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The Power of 9 by Dr. Stewart Edelstein


Dr. Stewart Edelstein

Dr. Stewart Edelstein

Recently, I had the opportunity to reconnect with Armen Ghazarian, a 2008 graduate of The University of Maryland, College Park at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG), and a current epidemiologist at the National Cancer Institute. Before Armen found USG, he didn’t think his goal of becoming a doctor was possible. But, the location and cost of UMD College Park’s Biological Sciences program at USG put him on the path to success and introduced him to a new career path, in which he now thrives.

Armen is an example of what we call The Power of 9: the transformational effect that students experience when they pursue advanced degrees offered at the Universities at Shady Grove. As part of the University System of Maryland, USG’s collaborative model provides students the opportunity to access top-rated undergraduate and graduate degree programs from across 9 Maryland public universities, all on one convenient campus. Of the 10,000 students who have graduated from programs offered at USG, nearly 9,000 have remained in Montgomery County and are active participants in the workforce. It’s one of the many statistics that make me especially proud.

The transformational effect that Armen experienced at USG is like the stories I hear from students and graduates nearly every day. As I walk along our campus, I know full well that I am in the presence of our region’s future social workers, engineers, data scientists, hotel and restaurant managers, business owners, healthcare providers — each actively transforming their own futures through the innovation and creative collaboration of our university partners through The Power of 9.

This week, USG will launch an exciting new campaign around The Power of 9 which will feature Armen as well as several other rising stars who transformed their futures at USG. The campaign includes prominent advertising on Metrorail, on bus routes in Montgomery County, across social and digital platforms, and in a new on-campus event series, called Beyond the Degree.

Our new campaign is designed to celebrate, support and grow the qualities that set USG’s model of higher education apart and is timed with a fresh new rebrand of our look and logo. Together, these exciting changes signal just a bit of the positive momentum that we have planned for the year ahead.

This momentum will be significantly advanced by the opening in Fall 2019 of the Biomedical Sciences and Engineering (BSE) Education facility at USG. The BSE will bring new degrees into the region from our university partners in medical, technical sciences, engineering, computational and information sciences that will open up career opportunities for students and grow our local talent pool in these important fields.

This campaign is for students as much as it is for our regional business community. Our collaboration with business and community leaders, working closely with our university and regional education partners to prepare students beyond the degree has powered the region’s economic development, but we are just getting started. Our hope is that this campaign further inspires students and businesses to consider what’s possible when they tap into the Power of 9.

Over the next several weeks, be on the lookout for USG’s ad campaign, and in the meantime visit powerof9.org to learn more and to get involved.

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The Great Responsibility of Leading a Diverse Community


By Dr. Stewart Edelstein

Anyone who lives or works in Montgomery County can attest to the rich diversity of our population. On all scales—from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, economic status and sexual preferences , I have long been proud of our county’s commitment to recognize and embrace the contributions of all residents. And plenty of others are picking up on it too. In a report issued earlier this year, four Montgomery County cities—Germantown, Gaithersburg, Silver Spring, and Rockville– placed in the top ten “Most Ethno-Racially Diverse Cities in the U.S.”

There is great responsibility in holding such a leadership position, especially considering that the U.S. won’t be as diverse as Montgomery County is today for another 30-plus years, according to this New York Times calculator.

To me, it’s personal. At the Universities at Shady Grove (USG), we boast one of the most diverse student populations in all of Maryland’s higher education institutions.

Across our nine university partners, half of the students are the first in their families to go to college, and most come from families with incomes much lower than the county’s $99,000 median household income. USG students like Nadia, Antoine, and Sumaiya—all featured in this video—remind me of the importance of keeping diversity, equity and inclusion at the forefront of what we do. But there is still much work ahead to eliminate the disparities that exist, especially regarding access and affordability of higher education and career attainment and success for all.

