Read and Re-Gift! Guest Post: Juanita Benavides-Alcala, Towson University student


Juanita Benavides-Alcala

I told everyone that it was going to be impossible to forget about me! My name is Juanita Benavides-Alcala and I am a former student blogger for Around the Grove, but now I am back to tell everyone about our exciting Book Drive! As the Chair of Events and Initiative of the Student Council, we teamed up with the American Association of University Women (AAUW): Gaithersburg chapter to have a school-wide book drive here at our beloved USG. I just wanted to tell everyone a bit about this awesome organization and convince you guys to bring in some books.

The AAUW is the nation’s leading voice promoting equity and education for women in higher ed and beyond. Their work has been an ongoing effort since 1881. Today, they provide scholarships to women in many colleges and universities, including USG. I was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship from them to attend a conference at UMCP this May, where I got to learn so much about leadership and how to make everyone feel welcome in our school. These wonderful ladies have not only financially supported students, but they have become like a mentor to others. They are always willing to share their experiences and listen to others. Another scholarship recipient, Jathselle Pierre-Louis, and myself have decided that we needed to step up to the plate in order to give back as much as they have given us.

The AAUW: Gaithersburg hosts an annual book sale at Asbury (a retirement facility located near Lakeforest Mall) in order to gain funds for scholarships to give to female students here at USG and at Montgomery College. So what we have done, with the help of the Student Council, is set out a couple boxes so that everyone and anyone can donate books for us to take. They are in need of children’s books, however, we will take what we can get (in good condition, of course.) So if you guys happen to have any spare books laying around, please bring them and put them in the colorful boxes labeled “Student Council + AAUW: Gaithersburg Book Drive.” I worked really hard on making them as colorful as possible 🙂 So do your girl a favor and bring some by!

Thanks for reading and re-gifting!

Book Drive

Posted in Community, Guest Post, OnCampus, Students, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Calling All Education Professionals: Come Spend “An Evening with USG”

Jen headshot 1

Jennifer Riehl

Hi! I’m Jen, the Senior Recruitment Coordinator with USG’s Center for Recruitment & Transfer Access. My job for the past almost-6 years has been to tell everyone I can about how USG works and the benefits of attending a program here. Early on, I believed “everyone” to mean all prospective students – from middle school through college. And while students are indeed still a bulk of my focus and the audience for most of the events we hold, I’ve also come to learn there’s an equally important group of people with whom I need to share the USG message: the education professions who work with these prospective students.

While I am unlikely to reach every single student at Montgomery College (MC), it IS likely that every MC student will at some point meet with an advisor or have a conversation with a faculty member there. Likewise for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), Frederick Community College, and so on. So why had we not been holding large-scale recruitment events for THIS audience? It must be incredibly hard for education professionals in these roles to learn everything there is to know about admissions requirements, application deadlines, student life offerings, and more about not just ONE school, but the hundreds of colleges and universities their students are considering attending. Add to that USG’s super unique concept, and I thought, my goodness – let’s find a way to both thank these professionals for helping us do our jobs and also give them the tools they need to be able to best share USG with their students. And thus, An Evening with USG was born.

Evening with USG.jpg

An Evening with USG is a brand new event designed specifically for education professionals – ranging from middle school principals to community college counselors, from after-school high school program coaches to our partner university recruiters. It is a chance for these unsung heroes to network with one another and with USG staff and partner university program representatives. The event, being held on Thursday, November 8th, from 6:30-8pm, will include a formal welcome and USG overview, along with a brief presentation by USG’s COO/CFO on the many STEM programs coming to our campus once our new building is complete (projected Fall 2019!). The last hour of the event will provide a chance for attendees to visit information tables for each of the undergraduate majors and the many student services offered at USG, as well as mingle with current students, take a campus tour, and network with one another. As a bonus, some of the graduate degrees offered on the USG campus via our partner universities will also be present in case our guests are not just shopping on behalf of their students but also for themselves! And did I mention the free food?

