UMGC’s Gerontology and Aging Services Program Educates Tomorrow’s Leaders

November is National Family Caregivers and Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness month, and University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) is proud of its role in educating tomorrow’s leaders in the gerontology and caregiving fields.

UMGC’s Bachelor of Science in Gerontology and Aging Services provides undergraduate students with a foundation in the physiological, social and psychological aspects of aging, coupled with an understanding of programs, services and policies that impact older adults and how they age and live.

“As a society we continue to ignore the issue of ageism. I think it has a lot to do with personal fears about getting older, which in and of itself is a form of ageism,” said UMGC Collegiate Associate Professor Katherine Im. 

Im, who has served as program chair of sociology, behavioral sciences and gerontology at UMGC for more than a decade, noted that 10,000 Baby Boomers a day are now turning 65. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated that by 2030 the elder population will number 1 billion, or 12 percent of the projected global population. 

In an interview last year focused on COVID-19 and the pandemic’s impact on the aging population, Im pointed to the ageism on display in our social institutions, with long-term care facilities suddenly short staffed. 

“There was a heavy reliance on family members to provide informal care and to support the staff that was already there,” Im said, “[and] that suddenly got shut down because no one could enter the facilities. It led to a real crisis … and we’re still amid COVID.”

Before turning her attention to the aging population, Im had initially planned to focus on pediatrics. While pursuing graduate studies in clinical community psychology, her outlook changed.

“I did a year of externships in geriatrics/gerontological placements where I learned about the functional and neurological aspects of Alzheimer’s and dementia. I also spent some time in an adult daycare center, and it was there that I realized that we, as a society, don’t pay enough attention to caregiving and the caregiver burden,” Im said.

She added, “Professional caregivers aren’t given nearly enough respect – or compensation – and informal caregivers like family members provide care without compensation at great risk to their own health and well-being. We need better models, and we need leaders in gerontology to make this happen.”

Im joined UMGC in 2005 as an assistant director of psychology and social sciences and was later invited to oversee the gerontology program while pursuing a doctorate in gerontology at University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Im is a strong advocate for UMGC’s bachelor’s degree in gerontology and aging services. She pointed to two required courses in the program that she feels could benefit the broader population: End of Life: Issues and Perspectives (BEHS 380) and Retirement and Estate Planning (FINC 355).

“I think students of all ages would benefit tremendously by thinking about and planning for later life,” Im said. “Being better informed about finances and retirement, health care, and the laws and policies that impact older adults helps us all to be better advocates for our loved ones and ultimately, for ourselves. We all deserve to live and age optimally, and education is central to this endeavor.” 

UMGC requires students in the program to find a relevant internship that will help them prepare for a career in the field. One student volunteered for an organization that helps keep seniors in their homes by assisting with yard work, cleaning and meal preparation. The internship led to a full-time position after graduation.

Another student started her own geriatric care company in Pennsylvania after graduation, working with people to protect their assets while also ensuring that they get necessary care. 

“What a great business opportunity to turn that into something where you’re helping people, using the knowledge that you’ve gained through this program, through practical work that you’re doing,” said Im.

For more information on UMGC’s gerontology and aging services program, visit umgc.edu.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One big takeaway: Planning and patience are essential.

From UMGC stateside:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Where did the supply problems begin? 

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

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

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

From UMGC Europe:

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

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

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

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

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

Prices will inevitably increase as demand increases and supplies decrease.

  1. Where did these supply chain disruptions begin? 

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

From UMGC Asia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. What’s behind this supply disruption? 

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

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

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

Student Finds Home at UMGC and Connects with Fellow Veterans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Veteran and UMGC Alumnus Gives Back to Military One Day at a Time

Former President Barack Obama once remarked, “It’s about how we treat our veterans every single day of the year. It’s about making sure they have the care they need and the benefits that they’ve earned when they come home. It’s about serving all of you as well as you’ve served the United States of America.”

Obama’s 2010 speech underscores the country’s duty to those who have served in the armed forces. U.S. Army veteran Vernon Green Jr., a University of Maryland Global Campus alumnus, embraces that responsibility through his leadership of GCubed Inc., a provider of IT and cybersecurity solutions, and his mentoring and hiring of veterans.

Green received his bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity from UMGC in 2010, and his master’s degree in cybersecurity in 2014. He officially retired from the Army in March 2014 and started GCubed—shorthand for “Giving, Growing, Globally” —a month later. 

He made his company one that puts people first.

“My experience at GCubed, being a veteran hired by a company started by a veteran, has been the greatest experience I have had since leaving the military. I say this because, as a veteran, I hold my service to our nation as one of my greatest accomplishments in life, and GCubed reminds me of my military service by our culture,” said Keith King, IT manager at GCubed. “GCubed saw the value that I brought to the company as a veteran and utilized my experience to help advance our customer base and the organization.”

