For UMGC Alum, Cyber Competitions Improve Skills that On-the-Job Training Overlooks

Chris Haller loves capture the flag competitions (CTFs). The University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) graduate, who received his B.S. in Computer Networks and Security in 2017 and M.S. in Cybersecurity Management and Policy in 2020, frequently enters these cybersecurity events where individuals compete in security-themed challenges for the purpose of obtaining the highest score.

“They are a huge plus for my career,” he said. “They allow me to hone my skills and they compel me to apply what I’ve learned.”

Haller, the director of Professional Services at Centripetal Networks in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, added that cybersecurity competitions are one of the biggest things he looks for when he hires for his company. “CTFs can help bridge the experience gap for new grads trying to break into cyber,” he said.

Haller’s passion for cybersecurity started young. Driven by his own curiosity, he was always interested in computers and video games. “I was lucky enough to find a position with the Navy to provide formal training,” he said.

Haller’s early enthusiasm for computers, combined with his professional experience in all things cyber, has paid off. He recently captured first-place in the National Cyber League Individual competition, a twice-a-year performance-based collegiate cybersecurity competition that draws more than 6,000 participants.

The National Cyber League, a mission-driven organization that focuses on preparing the next generation of cybersecurity professionals, is known in the competition world as offering some of the most challenging events. For Haller, the biggest challenge is time management and accuracy.

“Entrants are required to answer questions across a three-day period, so it requires a significant time investment,” he said.

Haller’s competition experience has led to on-the-job success, as he and his team address some of the biggest challenges of the day, notably to proactively block advanced threats before they can damage networks.

“At Centripetal we’ve found a way to do this by ingesting cyber threat intelligence, which tells us which IPs and domain names are malicious, and we stop it at the perimeter,” he said. “By stopping attacks at the reconnaissance stage, we prevent malicious attacks downstream.”

Haller believes more cybersecurity teams need to adopt this approach of blocking known malicious threats before they reach the perimeter. “

Every organization that manages a security information and event management system (SIEM) can see millions of alerts every day about the attacks launched against their environment. There is simply no way for a human to review them all,” he said. “Blocking with intelligence about known malicious activity on the internet reduces the number of alerts in the SIEM to manageable levels, making it easier to investigate for malicious activity.”

With billions of threat alerts bombarding defense organizations every day, Haller believes that the industry should be more proactive in its approach—using designated hit lists to block known bad actors from the web and free up time and energy to go after as-yet-unidentified threats.

When he’s not honing his skills in cyber competitions or researching nation-state bad actors damaging organizations around the world, Haller enjoys providing value to customers through professional services, such as penetration testing and incident response. Down the road, he hopes to give back.

“I would like to see myself in a teaching position as well, helping others understand the things I’ve learned on how to protect networks from attacks,” he said.

Juneteenth: Carrying its Meaning Around the World

Juneteenth may be a federal holiday in the United States, but many people do not know its history or understand its significance. Faculty and staff at University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) stepped forward this month to change that.

On June 12, a week before the United States’ newest holiday, members of the UMGC Diversity Council in Germany hosted a Juneteenth event on Ramstein Air Base. The Diversity Council also recorded videos of faculty in Asia and Europe speaking about the importance of the date, which is celebrated this year on June 20. And the UMGC Europe Book Club dovetailed its reading with a literary classic that springboards from Juneteenth.

“Events like this are important to not only celebrate special observances and heritage months but also educate and raise awareness,” said Patricia Jameson, who directs UMGC’s overseas diversity and equity programs in Europe and Asia. “In the spirit of our core values [of] diversity and people first, our staff and faculty are our competitive advantage, and we leverage our rich diversity to educate our communities on topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“As educators, we have the social responsibility to help educate our communities,” Jameson added.

Slavery was abolished in the United States in 1862, but it took another three years for the news to spread. Juneteenth marks the June 19, 1865, announcement in Galveston, Texas, that all enslaved people were free. For many generations of Black families, it has long been a day of celebration. For the general public, however, it is not a story that has been widely told.