It feels weird for me to promote an event with the message that it is NOT intended for prospective students, but I am truly excited to instead welcome to campus those helping to guide these same students towards college completion and ideally towards USG. I hope to be able to thank you personally on November 8th!

Learn more and register for An Evening with USG!

Jen's Ambassador

The USG Student Ambassadors can’t wait to share their stories of success with you!

Posted in Community, Guest Post, OnCampus, Top Stories, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Start Networking Now with LinkedIn!

ARB Headshot (1)

Ada Rodriguez
Career Coach, Career & Internship Services Center

Networking as a verb is not something we all grew up doing. As humans, we all value a substantive network that is something that transcends culture, class, and race. We can figure out how to connect with a stranger at a party, but the moment we call it a networking event, a lot of us are struck by a paralyzing fear. “Networking” seems like something only the professionals do, and it’s sometimes hard for students to realize who exactly their “network” is.

College is one of the most significant opportunities for us to grow our networks. It is unlikely that you will have access to this many people from so many different backgrounds, interests, and professional paths again. Your classmates could one day be industry leaders, so it is less sketchy to connect with them now than it would be in ten years when they might have forgotten you went to school together (no one wants to feel like people are only reaching out to them only because they are successful).

Besides establishing your network, there are other benefits to setting up your LinkedIn profile now. And you will ask, “Why do I need another account to keep up with?” and I’ll tell you:

  1. Recruiters are on LinkedIn—it’s where they spend most of their time. If you aren’t on LinkedIn, they aren’t seeing you, and you’re missing out on job opportunities.
  2. It is the easiest way to brand yourself online, giving you more control over your online presence and reputation when you are Googled.
  3. Learn about your industry, connect with alumni, ask for informational interviews, make connections. See how the person with your dream job got there.
  4. FIND A JOB!
  5. Establish your network. I know I talked about this at the beginning of the blog post, but I cannot stress how important it is to begin growing your network now. It may seem intimidating at first, but it will be worth it.

Having a LinkedIn profile that is set up well can give you the confidence you need to jump into the networking pool. Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, on November 7th, the Career & Internship Services Center (CISC) will host Link Up with LinkedIn, where we can help you create your profile and put your best foot forward. Gussy up and get your headshot taken by a pro. Meet with staff and recruiters to have a profile review on-site. Or come to the Lunch & Learn where we’ll have a recruiter from Coakley Williams to teach students what recruiters look for in a profile and how you can maximize your LinkedIn presence.

All of CISC looks forward to seeing you there, in the meantime link up with USG and join the CISC group on LinkedIn. I would love to hear what you are looking forward to the most on November 7th.

LinkedIn stat flyer.png

Posted in Faculty/Staff, OnCampus, Students, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Guest Post: Priscille Diwa, UMD Communication student

Priscilla and boy

Priscille and her brother at a reception for the completion of her Missionary Trip.

I am where I am today as a result of my parent’s actions. My family and I were born in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We lived a wonderful, and comfortable life until civil unrest occurred between my country and Rwanda. My parents gave up everything to come to the United States so that we could have a better life. The strong foundations in integrity and morals that my parents set for my siblings and I is what steered my path to where I am and the decisions I have made.

After graduating from high school, I did not want to rush into college. Although there is a lot we learn from school, our professors, and fellow classmates, I wanted to learn from the best teacher, life itself. I signed up for a missionary trip for one year in Buffalo, New York (coldest city in America). Living in Buffalo taught me to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. I was away from my family, I knew no one in the city, and lived with a group of people that I have never met (whom later became like my family). However, I learned to adapt and be flexible. I developed communication skills and learned how to deal with people from different categories of life.

Priscilla Group

Priscille’s Missionary Team

When the year was up, I returned home and enrolled at a Montgomery College where I graduated with my Associates degree. I had originally planned to go to the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP), but my parents encouraged me to go to UMCP at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG).

USG has been a family affair. My dad graduated from UMCP’s Criminology and Criminal Justice program at USG in 2014 and my mom is anticipating graduation from UMBC’s Social Work program at USG in 2019. Hearing about my parent’s great experience at USG and all of the benefits and resources they had received, I decided to enroll in UMCP’s Communication program at USG.