Putting issues of diversity on the table, and more specifically putting equity in the center of decision-making, starts with recognition and conversation. Which is why earlier this fall, I had a unique opportunity to host representatives from the student body, business, education and community organizations, during a one-day retreat and discussion at USG on creating more equitable and culturally competent workplaces, which we appropriately called Diversity by Design.

Diversity by Design 2

At the Universities at Shady Grove, we saw an opportunity to bring this unique cross section of leaders together to talk about one very specific moment of transition: from college graduation to the workforce. Despite major initiatives to address diversity and inclusion in the workforce, there remain significant barriers to entry especially for students of color, with some reports noting that on average African American candidates are 16% less likely to get invited to a job interview, as compared to their white counterparts.[1]

This reality highlights how important and pressing our conversation on workforce diversity is. As my esteemed colleagues from regional businesses reminded us, there is a very real business benefit of promoting a diverse pipeline and intentionally building diversity in the workplace. Sodexo, for instance, trains its hiring managers to seek more gender-diverse talent from new and refreshing places, instead of always hiring through the same schools and job fairs. Why? Because Sodexo discovered that diverse work groups make better decisions.

But, business policies are not the only thing that requires attention. The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics projects that students of color will make up the majority of growth in higher education over the next decade. It was clear in our October conversation that institutions that have a diverse and inclusive environment will be better positioned to capitalize on this growth.

At the Universities at Shady Grove, we work collaboratively with our nine university partners to prepare students of all socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds for a variety of careers through degree programs, experiential opportunities, and leadership development. At USG, diversity is in our DNA, but there is always more to do at the transition points—attending college and graduating—to ensure that all students have the greatest chance of succeeding in the workplace and in community life.

I believe that what happens here at USG is as important as what happens beyond the degree, which is why we’ve launched a series of conversations, under that headline, on similar topics in the coming months. From STEM education and cybersecurity, to building an entrepreneurial mindset, we believe that the best formula for success beyond college is in a well-rounded education with 21st century skill sets.

This is the start of a broad and inclusive community conversation, and we need all voices at the table to help us shape the future. Learn more and join us at www.shadygrove.umd.edu/Powerof9.

[1]  Whitened Résumés: Race and Self-Presentation in the Labor Market

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Suite News: Tips to overcome the “Holiday Blues”


Dr. Jonathan Kandell

The “holiday blues” … a bit of an oxymoron, no, given our emphasis on “holiday cheer?”  Yet many people will tell you that it’s all too real.

My name is Dr. Jonathan Kandell, and I’m a psychologist and Director of USG’s Center for Counseling and Consultation. The holiday blues, unfortunately, are a pretty common occurrence in our society. The way I see it, there are at least two psychological factors that contribute to “holiday blues.” First, there are the natural cycles of the world as winter begins. Winter is the season that symbolizes death (with rebirth occurring in Spring), people are continually reminded of endings, and the sadness they can bring, including the falling leaves, dying plants, cooler temperatures, and perhaps most importantly, less sunshine. Sunshine has been shown to produce Vitamin D in people, and lack of Vitamin D has been linked to depression. Most people feel the lack of sunshine to some extent, but some people are more sensitive and may develop Seasonal Affective Disorder at these times.

A second factor contributing to the holiday blues has more to do with people than Mother Nature. Although the holidays can be a joyful time of reconnecting with loved ones near and far, businesses and popular media have created a set of expectations that even the most joyful group can’t achieve. To start, some people are unable to be with their loved ones during the holidays. They may not be able to make it to the gathering place, or they may not feel connected enough to anyone to be invited. For these people, it can be painful to watch others enjoying the company of others, especially when it’s a false, idealized version.

Those who are able to make it “home,” whether with family or friends, can find their happiness interrupted by the emergence of long-simmering conflicts.  Some families, and even groups of friends, may get along better when there is the physical and psychological space available to take a “break,” if needed.  Getting together for the holidays, particularly when in relatively tight surroundings, can lead to stress, awkward conversations, and even the eruption of old anger and bitterness. While the stress of reconnecting with others is real, even with people you very much want to see, the results can be especially disappointing if you are expecting the perfection you see on TV.