In a Juneteenth message to faculty and staff, UMGC President Greg Fowler underscored the university’s role in carrying forward the significance of Juneteenth to make the world “more equitable, more inclusive, and more just.”

“More than two years had passed since President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, and today, as we observe Juneteenth, my thoughts turn to those around the world who are still waiting for their circumstances to change,” Fowler said in a broadcast message. “Education has long offered an opportunity for individuals to influence those circumstances, but for too many, economic or societal factors have stood in the way.

“At UMGC, it is our privilege and solemn obligation to bring learning experiences in reach that have the power to transform lives, families and communities,” he added.

UMGC Europe led off this year’s Juneteenth events with the public celebration at the Ramstein Air Base, where discussions centered on the significance of the date. The event was also designed to foster community and build relationships. Games, snacks, music, and dramatic readings from UMGC staff and community members were part of the activities. One discussion focused on how to explain Juneteenth’s origins to children.

Matthew Mackey, a Diversity Council member and academic adviser at the Ramstein Education Center, described the event as “both jubilant and reflective.” The guest speaker was award-winning poet Mervyn Seivwright, who read from his work.

The week that followed was marked by the Juneteenth Video Project. Jameson said the Europe and Asia faculty members she videotaped—Professor of Psychology LaShawn Thompson, Professor of Business Steven Carter and Professor of History Anita Anthony—recounted when they first learned about the historic date and what it meant to them.

“The purpose of the video is to educate viewers about Juneteenth,” Jameson said. “When we first hosted a webinar in June 2020 on the significance, history and celebration of Juneteenth, at least half of the attendees did not know about [the day]. The faculty stepped up and offered to participate in an educational video to help educate our community, including local military, students, staff and faculty.”  

Carter, based in Europe, said in the video that he learned about Juneteenth just three years ago.

“I gained a deeper understanding of … how the message of ending slavery was actually communicated from the federal level down to ordinary people and how slaveowners restricted the flow of this information,” Carter said. “More importantly, how this news was received with such great jubilation and marked the end of an era and how it was worthy of a celebration so that future generations would not forget.”

Anita Anthony-Van Orsdal

Anita Anthony-Van Orsdal, who teaches history at UMGC in Asia, said in her video that the Juneteenth celebrations should be something all Americans honor and observe.

“I have had the opportunity to attend some Juneteenth celebrations and each time I am amazed to find out historical stories I had not heard before. …The spirit of celebration, of joy and inclusion, is warm and welcoming to all,” she noted.

Jessica Stock, the professor of English literature who leads the UMGC Europe Book Club, selected Ralph Ellison’s “Juneteenth” for the club’s June 28 meeting. The book club brings together staff, faculty and students every other month for lively discussions that unfold both online and in person. Stock said 150 people connect with the club’s discussions via Facebook while about a dozen more take part in person.

Stock, who also serves on the Diversity Council, said the hour-long book discussions focus on diversity topics. She described the June book selection as especially meaningful, even beyond its title.

“Ellison’s work is incredibly important to the American canon of literature. His descriptions of race and justice … are some of the most important in 20th century literature,” Stock said.

She added that the selection of “Juneteenth” carried special relevance because of the book’s history. The original book manuscript was lost in a 1967 house fire, and Ellison had to start the book over. He died before he finished the work, and a friend continued the project using Ellison’s notes. The book was published posthumously.

Stock said the never-finished characteristic of this book, and the way it was passed on, could describe the civil rights movement. 

Jameson noted that the Juneteenth activities supported values elevated by both UMGC and the military.

“Military communities are reaching out to us to help them build their DEI [diversity, equity, inclusion] curriculum, and we are stepping up to support them using various means,” Jameson said, pointing to webinars, on-site conferences, hybrid conferences and monthly diversity dialogues.

