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.
I have learned a lot about leadership, and the process of becoming a leader. I have been a part-time UMBC disability student at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) since Spring 2017. I am a History major with a minor in Public history. I am passionate about getting involved on my campus and learning from others. While I was at Montgomery College (MC), I had over four years of leadership experiences that included:
- Vice President: Germantown Student Senate
- Vice-Chair: Student Council (Representing College-Wide)
- FYE Ambassador: Germantown Campus- Representing First Year Students
- History Club: President
- MC Leads Team leader
- New Student Orientation Leader
- YMCA Leadership Retreat
- Activities Board Team Leader
- Alternative Breaks Team Leader
As a student leader at MC, I learned about leadership responsibilities and management skills. By attending the various training workshops for leadership and conferences, I was able to hone in on my leadership skills and gain confidence. I became a role model to my campus and thereby accelerating my self-growth. On the other hand, I had many challenges with my leadership roles and learning how to work with different personalities. However, I was able to learn from my experiences and better understand conflict resolution, time management, and expand my communication skills. The experiences I have gained from my leadership roles at MC have prepared me well for the leadership roles I acquired at USG:
- History Student Association (HSA) Officer
- Peer Advisory Team Leader (PAT)
- Orientation Student Leader (OSL)
- Student Advisory Board Member (SAB)
- Student Council Representative at Large for UMES
- USG student blogger
With these new leadership roles, I have learned how the USG community operates and how I can help make a difference in ensuring student success. As a student leader, I have been involved in numerous leadership events and activities. By participating in these leadership opportunities, I can better assist and contribute to the USG community.
The reflections from my leadership badge activity has further contributed to my emerging leadership skills by helping me identify the skills I need to improve on, what I value and what my passions are. My reflection on leadership has shown that I have grown tremendously as a leader but you are never done bettering yourself a leader. Learning new things and acquiring new skills is a lifelong accomplishment.
To conclude, leadership means the ability to lead and influence others. I strongly believe that for a leader to be efficient, one must have passion and dedication in their work. I plan to achieve my leadership future goals by continuing to be involved on campus, to utilize the services that are offered, and to apply for more leadership roles.
Not all leaders stand behind podiums and speak in front of thousands of people. In fact, there are many ways to be an effective leader, and everyone has leadership potential. There’s no time like the present to enhance your skills!
Hi, my name is Shelby Speer, and I am the Graduate Student Services Coordinator in the Center for Student Engagement and Financial Resources at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG). I am also the co-facilitator of the USGLeads Emerging and Expanding Leadership Programs at USG. If you are not familiar with USGLeads, it is a free, self-paced, completely online program open to all students taking classes at USG. After you complete a brief application and are accepted into the Emerging Leadership program, you will have the opportunity to engage, learn, and reflect via a variety of themed modules. At the end of the program, you will write your own leadership statement, and receive a variety of accolades. To further practice your skills, you will then be invited to pursue the Expanding Leadership Program.
Mimi Yaldram, a UMBC History student, recently completed both stages of the program. When asked to look back upon her experience, she wrote: “This program allowed me to learn development skills such as different leadership styles, ethics and morals through TED Talks, leadership values and philosophy, oral communication, social activism, and teaching others. All these skills helped me to become a better leader and thereby helped me to become the person I wanted to be, a role model for others. I believe this program encouraged me to be a better citizen as I think about social justice issues and how I can help my community and what my purpose is in life. This leadership program taught me to understand myself personally and intellectually. I highly encourage every student to take this opportunity to be part of this program. I am so glad and honored to have done this and it was an amazing experience.”
If you are interested in applying, please click here for more information. You are also encouraged to attend the Entrepreneurship Lab Leadership Speaker Series, which was featured in the previous blog article. We can’t wait to assist you on your leadership journey!
