With Experience and an Education, this Award-Winning Veteran Is Just Getting Started

Even though he was only in grade school, the 9-11 terrorist attacks focused Devon Nieve’s decision to devote his life to the defense of his country. Now, as a U.S. Marine Corps specialist in language cryptology, signal operations and intelligence, Staff Sgt. Nieve is finishing a University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) master’s program in intelligence management. 

This follows his undergraduate degree in accounting from UMGC summa cum laude, all while serving and assisting in missions in Latin America and the Middle East. His diligence during seven years of academic work also earned him UMGC’s General John W. Vessey Jr. Student Veteran of the Year, which was presented at the university’s Veterans Day ceremony in Adelphi, Maryland.

In announcing the award, UMGC noted that Devon was honored as Military Performer of the Year in 2020 while maintaining a 4.0 GPA in his master’s program. His commanding officer said Devon “is unequivocally one of the top performing Marines of any rank within my command.”

In a surprise announcement as he finished his remarks during the Veterans Day ceremony, Devon said he would give the $3,000 scholarship award to the university’s fund to help veterans still seeking an education after their VA benefits run out.

 “My father has been big on teaching me that money is not everything in life,” he said. “When you have things that can be given to others, maybe that’s the spark required on their end to push them to that next level. It’s going to make an impact on our country.”

Assigned to Company H of the Marine Cryptologic Support Battalion and a section leader supporting a national security mission, Devon supervises a joint-service team performing technical analysis and target development for the ongoing operations to a variety of federal agencies and major combatant commands. 

Growing up in Modesto, California, Devon was only 8 years old on Sept. 11, 2001. But he recalls the day vividly.  

“I remember talking to my friends at school and asking them, ‘Are terrorists gonna take over the United States?’” he said in an interview. “And I just remember that feeling that I kind of carried around after that, that someone’s got to stop that.”

His father was an Army veteran. “The things he taught me were directly related to the training he had received—that the military was the best option to make myself proud and to show my younger brothers the right path,” Devon said. “I felt like the military was where I could make an impact.”

After graduating with an associate degree and honors from Modesto Community College, Devon decided to join the Marine Corps in July 2013 rather than pursue a bachelor’s degree right away. His path in the military changed dramatically after he took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery.

The recruiters looked at his score and told him he had a choice to make. He could go ahead with a regular Marine Corps career or he could opt for language cryptology, which would open a lot of doors when he finished his military service.

“When they told me that, of course, I went with it,” he said. “I had no idea what I was going to do. I thought it was going to be learning Arabic.”

Instead, he found himself immersed in studying Spanish and Portuguese for a year. After that, he was assigned to a Radio Battalion in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Exactly what a cryptological linguist does is classified, he said, but he has been deployed to Latin America and supported operations in the Middle East.

Throughout his military service, Devon has pursued education. If he wanted meaningful work after he left the military, he believed he had to have at least a bachelor’s degree—and maybe more.

He looked at all the universities with programs for active service personnel and decided that UMGC offered the best overall opportunities. It also provided the flexibility necessary to work around his military assignments.

“I was in and out of the field constantly,” he said. “I was supporting last-minute operations for forward-deployed tactical units. I was deploying, and I needed something that was flexible with that,” Devon said. “When I talked to the counseling department at UMGC, it just felt right. It’s veterans being led by veterans, that’s the difference.”

After finishing his bachelor’s degree, he took only a three-month break before starting the master’s program.

“I realized I’m not done,” he said. “I enjoyed that structure. I enjoyed constantly progressing in the educational realm, and I wanted to do more.”

The majority of his professors are professionals in their field, Devon said, with first-hand information on what they are teaching. He described them as “absolutely incredible.”

“I’m convinced they’re up 24 hours,” he said, explaining that he could post something late at night and find a lengthy response in the morning.  “They want the students to learn and actually comprehend the information so they can apply it in real life. They take it seriously, and because they take it seriously, the students take it seriously.”

Devon will finish his graduate degree in July, just about the same time his enlistment is up. He will take everything he has learned to a civilian position in the Department of Defense.

UMGC Business Professors Weigh in on Global Supply Chain Disruptions and Holiday Shopping

Supply chain disruptions are making the headlines again, in large part because of the way they are affecting the traditional end-of-year shopping and shipping season. Three business professors from University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) in the United States, Europe and Asia offer perspective and advice for consumers in advance of the upcoming holiday season. 

One big takeaway: Planning and patience are essential.

From UMGC stateside:

Sandeep Patnaik is professor and program director of the marketing program in the Department of Business Management at UMGC School of Business. He previously served as the program director in the MBA Marketing Program and, later, as program chair of marketing specialization in the Graduate School. His advertising strategy research at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania resulted in the publication of the handbook “Persuasive Advertising.” Dr. Patnaik is a past research director at Gallup and Robinson, a leading market research firm affiliated with the Gallup organization.