UMGC General Counsel Sherri Sampson Among Women We Admire List of Top 50 Women Leaders of DC

Adelphi, Md. (June 17, 2022)—Sherri Sampson, vice president and general counsel at University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC), was named to the Women We Admire Top 50 Women Leaders of DC list. Women We Admire is an influential news and information website that highlights exceptional women in a variety of fields, including law, business, sports, medicine, and entertainment.

“This group of accomplished individuals dedicate themselves to the betterment of society and the organizations they serve,” said the website in announcing the list. “We recognize these trailblazers for raising the bar in their fields, paving the way for future women in their profession.”

Sampson came to UMGC in 2019 and has steadily upgraded the role of the Office of Legal Affairs in navigating the complex higher education environment, establishing a new university-wide compliance and risk management oversight function as well as leading a project to develop and implement an enhanced information governance program with a keen focus on strengthening privacy and security policies and practices at UMGC.

“I am truly honored to be recognized with such accomplished women,” said Sampson. “I am driven by serving my family, profession and community and I appreciate the recognition.”

Sampson leads a team of lawyers in providing legal advice and recommendations on student matters, human resources, state ethics, real estate and procurement, state, military and global compliance, accreditation, and state authorization, as well as key business transactions and venture opportunities. She also leads a team of compliance practitioners focused on enterprise risk, data privacy, records and policy management.

Before joining UMGC, Sampson was a chief human resources officer, general counsel, and secretary at the Graduate Management Admission Council®, and before that, a corporate and securities associate at the law firm of Hogan & Hartson (now Hogan Lovells). Earlier in her career, she was a corporate associate with the law firm of Perkins Coie.

Sampson earned a JD from the University of Washington School of Law and an undergraduate degree in comparative area studies from Duke University.

Women We Admire covers a broad range of topics and areas of interest aimed at recognizing the achievements of exceptional women while inspiring others to aim high and continue their journey towards reaching their full potential.  Women We Admire and its affiliates circulate its content to over 32,000 individuals and businesses.

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 125 fully online, hybrid and face-to-face 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.

UMGC Alumnus Launches Business with Young Son

When UMGC alumnus Jason Kuhn ’20 was furloughed at the start of the COVID-19 lockdown and his young son Logan was home e-learning, they decided to launch a business.

Kuhn and 11-year-old Logan transformed their love of cooking together and gardening into LJ Sauce Company. LJ Sauce Company sells hot sauces, and $1 of every hot sauce purchase is donated to charity.

“We grow all our own peppers, and right now we have about 28 pepper plants out in the backyard,” Kuhn explained. “Anything from jalapenos, serrano, and banana peppers all the way up to Trinidad Scorpion Butch T and Carolina Reaper.”

From a young age, Logan loved learning about dinosaurs and drawing them. His role at LJ Sauces is watering the plants daily and designing labels for the bottles, which are named after dinosaurs. Examples include Raptors Revenge, T-Rex Tummy, Ankylosaurus Acid, Baryonyx Bourbon Blast, and Brachiosaurus Belly Bomb. LJ Sauces also has barbecue and garlic sauces, and T-Rex rubs are in the works.

“My favorite part was creating the labels. I got to color in pictures and name the dinosaurs,” Logan said. “We then uploaded them to the computer and created our label for the sauce. I also enjoy working the events and selling the sauce to customers. It is a great feeling when someone enjoys the sauce and makes the purchase.”

Logan’s dad is trying to teach him about return on investment, how much it costs to start a business and how to turn a profit and give to others. Charities supported by LJ Sauces include United Way, Action Against Hunger, Jacob’s Chance, which promotes autism awareness in North Carolina, and Pathfinders for Autism out of Hunt Valley, Maryland.

“We meet monthly and go over the numbers and I try to teach him more about the business aspect of it. For example, we had to take inventory out for this to be able to create a demo bottle, which means we have a profit-and-loss statement that we must start comparing and to show where our money is going,” Kuhn said. “And obviously, we have to know what the cost of the bottle is and what it costs to fill it up.”

