Program Invites Students to Tackle Major Issues of Our Time

Grand-Challenges-e1458335070939-1920x768A new UMBC scholars program is inviting students from all majors to work together on pressing challenges facing society, from sustainability to health and security issues.

UMBC’s Grand Challenge Scholars Program (GCSP), based on the National Academy of Engineering’s (NAE) Grand Challenges for Engineering, is now accepting applications for its first cohort. Beginning in fall 2016, these students will begin collaborating to develop solutions to major global challenges through coursework, research, service, and study abroad. Participants will each create their own unique approach to the program guided by their interests and including personal reflection on their experiences and growth as scholars.

Marie desJardins, associate dean in the College of Engineering and Information Technology (COEIT), professor of computer science, and director of the GCSP, describes the program as “a great match with so many things that UMBC and UMBC students are already doing—applied, project-based learning; service learning; entrepreneurial explorations; global involvement; and undergraduate research.”

Amelia Hallworth ‘17, biological sciences, is interested in the GCSP because of the interdisciplinary focus of the program. “Connections between different fields of study will emerge in unusual places, so I think it is important to share problems with people outside of your field,” she says.

Read the full story at

Stretching Experience Through Yoga

Follow our student writer, Anna, along as she takes her very first yoga class at UMBC…

UMBC offers yoga in the RAC and at the Women's Center (pictured)
UMBC offers yoga in the RAC and at the Women’s Center (pictured)

“Smile! Don’t forget to smile — you’ll feel happier!” “Remember, this is all about you.” “You are strong, so trust yourself.” Who doesn’t want to be in a class where you hear these sorts of uplifting comments? Go to a class with Joe, and you can! Allow me to explain…

Though I’ve been to the RAC (Retriever Activity Center) more times than I can count, I had never taken one of the fitness classes before today. Sure, the classes are advertised (you can even get alert emails for when a class is cancelled), but I’ve never been one to go to a class to workout. But to give a class a fair shot, this morning I joined some friends in the Fitness Studio to hopefully not fail too badly at my first day of yoga.

It’s yoga with Joe, to be more precise. As you can probably guess, the instructor is, yes, Yoga-Joe. And Joe thankfully does not believe anyone can fail at yoga (“It’s not a performance. You’re doing this for yourselves”). Bless Joe.

About fifteen people showed up to the class, where we spent time learning to focus on our breathing, and then we began stretching. As I imagine it is common in yoga classes, we then gradually moved into balance poses (“You are a tree…feel the earth support you”) and other standing poses (“You’re all warriors. Got to scare off those elephants”). It was enjoyable, but don’t get me wrong. My legs were wobbling by the end of class. After such poses we gradually moved into cooling down and stretching (and re-aligning) ourselves.

That’s it. It may have been only 1.5 hours, but I forgot to think about blogging about my experience when I was there. To say I was fully absorbed in the class would be entirely accurate, albeit surprising for me to realize. As I said, I’m not a fan of fitness classes. I’d rather exercise on my own time. With that said however, I have already penciled this class in on my calendar.

Oh, and don’t worry about not having a mat for yoga. There are mats there for anyone to use. Just show up and give it a try!

AND if you know yoga isn’t your thing, then check out some of the other classes — cardio parties (though personally that doesn’t sound like a fun ‘party’), ab crunch sessions, fitness basics, yoga, and more. After all, as a student, the RAC is wide open to you…just swipe your card at the front desk, plug the earbuds in, and get moving!

— Anna Crow ’16

Previous posts by Anna:

Meet Your Student Bloggers
Football at UMBC? One Night a Year…

Introducing the LIFE Series…

This is the first in our student writer Anna’s occasional series entitled LIFE: Living Involved, Finding Engagement…

One of UMBC’s claims to fame is our diversity: staff, faculty, student body—the entire school. As a result, our student organizations reflect that diversity. Just quickly scroll down the list of orgs on the Student Life website! From the arts to sports to religion to hobbies to Greek life to intellectual sports (check out our chess team’s national rankings!)…I’m not exaggerating when I say that there’s a niche for just about anyone and everyone.

Speaking of diversity, we currently have 28 cultural and ethnic student organizations. I have yet to meet someone who claims these orgs are just for people from a specific culture; today I attended the Sri Lankan Student Association’s bimonthly meeting, for instance, and my friend from Peru is involved in the Japanese Student Association. Join an organization and learn about another culture, or even one reflecting your own culture. The point is that there are people to learn from and about—people like and unlike you. Go make friends! Meet people!

Today I did just that. My friend is the president of the Sri Lankan Student Association (SLSA) and invited me to her org’s meeting. (Please note that I am not Sri Lankan, but that doesn’t really matter!) The meeting was special: the org’s faculty advisor attended and showed pictures of her most recent travels to Sri Lanka where she has lived and conducted anthropological research. Walking into the meeting, I didn’t even know the capital of the country. Now I can assure you that it’s Colombo. I learned that their New Year is in April, and on that holiday boiling milk in a clay pot is a common practice to bring good luck. Who knew? Hint: not me, the white girl. But the great thing is, now I do know!