The Lab for Entrepreneurship and Transformative Leadership seeks to provide resources and mentorship to students, empower local entrepreneurs, and support emerging startups in the DMV. The Lab has planned [virtual] events ranging from speaker events to hackathons in the Fall semester. Here is a sampling:
Speaker: Thursday, September 10, 2020 at 3PM featuring Jordan DeCicco, Kitu Super Co and Shark Tank Entrepreneur, RSVP HERE.
Hackathon: Our first hackathon is a Retail Hackathon Event with the winning student team receiving $3,500. Please email Director Marc Steren, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Virtual Office Hours: Have an idea or want to talk business? Drop into our virtual office every Wednesday from 3-4PM to discuss your Hackathon or business ideas.
Lab’s Innovator Program: Want to become a Lab Innovator to add to your resume? email email@example.com for more information.
Mentorship: Receive mentorship from this amazing Entrepreneurs in Residence
Classes: A class is coming this Spring on how to launch your own startup using design thinking and lean methodology.
Visit our webpage for more information on program and events.
About the Director, Marc Steren:
Prior to joining the Universities at Shady Grove, Marc served Georgetown University as the co-director of its Summer Launch Incubator, as an adjunct professor and Entrepreneur in Residence. His students have gone on to present their business proposals on ABC’s Shark Tank and Tech Stars of London, participated in the Chobani Incubator and Halycon Social Incubator, won Leonsis Prizes and Georgetown’s Entrepreneur of the Year competition. Entrepreneurs participating on his incubator teams have received venture capital and are valued at over $200 million, combined. Marc has also been an adjunct professor for the Horn Entrepreneurship program at the University of Delaware. He is currently an adjunct professor for the University of Maryland’s Academy of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. In addition, he has been a guest speaker at Johns Hopkins University, American University and various conferences.
Marc was also the founding Director of Entrepreneurship at the Bullis School, where he earned the National Federation of Independent Business’s National Educator of the Year award and was the winner of the David S. Stone for Teaching Excellence. He is the co-founder of University Startups for Social Entrepreneurship, a program dedicated to teaching students about social entrepreneurship. Marc has a B.A from Johns Hopkins University, a J.D from University of Pennsylvania Law School and pre-admission for a Masters in Management at the Harvard University Extension School.
In business, Marc founded multiple companies and received investments from celebrity investors and venture capitalists. He sold his latest company in 2012 and since then has dedicated his time to teaching entrepreneurship. Marc has been featured in the Huffington Post, The Washington Post, and Washingtonian Magazine and was recognized as an Entrepreneur Expert by Georgetown University, named to Young CEOs of Washington, DC and Mindshare (an invite-only group for entrepreneurs). He currently coaches local entrepreneurs and has consulted for an NGO.
He is the author of two books; The Student’s Guide to Entrepreneurship and Stories from Connie. His third book, School Culture Fit will be out in December 2020.
“I was hopeless coming into this program, but I learned all the options I have and it regained my hope” – MCPS High School Senior.
For a week in August, 2020 – isolation was replaced with hope for a group of high school seniors. Along with a handful of my talented Universities at Shady Grove (USG) colleagues, I had the privilege of leading the first ever virtual summer bridge program for students in the Achieving Collegiate Excellence & Success (ACES) program. For years – this signature summer programming has been delivered on the USG campus to local students who are traditionally underrepresented in higher education. Transitioning to a virtual format was an exercise in creativity, critical thinking, and teamwork – ironically the exact career readiness skills that we seek to impart to students during our summer bridge program – which we call reachHIRE. The results far exceeded my initial expectations.
Over 300 students participated in reachHIRE, rivaling the engagement level for our in-person program. Every morning students received a link to an interactive, self-paced learning module on a topic such as Writing an Elevator Speech, Exploring Careers, and Building a Professional Reputation. There was even a virtual scavenger hunt which highlighted the many benefits of pursuing a degree offered at USG (a student favorite!). Students appreciated that they could complete these modules at their own pace, and they raved about the fun and “gamified” features such as videos, quizzes, and at-home science experiments.