Kuhn’s day job is working in sales for Tempur-Sealey International, which makes Tempur-Pedic mattresses. His part-time gig is managing JL Sauces with Logan. What makes JL Sauces successful? Kuhn points to skills he learned during the nonprofit marketing class, Marketing 314, he took at UMGC while studying for his bachelor’s degree in marketing.

“We discuss the operational side, the marketing side and touch on the history of nonprofits, and the students get inspired, often, to consider a career with a nonprofit organization after they’re finished the course,” said Eve Longlade, adjunct associate professor. “I get a lot of feedback that it’s now perhaps a career direction that they want to pursue.”

Longlade remembers teaching Kuhn. “He was excellent in his participation and the discussions in the course. In engaging with me and his classmates, he stood out,” she said.

She noted that the course inspired Kuhn to add a giving-back component to LJ Sauces.

“Without Professor Longlade’s class, I don’t think this would have started because I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind to start a business. Her class sparked something in me, and I was good to go,” Kuhn said. “The class opened my mind up to the endless possibilities of how to actually start the business and what marketing can provide to a business.”

Two years since starting LJ Sauces, Kuhn and Logan are developing new products, attending local pop-up events, and maintaining their web presence.

University of Maryland Global Campus and Metropolitan Community College Establish Transfer Agreement to Accelerate Pathwayto a Bachelor’s Degree

Adelphi, Md. (June 15, 2022)—University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) and Metropolitan Community College (MCC), the oldest public institution of higher learning in Kansas City, Mo., have announced a partnership that will expand the reach of UMGC’s 90 online academic programs and increase the affordability of a bachelor’s degree to MCC’s nearly 14,000 students.

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

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

“We are pleased to join with Metropolitan Community College to increase access to quality online bachelor’s programs and accelerate the pathway to a four-year degree,” said Blakely Pomietto, senior vice president and chief academic officer at UMGC. “It is critical to provide a seamless process for MCC’s students to ultimately achieve their educational goals as efficiently and affordably as possible.”

UMGC has an enrollment of some 90,000 students—more than half of whom are active-duty military personnel and their families serving on military bases around the world—and offers award-winning online, in-person and hybrid 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.

“We are excited about this new partnership with UMGC,” said Sue Gochis, chief academic officer and vice chancellor of instruction at MCC. “This relationship is completely aligned with the Metropolitan Community College mission:  Preparing students, serving communities, and creating opportunities for all.   Providing increased access to transfer opportunities is one of the ways in which we can continue to serve our students in their educational journey.”

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

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. 

About Metropolitan Community College

Metropolitan Community College, founded in 1915 as the Kansas City Polytechnic Institute, is the oldest public institution of higher learning in Kansas City, Mo., and was the first community college established in Missouri. The Junior College of Kansas City, as it was known starting in 1919, was one of the first schools in the country to award an associate degree. Today, MCC offers 125 associate degree and certificate programs and serves nearly 14,000 students at five campuses (MCC-Blue River, MCC-Longview, MCC-Maple Woods, MCC-Online, and MCC-Penn Valley).

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University of Maryland Global Campus Signs Agreement with NSA to Accelerate Pathways to Undergraduate and Graduate Degrees

Transfer Agreement with NSA’s National Cryptologic University Includes Discounted Tuition at UMGC

Adelphi, Md. (June __, 2022)—University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) and the National Security Agency have signed an agreement that allows students to transfer credit earned in a range of subject areas from NSA’s National Cryptologic University (NCU) toward an associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees at UMGC.

The new agreement will allow NCU students and those that complete the Joint Cyber Analysis Course to apply up to 45 semester hours of transfer credit from any approved college or university, military training, and other non-traditional sources toward an associate degree at UMGC. Further, UMGC may accept 90 semester hours of transfer credit from any approved college or university, military training, and other non-traditional sources toward a bachelor’s degree.

