UMGC Mentors Share Their Career-Shaping Wisdom to Help Others

A mentor has the power to make a life-changing difference in someone else’s career. In recognition of National Mentoring Month this January, mentors in UMGC’s alumni career mentors program share insights about how they use their time and talent to help others reach their professional goals.  

“Mentoring has the potential to make a huge impact on up-and-coming professionals, which is why the university offers, Community Connect,” the increasingly popular mentor program, says Nikki Sandoval, associate vice president of alumni relations. “We’re so grateful to our talented and generous alumni who give so selflessly to help other professionals get ahead.” 

Here’s some key advice from some of UMGC’s alumni career mentors:  

Dr. Catherine Pearson ‘11 
Business and Management PAS, MBA 

Why do you mentor?  
When I contribute to the development of mentees to become more innovative thinkers, they can reframe their own experiences. They can consciously make informed decisions about their careers. When mentees accomplish their goals, I feel honored to celebrate with them. 

What’s your best advice for up-and-coming professionals?  
When choosing a career path, don’t be afraid to step out into an uncomfortable environment and experiment. Use LinkedIn or other social media platforms to leverage your research. Seek out professionals who currently hold the job title within the industry you want to pursue. Learning directly from professionals in your field will impact the direction of your career. Request a 15-minute phone call followed by a visit to the organization or a virtual orientation.  

Ask questions about the day-to-day demands of the job. Find out if your skills fit into the job or industry. Build on your skills and strengthen other areas. Be open to exploring opportunities that contribute to your desires of where you want to be in your career. Getting there may require change. Have a mindset of flexibility and implement the needed changes to get you there.  

Find a mentor with the experience and accomplishments that will most support you during your journey. Be sure the mentor’s values align with your values—filter on the importance of integrity. Engage and invest your time in getting to know your mentor. Demonstrate your potential by action. Follow up and share your progress, clarify what you want, and determine if they are a good fit to help you move from where you are to where you want to be. Cultivate the relationship  before  you ask them to be your mentor.   

How can a mentor help students who are just starting out?  
As mentors, we have to be careful not to assume that students have the same desires as we do, even though they may pursue the same career. Challenge students to maximize their potential in discovering their passion and where they fit into the world. Help them explore opportunities by providing resources and introducing them to partnering networks. Be that champion for them. Celebrate their successes to let them know they have support.  

What are some of the benefits of mentoring?  
As a mentor, I connect with mentees and build trust. They have a safe space to share their concerns, worries and personal life decisions that may affect their careers. Creating a safe space fosters a culture of growth and leadership for mentees. Mentoring helps stretch me, further develop as a leader and gain new insights into generational differences. 

What key lesson have you learned during your career? 
Challenges create growth and development opportunities. The bigger the challenge is, the stronger we become if we remain steadfast as we work through those challenging opportunities. 

Aisha Summers ’16 and ‘19 
Bachelor of Science in Laboratory Management, Master of Science in Biotech-Regulatory Affairs 

Why do you mentor? 

Mentoring is one of the ways I give back. Personally, I didn’t have much luck with mentorship when I began my professional career. I had to seek out most of the information I yearned for by reading career-advice blogs and then make sense of it all on my own. My hope is to be a source of information and support system to someone else that needs it.  

Most importantly, representation matters. I mentor so that someone else sees the reflection of a woman of color, mother, wife and person with dyslexia navigate a successful career.  

What’s your best advice for up-and-coming professionals? 
Invest in yourself by keeping your resume up to date. You never know when you’ll need it to justify a promotion or entertain a new position.  

Avoid becoming complacent. Take on new challenges by volunteering for a task or project at work. This is how we grow as professionals and gain expertise in our industry or profession.  

How can a mentor help students who are just starting out? 
Students just starting out have a lot of questions and many times are overwhelmed or feel uncertain about what is next for them. The biggest help a mentor can provide a student who is just starting out is to be supportive and encouraging,  

What are some of the benefits of mentoring? 
Mentoring is a pathway to new professional relationships. A mentee can become a professional colleague. I love seeing a text or email from a mentee who wants to share a new achievement or success.  

What key lesson have you learned during your career? 
Eventually I learned to reduce stress and burnout. I bought a planner specifically for work. It helped me take notes in meetings, prioritize my tasks and better communicate my workload with my leadership. 

