Guest Post: A New World for Higher Education

Rachel Hill Headshot

Rachel Hill, UMCP Criminology & Criminal Justice Program Coordinator at USG 

My name is Rachel Hill. I am the program coordinator for the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) Criminology & Criminal Justice (CCJS) program at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG). I graduated from the UMCP Communication program at USG in 2015 and have been working for the CCJS program since 2016.

I am not writing this post from a desk in an office building. Instead, I am writing on a laptop, sitting on my living room couch. The campus buildings are not open, and everyone is working at home. Staff, faculty, and students. It’s a massive adjustment; a new world for higher education. We are all entirely remote.

Our department in particular has a unique perspective on this international crisis. Many of our faculty members work in law enforcement, at hospitals, for government agencies, or within the field of social work. Many of our students aspire to join those careers as well. We are grateful for faculty members that are working daily to adapt their teaching and continue to provide quality education.

Our department has been making use of technology as we continue to work remotely. We have been able to continue with advising appointments via Google Hangouts, giving students the opportunity to speak with their advisors face-to-face. This seems to be working well so far! We are also working on producing new strategies for getting information to prospective students who need it. Voice-over presentations, live info sessions with Zoom, and extended info packets are all in the works. And while a lot of these changes have been stressful for sure, this might be the silver lining — we are being forced to learn how to use these tools, which will likely prove useful even when we return to normal life.

IMG_4312On a personal note, I would like to say that I am very proud of our students, and all the students at USG, for pushing through these challenges for the sake of their education. I know many of our students are juggling family responsibilities, new work expectations, sickness, isolation, and insecurity. I have been home for the past two weeks, trying to do my part to flatten the curve, and I’m not going to pretend that this has been easy. But I’m trying to look for the bright moments in my day. Just this afternoon, I spent some time sitting on the front porch with my seven-month old daughter, soaking in some sunshine and fresh air. Refreshing moments like that give me the encouragement I need to keep working hard!

None of us anticipated the semester to end like this, but the determination and hard work we have seen from our students is uplifting. We are here to help you, so please reach out if there is any way we can make this experience less stressful. If you have questions about our program, please join us for one of our upcoming virtual info sessions. We hope to see you all back on campus very soon!



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USG: Resilient in Turbulent Times

Dear Friends,

I’m sure I speak for many of you when I say that, even a month ago, as we were just beginning to see the spread of Coronavirus in America, I would never have believed it if you told me that at this time:

  • Most Marylanders and others around the country would be self-isolating in their homes and that social distancing would be a required practice;
  • Our health care systems would be stretched to their limits;
  • Most businesses would be physically closed;
  • Schools across the region would be closed;
  • All university classes would be transitioned to distance learning platforms; and
  • The Universities at Shady Grove (USG) would be supporting students fully through remote services.

I would never have believed all of that would come to be, but that is indeed where we find ourselves today.

What I would have believed and do believe now more than ever is that what makes me so hopeful and confident we will get through all of this, together, is that we are so fortunate to be part of an extraordinary and resilient community.

Over the past few weeks, our team at USG has been doing an incredible job in coming up with innovative strategies and solutions for delivering services on a remote basis, to support students, faculty and fellow staff members.

  • Our leadership team has been in constant communication and joint planning efforts with our university partners, under a carefully coordinated, statewide effort that has been so ably led by Dr. Jay Perman, Chancellor of the University System of Maryland (USM).
  • Our staff has been creative and tireless in finding innovative ways to serve students and the greater USG community, while teleworking and balancing the same challenges that everyone is experiencing, as they are managing family responsibilities and carrying out their professional duties on a remote basis.
  • Perhaps most importantly, we have been inspired and buoyed by the resilience and dedication of the students that we serve at USG, representing the nine Maryland public universities that offer undergraduate and graduate degree programs on our campus.

I want to share one example of the resilience and dedication of students at USG. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been on countless conference calls and virtual meetings. But one call that gave me the most hope in this difficult time was a virtual town hall we held for student leaders. It took place in the midst of spring break week – when many people around the nation were reacting with outrage over news reports showing students in large numbers on Florida beaches.

At the very time that was happening, we were having a rich discussion with 16 student leaders who represent our various universities through the USG Student Council and the USG Graduate Student Association. Each of the students was deeply engaged in the conversation and provided outstanding feedback on students’ concerns, helping to guide our strategies to support them.

While we are doing all we can to help students with technology needs, accommodations, food insecurity challenges and financial support, many people have also asked us how they can best help students at this time.

