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Your Community. Your Experience. Your GSA. Guest Post: Shelby Speer, Graduate Student Services Coordinator

shelby photo 11-14-16

Shelby Speer

Did you know that we have more than 30 graduate and professional programs at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG)? My name is Shelby Speer, and I have the pleasure of being the Graduate Student Services Coordinator in the Center for Student Engagement and Financial Resources. A significant part of my role is to ensure that graduate and professional students at USG have the resources that they need to be successful. As chair of the USG Graduate Student Association, we work hard to make sure that grad students have a voice on campus as well as unique opportunities for engagement!

Earth Day posterThe first week of April, we held our annual Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week, which featured many fun activities and free stuff! New this year, we will be co-hosting USG Celebrates Earth Day April 22-24, which features lots of earth-friendly events and a stainless steel straw giveaway. If you need a finals de-streser, check out our “Make Your Own Trail Mix” station on May 13 as part of USG De-Stress Lounge week!

The largest event of the year for graduate students is the Graduation Gala, which is a celebratory party for all graduating graduate and professional students at USG. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Annica Wayman, the Associate Dean of Shady Grove Affairs for CNMS. Other event features include: the awarding of the Academic and Community Excellence Awards, presentation of the Graduate Student Association class gift, free food and drinks, and photo booths.

GSA Elections 2019Will you be a graduate student at USG next year? Do you want to get involved in planning events and initiatives, as well as gathering feedback from your peers? Applications for next year’s Graduate Student Association are currently open! The early deadline is April 30: apply today!

Grad students are strongly encourage to get involved in life at USG: we hope to see you at some of the spring events and maybe on next year’s GSA executive board!

Grad Gala Invite Final front

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Guest Post: Obioma Akaigwe, Campus Rec Center Coordinator

Campus Rec Center
Have you checked out the newly renovated Campus Rec Center (CRC)? We invite you to come and take a  look. There’s been a major upgrade, we have added new recreation and fitness equipment, which includes a rock wall, Stairmaster, row machine, squat machine, treadmills and many more.

CRC is here to help you with your health and wellness! We have group classes and personal training services all led by certified instructors; lockers and showers for your convenience. Membership is free for students with a valid USG ID. We also have competitive membership packages for staff and faculty. But don’t take our word for it, come and see for yourself, we are located on the 2nd floor of Building-III, above the cafe. We look forward to seeing you. For more information or have questions, please stop by the CRC or contact me at oakaigwe@umd.edu

Mobile Market Mondays at USG

USG has implemented several initiatives to encourage health and wellness on campus. Mobile Market Mondays at USG is a program supported by the Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB), who provides fresh seasonal fruits, vegetables, and other food items at zero cost for distribution to the campus and community. All you need to do is stop by Lot 5 (visitor’s parking lot), bring your grocery bags and pick up some food.

The market runs solely on volunteer labor; we welcome all volunteers, please sign up here. For more information on the Mobile Market Mondays contact me at: oakaigwe@umd.edu.

USG Upcoming  Mobile Market days (11am-1pm):

April  22nd
May 20th

USG Grover Essentials
We also have the USG Grover Essentials food pantry. USG has a partnership with Manna Food Distribution Center, where they provide an ongoing supply of shelf safe items on a weekly basis. Grover Essentials includes items such as cereal, cooking staples (salt, sugar, beans), peanut butter, jelly, cereal, dry pasta, canned veggies, and fruits. In addition, we have a rotating supply of baby and toiletry items. Grover Essentials is located in Building III, SAS suite and is open to students, staff, and faculty with a valid USG ID.

We are excited about these programs and hope it will help in the effort to promote wellness and healthy living in our community.

USG Mobile Market Poster Final Version 1
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MythBusters, USG Edition. Guest Post: Jennifer Riehl, Senior Recruitment Coordinator


Jen headshot 1

Jennifer Riehl

After spending more than 6 years talking about the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) with anyone who will listen, you’d think I would have heard it all. But alas, there are still some questions I get asked that make me scratch my head and wonder how such misinformation has unfortunately spread. There are some myths, however, that I hear more than others, and I’m here to set the record straight once and for all:

TOP 8 MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT USG (and the actual truths!)

