Prince George’s County 3D Scholars: First Graduates of Ambitious Collaboration Crush Myths About Accessibility and Affordability in Higher Education

Your Path, Your Pace: First Graduates Show How Innovative Program Can Reshape Education

As Nailah Gibson looked forward to her May 2022 graduation from University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC), she was debating whether to use her Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice as the steppingstone to law school or to a career in law enforcement. For now, law school has the edge.

Gibson is 19—the age when many are just starting college—and she has already earned her high school diploma, associate degree and bachelor’s degree. If law school weren’t on her horizon, she’d be starting a career, building professional experience and accumulating retirement savings while her friends are barely out of high school. More remarkable is the fact that she has accomplished this without incurring significant debt.

Nailah Gibson and Davion Ward at UMGC commencement.

Gibson is one of more than 80 students in the groundbreaking Prince George’s 3D Scholars program and the first student to graduate. The pioneering initiative –based in Prince George’s County, Maryland—partners UMGC with Prince George’s Community College (PGCC) and Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) to offer high-performing students a seamless and accelerated pathway from high school to community college to university. The program put Gibson on a fast track toward a bachelor’s degree without the need for student loans.

“Programs like this allow us to challenge our own thinking about the way education has to happen, reevaluating our myths about access, affordability and debt,” said UMGC President Gregory Fowler. “I love this program, and I’ve been in conversation with others about how we can expand it.”

Like all Prince George’s 3D Scholars—the 3D is shorthand for the three diplomas students earn—Gibson took classes at Charles Herbert Flowers High School and Prince George’s Community College simultaneously. And while the program is designed to overlap one year of high school and community college, Gibson stepped up the pace and graduated from both high school and PGCC the same year. Then, she transferred to UMGC as a junior and whizzed through the remaining courses for her bachelor’s degree.

“Prince George’s County Public Schools is committed to offering innovative programs that allow students to maximize their readiness for college and careers,” said school district CEO Dr. Monica Goldson. “PG3D Scholars is the first program that tracks students from high school through the completion of a bachelor’s degree – at nearly no cost to families. Students take their first college course as juniors in high school, which counts toward earning their associate or bachelor’s degrees.”

By launching first in Prince George’s County Public Schools, one of the largest school districts in the country, the scholarship program offers a high-visibility education option that could be replicated nationally.

The program was launched in 2016, and eligible students commit to the program as early as eighth or ninth grade. By Grade 11, they are following a prescribed curriculum in one of three degree concentrations—criminal justice, business administration or cybersecurity—chosen because they dovetail with strengths of the PG3D academic partners and align with job market demand.   

“The Prince George’s 3D program is so practical,” said PGCC Executive Vice President Clayton Railey. “Through dual enrollment with their high school and community college, the students can earn the first 60 credits toward their baccalaureate degree for free. And they may also be eligible for scholarships. We try to make money not the issue. We remove as many barriers as possible.”

Interest in the program is so strong—each year there are at least 400 applicants for 50 guaranteed spots at Flowers High School—that students are now being chosen by lottery.

“When I heard about the Prince George’s 3D Scholars program, I thought it was a great opportunity,” said Davion Ward, who will graduate in the summer as part of the first cohort to complete the program. “I think getting the degree faster looks great on my resume. And, of course, there’s also the free education. We saved so much money.”

Ward, like Gibson, pursued a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He is interested in a public service career and plans to take the LSAT so he can enroll in law school. The 20-year-old is currently seeking an internship at the U.S. Department of Justice or Department of State.

“Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been drawn to politics,” said Ward. I think law school would give me an opportunity to explore multiple career options, not necessarily practicing law but understanding the law.”

A third scholarship recipient in the first cohort, Darren Lim, would have graduated in May, as well, but chose to earn a second degree from UMGC, which he paid for himself. He will graduate in December with a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Accounting.  

“I want to be an accountant. I might become a financial analyst, too,” Lim said. At 21, he already has a full-time job in auditing at MGM, the global hospitality and entertainment company. He hopes his degrees will open the way for advancement at the company.

