University of Maryland Global Campus Partners with Guild Education to Expand Access to Opportunity

Employees at Herschend Enterprises, UC Health, and more will have access to debt-free education and upskilling at the nation’s largest online public university

Adelphi, Md. (March 31, 2022) — Guild Education, a social impact company that connects workers to a learning marketplace of the nation’s best institutions for working adult learners, and University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC), the nation’s largest online public university, are proud to announce a new partnership in service of America’s working adults.

Through this new alliance, UMGC’s wide range of career-focused online degree and certificate programs will now be available to learners at Guild’s employer partners including Bon Secours Mercy Health, Discover, Herschend Enterprises, UCHealth, and more. Tuition costs are paid by the respective employers.

“We are proud to be a part of Guild’s employer network and to provide new avenues for employees to earn credentials or degrees that help them achieve their career goals,” said Dr. Gregory Fowler, president of UMGC. “We share a vision with Guild to unlock life-changing opportunities through education that is accessible no matter where students are. Our academic programs are designed with employer needs in mind and in work-force relevant areas that are in high-demand in the marketplace.”

UMGC is a leader in career-relevant education with a long and deep history of providing a quality and affordable education, with a mission centered on improving the lives of adult learners in the workforce and the military. The institution serves some 90,000 students annually, 78 percent of whom are over the age of 25 and 52 percent of whom identify as a minority.

As a regionally accredited institution, UMGC’s degree and certificate programs are designed from the ground up to prepare students for today’s digital business environment through a collaborative online learning experience. 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.

“UMGC has an incredible legacy of service and innovation,” said Natalie McCullough, president and chief commercial officer at Guild Education. “We are honored to be a part of the next chapter of their history, and to work alongside a visionary leader like Dr. Fowler. He is a recognized expert in the development of innovative learning models, a distinguished scholar in his own right, and his passion for cultivating new ways to support the unique needs of working adult learners is contagious.”

Current employees at U.S- based companies whose employer offers education programs are encouraged to contact their HR representatives to see if Guild and UMGC are an option for them.

About University of Maryland Global Campus 

Celebrating its 75th anniversary, University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) was established in 1947 to serve adult students outside the traditional campus, including military service members and veterans. Today, UMGC enrolls some 90,000 students annually, offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs, as well as certificates in more than 90 fully online programs and specializations.

UMGC was the first university to send faculty overseas to teach active-duty military personnel at installations in Europe, beginning in 1949, expanding to Asia in 1956 and to the Middle East in 2005. UMGC faculty have taught in the war zones of Vietnam, Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.   

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

About Guild Education

Guild Education is a social impact company that empowers American workers to unlock life-changing opportunities for personal and professional advancement through education, skill-building, and coaching.

As a certified B-Corp founded to bridge the gap between education and employment for working adults in the U.S. in need of upskilling for the future of work, Guild’s industry-leading technology platform allows the nation’s largest employers — including Walmart, Chipotle, Discover, Hilton, Macy’s, Target, and The Walt Disney Company — to offer strategic education and skilling to their employees. Guild connects workers to a learning marketplace of the nation’s best learning partners for working adults with tuition paid by the company.

Guild’s payments and technology platform, curated learning marketplace, and advanced education and career services come together to help working adult learners advance in their education and career, debt-free. For more information, visit https://www.guildeducation.com/

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Candace Orsetti Fulfills Life-Long Dream, Is Contestant on March 30 Episode of Jeopardy!   

Candace Orsetti was 11 years old when Alex Trebek made his debut as host of TV game show Jeopardy!. Watching the program turned Orsetti into a diehard fan of the program and an unrepentant trivia nerd. It also put her on the path to what she calls “a dream come true.” 

On March 30, the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) course development writer and editor will appear as a Jeopardy! contestant. 

Last week, Orsetti’s bio on Twitter read: “Wife, dog lover, word nerd, Llama, baker. Hoping someday to have a profile pic w/a vivid blue background.” This week it has a photo with a vivid blue background. 

“All the Jeopardy! followers know what that background means,” said Orsetti, referring to the color of the program’s stage set. 

Orsetti taped the show in California in January and has waited two months to go public about her TV fame. Did she win big prize money? Will she appear in more than one episode? She is not allowed to say before the show airs, the secrecy being one of the many components of Jeopardy! mystique. She was, however, permitted to note that actor Mayim Bialik was the show’s host. And she revealed that she went for a true Daily Double, meaning that she wagered everything she had on one answer that could double her winnings.   