  1. It’s called the University of Shady Grove.

This one makes my eyes hurt to even type! We are the Universities AT Shady Grove. Our campus in Rockville offers select degree programs from 9 Maryland universities (their programs are AT our campus). By definition, a university grants degrees; at USG, your degree comes directly from the university offering your major. So even though it’s only a few letters different, saying “University of” really does change the entire meaning.

  1. Your degree and transcript will look different.

As I just mentioned, your degree (and transcript and diploma) comes directly from the university offering your major. That’s where you apply, and that’s who implements your program. The only difference is that you are choosing to take your classes on our (convenient, personalized, and cost-effective) campus, but you are still a student of your “home” university. (There are also no asterisks, italics, different colors, or mention of USG or your previous college on your transcript – yes, I’ve been asked all of these things!)

  1. The professors aren’t as good.

This is an easy one to clear up, since the professors are hired by the university offering your major. While main campus courses may see classes with 100+ students, the average class size at USG is only 30-35, so students at USG get the same professors, but they also get more access to them! A win-win!

  1. It’s for students who couldn’t get into the main campus.

Not true at all! Students apply directly to the university offering their major and simply choose USG as their preferred campus on the application (the small classes, convenient location, and more scholarship options are all reasons students select our campus). Since we already established that your degree is granted from your home university, don’t think for a second they plan to lower their standards for anyone earning that diploma! Applicants must indeed meet minimum qualifications (which vary by both university and program) to even be considered for admission. But what often happens is that since so many people are unaware of USG, they don’t select it on the application, and thus, there are more open spots for qualified applicants choosing the USG campus, which can indeed be a plus for you!

  1. You don’t get the “college experience.”

While there is no housing at USG, don’t let that fool you into thinking our students aren’t on our campus at all hours, simply going home to sleep! There are more than 50 student organizations (and it’s super easy to start your own), a ton of great campus events, a gym with a rock-climbing wall and free yoga classes, a café, and a library open to students until 2am! Plus, you are still a student of your home university, and you are encouraged to take advantage of clubs, sporting events, and networking events there, too. And with 50% of student applicants receiving a USG scholarship (not including scholarships you can still get from your home campus), you have more money left over for socializing with friends on the weekends, wherever that may be!

Ambassadors 2019

  1. You still need to go to your main campus to get student services.

Students never need to go to their main campus except to walk across the stage at graduation to receive their diploma. All of the services students need to succeed are offered and/or implemented here at USG. The best part is that with all undergraduate students starting at junior year, the services are geared to the needs of transfer students as well as graduate students, with conducive hours, to boot!

  1. Employers will look down at students who did their program at USG.

We’ve already established that your degree will not say USG on it, only the name of the university offering your major. And when you complete the education section of your resume, you also only need to list the name of that university. So an employer is only going to know that you went to the USG campus if you tell them! But you may want to tell them, now that you are in a position to clear up any misconceptions they may have: If it turns out you’re applying for a job or internship in Montgomery County, but you list University of Baltimore as your current university, for example, they’re going to worry that you are not available for enough hours with such a long commute. Conversely, if you tell them you are actually taking your classes in Rockville and thus can contribute more hours, that may just win you the gig!

  1. There is no way to learn more about USG.

Okay, this isn’t really a misconception, but a lot of times students wait way too long to look into their next steps in their educational journeys. I HIGHLY recommend starting as early as possible to gather information about admissions, deadlines, prerequisite courses, and so on, as well as visiting all campuses you are considering so you can compare. One great way to do that is to attend the upcoming USG Undergraduate Expo on Saturday, April 6th, from 9am-12pm. The Expo will feature reps from all undergraduate majors, sessions on financial aid, campus tours with current students, and much more! A full schedule of events and link to register can be found at www.shadygrove.umd.edu/discoverusg. With all your newfound knowledge, I may just have you join me on my side of the table that morning!

usg expo flyers

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USG featured in Maryland Matters

Opinion: After 20 Years, Unique Maryland Campus Stands Tall as Visionary Higher Ed Model

On March 20, 2019, Maryland Matters published an article about the Universities at Shady Grove’s (USG) unique model for higher-ed delivery in Maryland. The article highlights USG’s major milestone of 20 years in existence and how such a visionary campus came to be. Take a read below.