Lim was not alone. The program is designed with the flexibility to accommodate students who also hold jobs, and both Gibson and Ward worked while completing their high school and college coursework.

This comes as no surprise to PGCC President Falecia Williams, who noted that, while the Prince George’s 3D Scholars program requires a 2.5 grade-point average or better, the students drawn to it are “just exceptional.”

“They are in the most accelerated programs. They’ve been recommended by their school. They’re brilliant,” she said. “They are independent thinkers and independent learners.”

Their focus and discipline was further tested by COVID-19. Most UMGC courses are offered online, but PGCC classes for the program were intended to be conducted face-to-face. The lockdown necessitated an abrupt shift to virtual learning, and students had to adapt.

It also meant that neither Gibson nor Ward were able to march in their high school and community college graduations. UMGC’s commencement in May will represent their first opportunity to celebrate in person.

Flowers High School: a proven testing ground

Charles H. Flowers High School is well suited for the Prince George’s 3D Scholars Program.  The 2,500 student school has a reputation for helping students leap ahead on academic achievement and career training.  Within its walls are a plethora of academic and technical programs to include the Science and Technology program, Project Lead the Way, the Academy of Finance, a culinary program and a Fire Fighter and Emergency Medical Technician program in partnership with the Prince George’s Fire Department.  Some seniors at the school have even received paid internship experiences with the U.S. Department of Defense.

The school even has an aerospace engineering and aviation technology initiative, and one 15-year-old student is the country’s youngest certified glider pilot.

Said Flowers High School Principal Gorman Brown, “We’re not preparing our students for the jobs of 30 or 40 years ago; we’re training them for the jobs of tomorrow.”

The school also had a dual enrollment partnership with PGCC before the advent of the PG3D program, and now boasts the highest number of dual-enrollment students of any school in its district. But the Prince George’s 3D Scholars program is distinctive for adding an accredited university, UMGC, to the formula.   

When the program was being developed, the school system worked with PGCC to identify courses suitable for dual credit, developing a curriculum for each of the three degree pathways. Before COVID-19 sent classes online, the school system also provided buses to shuttle students between the high school and PGCC.

The Prince George’s 3D Scholars program doesn’t take admissions lightly, particularly given the relative youth of some applicants. Families sign a memorandum of understanding acknowledging the challenges their child must negotiate related to time management and program expectations. Success can be life-changing.

“Some of these scholars are the first in their families to get a university degree. They are the anchor for their families, especially for families who have realized the importance of education but have not had a pathway to it. They understand that achieving the American dream starts off with receiving a quality education,” Brown said. “A lot of these young people become the shining stars in the program and the anchor for their families, the examples for younger siblings and cousins.”

Both Flowers and PGCC provide advisers who maintain close contact with the students and track their progress. Some students benefit from peer mentors, and at UMGC, students have access to success coaches.

TuMisha Alao is the Prince George’s 3D Scholar coordinator at Flowers High School. She meets with students and their parents and tracks grades and course enrollment.

“The most important facet of my position is building relationships with students and checking their pulse the whole time,” Alao said. “We pay for their books and fees. We provide support. We invest in the students and we want to see them be successful.”

Beginning in ninth grade, Alao said, students who apply for the Prince George’s 3D Scholars program are guided into honors programs and advanced placement (AP) classes. Although they are considered “pre-scholars,” they start to take courses that touch on content in the program’s concentration areas—criminal justice, cybersecurity, and business administration—while learning about career options in those fields. 

“We really start transitioning the students in the 10th grade when they take a college-readiness exam for the community college level,” Alao said. The students are also provided free after-school tutoring services in math to help prepare for the test.

By 11th grade, they have taken a one-credit orientation class to prepare them for college and a few introductory courses in their concentration levels. They are now ready for their first dual-enrollment courses with PGCC. Dual Enrollment courses can be taken online or at the community college.

“We find that the kids like to actually go to the PGCC campus because it changes their attitude about school. It’s as if they go into the booth as Clark Kent and come out as super college students,” said Alao.