While these independent modules had a measurable impact on learning – they couldn’t replicate the peer social connection that so characterized our in-person reachHIRE event. The USG team responsible for putting this event together sensed that students would be yearning for connection after months at home, so a daily live Zoom session was added. Each live session had its own flavor. On one day students practiced elevator speeches to the praise of peers – the chatbox was an explosion of caring and encouragement. On another day, students were able to ask questions of ACES students currently enrolled in programs at USG.
My favorite live session was a culminating professional panel event which allowed students to demonstrate the career skills and increased confidence developed over the course of reachHIRE. Over 25 regional employers and many staff from university partner programs at USG participated in industry panels, employers included: Allied Health, FDA, NIH, Westat, Shapiro & Duncan, NASA, Interfaith Works, Mid Atlantic Federal Credit Union, Children’s National Hospital, and the U.S. Public Health Service. Students asked thoughtful questions of regional industry leaders who matched with their career interests. In a time when students have been prevented from participating in many formative career experience that characterize summer– we were able to deliver quality career experiential learning in a virtual format.
I often find myself wondering how we will remember the challenging season of 2020 when we reflect back 10 years from now. We will almost certainly remember the pain of lives lost, isolation, and a struggle for equity – but I am confident that I will also remember a moment of brightness and hope that was reachHIRE. The task of delivering a meaningful learning experience to students in a virtual landscape was daunting – but we delivered. I believe this reachHIRE student participant said it best –
“Coming into reachHIRE I was very skeptical because I thought it would be the same old talk that I need to go to college and I need to do this and that. Surprisingly, it wasn’t like that at all, the staff understood that everyone has a variety of interests and they spoke about options for each of those interests. I even related to many students. I have a new viewpoint on colleges now and I have an idea of what career I might go into. Thank you reachHIRE for this wonderful experience.”
Author: Sara Wells, Manager
Sara Wells has been working on issues related to career and youth development for over a decade. She came to USG in 2016 to coordinate the Career Experience Opportunities (CEO) Program – a pilot career intervention for 100 college students hailing from underserved high schools in Montgomery County. Based on the program’s success, Wells was able to work with colleagues to design a strategic plan to apply best practices from CEO to a much larger audience of students in the Achieving Collegiate Excellence & Success Program (ACES). Wells now serves as the ACES Career Readiness Manager, overseeing career related programming for thousands of students across Montgomery County’s academic pathway. Her work now impacts students at Montgomery County Public Schools, Montgomery College, and USG.
As the Universities at Shady Grove enters its 20th academic year, it has never been more clear that we are more than a campus. We are a community. So as students were hit by the economic effects of the COVID-19 shutdowns, members of our wider community stepped up to help through the USG Emergency Assistance Fund.
The Emergency Assistance Fund was established by USG’s Board of Advisors at the outset of the COVID-19 crisis to aid students in financial peril. The Board of Advisors realized that a majority of students at USG work part-time and full-time jobs while enrolled in classes, and that most of those jobs and paychecks would be going away. A goal of $150,000 for the fund was set and a process for applying for and receiving aid was created.
The call for donations to the USG Emergency Assistance Fund has gone out through email appeals, website announcements, and special notices in Bethesda Beat, thanks to editor-in-chief and publisher Steve Hull, a member of the USG Board of Advisors.
The response has been fantastic. Giving kicked off with a $15,000 match challenge from Montgomery County Business Leaders Fighting Hunger, led by USG Board of Advisors member Andy Burness. Nearly $110,000 of the $150,000 goal has been contributed so far, thanks to our caring USG community. USG’s Center for Student Engagement and Financial Resources has worked to meet the basic human need for food and other household items for more than 500 students. Tuition assistance, textbooks, and technology assistance is also available. Simply put, the fund has been a lifeline for USG students.
Along with individual donors, a number of area businesses have made significant contributions to the Emergency Assistance Fund, with Rockville-based software company DSFederal leading the way with a $20,000 gift.
