CFP Board Renews UMGC’s Certification Program for Finance Majors

Adelphi, Md. (April 27, 2022)— University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) School of Business has announced that its Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification program has been renewed by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.

 “Being a degree-granting registered CFP program allows our undergraduate majors to achieve two things, said Kathleen Sindell, director of the Department of Finance and Economics and head of the CFP certification program at UMGC. “First completing the UMGC-registered CFP courses will make the student eligible to take the CFP certification examination. Second, the credit received in our CFP courses will go toward completing their bachelor’s degree.”

Sindell pointed out that “to be a CFP professional, an individual must complete the four E’s: Education, Examination, Experience and Ethics.”

The nonprofit Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards sets the professional standards for personal financial planners. UMGC has offered the certification program for five years. It is among just more than 300 universities with a program that meets CFP Board requirements.  

“I graduated from UMGC in the summer of 2017 and obtained my CFP certification a few months later. I did not need additional study materials after my completion and was fortunate to pass my certification exam on the first attempt,” said Terry Levenberg, who has a bachelor’s degree in finance and a minor in financial planning. “My CFP designation has opened many opportunities in the financial services industry that I do not believe would have been available to me at this stage of my career without it.”

About University of Maryland Global Campus
Celebrating its 75th anniversary, University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) was established in 1947 to serve adults in the workforce. Today, UMGC enrolls some 90,000 students annually, offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs, as well as certificates in more than 90 fully online and hybrid programs and specializations.  

UMGC has a long history of innovation in reaching students where they are, including as a pioneer of internet instruction, piloting its first online classes in 1994. The university has received numerous awards for its groundbreaking work in developing fully online degree programs, including in high-demand fields such as cybersecurity, business, data analytics, health care and education. 

In addition to education centers in Maryland and across the metropolitan Washington, DC, area, UMGC offers in-person classes or services to military personnel and their families at 175-plus locations in more than 20 countries. More than half of the university’s student body are active-duty military personnel, reservists, members of the National Guard, veterans, and dependents. 

UMGC Professors, Students and Alumni Share Success Stories of Women in Business

Fewer women than men tend to select careers in business, but they are making inroads. Women in management, business and financial operations had higher salaries than female workers in any other major occupation category in 2020, according to new data from a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

Business schools can play a powerful role in encouraging women to pursue business careers, in exposing them to strong role models, and in opening opportunities to network with business professionals.       

Currently, more than 13,000 women are enrolled in an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, certificate or doctorate program within the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) School of Business. Businesses are booming, and empowering women are working their way to the top.

UMGC faculty in business education said women in business are increasing in visibility. To round out Women’s History Month celebrating women’s achievements, faculty discussed ways to advance women pursuing business degrees.

Anna Seferian, PhD, acting dean of the School of Business, says UMGC provides role models for women pursuing degrees.

“The role of business education is not limited to developing business acumen and hard skills in management, finance, marketing and other related areas. Business education motivates and inspires people to reach for higher goals, to be a better version of themselves and, through that, to be a positive force in our society. 

“The role of women in business and society is more visible now than ever, a major driving force behind so many changes and achievements. As we [as a society] continue to learn to be more inclusive and diverse, we [in the UMGC School of Business] serve as role models in our student’s educational journey. We motivate and inspire our students, just as our students motivate and inspire our faculty. It’s a rewarding experience.”

Freda Powell-Bell, PhD, director of the human resources program and collegiate professor, encourages her students’ success.

“As a professor I try to do three things to motivate my students, especially women, to stay the course and complete their business degrees. First, I try to share stories and examples of successful business professionals in the workforce and in the world as part of our online or hybrid classroom discussions. 

“Secondly, I share information with my students through classroom announcements about upcoming events, presentations, speakers, conferences and summits, such as the SHRM [Society for Human Resource Management] Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Conference or Women Spanning the Globe Conference, so that they will be able to see talented women in the field and gain an opportunity to network with both professional women and men.

“And third, I share my own personal testimony with my students to be a living example of a successful business professional. I want them to understand the benefits of persevering and the rewards and challenges they will face. I want them to leave out of the class saying, ‘if Professor Powell-Bell could do it, so can I!’”

Kathleen Sindell, director of the finance and economics department and director of the Certified Financial Planners (CFP) program, has multiple strategies to help students stay the course: 

“Provide clear instructions, use examples that students can identify with and maintain a steady online presence.”  