Throughout the semester I will be writing a special blog series highlighting various student orgs. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to attend other meetings or events, but I definitely will be sitting down with other students to get their first-hand accounts of what their orgs are all about. Tomorrow I get the opportunity to sit down with Samantha, the president of SLSA. So keep an eye out! From what I heard today, she’s in the midst of planning a multi-cultural, multi-org event that I will absolutely be talking about in a future blog!

A UMBC Love Story

Hi there, it’s Brittan, your student blogger. This story is about my parents, Kevin and Noel, who met and fell in love while students at UMBC in the 1980s. I hope you enjoy it. Happy Valentines!  

bkevIt was the first day of classes at UMBC, 1983. Kevin Gibbons-O’Neill was just starting his junior year of college. He was sitting on a railing outside his classes letting his rainbow-colored Chuck Taylors swing underneath him. A shaved head (a lost bet with his friends) and a goofy carefree grin on his face, he scoped out all the new students walking down academic row.

Spotting a pretty girl, he tried his hand at flirting with her. “Hey, you’re really tan.” (Apparently all he could come up with.) The girl looked at him but wouldn’t respond. She thought this guy wasn’t quite all there upstairs.

Two days later, they met at a Thursday night mixer in the commuter cafeteria (a place current students won’t have the pleasure of experiencing). Kevin caught the eye of this mysterious girl and went over to ask her to dance. She replied flatly “I don’t like to dance.” Rejected. Again. An hour later, after getting some courage in her system, the girl, whose name he found out was Noel, grabbed his hand and said “let’s dance.” The rest, as they say, is history.

“We would go to the commuter cafeteria pretty much every day,” says Kevin, “I would buy us cheese steaks and we would sit around and talk between classes.”

They were married November 9, 1991, and danced to “Tonight I Celebrate My Love”. Luckily for Kevin, Noel didn’t need to work up the courage to dance with him this time. 32 years after they first met, Kevin says “I still fall in love with that woman every day.”

UMBC in the 80s
UMBC in the 80s

The main focus of college is learning, and as any student at UMBC knows, this university is academically rigorous. But college is more than that. It’s about forming relationships that grow with you. UMBC is a thriving campus, always blossoming, always evolving. The friends you make here, the ones that sit and study with you until 2 a.m., the ones that eat lunch with you, the ones that convince you your life isn’t over after one bad test grade, are the ones still sitting by your side 10 years from now.

Kevin Gibbons-O’Neill met his best man at UMBC, he met his wife at UMBC, he made friends that still, after 3 decades, call him up to see how he’s doing.

UMBC makes scholars, yes, that much is obvious. But the relationships you make her are the relationships that last a lifetime.

— Brittan Gibbons-O’Neill ’17

Your Student Writers: Anna & Brittan

Welcome to 2016! This semester, we’ll have two student bloggers sharing their stories of life on (and off!) campus. Without further ado, here they are: Anna and Brittan…

annaBefore I begin launching into my posts about events and orgs, let me first take a quick moment to introduce myself. I’m Anna, and this semester is my final semester in undergrad (which yes, is terrifying, but simultaneously amazing). I’ve finished up my psychology major and writing minor, and am currently taking my last English class to complete my English major on the Communication and Technology track. I’m also a Humanities Scholar and a member of the Honors College, as well as the Head Copy-Editor for Bartleby, the creative arts journal that exclusively publishes UMBC student work. Last semester I was in Ireland studying, and got the FANTASTIC opportunity to travel around Europe, as well to spend Christmas in South Korea. I can’t wait to share some of these experiences with you this semester!

My main focus is answering your questions (that I know you have): what happens outside of class? What do you do on campus besides work? What’s so cool about UMBC? You’re going to college to study, sure, but studying isn’t all you’ll be doing, or should be doing. Over the course of the semester I’m going to be blogging about my experiences attending various events on campus. I’m also preparing a series of blogs called LIFE: Living Involved, Finding Engagement. This series will highlight just some of the student organizations that you can be a part of here. In other words, I am going to give you first-hand accounts of college—minus the boring parts.

This school has so much to offer; I never would have thought I’d be here, senior year, a world-traveler, with a job set up for post-grad, and getting paid to write a blog. And yet, here I am! My point is that UMBC provides a lot of opportunities—you just have to learn to open yourself up to them: like ways to get involved. That’s where my blog comes into play. I hope you keep up with my future posts, and at least give me a few moments of your day to SHOW you—because telling you is boring for both of us—what UMBC is actually like.


* * * * *

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Hi, I’m Brittan, and before I get into what has made my college experience so memorable let me tell you a little about me. I came into UMBC wanting to be a math teacher. Decided, after a year, that Math wasn’t my calling. I had known my love of English for a long time but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be an English teacher (teaching was really what I had been studying to be since high school). The nice thing about this school is that they make it very easy for you to switch majors and catch up in your new major so that you graduate on time. You’ll know you’ve found the major you belong in when you actually start to look forward to going to your classes. Everyone is different; maybe you’ll come into college, take off running, and there will be no adjustment period for you. But if you do need time to figure out your path, UMBC lets you do that.

