All posts by: Randianne Leyshon '09

A woman sorts through many postage stamps for her pen pal hobby

How to stay in touch—4 steps to being a prolific pen pal

For Winona Caesar ’09, a sergeant in the Baltimore City Police, letter writing is a creative outlet. Whether hand writing a letter or using one of her seven typewriters, Caesar says the process slows her down and connects her to individuals all over the globe. As the world grows increasingly more digitized, Caesar and her pen pals are saving the lost art of keeping in touch. Continue Reading How to stay in touch—4 steps to being a prolific pen pal

a woman works on repairing a colorful mural representing different biology motifs

Alumna brings biology mural back to life

Walking down Academic Row, the ground floor windows of the Biological Sciences Building reflect the flow of student traffic, and colorful renditions of animals and microbes, silhouettes of researchers, and other elements of biology seem to pop off the wall and join the campus milieu.  For many, the images on the mural blend into the background of campus—just another wall in just another building. But the artist remembers the blank wall 10 years ago, covered sparsely in inspirational posters and placards.  “It was a huge wall, and visible from the outside,” says Anna Vikhlyayeva ’15, visual arts. In addition to… Continue Reading Alumna brings biology mural back to life

a woman writes in a journal on a bench in a park

Journals help make sacred spaces

It makes sense that in a space on campus intentionally left green, wooded, and, well sacred, there would be someplace to sit, and under that bench there would be a notebook waiting for you, along with a writing implement. Your thoughts are the last ingredient for the moment. Since the founding of the Joseph Beuys Sculpture Park on the Knoll in the southwest corner of the Loop in 2001, UMBC community members have been writing in journals tucked under benches from Nature Sacred—an organization that hopes to promote a connection to nature through journaling and contemplation spaces throughout America. Sandra… Continue Reading Journals help make sacred spaces

Illustration by Rebecca Bradley, featuring colorful overlapping hands grabbing for wine glasses and mugs over a green picnic blanket.

Grab a Seat at the Table

These days, it’s tempting to grow numb to the polarization of society and the breakdown in public discourse and to retreat into our silos of solidarity. But a liberal arts education has the potential to offer an antidote to these seemingly inevitable fates—through modeling and practicing empathy. At UMBC, students are invited to the table to share their stories and listen to their peers. These acts of educational hospitality help Retrievers find their why and pursue the public good. It’s the first day of class. You’re looking around, bright-eyed and a little nervous, and then your instructor smiles at the… Continue Reading Grab a Seat at the Table

on a rehearsal stage, one actor straddles another actor holding a wooden stake in her hand

How to plan a successful stage battle

Van Helsing straddles the vampire, brandishing her cross and wooden stake. The undead—mouth and shirt stained with blood—had just confessed to a brutal kill when the vampire slayer brings down her stake. A half second delayed, a comically small amount of blood spurts from the wooden prop. Van Helsing, played by Franchesca Parker ’25, acting, and the rest of the group in the theatre rehearsal space titter at the anticlimactic moment. Tessara Morgan Farley, production stage manager, and Sierra Young ’23, the fighting and intimacy director, immediately jump in to triage a better death for the vampire, Lucy (played by… Continue Reading How to plan a successful stage battle

a group of alumni award winners stand together on a stage

Alumni Awards 2023—Making impact through relationships

On the stage of the 35th annual Alumni Awards, awardees and their nominators repeated a shared theme: the freedom and flexibility to grow at UMBC—not alone—but in community. Presented by the Alumni Association Board of Directors, the event recognizes inspiring alumni in a range of fields, as well as a rising star and an outstanding faculty and staff member. Rehana Shafi, recipient of the inaugural staff award, emphasized that she was only able to do so much “with so many.” Shafi, director emerita of the Sherman Teacher Scholars Program, said: “This work, this way, isn’t an individual endeavor….Impact happens inside… Continue Reading Alumni Awards 2023—Making impact through relationships

students dressed in black and gold celebrate at the academic success center

Academic Success Center earns elite international distinction

In September 2023, the UMBC Academic Success Center (ASC) gained a Learning Center of Excellence designation from the International College Learning Center Association (ICLCA). There are only six other institutions in the world with an active designation of excellence from ICLCA, shares Amanda Knapp, associate vice provost and assistant dean for undergraduate academic affairs. “It’s remarkable what has been achieved since establishing our one-stop shop learning center model in 2019,” says Knapp. “We can now say with full evidence that our ASC is among the best in the world!”  It was no small feat. ASC staff—in addition to their role… Continue Reading Academic Success Center earns elite international distinction

black and gold flags span across academic row

Standing Ovation for Outstanding Retrievers

At UMBC, we celebrate the accomplishments of our alumni community year round, but our annual Athletics Hall of Fame induction and Alumni Awards ceremony and reception give us a chance to cheer extra loud for the outstanding Retrievers among us.  Stanyell Odom, director of alumni engagement, says it best about the incoming class of awardees: “These award winners embody so many of the characteristics that make UMBC such a special place. They are leaders in their professions and fields—innovative teachers, educators, and scientists—and are engaged and proud members of this UMBC community.” The 23rd Hall of Fame induction  Coming up… Continue Reading Standing Ovation for Outstanding Retrievers

Four people stand in front of a quilt with a gold heart on it. The people are holding copies of a book titled This Belongs to Us.

UMBC Belongs to All of Us

UMBC is a young institution—and not only do we have active alumni from the first four graduating classes still working to make an impact on campus and beyond, we are still discovering new stories about the establishment of the university and the ways the campus community was invited to co- create UMBC at its inception. In fact, Diane Tichnell ’70, political science, describes the impetus for the Founding Four’s book, This Belongs to Us (2023), as its own sort of inception. Several years ago, she had a dream—literal dream while she was asleep. In it, she was attending a lecture… Continue Reading UMBC Belongs to All of Us

A young man takes a picture outside with a pinhole camera in a packing tube

How to Make a Pinhole Camera

When Chris Peregoy ’81, visual and performing arts, M.F.A. ’99, intermedia and digital arts, received a tin full of Christmas cookies from his sister around the year 2000, he immediately dumped the contents out on the table to eat later. He had a moment of inspiration staring at the empty container—“This tin would make a great camera.” If you’ve ever looked at an oatmeal container, a hollowed-out book, a mailbox, or an entire room, and thought, “This object would make a great camera,” chances are you are familiar with the concept of a pinhole camera. It’s photography distilled to its… Continue Reading How to Make a Pinhole Camera

Beck smiles in front of a sign reading, "Community of St. Dysmas."

Ministering to the Most Vulnerable

Having the sally port gates slam behind her after walking into the prison for the first time was a bit of a shock to Susan Beck ’74, French. Luckily, a friend was there to hold her hand as they adjusted to the tight space and waited for the next door to open. As Beck got her breathing under control, she joined her classmates in a clinical pastoral education class on the rest of the tour of the facility. Beck, a former French teacher and a childbirth instructor, never envisioned her retirement as a career rebirth, but as she contemplated how… Continue Reading Ministering to the Most Vulnerable

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