Kathleen Sobieralski, director of the accounting department and a certified public accountant (CPA), gives students successful strategies for achieving their goals.

“Your resume is strengthened as you enter the name of the school and degree earned. On an employment application, you may be asked to list colleges and universities attended and to check the box ‘Did you graduate?’ Let’s work to say ‘yes.’

“Read job postings. What education and certifications do they seek? This assists you in creating your path to success. Certifications such as the CPA or others such as the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) or Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) opens doors. Begin by earning your first certification.”  

Anthony Vrba, collegiate professor of management foundations, and nonprofit and association management, says engaging learners is a big part of teaching.

“The course MGMT 630 is one of the first classes that management students enroll in, and it is crucial that they have an engaging learning experience and know that they can complete an advanced degree. 

“Having an engaging environment can help students stay motivated, increase self-esteem, and continue in their programs. Part of that is a focus on having a variety of learning experiences incorporating videos, tables, reports and other assignments as would be experienced in the work environment. Having a variety of resources is also important, such as lectures, readings from practitioners, and scholarly sources and videos. Videos can include talks, lectures, or feedback video.  

“Sharing experiences is the best way I find to connect with students, especially to show how concepts learned in the course can be used in their jobs. Being a retired U.S. Navy Master Chief Petty Officer, I have had many experiences that I share.

“Relationship-building is one concept that is very important in business and covered in our courses. I was the only female manager in the eight-state recruiting area, and I had to work hard to build relationships with others and be able to keep up with communications and strategies that were going on within the organization. At that time, I would have to go to the smoking area to get things done. That is where the men made decisions on policy and strategy, which was important for me to know. 

“Meeting people in their areas can help build relationships. These … can include connecting with people at conferences, in the lunchroom, even at the turkey trot. You never know when you can expand your network to improve your future.”  

Female students enrolled in UMGC business degree programs also shared their thoughts in honor of Women’s History Month.  

Ivory Cooper, a graduate student in management, information systems and services and the former president of the SHRM Student Council, underscores the opportunities the School of Business has given her.

“UMGC has an assortment of opportunities and is inclusive in its approach to learning and teaching. (…) From its robust career support services, various volunteering initiatives, and club activities, at no point have I felt my ideas being dismissed or was I discouraged from going into a field that many women are not represented in, like management and information systems. 

“My teachers have always gone the extra mile to ensure I trust the university but, also, myself, and [I] feel confident when I step out into the world,” Cooper said.

A master’s degree candidate in criminal justice management since October 2021, Lakerera Little says a UMGC degree will allow her to rise in her career field.

 “I wanted to move up in my current job role as a family law clerk. Hopefully, after graduation, I am able to manage my own team.”  

It’s Tax Season: Training Accountants through Real-World Experience

Tax Day is just weeks away and according to the IRS’ website, all taxes need to be submitted by April 18. 

In order to prepare tomorrow’s accountants for future Tax Days, University of Maryland Global Campus offers both bachelor and master’s degrees in accounting. 

UMGC alums are working with top accounting firms, including EY, PwC, KPMG, Deloitte, Clifton Larson Allen, Crowe, Grant Thornton, and BDO.

“Our accounting program is very focused on using the professional resources that accountants utilize. We use irs.gov and focus on what you would do if you were working at a firm and your responsibility relates to tax,” said Kathleen Sobieralski, program director of the accounting department and a certified public accountant (CPA).

“Now what do we do at UMGC that’s so important for tax careers? Research. Our students research tax scenarios and go looking for documentation,” Sobieralski added.

Sobieralski said accounting expertise opens valuable employment pathways. During UMGC’s 2020-2021 academic year, 241 students graduated with bachelor’s degrees in accounting, and an additional 165 graduates received master’s degrees in accounting.  

“Applying for positions in the tax area and promoting your interest in tax opportunities can be a door opener for employment at many organizations. Seasonal work allows a firm to learn more about you as a professional and consider how you could be of value throughout the year,” Sobieralski said.

UMGC’s accounting program is recognized as an Internal Auditing Education Partnership Program (IAEP), which is endorsed by The Institute of Internal Auditors (The IIA). UMGC works closely with The IIA to develop a meaningful internal audit curriculum.

Both bachelor’s and master’s accounting students are required to take Federal Income Tax I, which is focused on tax obligations of individuals and other entities. The coursework enables students to conduct tax research, evaluate tax implications and complete an individual tax return. It also introduces them to tax policy and its evolution.