I have also learned that any position I hold needs to be mutually beneficial to the organization I work for and to myself. My advice is do not stay in any position that is not providing you an opportunity to grow personally and/or professionally. 

David Austin ’17 and ’20  
Master of Science in Cybersecurity Policy, MBA  

Why do you mentor?  
I mentor with the hope I can inspire other people that they are capable of doing anything they really see in their hearts and minds.  

What’s your best advice for up-and-coming professionals?  
Have an open mind and be flexible. Most importantly, be prepared. There is no easy road in terms of paying your dues. The younger that you are, the more opportunities that come your way. Really be prepared to make sacrifices.  

What are some of the benefits of mentoring? 
The biggest benefit to mentees is that they start getting different ideas. I mention different ideas and different paths they may never have thought of before. I think that’s what’s helpful. 


What key lesson have you learned during your career?  
The one thing I learned from a security information perspective is that in in other businesses, we are taught to take the initiative and not ask permission to do things. That’s fine, but in cybersecurity, I learned that you have to ask permission. You have to work as a team.  

Esther Ndungu ‘15 
Bachelor of Science in Gerontology & Aging and Psychology 

Why do you mentor? 
As a military spouse and mother of two boys, attending school was an endeavor I did to better myself and to expand my knowledge on different subjects. I had a great learning experience while attending school at UMGC, so mentorship is my way of giving back to the school and a way to guide the current students to achieve their academic goals.  

What’s your best advice for up-and-coming professionals? 
I would advise an upcoming professional to choose a career that is in line with their hobbies. They will be motivated and excited whenever they engage in work that they enjoy. 

How can a mentor help students who are just starting out? 
I did not have a mentor when I started college, and because of this, I made so many mistakes along the way by trying out everything. It became overwhelming, and at some point, I did not have the motivation to continue pursuing my educational endeavors. Guiding students who are just starting out to create practical schedules is essential in ensuring that they have enough time allocated to attend to personal matters, as well as staying active in school.  

What are some of the benefits of mentoring? 
Mentorship is like having VIP access to specialized information that would help one advance faster. The mentee gets to avoid some pitfalls because they can leverage both good and bad experiences from others, enabling them to implement aggressive strategies to their goals. 

What key lesson have you learned during your career? 

Over the cause of my career, I have come to learn the value of properly picking out electives in school and the importance of strategic partnering, or networking. In general, these present unique opportunities to expand an individual’s scope and enhance necessary skills for future growth and success. 

Keith Gruenberg ‘94 
Bachelor of Science in Management Studies 

Why do you mentor? 
I enjoy encouraging others and providing guidance and alignment to help them navigate an ever-changing world. I remember transitioning out of the military and all the unknowns and trying to work through all the challenges on my own. I’m hoping my mentoring helps reduce challenges and anxiety and results in each person taking a giant step forward in his or her career.     

What’s your best advice for up-and-coming professionals? 
Know what you are looking for or at least what gets you excited and network, network, network. There are many options out there, but you can speed up the process by knowing what you are looking for and what are your must-haves for a company. Building a broad network will hopefully get you introduced deeper into a great company with a great fit.   

How can a mentor help students who are just starting out? 
When a student is just starting out is the perfect time to connect with a mentor. A mentor can provide assistance on navigating college courses and aligning that to a potential career aspiration. Connecting with a mentor from the start allows you to build a relationship and grow with the student as they work through key education and employment decisions.   

What are some of the benefits of mentoring? 
Mentoring keeps me connected to the new workforce and keeps me connected with current trends in business. I want to be as prepared as possible to provide great support and guidance based on the current business situation. It also helps me to understand the concerns and focus for students getting ready to join the workforce. I feel like I’m making a difference and giving back.   

What key lesson have you learned during your career? 
Nothing comes easy in the real world. You have to want it and work for it to make it happen. If you don’t get it, pick yourself up, determine where you need to improve and try again. Persistence and tenacity are your friends.   

Interested in mentoring through UMGC’s Career Connect program? 
If you’re looking for a mentor or would like to sign up to become a mentor, visit careerquest.umgc.edu to learn more about UMGC Career Services and to register to participate in the Community Connect program. To speak with someone directly about the program, contact communityconnect@umgc.edu.

Read more UMGC Alumni News

UMGC Event Looks at Martin Luther King Jr. through a Personal Lens

A University of Maryland Global Campus event to honor the civil rights legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. spotlighted the rich personal recollections of Juandalynn Abernathy, the daughter of one of King’s closest friends and partners in the civil rights movement.