It is hard to overstate Orsetti’s fervor for the show—and the persistence of her ambition to appear on it. Her first chance came when she was 15. In those days, contestant searches were announced at the end of the show via a note that flashed on the screen to announce tryouts in specific cities. Contestant wannabes responded by sending in postcards that were randomly drawn. Orsetti’s postcard to a local Baltimore TV affiliate resulted in an invitation to take an in-studio test.

“I missed the qualification by one question. That’s been my story for 35 years, but that’s also an inside joke at Jeopardy!” she said. “Everybody that didn’t make the cut was told they missed it by one question.” 

The postcards continued and Orsetti came close to qualifying again in the 1990s. By the 2000s, postcards were replaced with online tests. In 2018, she made the cut—but then languished in the contestant pool for 18 months without being called to a taping. 

“That 18-month period ended on March 13, 2020, the day when everything happened with COVID-19,” Orsetti said. “That was UMGC’s first 100 percent telework day.”

Orsetti persevered, and a June 21, 2020, test put her in the running again. A year after taking that 15-minute online quiz, she was invited to take a Zoom version of the test where she was watched online to confirm her identity and ensure there was no cheating. She had a stroke of luck when one of the questions on the proctored test focused on the ingredients in a Black Russian cocktail. She credited her father, who had died five months earlier, for her knowledge of that answer. It had been his favorite drink.

Four days after the proctored test, she was called for an audition. Since the pandemic, Jeopardy! hopefuls take the audition through an online video platform. The audition featured a contestant interview and a series of mock games. 

“The players hold up a clicky pen as a buzzer. And you’re phrasing your responses in the form of a question,” Orsetti explained. “It wasn’t just about people giving correct responses, but about personality and keeping the game moving and having an interesting presence.”

In the time between the proctored test and the audition, during a dinner of Chinese takeout, Orsetti opened a fortune cookie and found this message: “You will pass a difficult test that will make you happier and financially better.”  

The message was prescient. For a second time, she was back in the contestant pool. 

“At that point, the smart thing to do was to hit the books and start studying. I did—for about a week,” she said with a laugh. Six months later, just as she was about to enter a UMGC work meeting, she received a phone call with a Los Angeles area code. It was the Jeopardy! contestant coordinator inviting her to a January 26, 2022, taping of the show.  

For the next three weeks, Orsetti went everywhere with her “Jeopardy! Go Bag,” a tote bag containing flashcards and study materials she put together.

Orsetti, who earned a B.A. in English from UMGC in 2003, is such a Jeopardy! enthusiast that she had read not only contestant—and, later, host—Ken Jennings’s book, Brainiac, but also the book by Fritz Holznagel titled Secrets of the Buzzer that explains the idiosyncrasies of the buzzers used for Jeopardy! and other game shows. She was aware that contestants pay their own hotel and airfare to appear on the program. And that her clothing would have to be able to support a hidden microphone. And that she wasn’t supposed to wear stripes or certain colors. 

What she hadn’t known is that she would have to go through COVID screening in the Jeopardy! studio’s garage and that the show’s staging area, where contestants had their hair and makeup done, was the set of Wheel of Fortune.  

On taping day, Orsetti worried about two knowledge categories she was weak in: sports and 2020s pop stars. That wasn’t the only thing. Because of the time gap between when the show is taped and when it airs, Orsetti said she and others in the contestant pool were unsure whether Amy Schneider—whose 40-game appearance became the second-longest winning streak in Jeopardy! history—was still a contestant.

“We were all looking around for Amy and asking if Amy was still there. We were scared of Amy,” Orsetti said. It turned out that the day of the taping was also the day that Schneider’s last episode with Jeopardy! aired.   

Orsetti’s Jeopardy! smarts owe something to her deep engagement with trivia. For nearly 10 years—until COVID ended in-person gatherings—she played on a weekly pub trivia team with her husband, parents and a shifting roster of friends. She also belongs to an online trivia league whose membership is capped at 20,000. “A good thousand of the members are Jeopardy! alumni,” she said.

On the day she makes her television debut with Jeopardy!, Orsetti is hosting a small watch party with close friends and family. Concurrently, she’ll host a Zoom gathering with far-flung friends and family.  