The agreement extends to NCU students seeking master’s degrees, with UMGC accepting up to 6 semester hours of credit from an approved institution toward a master’s degree, if the credits are related to a student’s program of study. The agreement also allows for a maximum of 70 semester hours that may be transferred by a NCU student, from approved two-year community colleges.

“With this agreement, a NCU student doesn’t have to worry that the credit from a highly specialized course won’t immediately transfer to UMGC and possibly delay their pursuit of a degree,” said Blakely Pomietto, UMGC’s senior vice president and chief academic officer. “By mapping NCU courses to UMGC’s curriculum and offering a tuition discount, we can save students valuable time and financial resources.”

“This articulation agreement provides additional avenues for the NSA workforce to continue their education while decreasing the time it takes for them to complete their degree,” says National Cryptologic University’s Commandant Dr. Mark Asselin. “NSA’s National Cryptologic University is proud to have an agreement with University of Maryland Global Campus that provides additional opportunities for educational development to our workforce.” 

NCU students who enroll in UMGC courses will get a discount on tuition and have access to the university’s 90+ fully online academic programs, including in high-demand fields such as cybersecurity, data analytics and business. UMGC has also replaced costly textbooks with no-cost digital resources in most classes, saving students thousands of dollars over the course of their degree programs.

More information about UMGC’s transfer credit policies is available HERE.

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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UMGC Recognized for Environmentally Sustainable Practices

University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) is committed to making a difference in being more sustainable as a university across the globe.

The Maryland Department of General Services recently awarded UMGC an honorable mention for success in ramping up green purchases over the year. UMGC’s Office of Procurement and Business Affairs and Facilities tracked its purchases and compiled a report that showed its gains on the sustainability front. 

“UMGC is committed to improving the environment by reducing our carbon footprint,” said UMGC Associate Vice President George Trujillo. “It’s a great honor to have our efforts recognized by the Department of General Services.”

The comprehensive report listed all green purchases in the following areas: construction and maintenance, janitorial supplies, lighting products, paints and coatings, and IT equipment.

UMGC last year was also named an All STAR (All State Agencies Recycle) organization thanks to its recycling rating of 70 percent. All STAR is the Maryland government agency recycling program. 

While working inside its operations to lessen its impact on the planet, the university also reached outward with several awareness events in celebration of Earth Day 2022, the theme of which was “Invest in Our Planet.” 

Earth Day: Our Planet, Our People

In a wide-ranging discussion, a UMGC event on the history of Earth Day looked at what has happened in the half-century since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established in tandem with four cornerstone laws aimed at protecting the environment.

“It is estimated that 45 million Americans are breathing air that is dirtier now than it was 50 years ago when the NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act] was passed,” said Theresa Martin, D.M., in a presentation for Earth Day: Our Planet, Our People. NEPA requires federal agencies to gauge the environmental impact of their projects and programs.  

Martin’s comments came as part of UMGC’s Europe Earth Day webinar. Patricia Jameson, director of UMGC’s Overseas Diversity and Equity Programs, planned and coordinated the webinar.

Earth Day was established with bipartisan support in 1970 to raise awareness about air and water pollution after a massive oil spill. With the first Earth Day, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was founded, and a quartet of environmental laws were enacted: NEPA, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), the Clean Air Act, and the Endangered Species Act.

Overseas collegiate associate professor and faculty coordinator in Germany, Martin also discussed the Superfund, which was designed to clean up sites contaminated by hazardous materials. She used New York’s Love Canal as an example. The abandoned canal project from the 1940s, just off the Niagara River in the city of Niagara Falls, became a landfill for a chemical plant. After it was closed and sealed, the land was given to the city, and houses and a school were built. A few years later, many people became sick with unexplainable illnesses. 

A state of emergency was declared in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter and funds were used to relocate the affected families. As a result of Love Canal and other toxic waste dumps, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as the Superfund Act, was created. 