If you are interested in supporting students at USG who are in financial need as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, a USG Emergency Assistance Fund has been established. Donations can be made online and designated for this fund via this web page, by accessing the pull-down menu on the “Contribute to” line and selecting that fund.

Like educators across Maryland and across the nation, one of the most painful things for all of us is that the students who have worked so hard to earn their degrees, and will be graduating in 2020, will not be able to celebrate their accomplishments with traditional commencement ceremonies. At USG, it means we will not be able to host celebratory year-end events, such as our Student Achievement and Leadership Breakfast and our Graduation Celebration.

Due to the current circumstances, unfortunately we will not be able to host these major student events or any events on campus until at least May 31. We are working hard to transition as many events as possible to a virtual format.

But make no mistake – we will be celebrating the accomplishments of these deserving students and soon-to-be graduates.  And most importantly, we are all committed to enabling students to graduate with their hard-earned degrees. Our Student and Academic Affairs team is collaborating with our student leaders and working to develop a game plan for virtual celebrations that will ensure these students will be honored. We will keep you posted.

I know many of you may have questions about USG operations and services, as we conduct our work on a remote basis. The short answer is that our campus buildings will not be open to the public through at least May 31, but USG remains open. Services are being provided remotely, business operations are continuing, and we are working in close coordination with our university partners and USM, as classes shift to distance learning and online platforms.

For updates on how the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is impacting USG, I encourage all of you to check the USG website and our COVID-19 page. You may also want to sign up for USG Alerts and follow USG on TwitterFacebook or Instagram.

I know you have heard this phrase many times in recent days and weeks, but it is true.

We will get through this… together.

Thank you for your attention, your patience and your support of the USG community. I wish the best for you and your families at this very challenging time for everyone across the world.

Stay well and safe. Please stay in touch with each other.

Dr. Stewart EdelsteinDr. Stewart Edelstein
Executive Director, USG and Associate Vice Chancellor, USM
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Sign Up. Stand Out.

Shelby Speer                                    Rose Jackson-Speiser

Did you know that leadership is one of the top skills that employers seek when hiring candidates (NACE website)? Our names are Shelby Speer and Rose Jackson-Speiser, and we are the coordinators of the USGLeads Emerging and Expanding Leadership Programs. You may have heard about these unique opportunities to enhance your leadership portfolio, but have been hesitant to start. Here are a few reasons why you should “sign up and stand out”:

Argument 1: I just don’t have the time!
The programs are flexible and self-paced, and you can work on it until you graduate!

Argument 2: It’s not worth the effort.
In addition to learning some valuable new skills, you’ll receive: a great accomplishment to list on your resume/cover letter/to discuss with employers, a certificate of completion, a testimonial for your LinkedIn profile, a completion gift, and an invitation to the Student Engagement Awards. That seems like it’s worth the effort!

 Argument 3: I’m not a leader.
The first activity is watching three brief Ted Talks, where you’ll learn that leadership is not always what it seems!

 Argument 4: I won’t be able to do all of the activities I need to do before I graduate.
If you did any of them previously, as long as it was while you were a student at USG, then they count!

Argument 5: I’ll get around to it eventually.
Don’t wait until your work piles up: chip away at the requirements and you’ll be done before it you know it.

Argument 6: I don’t know how to get started!
Click here to learn more about the programs, and to apply.

We look forward to assisting you on your leadership journey!

USMLeads Program v2

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Career Opportunities in the Hospitality Industry


By: Sherrie Tennessee, UMES
Hospitality and Tourism Management Program Director

Did you know that 1 in 10 people in the world work in the hospitality sector, which is about 15 million Americans? The hospitality industry touches all aspects of our lives from restaurants, hotels, to rental car companies and cruises ships. The industry also includes wedding and meetings planning, spas and wellness centers, plus museums, art galleries, amusement parks, and even sporting events, the industry continues to grow and evolve.

With $215 million generated annually, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics noted the hospitality sector continues to be one of the fastest-growing markets. The hospitality industry extends beyond chef, servers, front desk and housekeeping to include revenue managers, accountants, IT analysts, marketing managers, to carpenters, electricians, gardeners and veterinarians and even non-traditional opportunities such as storytellers, dancers, and actors. With so many facets, there is literally something for everyone in the world of hospitality. Those working in the industry have the opportunity to meet people from around the corner as well as around the world, with countless perks of discounts and comp experiences.

