University System of Maryland Board of Regents Recognizes UMGC Faculty Members for Outstanding Teaching, Public Service

Professors Celeste McCarty and Sabrina Fu, Ph.D., Honored

Adelphi, Md. (April 29, 2022)—The University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents today honored 17 members of its faculty at institutions across the system–including two from University of Maryland Global Campus–with 2022 USM Regents’ Faculty Awards.

UMGC’s Celeste McCarty, professor of psychology, was honored with the “Excellence in Teaching” award, while Sabrina Fu, Ph.D., collegiate professor and program director for Environmental Science and Management, was recognized with the “Excellence in Public Service” award.

“It is a pleasure every year to recognize these outstanding faculty members,” USM Board of Regents Chair Linda R. Gooden said. “I am especially grateful for their dedication throughout the many phases of the pandemic and pleased we can plan to recognize them in person, thanks to the work our campuses have done to keep their communities safe.”

Each award carries a $2,000 prize provided by the institutions and the University System of Maryland Foundation.

“The bedrock of the University System’s quality, its prominence, its power to transform lives and change the world is, quite simply, our faculty,” said USM Chancellor Jay A. Perman. “It’s a privilege to be able to honor them and celebrate what they make possible every day—possible for each individual student and for the body of scholarship that advances our progress and deepens our humanity.”

Celeste McCarty

Professor McCarty has taught for UMGC in the U.S. and on military bases in Asia. According to her nomination, McCarty’s approach to teaching is characterized by her use of real-world examples to bring the classroom to life.  Her classroom management style is defined by her responsiveness, actively engaging with students to ensure their development, progress, and success.

Her nominating letter also notes that McCarty focuses on discussions and assignments that help develop advanced critical thinking skills, psychological and clinical skills, and sound research methodology. She helps students become good consumers of information.

McCarty has received numerous awards for her teaching, including the Stanley J. Drazek Teaching Award, the highest recognition awarded at UMGC for excellence in teaching.

Dr. Sabrina Fu

According to Dr. Fu’s nomination, she is the founder and inaugural regional coordinator of the Howard County Citizens Climate Lobby chapter, where she focuses on issues related to growth and environmental science-related service. She organizes public events, meetings, and presentations, as well as opportunities to lobby public officials. She is also a coordinator for the Mid-Atlantic Region of Citizens’ Climate Education, where she helps to empower diverse voices to talk to Congress about solutions to address climate change. She also is a Watershed Steward for Howard County.

Dr. Fu is a recipient of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s prestigious People, Prosperity, and the Planet award, where she was recognized for using her environmental science expertise and her passion for community engagement to make the community a better place.

The USM Regents’ Faculty Awards are the highest honor presented by the board to exemplary faculty members. In addition to teaching and public service, the awards honor excellence in mentoring, research, scholarship or creative activity, and innovation.

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. 

Maryland Artist’s Work Is a Guiding Light

The phrase “to see the light” suggests something hidden will be revealed, which is why light bulbs go off over cartoon characters’ heads when ideas occur to them. But there is seeing the light and then there is truly seeing the light, as the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) exhibit, “Sharon Wolpoff: Wherever I Turn I See Light,” demonstrates.

For the Maryland artist—who paints, makes prints and etchings, takes photographs, makes collages and designs jewelry—light’s emergence creates the conditions for artistic expression. A March 13, 2022, event with the artist turned a spotlight on her latest exhibit at UMGC’s gallery at its headquarters in Adelphi, Md, which runs through June 5.

“For many of us, a ray of sunlight or the light from a light bulb is just something that brightens a space. But Wolpoff views light adorning a landscape or peeping through a window differently,” Eric Key, director of the UMGC arts program, wrote in the exhibition catalog. “She sees more than just a well-lit space; she sees how the space is transformed. She perceives the contrast between dark and light and envisions geometric shapes and angles. She also enjoys exploring how light affects color and creates different shades.”