Priscilla and friends

Priscille and her two roommates

There are many reasons why I love USG. The first reason is the additional scholarship opportunities, which has allowed me to achieve my goal of graduating debt free! Plus, I love the small class sizes because I get the chance to know my professors and classmates. I feel confident in my decision to take classes at USG and I know that this learning environment will propel me to thrive and excel. After I graduate in 2020 I want to travel and gain more experience in marketing. My future career goal is to own my business.

Posted in Guest Post, Students, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Grover Essentials

Grover Essentials is a service that provides students, faculty, and staff at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) with the opportunity to get staple foods, toiletries, and baby items at no cost to them. It was started as a way to increase food access and promote wellness at USG. Grover Essentials had its grand opening on August 20th and so far it has had great success as measured by the number of total visits, number of unique customers, and self-reported satisfaction with this service. The only requisite to use Grover Essentials is to have a valid USG ID. Customers also fill out an intake and liability form the first time they shop at Grover Essentials and fill out a satisfaction survey after each use. Customers are encouraged to visit Grover Essentials once a week.

Grover Essentials

Increasing food access and promoting wellness became a central idea to the creation of Grover Essentials as the more we talked to students, faculty, and staff it became apparent that this would not only be a beneficial service but also a much needed one. In Psychology classes we are taught about Maslow’s pyramid of human needs and the first level is composed of securing physiological requirements for breathing, food, water, shelter, clothing, and sleep. Keeping this in mind we decided that if we could help students attain their basic needs, they would be better prepared to help themselves with succeeding in their education and personal lives.

Food insecurity has recently been a hot topic among researchers as studies have shown that college students at all levels (2-year and 4-year colleges) are experiencing hunger and having to make decisions between paying for food, housing, and tuition bills (Blumenthal & Chu, 2018). Food insecurity is defined as, “limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, or the ability to acquire such foods in a socially acceptable manner. The most extreme form is often accompanied with physiological sensations of hunger” (Goldrick-Rab, Richardson, & Hernandez, 2017).

The University of Wisconsin’s Harvesting Opportunities for Postsecondary Education (HOPE) Lab surveyed more than 33,000 students across 70 colleges in the United States and they found that 67% of the students were food insecure (Goldrick-Rab, Richardson, & Hernandez, 2017). Not only is this significant from the standpoint that the majority of college students surveyed were experiencing food insecurity but also because this was much higher than the 12.3% of Americans in the general population who reported being food insecure according to the United States Department of Agriculture (America’s Eating Habits: Food Away From Home, n.d.). Being centered in one of the wealthiest counties in the country does not completely insulate us from these issues. Manna reports that 79,000 to 81,000 Montgomery County residents do not know where their next meal will be coming from (Manna Food Center, n.d.). Grover Essentials has become one of the tools we are using to ameliorate this reality for our students.

Grover Essentials was made possible through the generous donations from various departments and individuals at USG. We are thrilled with the response and usage that Grover Essentials has gotten thus far. We have had more traffic than we had previously anticipated and as a result we have secured two UMBC interns to help us keep up with the demand. Manna has also been a strong supporter of the Grover Essentials effort and has committed to helping us restock Grover Essentials as need arises. We are fully stocked so pass the word around and come check us out!

America’s Eating Habits: Food Away From Home. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Blumenthal, S., M.D., & Chu, C. (2018, August 06). Food Insecurity on College Campuses.
Retrieved from

Goldrick-Rab, S., Richardson, J., & Hernandez, A. (2017). Hungry and homeless in college:
Results from a national study of basic needs insecurity in higher education. Madison, WI:
Wisconsin Hope Lab.