She watches over the students until they graduate from high school. By then, Leslie Miller, PGCC’s academic and career adviser for the 3D Scholars, knows them personally. Miller’s role involves progress reports and check-ins to make sure neither academic nor personal problems are impeding their progress.

Currently, Miller has 82 scholars under her watch. Most surprising about this remarkable group? 

“Their independence,” said Miller. “They have innate motivation. It’s unusual at that young an age to know what major they want to be in, what they want for the future. Their academic achievement is also impressive. If you could see their college credit GPAs—3.5 and 4.0.”

She also praised their parents, who “have allowed their students to be college students, allowing them to speak and advocate for themselves.”

Changing Education, Changing the Labor Force

The Prince George’s 3D Scholars program is the outgrowth of an idea proposed by Maryland Senator James Rosapepe (D, College Park), who represents Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties and is a former University System of Maryland regent. He approached UMGC and PGCC with the concept because he had been inspired by another marquee program, UMGC’s Maryland Completion Scholarship, which allows graduates of Maryland community colleges to complete a bachelor’s degree from UMGC for only $12,000 more.

“I asked, ‘Can we get high school kids to take two years of community college and get them a degree at UMGC for $10,000?’” Rosapepe recalled. “We had to get the community college on board and the school system on board. The idea is to change the model for what students learn in 11th and 12th grades, to make it easier for kids to earn their associate degree while they are in high school.

“This program saves families and taxpayers money. If you do it at scale, you save millions of dollars,” he said.

The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Act, which overhauled education in Maryland, opened the way for a program that builds a bridge from high school to community college to university. In effect, Rosapepe said, Maryland is “normalizing” concurrent degrees, a move that especially benefits working class families whose children may be scared away from college because of the costs of acquiring a degree.

“There’s also the opportunity cost savings,” Rosapepe said. “By flipping the model and showing a clear, fast, low-cost path to a degree, you can have a bachelor’s degree by the age of 20 and gain two years of additional work life. That’s less cost, more income now for these young people.”

Although accessibility and affordability are hallmarks of the program, increased equity, inclusion and return-on-investment are also benefits.

“We are the front door for students of color, those who are attaining their associate and baccalaureate degrees,” said Williams, who noted that students of color comprise 96 percent of PGCC’s enrollment. “We are a pathway even into graduate education. We have to figure out how to bring more programs like this to scale so we can measure how this is changing students’ trajectory and the economy.”

Williams added that programs like the Prince George’s 3D Scholars are tools “to keep talent in the state, and to make Maryland known as a state for high-performing students.”

PGCC Vice President Railey, who also serves as provost of teaching, learning, and student success, agreed, pointing out that students emerging from the Prince George’s 3D Scholars program are positioned to change the face of the workplace.

“These degrees are all aligned with lucrative career opportunities,” Railey said. “The DC Metropolitan Region is the third largest market for cybersecurity professionals in the country. And marketing and business skills are needed everywhere. At the same time, our criminal justice program covers a broad range of career opportunities.”

UMGC’s Fowler said that while the university gets attention for being a global institution, it is “first and foremost a school in the University System of Maryland.”

“I want to make sure we have an impact in our home,” Fowler said. “The future of UMGC is to bring new types of learning to students. I want UMGC to build muscle around that.”

Jazz Lewis represents Prince George’s County in the Maryland House of Delegates and, like Rosapepe, his early support helped get the scholarship program off the ground. He is also a graduate of Flowers High School, so the program is especially close to him.

“This is a great program. The students get a quality degree. They finish their studies with no debt. And they are prepared as workers that we need for the jobs of tomorrow,” Lewis said. “We should make sure everyone knows about the Prince George’s 3D Scholars program.”

University of Maryland Global Campus’s Innovative In-Person “Grad Walk” to Recognize More Than 3,600 Graduates from Classes of 2020, 2021 and 2022, May 16-22

Some 1,700 Graduates from the Classes of 2020 and 2021 to Return for Recognition

University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) has announced Spring Grad Walk 2022, an innovative in-person and online experience designed to accommodate thousands of graduates and guests while protecting the health and safety of the university community.  