Take Wolpoff’s oil painting “November” (2010), which evokes the urban landscapes of Edward Hopper. An orange-brown telephone pole nearly bisects the canvas horizontally, cutting through both the bright blue sky and the orange, pink, green and off-white and earthy tones below. A smaller streetlight beside the pole echoes its form, and two doors (one pink and one orange) boldly emerge from a nondescript, windowless building on a quiet street.

Most pedestrians might walk by this scene without a second thought. But to the artist, the symphony of light and shadow was irresistible. The diagonal shadows of the pole and streetlight climb up the building, and even though much of the palette is muted, one can tell by the brightness of the lightest colors that this is a sunny day. Just as a Renaissance painting might turn an otherwise typical figure into a saint with the insertion of a halo, Wolpoff has elevated this street scene with its stunning light and shadow.

Whether interior scenes or outdoor landscapes, figures in motion or seated at a table, light is always a protagonist—if not the star of the show—in Wolpoff’s artwork. That is also true in the desert of Tucson, Arizona, one of her favorite locations and a destination she has visited with her mother over the past two decades.

“I would meander through the desert, and this is how the painting got started,” she said of her 2007 work, “Pink Cactus and Agave.”

Wolpoff took many photographs of the sky and the mountains, but two cacti—one pink and one agave (green)—grabbed her attention. She even found them seductive, she told the audience at the UMGC event. Back in the studio, she cut up three photographs she had taken and put them back together as a deconstructed and then reconstructed collage.

She called her technique “structured freedom” because it lets her advance 50 percent of the way before she begins to apply brush to canvas. In effect, she has already mapped out the composition and figured out what is going where. Brush in hand, she then can “relax into the intuitive process of painting,” she said.

“There’s something about the desert, where the perception is that it’s a barren and lifeless place. I found it to be so alive, and it was just a tremendous voracious presence that I wanted to be able to capture,” Wolpoff said.

Here too, of course, her dramatic interplay of light and shadow dances across the landscape.

In an artist statement, Wolpoff called light both part of the composition and a “metaphysical presence.” She explained that the show is called “Wherever I Turn I See Light,” because light “is something we need now more than ever.”

“It’s my intention that this show be offered as a counterpoint to the extraordinary events ongoing in our world today,” she said. “Light is an invitation to encounter the divine spark that exists in all of us.”  

When Key first told UMGC President Gregory W. Fowler about the show, the president slipped in to see it.

“I have been inviting everyone I know. It is absolutely stunning,” Fowler said, adding that an arts program at an institution that is primarily online might be a surprise to many people, but not to him.

“There’s nothing more universal, nothing more global than the arts, and the ability for the arts to speak across cultures,” he said.

At the event, he told Wolpoff, “I can’t think of anything that’s more timely than the work that you’ve been doing.” He also said Wolpoff’s “ability to see special things in places where other people may not necessarily is part of what I believe UMGC’s role is: to help those who[m] others might not always see as special, but to find that special light that’s within them as well.”

The president’s experience prior to coming to the university included time at the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The hour-long discussion at the event also featured Julia Langley, faculty director of the arts and humanities program at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, which exhibits Wolpoff’s works, and Myrtis Bedolla, chair of the UMGC art advisory board and owner and founding director of Galerie Myrtis in Baltimore.

The conversation at the event touched on everything from how the artist first became obsessed with light in the late 1970s, when she painted light streaming in a window while she waited for a model who was late, to the fact that she holds a law degree. After failing the bar twice, Wolpoff became a professional artist but, 14 years later, she again sat for the bar and passed.

Wolpoff’s works that were supposed to hang for three months at the cancer center ended up staying for two years. The artist recounted meeting an oncologist at the center, who bought one of her pieces. Wolpoff was introduced to the doctor’s family when she went to the buyer’s home to deliver the work. Two months later, the oncologist called Wolpoff one evening. The doctor had to deliver bad news to a family and wanted first to talk to the artist to lift her spirits. She bought a second painting from Wolpoff during that discussion.