Abernathy is the oldest daughter of civil rights leader Ralph David Abernathy, who was one of the strategists of the yearlong Montgomery Bus Boycott. He was also King’s successor as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which organized some of the civil rights movement’s most iconic nonviolent protests.

Juandalynn Abernathy

During Wednesday’s webinar, which was part of the university’s Martin King Luther Jr. Day activities, Abernathy talked about the man she called “Uncle Martin” and detailed the deep friendship between the Abernathy and King families. She noted that her father was an early driver of the effort to name a national holiday in King’s honor.

Abernathy also discussed what she described as the “very scary” complacency and current backsliding on voting rights in the United States. 

“If people do not come together to fight this, we’re going to have a similar situation that we had in the ’50s,” she said. She encouraged both activism and education.

“There is hope, there is really hope, but we have to begin … with children. They are the future. We, as parents, have to talk to [young people], to open their minds to history so that history does not repeat itself,” Abernathy told the nearly sixty people in Europe, Asia and the United States who joined the UMGC discussion.

The event was hosted in Germany, where Abernathy lives and works as a singer and vocal coach.

UMGC Europe Vice President and Director Tony Cho said presentations like Abernathy’s not only offer a rare look at the personal experiences that mark moments in history, but they also underscore an essential responsibility of education.

“As an educational institution, we have a role in keeping history relevant,” he explained.  

Abernathy, born in 1954, described herself as the first child of the civil rights movement. She lived in a house where the changemakers of the era held meetings. King’s year-younger daughter Yolanda was her friend and playmate.

Abernathy’s childhood edged up against some of the country’s most transformative—and tragic—moments, including King’s 1968 assassination. Her father was with King in Memphis to provide support to striking sanitation workers at the time of the shooting.   

“I do remember my father taking me to school before he got on the plane to go to Memphis and I asked him when he was coming back,” Abernathy recalled. “He had a strange look on his face. ‘I don’t know. This is a really tough fight. And I don’t know when we’ll be back.’

“And a couple of days later Uncle Martin was shot,” she said.

Abernathy was on a phone call with Yolanda King when she learned about the shooting. Another friend had called in on one of other phone lines in the Abernathy house and told her to turn on the television.

Immediately the Abernathy house became a hub of action, with people at the door and the telephones ringing.

“I kept praying that he would survive the shooting,” she said. She called King’s death “devastating” for her family.

During her presentation, Abernathy reminded the audience that the civil rights movement was started by “energy generated from women,” referring to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the women who refused to ride the buses to their jobs. She said her mother typed letters—and paid young boys to distribute them—to let people know of the boycott.

She also discussed her father’s arrests, the bombing of the Abernathy home and her father’s calling as a pastor, like King. Unlike King, however, she said her father insisted that his children be present at important marches—except in Birmingham. “We used to say as children that it was ‘Bombingham’ because so many bombings were taking place,” she noted.

Tucked in with the serious memories were happy ones. She recalled the first time she took a plane with her family. They traveled to Los Angeles where they went to the world’s fair and saw the opening of the movie, A Raisin in the Sun, starring Sidney Poitier. She also mentioned two summer vacations at Coney Island with the King family.

UMGC Collegiate Associate Professor of History Michael Mulvey kicked off the virtual presentation by detailing King’s connection to Europe, starting with King’s father’s 1934 trip to Germany where he learned of the religious reformer Martin Luther. At that time, owing to King’s father’s admiration of Luther’s story, the child who had been christened Michael, had his name changed to Martin Luther.

As an adult and religious leader, King returned to Europe and Germany multiple times, Mulvey said. The civil rights leader visited both East Berlin and West Berlin to spread messages of reconciliation, democracy, and nonviolent resistance. Mulvey said King was surprised by how much Europeans knew about the civil rights movement. He was also interested in understanding the shifting social concerns of European Christians and how they tied their religious beliefs into other social movements including environmentalism.

Patricia Jameson, UMGC director of Overseas Diversity and Equity Programs, organized the event with Abernathy to advance the public conversation focused on diversity and the role the community can play. She echoed the speaker’s message that “education is key” to social progress.