The UMGC Class of 2022 will be joined by graduates from the classes of 2020 and 2021 the week of May 16–22 for the university’s first in-person graduation celebration in more than two years. More than 3,600 graduates have registered to attend, including some 1,700 from the classes of 2020 and 2021.  

The event will take place at the College Park Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, with graduates selecting from multiple time slots to cross the stage and receive individual recognition.  

Special features of Spring Grad Walk 2022 include:  

  • Each graduate’s name will be called as they cross a formal commencement stage in regalia  
      
  • Family members and friends can cheer their graduate from a viewing area directly in front of the stage  
      
  • Professional photographers will be on site to take photos as each graduate crosses the stage, along with individual and group photos before and after recognition  
      
  • Each graduate will receive a video clip of themselves crossing the stage to keep as a memento and share online  
      
  • Graduates may take photos and selfies on UMGC’s beautiful grounds and at photo stations decorated with the colors of UMGC and the state of Maryland  
      
  • Graduates can commemorate their achievements with family and friends in a special Celebration Zone, where they can meet UMGC faculty, staff, and Alumni Association representatives and purchase UMGC Alumni apparel, gear and other mementos.  

Since the start of the pandemic in early 2020, UMGC has conducted its commencements online to help protect the health and safety of students, guests, faculty, and staff. This year, a special website has been created for the Class of 2022 that includes an on-demand ceremony with presentations by speakers, the formal conferral of degrees by UMGC President Gregory Fowler, a keynote address from UMGC alumna Ginger Miller, and an online “Gallery of Graduates” showcasing graduates’ personalized recognition slides that can be shared via social media or e-mail.  

Graduates in the Class of 2022 have received a mailed Grad Pack containing UMGC ‘swag’ to help jump-start the festivities. They are encouraged to share their achievements with fellow graduates via social media using #UMGCGrad.  

A profile of the UMGC FY2022 graduates: 

  • Number of graduates: 13,685 
  • Average age: 35 
  • Oldest graduate: 78 
  • Youngest graduate: 19 
  • Graduates come from all 50 states, four U.S territories and 20 countries 
  • Degrees awarded: 
  • Associate: 2,426 
  • Bachelor’s: 7,278 
  • Master’s: 3,980  
  • Doctorate: 34 

UMGC also conducts graduation ceremonies for military servicemembers and dependents overseas in Germany, Japan, Korea and Guam.  

About University of Maryland Global Campus 

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

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

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

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Brig. Gen. Janeen L Birckhead to UMGC Class of 2021: “Think Critically and Act Intentionally”

Brig. Gen. Janeen L. Birckhead, commander of the Maryland Army National Guard, called on University of Maryland Global Campus graduates to help others, pursue self-improvement, and focus on solutions in her keynote address at the university’s 2021 Virtual Spring Stateside Commencement. Herself a UMGC alumna, Birckhead commanded the National Guard troops that protected the U.S. Capitol and presidential inauguration following the failed insurrection of January 6. 

Keynote Speaker Brig. Gen. Janeen L. Birckhead

“There is no lack of talent for identifying problems,” Birckhead said in her keynote. “However, fewer people can identify solutions, and even fewer are prepared and able to take action on that solution. Use what you have learned, and the relationships you have built through the UMGC program to think critically and act intentionally.” 

Watch Brig. Gen. Janeen L. Birckhead Keynote Address 

Birckhead said graduates should “stay grounded and help others. We all stand on the shoulders of giants who have gone before us. Be a giant in the life of someone who wants to be a solution finder, not a divider.” She added, “Commit to spending time every day in the pursuit of self-improvement, and actuating your plan. This will change you. This will change how you see the world, and it will change how the world sees you.” 

Read UMGC Global Media Center Feature Story About Brig. Gen. Janeen L. Birckhead 

The 2021 virtual commencement website also features the complete commencement program, including the conferral of degrees by UMGC President Gregory W. Fowler, a message from Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a roll call of graduates—including their photos and quotes—as well as congratulatory messages from UMGC faculty, staff and friends. 

UMGC President Gregory Fowler

UMGC Virtual Commencement Website

The site was visited by more than 14,000 unique viewers on Saturday, May 15, and messages on social media garnered more than 55,000 views. The ceremony will remain available for on-demand viewing through October 15, 2021. 

Raymond Fisher, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, spoke on behalf of the graduating class. Fisher, who traces his lineage to a slave owned by George Washington, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in information systems management after a 25-year journey.  

Watch Raymond Fisher Address 

A native Washingtonian, Fisher was the youngest of six children and orphaned by the time he was 11. Yet three of the six children now hold UMGC degrees. After graduating from high school and attending Anne Arundel Community College, Fisher joined the Marines, serving two combat tours. 

He attended Purdue University but left to work as a junior engineer, rising to a software programmer and tester in the dot-com era.  Often the only person of color in his office, Fisher acknowledged that he “dealt with the challenges that came with that.” 

Watch WJLA-TV ABC 7 Feature Story on Raymond Fisher 

Student Speaker Raymond Fisher

Six years ago, he decided it was time to finish his bachelor’s degree, “with all of the early mornings, late nights and family time that had to be managed, not sacrificed. It took all of the courage, self-discipline and integrity that I developed growing up and solidified in the Marines, where I became a man.” 

He faced an inner journey, as well, acknowledging that “I have a little boy, trapped deep inside of me, who is so afraid to fail. So, he hides. But in this journey, I had to open the door within me. Take him by the hand and say, We need to step outside, outside of the comfort zone to the limitless possibilities life has to offer.’” 

Noting that he and his fellow graduates were tested by having to complete their degrees during the coronavirus pandemic, Fisher said: “It did not shake our resolve. Instead, it brought us closer together, more determined than ever, even as we mourn those who have fallen to this illness. At the start of spring semester, I had two classmates become ill with the virus. But our professors showed compassion and empathy, extending deadlines, and allowing my classmates to focus on their health. It made a huge difference. They both are graduating with us today.” 

Read UMGC Global Media Center Story about Raymond Fisher

“We—the class of 2021—collectively say, Here we are,” Fisher concluded. “We’re fierce, confident, and ready for any challenge, shaped by the academic crucible of this institution of excellence.” 

Governor Hogan also highlighted the perseverance of the graduates completing their programs during the pandemic. 

“Normal life came to a screeching halt over the past year, and it forced all of us to pause and reflect on the things that truly matter,” Hogan said. “Staying apart from friends and family reminded us how much we depend on and need each other to get through the hard times. We were reminded that each day is precious.” 

Watch Maryland Governor Larry Hogan Address 

With the end of the pandemic in sight, Hogan challenged the graduates to “remember that each of us can make the days ahead count that much more.” 

In special remarks to graduates who are active-duty military servicemembers and veterans, UMGC’s senior vice president for Global Military Operations, Maj. Gen. Lloyd “Milo” Miles (U.S. Army, Ret.), praised their achievements and urged them to “acknowledge all of those who have helped them along the long path to get to this day. 

“There were probably parents, mentors and children and close personal friends who encouraged you to keep it up [and] press on,” said Miles. He continued, “When you were tired: press on. When you were sick or discouraged: press on.  When you didn’t think you could do any more: press on. Wherever they are, you owe them a debt of gratitude. Please take some time today to reach out and thank them.” 

From the perspective of a distinguished 32-year military career, Miles said that “what truly matters in life is not the amount of education a person has or his race or his economic background or station in life. What matters is how you treat others. It’s about your heart and your commitment to your fellow man. It’s about sacrifice and honor and loyalty.” 

Watch Special Message from Maj. Gen. Lloyd “Milo” Miles (U.S. Army, Ret.) 

UMGC Graduate Mariya Wasti’s winning entry in the UMGC cap decorating contest.