“I was so touched by that. I remember being moved to tears to be part of something like that, and also to get a glimpse of what it’s like,” Wolpoff said. “My perception was, ‘Oh this is for the patients coming in, and then through Julia, I started learning it’s for the staff. It’s for the doctors. It’s for everyone.”

Langley, the program’s faculty director, said it is important to have art in a cancer center—a distressing place where nobody wants to be—to make it more user-friendly and to give people things about which to dream. From the start, Wolpoff’s work drew rave reviews.

“People streamed into my office and said, ‘This is the most amazing show. Please don’t take it down. We love it,’” Langley said.

At the end of the program, when it seemed that all that could be said had been said, Fowler elicited yet another revelation (shedding more light) with a seemingly basic question: Had the artist’s way of seeing light changed over time?

“Yes,” Wolpoff said, noting that she grew increasingly aware of the kinds of auras that surround people. “It has expanded.”

UMGC Takes Third Place in a Strong Field at the Hack the Port 22 Maritime Cybersecurity Competition

Adelphi, MD — The University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) cybersecurity competition team earned a bronze award at the Hack the Port 22 Virtual and Live Maritime and Control Systems Cybersecurity event, finishing behind first-place Northeastern University and second-place Texas A&M University. For its accomplishment, the UMGC team was awarded a monetary prize of $3,000. 

The event, which took place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, from March 21-25, was hosted by the U.S. Cyber Command and its innovation and prototyping partner, DreamPort. The competition featured teams from more than 30 universities nationwide.

Jesse Varsalone, associate professor of cybersecurity technology, coached the five-member UMGC team. Team members were Joshua Taylor and Artem Asoskov, undergraduate students majoring in computer network and cybersecurity; Scott Horner, an undergraduate majoring in Business Administration; Raiden Redila, an undergraduate in cybersecurity policy and management; and Team Captain Michael Frauenhoffer, a graduate student in the UMGC Cyber Operations Program. 

“It’s notable that all five UMGC team members have earned their CompTIA Security+ certification and two-thirds of the team is currently working in the field of cybersecurity, which puts us in a strong position for success,” said Varsalone. 

During the event, teams either chose to participate as attackers, known as “red teams,” or defenders, known as “blue teams.” Red teams attacked the critical infrastructure of the port, including gates, trains and ships. Blue teams tracked down and thwarted the actions of the attackers. 

“We chose to defend primarily because a large majority of the jobs in the field are associated with defending networks, so establishing that position offers our students an opportunity to gain real-world experience that best reflects the cybersecurity professional landscape,” said Varsalone. 

Participating schools included Bowie State, Florida Institute of Technology, Fordham University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Kennesaw State University, Naval Postgraduate School, New York University, Norfolk State University, Northeastern University, Pennsylvania State University, Stevens Institute of Technology, Texas A&M University, The Citadel, Towson University, and the United States Naval Academy, among others. 

Established in 2012, the UMGC cybersecurity competition 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 UMGC 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 Japan Commencement to Be Held April 9 in Tokyo

University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) will hold its Japan commencement ceremony for more than 112 graduates at the New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo, on Saturday, April 9. Doors open at 12:30 p.m. and the ceremony is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.

The ceremony includes a keynote address by Bruce Corsino, Psy.D. (COL, U.S. Army Retired), president of Bioethics, Inc. Dr. Corsino has served as a member and/or chairperson of hospital ethics and human subject research committees, as well as a contributor to federal and state health ethics policies. His work has been presented on television, public radio and in publications such as the Journal of Clinical Ethics, Harvard Magazine, U.S. Medicine, and the Washington Post. He has spoken at health, educational and business institutions worldwide to include the United Nations and European Commission.