Manna Food Center | Facts and Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved from


Posted in OnCampus, Students, Top Stories, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Celebrating Women in STEMM


By: Parisa Meisami

The Student and Academic Services at the Universities at Shady Grove will host its very first Celebrating Women in STEMM event on Tuesday, October 9th from 3-6pm. The event is a mini-symposium focusing on education and career pathways for women in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, Medical).  There will be a panel discussion, networking, activities, and information for students and attendees.

This event will:

  • Increase the awareness about challenges that women face in STEMM either in education or workplace and discuss the possible remedies and strategies to manage them.
  • Familiarize students with different career pathways in STEMM that they could consider for their future
  • Encourage students already in STEMM fields to stay in STEMM fields

The panelists will talk about their educational and professional experiences and share their advice with students who would like to pursue STEMM careers.  Following the panel discussion there will be a demonstration and resource fair, as well as professional networking. Organizations such as NASA, the Rockville Science Center, Integrated Pharma, and Lonza are scheduled to participate.

The featured panelist are:

  • Annica Wayman, Ph.D., Associate Dean of UMBC, TLST
  • Alexis Bossie, Ph.D., Head of Media of Therapeutic Cell Solution
  • Mina Izadjoo, Ph.D., President and Chief Science Officer of Integrated Pharma
  • Poorva Dharkar, Ph.D., MBA, President of Association of the Women In Science, Bethesda Chapter
  • Jana Goodwin, Ph.D, RN, CNE, Assistant Professor at USG, Director, BSN Program, OAD
  • Chioma Obi, M.D., MPH,  Maryland Tech Connection
  • Treniece Terry, Ph.D., Senior Associate/Chemical Engineer, Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute
  • Somara Theodore, Meteorologist,  NBC 4 Washington
  • Moderator, Raquel Marhsall, PhD, Electrical Engineer and Second-Career Educator from NASA,

Registration is FREE! Register today!

If you have any question, please feel free to contact Parisa Meisami.

Women In Stem Event Flyer-1

Posted in Community, Guest Post, OnCampus, Students, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

USG Hosts its First Ally Week!

shelby photo 11-14-16

By: Shelby Speer

What is Ally Week?

In 2005, the Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) hosted the first LGBT Ally Week, which is when “LGBTQ K-12 students and LGBTQ educators lead the conversation on what they need from their allies in school.”1 Since that time, the efforts have expanded to colleges and universities to better promote student safety and well-being.

What Does LGBTQIA+ Stand For?

The acronym may differ slightly, but it generally means “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, asexual, and more.” Allies can have none, one, or more than one of these identities, as everyone has the capacity to be an ally!

What’s going on at USG?

We have a full program of events going on in support of Ally Week. The complete schedule is below. Be sure to check out the Information Tables Monday and Tuesday, the Free2B Meet and Mingle Wednesday and Thursday, and the launch of the USG Identity Quilt project on Friday. Most importantly, please register for the Ally 101 Training on Thursday: space is limited and lunch will be provided.

USG Pride Day 2018_7

What else can I do to be a better ally?

GLSEN recommends2:

  • Intervene when you hear anti-LGBTQ language or remarks.
  • Be conscious of your privilege and speak from your own experiences, rather than assuming the experiences of LGBTQ students and other marginalized folks.
  • Read our resource on being an ally to trans and gender nonconforming students.
  • Practice asking someone’s pronouns in a respectful way. Learn more by reading our pronoun resource.
  • Familiarize yourself with the rights of trans and gender nonconforming students in schools.
  • Review “6 Questions About Allyship Answered by LGBTQ Students

What resources are available to me at USG?

  • USG offers a single-use All-Gender Restroom located in Building III, 1st floor near the Priddy Library and the Student & Academic Services office.
  • Review the LGBTQIA+ Resources webpage for an extensive list of resources
  • Join the LGBTQIA+ Listserv to be kept “in the know” about future LGBTQIA+ events and initiatives

We look forward to seeing you at Ally Week! For more information, please email Shelby Speer.


1“Ally Week” GLSEN,
2 “Action for Allies” GLSEN,

Ally Week poster_ 8.5x11 (3)

Posted in Faculty/Staff, Guest Post, OnCampus, Students, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment