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

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Suite News: Counseling for the Cyberdependent

I Used to Own a Smartphone, but Now it Owns Me


Dr. Jonathan Kandell

No, I’m not talking about some B-movie knockoff of Terminator. What I am talking about is how the smartphone is the ultimate (at least for now) technological gadget, our dependence on it, and its impact on how we deal with others and ourselves.

My name is Jonathan Kandell, a psychologist and Director of USG’s Center for Counseling and Consultation (CCC). Before coming to USG I worked at the UMCP Counseling Center for 22 years.  During the mid- to late-90s, I became known for my expertise in the area of Internet Addiction. The funny thing was, that I wasn’t really an expert; just someone interested enough to notice what was occurring and ask the right questions.

I first became aware of this phenomenon when I was a Graduate Assistant.  As part of my Assistantship, I did some computer programming (in BASIC!).  I noticed when writing code and staring into the screen, time seemed to disappear.  I would look up from my work, and it was three hours later!  Clearly, something was going on.

While at UMCP, a colleague and I recognized that some clients coming in for other issues (e.g., depression, loneliness, poor academic performance) were spending an awful lot of time on their computers.  We realized that there must be some connection and decided to offer a support group.  As you can probably guess, no one showed up!

Similar to other addictive behaviors, the first symptom is denial.  The students probably were too busy online, and their “real life” difficulties with others pushed them even further into cyberspace.  It’s a whole lot easier to interact with someone you can’t see or hear!  It’s also not nearly as satisfying. Interestingly, despite everyone having 8 zillion friends on Facebook, a major symptom today over 15 years ago is loneliness.  If people have so many “friends,” then why are they so lonely?

Communicating via text or e-mail is very different than face-to-face, or even on the phone.  Online interactions are “asynchronous,” not taking place in real-time.  If I’m having a face-to-face conversation with you, and I go silent for two minutes, you’re going to start wondering if there’s something wrong with me!  When texting, that’s normal.


It’s easy to come up with the “right” response when you have time to think.  The problem is, when you actually have to be in a face-to-face conversation, you don’t have that time.  You have to do your best and deal with the consequences.  Then there’s those messy non-verbals (e.g., facial expression, tone of voice, loudness, posture), all the things that can make communication so rich and interesting.  To understand their impact, just think how difficult it is to tell a joke online (sarcasm, anyone?) without someone misinterpreting it, or even being offended.  I believe too much online interaction actually reduces a person’s ability to cope with the enormous amount of (often-ambiguous) information one receives when talking face-to-face.  It’s no surprise that ongoing difficulties in face-to-face interactions can lead one to seek the refuge of the online world.

Well, my smartphone has been nagging at me to pay it some attention, so I must stop here.  If this blog post hits a little too close to home, and you’re wondering if you may have a problem controlling your online behavior, the CCC can help.  The CCC offers individual couples, and group counseling to help you directly address behavioral and emotional issues.  Call 301-738-6273 to set up an appointment, or stop by and see us in Room 1134 in the Priddy Library.

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Suite News: February is Financial Aid Awareness Month!


Taz Vargas

As the Financial Aid and Scholarship Specialist at USG, my goal is to help students make the best choice when it comes to funding their education. With State and institution deadlines right around the corner, I want students to have access to all of their available resources. During the month of February, students have the opportunity to get assistance with completing their FAFSA, attend workshops, and learn about the financial assistance options that will work best for them!

vision-boardOn February 23rd, I will be hosting a Financial Vision Board Workshop. What does a vision board have anything to do with financial aid awareness? Well, a lot! From speaking with students, I have learned that the thought of student loans after graduation can be extremely daunting. While planning workshops for Financial Aid Awareness Month, I want to incorporate workshops that will benefit students long after graduation. I think that creating vision boards can be an innovative way to get students thinking about their financial goals well before they finish school. Plus, it’s fun and easy!

The main benefit of setting these goals is to motivate students to set priorities and keep them on track with overall financial management. In many instances, student loans are the first time individuals are managing debt. I try to encourage students to borrow responsibly and to start thinking about repayment options early so that they can keep their payments affordable and avoid paying extra interest cost. From experience, I know how overwhelming it can be, I want to help alleviate any confusion and prepare students in advance!

I encourage you to attend all of our Financial Aid workshops this month:

Financial Aid Awareness Month Events and Workshops:

Financial Aid Q&ATuesday, February 21st 5:30-6:30pm Building III-2125

Financial Aid Vision Board WorkshopThursday, February 23rd 3:00-4:00pm Building III-2131

Check out #TweetTuesdays! Each week we will cover topics including: Financial Aid, Scholarships, Loan Repayment options and much more! @USGStudentLife


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Suite News: Experiential Learning – What is it and Why Does it Matter?