James B. Cronin, vice president and director of UMGC’s Asia Division, will preside over the ceremony. The ceremony will include the presentation of the Stanley J. Drazek Teaching Excellence Award to Professor Cynthia McGinnis. Prof. McGinnis has been with UMGC for three years and teaches mathematics.

In addition to the ceremony, a post-commencement reception will be held at the same location, beginning about 4 p.m.

For more information about the UMGC commencement ceremony in Tokyo, please click HERE.

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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UMGC Highlights Fire Prevention Month and Educational Opportunities Available to First Responders

October is Fire Prevention Month, and last week (Oct. 3-9) was recognized as Fire Prevention Week, which aims to raise awareness on fire safety to protect people and their homes. Faculty experts from the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) recently discussed fire safety tips and how UMGC educates first responders, law enforcement and other professionals.

“The latest fire safety campaign recommends sleeping with your bedroom door closed, so it puts that barrier between you and the fire and controls the spread, and also to create an evacuation plan for your house,” said Ralph Hutton, collegiate associate professor for homeland, intelligence and emergency management. “Make sure your smoke detectors are working and your batteries are replaced every six months.”

Hutton is currently updating content for Fire Prevention, Organization and Management course, which is part of the Fire Administration minor at UMGC for undergraduate students. Other courses in the minor include Fire and Emergency Services Administration, Personnel Management for Fire and Emergency Services, Community Risk Reduction for the Fire and Emergency Services and Emergency Services Training and Education. All the classes are modeled after the National Fire Academy’s Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education curriculum.

The Fire Administration minor can accompany one of the following bachelor programs: public safety administration, homeland security, investigative forensics or legal studies. Graduate students can also advance their knowledge by obtaining a master’s degree in one of three specialties: emergency management, homeland security management or intelligence management. Certificates are available as an undergraduate in Public Safety Executive Leadership or graduate Homeland Security Management specialization.

“We have instructors with extensive experience and students who are working in the field themselves, so the scholar-practitioner is a benefit to our students,” said Christopher Swain, program director for the public safety administration program at UMGC and a retired Major from the Harford County Sheriff’s Office in Maryland. “Our instructors have a range of professional backgrounds from fire chiefs to emergency managers.”

Brian Powers, program director of homeland, intelligence and emergency management and

collegiate associate professor, pointed out that emerging technologies play a crucial role in educating professionals to respond to fire emergencies, natural and human-made disasters, urgent situations and much more. 

Recent innovations include fire behavior computer modeling, which can help assess risks before wildfires start and project their path and growth. 

“The use of drones is increasingly important for firefighters because they can be equipped with sensors, which can produce infrared photos and artificial intelligence of the fire area,” Powers said. “This helps gather information for the positioning of firefighters and managing resources.”

The impact of climate change is a growing factor attributed to the frequency of wildfires in the United States. Last year, an estimated four percent of California’s total land burned in numerous and more intense wildfires. 

Sabrina Fu, program director and collegiate professor of UMGC’s environmental science and management program, says, “The experts often say climate change is a threat multiplier for fires because of droughts and extreme weather.”

Powers highlighted the intertwined responsibilities of law enforcement, public safety and emergency management when dealing with various crisis situations, including wildfires. “If someone set a fire, all three sectors could be involved in the investigation” Powers said. 

For more information on UMGC’s various program offerings available to first responders or law enforcement, visit umgc.edu.

World Teachers Day: A UMGC Classroom Can Be Anywhere

John Barbato has an uncommon claim to fame: He has taught for University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) on three continents.

“I’ve been all over Europe, the Middle East and South America for a year when UMGC had a program in Montevideo, Uruguay, in the early 1990s,” he said. “I’ve also had the privilege of being deployed to many remote sites like Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Bahrain. The list is long.”

Barbato is one of approximately 565 UMGC overseas faculty members for whom a classroom may be any place in the world. These educators usually teach in education centers on military bases—except when COVID-19 drove them to online education platforms—but they also have moments where a class might unfold in a tent, in a building stairwell, in a bunker.