If some of the words above remind you of your own situation, all is not lost.  Here are a few tips to make it through the holidays and leave the blues behind:

  • Take Vitamin D capsules each day to maintain the needed level in your system.
  • Go outside, get what sun you can, and engage in exercise (even a walk) while out there.
  • Keep calm and prepare yourself for the stress of the holidays, especially holiday gatherings.
  • If you know a gathering will be highly stressful, pretend you are an anthropologist. Study the people and environment rather than getting caught up in the dynamics.
  • Don’t be disappointed because others aren’t mind readers. If you really want a particular gift, tell someone, or get it for yourself.
  • Most important — don’t get caught up in trying to make everything perfect! It won’t (and can’t) be.

Peace and joy for the holiday season!


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Suite News: This Holiday Season, Be Grateful for Your Grind

Adam Binkley

Adam Binkley, Senior Coordinator, Center for Academic Success

Regardless of what seasonal traditions you and yours choose to celebrate as a holiday, a theme of thankfulness arises this time of year. We are thankful for our friends and family, our communities, the support and resources that empower us to be successful.

Hi, my name is Adam Binkley, and I am the senior coordinator at the Center for Academic Success (CAS). Around USG, I’ve noticed another theme that emerges: busy-ness. To borrow from Rihanna, it’s a time of “work, work, work, work, work, work” (there’s six works in that song, right?).  Final papers and exams. Projects and presentations. Cramming before cranberries, writing before wrapping — putting in the time and energy to get to that finish line.

And trust me, finish line fatigue is real. Honestly, a lot of y’all look miserable out there. So I’m here to pump you up with a simple reminder: it’s okay to be grateful for your grind.

Yes, I’m talking to you – the you spending your lunch break breaking down accounting problem sets and you over there in the library, writing lesson plans instead of weekend plans. You’re at USG so often that we’ve started getting your mail. You’ve got white board markers in your pockets, glove box, sock drawer, and cookie jar. After practicum, field placement and work you are back in that empty classroom — laptop with less battery life than your cellphone — swimming in a sea of note cards.

We see you. Humble is a word that describes you but so is another “H” word —“Hungry.”

Power point is your new spirit animal. You see APA like John Wall sees a fast break. In the parking lot, while the kids are at practice, you’re practicing exam questions. When you walk into Starbucks, your name is already on the cup and spelled correctly — you need fuel. Like Batman and infomercials, you are no stranger to 3:00am. The food on your Instagram has, by now, expired and made way for the most used app on your cellphone — USG Mobile.

You’ve put the haters that would doubt you on your academic naughty list, right next to the person who took up two spaces in the parking garage and those folks who are talking during class (zip it!).

If you are reading this, and any of it sounds familiar, I want you to hold your hand up and accept the metaphorical high five I’m giving you. Yes, life as a student can be a grind. But the resilience, persistence, and work ethic that comes out of it is a gift.

So take a little time to be grateful for it. Appreciate your bad self. At USG, we appreciate you and all of the work (work, work, work, work, work) you do. So instead of happy holidays, let me wish you fruitful finals. May all of your hard work shine through.

Speaking of letting you shine through, I’d also like to take this opportunity to invite you to participate in the Blackout poetry event happening now! An end of the semester collaboration by the Priddy Library and CAS, Blackout poetry will allow you to de-stress and create unique works of art from found material. There will be a Blackout poetry creation table from November 27th  through December 8th. As an added bonus, we are also featuring an International Poetry Workshop on December 4th and 5th, and a Poetry Slam to cap things off on the 6th.

I look forward to creating with you!