In his marketing courses, Dr. Patnaik offers insight on issues related to pricing and customer satisfaction. 

  1. What advice do you have for holiday shoppers when it comes to U.S. supply chain issues?

The supply chain challenges have grown acute in the last few months and are likely to persist by most estimations, at least until the first quarter of 2022. These are some of my key pieces of advice:

  • Holiday shoppers will do well to complete the purchase of major items by Thanksgiving, and no later than the end of November. 
  • There is no need to overstock or hoard in anticipation of future shortages. 
  • It may not be possible for businesses to adhere to the same delivery timelines as earlier. Allowing for a delivery cushion and being patient are the keys to dealing with this unprecedented situation. 
  • Prices of gift items are likely to go up significantly, so it will be a good idea to budget ahead to avoid last-minute surprises. Credit card interest rates have increased so racking up debt is best avoided.
  1. As demand increases, do you think prices will also rise?

Yes. More demand and fewer supplies lead to price inflation. The current situation is not, however, a case of product shortage. Rather, goods are stuck in transit as opposed to not being produced at all. However, the impact at the consumers’ end is the same. Goods are not available as readily as before.

Consumer anxiety leads to excess demand which, in turn, spikes up prices. This has already happened in the last few months. Halloween costumes were much more expensive this year. The shortage of computer chips has led to fewer new cars and an increase in the price of electronics. Rising energy cost, a shortage of workers and reoccurrence of COVID-19 cases are other key factors that resulted in an increase in the cost of production and a consequent rise in prices. 

  1. Where did the supply problems begin? 

An abundance of demand, together with other factors, contributed to the current supply chain situation. At the beginning of the pandemic, people hoarded toilet paper, cleaning supplies, etc., as no one had a clue as to how long the situation would last. In reality, there was no shortage in the production facility, but retailers did not have adequate reserve stock. The sight of empty shelves in the stores created a panic situation and led them to order a lot of goods, far more than what they needed. 

The manufacturers, many of them in far-off global locations, could not fulfill the U.S. orders as they were either closed due to COVID-19 or forced to operate in a limited capacity with restrictions. When they did start functioning a few months later, they shipped the accumulated orders in giant shipping containers. The arrival of a massive amount of cargo resulted in severe congestion in the ports. The shortage of truck drivers in the U.S. has also meant that even offloaded cargo is taking much longer to reach distribution centers and, ultimately, the consumers. 

Even now consumers are ordering far more than they need, as they are anxious about availability in the future. That has caused excess demand and resulted in what is termed as a “bull-whip” effect. The instability in both demand and supply has severely impacted the supply chain.

From UMGC Europe:

Bert Jarreau is an overseas collegiate professor in the MBA Program in the UMGC Europe Division. In recent years, he served as the subject matter expert for digital marketing in the MBA Program, where he maintained the digital analytics project for all MBA classes. Dr. Jarreau also taught in the stateside MBA Program as an adjunct from 2011 to 2017. He received both his Doctor of Management in 2010 and his MBA in 2004 from UMGC and started his career as a technologist in the Air Force.

Dr. Jarreau has studied holiday supply chain issues in his course, MBA 640: Innovation through Marketing and Technology.

  1. What would you tell holiday shoppers about supply chain issues in Europe?

My advice for holiday shoppers is to shop early and have contingencies to buy alternate products.

  1. How do you think demand is going to affect prices?

Prices will inevitably increase as demand increases and supplies decrease.

  1. Where did these supply chain disruptions begin? 

Supply chain issues were greatly exacerbated with the pandemic. Due to the lockdowns and convenience of buying online, e-commerce has grown two to five times faster than before the pandemic, as demonstrated by an article published by McKinsey & Company on March 5, 2021, at www.mckinsey.com

From UMGC Asia

Gregory Evans, an overseas collegiate professor in the UMGC Asia Division, is a veteran of the U.S. Navy who currently lives in Okinawa, Japan. With more than 25 years of marketing and marketing research experience across several industries, he has taught at the university level since 1995. Today, he teaches MBA 610 Organizational Behavior and MBA 640 Marketing and Innovation, where he touches on the supply issues to help prepare MBA students with global experience.

  1. What advice are you offering holiday shoppers in Asia given current supply chain issues?

Worldwide shipping delays and other supply-chain issues are causing shortages in seasonal holiday shopping that will last from Christmas and beyond. As supply chain problems cause product delays, marketers are starting more holiday promotions earlier than ever to get consumers spending before inventory sells out.  

  1. Do you think as demand increases, prices will also increase?

Salesforce projects a 20 percent increase in prices this holiday season due to supply chain issues. Retail giants such as Amazon, Target and Walmart are encouraging early Christmas shopping to ease future panic. The lower supply will have other consequences including fewer Black Friday discounts and less variety among children’s toys and other goods.