They are drawn to the experience because of their links to the military, by their interest in nontraditional students, by their love of travel or, sometimes, by all three.

On Oct. 5, World Teachers’ Day, the experiences of these UMGC teachers especially resonate.

UMGC Psychology Professor Mindy Otis said teaching in a global classroom has been her best job. She enjoys her students and she gets to indulge her lifelong love of travel. Before joining UMGC as a full-time faculty member, she had multiple positions in the education field, including as a special education administrator and a school principal.

“I was living in Connecticut and I didn’t like the job I had. It was very stressful. I was looking for a change,” she said. She spotted a UMGC advertisement for overseas teachers and applied.

That was seven years ago, and she hasn’t looked back.

For Renaldo Walker, teaching at UMGC has an intensely personal significance. Walker is both a former servicemember and a former UMGC student. Deployed to Germany to support Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, he began studying German through the university. Today he is a full-time faculty member teaching graduate and undergraduate business, human resources and project management classes in Germany.

“The experience of being away from the United States and still having the possibility to pursue a valuable education with a respectable institution was influential in paving the way to where I am now,” Walker said. “I always valued what it meant to me as a member of the military to be academically supported away from home.”

Walker, even while teaching, continues his own education at UMGC. He is pursuing a doctorate in business administration.

Walker noted the irony of his current career, given that he was interested in sports—not education—when he was young. He described himself as an “at times below average” student when he joined the Air Force in 1987.

Several years into his military service, he felt “it would be an honor to travel abroad and pay service to our military members, Department of Defense employees and contractors, and their families in their pursuit of academic accomplishment.”

Gretchen Koenig, meanwhile, had always wanted to teach outside the United States. A professor of English, speech and writing since 2016, she said her position with UMGC in Europe “was a perfect fit.”

The theme for World Teachers’ Day in 2021 is “teachers at the heart of education recovery.” When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, most stateside UMGC classes were already online or hybrid, which is a combination of online and in-classroom. At military education centers overseas, however, in-person classes were the norm.

The pandemic was a game changer. Walker described it as “the biggest challenge that I have experienced” in teaching.

John Nolan, a UMGC professor of history, leads field study courses in which students do online work and reading then meet for guided travel marked by lectures, museum visits, meetings with local experts and other on-the-ground experiences. Nolan was in London with a field study group when he got word that countries were locking down because of the novel coronavirus. His students managed to finish their trip, but a field study program in Spain was derailed mid-week.

Despite needing to shift gears for COVID-19, Nolan said he enjoyed the challenges that came with teaching online. “Though the classes have been small, the students have responded well and produced some of the best work I have seen from undergraduates so that, too, is rewarding,” he said.

Otis, meanwhile, was teaching in Korea when the global lockdowns started. “I’ve been in quarantine four-and-a-half times,” she said, “but being in Germany or Korea, compared with the United States, was much more restrictive. We were shut down and the only thing you could do was go to the grocery store or pharmacy or pick up takeout.”

She said the isolation of lockdown was hard, and her students in Italy and Germany seemed to arrive at the Zoom classes seeking both academic and social engagement.

“My students would stay online after class and we would all chat. It was our social exposure,” she explained.

Indeed, the interaction with students—and the opportunity to unleash their potential—is one of the things that drives Walker passion for teaching. He recalled the time when an MBA student was in touch to say a job would prevent her from attending the first cohort weekend in his class. Shortly afterward, Walker learned that the student was taking steps to drop the course.

“A program coordinator … was instrumental in advising her that she should first speak with me before doing anything further. She agreed, we eventually spoke and during our telephone conversation, she began to cry and explain to me that the office where she worked was understaffed so she was working most weekends, and that she was trying her hardest to establish work-life balance while also being a wife and mother of three,” Walker said.