“What the Superfund Act does is it allows Congress to give federal funds to clean up disasters. There’s a little bit more to it than that, but it establishes a fund that can clean up these natural disasters,” Martin said. “It also allows for short-term and long-term responses and tracking.”

As another example of the impact of human activity on the environment, Martin pointed to the Flint, Michigan, water crisis. A switch in drinking water sources in the city of Flint led to thousands of people drinking and using lead-contaminated water in their homes.

“An American city failed to provide basic protections to its citizens, and now the children of Flint have much higher than normal levels of lead in their blood,” Martin said.

Aida Lebbos, associate vice president of institutional strategic projects and compliance, also commented on the water crisis. 

“What happened in Flint, Michigan, was a tragedy. It should not have happened,” she said.

The webinar concluded with comments from the audience.

Driving Electric: The Future Is Now

Ron Kaltenbaugh, president of the Electric Vehicle Association of Greater Washington D.C. (EVADC) looked into the history of electric vehicles, as well as the health and climate benefits of electric cars, during an Earth Day discussion coordinated by UMGC’s Office of Diversity and Equity and Office of Facilities Management.

In discussing the energy efficiency of electric vehicles (EVs), Kaltenbaugh noted that lower operating costs were also a benefit. 

“This is especially true today with gasoline prices high and rising, and we can see that the electric fuel costs are much lower,” he said. “But it’s also a personal benefit with the lack of toxic fumes, the lower maintenance costs and the instant torque of the electric motor, which provides good acceleration.”

Kaltenbaugh explained to event participants the difference between a hybrid vehicle and two types of electric vehicles. Hybrid vehicles have a gasoline engine with a small battery pack that assists the gasoline engine for more fuel efficiency or better performance. Plug-in hybrid vehicles have a charger plug and a larger battery for 10 to 50 miles of electric-only range, he noted. All hybrids and electric vehicles extend their range by capturing energy when braking, which also reduces wear and tear on the brakes.  

Kaltenbaugh also detailed the advantages of EVs powered solely by batteries.

“Here we’re starting to seriously get into being able to avoid gasoline usage and go on electric-only,” Kaltenbaugh explained. “And then we have battery only—no gas engine—that means no muffler and no spark plugs.”

photo provided by Ron Kaltenbaugh

In discussing ways to recharge electric cars, Kaltenbaugh noted that a standard outlet from a house provides enough energy per hour to enable a vehicle to drive three to five miles. However, EVs typically use a 240-volt circuit plug that offers more power per hour—enough to drive from 12 to 46 miles. After a half-hour charge with direct current (DC) fast-charging plugs, meanwhile, an EV can drive 50 to 200 miles. 

The webinar ended with information on the federal tax credit available to EV owners. A tax credit as high as $7,500 is available for EVs with the credit-dependent upon battery size.

(click to enlarge) UMGC staff who own EVs were featured at the end of the presentation. The EVs include: Teslas, Jeep hybrid option, Nissan Leaf, Toyota Prius, Ford Mustang and Subaru Crosstrek

Investing in Our Planet—and Each Other—Workshop

The Investing in Our Planet—and Each Other gathering turned the tables to examine individuals’ connections to the environment and the guardian role people can play.

The discussion with breakout sessions was organized by Sabrina Fu, Ph.D., program director and collegiate professor of UMGC’s Environmental Science and Management Program. Fu is also the faculty director of the university’s Environmental Awareness Club, which has 517 members.

“We all want to be empowered to be part of solutions in the 21st century and need to work on critical thinking, communications and creativity,” Fu said. “Each of us has a unique connection to what brings us to care about the environment and why we want to invest in our planet and each other.”