Jennifer Oliveira

Looking to secure a job or internship? Most likely, as a student at USG, you are. As a former student and alumnus of the Robert H. Smith School of Business’ General Business and Entrepreneurship Program at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG), I once was as well! As a student at USG, I utilized both Career Center resources from my home campus (UMCP) and USG to weigh my internship options while in school. I engaged in various on campus networking events offered by both USG’s Student and Academic Services Suite and the Smith School. I also participated in as many extracurricular activities as possible – being the Student Council President and sitting on the USG Board of Advisors in 2010-2011. After landing an investment banking job at Morgan Stanley and managing a team in Guadalajara, Mexico, for five years, I reflect back on how important my interactions while a student at USG were.

Today, I currently serve as the Acting Assistant Director for Employer Relations, previously a Career Advisor, within the Career and Internship Services Center at USG. The Career Center frequently hears students ask, “How can I make myself competitive and differentiate my qualifications from other applicants when applying for jobs?” The answer is summed up in one word — experience. Employers seek experience in any candidate, and experience will land you the internship needed to land the job. Experience must also start early, and must take place often.

The Career and Internship Services Center (CISC) provides opportunities for students to gain exposure to diverse industries, companies and employers prior to graduation through experiential learning. Through experiential learning, students have the ability to build upon existing knowledge of a particular industry and add value to their resume. Experience, in compilation to academic coursework, will contribute to the competitiveness of a student when seeking internships in school and jobs post-graduation.

So, how can students begin the experiential learning process? Start by visiting CISC, located in the SAS Suite (1st floor of Building III) to learn about upcoming internships, activities, and events. Students can easily search for available jobs and internship opportunities by making a Career Connector account. Schedule a career coaching appointment for resume and cover letter reviews, job search strategies, interview preparation and much more. The Career Center also encourages all students to attend these upcoming events:

First Look Fair
Tuesday, February 14, 11:30 am – 1:30 pm, Bldg. III Lobby

Spring Etiquette Dinner
Guest Speaker Carol Campbell Haislip, Director of The International School of Protocol Wednesday, March 8th, 5:00pm – 8:00pm, Bldg. II-1422, Multipurpose Room

Professionalism in the Workplace Workshop
Presented by Dr. Elliot Lasson, Program Director, UMBC I/O Psychology Program
Thursday, March 30th, 4:30pm – 5:30pm, Bldg. III-2203

LinkedIn Lab
Wednesday, April 5th, Photos: 12:00pm–6:00pm, Workshop 4:30pm–5:30 pm

Federal Job Opportunities Workshop
Presented by Corliss Jackson, President and CEO, Federal Job Results
Tuesday, April 25th, 2:00pm – 3:00pm (Undergrads) ; 4:00pm – 5:00pm (Grads)

For additional information visit the Career and Internship Services Center’s webpage or visit us in the SAS Suite. Also, be sure to connect with us on LinkedIn!


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Guest Post: Emily Molleur, Program Management Specialist in the Office of the Executive Director

The Impact of Poverty on Crime in Montgomery County

emilyOn Wednesday, January 25, 2017, students ViNiceia Carter and Michelle Nyden from the UMBC Social Work program and Camila Thorpe and Andrew Hart from the UMCP Criminology and Criminal Justice program, presented to the Montgomery County Criminal Justice Coordinating Commission (CJCC) regarding the relationship between intergenerational poverty and crime. Dr. Wendy Stickle, Program Director of the UMCP Criminology and Criminal Justice program and Katie Morris, Program Director of the UMBC Social Work program were the faculty advisors on this independent study project. Adam Binkley, of Center for Academic Success (CAS), worked closely with the students to improve their group work, writing, and presentation skills.  The students researched the issue of intergenerational poverty and crime and found disparities between non-impoverished and impoverished populations including health, behavioral health and emotional development, violence and criminality, and education.  These challenges are accentuated when an individual has a criminal record.

The students developed an interview protocol based on their research and interviewed nine county and state employees to pinpoint the challenges within Montgomery County.  The students organized their interview findings into several perspectives—the agency, community, and individual. The interviewees provided a lot of rich commentary.  By organizing in this way, it allowed for more actionable recommendations at the various levels. Findings relating to the individual perspective primarily included individuals having a lack of resources or knowledge about education, housing, healthcare, behavioral health, addiction programs, employment, childcare, and financial support.

The interviews showed that, from the agency prospective, programming options are limited, especially those focused on early interventions, gang involvement, and alternatives to incarceration.  Based on their preliminary findings, the students concluded that the county should focus on providing more programming, improve inter-agency collaboration, and develop a method of tracking criminal outcomes.

Challenges from the community perspective included housing segregation caused by economic status, low-income living challenges, such as educational opportunity disparities, a lack of youth programming, increased police attention, a disconnect from the larger Montgomery County community, and misconceptions of the financial make-up within the county.

Resulting from the literature review and interviews, the students proposed suggestions to the commission about future actions to take within the county. The CJCC strongly supported the recommendations and followed up with some questions and suggestions for the students to include in their work, which the students will continue throughout the spring semester.  Please congratulate them on their success and hard work!