A second course strongly recommended for students seeking to become CPAs is Federal Income Tax II. This focuses on the taxation of business entities, including corporations. It also addresses capital stock, estates, and trusts. A CPA must meet specific state and education licensing requirements and pass the CPA exam.

“The real-world experience that UMGC professors bring to the classroom significantly enhanced my experience and enabled me immediately to apply lessons about how accounting works in the professional arena,” said Zachery Rager, who received a Bachelor of Science in Accounting in 2012 and a separate Certificate in Fraud Investigation. “It allowed me to appreciate the nuances that simply cannot be conveyed via a textbook.”

Rager said his professors provided insight into certification as a CPA, Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) and Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM). In addition, he said, faculty “offered guidance to enhance my career.”

Since graduating from UMGC, Rager has served as a senior tax analyst, an accountant for the Department of Defense and IBS Government Services, and an acquisition professional and process engineer for the Technical Management and Assistance Corporation. Most recently, he was hired as a program manager for the Department of Defense. 

“My education with UMGC was so robust, that I also have recently been hired as an adjunct professor, allowing me to bring my professional experiences back to help the next generation of UMGC students,” added Rager, who earned a Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM) designation from the professional association known as AGA (the acronym for Advance. Grow. Accelerate.) and is preparing for his CPA exam.

Rager received an MBA from West Virginia University in 2021 and is now pursuing an M.S. in forensic accounting and fraud investigation, with plans to graduate later this year. He also is working toward a Doctor of Business Administration degree—with a focus on accounting—that he expects to complete in 2025.

UMGC students interested in taking the CPA exam are given study materials to aide in test preparation. Accounting professors provide advice on signing up for the test and researching information at the National Association of State Board of Accountancy

“At UMGC, we state in our college catalog and on our website professional licensure that you need to be aware of the requirements for the jurisdiction where you want to sit for the CPA exam and apply to be a certified public accountant,” Sobieralski said.

During the month of March, the accounting department collaborated with accounting organizations to inform students and alumni about career and certification opportunities. UMGC-sponsored events include:

Register for any of the remaining webinars at umgc.edu, which start at 7 p.m. EST. 

UMGC Advances Diversity in the Field of Certified Financial Planners

In the last decade, financial businesses and organizations have put an emphasis on hiring more women and people from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds. University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) is helping in this effort by opening doors to new generations of certified financial planners (CFPs). 

In 2020, UMGC joined the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) School Voucher Program, an initiative of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to encourage careers in the securities industry. It is coordinated for educational institutions with enrollments that reflect high levels of diversity. The vouchers pay the entire cost for students to participate in SIE exams. Minority students make up more than half of UMGC’s total enrollment, and 52 percent of all UMGC degrees and certificates awarded in 2020 went to minority students.

Last year, UMGC gave away nearly 30 SIE vouchers and this year FINRA presented the School of Business with 50 more opportunities for students to take the SIE test. By passing the SIE exam, students distinguish themselves from their peers’ when seeking internships or jobs.

“What the FINRA voucher and SIE test does is the first step towards a jump start. If someone shows up and says I passed the SIE exam, then their resume goes to the top of the heap because the employer does not have to pay for training,” said Department of Finance and Economics Director Kathleen Sindell, who also leads UMGC’s CFP Program.  

The SIE test, FINRA’s general industry exam, assesses basic knowledge of financial products, risks, the structure and function of the securities industry and its regulatory agencies, and regulated and prohibited practices. The majority of FINRA voucher participants are finance majors or graduate students in the MBA program.

“FINRA plays a critical role in ensuring the integrity of America’s financial system—all at no cost to taxpayers,” according to the website of the government-authorized nonprofit. Working under the supervision of the Securities and Exchange Commission, FINRA writes and enforces rules governing the ethical activities of all registered broker-dealer firms and registered brokers in the United States. It also examines firms for compliance with those rules and fosters market transparency. Investor education is a component of its work.  

According to studies by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, fewer than 3.5 percent of the 80,000 certified financial planners in the United States in 2017 were Black or Latino. Another CFP board study, citing reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, found only 23 percent were women. The same reports noted that fewer than a third of all U.S. financial advisors are women.   

“I know in the long run for our students, if they take the SIE exam and pass, they will get more attention from the employer, frequently receive a hiring bonus, and we’re going to see a more ethnically diverse financial services industry,” Sindell said.