“For two months I’ve been living with this weird timeline. I’m both a future and past Jeopardy! player,” Orsetti said, referring to the gap between when the show was filmed and when it will air.  

Jeopardy! may be behind her, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Orsetti’s game show days are over.

“I’ve always been a game show fan, especially trivia-based game shows. I have also gotten to the point where I got a second callback for Wheel of Fortune, The Chase, and Weakest Link,” Orsetti said. There’s just one hitch: Her Jeopardy! contract bars her from appearing on other TV game shows for six months.

Gregory W. Fowler, PhD, Inaugurated as Seventh President of University of Maryland Global Campus  

Dr. Fowler pledges to meet students where they are, offer learning experiences that align with student and workforce needs, and transform lives, one student at a time

WATCH VIDEO OF INAUGURATION

Gregory W. Fowler, PhD, was inaugurated Thursday as the seventh president of University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) and the first African American to hold the title. During the investiture held at the College Park Marriott Hotel and Conference Center and live streamed to a global audience, University System of Maryland (USM) Chancellor Jay Perman called upon Fowler to “reframe who we serve, and how we serve them, and to reimagine what education and access look like in the 21st century.” 

In accepting the charge, Dr. Fowler said that “at the core of every surging river, every breaking wave, is a single drop of water. We will work to create those rivers of change and those waves of progress by transforming lives, one learner at a time.” 

Dr. Fowler went on to say that he will build on the university’s 75-year heritage to provide new ways to interact with students and offer them the education and training they need in these turbulent times. As the seventh president of UMGC, which has served adult students in the workforce and in the military since its founding, Dr. Fowler is working within an educational environment still adjusting to the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

 “We must have the courage to stop reinventing the wheel and, instead, build a launchpad for spaceships,” Dr. Fowler said. “We dare not rest on our laurels. Just as the higher education industry and landscape changes, just as the American military continues to evolve, so too must the ways we serve our various populations.”

READ DR. FOWLER’S INAUGURAL ADDRESS

“In the post-pandemic world, where many are rethinking their priorities, we will evaluate our assumptions and adjust our strategies,” Dr. Fowler said. “Those who are part of the Great Resignation will need new skills, and they will not be willing to drop everything to attend classes full time and face-to-face.” 

Dr. Fowler began his tenure as president on Jan. 4, 2021. The inauguration formalizes his leadership. 

The ceremony began with presidents of other USM universities—in full academic regalia—entering the ceremony in the order of their institutions’ founding, followed by Chair of the USM Board of Regents Linda Gooden, who is a double graduate of UMGC, and Chancellor Perman. UMGC Chief Academic Officer Blakely Pomietto carried the university mace. 

“Greg Fowler is uniquely suited to build upon UMGC’s impressive 75-year legacy and lift this institution to even greater heights,” Gooden said. “He is a nationally recognized scholar. He is an acknowledged leader in developing innovative learning models.” 

Dr. Lawrence Leak, who served as interim president during the presidential search, praised Dr. Fowler as a “visionary leader.” 

“When I met Greg for the first time, almost 15 months ago, I was immediately impressed by his insight, his engagement and his eagerness to tackle the challenges at hand energetically,” Leak said. “He is a skilled administrator and distinguished scholar, and he possesses a keen sense of purpose and a passion for our mission.” 

As the first African American president of UMGC, Leak said, Dr. Fowler is leading a university “that boldly embraces diversity in all forms and touches the lives of so many individuals of color, both here and abroad.” 

A host of Maryland elected officials, led by Gov. Larry Hogan and members of the Maryland congressional delegation, including Sen. Chris Van Hollen, U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and U.S. Rep. Kweisi Mfume, as well as Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, offered video tributes to the new president. 

Video greetings from UMGC alumni were also aired during the ceremony. They included Florent Groberg, who received the Medal of Honor from President Obama in 2015 for his act of valor while serving in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. Groberg tackled a suicide bomber and saved the lives of several people he was escorting. As he recovered from his injuries, he earned a UMGC Master of Science in Management with a specialization in intelligence management. 

“I remember my time as a student here, and the people I met—my classmates, my peers, the teachers who spent so much time in my studies, in my learning but, most importantly, in the network I built,” Groberg said. “Today, I am proud to say that I am a member of this family. I am excited for the future of this university, its future students and its network.” 