However, this disruption in the supply chain is larger than just seasonal demand. China was traditionally the primary source of many goods. However, the manufacturing base was already moving to other lower-wage countries like India, Vietnam and other Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries.  

In addition to increased prices for goods, there is a delay in rolling out products. Nintendo revised its Nintendo Switch sales forecast for the fiscal year down by $1.5 million on Nov. 4 because of the global semiconductor shortage. Sony reportedly expects to make fewer PS5s. The company originally forecasted it could assemble 16 million consoles in the current fiscal year, but now it plans to make “about 15 million,” according to Bloomberg. The PS5 has been incredibly hard to find since it launched in November 2020, and that’s likely not going to become easier soon.

And the issue goes far beyond gaming hardware makers, with Intel saying that the chip shortage could last until at least 2023 and Apple, which is renowned for its mastery of its supply chain, taking a $6 billion hit last quarter because of constraints. Despite that, you can still get many Apple products by Christmas if you order them now from the company’s website, but that is still dependent upon the distribution channels. 

3. What’s behind this supply disruption? 

The supply chain issues began long before the pandemic started. The supply chain has grown steadily for decades, which manufacturers and shippers could manage accordingly. Now the supply of goods has been halted or delayed. This created lags in the system, which meant the typical waves of supply and demand went from ripples in the system to larger and larger disruptive waves. It took longer for manufacturers to finish goods, and shipping companies had to wait for orders. Consumers waited for delivery, and stock-outs and back orders grew. Prices were increased and insecurity crept in, creating anxiety and tension within the system. Further anxiety was created by the false expectation of when “we get back to normal.”  

There is also pressure on the supply chain because many workers have quit their jobs during the Great Resignation of the last six months. Many who worked from home have asked why they wanted to return to the office environment.  

Japan, India and Australia’s trade ministers have met to officially launch the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative, following reports that the three nations are working together to counter China’s dominance on trade in the Indo-Pacific. The three nations are seeking to build stronger supply chains to counter China’s dominance as trade and geopolitical tensions escalate across the region.

University of Maryland Global Campus and Community College of Philadelphia Establish Guaranteed Transfer Admission Agreement to Accelerate Pathway to a Bachelor’s Degree

Adelphi, Md. (Nov. 22, 2021)—University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC), the nation’s largest public online university, and the Community College of Philadelphia, the city’s largest public institution of higher learning, have announced a partnership that will expand the reach of UMGC’s 90 online academic programs and increase the affordability of a bachelor’s degree to the community college’s more than 22,000 students.

Under the guaranteed transfer admission agreement, students can transfer a minimum of 60 credits when they complete their associates degree and be guaranteed admission to a UMGC bachelor’s degree program in a complementary field of study. 

“Community College of Philadelphia is excited to officially announce our dual admissions transfer agreement with the University of Maryland Global Campus,” said College President Dr. Donald “Guy” Generals. “Since increasing the availability of online courses, we have found that many of our students prefer the added flexibility and convenience that virtual learning offers. This partnership with UMGC will allow these same students to pursue a bachelor’s degree from a first-class institution at their own pace and on their own time.”

All degree-seeking Community College of Philadelphia students, graduates, and employees of the college, as well as their spouses and dependents who attend the college, will receive a waiver of the UMGC application fee and a discount on out-of-state tuition for most programs of study.

“We are extremely proud to join with the Community College of Philadelphia to increase access to quality online bachelor’s programs and accelerate the pathway to a four-year degree,” said Gregory Fowler, president of UMGC. “It’s vitally important to provide a seamless process for community college students to ultimately achieve their educational goals as efficiently and affordably as possible.”

UMGC has an enrollment of more than 90,000 students, more than half of whom are active-duty military personnel and their families serving on military bases around the world.

UMGC offers award-winning online programs in disciplines including biotechnology, cybersecurity, data analytics, and information technology that are in high demand in today’s increasingly technical, global workplace. UMGC also offers cost savings through its use of digital resources, which have replaced costly publisher textbooks in most courses.

For more information, visit the university’s national community college alliances webpage.

About University of Maryland Global Campus

Celebrating its 75th Anniversary in 2022, University of Maryland Global Campus is a world leader in innovative educational models with award-winning online programs in biotechnology, cybersecurity, data analytics, information technology, and other high-demand disciplines in today’s increasingly technical, global workplace. With an enrollment of some 90,000 students, UMGC offers open access with a global footprint and a specific mission—to meet the learning needs of students whose responsibilities may include jobs, family, and military service. The university offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificate programs, including doctoral programs. A pioneer in distance education since 1947, UMGC is harnessing the power of learning science and technology to deliver accessible high quality, low-cost higher education.