The student was ashamed that she wasn’t keeping pace with the rest of her cohort.

“I went on to make a deal with her that she should suspend all efforts to catch up on her classwork until she had the opportunity to meet with her cohort. If she still felt ashamed after that point, then I would fully respect her wishes to withdraw from the course,” Walker said.

She went to class, met the other students and explained her situation.

“Needless to say, she fell in love with the cohort, caught up with her classwork, confronted her [work] manager about the importance of her pursuing her education and became one of the best students that I ever had,” Walker said. The woman completed her MBA, becoming the first woman in her family with a graduate degree.

Otis, too, finds it gratifying to see her students achieve.

“My students are the best part of the job. They never cease to amaze me,” she said. “Some of them come out of less-than-stellar K-12 education and they think they aren’t college material, that they can’t learn. Then they come to UMGC and realize, ‘Hey, I can do this!’”

Koenig noted that teaching servicemembers overseas often feels exactly like teaching students stateside—and then she is reminded of “the different stressors that our students have to content with.

“Many of these students are away from home for the first time, living in a foreign country, and many are facing deployments or training to additional countries. They are trying to maintain a stable life at home while everything around them is different,” she explained. “That potential loss of equilibrium can make classes more challenging.

“The actual classes and classroom interactions aren’t different, but the concerns or distractions weighing on our student’s minds certainly are,” she added.

Barbato said it’s not only the unexpected experience of teaching against a backdrop of different countries, cultures and challenges but, sometimes, the unusual form the classrooms themselves take.

On the first night of a teaching assignment in Kandahar, Afghanistan, his class was interrupted by sirens signaling a rocket attack. He was instructed to crawl under a table in the classroom until the group moved to a bunker.

“Once in the bunker, which was pitch black, I asked, “Can I still talk?’” Barbato recalled. “I was told I could, so I continued on with the class as I would have anywhere, going over the syllabus, the assignments, forming groups and talking about human resource management.

“We had been in the bunker for almost two hours when a student said, ‘Professor, it’s nine o’clock,’ pointing to his watch. The class was scheduled to go from 6 to 9 p.m.

“I said, ‘Do you have somewhere to go?’ We all laughed a bit and then we kept discussing human resource management until we were given the all-clear sign,” he said.

Not surprisingly, many of the UMGC faculty overseas love being on the road, and they take advantage of the opportunity to travel when they can.

Otis is an old hat at off-the-beaten-track experiences. On one trip she visited an amusement park in the bottom of a salt mine in Turda, Romania. On another, she tried out a multi-level trampoline in a coal mine in northern Wales. A 5,000-miles road trip took her through several countries.

“Before I came to UMGC, I was a normal suburban soccer mom. I went to work, I came home, I did potluck,” she said. “I love the life I have now. Next weekend I’m going hiking by myself in the Canary Islands.”

In Nolan’s 23 years with UMGC, he has taught in nine locations in Germany, six in the UK, four in Italy, three in Belgium and two in Bosnia. He has also had multiple postings in Kuwait, Bahrain, Afghanistan and Diego Garcia. His field study courses, notably in Ireland and France, give him an extra opportunity to travel when he’s not at his home, a small farm in rural

Cornwall where, as he puts it, “I wear bib overalls a lot.”

For all his postings with UMGC, Barbato’s link to the university came through his father who retired from the military, served as dean of the European operations of a U.S. college that no longer exists and then taught at UMGC for 17 years.

Just out of college and ready to begin a job as an investment banker in New York, Barbato found his father trying to lure him back to Europe, where Barbato had attended school on military bases.

“My father had financed my studies in the form of a loan. He told me, that if I came over to Europe and taught with him for one year, he would erase the loan,” Barbato said. “That one year turned into 32 years and going.”

Barbato teaches business courses, including management and marketing. He is assigned to Germany’s Ramstein Air Base, the same base where his father served. At the Commencement ceremony marking the last year his father taught, the father and son—both UMGC faculty members—walked across the stage together.