University of Maryland Global Campus Joins Wiley’s Extended Learning Network

UMGC will now offer degrees for Wiley Beyond’s Network of 80 Companies and 500,000 Employees 

Adelphi, Md. (Jan. 11, 2022)—University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC), a pioneer in providing innovative and quality academic degree programs for adult and underserved populations, has joined Wiley, a global leader in research and education, in an alliance that adds UMGC to Wiley’s Extended Learning Network. This network includes 57 partner schools that support degrees and reskilling programs through Wiley Beyond, the company’s tuition benefits solution, and the 80 companies and 500,000 employees currently partnered with Wiley Beyond will have access to UMGC’s more than 90 fully online degree programs and specializations.   

As part of this agreement, UMGC will work with Wiley and workforce development agencies around the country, as well as with community colleges that are seeking more efficient access to bachelor’s degree programs.   

“We are pleased and proud to partner with Wiley to develop a more skilled workforce,” said UMGC President Gregory Fowler. “Our experience with establishing transfer relationships with community colleges will benefit the participants in Wiley Beyond and increase the pipeline of students who are completing bachelor’s degree.” 

“Through Wiley Beyond, Wiley offers one of the most extensive learning networks for employer-sponsored education programs,” said Todd Zipper, president of Wiley Education Services. “We’re excited to add University of Maryland Global Campus to our learning network to provide more learners with affordable, accessible and outcomes-driven education.”   

UMGC enrolls more than 90,000 students each year, more than half of whom are active-duty military personnel and their families stationed on military bases around the world.  

The university also 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.  

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 servicemembers 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 175 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.  

About Wiley

Wiley empowers researchers, learners, universities, and corporations to achieve their goals in an ever-changing world.

For over 200 years we have been helping people and organizations develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. We develop digital education, learning, assessment, and certification solutions to help universities, businesses, and individuals move between education and employment and achieve their ambitions. By partnering with learned societies, we support researchers to communicate discoveries that make a difference. Our online scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly journals, books, and other digital content build on a 200-year heritage of quality publishing.

After the Great Resignation: The Great Hiring?

Upheaval in the labor market continues, changing the way people view the jobs they have and the careers they want. University of Maryland Global Campus experts looked ahead to the job market in 2022, including where opportunities will be found, how salary and benefits are being reshaped, and the toolkit job seekers will need.  

The U.S. Department of Labor opened 2022 by releasing its latest job market data, which showed that 4.5 million people changed or left jobs in the month of November. The quitting rates continue to outpace hiring. UMGC Associate Professor of Economics Matthew Salomon said the so-called Great Resignation is the sign of a strong economy.

“If people are scared about jobs they don’t resign,” he said. “Even though inflation is high right now we’ve recovered ahead of what was anticipated with the pandemic.” 

Salomon noted that a COVID-19 halt in visas for foreign workers and a crackdown on undocumented workers has also contributed to the labor force shortage. “And of course, there are the mothers and fathers who left the workforce because child care was not available and their children had to go to school remotely,” he said. “That is an unfortunate loss of talent.”

What do job seekers want?

“That’s a loaded question with multiple layers,” said Darren Cox, UMGC senior director of employer relations and student affairs.  “To a large degree, it’s about quality of life. During the pandemic, people have had more time for retrospection.” 

Workers are shifting careers—and career fields—in a quest for greater opportunities, higher salaries and work conditions that better dovetail with their lives. Cox said some UMGC students and alumni have told him that flexible work hours are important. People want to escape long work commutes. Entrepreneurship is also experiencing an uptick.

As they seek out safer working conditions and wages that allow them and their families to progress, Cox said UMGC students seem especially interested in jobs that are remote. “Our students are accustomed to being virtual, so they’re able to adapt to that type of environment,” he said.

A guarantee of job security has also gained new traction. The onset of COVID-19 pandemic left many people unsure whether they would have a job from one day to the next.

Francine Blume, assistant vice president of career development at UMGC, said the trends may reflect the fact that for some workers “their values simply changed.”

“After getting a taste of a healthier work-life balance, many workers are moving on to jobs that offer greater flexibility so they can spend more time with their families or enjoying other personal pursuits,” Blume explained.

What jobs are in demand?

IT and cybersecurity jobs remain hot. These are career fields with opportunities to advance. Even more, employees can often work remotely, making these safe positions during the pandemic, and the hours may be flexible. But job applicants should be aware that the skill sets sought by tech employers are changing. 

“From an employer’s perspective, they’re looking for people skilled in data aggregation and data analysis. They need people who understand cloud infrastructure,” said Cox. “This is a huge shift from just knowing a basic language like JAVA.”