Dr. Blair Hayes, UMGC’s ombudsman, vice president and chief diversity officer, who served as co-emcee along with Nikki Sandoval, associate vice president for Institutional Advancement at UMGC, read a letter from President Joe Biden congratulating the university on its 75th anniversary.  

“Education is the one field that makes all others possible,” Biden wrote. “We have all been shaped by educators who have sparked our curiosity, helped us find confidence, encouraged our creativity and inspired us to build a better world. Institutions like yours not only educate our students—they shape the future.” 

William R. Roberts, chair of the UMUC Ventures Board of Directors and honorary chair of the UMGC Presidential Inaugural Committee, highlighted the significance of Fowler’s arrival in a challenging time for the workforce: “Today, UMGC’s mission is more relevant than ever. The demand for skilled workers and principled leaders has never been greater, nor has the need for a visionary leader to guide the university in a time of dramatic change in higher education. We are fortunate to have that leader in Greg Fowler, whose experience and vision will enable this fine university to broaden its reach and change our world in positive ways for generations to come.” 

Dr. Fowler joined UMGC after serving as president of Southern New Hampshire University Global Campus. In his nearly nine years there, he led efforts to develop competency-based online and hybrid programs to meet the demands of workforce and global communities. His programs had reached disadvantaged students in Los Angeles, refugees in Africa and the Middle East, and learners in Mexico and Colombia. Earlier, Dr. Fowler held senior-level academic and administrative positions at Western Governors University.   

Dr. Fowler graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta; for two years, he was a Charles A. Dana Scholar at Duke University. Working as a teen at the Six Flags Over Georgia theme park, he said he “learned the power of a coordinated team, of considering user experience and of treating customers as guests in your home.” 

After graduation, he worked for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as an outreach specialist, where he strove to “bring new voices into our conversations and to empower underserved populations.”   

While at NEH in Washington, D.C., he earned a master’s degree in English from George Mason University and then taught literature and American studies at Penn State University, Erie while pursuing a doctorate in English/American Studies from the State University of New York at Buffalo. A two-time Fulbright Scholar, he also holds an MBA from Western Governors University and completed programs in higher education administration, executive leadership and negotiation at Harvard University.  

Dr. Fowler thanked donors who have helped raise more than $175,000 for an inauguration scholarship fund in his honor, saying he was “touched and deeply grateful.” The fund will support students facing hardship due to extenuating circumstances.  

“We must help those whose voices have been heard the least, who the status quo has too often left isolated or homebound, unseen or unheard,” Dr. Fowler said. “It may well be the single mother or father struggling to provide, or the soldier in a war zone who dreams of making a new life for her or his loved ones at home. These are the lives we can change.” 

He said that students often fail because “life happens,” not because they cannot comprehend or master the course content. Today, technology allows us to identify students who are struggling, and we can and must wrap them in a cocoon of support.   

Dr. Fowler also spoke of how his father and mother revered education and public service, encouraging him and his seven brothers and sisters as they advanced into higher education for the family’s first time and embraced successful careers that helped others. The new president’s parents and six of his seven siblings and their family members attended the inauguration. 

“My life is a testimony that in transforming lives, we transform families,” Dr. Fowler said. “And if we can transform families, we can transform communities. If we can transform communities, we can transform nations. And if we can transform nations, we can transform the world.” 

University of Maryland Global Campus and Amazon Announce New Phase of Education Partnership

Amazon’s Career Choice Program Now Provides Full Tuition to Learn New Skills for Career Success at Amazon or Elsewhere

Adelphi, MD (March 3, 2022)—University of Maryland Global Campus has embarked on a new phase of its education partnership with Amazon and the company’s industry-leading Career Choice employee benefit program, which will include increasing the education benefit and expanding opportunities available to the company’s hourly employees.

Eligible employees will now have access to all UMGC undergraduate degree programs, including workforce-relevant areas such as business, cybersecurity and data science.  UMGC will waive all application fees and Amazon will pay 100 percent of tuition. UMGC offers additional cost savings through its use of digital resources, which have replaced costly publisher textbooks in most courses.

“We are proud to continue our partnership with Amazon as we increase our commitment to the company’s thousands of hourly employees who live and work in Maryland and across the country,” said Greg Fowler, president of UMGC. “The intentional focus that both organizations have to work together to build a highly skilled workforce has been evident from the beginning of our relationship in 2019.”