“Now more than ever, it is a top priority for DSFederal to give back to the community that has allowed us to flourish,” says company CEO Sophia Parker. “We recognize that education is the backbone of our county, and that USG students represent the future of our innovative, energetic business community.”
With the beginning of the new academic year and no end in sight for the pandemic, we’re asking the USG community to step up and contribute to help us meet our goal. Every dollar helps and without the Emergency Assistance Fund, many students will be forced to give up their dream of a baccalaureate degree. To help, go here and select the USG Emergency Assistance Fund from the dropdown menu. If you would like to discuss other giving options, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I wanted to take this time to thank you for your help,” wrote one student after receiving emergency assistance. “It will truly help in feeding my family and me, along with alleviating some financial stress. I truly thank the donors and the amazing community within the Universities at Shady Grove.”
Tom Clifford, Major Gifts Director, works for USG’s Office of Advancement & Community Engagement.
It has long been understood that “soft skills” can provide a competitive edge – an edge which distinguishes a “good” employee from a “great” one. In today’s COVID challenged world, those words ring truer than ever before, especially when considering today’s tightening job market. Are you searching for a job or internship or know someone who is? If so, take just a moment to think about what employers really want. A college degree, relevant training, previous experience? Yes, Yes, and Yes. But don’t forget the skills that might actually get you from the interview chair to the office chair. In the world of work, these skills are known as “employability skills.”
Leadership, communication, critical thinking, problem solving, global fluency, and professionalism are just a few of these skills which are worth their weight in gold. As reported by the NACE Center for Career Development and Talent Acquisition, when asked what they seek most in job candidates, employers have overwhelmingly expressed a need for individuals with the ability to “bring solutions to the table, communicate well, and collaborate to solve complex problems.” Other characteristics most sought after include “the ability to think on one’s feet, take initiative, and demonstrate innovation and creativity.” Not surprisingly today’s global marketplace also attributes great value to candidates “who speak multiple languages and have the ability to function effectively across cultures and stakeholders.”
When it comes to assessing how graduates measure up for success in the workplace, perceptions vary widely among employers, academic institutions and students. Revealing a jaw dropping difference in perceptions, Gallup and the Lumina Foundation brought major attention to this issue beginning in 2014 when their study revealed that “a whopping 96% of chief academic officers said their institution is very or somewhat effective at preparing students for the world of work.” Compared to 11% of business leaders and 14% of Americans who felt that college graduates “have the skills and competencies needed for the workplace,” these numbers revealed a huge disconnect in what is needed to prepare students for the real world.
With an emphasis on building tomorrows talent, the Universities at Shady Grove’s (USG) Career and Internship Service Center (CISC) has worked to identify and respond to what employers really want both nationally and in the local region. Through their “College to Career” campaign, USG has launched an initiative to build career competencies across the student community, giving them the competitive edge. Adapted from the National Association of Colleges & Employers (NACE) career readiness recommendations, USG has identified nine critical competencies deemed essential for the world of work:
- Oral & Written Communication
- Critical Thinking & Problem Solving
- Teamwork & Collaboration
- Professionalism & Work Ethic
- Global & Intercultural Fluency
- Personal Development & Well-being
- Career Management
- Digital Technology
How well do you stack up? Recognizing that these competencies are developed on a continuum and over time, USG’s campaign encourages students to take advantage of a wide variety of experiences both in and out of the classroom. By doing so, students can take part in meaningful, hands-on experiences which will increase their level of proficiency and give them the opportunity to learn through action. Indeed, moving the needle on career readiness will require a real commitment and action across all stakeholders: developing curriculum which provides relevant exposure to critical thinking and application of knowledge, emphasizing student development activities which give students access to skill building and mentoring, and developing partnerships with the business community which build a talent pipeline while providing meaningful internships and real world experiences.
While just one part of a complex solution, USGs “College to Career” campaign lays the groundwork for students to achieve the trifecta sought by employers – a high quality degree, meaningful practical experience, and critical competencies needed to thrive in the world of work. With an eye on the future, USG seeks to empower students to become the best version of themselves, yielding a powerful edge on the competition.