The webinar conversation started with a few participants sharing photos that reminded them of Earth Day and helping the environment. For example, Suzanne Agan offered a photo that showed her leading a sustainable agriculture conference at an orphanage outside of Nairobi, Kenya. Agan is an adjunct assistant professor of environmental science and management at UMGC.

photo provided by Suzanne Agan

“When I think of Earth Day and how important it is to be sustainable, I think of getting people where they need to be. And that’s being sustainable by reducing poverty and increasing food security,” Agan said. “And it’s just such a pleasure to work with those people and to be able to equip others to be sustainable in their own place.”

Participants assigned to break-out groups were asked to answer four questions: Why is Earth Day important to you? What initially stimulated you to speak out about the need to protect or invest in our planet? And what inspires you to continue your activism or commit to additional activism? And how does this relate to investing in our Earth and each other?

Corey Creedon, adjunct instructor of environmental science and management, teaches courses on environmental policy and talked about why Earth Day was important to him. 

“I think there’s kind of a neat aspect of Earth Day and other environmental holidays that draws public attention to the importance of the environment and how everything’s interconnected—and how we’re all living on this Earth together and our health and well-being are intertwined,” Creedon said.  

One example from student Eric Morales, a senior public safety administration major, underscored the role climate change played this winter in Minnesota, which experienced 16 tornadoes for the first time in recorded history. Weather dramas like this motivate Morales to speak out about the need to protect the planet. Morales, who also has a minor in environmental management, is a retired U.S. Air Force aircraft maintenance craftsman.

Najila Ahsan’s passion for the planet stretches beyond Earth Day. She is a regular volunteer at the neighborhood Design Center in Hyattsville, Maryland. This summer Ahsan, a senior environmental management major, has an internship with the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection. Ahsan moderated one of the breakout sessions and helped Fu plan the webinar along with Nurgul Dzhorobaeva, an environmental management major, and environmental science management faculty including Suzanne Agan, Paulo Maurin and Rhonda McBride, all adjunct associate professors, and Morgan Bliss, collegiate professor.

“I think the webinar went really well and it was great meeting everyone,” Ahsan said. “I was impressed to see how engaged people were.”

Life on Earth Day

Another event, Life on Earth Day, was held at UMGC’s Asia location. Rick Martin, Ph.D., an overseas college professor in Camp Humphreys, South Korea, was the speaker. 

“The presentation covered the history and accomplishments of Earth Day, while also describing how environmental degradation has continued since the first Earth Day events 52 years ago,” Martin said.

Participants were emboldened to think about ways to reduce their personal carbon footprint and discussed why most people have not yet made the changes needed.

“They were also encouraged to adopt the ethic that the Earth is our home and, as such, to be concerned about environmental damage no matter where in world it occurs,” Martin added. 

At the conclusion of the event, participants were given compostable toothbrushes.

“The toothbrushes served as an example that making small lifestyle changes to help prevent damage to the environment is no more difficult than the already widely adopted habit of brushing your teeth to prevent tooth decay,” Martin said.

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 Taps MJ Bishop to Lead New Integrative Learning Design Unit

Nationally Recognized Scholar Joins UMGC After Leading University System of Maryland’s 
William E. Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation 

Adelphi, Md. (May 13, 2022)—University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) has announced that MJ Bishop, Ed.D., a nationally recognized scholar and leader in the design and evaluation of effective learning environments, has been named vice president of the university’s new Integrative Learning Design unit. Dr. Bishop began her new role on April 25. 

“Dr. Bishop brings three decades of experience in learning design and an established record of impact and success to UMGC,” said Blakely Pomietto, UMGC senior vice president and chief academic officer. “She has experience both in the design and evaluation of optimally effective learning environments as well as in supporting postsecondary institutions and their faculty as they explore and adopt academic innovations aimed at improving access, affordability, and achievement for students.” 

Dr. Bishop will play a significant role in continuing UMGC’s shift to a more collaborative and holistic approach to defining, designing, and solutioning for a range of learning and learner experiences. She has a long history of collaboration with UMGC and a broad and deep understanding of the institution and the higher education landscape.  