About Community College of Philadelphia

Community College of Philadelphia is the largest public institution of higher education in Philadelphia and the sixth largest in Pennsylvania. The College enrolls approximately 28,000 students annually. Visit the College at www.ccp.edu.

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MILITARY TIMES RANKS UMGC #1 AMONG EDUCATIONAL INSITUTIONS IN ITS 2021 LIST OF BEST EMPLOYERS FOR VETERANS 

University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) was ranked #1 among universities in the Military Times’ latest survey of the best employers for veterans, the most comprehensive annual ranking of organizations with military-connected employment programs, benefits and support efforts. 

Military Times’ 2021 Best for Vets: Employers ranked 161 companies, non-profits and educational organizations across the country. In addition to UMGC’s top ranking in the Education-Teaching- Administration category, the university was fourth among organizations ranked in the state of Maryland and #7 in the Non-profit category. 

“We are proud of our commitment to recruit, support, and retain those who have served our country,” said UMGC President Gregory Fowler. “Whether establishing relationships with veteran service organizations, working with government agencies on hiring initiatives for veterans with disabilities, expanding access to career development and health and wellness programs for veterans and their families, or our outreach to veterans at military job fairs, we are engaged in a variety of activities to both support our veterans who may be transitioning to civilian lives and helping them succeed in their careers.” 

Each year Military Times ranks organizations according to criteria related to recruitment, retention and career advancement. This year, it said it placed more emphasis on the practices that veterans say make civilian workplaces attractive to their talents and needs. 

“We had conducted focus groups with subject matter experts and with subscribers of Military Times,” said Tina Kurian, senior researcher for the Fors Marsh Group, a research firm that specializes in the veterans and military community that conducted the sessions. “They ordered which topics were most relevant for organizations to be the best for veterans.” 

The result, said group Director of Customer Experience Research Nicole Tongo, is a list of firms “that care about things that veterans care about, and good companies for them to explore if they are looking for a job.” 

About University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC)

Celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2022, UMGC is the state of Maryland’s open-admissions university. With an enrollment of some 90,000 students, the university offers high-quality, affordable, accessible undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degree programs as well as non-degree certificate programs in online and hybrid formats.

From its inception in 1947, UMGC has been guided by its historic mission to bring education within reach for adult students in the workforce and the U.S. military in Maryland and around the world—students for whom a traditional education is impractical or impossible.

In 1949, UMGC became the first institution to send faculty overseas to teach active-duty military personnel at installations in Europe. The university expanded overseas operations 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 and education support services to military personnel and their families at 175-plus locations in more than 20 countries. Over half of the university’s current students are active-duty military personnel and their families, reservists, members of the National Guard and veterans.

UMGC Recognized as One of the Nation’s Top Colleges in Newsweek’s First-Ever Ranking of Online Schools 

Adelphi, Md. (November 16, 2021)—University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) was ranked #21 among 150 top colleges in Newsweek’s first-ever survey of online schools. 

“Our mission is to provide students with learning experiences that align with their needs and expectations, thereby improving lives and strengthening communities” said Greg Fowler, president of UMGC. “We measure success by delivering levels of service that are unprecedented—and perhaps unexpected—in higher education and by wrapping our students in a blanket of support that responds to the realities of their lives, academic backgrounds, and learning styles.”  

UMGC enrolls some 90,000 students annually—more than half of whom are active-duty military personnel and their families serving on bases around the world—and offers award-winning programs in disciplines including biotechnology, cybersecurity, data analytics, and information technology that are in high demand in today’s increasingly technical, global workplace. UMGC also offers cost savings through its use of digital resources, which have replaced publisher textbooks in most courses. 

In addition, UMGC has established innovative alliances with leading corporations throughout the U.S., such as Amazon and Uber, to increase the pathways for employees to achieve their educational goals in more efficient and affordable ways.   

UMGC has also developed transfer partnerships with community colleges in Maryland and around the country, including California Community Colleges, the largest community college system in the country, enabling UMGC to reach the system’s 2.1 million students attending 116 community colleges throughout the state and creating a seamless transition to obtaining an affordable bachelor’s degree. 

According to Newsweek, the rankings are based on an online survey of 9,000 people in the U.S. who have used online learning services to obtain an academic degree or acquire knowledge and skills for their personal or professional development. 

“Alot of American college and university students are learning online,” said Newsweek’s Global Editor in Chief Nancy Cooper in announcing the new ranking. She highlighted U.S. Department of Education statistics from 2019 showing that “79 percent of U.S. colleges offered either standalone courses or entire degree programs online. That figure included about 96 percent of all public two and four-year colleges. As of 2018, the Department estimated, about 7 million college students were taking some or all of their classes online. 

“The pandemic has only added to the growth of online education,” she continued. “The range of online providers can be daunting. If you are looking for quality online education for yourself or a loved one, we hope you will find our listings helpful.” 