UMGC Doctor of Business Administration Program Recognized by CEO Magazine

Adelphi, Md. (March 1, 2022)—CEO Magazine recently recognized University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) School of Business as home to one of the world’s best Doctor of Business Administration programs. UMGC was ranked among more than 100 of the top DBA programs for the third year in a row.

“Our DBA program’s continued recognition is driven in part by our desire to shape executive-level working professionals by engaging them in research and analysis of real-world management issues,” said Ravi Mittal, PhD, chair of the Department of Business Administration at UMGC.

CEO Magazine’s rankings assess a college or university’s quality of faculty, geography and international standing. 

“It is also a testament to our outstanding faculty who are deeply committed to the academic success and lifelong learning of our students,” added Mittal.

UMGC’s DBA program, formerly the Doctor of Management program, attracts scholar-practitioners who excel at leadership roles in the for-profit, nonprofit, government and nongovernmental organizations, including higher education.  UMGC’s cohort-based DBA takes a minimum of three years to complete, which includes in-person residencies and a dissertation.

For more information about the Doctorate in Business Administration program and its course requirements, visit umgc.edu

About University of Maryland Global Campus 

Celebrating its 75th anniversary, University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) was established in 1947 to serve adult students outside the traditional campus, including military service members and veterans. Today, UMGC enrolls some 90,000 students annually, offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs, as well as certificates in more than 90 fully online programs and specializations.

UMGC was the first university to send faculty overseas to teach active-duty military personnel at installations in Europe, beginning in 1949, expanding to Asia in 1956 and to the Middle East in 2005. UMGC faculty have taught in the war zones of Vietnam, Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.   

UMGC now offers classes to military service personnel and their families at more than 180 locations in more than 20 countries. More than half of the university’s student body are active-duty military personnel and their families, members of the National Guard and veterans.  

After Career in Drama, 75-year-old Navy Veteran Finishes One Degree, Starts Another  

When 75-year-old Bruce Taylor decided to complete his bachelor’s degree in humanities at University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) three years ago, he never pictured going straight into another degree program. Nonetheless, three weeks post-graduation he was pursuing a master’s degree in educational technology. 

Taylor completed his service in the Navy in 1972 and went on to graduate from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London with a stage management diploma. He spent most of his career in opera, dance and theater, eventually finding his passion by sharing with others just how important it was to combine the arts with K-12 education, especially in the age of Common Core, the state grade-level standards instituted in 2010.

Taylor held workshops for school districts all over the country, teaching them how to integrate arts into reading and writing within Common Core. Once the workshops were completed, he embarked on his next adventure: to complete his college degree.

“I thought if I want to [continue] working with teachers and kids, why don’t I try the humanities, where there are several domains of learning in that. I already know the music and art part,” Taylor said.

As a young adult in Alaska, Taylor had completed a few years of college but had no idea what he wanted to do. He decided to make a change in 1967 and join the Navy. He trained as a Navy Russian linguist at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, and attended Security School in San Angelo, Texas. He was first stationed outside Istanbul, Turkey employed as an analyst, and his last stop in the Navy was Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks, Alaska.

In Turkey, Taylor’s involvement with an amateur theater group persuaded him to go to drama school. During a tryout with Hugh Cruttwell, an influential English teacher of drama and principal at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), Taylor was encouraged to pursue the stage management program.

“At RADA, you did every job in stage management that you find in the theater. We did props, makeup, built sets, and crewed them. There was also some acting, lighting—we did it all with no books,” Taylor said. “It was all practicum. I loved it and felt I could walk into a room and I would plugin, and I knew what to do.”

Upon graduation from RADA, Taylor wrote 300 letters seeking employment at every theater, dance, and opera company he knew. He accepted a job with the Seattle Opera, where he spent five years.

“My biggest achievement there was [that] I was the production stage manager for the first full Ring Cycle ever done outside of Germany. Now everyone is doing Wagner’s Ring Cycle,” he said.

In Seattle, he became interested in education and started going to schools to conduct workshops. That experience helped him in the next step of his career: the Opera Company of Philadelphia as both the production manager and the education director.  

“A colleague I had worked with in Seattle became the director of education at the Metropolitan Opera Guild, so she hired me to do programs since I was so close by in Philadelphia,” Taylor said. “I developed a project called Creating Original Opera, and the premise was you take a group of kids with a teacher and the kids create, compose, write, design, manage and perform their own original 30-minute musical theater piece.”