Vivian Mojica, another 2021 graduate, sang the university’s alma mater at the conclusion of the ceremony. Mojica earned a Bachelor of Science in Social Science. 

Mariya Wasti, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Health Services Management, received the most votes in a cap decorating contest that included more than 100 entries. Her winning cap featured the Arabic phrase “Alhamdulillah”—which means “thank God”—in gold lettering surrounded by white and pink beads and a turquoise fabric boarder. Wasti said her faith “kept her motivated and determined on achieving my life goals. I also believe God always has better plans for us.”  

Snapshot of UMGC graduates for 2020-21: 

  • UMGC held separate commencement ceremonies in Asia (April 24) and Europe (May 1) to accommodate graduates who are serving in the military overseas. 
     
  • Total number of graduates worldwide: 13,171 
      
  • Locations of our graduates:  All 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and 32 countries and territories. 
     
  • Youngest graduate: 17 years 
     
  • Oldest graduate:  78 years 
  • Average age: 35 years 

Brig. Gen. Janeen L. Birckhead, Commander of the Maryland Army National Guard, to Deliver Keynote Address at University of Maryland Global Campus Virtual Stateside Commencement, Saturday, May 15

Birckhead Led All National Guard Troops Deployed at the U.S. Capitol During the Presidential Inauguration and Heads Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s Vaccine Equity Task Force 

Adelphi, Md. (April 27, 2021)—University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC), the nation’s largest online public university, will host a virtual commencement ceremony on May 15 at noon. 

Brig. Gen. Janeen L. Birckhead

Brig. Gen. Janeen L. Birckhead, assistant adjutant general and commander of the Maryland Army National Guard and a graduate of UMGC, will provide the commencement keynote address. Brig. Gen. Birckhead has a distinguished 30-year military career, including recently leading all National Guard troops deployed at the U.S. Capitol following the failed insurrection on January 6 and for the January 20 presidential inauguration. She was also selected by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan to lead the state’s vaccine equity task force. 

Raymond Fisher, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who traces his family history on his mother’s side to a slave owned by George Washington and who earned a Bachelor of Science degree in information systems management after a 25-year journey, will give an address on behalf of the graduating class. 

The commencement website also includes the conferral of degrees by UMGC President Gregory W. Fowler and a virtual greeting from Governor Hogan. In addition, the site features a section comprising the names of graduates with their photos and inspirational messages and messages of congratulations from UMGC faculty, staff members and friends. 

UMGC holds separate commencement ceremonies annually in Europe and Asia, to accommodate graduates who are serving in the military overseas. 

Here is a snapshot of UMGC graduates for 2020-21: 

Total number of graduates worldwide: 13,171 

Location of our graduates:  All 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and 32 countries and territories. 

Youngest graduate: 17 years old 

Oldest graduate:  78 years old 

Average age: 35 years old 

About University of Maryland Global Campus 

University of Maryland Global Campus (formerly University of Maryland University College) 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.  

A pioneer in distance education since 1947, UMGC today is harnessing the power of learning science and technology to deliver high quality, low cost, accessible higher education.  

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.  

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UMGC Asia to Host Virtual Commencement Ceremony, April 24

University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) will honor 1,114 graduates at its virtual Asia commencement ceremony on Saturday, April 24. The commencement website will be available beginning at 10:00 a.m. on commencement day.

The ceremony will feature keynote speaker, Charles K. Hyde, Brigadier General, U.S. Air Force (Ret.). He is vice president for the Pacific Region of the United Service Organization. UMGC President Gregory Fowler; Jim Cronin, vice president and director of UMGC Asia; and Amanda Maguire, associate vice president and deputy director of UMGC Asia will be providing remarks as well.

A special congratulatory message from the UMGC Asia staff and faculty will be presented to the graduating class, along with tributes from the university’s Office of Academic Affairs. The virtual commencement page will showcase a multimedia gallery that will list each graduate’s name and degree, and will remain available on the UMGC Asia website until April 1, 2022.