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Community College Alliances Take UMGC Across the Country

University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) has taken its long-tested success with online learning on the road, giving community college students in a growing number of states access to its degree programs. The goal? To entrench UMGC as the country’s most transfer-friendly university for adult learners.

UMGC’s most recent alliances are with community college systems in California and Kentucky, as well as the citywide community college network in Philadelphia. Talks are underway with community colleges in Texas, Chicago, and South Florida, and additional collaborations are expected to be announced in the months ahead.

“UMGC is an institution built specifically for adult learners in the design of the curriculum and in the way courses are laid out, including the assignments in those courses,” said Chris Motz, UMGC vice president for academic outreach and corporate alliances. “We offer seamless transfer for community college students, and the courses are all engineered for people who likely have a lot of other commitments outside of going to school.”

The terms of the community college agreements give students with associate degrees guaranteed admission to UMGC programs, along with the assurance that their academic credits will transfer. The partnerships also provide financial incentives. Community college students—as well as community college faculty and staff and members of their immediate families—are eligible for a 25 percent cut in tuition. Enrollment application fees are waived. And since electronic learning materials are used in most UMGC courses, there typically are no textbooks to buy.

The opportunity for assessment for prior learning, already familiar to UMGC’s military students and Maryland community college transfer students, have been built into the agreements. Students who qualify for those credits have additional opportunities to shorten the time and investment needed to earn a UMGC degree.

“These students may come from a workplace where there was a formal training program that might not be recognized outside their company, but there is learning and experiences and skills from within that training that can be applied to our learning pathways,” Motz said.

The scope and flexibility of UMGC’s program offerings are also a draw for community college students. The university’s most flexible degree program, the new Bachelor of Science in General Studies, allows students to craft an interdisciplinary degree that stretches across disciplines. In addition to bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, there are multiple certificate options.

Motz said another plus is UMGC’s focus on preparing students for the workplace of the future. Cyberscurity, informational technology, and data analytics programs, in particular, hold interest for students in the geographic areas where UMGC has already forged alliances.

“We build curriculum around industry skills that are in demand,” Motz explained.

Carla Jones, UMGC director of career development and outplacement services, said the workplace advantages don’t end with a UMGC degree. The university also offers lifelong career services to its students and alumni, including recruiting events, career-development webinars, online interview tools, a job board and one-on-one sessions with career advisers—via video, email or phone.

“Once community college students are enrolled at UMGC, they have automatic access to the university’s career services—for their lifetime. That includes links to improve resumes and optimize LinkedIn profiles, as well as a repository of career-focused blogs, videos and webinars. They have access to virtual career fairs, assessment tools and links to practice interviews,” Jones said.

Jones noted that UMGC had a history of holding both in-person career events in Maryland and virtual events. Since the pandemic, it has focused on virtual events to enable the participation of students, alumni and employers across the country.

“What makes us unique is that we had virtual career supports in place even before the pandemic. We have been operating in a virtual environment for a long time, and all our resources are online and virtually accessible 24/7,” Jones said. “We also have a feature that enables students to find mentors and conduct informational interviews with people working in their field. And our platform carries posts about job openings that are national and, even sometimes, worldwide.”

Jones noted that while many universities focus on luring big-name companies to campus, UMGC connects with a spectrum of employers, large and small, across a range of industries.

Although many community colleges have transfer agreements with public universities in their own states, the shift to virtual classrooms during the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up interest in out-of-state institutions with flexible online academic programs. Motz called UMGC’s reputation “a differentiator” for community college networks that are “very discerning about who they partner with.”

“The UMGC experience is rich and personalized. The support that UMGC students receive is part of the advantage for students who come to our school,” said Motz. “They receive an online education that delivers a quality curriculum.”

The community college push is the latest element in UMGC’s strategy to meet students where they are, with the right programs at the right time. It springboards from military members’ familiarity with its programs.

“Our strategy is to look at institutions that are large and that have a significant number of military-affiliate students,” Motz explained. “These are communities where we already have a physical presence, and our reputation is known among military students.”

Motz said UMGC is leveraging the expertise of its military education coordinators, who are now visiting community colleges near military education facilities.

Honor, Service, Sacrifice: UMGC Salutes Veterans

In a ceremony marking Veterans Day, U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Devon D. Nieve was awarded UMGC’s Gen. John W. Vessey Student Veteran of the Year while Army Gen. Lloyd Milo Miles (Ret.), the university’s senior vice president for Global Military Operations, and Maryland State Sen. William C. Smith vividly reflected on the meaning of the War in Afghanistan since the U.S. withdrawal.

In his eight years in the Corps, Nieve balanced his military career while at the same time completing a bachelor’s degree in accounting summa cum laude and jumping right into a master’s program in Intelligence Management that he expects to finish next year.

