce, support the local business community, and enable deserving youth to realize their potential and achieve financial stability.

The Universities at Shady Grove Achieving Collegiate Excellence and Success (ACES) and Career Experience Opportunities (CEO) programs are designed to introduce students to career options, prepare them for the workforce and connect them to employment. To date, the program has enabled nearly 2,000 students to experience these opportunities.

“Through CEO and ACES, we are able to dramatically increase the number of nontraditional students staying in school, earning degrees, and being well prepared to join and succeed in the workforce,” said Stewart Edelstein, executive director of the Universities at Shady Grove. “Ultimately CEO and ACES diversify and expand the pool of candidates with 21st century workforce skills in our region.”

The ACES program provides educational pathways and support structures from high school to college completion for low-income, first generation, and other underrepresented students. Using a case management approach, ACES engages students, parents, teachers, and staff to achieve success. The CEO program is a five-year partnership with Montgomery County Public Schools and Montgomery College that guides students from their senior year in high school through the completion of their bachelor’s degree. It combines classroom studies and work skills development with career experiences like job shadowing and internships.

Julian A. Haynes, Program Officer at the Meyer Foundation, praised the program for its approach involving businesses, public schools, the community college and the Universities at Shady Grove to help young people prepare for the workforce and obtain family-sustaining careers. “By using collective action to support an intentional pathway, it fills a critical need in our community to provide workforce skills to young people who lack professional networks or exposure to the careers that will provide a pathway to economic security.”

“These programs enable our students to graduate with experiences and skills so they can compete and be successful in the high demand fields in our region,” added Edelstein. “This grant from the Meyer Foundation will enable us to form more partnerships with local businesses and to mobilize the resources of public schools and community colleges to help create opportunity and a level playing field for our students.”

The Meyer Foundation grant joins approximately $1 million in pledges from Hess Construction, Health Care Initiative, MedImmune, Westat and other funders to support the ACES and CEO programs. The Meyer Foundation grant announced today will also help USG build partnerships with more businesses to expand the programs.


About the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation

Established in 1944, the Meyer Foundation is one of the Washington area’s oldest and largest locally-focused philanthropies. In December 2015, the Foundation adopted a new strategic plan and mission statement: to pursue and invest in solutions that build an equitable Greater Washington community in which economically vulnerable people thrive.

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From College to Career: Recent Graduates Share Their Stories

The Universities at Shady Grove

By Comcast Creative

Comcast Creative proudly presents a video featuring three recent graduates sharing their stories about finishing college and starting their careers. Click here or the image below to watch the video.

Comcast Video II

A unique kind of learning community, USG is designed for students who are professionally focused and want to fast track their degree. Everything about USG is aimed at helping students complete their degree and advance their career. With degree and certificate programs available on a flexible full-time, part-time, evening and weekend basis, USG students are able to complete their education in a cost-effective and timely manner close to home.

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USG featured on WJLA News

Universities at Shady Grove offer Maryland students unique benefits

By Kellye Lynn, Reporter at ABC 7 News

Kellye Lynn, a reporter at WJLA, spent a few hours on campus speaking with students about their experiences and taking a tour of USG. She compiled an in-depth look at USG’s model and the success it offers so many in our state. 


Maryland college students benefit from nine universities in one location.

Twenty-two-year-old Allison Hishmeh is about to start a new chapter in life now that she’s graduated from the University of Maryland College Park. Even though she recently received a marketing degree from the school, Hishmeh rarely stepped foot on campus.

“We have a library, recreation center. We have our Office of Student Services. It’s all here. So I don’t need to go to main campus for anything,” she told ABC7 News.

Everything she needed she found at the Universities at Shady Grove. The Rockville campus represents nine schools in the University of Maryland system including Salisbury University, Towson, Bowie State and the University of Baltimore. Degrees are offered in fields such as business, psychology, nursing, pharmacy, and biology.

Visit WJLA to view the full story.

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USG featured in The Washington Post

Nine universities on one small campus? It’s real. It’s here. And it could be higher ed’s future.