“That became a very big deal. At one point, there were more than 400 schools all over the world in about a dozen countries and 30 states all creating an original opera program,” he noted.

Meanwhile, Taylor published three books on arts and education: “The Arts Equation: Forging a Vital Link Between Performing Artists and Educators” in 1999, “Common Sense Arts Standards: How the Arts Can Thrive in an Era of Common Core” in 2013 and “Common Sense Common Core: Finding Common Ground of Clarity and Simplicity” in 2015.

Taylor moved from the Opera Company of Philadelphia to the Pennsylvania Opera Theater, and he completed his career in the professional performing arts at the Washington National Opera as director of education in the U.S. capital.

“One of the nice things about the arts, and [what] I try to do with kids in reading and writing, is to provide them a real ownership piece in what they’re doing and why it should matter to them,” Taylor said.

Since starting at UMGC, where the courses he took in Alaska were credited toward his degree, Taylor said it took him a year to get into the groove of remote classes. He now spends hours and hours on research.

“I don’t know how a lot of the students at UMGC who are full-time parents or military personnel are able to do this because I make my own schedule and use my time anyway that I want,” said Taylor. “I’m in awe of what these students are doing and the fact that UMGC gives them the chance. That’s the biggest thing about UMGC. It gives people opportunity who want to engage in lifelong learning, which is awesome. “

Once Taylor graduated in December, he enrolled in UMGC’s master’s program in educational technology. He also began working on a paper titled “Reductionist Approach to English Language Arts.” He plans to submit the paper to the Journal for Educational Research and Practice for publishing consideration.

“Bruce is an exceptional humanities student, hardworking, intellectually curious, with a broad range of life experiences to draw upon,” said Steven Killings, PhD, program chair of humanities and philosophy at UMGC.

Alumnus Credits UMGC Degree for Shaping Federal Career

Thomas Brandt ’19, a member of the U.S. Navy Reserve, lives in the Pacific Northwest. Thanks to his degree from University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC), he has switched from a job marked by tough physical labor to a career as a financial analyst. 

“Without having gone to the University of Maryland Global Campus graduate program, I would not have been afforded the opportunity to have shifted gears from doing hard work as a field service engineer into training to be a financial analyst so easily,” Brandt said. “I have nothing but applause and praise for the program that I went through and all the programs at University of Maryland Global Campus.”

Brandt is employed by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), a federal agency under the U.S. Department of Energy. His current post as a GS-9 employee is a one-year temporary position, which Brandt is optimistic will develop into a permanent job in 2022.

In his role as a financial analyst, Brandt coordinates and trains on how to calculate the federal budget, capital expenditures, rate case development, and understanding the deep nuances and financial partnerships and memorandum of understanding (MOU) that BPA has within the Pacific Northwest environment.

Brandt joined the Navy as an electronics technician (ET) shortly before 9/11 in 2001 then switched to an information technology specialist (IT). Growing up in Binghamton, N.Y., he saw the Navy as a pathway to something adventuresome and fulfilling. He was stationed on an aircraft carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln, and participated in the tsunami relief effort in Indonesia in 2005. He switched to the Navy Reserve in 2006. He has mobilized and deployed to Iraq, United Arab Emirates, the Republic of Djibouti and Bahrain while in the Reserves to aid in the Global War on Terrorism efforts. 

During his time on active duty, Brandt developed shoulder and back pain and sleep apnea, and his injuries were exacerbated by 12-hour shifts working on lab equipment in Hillsboro, Oregon. He deployed to Bahrain for a year, took a brief graduate study pause, and came back to work on his Master of Science in Financial Management and Information Systems Integration, which he completed in 2019.  

“I just had to dig deep and find that internal motivation because coming off of deployment can be very exhausting and you want to take more time off,” Brandt said. “I knew that I had to get through this.”

After beginning his UMGC studies in 2016, he relocated because of his job with ABB to Portland, Oregon, from North Carolina. Brandt also has an undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Excelsior College. Additionally, Brandt has a second bachelor’s degree in electrical technology from Thomas Edison State University. 

After 20 years in the Navy, Brandt will retire later this year as a Chief.