Tech job opportunities are especially rich for professionals in automation, robotics, and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Shuruq Alfawair, UMGC job development and placement specialist, said tech leaders maintain that they are not trying to take away human jobs but, rather, to make people more productive.

“How will that disrupt how we hire? We don’t know yet,” Alfawair asked. “Some people may feel like it’s an Armageddon, but it is not. It’s just the reality of the future of technology.”

There are extraordinary job opportunities this year for nurses, health care administrators, technicians and other medical professionals. Increased numbers of workers are needed to manage the COVID-19 crisis, at the same time that burnout and illness at the front line have brought waves of resignations—in a field that faced worker shortages and high turnover even before the pandemic.

The health care labor deficit has been exacerbated by the growing need for care for the large Baby Boomer population and ongoing worker shortfalls in rural areas. At the same time, the ongoing push toward robotics has shaken health care, requiring workers to have more technology finesse.

Within the business arena, Cox said, project managers are in demand. Business analytics, too, remains a strong field for job applicants in 2022.

Increasing numbers of CEOs say they want employees who thrive as part of a team. Salomon said job applicants with military backgrounds are especially well-suited for that workplace culture. Companies across the country are also working more conscientiously to diversify their workforces.

The mass exodus from the service industry, including the hospitality sector, has left a surfeit of jobs there. Low wages and a fear of COVID-19 spurred many of those departures. 

“There was also the great rudeness of people,” Salomon noted, a disturbing trend that may have roots in the stressfulness surrounding the pandemic. “And there are workers who have decided to go back to school.”  

What about job training?

Degrees continue to open doors, and certifications in particular skill areas add oomph.  Employer-offered training and education are also on the rise, but they are starting to look different.

“Employers are offering apprenticeship programs that are done remotely. These are surfacing because employers are finding skill gaps,” Cox said. “Prior to the pandemic, most of these were in person because the thought was that someone early in their careers needed hands-on learning. The pandemic has taught employers that they can do this training remotely.”

TEKsystems, a UMGC employer, is one of many companies moving toward training boot camps. TEKsystems has reshaped itself as an all-remote IT staffing firm and its employee training is also now virtual. 

“They’re offering interesting training opportunities. They have a boot camp that pays the participants a stipend. It is full time and remote,” Cox said. “Because it is full-time, participants can’t balance a full-time job with the boot camp, but it is a great training opportunity.”

For its part, UMGC participates in SkillBridge , which collaborates with several organizations—including government agencies—to provide skilled training, internships and other workforce experience to individuals transitioning from the military. 

Where’s the money?

Some workers are shifting careers to boost their salaries, but Cox said job candidates might want to think about compensation beyond the dollar signs, particularly if training programs are part of the job offer.

“Sometimes our students aren’t willing to take a pay cut for an apprenticeship program, for example. They are older, often with families, and for someone who has been in the workforce for 15 years, the idea of taking an apprenticeship that means transitioning to a salary that is less than they currently make is not appealing,” Cox said. “But they need to look at this long term.”

He said jobseekers who sign on to lower-salary cybersecurity apprenticeships, for example, could earn back lost income within a couple of years—and their future ability to earn would be much greater.

“There are people who will get entry-level jobs in the $60,000 a year range,” Cox said, “but with expertise in AI or automation, they’ll be able to command a salary at or well over $100,000.”

Better pay is also one of the drivers of the growing trend toward entrepreneurship.  

“If you’re underpaid or underemployed, then you tend to look at other avenues for income. Also, many people want to work for themselves,” Cox explained. “And there is the idea of legacy building. The older you get, the more purpose you want. The average age of our students is 32. As someone gets into their 30 s and 40s, they start to think more intentionally about their career and where they see themselves long term. 

“They’re ready to take what they’ve learned from their workplace and make it their own.”

And job benefits?

The desperation to fill job vacancies in some career areas has sparked new benefits, including big hiring bonuses—even for hourly workers—as well as more flexible work schedules, wage increases and educational or professional training benefits.

“Money is very attractive, but time has become a draw. Maybe the work hours are not so exhausting. Maybe the schedules are better,” said Blume. “Or maybe the work allows people to make decisions on their own without micromanagement.”  