In this new phase of the partnership, Amazon employees who take classes at UMGC will have the benefit of the university’s new “success coach” model, which was launched in 2021. Under this new model, students are paired with an advisor who works with them continuously as they progress toward a degree, helping to increase retention and program completion.

Amazon’s Career Choice program is an education benefit that empowers employees to learn new skills for career success at Amazon or elsewhere. The program meets individual learners where they are on their education journey through a variety of education and upskilling opportunities including full college tuition, industry certifications designed to lead to in-demand jobs and the development of foundational skills, including English language proficiency and high school diploma and GED completion.

In the U.S., the company is investing $1.2 billion to upskill more than 300,000 employees by 2025 to help move them into higher-paying, in-demand jobs.

Amazon’s Career Choice program has a rigorous selection process for educators, choosing partners that are focused on helping employees through their education programs, assisting them with job placements and in general offering learning experiences that lead to career success.

“We’re looking forward to UMGC continuing as an education partner for Career Choice, and now adding to the hundreds of best-in-class offerings available to our employees,” said Tammy Thiemann, Global Program Lead of Amazon’s Career Choice program. “We’re committed to empowering our employees by providing them access to the education and training they need to grow their careers, whether that’s with us or elsewhere. We have intentionally cultivated a partner network of third-party educators and employers committed to providing excellent education, job placement resources and continuous improvements to the experience. Today, more than 50,000 Amazon employees around the world have already participated in Career Choice, and we have seen firsthand how it can transform their lives.”

For more information on Amazon’s Career Choice, visit:

https://www.amazoncareerchoice.com/home

For more information on UMGC, visit:

https://umgc.edu/amazoncc  

About University of Maryland Global Campus

Celebrating its 75th anniversary, University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) was established in 1947 to serve adult students outside the traditional campus, including military servicemembers and veterans. Today, UMGC enrolls some 90,000 students annually, offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs, as well as certificates in more than 90 fully online programs and specializations.

UMGC was the first university to send faculty overseas to teach active-duty military personnel at installations in Europe, beginning in 1949, expanding to Asia in 1956 and to the Middle East in 2005. UMGC faculty have taught in the war zones of Vietnam, Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.

UMGC now offers classes to military service personnel and their families at more than 175 locations in more than 20 countries. More than half of the university’s student body are active-duty military personnel and their families, members of the National Guard and veterans.

Inauguration of University of Maryland Global Campus President Gregory W. Fowler to be Held Thursday, March 10, 2022

MEDIA ADVISORY

Adelphi, Md. (Feb. 28, 2022)—University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) will celebrate the inauguration of Gregory W. Fowler, PhD., as its seventh president on March 10, 2022. The investiture will serve as a hallmark event of the university’s 75th anniversary, opening a new chapter in the UMGC story while honoring its proud history, and will include representatives from the global UMGC community and the University System of Maryland, as well as other state and national leaders. 

What: Inauguration of UMGC President Gregory W. Fowler, PhD 

When: 10 a.m., Thursday, March 10, 2022 

The ceremony, which will be broadcast online beginning at 10 a.m., includes:  

  • Inaugural Procession 
     
  • Greetings and Video Presentations: Inaugural Committee Honorary Chair William R. Roberts, DPS, chair, UMUC Ventures Board of Directors; academic officials from other institutions; elected officials from local and state government, including Governor Larry Hogan, U.S. Sen. Christopher Van Hollen and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks; members of the global UMGC community. 
     
  • History of the University: Lawrence E. Leak, PhD, Administrator Emeritus, UMGC. 
     
  • Reflections from Colleagues: a video presentation  
  • Investiture and Charge to the President: Linda R. Gooden, DPS ’06 & ’09, chair, University System of Maryland Board of Regents and Jay A. Perman, MD, chancellor, University System of Maryland. 
     
  • Inaugural Address: Gregory W. Fowler, PhD, president, University of Maryland Global Campus 

Where: College Park Marriott Hotel and Conf. Ctr., 3501 University Blvd. East, Hyattsville, Md. 

To register for the online broadcast, click HERE

MEDIA CONTACT:
Bob Ludwig, 301-887-7614
robert.ludwig@umgc.edu

Background: 

Dr. Fowler was selected to serve as president by the University System of Maryland Board of Regents and began his tenure on January 4, 2021. 