Students from The Universities at Shady Grove with Sen. Nancy King (D-Montgomery) at the State House on March 8 at Student Advocacy Day.

As incredible as it sounds, we’re already fast approaching the milestone year of 2020. Many in our region will be using the occasion to take a look back on the various decisions that state and local officials have made in past years and decades to plan for future success. We would submit that one very visionary decision in Maryland to create a unique model for higher education will hold up firmly as a forward-thinking, common-sense approach, even with the benefit of 20-20 hindsight.

Twenty years ago, a cadre of community leaders came together to brainstorm a solution to what was then seen as Montgomery County’s greatest weakness, despite its economic strengths and assets. That weakness was the lack of a public university within the county’s borders.

The Universities at Shady Grove campus.

While there was much talk about what it would take to create such an institution, that visionary cadre – comprised of education leaders, elected officials and business executives – turned instead to a more innovative and groundbreaking solution, one which resulted in what we now know as The Universities at Shady Grove, or USG.

USG is not one university, but a unique partnership of nine Maryland public universities that work together to bring their most in-demand undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs, that align with the needs of regional employers, to a single, full-service campus that is conveniently located in Rockville.

As a regional higher education center of the University System of Maryland, USG offers the third- and fourth-year coursework of the various undergraduate degree programs that are available. Students who come to the campus to complete a bachelor’s degree have often already completed an associate’s degree or 60 credits from another college or university, including nearby community colleges, such as Montgomery College and others.

The campus currently serves more than 3,000 students annually and will soon have the capacity to expand to nearly 8,000 a year, as construction is almost complete on a new 220,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art Biomedical Sciences and Engineering Education Facility. The new building opening this fall – the fourth education facility on the USG campus – is specifically geared toward meeting the needs of Montgomery County’s future workforce, by preparing students for careers in the science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medical sciences fields. Our partners from the University of Maryland College Park; the University of Maryland, Baltimore; and UMBC will all be bringing new STEMM programs there by 2020.

USG is an especially ideal option for professionally focused students, including many first-generation college students who want to earn degrees from one of the participating state universities, but may not have the resources or the accessibility to do so at the universities’ home campuses around the state. Degree and certificate programs offered at USG are available on a full-time or part-time basis, with classes offered days, evenings and on weekends, allowing students the flexibility that comes with being able to live, work and study close to home.

In recent years, together with Montgomery County Public Schools and Montgomery College, USG launched the Achieving Collegiate Excellence and Success program, serving thousands of students that are typically underrepresented in higher education — including minority, low-income and first-generation college students. The program provides students with a seamless and supportive pathway to a bachelor’s degree, working with the students throughout their educational journey, from high school through their college years.

Michael Knapp (left) and Stew Edelstein

Over the past nearly two decades, more than 11,000 students in total have earned their degrees from USG’s partner universities, while taking classes and enjoying a robust student life experience, conveniently and affordably at the campus in Montgomery County. Data compiled by the University System of Maryland points to USG’s success, as indicated by the fact that the four-year graduation rate for undergraduate students attending USG is 71 percent, compared to 56 percent throughout USM, on a statewide basis.

The bottom line is that the USG model has proven that it works – not only for students, but also for the partner universities that are able to expand in their ability to deliver high-impact degree programs, for the businesses and employers whose continued success depends on being able to attract a well-prepared and diverse workforce, and for the overall economy of the county and state. Best of all, it’s a cost-effective model for students, who can save approximately $8,000 by completing the 2+2 community college to university pathway, which also saves the state $14,000.