For more information about the UMGC Asia commencement ceremony, please visit https://asia.umgc.edu/commencement/2021-virtual-ceremony.cfm

Prince George’s County Executive Alsobrooks Commends UMGC’s New Class of Leaders at 2020 Winter Commencement

“I’m not just addressing graduates, I’m addressing a class of leaders,” Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks told University of Maryland Global Campus degree recipients in a commencement address delivered via video during the university’s 2020 virtual winter commencement program, which launched Saturday, Dec. 19.Continue Reading

Inspiring Messages Come Out on Top (Literally) at UMGC Winter Commencement

The University of Maryland Global Campus Class of 2020 winter graduates attended commencement virtually this year, but that did not stop them from celebrating. Each year, the mortarboards atop graduation caps are adorned by inspired grads, showing their creativity and telling the story of their individual educational journey. This year was not any different. Several weeks prior to the virtual commencement ceremony, graduates were invited to participate in a cap decorating challenge.

Invitations went out to UMGC winter graduates and voting opened on Nov. 18. Grads were able to share their entries on their social media channels to encourage their friends and family to vote for their cap. Voting was encouraged throughout the challenge period, which ended on Dec. 16. Anyone could vote once per cap in a 24-hour period and return to vote again after 24 hours. With 91 caps entered, these graduates collectively gathered 17,897 votes. 

The winner was announced on Dec. 19, the morning of virtual commencement, and was featured on the UMGC virtual commencement website. Marcus Johnson received 4,256 votes for his inspired cap featuring the phrase, “Smart Enough to Save the Day.” Michelle Freeman’s cap took second place with 3,181 votes and Christina Holt’s cap gathered 2,560 votes to place third.

Freeman said the creation of her cap was a family effort; she got help from her niece and nephew to complete it. “I thought this was a great gesture on behalf of the university to get us excited about our ceremony. Although we could not have a formal ceremony due to the pandemic, this friendly competition built up momentum day by day to our virtual ceremony,” she shared.

Holt, who encouraged people to vote for her through her social media channels, said she entered the competition to showcase her crochet artistry.  “I am amazed at how many people came forward to support me during this competition and I am appreciative of every vote I received!”

While Johnson has bragging rights and is featured at the virtual commencement ceremony, all participating graduates are winners, finishing 2020 with a milestone accomplishment.

Student Commencement Speaker Advocates Lifelong Learning

Susana Hernandez brought good grades home from her Maryland high school, but school officials never nudged her toward college. Her immigrant parents wanted her to continue studying, but they didn’t know how the U.S. higher education system worked. Hernandez, a teenager at the time, was daunted by scholarship and financial aid applications.

It took Hernandez 15 years after her high school graduation to return to a classroom—at University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC)—pursuing a Bachelor of Science in business management, with a minor in small business entrepreneurship. At UMGC’s 2020 Virtual Winter Commencement, not only will Hernandez graduate cum laude and as a member of the Alpha Sigma Lambda Tau Chapter Honor Society, but she will give the student commencement speech.  Continue Reading

Pillars of Strength Scholar Finds Silver Linings in the Pandemic

For Lauren Warner, the agony of the Coronavirus pandemic has had at least a couple of silver linings.

Warner, who cares for her wounded Army veteran husband, completed a UMGC Master of Science degree in management this semester with the financial help of a Pillars of Strength scholarship aimed at caregivers like her.Continue Reading

University of Maryland Global Campus to Host Virtual Winter Commencement 2020

Online Ceremony to Include Keynote Address by Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks

Program to Go Live Beginning Saturday, Dec. 19, at 12 p.m. EST

Adelphi, Md. (Dec. 7) — University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC), the nation’s largest online public university will premiere its special 2020 Virtual Winter Commencement on Saturday, Dec. 19, beginning at 12 p.m. Eastern standard time. The approximately 25-minute program, which honors the more than 7,500 stateside graduates worldwide who completed their degree requirements in summer or fall 2020, will be available for on-demand viewing by graduates, their families and friends anytime—and from anywhere.Continue Reading