Raised in a family of modest means, President Fowler knows first-hand the power of education to transform lives, and his leadership is shaping UMGC’s next chapter marked by an evolutionary shift in higher education that places the needs of students first. As he has often said, his goal—and the university’s goal—is to fulfill the university’s mission “by bringing the right learning experience to the right students at the right time and in the right way.” 

Read Dr. Fowler’s full biography 

UMGC’s 75th anniversary represents an opportunity to celebrate its rich history of service to students in the workforce and the military, and its expanding mission providing students around the globe access to a quality, workforce-relevant education. Dr. Fowler’s inauguration serves as a welcome and celebration of an innovative higher education leader with a dynamic vision for UMGC. 
 

About University of Maryland Global Campus 

Celebrating its 75th anniversary, University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) was established in 1947 to serve adults in the workforce, including military servicemembers and veterans in Maryland and around the world. 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 was the first university to send faculty overseas to teach active-duty military personnel stationed in Europe, beginning in 1949 and expanding to Asia in 1956 and the Middle East in 2005. University faculty have taught in the war zones of Vietnam, Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.  

In addition to education centers in Maryland and across the metropolitan Washington, DC, area, UMGC offers in-person classes or services to military personnel and their families at 175-plus locations in more than 20 countries. More than half of the university’s student body are active-duty military personnel, reservists, members of the National Guard, veterans, and dependents.  

US Naval Community College Selects University of Maryland Global Campus for Academics-Based Cybersecurity Program

QUANTICO, Va. — The U.S. Naval Community College selected University of Maryland Global Campus as one of the Pilot II cybersecurity associate degree programs Feb. 11, 2022.

This continues the relationship developed during the USNCC’s first pilot program and provides active duty enlisted Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen the ability to earn cybersecurity certificates or associate degrees that will directly contribute to the naval services and set them on a path of lifelong learning.

“It is important that we have a high-quality cybersecurity degree program that our Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen know will help them do their jobs better today and into the future,” said Randi R. Cosentino, Ed.D., president of the USNCC. “This is why we chose an institution that has demonstrated a history of excellence in working with military students and the cybersecurity community.”

“We are proud to continue to be part of this important process in launching the USNCC,” said Douglas Harrison, Ph.D., dean of UMGC’s School of Cybersecurity and Information Technology. “UMGC offers cutting edge learning tools and cybersecurity faculty who are working every day in the field to provide students with skills to succeed right away in this extremely fast evolving and in-demand industry.”  

This agreement provides active duty enlisted Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen an opportunity to earn naval-relevant certificates and an associate degree in cybersecurity that will directly contribute to the readiness of the naval services and set them on a path of life-long learning.

Naval professionals who pursue the Associate of Arts in General Studies with Concentration in Computer Studies degree through the USNCC will have an opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of technical development and operational implementation of cybersecurity skills to design, administer, secure, and troubleshoot computer networks, as well as the data protection skills needed to safeguard critical cybersecurity infrastructure and assets. The degree will also have an established transfer path to four-year degree programs in cybersecurity.

The degree pathway also includes a certificate in Naval Studies taught by the USNCC’s faculty and a professional cybersecurity certificate through UMGC. 

UMGC is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and has been designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense school by the National Security Agency and a center of Academic Excellence in Digital Forensics school by the Defense Cyber Crime Center. While the USNCC is pursuing accreditation, UMGC will be the primary degree grantor for this associate degree program, ensuring the service members who graduate from this program receive a transferable degree from an accredited institution.

Active duty enlisted Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen can fill out an application on the USNCC website, www.usncc.edu. The first courses will start in the fall of 2022.  

The United States Naval Community College is the community college for the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. To get more information about the USNCC, go to www.usncc.edu. Click on the student interest form link to learn how to be a part of the USNCC Pilot II program.

After Career in Drama, 75-year-old Navy Veteran Finishes One Degree, Starts Another  

When 75-year-old Bruce Taylor decided to complete his bachelor’s degree in humanities at University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) three years ago, he never pictured going straight into another degree program. Nonetheless, three weeks post-graduation he was pursuing a master’s degree in educational technology. 

Taylor completed his service in the Navy in 1972 and went on to graduate from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London with a stage management diploma. He spent most of his career in opera, dance and theater, eventually finding his passion by sharing with others just how important it was to combine the arts with K-12 education, especially in the age of Common Core, the state grade-level standards instituted in 2010.

Taylor held workshops for school districts all over the country, teaching them how to integrate arts into reading and writing within Common Core. Once the workshops were completed, he embarked on his next adventure: to complete his college degree.