Left to Right (Back): V. Glenn Fueston, Jr., Andrew Hart, Katie Morris, Marylin Pierre, (Front) ViNiceia Carter,  Camila Thorpe, Michelle Nyden, Dr. Wendy Stickle, and Dr. Raymond Crowel

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Suite News: How the Student and Academic Services Suite can help you succeed!

judystreeterHello Everyone; my name is Judy Streeter;  you will find me in USG’s Student and Academic Services (SAS). Let me tell you why I love to work here and what our SAS team can do to support you in achieving your goals.  I realized long ago that my college experience was significant in shaping my successes and me; and that is why I am here.

Before joining USG, I worked in the hospitality business world for more than 35 years from entry-level hourly jobs to executive positions. I really wanted to make my second career in academics; contributing to current students’ success.  After retiring from the business world ten years ago, I was thrilled to begin my second career as a Program Director and a Faculty member at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s Hospitality and Tourism Management program at USG. While I continue to teach each semester, four years ago I accepted an offer to join the Student and Academic Services Team at USG.

SAS is all about providing programs and services to help you achieve your goals, whether that be help getting a job or internship, having fun and gaining leadership experience on campus, or being supported when you are feeling stressed.

Let me share with you the many ways we are here to help you.

Office of Student Services (OSS)
Need to get your USG ID? Stop by OSS! Do you need help with scholarships or financial aid? The OSS team can answer your questions. We also support student organizations, veteran and international student services, and leadership development.

Center for Academic Success (CAS)
Need help with writing papers or study skills? The CAS team can help you by providing academic coaching, writing consultations, disability support, and great workshops to help you achieve your academic goals!

Career & Internship Services Center (CISC)
Looking for a job or internship? CISC staff will provide one-on-one coaching to help improve your resume and cover letter, enhance your job search strategies and even prepare you for interviews!  Find jobs and internships on our USG Career Connector.

Center for Counseling & Consultation (CCC)
Need a safe place where you can talk about some life’s stressors or other personal concerns?  The CCC team has licensed therapists who will provide you free and confidential services; including personal/relationship counseling; career and major counseling and skills workshops.

Student Life
Do you want to get involved and make a difference? The team in OSS provides many ways for you to get involved in the USG community. We provide opportunities for you to develop your leadership skills, to take part in community service and to attend social events on campus.

The team of friendly professionals in Student and Academic Services (SAS) are ready to help you succeed! We provide services and programming for all undergraduate and graduate students from all of USG’s nine partner universities.

Stop in the SAS Suite, Building III, first floor for access to our services or find us on the USG website to make an appointment.


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Harvey-Danner Family Awards $85,500 for ACES Scholarships to USG and MC


The Universities at Shady Grove (USG) and Montgomery College (MC) have been awarded a $85,500 scholarship fund from the Harvey-Danner Family to support students in the Achieving Collegiate Excellence and Success (ACES) program.

Through a collaboration between Montgomery County Public Schools, Montgomery College, and the Universities at Shady Grove, ACES creates a smooth educational pathway from high school to community college to university using a one-on-one mentoring approach for students often unrepresented in higher education. The ACES program currently serves more than 1,800 high school and college students.

The Universities at Shady Grove will receive a total of $56,000 and Montgomery College will receive a total of $29,500 over five years. These scholarships will be awarded to full-time students in the ACES program who meet certain criteria, and the recipients will continue to receive this award throughout their studies at Montgomery College and the Universities at Shady Grove.

Patricia Harvey commented, “I am very pleased I am able to help support students on their path to earning a bachelor’s degree through the ACES program. I look forward to getting to know them and working with them.”

“We appreciate the support of Patricia Harvey and her family. Through her generosity, ACES students will have the opportunity to stay in school and complete their bachelor’s degree,” said Stewart Edelstein, Executive Director of the Universities at Shady Grove.

“We are so grateful to Patricia Harvey for this generous gift which will have a profound impact on the lives of our students for years to come,” said Dr. DeRionne P. Pollard, President of Montgomery College.


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USG Receives $80,000 Florence Nesh Charitable Trust Grant to Help Fund Scholarships

30535464113_7deae2ef8e_kThe Universities at Shady Grove (USG) has been awarded a $80,000 grant from the Florence Nesh Charitable Trust to support scholarships which helps deserving students majoring in healthcare fields to realize their academic and career goals.

This grant will help address the extraordinary financial challenges transfer students face. Since institutional tuition support often goes to incoming freshmen, transfer students must rely on federal grants or loans if scholarship support is not available. This cumulative burden endangers transfer students’ persistence in attaining a four-year degree, impacting the student, the workforce, and the larger community.

This grant will support scholarships of $2,500 – $3,000/ year for more than 30 academically deserving community college transfer students in healthcare majors. Additional funding will help lift students’ financial burden, allowing them to achieve their educational goals quickly, and remain in the region to address the growing demand for qualified healthcare workers.

“The single greatest barrier to students earning a baccalaureate degree is not lack of academic ability – it is lack of resources to finance their education. In healthcare majors, the financial burden is often magnified – the course work is increasingly challenging requiring substantial classroom study and clinical training commitments. This grant from the Florence Nesh Charitable Trust will help students complete their degree and graduate career-ready,” commented USG’s Executive Director, Dr. Stewart Edelstein.

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