For a complete list of defined competencies, tools for self-assessment, or more information on USG’s College to Career campaign, visit shadygrove.umd.edu/careerservices.
About the Author: Julia Rader, Director of USG’s Career and Internship Services Center (CISC)
Julia graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a B.A. in Psychology with a specialization in Speech Communication and completed a M.S. in Management with a specialization in Nonprofit Administration from University of Maryland University College. Julia is also a graduate of Montgomery County’s Leadership Montgomery CORE program. Julia currently serves as the Vice President of the Board of Trustees for Future Link of Maryland and serves on the Board of Directors for Montgomery County’s Corporate Volunteer Council. In addition, she is a member of the MCPS-MC-USG Partnership Collaboration Committee and a founding member of the MCPS-MC-USG “Career Experience Opportunities” Taskforce. Throughout her career in higher education, Julia has held numerous professional roles within the University System of Maryland including Coordinator of the Federal Work-Study Community Service Program, Education Finance Coordinator and Associate Director of Student Services. Julia is particularly interested in the causes of student advocacy, building community partnerships, and growing volunteerism among our community.
It is no secret that the Covid-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented disruption to everyday life. As research continues to find medical solutions, everyone is adjusting to their new normal in a changing landscape.
For college students around the nation and the globe, that has meant being thrust – at a moment’s notice – into online learning environments, something they may never have wanted and certainly were not expecting. Just what impact this disruption has had on students’ academic achievements, however, is still unknown. That is what Ting Huang, a Kendall Scholar and McNair Scholar from UMBC’s psychology program, wants to find out.
After the initial shock of the change back in March, Huang and her classmates began recognizing that online learning meant more than just shifting the normal class into virtual space. There was a difference in how they perceived their classes.
“We had been enjoying our interactions in the classroom with the professors and with each other, and suddenly we didn’t have that anymore,” Huang said. “We felt like it was impacting our grades and our satisfaction with classes.”
So alongside UMBC Psychology Program Director Dr. Diane Alonso, Huang has begun putting together a research proposal. Existing literature points to engagement between instructors and learners as being critical for learning. Students are more likely to learn more when they are engaged in the topic at hand, Huang points out. For her study, though, she wants to focus on the stress resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic and how that plays into students’ academic satisfaction.
Huang knows that her experience at UMBC at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) has given her the confidence and capabilities to conduct this study. After two years at Montgomery College, she realized that UMBC’s psychology program at USG was much closer to home and more convenient than UMBC’s main campus. At USG, her interactions with Dr. Donald Knight, in particular, shaped the type of researcher that she has become.
“Dr. Knight’s classes led me to this research in the first place,” Huang said. “He’s inspiring in the way he teaches, so that’s why I wanted to pursue this and continue my academic career.”
Huang also hopes that the unique set-up of USG will lend itself to a more thorough study. In the fall, she will be administering a survey to college students about their general satisfaction and anxiety levels, as well as how they perceive online learning in general. Though she only currently has clearance to survey UMBC students, she is working to get approval to send the survey to students from all nine universities at USG. After completion of the survey, Huang intends to use that information to create an experimental study in the spring semester.
Though remote learning is not Huang’s personal ideal academic environment, she recognizes that it is the best and safest way to proceed in the near future. “Ultimately, my opinion is less connected to my research than it is to the real-world situation happening right now,” she explained. “I would encourage all universities to commit to online learning and only return to full operations when there is a vaccine in sight. Keeping students off campus is also connected with lower mobility in general, which helps stop the spread of this virus, so it makes the most sense for us right now.”
Alexa: Can you help people with traumatic brain injuries?