Twelve of GCubed’s 48 employees, including Green and King, are retired veterans. Green still has many peers and subordinates who are getting ready to transition out of the service. They contact him for career advice or to find out more about opportunities at GCubed.

“It starts out as mentorship, then communications and it grows into, ‘I like what you built, do you have an opportunity?’” Green explained. “When I can, I prioritize those because veterans come with a natural proven ability to prioritize the mission. They come with leadership experience, a whole career of lessons learned behind them. And when you take those very focused mission-first people, when you bring them into your organization, it benefits the organization.”

GCubed is a three-time winner of the Gold Medallion Award, which is given annually through
The Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans Act of 2017, for its efforts to recruit, employ and retain veterans.1 In fact, GCubed has captured the award every year since the honor was launched.  

The company also was recognized by the Financial Times in its 2021 List of The Americas’ 500 Fastest Growing Companies, grabbing the No. 153 spot, while Inc. Magazine listed GCubed at No. 171 on its second annual Inc. 5000 Regionals: D.C. Metro list. The Inc. roster is the most prestigious ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in the Washington, D.C., area. Other accolades have spotlighted GCubed’s commitment to its employees and clients.

At the time Green launched GCubed, he also started a nonprofit organization, G3 Community Services, which provided male mentors to kids. The COVID-19 pandemic forced G3 Community Services to redirect its focus to supplying food trucks to low-income areas where youngsters depended on school lunches for a meal. G3 Community Services also partnered with other area nonprofits to open a food bank. Plans are in the works for G3 Community Services to ally with AccessVR to create a virtual lab for STEM training.

Green is invested in helping the community as much as he is in elevating veterans’ workforce success. He frequently collaborates with his alma mater, sharing his experience and mentoring veteran students. When GCubed has job openings, Green lets UMGC know. The university sends resumes and contact information for anyone who fits the qualifications.

“I never in a million years imagined I would be sitting here as the CEO of a multimillion-dollar company,” Green said. “My time in the military was critical to giving me the stability, the knowledge, and the work ethic to succeed in this.”

He said leadership opportunities from his military service and learning opportunities at UMGC offered the expertise he needed.

“I just can’t say enough about how the partnership between my military service and my education at UMGC have prepared me for this role.”

For more information about the University of Maryland Global Campus, visit umgc.edu.

1 Award Recipients | HIREVets Medallion

Brain-Computer Interfaces: A New Frontier for Hackers 

Guest author Jason Pittman, Sc.D., is a collegiate faculty member at UMGC where he teaches in the School of Cybersecurity and Information Technology. 

The potential of Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs) is enormous, from helping people with disabilities to improving work and personal performance but so, too, are the untold cybersecurity risks. 

The idea of using our brains to control a computer may seem far-fetched, even in science fiction. Yet, brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) are already commercially available. We can use a BCI to float a ball in mock Jedi fashion, enable the physically disabled to enter data into a computer, and academically plumb the mysteries of human-computer interaction. Indeed, companies such as OpenBCI and Emotive offer research-grade equipment. Manufacturers including Mattel and NeuroSky sell toy BCIs.  

The good news is these devices benefit millions of people today. The bad news is that BCIs provide three new frontiers for hackers.  

First, a little background about BCI technology. BCI technology is either invasive or noninvasive. Invasive BCIs measure neural activity from within the brain through some form of implant. While such methods are medically intrusive, the fidelity of recording is high since the sensors connect into neural clusters and can measure single-neuron activity. Noninvasive BCIs gauge neural activity using sensors placed on the scalp. Signal recording in noninvasive BCIs is broad because sensors can only measure clustered neural activity. Currently, all commercial BCIs are noninvasive except for some medical implementations, such as cochlear implants. 

The promise of BCIs is impressive, but the technology carries attack opportunities for hackers.  It is important to understand the cybersecurity of BCIs if we are to proactively prevent threats to this new frontier of innovation. We need to be ahead of the hackers willing to use it for nefarious outcomes.  

Malicious software. Malicious software—viruses, worms, and Trojans—have existed since the dawn of the internet. This software has one purpose: to cause harm and mayhem. Modern malicious software, or malware, leads to more than $20 billion in damages every year. On one hand, the concept of malicious software infecting a wired-up brain is scary. On the other hand, the concept of ransomware or malicious software that uses encryption to lock the brain is downright terrifying. 

Integrity. Our data and their transmission are the primary drivers of modern computing. With BCI, our thoughts become part of the operating landscape. As such, BCI data are subject to the same at-rest and in-transit problems as regular data. Just as normal data can be intentionally corrupted to cause harm to the integrity of the data, hackers will be able to corrupt or otherwise alter thoughts-as-data.  

Interception. An obvious vector for hackers is going to be reading our thoughts since BCI uses our thoughts as input to a computing system. Hackers can already do this with data flowing over a computer network. They can intercept and block or intercept and alter messages. Because a BCI transmits neural activity, we should expect that existing interception techniques apply. When this happens, no thought will be private or safe. 