Yet, with all the great opportunities, there is a shortage of individuals for the industry. So how do you become a part of the hospitality world? The options are limitless, with positions available for those in high school, with Associate degrees, and Bachelor’s degrees, which is required for most management positions. For the executive or C-level Master’s degree are needed, which also garners a larger compensation – starting at six figures. The hospitality industry isn’t just for those interested in working in the field, entrepreneurs have numerous opportunities for ownership from tour companies, restaurants, to management services and hotel ownership.

The University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) has a Hospitality and Tourism Management program which focuses on developing business leaders in the hospitality industry. We are also hosting a UMES Hospitality and Tourism Day on Thursday, March 5th. It is a great opportunity to learn more about careers in the hospitality industry.


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Whenever you transfer, will you be ready?


By: Marcie Povitsky
Transfer Access Coordinator,
Center for Recruitment and Transfer Access

As someone who has been a part of the USG community practically since it opened (I transferred from MC way back in 2001 and have worked at this campus since I graduated with my undergraduate degree in 2004), I can attest that the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) campus culture has never wavered from its commitment to student success.  Did you know that this commitment extends to students before they arrive at the USG campus?

We know that community college students can experience a lot of stress when it comes to transferring. Not only are students narrowing down what they want to study, but many are probably asking:

  • Where do I want to transfer to?
  • Am I doing everything at my current school to be an ideal candidate for my future school?
  • Will I like it at my new school?
  • Will I fit in with the students/campus community?
  • What opportunities beyond the classroom will allow me to expand my skills?
  • Will my new school help me prepare for my future career?

USG is dedicated to helping all students answer these questions and navigate the transfer process!  One of the ways that we express that commitment is through special pre-transfer programming called “Transfer Access Programs,” or TAP.

Are you a current MC student and looking to transfer? The universities listed below have transfer programs for certain majors offered at USG:

  • University of Maryland, College Park (UMD)
    Biological Sciences, Communication, Criminology & Criminal Justice, Embedded Systems and Internet of Things, Information Science, Public Health Science, Robert H. Smith School of Business — Accounting, Marketing, Management
  • UMBC
    History, Political Science, Psychology, Social Work, Translational Life Science Technology
  • University of Baltimore (UB)
    Health Systems Management, Simulation & Game Design
  • University of Maryland, Eastern Shore (UMES)
    Construction Management Technology, Hospitality & Tourism Management

If yes, then you may be eligible to apply for a Transfer Access Program!  Participating in a TAP program will give you early access to USG services including:

  1. Individualized, pre-transfer advising with your intended major
    (to help ensure that you are meeting all of the academic transfer requirements!)
  2. Access to special workshops offered by our Center for Academic Success
    (to help you prepare for the increased academic demands of your upper-level courses!)
  3. Invitations to a majority of student life events at USG
    (to help get you acclimated to our campus culture!)
  4. Full access to our Career and Internship Services Center
    (to give you an edge on your career-readiness skills!)

Transfer Access students participate in opportunities that strengthen their confidence with the transfer application/admissions process and with the transition process.  Students who complete TAP are ready for academic and social life at USG from day one.

These programs are free of charge for participants, including the TAP application process and parking while attending TAP events.  Some TAP programs have additional benefits, such as guaranteed admission and transfer application fee waivers.

If you are interested in learning more attend our upcoming Undergraduate Expo, where you can apply for TAP on-site. You can also tour campus, meet current students, and speak with program representatives from ALL undergraduate programs (including those that participate in TAP). Even if you are not interested in a TAP program you can still attend the Undergraduate Expo to learn about other majors offered at USG.

If you have any questions about the information provided in this post, or there is any way that USG can help you be more successful in your transfer process, please email us at

Best of luck in your transfer endeavors!

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Human Trafficking in Context…. Students Come See for Yourselves

Wendy Stickle

Dr. Wendy Stickle, UMCP Criminology and Criminal Justice Program Director

Last Fall I had the honor of writing about human trafficking on this blog.  I talked about how this crime occurs right here in Montgomery County.  I talked about how I got involved in combatting this crime, locally and globally.  I feel lucky to be given the opportunity to share my thoughts with you once again on this challenging and complicated topic.  My goal, this time around, is to focus on human trafficking as a global issue, the importance of context, and how students can see for themselves human trafficking in context.