Nieve talked about the rigor as well as the opportunities to working toward degrees while serving in demanding military assignments and deployments.  UMGC, he said, made that possible.

UMGC’s Gen. John W. Vessey Jr. Student Veteran of the Year, Staff Sergeant Devon Nieve, U.S. Marine Corps

Advanced education is essential for up-and-coming military personnel, Nieve said, “to provide the innovation, the ingenuity, the new approach to the problems that we face today. “t’s absolutely necessary in future wars.”

Not only will that education help him in his military career, but it will be essential as he makes the transition to civilian life.

He donated his $3000 in scholarship money that came with the award to a UMGC fund that helps veterans who have exhausted their VA benefits to extend their education.

In opening the ceremony, UMGC President Gregory W. Fowler spoke of the importance of the university’s relationship with the U.S. military.

“Today, as we honor the students, alumni, faculty and staff who have won the uniform of our country, and say thank you to all of our nation’s veterans, we are grateful for the many ways our relationship with the military has shaped our institution, clarified our mission and inspired us every day to live lives of service of honor, and have courage,” he said.

The Veterans Day ceremony was the first since the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan, allowing the Taliban to take over control of the government after 20 years of fighting.  A subtext for this year’s event centered on whether the fighting, bloodshed and cost were worth it.

Army Gen. Lloyd Milo Miles (Ret.), UMGC’s senior vice president for Global Military Operations, said he wrestled with this, but concluded the struggle and sacrifice were worth it.

“I hope that someday when you take the long view of your life, you will remember the good you tried to do in that land of terrible beauty,” he said.  “The roads you constructed, and the wells you dug and the schools you built. And you will remember the excitement of the children as you handed out candy and the tear-filled eyes of a mother as you gave her something to eat.”

The historians and politicians will debate the ultimate worth of the struggle, he said.

“During your time in the crucible, you did your duty, to care for one another, to help the oppressed and defended the weak,” he said. “You fought for your friends and you helped people. From my perspective, that would be a good epitaph on any tombstone.”

In his keynote address, Sen. William C. Smith, who served in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army and is now an intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve, agreed that those who served in Afghanistan should be proud of their accomplishments. 

“Today, despite the current state of the country, every service member can hold their head high, knowing that we kept the United States safe for over two decades, and we unleashed unparalleled opportunity for millions of Afghans that they’d never seen before. Those ideas and that energy have taken root and will not die off quickly. Our service has made a difference.”

The ceremony featured a poignant video honoring the 100th anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, which included historical and personal perspective from Lillian Pfluke (U.S. Army, Ret.), a UMGC faculty member and founder of the American War Memorials Overseas, and Timothy French, a UMGC alum and sergeant in the U.S. Army’s Old Guard Caisson Platoon, which helps perform funerals at Arlington National Cemetery.

To view the entire UMGC Veterans Day Ceremony, click HERE.

Student Finds Home at UMGC and Connects with Fellow Veterans

Gibril Bangura moved to the United States in 2009 after winning a spot in the Diversity Lottery, a visa program focused on individuals from countries with low rates of U.S. immigration. Born and raised in Sierra Leone, he relocated to take advantage of new opportunities, first by serving in the U.S. Army and now by attending University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC). 

Growing up amid a civil war in Sierra Leone, Bangura was determined to make a change for his future. He attended a few university classes in Sierra Leone before moving to the United States.

“I felt like I had to move from Sierra Leone to find a better opportunity because I always had bigger dreams of being successful and helping others,” Bangura said.

Bangura arrived in the United States in 2010 and immediately joined the army. He served as a financial technician performing payroll duties. Unfortunately, a cracked tibia injury that occurred during a training exercise worsened, and he officially retired from the military in 2015, ready to focus on his education.

Bangura attended two universities before finding his new home at UMGC.

The flexibility that UMGC offers with remote learning attracted him. Bangura has long-term effects from his injury and still uses a cane. With UMGC, he can participate in classes in the comfort of his own home, which helps on days his leg bothers him. Another key reason Bangura selected UMGC was its long history with veterans.

“I have taken general education classes, including accounting, where I learned a lot. This has given me a strong foundation to continue my studies as a veteran who was out of college for some years,” Bangura added.

Bangura decided to pursue a major in cybersecurity with a focus on business. He plans to graduate in 2023 with a B.S. in Computer Networks and Cybersecurity.

“Attending UMGC, being a veteran and feeling like I’m at a military home has helped me professionally,” Bangura said.

Today he builds on his military experience by aiding fellow veterans at the Office of Veterans Initiatives and Outreach (VIO) at UMGC.

“As a student worker in the VIO, I’m the first line of response. It is not easy transitioning to civilian life, so I’m happy to help veteran students,” Bangura said. “We work hand in hand with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).”

