What is your current job title and responsibilities?
Director of Research and Civic Engagement, The Burnett Honors College. I oversee the research and civic engagement programs that are housed in TBHC. I am also one of the instructors for the Honors Symposium course which is a service-learning course for all incoming Honors freshmen.
What is your history at UCF and before UCF?
I have been at UCF since 2004. Prior to that I was the Director of Service Learning, Leadership and First Year Experience at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA. I also taught 3rd and 4th grade in Orange County Public Schools.
What is your academic background?
I received my BS degree in Elementary Education from UCF and my MS. Ed in the Science of Instruction from Drexel University.
What is your favorite UCF memory?
There are too many to count. I think what I treasure most now is the small, yet significant moments that I get to have with some of the most talented and impressive students around. Seeing them come in as wide-eyed, nervous freshmen and watching them leave UCF as mature young adults who have excelled not only in their field of study, but as well-rounded members of the UCF and Central Florida communities makes me very proud.
If you could change one thing at UCF, what would it be? ($ and time no object)
More resources to develop additional programs that impact the Central Florida community and provide meaningful learning and leadership experiences for our students.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with your colleagues?
That a great idea needs to be nurtured, passed around, and worked on together. The best programs/ideas are those that have more than one person behind them.
If UCF was going to name something in your honor, what would you like it to be and why?
A Center for Civic Engagement. I feel that one of the most important attributes of a college education is learning the importance of becoming engaged in one’s community and that can start with a service- learning class, a volunteer project, etc. It is so rewarding to observe students opening their eyes to what is going on in the world around them, seeing how it changes/matures them and having them come to the conclusion that they can make a significant contribution to issues of importance to them.
Who at UCF would you like to thank for your success?
I would like to thank the Dean of the Honors College, Dr. Alvin Wang, for letting me create new and innovative programming for our students.
Name and describe a teacher or researcher from your past who truly inspired you and why.
Former UCF College of Education Dean Mary Palmer—after a discussion with her about the school to which I had been assigned for my second education internship, my entire life’s path changed. It is in part because of that conversation, that I am doing the work I am today with title one schools in Orange County.
What undergraduate or graduate class/program/experience inspired you the most and why?
Having the chance to serve as the graduate assistant in charge of volunteer programs for a brand new leadership program at Drexel University allowed me to create new programming that would eventually start me on the path that landed me in my current position at UCF.
What is your favorite restaurant or food?
It depends on where I am at the time. I am a huge fan of Legal Sea Foods which is based out of Boston.
What is your favorite movie, book or music?
It is tough to narrow down the movie or book, but music is easy. I am a huge Bruce Springsteen fan. Anyone who walks in my office can tell you that. I have been to many, many shows and one of the highlights was being a member of the Super Bowl Halftime show cast for his 2009 performance. Not much can top being on the fifty yard line on the Super Bowl field while participating in thirteen minutes of the best (in my opinion) halftime show ever.
What is your favorite vacation destination?
I’ve been fortunate to have been able to travel to many places both domestically and internationally, but it takes a lot to beat the island of Martha’s Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts in the summer. There is nothing better than spending some time outside enjoying the beaches, the hiking paths, the small yet vibrant towns and the fresh seafood. Oh, and not seeing a stoplight, billboard or chain store is pretty nice too.