As he reflects on his years studying at UMGC, he remembers fondly his last capstone project, which incorporated the financial management and information systems skills he received in the master’s program. The final project divided students into teams and had them come up with a business. Each team then had to design its website and create a portfolio spreadsheet for investors and others interested in the business.

“He really cared about his education and kept it a priority in his life,” said Randy Kuhn, adjunct professor of business at UMGC. “I am very proud of him for his persistence and dedication to finishing his program despite what was going on in his life.”

UMGC’s Maryland Theta Chapter of Pi Gamma Mu Stands Out at Triennial Convention 

University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) students, alumni and faculty from the Maryland Theta Chapter of Pi Gamma Mu (PGM) received multiple accolades at the international honor society of social sciences’ Triennial Convention. 

The Maryland Theta Chapter was honored with the Joseph B. James Chapter Incentive Award at the convention, which was held virtually in November. The award is presented every three years and recognizes a chapter that excels in its membership or activities. Maryland Theta was recognized as a Top 10 Chapter for recruiting 183 members in 2021.

The chapter also received the Roll of Distinction, Pi Gamma Mu’s highest chapter honor, for the third year in a row.

“I think the PGM convention was important for UMGC because it highlighted the excellence of our students as scholars and leaders on an international stage,” said Katherine Im, faculty co-sponsor and program director of behavioral sciences and gerontology at UMGC.

“Since UMGC doesn’t have a traditional campus, it can be difficult to find opportunities for our students to stand out, but the PGM convention demonstrated that our students are eager to showcase and develop their talents beyond the classroom,” she added.

Im along with Emma Bate, UMGC program director of social sciences, are co-sponsors of Maryland Theta Chapter’s of PGM. 

Two UMGC alumni and one student shared their papers with an international audience of social science scholars during the convention. The presenters and their papers were:

  • Margareth Ojetola-Mead ’20, “Cognitive Impairments and Online Learning”
  • Jessica Dassler ’18, “Women in Literature: The Impact of Feminism on Fantasy Literature, 1950-1990”
  • Cynthia Glynn-Dindial, “Vivekānanda and Nivedita as Ardhanārīśvara: Why an Indian Svami Chose an Irishwoman as His Lioness”

Both Dassler and Glynn-Dindial received special recognition for Top 10 Papers, making them eligible for publication in the International Social Science Review. Dassler’s paper will appear in the review in December, and Glynn-Dindial will submit her work for publication next year.

“The students who represented Maryland Theta Chapter did an excellent job of raising the visibility of the social science programs at UMGC,” Im said.

During the Poster Session at the convention, Im offered an overview of the chapter’s annual social science essay. As the society’s Northeast Regional chancellor, Im was elected to a three-year term as Pi Gamma Mu’s first vice-president. In addition, Melissa Riggs ’22, a UMGC psychology major, was elected Pi Gamma Mu student trustee and will join Im on the national organization’s board of trustees.

“Being a member of Maryland Theta is a legacy, a distinction and an honor. I am very proud to stand among the brightest minds in the social sciences here at UMGC,” Riggs said.

Through the Pi Gamma Mu Leadership Development Institute, UMGC undergraduate students Courtney Peasley and Bethany Hanford completed a seven-hour program focusing on leadership in the social sciences. Peasley and Hanford learned about leadership in literature, under special circumstances and in academia. Maryland Theta Chapter of PGM sponsored the students.

“It meant I had the opportunity to learn from some of the most accomplished alumni in Pi Gamma Mu and at UMGC,” Peasley ’22 said when describing what the convention meant to her.

Edith Vinson-Maitlandt Completes Bachelor’s Degree to Support Work at FEMA 

Edith Vinson-Maitlandt, or “Edie” as she is known by her colleagues and professors, is closing 2021 by completing her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Management, with a minor in business administration. The new credential will add value to her position at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“Even in the online asynchronous environment, one could see that Edie is a thoughtful person and a good listener,” said Sabrina Fu, program director and collegiate professor for UMGC’s Environmental Science and Management Program. “Often she integrated her life experiences and observations to deepen concepts and provided thoughtful perspectives.”

Fu most recently taught Vinson-Maitlandt in the Stewardship and Global Environmental Challenges course (EMT 365). The course provides a brief history of how we got to the present environmental crisis, the role of human behavior in that journey, especially as it relates to population growth, use of technology and affluence, and system changes needed to be stewards of our earth.