What’s especially heartening is that in proving how successful this model for higher education delivery can be, USG has also become a model for other regional higher education centers across the state of Maryland and around the nation.

Back in 2000 when the Universities at Shady Grove first opened its doors with degree program offerings for full-time students, a small, but mighty cohort of about 200 students took a leap of faith and became part of what was then a great experiment in the world of higher education. Today, like the visionaries who founded USG, those first students – and graduates – can proudly say that they were visionaries, too.

Here’s to celebrating all of the students who will continue to reap the benefits of the USG model for success in 2020, 2030 and well beyond.

–Stewart Edelstein and Michael Knapp

Dr. Stewart Edelstein is executive director of The Universities at Shady Grove and associate vice chancellor for academic affairs, University System of Maryland. Michael Knapp is chairman of The Universities at Shady Grove Board of Advisors and CEO of SkillSmart, a Germantown-based technology firm.

Click here for the full article.



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USG Day of Service by Kari Mason

Starting off the spring semester in the spirit of service, the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) hosted Day(s) of Service. Allowing employees to participate in volunteerism by giving back to their local community. Creating a culture of volunteerism at USG not only helps our local community, but it strengthens our community here on campus. From January through February, USG employees had the opportunity to engage in a number of exceptional non-profit organizations in our area. Photos from the various service projects can be seen in the slideshow below.

Campus Kitchens, located on USG’s campus, is a community service organization created by the University of Maryland Easter Shore (UMES). Their organization prepares meals for numerous families in need. Our volunteers were able to help prepare meals for the community. A special thank you to John Brandt (Public Safety and Security), Andrea Milo (CSEFR), Alexa Brown (CSEFR), Katie Nguyen (CSEFR), Gloria Kalotra (CSEFR), and Campus Kitchens for your service.

Manna Food Center, located in Gaithersburg, fights to end hunger in Montgomery County through food distribution, education, and advocacy. Volunteers presorted foods at Manna’s distribution center. A special thank you to Nick Kozak (Facilities), Brian Woods (Facilities), Mike Badostain (Facilities), Brandon Mose (Facilities), Jessica Nardi (Administration), Erin Ward (Administration), Brigitte Bard (CAS), Chuck Carter (Facilities), Larry Isenburg (Facilities), Mary Gallagher (CAS), Lawrence Goldberg (Facilities), Annie Ahmed (CAS), Jane Briggs (Facilities), Tom Clifford (Advancement and Community Engagement), Julia Rader (CISC), Ilona Faulks (SAS), Kaitlin Mills (CAS), and Parisa Meisami (CAS) for your service.

Community Ministries of Rockville seeks to improve the quality of life for the most vulnerable of Montgomery County residents by providing housing, healthcare, homecare, education, and emergency assistance. Volunteers re-painted rooms in the Rockland House providing permanent supportive housing for women. A special thank you to Kari Mason (Administration), Erin Fernandez (Administration), and Taishan Gary (CES) for your service.

The USG Mobile Market, located on USG’s campus, promotes health and wellness through a partnership with the Capital Area Food Bank, by providing fresh vegetables, fruits, and other food items to the campus and local community, at no cost. A special thank you to Jana Goodwin (UMB Nursing), Karen Clark (UMB Nursing), Sharon Cannon (Copy Center), Sonia Sarangthem (OIT), Bilky Okoh (Business Office), Patti Wong (Business Office), Chhaya Lagowala (CES), Adam Binkley (CAS), Steven Thompson (CES), Paul Jackson (Facilities), Vsev Horodyskyj (OIT), Julia Rader (CIS), Ilona Faulks (SAS), and Justin Edgar (CRTA) for your service.

Thank you to all of those who served the community with us. Please look out for more opportunities in the Spring and Summer.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Kari Mason is a student in the University of Baltimore’s Integrated Design graduate program and a Graduate Student Assistant for Administration and Talent Management.
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Grammar Day by Victoria Whitten

Grammar DayAre you the type of person who delights in finding typos in your textbook? Does it make you cringe when ur frndz txt u lk this? Do you want your writing to become clearer, more concise, and stronger? Then come join the Center for Academic Success as we celebrate USG’s 8th annual Grammar Day on Monday March 4th from 12pm-2pm in the rec. center lounge located on the second floor of Building III.