Education remains a coveted benefit in 2022, with employers looking at that perk in new ways. Amazon, which had been helping hourly employees at its fulfillment centers obtain associate degrees while still working, has now upped the ante. It is paying for bachelor’s degrees. UMGC has been education partner with Amazon since 2019.

“Even more interesting is that Amazon’s previous position had been “we’ll pay for you to get an associate degree while you work for us because, after a while, we want you to leave us for a better job,” Blume said. “Now they’ve changed the model to ‘we are a great place to work and we’ll pay for your education—even a bachelor’s degree—so you stay with us.’”  

There are also signs that workers will move to or remain at lower-salary companies if the benefits include childcare, paid leave and remote or hybrid work.

Salomon said federal and local governments need policies that makes the workplace more attractive. He cited childcare as an increasingly important benefit, especially in attracting and retaining female workers. Also urgently needed, he said, is immigration policy designed to fill job gaps and education reform that dovetails with labor market needs. 

Building a Job Search Toolkit for 2022  

UMGC job development and placement specialist Alfawair keeps an eye on what’s ahead. What she’s seeing for 2022 and beyond is “dynamic, fast-changing, and exciting.” 

On the employer side, companies are thinking about ways to disrupt hiring practices so they can better evaluate job candidates. In an unusual move, a few employers in fall 2021 bypassed resumes in favor of social media platforms, including TikTok.

“These were warehouse-worker companies or restaurants seeking line cooks, including Chipotle,” Alfawair said. “They were looking to see if TikTok would be a feasible tool for hiring individuals into the food industry as marketers or product managers or even chefs.  

“One idea was for a chef to go on TikTok to ‘show us your best meal,’” she explained.

She said the verdict is still out on alternative resumes, but younger job-seekers—particularly the Gen Z demographic—seem especially responsive to these unusual approaches. Instagram stories and chat features on other social media platforms are joining videos as ways job candidates can promote themselves. 

“Whether traditional resumes remain depends on the industry,” Alfawair said. “[Tesla and SpaceX CEO] Elon Musk wants to do away with resumes completely and look at alternative ways to hire.

“At the end of the day, I don’t know how this is going to look down the line, but I do think the hiring process can be made easier for the employer and the employee,” Alfawair said.

Another trend is that gaps in employment—once a red flag for employers—are losing their stigma. Employers are no longer skipping over applicants whose resumes show periods of unemployment, a pattern that had disproportionately affected the careers of women, many of whom leave the workforce to raise families.  

Even though jobs abound, Alfawair said job applicants will need to be agile about their career strategies in a labor market that is shifting at lightning speed. For example, she said many people do not use LinkedIn as effectively as they could to make new contacts in their fields and stay aware of trends.

“People will have to be ahead of the game,” she said. “Because UMGC already had career services online, we didn’t have to make a big transition on that front when the pandemic hit, but now we have to make sure we stay ahead.

“I’ve told students that they should use all the UMGC career tools, as well as talk one-on-one with an adviser. People need to keep up their resumes and their interviewing skills, even if they aren’t actively looking for new jobs,” Alfawair added.

In the past, she said, people had time to get used to new changes in a field. But now, “by the time you figure out something, a new tool has already appeared. For some people, it feels like a constant catch-up game,” she said.

Blume said the strong job market has not changed all the rules. She said job applicants still have to be thoughtful about how they ask questions about job benefits or working conditions.  

“I still advise people not to be difficult in an interview. They should get the job and then negotiate on smaller points,” Blume said. “It’s not all about what the employer can do for them. Job candidates still need to have good interview skills, a good resume and to think about what value they offer the company.”  

All UMGC students, alumni and staff have access to CareerQuest, a suite of tools and resources to help improve their resumes, upgrade their LinkedIn profiles, practice interview skills, research companies and find contacts in their industries. CareerQuest, available around the clock, includes a database of resumes available to national hiring managers. 

On Jan. 11, UMGC Career Services hosts a webinar on resumes for career changers. For information on this and other upcoming webinars, click here

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.

UMGC Cyber Competition Team Concludes Fall 2021 Season with 1st Place Finish at Parsons CTF

Adelphi, Md. (Dec. 28, 2021)–The University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) cyber competition team placed first in a capture-the-flag (CTF) competition sponsored by Parsons Corporation, a global provider of cyber and converged security services.

The jeopardy-style event tested participants’ skills on a range of relevant topics, including network forensics, coding, web hacking, cryptography, analytics, penetration testing, malware analysis, algorithms and reverse engineering. Normally a face-to-face event, the team participated remotely due to ongoing pandemic restrictions.