Since Fu and Vinson-Maitlandt’s first meeting in class, they have developed a friendship outside UMGC through Citizens Climate Lobby, an organization focused on national policies to address climate change. Fu invited Vinson-Maitlandt to attend a conference through the organization two years ago to speak as a representative of FEMA.

“One of the workshops talked about the impacts of climate change to the Mid-Atlantic and specifically New Jersey,” Vinson-Maitlandt said. “I did flood house-mapping when I worked for contractors of FEMA, so I understood the coastal impact and wanted to share how FEMA responds to all sorts of events, such as a hurricane like Sandy that devastated the coastline, and what the expectations are.”

Today, she still supports the Delaware chapters of Citizens Climate Lobby by identifying what is happening in that state regarding clean energy. She also keeps elected officials and other groups in Delaware informed.

In Vinson-Maitlandt’s current role as emergency management specialist with FEMA, she resides in Dover, Delaware, but travels 90 percent of the time to help with emergency recovery response in the United States and its territories. Vinson-Maitlandt’s team writes grants to assist communities seeking financial recovery. She recently was in Kentucky—the site of an early 2021 ice storm and flooding—to help the police, road and fire departments, and other public entities, with their financial recovery process.  

Vinson-Maitlandt’s experience with FEMA began in 2012 in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Without power for nine days, she felt the need to lend a hand. Even then, while working full-time, Vinson-Maitlandt continued her UMGC classes toward her bachelor’s degree.

“The journey Edie took to keep going with academics, amid serving communities one emergency after another, is inspirational,” Fu said.

Looking to the future, Vinson-Maitlandt plans to use her degree by applying in 2022 for a position on a FEMA strategic group created to focus on climate change.

“It would be really exciting for me if I could get this detail and contribute a little bit of what I learned and what I see happening with regards to climate change and helping our agency formulate a message,” Vinson-Maitlandt said. “By incorporating these concepts and policies into what FEMA does and how we respond, it will benefit people with a little more thought.”

Ramon Perea Uses His UMGC Degree as Springboard to a Master’s in Security Studies at Georgetown University

Ramon Perea embarked on a new adventure with the U.S. Air Force when he was just 21 years old and left his hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Today, he calls Hyattsville, Maryland, home.

He is still on active-duty status with the Air Force—but something important has changed.

Perea officially completed his Bachelor of Science in Computer Networking and Cybersecurity and Political Science this month. Thanks to the flexibility and virtual learning offered by University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC), he was able to maintain his full-time job as a network analyst in the Air Force while expanding his knowledge of the cybersecurity field and exploring political science and computer networks.

“The first few years while I was studying at UMGC, I was working shift work and I wanted to continue my higher education. An in-person program would not have been feasible,” Perea said. “Recently, with COVID, most programs had to shift toward online. We already had a model set [with UMGC] and I felt like I just kept going as I was.

“I think for what UMGC does, they do it very well,” he added.

Since Perea enrolled at UMGC five years ago, he has joined Pi Gamma Mu, an international honor society for the social sciences, as well as two other honor societies. He is a member of SALUTE, a nationally recognized organization for military and veteran students, and he belongs to Alpha Sigma Lamba, which celebrates the scholarship and leadership of adult students in higher education in the United States.

“From Day One, Ramon was fully engaged in my American Foreign Policy class. He interacted constantly with his colleagues in the course and showed in-depth understanding of the readings and discussions and solid insights into relevant areas, enriching the class for everyone,” said Mary Frances Lebamoff, PhD, collegiate professor and program director of the Department of Political Science and Government. “His two papers were among the best in terms of research, outstanding thesis statements and mature, well-considered conclusions.”

Perea first heard about UMGC at the education office on his base, Fort Meade. The rest is history.

“I initially started at UMGC with the intent to study cybersecurity to gain more knowledge for my current job, but along the way I discovered how much I like political science, so I added another major,” Perea said.

While in the Air Force, he has lived in California, Texas, Florida and now Maryland. His first role was as a linguist. Eventually he shifted to become a network analyst.

In January 2022, Perea will pursue a new opportunity by beginning a master’s degree in the security studies at Georgetown University.  That multidisciplinary program is designed to prepare graduates for positions within the defense and security fields.

“I want to take the technical side of what I learned through UMGC and through my experience in the military and then apply it to a broader picture. I’m very excited,” Perea said. “I hope to find a job in the foreign policy field where I’m working with other nations or policies with a cybersecurity focus.”