National Grammar Day (historically held on March 4th) was created by author Martha Brockenbrough in 2008. Brockenbrough, the author of Things That Make Us [Sic] and founder of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar (SPOGG), explained that she founded the day to help her students with their grammar in a lighthearted, fun way. So why March 4th? Brockenbrough states, “Language is something to be celebrated, and March 4 is the perfect day to do it. It’s not only a date, it’s an imperative: March forth on March 4 to speak well, write well, and help others do the same!”

So march forth this March 4th with help from CAS! Enjoy some free food while you take part in our Grammar Games where you can brush up on your grammar skills, while winning cool prizes and a chance to enter our raffle. If games aren’t your style, attend one (or all) of our Workshop Wonders being held in Building III, room 2230. Beginning at 12:30pm, each workshop is only 20 minutes long and designed to help you improve your academic writing. Attend “It’s Just a Phrase” to learn how to make your modifiers mightier; “Sentences and Sensibilities” will help you avoid fragments, run-on sentences, and comma splices for crisp, attention-capturing sentences; “Gotta Catch’em All” will empower you to employ self-editing strategies in your own writing.

Have a class you can’t miss? Don’t worry! Join us for Grammar After Dark from 5pm-6pm in the Building III café where you can visit our grammar game tables and sharpen your skills. In the meantime, visit the below sites to start getting hyped up for the USG celebration of National Grammar Day:

Some of our favorite resources:

  • Purdue OWL for citation styles and writing mechanics
  • APA Academic Writer for APA citation assistance
  • Grammarly for that extra layer of grammatical safety when you’re emailing your boss or writing a paper

Just for fun:

Grammar Day 2019 Poster (1)

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Library Workshops! Guest Post: Franklin Ofsthun, Library Services Specialist


Franklin Ofsthun

Are you looking to sharpen your marketable skills? Or learn about tools & technology that will help you succeed in your classes and beyond? Join us at the library for one of our six workshops this February!

Our librarians offer workshops that are designed to teach you the latest and greatest in Doing Data and Communication & Technology. Each of these workshops are an hour long and held in the library col-lab (to the right of the front entrance). You can register for all these in advance, or walk in on the day of!

On Tuesday, February 19th, from 5:00-6:00pm, learn about Visualizing Data with Tableau, a data discovery and business intelligence tool. Tableau can be used to create graphics that will make your data clear and appealing.

Many computers

from Tableau.com

Stop by Wednesday, February 20th, from 5:30-6:30pm, to learn about the paper-writing resource, Academic Writer (formerly known as APA Style Central). Academic Writer can help you learn to develop a research topic, organize your sources, write a group paper, and manage your citations.


from apa.com

Interested in learning about photo editing? Join us for our workshop on Adobe Photoshop on Thursday, February 21st, from 11:30am-12:30pm. Learn fundamentals on the world’s best imaging and graphic design software at this workshop.

Photoshop screenshot

from adobe-photoshop.en.softonic.com

Learn how to use Zotero on Tuesday, February 26th from 12:30-1:30pm. Zotero is a free tool that helps you collect sources, create citations, and share research.

Library screenshot

from zotero.org

Just in time for your presentation, come check out our workshop on PowerPoint Presentations on Wednesday, February 27th from 4:00-5:00pm. Reduce your presentation anxiety by learning how to create an effective and appealing PowerPoint presentation.


from: products.office.com

Are you completing a systematic review this semester? Search Strategies Design for Systematic Reviews on Thursday, February 28th, from 5:30-6:30pm, can help you succeed. A librarian will help you master your search terms to get the results you need!

We offer plenty more workshops throughout the semester. If you have any idea for workshops that would help you and your classmates succeed, you can fill out a Workshop on Demand request form. Our librarians would love to help!

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