UMGC Partners with FPA NCA to Offer Free Financial Advice 

Last month, staff and students from the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) Certified Planning Program (CFP) collaborated with the Financial Planning Association National Capital Area (FPA NCA) to host a virtual Financial Wellness Day. The event offered the public an opportunity to take part in pivotal educational workshops and receive one-on-one advice from a certified financial planner.  

“The UMGC Virtual Financial Wellness Day was the first time many attendees met with a financial planner,” said Kathleen Sindell, CFP, program director and professor of finance and economics. “Before the day, many of our UMGC personal financial planning students had never spoke with an expert planner about their day-to-day duties and experiences.”

Sindell and Peter Munger, JD, department chair of finance and economics, coordinated the event with the help of FPA NCA, industry speakers, and UMGC Certified Financial Planning program students and staff volunteers. Thanks to the day’s success, nearly 80 individuals received free, private consultations on financial issues ranging from household budgeting, debt, income taxes, mortgages, college expenses, estate planning and insurance. 

The day was structured so participants could attend up to three presentations in a virtual auditorium, in addition to one-on-one financial counseling. The presentations addressed key personal finance topics, such as basic investing and retirement and estate planning. Three lucky participants walked away with one door prize, which included the AverMedia Live Streamer Webcam, Apple AirPods and Fitbit Versa 3 Motivational Smartwatch. Participants also received 30-day access to the Financial Wellness website.

“I enjoy being able to give each client a personalized experience. In fact, my five-year goal is to become a financial adviser at a small to medium-sized financial advising firm,” said Rachel Woodward, a finance major at UMGC and student volunteer at the Financial Wellness Day. “I am currently working as a financial advising intern at Global Advisor Group in Reston, Virginia. My ultimate goal is to earn my CFP certification.”

The 2021 Financial Wellness Day provides valuable financial advice to those who needed it, and UMGC aspires to continue this important service. A survey will go out to attendees in October, and plans are in the works to use the feedback to plan a financial wellness event in 2022.

2021 GenCyber Campers Gain the Toolkit to Prepare the Next Generation

High school teachers gathered virtually for an intensive week-long workshop designed to help incorporate cybersecurity into school curriculum. The program, offered with the support of University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC), provided educators with an array of skills, games, labs, and supporting tools and technologies to take back to their classrooms.

“What stood out to me was the way that we were able to build a community of teachers by the end of the week,” said Brandie Shatto, program chair for the GenCyber camp and professor of instructional technology at UMGC. “We were able to incorporate activities throughout the camp that required collaboration and allowed the teachers to get to know each other and the instructional staff.”

Last offered in 2019 as an in-person event, this year’s July 26-30 camp was delivered via Zoom, but that did not stop participants from thriving in a collaborative environment.

Kyra Walker

The teachers came from high schools in five Maryland counties, as well as the District of Columbia, northern Virginia, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. They represented a broad range of subject areas, including homeland security, computer science, data structures, engineering, networking, and library sciences. The program exposed them to the many facets of cybersecurity.

“I hope to give my students an insight to an undiscovered portal,” said Kyra Walker,a resource teacher for the gifted at the Arlington Career Center in Arlington, Virginia. “I’m looking forward to incorporating the skills of ethical hacking into our problem-based learning projects.”

Leading the instruction at the event were Shannon Beck, assistant professor of computer and cyber sciences at the United States Air Force Academy, and Kim Mentzell, cybersecurity program manager at the Maryland Department of Commerce.

“The diversity, deep experience, and interest of the teacher participants was particularly notable this year,” said Beck. “One of the notable interactions was a debate about privacy centered around views for cell phone access.”

In addition to cybersecurity training relevant to grades 9–12, camp participants receive cybersecurity curriculum development support, resources to take back to the classroom, a $1,300 stipend for full program participation, and a certificate of completion.