“This win provides a nice bookend to a successful season, which started with a first-place finish at Parsons in October,” said Jesse Varsalone, associate professor of Digital Forensics and Cyber Investigations at UMGC and coach of the competition team. “The skills tested in this competition will help current and future team members gain the real-world experience they need to network with prospective employers and advance their cybersecurity careers.”

At the Dec. 7 event, which attracted cybersecurity professionals and students of all skill levels, UMGC scored 9912 points to beat out 11 other teams and take first place. The UMGC team included current students Tim Nordved and David Saez, along with UMGC faculty members Jesse Varsalone and Matt Harvey, an adjunct professor in the School of Cybersecurity & Information Technology.

Established in 2012, the UMGC cybersecurity team is composed of students, alumni, and faculty who compete regularly in digital forensics, penetration testing, and computer network defense scenarios that help them gain experience to advance their cybersecurity careers. To prepare for competitions, students detect and combat cyberattacks in the university’s Virtual Security Lab and work through case studies in an online classroom. Through its history, the team has received numerous top honors, including recent first-place finishes in the 2021 Maryland Cyber Challenge and the 2020 MAGIC, Inc. capture the flag competition and a second place finish in the 2012 Global CyberLympics.

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.

UMGC Nursing Program Receives 10-Year Reaccreditation

Adelphi, Md. (Dec. 22, 2021)—The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) recently announced that the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) degree program at University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC), has been granted reaccreditation for 10 years. The accreditation distinguishes the program for its quality and spotlights UMGC for providing education at the highest standard.

“I am proud of this accomplishment. This would not be possible if we didn’t have an awesome team working on the program and dedicated faculty who ensure they are delivering a high-quality curriculum,” said Mary C. Schroeder, DNP (Doctorate in Nursing Practice), who directs the UMGC program.

Recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a national accreditation agency, CCNE strives to improve public health by supporting and strengthening collegiate professional nursing education programs. Programs that seek accreditation from this agency undergo a rigorous evaluation by experts in the field.

“I am grateful for everyone’s hard work to ensure that our students are receiving a quality degree that they can be proud of and will enable them to move forward in their careers,” Dr. Schroeder said.

UMGC’s RN to BSN program offers registered nurses an opportunity to advance in their nursing careers or move into other public health areas. It also aids in preparation for graduate studies. More information about the RN to BSN program and its course requirements are found at umgc.edu.

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 that underpin 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 higher education that is accessible, high quality and low-cost.

University of Maryland Global Campus Cancels Winter Commencement Ceremonies Scheduled for December 18

Decision to Cancel In-Person Event Was Made as a Result of Fast-Spreading COVID-19 Variants and to Protect Health and Safety of Graduates, Guests, Faculty and Staff 

An Estimated 10,000 People Were Expected to Attend Ceremonies at Xfinity Center in College Park, Md. 

Adelphi, Md. (Dec. 16, 2021) — Due to the rapid spread of COVID-19 variants and out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of graduates and guests, as well as that of faculty, staff and event personnel, University of Maryland Global Campus has cancelled its winter commencement ceremonies scheduled for Saturday, December 18, at Xfinity Center in College Park, Md. 

An estimated total of 10,000 people—including graduates, guests and staff—were expected to attend two separate ceremonies at Xfinity Center. 

In a message to the UMGC community, President Gregory W. Fowler said: “We recognize that many institutions are wrestling with decisions of this nature, balancing the desire to host in-person events with the larger responsibility of protecting our communities, and it is in that spirit that we have taken this step. 

“We celebrate the accomplishments of every graduate, and we are heartbroken that we cannot celebrate with them in person,” Fowler continued. “Rest assured that every graduate will be invited back to participate in an in-person ceremony in the future, when conditions allow.” 

Graduates have been invited to visit a virtual recognition gallery after 8 a.m. Eastern time on December 18 to view a special commencement message and to visit the personalized recognition slides honoring UMGC’s more than 7,000 graduates. 

In the state of Maryland there have been 1,866 new COVID cases reported in the past 24 hours, increasing the total number of cases in the state to 592,679, according to the Maryland Department of Health’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, positive cases of the Omicron variant will likely spread faster than the original strain of the virus and have now been detected in 36 states, including Maryland. The first case in the U.S. was identified on December 1.