The VIO offers resources and assistance related to veteran-student issues, including transcripts, financial aid, military benefits and advice on the best way to access the information. The best part about the job is that Bangura can work from home while connecting with fellow veterans.

Kelly Grooms, assistant director of veterans’ initiatives for the VIO, described Bangura as “a dedicated team member.”

“He is committed to assisting fellow student veterans in understanding how to use their benefits, as well as how to balance the transition from combat zone to classroom,” Grooms said. “He is diligent in accomplishing tasks and his attention to detail is an asset to his colleagues and overall mission of the Veterans Initiatives Office.”

As a retired servicemember, Bangura has firsthand knowledge to share with new veteran students. He credits professional development and mental health programs through the VA with helping him regain his identity as a civilian and attend UMGC.

Bangura also praises the leadership at the VIO, saying they serve as role models and mentors as he progresses in his academic journey and eventual professional career. 

“I know with a UMGC education, I can leave here and find a better job. And the flexibility with the program is just great,” Bangura said.

Uber Technologies and University of Maryland Global Campus Announce Alliance to Expand Access to Higher Education for Company’s 20,000+ Corporate Employees and Increase Hiring of Military Veterans

Adelphi, Md. (Nov. 9, 2021)–University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC), the nation’s largest online public university, and Uber Technologies, Inc., a leading technology company in today’s gig economy, announced an alliance to expand access to higher education for the company’s 20,000+ corporate employees around the world.  

“UMGC’s coursework aligns with critical workforce needs, and its online capabilities and flexibility are suited to adult students with jobs and families,” said UMGC President Gregory Fowler. “Corporate partnerships represent a large and growing segment of our market, and we are proud to help some of today’s most dynamic companies develop the knowledge, skills, abilities, and dispositions they need in employees at every level of their organizations.” 

As part of the alliance, Uber will participate in UMGC’s career services activities, including recruiting UMGC students and alumni, with the aim of increasing the number of military veterans it hires. 

UMGC enrolls more than 90,000 students annually, and over half are military-affiliated, including active-duty servicemembers and their families stationed around the world, reservists, members of the National Guard and veterans. 

By participating in UMGC recruiting events and activities, as well as with the university’s military veteran career initiatives, Uber is seeking a faster pathway to identify qualified candidates from military populations as it fills key positions in the company, including in sales, business development, communications, data science, finance, accounting, technology and software engineering. 

“We are proud of our unique history and experience with military-affiliated students—not just in understanding the challenges they face when pursuing their educational goals but also with providing career services that are geared toward their particular needs,” added Fowler. “Our alliance with Uber brings together two organizations that are taking action to prepare and hire our talented and highly trained veterans for post-military careers.” 

UMGC will offer Uber’s corporate employees—as well as their immediate family members—reduced tuition options. They can choose courses from any of the university’s 90 academic programs, available wholly online. UMGC also saves students money by using digital resources, which have replaced costly publisher textbooks in most courses. 

UMGC’s online format makes it a great choice for continuing education, an advantage that has been underscored by the challenges that many brick-and-mortar colleges and universities have faced while operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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“No Fear of Math” Carried UMGC’s Goldberg to STEM Career Success 

Professor Kate Goldberg’s career choices and mentors shaped her path to the University of Maryland Global Campus, creating a life journey that echoes the story of many of our students.  

Kate Goldberg, collegiate assistant professor of data analytics at University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC), grew up in a family that both embraced and excelled in math and science. She recognized early on that the encouragement she received made a huge difference in her life, especially when it came to STEM education.  

“My father was a math teacher and my grandfather was a math teacher, so I was fortunate to grow up with no fear of math,” she said. “When I was doing homework assignments, my dad was right there helping me, and so I recognized that a nurturing environment is important.”  

When she attended Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Virginia, now the co-ed Randolph College, Goldberg again benefited from a supportive environment.  

“At a woman’s college, I didn’t experience the gender discrepancies in math and science that a woman in a co-ed environment might experience,” she said.  

Although she excelled at math at an early age, she went to college intending to become a veterinarian. However, Bs in biology discouraged her from continuing on that path. Sage advice from her father helped Goldberg set a course for future success. 

“My father told me to do three things,” she said. “Get up, get dressed and go to breakfast in the morning; take a math class next semester; and practice your music every day.” Goldberg had grown up playing clarinet and cello. 

“At the time, I didn’t really understand what he was getting at, but the next day I went to breakfast, and I looked around at the women there,” Goldberg said. “They were all dressed professionally. They were the leaders of my college, organized and put together.”  

Goldberg’s father knew she needed to see what leaders look like. He also believed she should follow her passion and strengths. And he understood that music, something she loved when growing up, would help to enrich her college experience.  

Dr. Paul Irwin, her first math professor at Randolph-Macon—at a time when she was still majoring in biology—introduced Goldberg to mathematical biology, which would eventually become her self-designed major and path to data science.  

