Alumni

Tracie Cox, Nichole Richmond, Sue Wellington, Anne Wellington Goldsmith, and Monique Cephas celebrating their 25th anniversary of becoming a member of the Lambda Kappa Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Meet a Retriever—Monique Cephas ’92, Alumni Association scholarship committee chair

Meet Monique Jones Cephas ‘92, information systems management. Monique is the Deputy Associate Commissioner for the Office of Electronic Services and Systems Integration at the Social Security Administration and the current Scholarship Committee Chair of the UMBC Alumni Association Board of Directors. Monique credits her time at UMBC and participation in the university’s cooperative education program—along with a lot of hard work, perseverance, and dedication—for her career success. “Each one, reach one” is one of Monique’s favorite mantras. This is why she gives back to UMBC as an active member of the Alumni Association. Take it away, Monique! Q: What’s… Continue Reading Meet a Retriever—Monique Cephas ’92, Alumni Association scholarship committee chair

Kevin Yang '07, Katelyn Niu '05, and their son holding up their Homecoming 2023 nametags.

Meet a Retriever—Kevin Yang ’07, Alumni Association Executive Vice President

Meet Kevin Yang ’07, computer science and financial economics. Kevin is a real estate entrepreneur, the current executive vice president and vice president of finance of the UMBC Alumni Association Board of Directors, and one half of an alumni power couple. Kevin met his wife, Katelyn Niu ’05, biochemistry, when the pair found themselves in the same physics study group as undergrads (because where else do you find love at UMBC?). They both share a passion for UMBC that runs deep. Take it away, Kevin! Q: What is your WHY? What brought you to UMBC?  A. I grew up in… Continue Reading Meet a Retriever—Kevin Yang ’07, Alumni Association Executive Vice President

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

Before 3 amputations, Chandra Smith was already an accessibility-for-all advocate

By Jessie Newburn It’s 4 a.m. on a Wednesday—earlier than most people rise, though a preference for Chandra Smith, M.S. ’21, information systems. After saying her daily devotion, she begins to get ready for the day ahead: brushing her teeth, taking a shower, getting dressed and having some breakfast.  If she’s lucky, the day ahead is one where her employer’s “reasonable accommodations” for her disabilities allow her to work from home rather than having to schedule a Paratransit bus pickup near Baltimore, then get on the Marc train to D.C., then get picked up by another Paratransit bus to take… Continue Reading Before 3 amputations, Chandra Smith was already an accessibility-for-all advocate

A family embraces and smiles at the camera. The father has a foam UMBC paw.

Meet a Retriever—Jennifer Herson ’99, Alumni Association Vice President

Meet Jennifer Herson ’99, interdisciplinary studies. Jen is an executive at Data Canopy, a data center and cloud company, and the current Vice President of Operations of the UMBC Alumni Association Board of Directors. As a board member, Jen believes deeply in the mission of UMBC and the sense of community and belonging this institution fosters. She helps perpetuate these values through her work on the board and as a donor. Take it away, Jen! Q: What’s the one thing you’d want someone who hasn’t joined the UMBC community to know about the support you find here? A: Everyone can… Continue Reading Meet a Retriever—Jennifer Herson ’99, Alumni Association Vice President

a crowd gathers at a bonfire at dusk

Building the bonfire from scratch

At UMBC, we’re still young enough to be making traditions. Meet Thomas Locastro, biological sciences alumnus, who knew from day one on campus in 2003 that he wanted to leave behind a lasting legacy. Locastro joined the newly-made First Year Council, designed to help students view themselves as co-creators of our campus community. “They were encouraging us to pick something to do,” Locastro explains. “How do you leave your mark?” Locastro brainstormed an idea that would be exciting for students but still relatively inexpensive, and therefore hopefully repeatable. He landed on a bonfire. In the center of campus. Understandably, there… Continue Reading Building the bonfire from scratch

Two UMBC graduates posing and smiling for a photo on UMBC's campus.

Uplifting up-and-coming economists

In 2017, UMBC received a $1.3 million grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in an effort to diversify the field of economics by creating interventions from the undergraduate level through the post-baccalaureate level. The program was originally intended to conclude in five years but has since been extended to support UMBC students in post-bac programs through 2025.  Continue Reading Uplifting up-and-coming economists

A family dressed in saris poses together outside in a wooded area

Three sisters—all alums—share their family’s recipes for food and comfort

Aimee, Jamie, and Gina Joshua have a lot in common. All three went to UMBC as members of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program. And the sisters all have great memories of growing up in a house filled with delicious food and love. So, when their mother’s YouTube channel focusing on Indian cooking techniques started to take off, the trio made it their mission to create a cookbook of family recipes that would honor their beloved parents. Our parents, Sara and Abraham Joshua, known to us as Mummy and Chacha, immigrated from India in their twenties separately to begin their careers and… Continue Reading Three sisters—all alums—share their family’s recipes for food and comfort

on a golf green, a man kneels with a camera, filming some one playing golf

The man behind the camera

When LeBron James comes calling, you answer the phone. Philip Knowlton ’03, visual arts, knows this better than most. The NBA legend doesn’t have the UMBC alum in his contacts because Knowlton is great at one-on-one (probably). Instead, Knowlton has collaborated with James’ media company Uninterrupted on several documentaries as a director, editor, producer, and director of photography. Uninterrupted was founded to empower athletes to tell their stories in their own words. This time, Knowlton was called upon to direct and co-executive produce Redefined: J.R. Smith, a four-part Prime Video documentary series released in April 2023 that follows J.R. Smith,… Continue Reading The man behind the camera

headshot of a woman in front of a grassy lawn

From apples to army robots, curiosity and commitment define Priya Narayanan’s career

She didn’t exactly experience a Sir Isaac Newton-like epiphany after being conked by a falling apple, but Priya Narayanan, Ph.D. ’08, mechanical engineering, spent a lot of her time at UMBC interacting with the iconic red fruit.  For her Ph.D. thesis, Narayanan worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to study whether a simple device made of a long, inclined track could reliably orient apples. The ultimate goal was to automate visual inspection of the fruit—using cameras to spot blemishes—and the cameras required the same view of the apple each time. Narayanan spent thousands of hours performing experiments with rolling… Continue Reading From apples to army robots, curiosity and commitment define Priya Narayanan’s career

A collage with an illustration of a yellow butterfly with white flowers, and photographs featuring people studying, talking, and celebrating together. Blue, green, yellow, and red shapes decorate the collage.

Living in vivid color—Kate Feller, Ph.D., is pushing boundaries in biology research and teaching

The shower was full of mantis shrimp. Bubblers burbled and the cranky crustaceans skulked in their tanks, looking for things to punch with their famously fast strikes. Complicated electronics for measuring brain activity stood sentinel beside the bed in the next room. And out on the balcony, Kathryn Feller, Ph.D. ’14, biological sciences, was wearing a respirator and gloves, working with nasty chemicals.  In other words, it was another day of fieldwork as a behavioral neuroscientist—a career Feller has embraced after a journey of self-exploration that took her to surgical operating theaters, drama summer camps, and a range of research… Continue Reading Living in vivid color—Kate Feller, Ph.D., is pushing boundaries in biology research and teaching

Scroll to Top