We should not let the grimness of potential attack vectors dampen the great potential of BCI. We have conquered harder problems. Moreover, we are in a unique position to understand the threats before hackers start exploiting these vulnerabilities. But we need to begin now, and we need to take these frontiers seriously. 

Largest Class of Pillars of Strength Scholarship Recipients to Attend University of Maryland Global Campus

Unique Scholarship Program Recognizes Volunteer Service of Family Members and Friends Who Care for Severely Wounded, Ill or Injured Military Servicemembers

Adelphi, Md. (June 30, 2021)—Twelve caregivers of wounded, ill, or injured military servicemembers were awarded full scholarships to attend University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC). That is the largest number of scholarships the Pillars of Strength program has ever awarded in a single year. 

Of the 51 recipients of scholarships since the program began in the fall of 2013, 13 have now graduated and four more are expected to join them by December. 

“Pillars of Strength is truly a marquee program for UMGC,” said President Gregory Fowler. “It continues our long tradition of service to the military and aligns precisely with our goal of bringing education within reach for underserved populations, thus improving lives and strengthening communities around the world. We are so proud of this year’s recipients, so grateful for their service to injured and wounded military personnel, and so pleased to be able to support them as they work to overcome the challenges ahead and improve their own lives and the lives of those they love.” 

“We are once again pleased that we have been able to expand the Pillars program even further with 12 more full scholarships to our great recipients,” said Richard F. Blewitt, founder and CEO of The Blewitt Foundation, which established the Pillars of Strength program in association with UMGC. “We are proud to remain the only program of its type providing full scholarships to the caregivers of our military heroes.” 

The scholarships are designed to help volunteer caregivers, usually spouses of servicemembers. These scholarship recipients have had their worlds turned upside down as they take over day-to-day caregiving responsibilities while maintaining a household, earning income to make ends meet and, often, raising children. 

The restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic made those challenges much more difficult. Among other things, they complicated the caregivers’ ability to be present when their servicemembers and veterans, who often had memory problems, visited doctors. 

These caregivers receive few, if any, educational benefits from the federal government, yet academic degrees are often essential to their ability to support their families. UMGC’s fully online programs allow these students the flexibility they need to earn college credit on their own schedules. 

“Caregivers give and give and then give some more… often losing themselves in that cycle of care,” said Besa Pinchotti, executive director and CEO of the National Military Family Association, a partner organization in the scholarship program.  Providing scholarships to these 12 caregivers isn’t a gift, but an investment in the future of their families who gave so much to our country. It’s an honor to work with The Blewitt Foundation and UMGC who are making it all possible. 

Melissa Allen, one of this year’s Pillars of Strength recipients, said it felt like a weight had been lifted when she learned she had been chosen for a scholarship. “I let out a huge cry and sigh of relief because it finally was like those bricks that were on my shoulders? They fell off.” 

Although the specific circumstances surrounding each of this year’s recipients—all wives—were different, in many ways their experiences were the same. 

They talked about how the “invisible wounds” of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder often went unrecognized while the servicemembers were in the field. These injuries also were not obvious to the public, and the caregivers faced critics who wondered why their husbands were not working. What the public could not see were the sleepless nights, the psychotic spells and the struggles to manage the most basic needs. 

Caregivers married to men who were committed to their military careers said their husbands did not want to accept that they were wounded, ill, or injured, even as they were sent back into battle. 

These women had to come to grips with how to help relieve the pain and psychological suffering of their loved ones while still raising children, working to support their families and handling most of the household finances and decisions. They had to become quick studies in disorders with long, complicated names. And they had to learn how to take care of themselves so they could continue to have the strength for their work and their caregiving duties. 

The bureaucracy of the Veterans Administration often was overwhelming, many said. One recipient has gone to work for the VA with the express purpose of using her experience to make it easier for other injured veterans and their caregivers to get the attention they need. 

“I want to help the veterans and their families in this journey, especially the new ones who are coming into the system,” said scholarship recipient Karen Lopez. “I’ve heard a lot of horror stories—how patients would fall through the cracks, how family members struggled to get appointments for their spouses. I want to make sure the gaps in the system don’t happen to them, at least on my watch.” 

Here are the stories of 12 remarkable women who are setting off on a path to remake themselves and build the resiliency of their families.

Melissa Allen, Bloomingdale, GA

Elisabeth Baugess, Springfield, VA

Volha Butkouskaya, North Potomac, MD

Sasha Clarkin, Bayville, NJ

Lelia Cottner, Kissimmee, FL

Karen Lopez, Kissimmee, FL

Amanda Martin, Fort Bragg, NC

Connie Ozmer, Bonney Lake, WA

Lisa Shaw, Monroeville, PA

Anna Soler, Tacoma, WA

Alison Storemski , Bowie, MD

Elisa Zanni-James, Fort Mill, SC