Blackout Poetry Poster


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Guest Post: Olufunke Sholola, UMD Criminology & Criminal Justice student

Hunger Banquet

Olufunke Sholola

Olufunke Sholola

The Universities at Shady Grove’s (USG) Annual Hunger Banquet took place on November 13, 2017 with the assistance of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) Campus Kitchens Project, Chef Susan Callahan, Student Council, Graduate Student Association, Office of Student Services, and several volunteers. The Hunger Banquet did an excellent job showcasing the harsh reality of what it is like living below the poverty line.

Students were given a small piece of paper and assigned a role. Students were divided into three classes: upper, medium, and lower. It was quite alarming how this event depicts many people are unsure where their next meal will come from. It was also discouraging to see the large discrepancy of incomes levels. One observation I made included the upper and medium income participants were more likely to engage in the conversations during the questions and answers session. Despite the silence of the lower income participants, their facial expressions revealed sadness and disbelief. Though they were large in numbers many of them felt their voices did not matter.

I had a positive first experience of attending The Hunger Banquet. As a student, I was unaware of how active the UMES students are within the community. Campus Kitchens Project does a phenomenal job in providing food to impoverished families within Montgomery County. I had the pleasure of assisting in the preparation of the meals, setup, and organization for the Hunger Banquet as a member of the USG Student Council. I also served as an MC so I was able to see the students’ interactions based on the income level they were assigned. The students actively witnessed hunger and how it can affect anyone. The students watched a video where a university graduate was living under poverty lines. She was unable to feed herself without government issued food stamps. The Hunger Banquet revealed how many people are one paycheck away from poverty. The guest speaker Jenna Umriac, Director of Programs and Policies at Manna Food Center in Gaithersburg, Maryland shed light on how we can find solutions to the hunger epidemic in Montgomery County and other regions too.

Conversations from USG’s Annual Hunger Banquet are needed in order to end the hunger epidemic in Montgomery County and all over the world. The Hunger Banquet is a vital event, it not only raises awareness but it also offers solutions. I want to thank UMES Campus Kitchens Project, Chef Susan Callahan, Student Council, Graduate Student Association, Office of Student Services, volunteers, and all of the attendees for their involvement of the 2017 Hunger Banquet! Your help is highly appreciated and needed.

Hunger Banquet

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Suite News: It’s APPening at USG!


Rachel Wolohan, Senior Coordinator in the Office of Student Services

One of the most rewarding things about working at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) is that we are always trying new things to engage and assist students in their educational experience.

As a Senior Coordinator in the Office of Student Services, you can usually find me planning Civic Engagement Series events with students, helping student veterans on campus, or marketing campus-wide events on USG Weekly or USG Highlights elevator signs.  But over the past few months I’ve also been working diligently in collaboration with other groups and departments at USG to bring our new USG Mobile app to life, and I’m super excited to announce that it’s just been made available in the Google Play and Apple Store. It’s no secret that students are constantly on their phones, so what better than to have all the information they need about what’s happening on campus, right at their fingertips! USG Mobile is here, and you won’t want to miss having all the information you need readily available.

The app has so many different features, but I want to highlight my top three favorites:

  1. Weekly Menu – See what’s being served in the cafe each week under the dining tab. So now, you no longer have to walk down to the cafe, you can stay in the library studying, or in Building I without having to walk over in the cold.
  2. Events – Get access to a quick calendar view of ALL the events happening on campus — you can even add them to your personal calendar and share them with your friends.
  3. Push Notifications – Get reminders about big things happening on campus, so you don’t miss out on any of the fun!

And USG Mobile is not just for students! Faculty/Staff will want to know what they can eat for lunch, too!  Winter is coming and USG Mobile also has an easy way to sign-up for the inclement weather alerts when campus has delayed openings or closed. Stay in the know with all the APPenings at USG.

Download USG Mobile today in the Google Play Store or the Apple Store — just search “USG Mobile.” And be sure to stop by the “Appy Hour” tablings on Monday, November 20th or Tuesday, November 21st in the Green Grove Cafe from 11:30am-12:30pm. We will be giving away some free phone accessory swag to those who show us that they have downloaded the app.  #LifeAtUSG #USGMobile


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LinkedIn. Not just Facebook for old people.