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UMGC and Grifols Form Alliance to Increase Educational Opportunities for Healthcare Company’s Employees

Adelphi, Md. (December 14, 2021)—University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC), a leader in providing innovative and quality academic programs online, and Grifols, a global healthcare company, have formed an alliance that will increase educational opportunities for Grifols’ U.S.-based employees.

The alliance will enable Grifols’ employees (about 70% of its global workforce is based in the U.S.) to increase their skills by taking individual courses or enrolling in any of UMGC’s more than 90 undergraduate and graduate degree or certificate programs—all available fully online—at discounted tuition rates and with no application fee. UMGC also offers cost savings through its use of digital resources, which have replaced costly publisher textbooks in most courses.

“This alliance helps to increase higher education options for Grifols’ employees and their families in the U.S.,” said Blakely Pomietto, senior vice president and Chief Academic Officer at UMGC. “This new relationship is an engine that can drive Grifols’ workforce to upskill faster and more efficiently in a rapidly changing healthcare environment.”

Students enrolling in UMGC’s undergraduate degree programs may be eligible to transfer credits from other institutions and/or earn credit for prior learning, thus shortening the path to a bachelor’s degree.


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 disciplines including biotechnology, cybersecurity, data analytics, and information technology that are in high demand 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 degree and certificate programs, including doctoral programs.

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 to military service personnel and their families at more than 175 locations in more than 20 countries. Today, more than half of the university’s students are active-duty military personnel and their families, members of the National Guard, and veterans.


About Grifols

Grifols is a global healthcare company whose mission is to improve the health and well-being of people around the world. Grifols accomplishes this mission by producing life-saving protein therapies for patients and by providing hospitals, pharmacies, and healthcare professionals with the tools they need to deliver expert medical care.

The four pillars of its business are bioscience, diagnostics, hospital consumables, and bio supplies. It has subsidiaries in more than 30 countries and regions and 16 manufacturing plants around the world.

The company’s long-term vision allows us to continue exploring new markets and regions and to increase our growing workforce. Our nearly 24,000 employees work for a common goal: to improve people’s lives and well-being.

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Maryland Del. Jazz M. Lewis, Entrepreneur, Veteran and Alumna Ginger Miller to Keynote University of Maryland Global Campus Commencement Ceremonies on December 18 at Xfinity Center in College Park

Some 2,000 Graduates, along with their Guests to Attend Two In-Person Ceremonies 

Ceremonies to be Livestreamed and Include Virtual Components 

Adelphi, Md. (Dec. 9, 2021)—University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) will host its winter commencement on Saturday, Dec. 18. UMGC will award more than 8,000 degrees this winter, with nearly 2,000 graduates, along with their guests, attending two in-person ceremonies at Xfinity Center in College Park, Md. 

NOTE: All graduates and their guests must show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 to be admitted to the Xfinity Center. 

Keynoting the morning ceremony, which begins at 9:15 a.m., will be entrepreneur, veteran, and UMGC alumna Ginger Miller, who is founder, president, and CEO of Women Veterans Interactive Inc. She was recently appointed by President Biden to the USO Board of Governors.  

Addressing graduates in the afternoon ceremony, which begins at 3:45 p.m., will be the Honorable Jazz M. Lewis (District 24, Prince George’s County), who was appointed to the Maryland House of Delegates in February 2017. He serves on the Appropriations Committee and has worked tirelessly to focus on the issues important to everyday Marylanders. 

Both the morning and afternoon ceremonies will be livestreamed. A link to the livestream can be accessed on the UMGC Commencement website: Commencement | UMGC. In addition, a virtual recognition website will be available with personalized slides for more than 7,200 graduates​, which include photos and messages from graduates. 

Each ceremony features a graduate selected in a competitive process to address their classmates. Brittany Renfro (Bachelor of Science in Homeland Security) was chosen to speak at the morning ceremony, while Jayla Nowlin (Master of Science in Learning Design and Technology) will address the afternoon ceremony. 

Here is a snapshot of UMGG 2021 Winter Graduating Class:  

  • Number of graduates worldwide: 8,045  
  • Graduates come from all 50 states, 4 U.S. territories, and 26 countries 
  • Youngest graduate: 18 years old 
  • Oldest graduate: 78 years old 
  • Average age: 34 years old 

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 today strives to bring the right experience to the right student at the right time and in the right way. 

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