“I thought if I want to [continue] working with teachers and kids, why don’t I try the humanities, where there are several domains of learning in that. I already know the music and art part,” Taylor said.

As a young adult in Alaska, Taylor had completed a few years of college but had no idea what he wanted to do. He decided to make a change in 1967 and join the Navy. He trained as a Navy Russian linguist at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, and attended Security School in San Angelo, Texas. He was first stationed outside Istanbul, Turkey employed as an analyst, and his last stop in the Navy was Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks, Alaska.

In Turkey, Taylor’s involvement with an amateur theater group persuaded him to go to drama school. During a tryout with Hugh Cruttwell, an influential English teacher of drama and principal at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), Taylor was encouraged to pursue the stage management program.

“At RADA, you did every job in stage management that you find in the theater. We did props, makeup, built sets, and crewed them. There was also some acting, lighting—we did it all with no books,” Taylor said. “It was all practicum. I loved it and felt I could walk into a room and I would plugin, and I knew what to do.”

Upon graduation from RADA, Taylor wrote 300 letters seeking employment at every theater, dance, and opera company he knew. He accepted a job with the Seattle Opera, where he spent five years.

“My biggest achievement there was [that] I was the production stage manager for the first full Ring Cycle ever done outside of Germany. Now everyone is doing Wagner’s Ring Cycle,” he said.

In Seattle, he became interested in education and started going to schools to conduct workshops. That experience helped him in the next step of his career: the Opera Company of Philadelphia as both the production manager and the education director.  

“A colleague I had worked with in Seattle became the director of education at the Metropolitan Opera Guild, so she hired me to do programs since I was so close by in Philadelphia,” Taylor said. “I developed a project called Creating Original Opera, and the premise was you take a group of kids with a teacher and the kids create, compose, write, design, manage and perform their own original 30-minute musical theater piece.”

“That became a very big deal. At one point, there were more than 400 schools all over the world in about a dozen countries and 30 states all creating an original opera program,” he noted.

Meanwhile, Taylor published three books on arts and education: “The Arts Equation: Forging a Vital Link Between Performing Artists and Educators” in 1999, “Common Sense Arts Standards: How the Arts Can Thrive in an Era of Common Core” in 2013 and “Common Sense Common Core: Finding Common Ground of Clarity and Simplicity” in 2015.

Taylor moved from the Opera Company of Philadelphia to the Pennsylvania Opera Theater, and he completed his career in the professional performing arts at the Washington National Opera as director of education in the U.S. capital.

“One of the nice things about the arts, and [what] I try to do with kids in reading and writing, is to provide them a real ownership piece in what they’re doing and why it should matter to them,” Taylor said.

Since starting at UMGC, where the courses he took in Alaska were credited toward his degree, Taylor said it took him a year to get into the groove of remote classes. He now spends hours and hours on research.

“I don’t know how a lot of the students at UMGC who are full-time parents or military personnel are able to do this because I make my own schedule and use my time anyway that I want,” said Taylor. “I’m in awe of what these students are doing and the fact that UMGC gives them the chance. That’s the biggest thing about UMGC. It gives people opportunity who want to engage in lifelong learning, which is awesome. “

Once Taylor graduated in December, he enrolled in UMGC’s master’s program in educational technology. He also began working on a paper titled “Reductionist Approach to English Language Arts.” He plans to submit the paper to the Journal for Educational Research and Practice for publishing consideration.

“Bruce is an exceptional humanities student, hardworking, intellectually curious, with a broad range of life experiences to draw upon,” said Steven Killings, PhD, program chair of humanities and philosophy at UMGC.

Six UMGC Students Make the Cut for Prestigious Presidential Management Fellows Program

Matthew Sinclair is watching his email to see what job opportunities open in this year’s Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program, a high-profile gateway to government employment. Sinclair is one of six University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) students selected as finalists in the highly competitive program that identifies talented individuals and invites them to apply for positions within the federal workforce.

Matthew Sinclair

“I have lots of friends who work in the federal government, and they told me the PMF is a great way to get your foot in the door,” said Sinclair, assistant director of the Mechanical Engineering Program for University of Maryland College Park. “They said it is prestigious and an honor.”