Hey all! My name is Eleni, and I’m the Graduate Assistant in the Career & Internship Services Center at USG.


Many times in the career center, I hear students say “Isn’t LinkedIn just for old people?” And I ask “Do I look old?!” which is usually met with chagrin and stammering.

LinkedIn is great tool to promote yourself to potential employers, no matter your age. It requires less upkeep than Snapchat or Twitter, so I guarantee you can find time for it in your busy lives. Worried about getting started? I’ve outlined just five things you can do to make sure your profile catches employers’ eyes…in the right way:

1. Pick a professional picture — You’ve heard it said before, “a picture’s worth a thousand words.” It’s a cliche for a reason, it’s true! This is going to be the first thing a recruiter sees, so no photos with Snapchat filter, funny faces, selfies (especially of the mirrored variety), or cropped group shots — I don’t care how good you look in it, having half of someone’s face or a floating arm wrapped around you does not say professional. You want a clean, professional headshot that clearly shows your face and who you are. Don’t have one? Don’t worry! On LinkedIn Day, we’re going to be offering FREE headshots from 12-6pm on the main staircase landing between the 3rd and 4th floors. Dress professionally and drop by when you have 15 minutes free! Check out our Facebook page for #FashionFridays to see appropriate attire.

2. Write a good headline — Your LinkedIn headline is a short 120 characters of who you are and the cool things you do (or want to do) — think of it as your tagline for your biopic. What is the one thing you want recruiters to remember about you

3. List your experience — List the jobs you’ve held and a brief description or bulleted list of what you did there. Experience doesn’t just mean paid jobs, it also includes unpaid internships and even volunteering. Volunteering is a great addition to your profile because it also gives a recruiter or hiring manager insight into you who are as a person, and what you are passionate about.

4. Build your network — One of the biggest benefits of using LinkedIn is the opportunity to grow your network. Connect with your friends, previous and current managers, even your Mom’s best friend. You never know who might be connected with who. Alumni can also be a great networking tool. Take advantage of the Alumni Tool on LinkedIn, which lets you search for Alumni from your school by where they work, live, and more. Most alumni are happy to respond to a request from a fellow Terp or Retreiver. When you connect with anyone on LinkedIn, it’s more likely to be accepted if you attach a personal message. For example:

I am a current UMD student and see you graduated a few years ago. I admire your career in ________ and hope to pursue a similar path.  Would you be available to talk with me and provide advice as to how to get into the field?

5. Get endorsements and recommendations — This is how you can prove you have the skills you say you do. People who you connect with can ‘endorse’ you for certain skills. Did you just complete a group project where you put together the PowerPoint? Ask your team members to endorse you for Microsoft PowerPoint. This is your network confirming “Yes, they are good at this.” These skills in your profile should include relevant keywords or phrases from job postings that you are interested in. You can also ask people to write longer recommendations that can be added to your profile. Recommendations from direct supervisors or people you worked closely with are especially beneficial. This article has step-by-step instructions on how to ask someone for a recommendation on LinkedIn.

I know this might sound like a lot to start, but I promise, investing a little bit of extra time in setting up your LinkedIn profile will be worth it — it doesn’t matter if you are just starting at USG or about to graduate, LinkedIn can be a huge asset to showcase who you are as a professional, and can greatly enhance your job search and help you build  your business network.

If you want to learn more about LinkedIn, or are just still a little confused about what all the fuss is about, come to Link Up with LinkedIn on November 15th. Throughout the day, CISC will be hosting a variety of events to help you learn how to market your digital self using LinkedIn. Plus, we’re offering FREE professional headshots!

I look forward to seeing you all there! If you have any questions reach out to CISC at 301.738.6338 or usgcareerservices@umd.edu.

LinkedIn Event Agenda.jpg


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