In May, Washington Post Education Reporter Danielle Douglas-Gabriel spent a few hours on our campus, speaking with students about their experiences and getting a tour of our facilities. She compiled an in-depth look at USG’s model and the success it offers so many in our state. Take a read below.

USG Campus

It would be easy to mistake the Universities at Shady Grove as a flagship public school, with its red-brick buildings and its state-of-the-art labs, library and fitness center.But Shady Grove is a program unlike any other, with nine state universities converging at the Rockville, Md., campus, part of an effort that began 16 years ago to reduce college costs, produce an educated workforce and encourage college completion among populations that traditionally struggle to get their ­degrees.

Public universities and colleges are grappling with how to serve a growing population of students with limited resources in the face of paltry state investment in higher education. ­Cooperative programs, such as the one at Shady Grove, draw on the strengths of regional colleges and respond to demands for workforce development.“It’s a very innovative model,” said Barmak Nassirian, director of federal relations and policy analysis for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. “You have a public institution responding to market conditions in a way that expands access.”Shady Grove offers a way for community college students to transfer into undergraduate programs at nine of the 12 schools in the University System of Maryland, including the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Bowie State, Towson and the state flagship in College Park.

All classes are held in Rockville and taught by professors from the partner schools, so a student seeking a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Maryland Baltimore County can earn the degree without ever setting foot in ­Catonsville.

That kind of convenience was appealing to Nyenpu Faith Kamei, 21, a Germantown resident getting a degree in social work and psychology from UMBC. Staying close to home was important for Kamei because of the money she could save by living with her parents.

Click here to continue to read the full article.

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USG featured in The Atlantic

Bringing College to Students Who Can’t Leave Home

More people are earning degrees from far-away schools through regional campuses.

By: Emily DeRuy, Senior Associate Editor at The Atlantic

Just a few days after USG’s 15th graduation celebration, Emily DeRuy, senior associate editor for The Atlantic, spent time speaking with students and USG’s Executive Director Stew Edelstein and learning about our regional campus. She penned a feature on USG’s innovative model, the benefits it offers students, and the impact it has on Maryland’s regional businesses.

Grad pic

As more students stay close to home for college, universities face the challenge of rethinking not only the education they offer, but how they deliver it to an increasingly diverse student body.

In a paper published earlier this year, researchers from the University of Wisconsin at Madison noted that most new students now attend college nearby. For reasons both financial and cultural, this is especially true for poor students and those of color, who make up a growing segment of college-goers. Where there are good options, staying local works just fine. But where there aren’t quality choices, students—and local economies—lose out.

A few decades ago, Montgomery County, Maryland, found itself hurting for quality four-year college options. Business, particularly the science and tech sectors, was booming and companies were hiring. And they were increasingly looking for people with bachelor’s degrees. Montgomery County had a good community college, but no public university where locals could get a four-year degree. So kids from families who could swing it went away. But the county’s demographics were also shifting. Schools were filling with more poor children from families unfamiliar with college, who were less likely to pack up and head elsewhere for school.

“You look at what’s happening in the school system and you look at what the needs in the workforce are, and you see an immediate disconnect,” said Stewart Edelstein, the executive director of what would ultimately become something of a solution: The Universities at Shady Grove (USG). Created in 2000, USG essentially lets Montgomery County residents earn bachelor’s and even master’s degrees from nine of the 12 schools that make up the state’s university system all at one stand-alone campus 20 miles northwest of Washington, D.C., in Montgomery County. Most students go to local community colleges and then apply to a school (Towson University or the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, for instance) for the final half of a bachelor’s degree or for a graduate degree, specifying that they want to enroll at the USG campus. The individual universities hire their own faculty, and students’ diplomas don’t bear any mark of USG. Graduates are, for all intents and purposes, earning a degree from Towson or a degree from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. But they don’t have to move to do it. And local businesses, from Marriott to Lockheed Martin, know they’ve got college graduates nearby who are already committed to staying in the area.

Visit The Atlantic to read the full story.

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