Human trafficking comes in several forms, including sex trafficking, labor trafficking, organ trafficking, child marriage, and child soldiers. Human trafficking is happening on every continent on earth.  Men, women, girls, and boys, can become victims of trafficking.  The push and pull factors of trafficking, however, look different in different regions of the world.  Unstable borders, poverty, gender discrimination, war and violence, government corruption, all play different roles in pushing vulnerable individuals into trafficking situations.

The importance of context is what prompted my colleague, Christine White and I, to design a study abroad course studying human trafficking in context.  Since 2016, over 60 students have participated in this program.  For approximately two weeks each year, Professor White and I take students to a country to study human trafficking.  What types of trafficking can be found? What are the major factors driving trafficking in the country?  What makes migrants and citizens vulnerable in that country? What is happening in the region that might make individuals vulnerable to traffickers?


Professor White and I, during our 2018 Human Trafficking in Context program in Italy

Over the past four years we have traveled with students to Thailand, Cambodia, and Italy.  This summer we are thrilled to be traveling to South Africa to study what human trafficking looks like there.  From June 24-July 9, students will reside in Cape Town South Africa.  Students will work with human trafficking NGO’s, hear lectures on current issues with human trafficking as well as this history of slavery in South Africa.  Students will also experience the culture of South Africa, visiting historical sites such as Robben Island, visiting a penguin colony, participating in cooking classes, and hiking the beautiful coast.

The experience of studying abroad has many benefits.  As a prior student who participated in our Italy program commented, “[the trip] caused me to broaden my views on the world and to consider other countries’ views on certain situations, such as human trafficking and refugees. This trip was a once in a lifetime experience that will influence me and my career for years to come.”


Join us this summer to learn more about human trafficking in South African!

Students from any University are eligible to apply.  All participating students will earn three credits.  Interested students can learn more about the program and scholarship opportunities by visiting the program’s website.

Human trafficking is one of the biggest challenges of our time.  It is deeply embedded in communities around the world, just as gender discrimination is embedded in cultures, and racism is embedded in policy. This summer, we are giving students a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn about this stain on society, to making lasting friendships and memories, and to have an experience unlike any other.  We hope you join us! Please feel free to reach out if you would like more information. 

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Guest Post: Ruqiyyah Muid, UMCP Communication student

Ruqiyyah Muid

Ruqiyyah Muid, University of Maryland, College Park at USG Communication student

Have you ever wanted to be a part of a club but don’t know where to start? Maybe you’re shy or you’re not sure where your interests are yet.  It’s okay, that was me too at many points during all four years of college. My name is Ruqiyyah Muid, but I go by Kiyah, I’m a senior at the University of Maryland, College Park at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) majoring in Communication.  It took me three years to figure out what I was looking for socially from a student organization.  After figuring it all out, I discovered this awesome club called the Undergraduate Communication Association (UCA).

They say college is all about the experiences, the people you meet along the way and the endless opportunities that arise.  I remember my first week at USG, it seems like it was just yesterday, when I met Joshua Briggs and Jason Ramirez. It was during welcome week and all the different student organizations were tabling, there were many different clubs but the Undergraduate Communication Association sparked my interest the most. My initial interaction with the former President Joshua and Vice President Jason, was a very welcoming one.  Thinking back now, I was in search of a club that was more than just that; one that offered a sense of community, participating in community outreach and helping its members gain access to resources post-undergrad. I later learned that these are just some of the things the UCA works towards completing every semester.

It was a cold Thursday and I was contemplating whether or not I wanted to break out of my comfort zone and attend UCA’s meet and greet event.  I decided to go and at that moment I realized I had made the right choice in following my instincts. Everyone at the meeting was so welcoming and outgoing, we shared ideas and career goals with one another and most importantly, what we were looking to gain from the club.  I have already learned so much valuable information that will be useful to me in the short and long-term future. One of the most impactful events hosted by the UCA was the Networking Panel, where I had the pleasure of meeting established individuals who offered networking advice and tips on how to venture out into the workforce after college.

The UCA has been a support system and a learning tool where I have met many diverse college students with whom I share many similar interests. The UCA is really an organization filled with positivity and good vibes, I learned this even more when I became the Director of Marketing & Social Media this past Spring semester.  The executive board members’ passion for fellow student engagement and community outreach is unmatched, and I am honored to have the experience and ability to work alongside this team. With the start of Spring semester freshly upon us, I am excited to meet all the new and prospective UCA members and hope to see you all at the exciting events we have planned this semester. If you find yourself in search of a new rewarding experience, similar to me during my first week, then the UCA is right for you. #ucausg #jointhecommunity

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