I want to show you, with these blogs, what makes UMBC so special to me. I want to show you the kinds of things I first gushed about my freshman year when anyone from home asked me how college was going. Now in my junior year, I look back at how close I was to attending another university and count my blessings that I chose here. The friends I’ve made and the experiences I’ve had are irreplaceable. Thanks for reading; I’m so excited to share UMBC with you.

Block Party | Retriever Believers

Two weeks ago, Resident Student Association, threw their annual Block Party event.

Block party is a carnival style event, with cotton candy, face painting, shaved ice, various types of games, food, and much more. During block party, each residential community sets up their own table and provides a game for everyone to participate in. This years theme was nautical, so everyone did some “sea” related. For example, Erickson Hall did organized a sand art table, where people came and decorated small bottles shaped like sand castles with different colored sand. Also, Walker Apartment did a boat sailing competition. Other halls did caramel apples, t-shirt/sock tie dye, and throwing darts at paint balls. Basically it was a afternoon/evening filled with a lot of fun.

Everyone, including, the RSA executive board, the Community Councils, and the advisers, put in a lot of hard work to make this event really big. However, the only problem was that there was a lack of advertising, therefore, not a lot of students were aware that Block Party was happening. Nonetheless, there were a lot of people that came and enjoyed themselves; the cotton candy and the caramel apples were a great hit!

Read more at Block Party | Retriever Believers.

Real People Profiles: Emily Moroney

By David Hoffman

We’re asking some of the people you might encounter on the UMBC campus, including students, faculty, staff and alumni, to answer a few questions about themselves and their experiences. These are their responses.

Name: Emily Moroney

Hometown: C-I-N-C-I-N-N-A-T-I, OHIO!

Q: How long have you been at UMBC?

A:Since July 8, 2013.

Q: What is your current title (job or student organization position)?
A: Coordinator for Transition Programs (Off-Campus Student Services)
Q: In 12 words or less, what role(s) do you play on campus?
A: Advocate, innovator, collaborator, supporter, challenger, ‘do-er,’ programmer, strategize- ‘r’, friend, colleague, boss.
Q: What aspect of your UMBC role(s) do you enjoy most?
A: – Supervising my student staff (TSN/PACC). They are the best!
– Working with and for the amazing students here at UMBC.
– The collaborations on projects/initiatives with my very talented colleagues.
– Getting to do something different every single day.
Q: What is the most important or memorable thing you learned in college/have learned at UMBC?A: I learned a saying from a previous theatre professor/director that has stuck with me to this day: “To be early is to be on time. To be on time is to be late. To be late is to be…..[he said dead, but let’s not be morbid].”

People are valuable and time is precious. I’ve learned that respect more often than not is shown through the actions we make, not just the words we say.

Q: What is one way you have worked with others to make a positive difference at UMBC or in another community?

A: I currently work on a initiative/grant funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that focuses on the success(es) and retention of STEM transfer students between 2yr and 4yr institutions. Everyday, I get to work with incredibly intelligent, passionate and caring, administration, faculty, staff and students, in providing transfer specific services and programs to incoming UMBC transfer students. Every semester, I feel such joy from seeing students I met at community college start their orientation here at UMBC. I get even greater joy seeing them show up to events and getting involved as engaged leaders here at UMBC.

Q: Complete this sentence: “I am a big fan of __________”

A: Freshly brewed Iced Tea!
Q: Do you have any UMBC stories, little-known facts about UMBC, favorite spots on campus, or anything else you’d like to share?

A: My favorite spot on campus would be Alumni Office. Located in an old house, I find it fascinating—the bedroom offices to the backyard filled in pool. Every time I visit, I find myself curious about the families that lived there and the history/stories that lie within those walls.

Co-Create UMBC is a blog for and about UMBC, written by David Hoffman and Craig Berger from the Office of Student Life. Join the Co-Create UMBC group on MyUMBC. Like Co-Create UMBC on Facebook. And follow David and Craig on Twitter.

New Student Day 2015

By crjenkins2014

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Hello my Future Retrievers,

I know it has been awhile since you have heard from me; it’s been a little busy in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. But, I am back with some exciting news!

This upcoming Saturday we are welcoming all Fall 2015 admitted students to the House of Grit, better known as UMBC! Our New Student Day event invites students to experience our beautiful campus. This event allows us to not only celebrate your admission to UMBC, but it also gives you the opportunity to learn more about the University.

This day is full of activities from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Prospective students and their families will have the chance to attend information sessions, meet current and newly admitted UMBC students, take a walking tour of the campus, and cheer the Retrievers to victory in lacrosse!

If you have not registered for this event yet, please do so by clicking here. You definitely do not want to miss out!

We are excited to see all of you on Saturday. Remember if you take any selfies about the event or at the event, be sure to use the hashtag UMBCadmit!


Christine 🙂