“I am excited and honored to be leading this new unit, which will bring together UMGC’s faculty, students, learning design professionals, assessment experts, and data analysts through a collaborative design process that signifies an exciting change in how we operate and what we are offering our students,” said Bishop. “We are combining the best of what we know from subject-matter experts, the learning sciences, design research, data analytics, and the affordances of emerging technologies to create and continuously improve online courses and programs.” 

In 2013, Dr. Bishop joined the University System of Maryland (USM) Office of Academic and Student Affairs as the inaugural director of the William E. Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation, subsequently serving as assistant and later associate vice chancellor and introducing new ways of thinking about student success, equity, and inclusion across the 12 USM institutions.  

Dr. Bishop began her academic career at Lehigh University’s College of Education, where she taught for 13 years in the graduate Learning Sciences and Technology program, while exploring how cognitive processing, motivation, affect, aesthetics, group structure, communication, and systems theories inform our understanding of instructional message design and research on best design practice. 

Dr. Bishop graduated from Lebanon Valley College with a bachelor’s degree in political science and English and holds a master’s degree in English from Millersville University and a doctorate in instructional design and development from Lehigh University. 

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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Community College of Baltimore County Partners with University of Maryland Global Campus in Dual Admission Program

Adelphi, Md. (May 11, 2022)Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) has partnered with University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) to create the Degrees to Succeed Dual Admission Program, in which students are simultaneously admitted to both CCBC and UMGC. Under the new program, those students who complete an associate degree transfer credit seamlessly toward a bachelor’s degree at UMGC. The two institutions held a signing ceremony today on the CCBC campus.

The Degrees to Succeed program complements UMGC’s existing Maryland Completion Scholarship program, which allows Maryland community college graduates to transfer to UMGC and earn a bachelor’s degree for $12,000 or less.

“We are excited to partner with UMGC to give CCBC students this wonderful opportunity to fast track their educational goals,” said CCBC President Dr. Sandra Kurtinitis. “With the dual admission program, students who graduate from CCBC will be halfway toward their bachelor’s degree, and they will have access to both colleges’ resources along the way to help them succeed.”

Benefits of dual admission include acceptance of all CCBC transfer credits; co-advising with UMGC advisors to ensure CCBC courses align with the chosen UMGC program; and access to UMGC’s lifetime career services and library resources, including research help, guides, and writing and citation tutorials.UMGC also waives the $50 application fee for undergraduate transfer students enrolled at CCBC.

“Community college students are consistently shown to be high performers, and this new program builds on a proven—and affordable—pathway for CCBC students to transfer credit and continue their progress toward a bachelor’s degree at UMGC,” said Dr. Gregory Fowler, president of UMGC. “Knowing from the start that you have already been accepted to UMGC and have a scholarship that reduces the cost of a four-year degree can provide great momentum toward completion.”

UMGC was recently recognized by U.S. News Short List as the top university in the nation for transfer students. UMGC enrolled more than 9,500 new transfers in fall 2020. Even more, it has a 100 percent acceptance rate, compared with 65 percent for higher education as a whole.

For more information or to contact an admissions counselor, visit University of Maryland Global Campus Transfer Programs (ccbcmd.edu).

About the Community College of Baltimore County (www.ccbcmd.edu)

Since 1957, CCBC has opened the doors to accessible, affordable, high-quality education empowering generations of area residents to transform their lives and the lives of others. Each year, nearly 50,000 students enroll at the college’s main campuses, extension centers and online to make their starts, earn degrees, launch and build careers. CCBC offers the region’s most expansive selection of degree, certificate and workplace certification programs that prepare students for transfer, job entry and career advancement in such industries as business, education, health care, information technology, cybersecurity, construction, and transportation. Designated as the “Best Community College” among the Maryland Daily Record’s 2021 Reader Rankings, CCBC is also nationally recognized as a leader in innovative learning strategies and among the nation’s top associate degree producers.

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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