Six years ago, when I started working with smart speakers, I had to go into a long explanation about the “Echo” and who Alexa was. I remember the very first Amazon smart speaker commercial and thought to myself, “what is this strange black tube that tells the weather?” Fast forward to the famous SNL skit, Alexa is now a household name. I have multiple units in my home, and I most certainly ask her about the weather (and you probably do too). But “she” is capable of so much more! In my research with older adults who have Dementia, she read stories to someone who couldn’t understand words on a page. She helped them change their home temperature with only their voice and assisted them to remember how they felt the day before through voice notes they made. Writing a grocery list or tapping on the phone to call someone, a simple task for you and me, but for someone with tremors or low vision, telling “Alexa, put potatoes on my grocery list” or “call mom” is beneficial.
Imagine you are lying in your bed; you wake up and are staring at the ceiling and have to wait three hours for someone to help you prop up to watch tv or read your tablet. A person who is injured and cannot move can have the power to modify their bed position, turn on the TV, and bring up a newspaper, only by using their voice.
Students at the University of Maryland, College Park’s Information Science program at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) have created a research team to show how Voice-user Interface Technology (like Alexa) can make a positive impact in a person’s life. The team decided to focus their research on Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injuries. By controlling various aspects of their house through their voice, they can regain independence and feel supported in their own home as long as possible without the need for institutionalization.
Using a voice command can help someone who has a cognitive condition or is paralyzed and has limited hand or finger mobility. Veterans with TBI can access and control many aspects of their home, such as lights, doorbell cameras, thermostats, TV, and their bed. Voice recognition is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and we are setting out to explore how we can customize and fit the needs of those who need it the most.
If you are also passionate about technology and how it can make a huge difference in someone’s life, a B.S. in Information Science may be a great fit. Our interdisciplinary program focuses on the intersection of people, technology, and information. Our students are excited about making a difference by doing research, engaging in internships, and find the opportunities InfoSci provides exceptionally fulfilling. Contact me to learn more!
Galina Madjaroff is a faculty member at the University of Maryland, College Park’s iSchool, and Program Director for the InfoSci program at USG. Her research focus is on improving the quality of life of those who suffer with cognitive impairments including elders and individuals with disabilities through low-cost, consumer technology. She is passionate about teaching and supporting students in finding internship, research and career opportunities.
As the Academic Advisor for the Computer Science program at UMBC-Shady Grove, I am proud to announce that our B.S. in Computer Science with a Cybersecurity track is now being offered at the Universities at Shady Grove location starting Fall 2020. With access to numerous scholarships, small class sizes, high quality applied learning opportunities, and the new Biomedical Sciences and Engineering Education (BSE) facility, there are many advantages in pursuing UMBC’s ABET-accredited Computer Science Program. As exemplified through a recent survey of CMSC graduates from UMBC, 91% are employed within six months post-graduation (Amazon, Google, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, NASA, CIA, and many more) and 95% obtain employment that is related to their career path. Additionally, career possibilities abound. There are 20,839 open jobs in the computer science field within 50 miles of Washington, D.C. with starting salaries of $70,000 – $75,000.
While our physical campus is temporarily closed due to the current COVID-19 response, I encourage students to schedule a virtual pre-transfer advising appointment with me in the near future. As a former transfer student at UMBC-Shady Grove, I understand how important it is to solidify your academic path as soon as possible. During our pre-transfer advising appointment, we will review your unofficial transcript(s), required and recommended courses for transfer, and develop your academic path to UMBC-Shady Grove. In the meantime, those interested in the program may proactively view our required and recommended transfer coursework here. Students applying to UMBC’s Computer Science program at Shady Grove this fall are eligible for a $75.00 application fee waiver. You may access our application and further information here. Please note that the B.S. in Computer Science continues to be offered at UMBC’s home campus in Catonsville, MD in addition to the Universities at Shady Grove location.
To learn more about the B.S. in Computer Science program, please visit the Computer Science at UMBC-Shady Grove website. You may also email me Kim Casimbon, at USGadvising@cs.umbc.edu or our Undergraduate Associate Program Director, Jeannette Kartchner at USGdirector@cs.umbc.edu.