Sinclair is among only 1,100 people, out of more than 8,000 applicants from 299 academic institutions worldwide, who survived the rigorous multi-step selection process to be named a finalist. PMF finalists are invited to government career fairs—held virtually last year—and receive regular notices of federal job openings for which they may compete. Once matched with a job, a finalist is officially a fellow and has access to training, mentoring and other career-advancing opportunities.

“The Presidential Management Fellows Program is a training and leadership development program, specifically for graduate students. It is extremely competitive and it ends with a two-year fellowship in a federal agency,” said Career Advising Specialist Isa Martinez, who oversees UMGC’s involvement in the program. “This carries a regular salary and benefits and training and access to professional development programs.”

PMF job openings surface across the country, and finalists may have to compete with other fellows for the locations, government agencies, and positions they seek. Martinez said being a finalist doesn’t guarantee a job but 80 to 85 percent of finalists generally find positions.

Isa Martinez

“You can apply for as many openings as you want,” Sinclair explained. “Or, if there’s a specific department or agency that interests you, you can wait for those.”

Sinclair completed his MBA from UMGC last year as part of a career move, and he sees the PMF as a way to propel that aspiration. He also holds undergraduate degrees in education and history, as well as a master’s degree in reading and language arts.

Many of the agencies have webinars explaining their goals and mission. Sinclair said he found the webinar for the Department of Veteran Affairs especially compelling, adding that his maternal grandfather had been a veteran.

When the finalists for the 2022 cohort were announced in December, the selection of six students from UMGC was unprecedented. A year earlier, there were no finalists from the university. In the 2020 cohort, there were two. Both were placed in jobs with the Department of Homeland Security.

“For us to go from zero to six, competing with students from Yale and Georgetown, means that the program is starting to see the wonderful potential of UMGC students,” Martinez said.

Martinez said students from all disciplines are eligible for the PMF but the jobs tend to dovetail with the government’s needs at the time. In 2020, the focus was on IT and cybersecurity. In 2022, it seems to be business administration and health care.

In addition to Sinclair, three other UMGC finalists have degrees in business management or administration: Caren Clift, Clair Curtain and Thuy An Truong. Finalist Elena Candu is completing a degree in emergency management and Xia Lao’s degree is focused on health administration.

Candu, a mother of two who was born in Moldova, is slated to graduate from UMGC in August. She already is a federal employee, but she hopes the PMF will put her on track to a leadership position in emergency management or humanitarian assistance.

“I heard of the program from alumni PMFs who found the program an excellent opportunity for professional development,” she said.

Candu enrolled at UMGC in 2020, two months after her family relocated to Northern Virginia following six years in Africa while her husband was on Foreign Service assignment in Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea. She was getting a haircut when she received an email telling her that she had been selected as a PMF finalist.

Caren Clift

“I was glad that I was wearing a mask covering the big grin on my face when seeing the email,” she said. “I wonder what the stylist was thinking about me grinning, without any explanations, for a good part of the time I was there.”

Martinez said finalists like Candu who are already working for the government can use the PMF to “get a boost in their salary grade level or switch agencies.”

She said she heard about a PMF finalist who worked as a program analyst during her two years as a fellow. “Now she’s a director,” Martinez added.

When it comes to the PMF, three’s the charm for Clift, who had eyed the fellowship on three occasions before becoming a finalist.

When she first learned about PMF, she was “thrilled” about applying but discovered that her UMGC graduation date fell just outside the window for eligibility. Later, her return to school to pursue a dual graduate degree program in health care administration and business administration enabled her to apply, but she was not selected as a finalist.

But she had another chance. The 2020 completion date of her MBA enabled her to jump on the complex Presidential Management Fellowship application process in 2021.

“At the time I applied, I was thinking I could find an opportunity within Health and Human Services or the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention),” she said. “I wanted to utilize the education I have, focused on wellness and translate that … into a steady income.”

Before she learned that she was a finalist, she had added a project management certificate to her professional credentials and accepted a job with the George Washington Medical Faculty Associates. She likes the job and, especially, her work team but she is also keeping an eye on PMF opportunities.

Whether she ends up working for the federal government or not, Clift said to be selected as a finalist was impressive on its own.

UMGC Mentors Share Their Career-Shaping Wisdom to Help Others

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why do you mentor? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

What key lesson have you learned during your career? 

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

Keith Gruenberg ‘94 
Bachelor of Science in Management Studies 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more UMGC Alumni News

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

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

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

Juandalynn Abernathy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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