As I celebrated my 56th birthday recently, I realized that I have spent half my life working at the Shady Grove location. Little did I know when I took the office clerk job with University of Maryland University College (UMUC), and walked into my new office located at the Montgomery County Public Service Training Academy on July 31, 1989, that over 28 years later, I would still be with UMUC and would still be working at the Shady Grove location. Of course, back then the location was not called The Universities at Shady Grove (USG). That name would not be used until the year 2000, and none of the three buildings, that currently make up The Universities at Shady Grove campus, had been built yet, but it was still a location where students could come and take college classes within Montgomery County.
At the time I started at Shady Grove our offices were on the 2nd floor of the Montgomery County Public Service Training Academy located at the corner of Darnestown Road and Great Seneca Highway. We had about six classrooms in that building along with a small computer lab and an even smaller library area. There were approximately ten full and part-time staff members. Since we had very few classrooms in that building, we also used classrooms in the evenings, at nearby Quince Orchard High School and also used a few classrooms in one of the buildings at NIST.
We were very excited when we found out that we would be getting our own location a little ways down Darnestown Road. I can remember my first visit to the new building. My supervisor drove us over to the site one day, before the building was finished, and we went up to the third floor to see where our new offices were going to be located. There were construction workers in the hallway laying the carpet, and the song on their radio was Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart.” That song will always be linked to Building I in my mind. In May of 1992, we moved into Building I.
As impressive as the physical growth has been, the technological changes I have seen in the past 28 years have been incredible. I am sure younger staff, who currently work at USG, would have a hard time imagining getting their work done without current technology such as the internet, e-mail, voicemail, and scanning capabilities. When I first started working at UMUC we didn’t even have Windows capability so we needed to work in one computer program at a time, logging in and out of the programs as we needed them all day long. It was a big deal when we got a fax machine. No longer did we need to wait several days to get documents through the mail. We could receive or send them almost instantly with a phone call. Another huge technological addition was when all the classrooms at USG became smart classrooms with computer and projection equipment. We no longer had to wheel VCRs in and out of the classrooms or sign-out laptops and projectors to the instructors as they needed them.
These are just a few of the many changes, improvements, and growth I have seen during the past 28 years here at Shady Grove. As I think back on all the changes that have taken place, all the great staff members I have worked with, all the students who have arrived at USG, wanting to complete their degree, and then watching them fulfill that dream, it makes me feel great to have been a part of it all.