“I was fascinated with the idea of finding phenomena in nature, like a sunflower, and studying the way it grows its seeds, its geometrical pattern and underlying formula,” she said. For her senior research, she investigated the rate of growth of the mold Penicillium chrysogenum in different glucose levels, which impacts the production of the antibiotic penicillin.  

Goldberg’s new major led her to learn computer programming and then to a job at the college’s help desk, where she was able to study how people worked with computers and what problems they needed to solve.  

Dr. Irwin later encouraged Goldberg to pursue a master’s degree in public health at Johns Hopkins University, but an anxiety disorder and fear of test-taking kept her from taking the GRE exam and derailed her graduate school plan at that time.  

“During the spring of my senior year of college, my mother saw an ad for a nearby environmental software company looking for technical support,” said Goldberg. “I ended up getting the job, and it actually is what launched me into everything I know and do now.”  

The company’s clients were large refineries and other industrial businesses. It calculated, modeled and predicted the level of pollutants they emitted into the air.  

“I was there for three years, but it seemed like a lifetime,” Goldberg said. “I traveled the country, I went to refineries and worked on installations, and I learned all of these computer skills that I had never known before.”  

When the environmental company was in the process of being sold, around 2000, Goldberg’s mother played another important role in determining her daughter’s future.  

“My life had changed. I was about to get married and become a stepmother,” she said. “My mother read that Washington College, which was closer to home, was looking for a help desk manager.”  

Goldberg would spend the next 19 years at Washington College, the small liberal arts school in Chestertown, Maryland, in a variety of positions, gaining knowledge, experience and clout along the way. She professionalized the help desk department by hiring students, giving them job descriptions and helping them move through the organization and on to jobs in technology. She also revamped and automated the fundraising department and provided research and analytics in institutional research. In addition to her role as a staff member, she served as an adjunct professor in the Department of Business Management.   

“At the help desk, I got to know everyone because I was usually the first person they met on campus,” said Goldberg. Fortuitously, this position led to her meeting the new vice president of fundraising, who asked Goldberg to update the school’s entire database system. 

Developing a way to make predictions about donors ended up being an important step in Goldberg’s path to data science, and it led her to the Susan M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies at Rice University. “I heard that Rice University had just launched a continuing education certificate program in fundraising that was entirely remote, so I could complete it while raising my family,” she said.  

Goldberg was matched with a capstone mentor at Rice, Clint Shipp, who asked why she didn’t have a master’s degree. Goldberg explained that family and job demands prevented her from commuting or moving for a graduate program—and there was also the issue of the test-taking anxiety. Dr. Shipp advised her to look at online programs. Goldberg found UMGC.  

Discovering UMGC was a game-changer. Goldberg enrolled in the Master of Science in Data Analytics Program and fell in love with the work.  

“I was solving real problems,” she said. “I would get homework assignments, and I would use my work experience at Washington College to provide real-life solutions. I was becoming an expert.”  

Faculty were supportive and provided practical exercises that were immediately applicable to working adults like Goldberg. During a meeting on campus, Goldberg talked to Dr. Susan Vowels, the chair of the Department of Business Management at Washington College. Vowels invited Goldberg to teach the data analytics course as an adjunct.  

Goldberg found that she enjoyed teaching and helping students to learn about data analytics. During a reflective moment on the beach with her husband, she decided to pursue more teaching opportunities. “I want people to experience that moment I had when I was excited about data analytics. I want to give that to other people,” she explained.  

Goldberg reached out to Elena Gortcheva, chair of the UMGC Data Analytics program, to ask about teaching. Dr. Gortcheva told her that she would need a doctoral degree. So, Goldberg returned to UMGC as a student again, this time in the Doctor of Business Administration Program in the Business School.  

With the support of her family, Goldberg completed the program. Her dissertation provided a framework for nonprofit organizations to adopt analytics in furthering their missions, and she remains an active alumna in the program. She often speaks with current and prospective students to help them find their passion.  

Goldberg’s doctorate has paid off and today she is living her dream. She is a full-time collegiate faculty member in UMGC’s Bachelor of Science in Data Science Program. This new undergraduate degree and certificate program offers students from all around the world an opportunity to learn data analytics, problem-solving, data-driven decision making, business intelligence, data modeling, data visualization, machine learning and artificial intelligence.  

Goldberg, who also teaches as an adjunct in the UMGC Master of Science in Data Analytics Program, uses her experiences in the real world to provide interesting assignments and scenarios for her students to investigate.  

Goldberg has come full circle in her journey and now helps others unlock their potential just like her mentors did. She has a mentoring relationship with several former students. One is helping to create affordable housing in their community, another recently completed the dissertation phase of a doctoral degree and a third has decided to return to college to pursue a master’s in data science.