Alumni

an older man in a black polo shirt stands on a baseball field holding a bat

Stepping up to the plate to preserve UMBC history

When the Fort McHenry Tunnel opened, drivers could thank Richard “Rock” Soracoe ’71, economics, for helping them see as they drove under the harbor. Soracoe spent 50-plus years in the lighting industry and helped source the original 8,870 8-ft light fixtures that lined the road. In retirement, he’s helping shed a different type of light. Soracoe and other members of the founding four classes at UMBC are putting their collective memories to work to assist in identifying people and events in UMBC’s archival material to help complete our UMBC history. One event—UMBC’s first intercollegiate athletics win—is a story Soracoe loves… Continue Reading Stepping up to the plate to preserve UMBC history

Two men in a rowing boat that is in water paddling oars in front of a backdrop that says USRowing

Finding gold on the water

Push, pull, push, pull. On goes this routine of synchronized oar movements as rowers—nestled in long, tapered boats—move through the water with precision and speed. The trim boats glide through the water with seemingly effortlessness, and as a child, Mark Couwenhoven finds himself entranced.  One day he’ll learn just how much effort this smooth process takes, but for now, Couwenhoven watches his older sister and her fellow competitors shoot through the water with dolphin-like gracefulness.  “I went to my sister’s races and became enthralled with rowing—I knew that it was what I wanted to do when I got older,” Couwenhoven… Continue Reading Finding gold on the water

A collage of images showing students traveling with mentors and teaching with children

A Journey of Growth

International travel offers ample opportunities to stretch yourself—one minute you may be the expert and the next, completely clueless about how something works. Retrievers currently in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program—teaching English or researching around the globe—find themselves oscillating between their teaching and student roles on a daily or hourly basis. By engaging their host communities through openness and cultural humility (and many shared cups of tea or coffee), these Fulbrighters are finding their balance along the way. Continue Reading A Journey of Growth

UMBC Police Chief Bruce Perry Jr. ‘97 smiling and waving to students on Academic Row.

Meet a Retriever–Bruce Perry Jr. ’97, UMBC Chief of Police

Meet Bruce Perry Jr. ’97, psychology. Bruce has spent 33 years at UMBC as both a student and staff member. He first joined the police department in 1994 as a student aide. After graduation, Bruce rejoined the police department in 1998 as an officer and has served in many roles over the years, including Operations Commander and Deputy Chief. In 2022, Bruce was named Chief of Police. Take it away, Bruce! Q: What is your WHY? What brought you to UMBC? A: In high school, I was in a club that had a field trip to UMBC. My guidance counselor… Continue Reading Meet a Retriever–Bruce Perry Jr. ’97, UMBC Chief of Police

a woman with bright green hair stands in front of shelves of thousands of Pez dispensers

PEZ—The Sweetest Hobby

Beware of crushes. Especially as a 10-year-old in 1995. They might lead to a lifelong hobby, rooms of your house dedicated to your collection, a quirky and supportive community, and even a spot in an Emmy-winning documentary. Katie Chrzanowski, however, has no regrets. After a brief crush on someone who collected PEZ, and thinking that starting her own collection would be a fun competition, she’s now the proud owner of more than several thousand PEZ dispensers, the host of the Maryland PEZ Gathering, and an extra on the set of The Pez Outlaw. But Chrzanowski ’07, visual arts, doesn’t just… Continue Reading PEZ—The Sweetest Hobby

Amy Caballero '22 at her field placement in Seneca Valley High School.

Meet a Retriever—Amy Caballero ’22, new social worker with strong ties to UMBC-Shady Grove

Amy Caballero graduated from UMBC 2022 with her bachelor’s degree in social work. She stayed on at the Shady Grove campus to complete her master’s in social work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and she graduates this May. She has a job lined up as a youth development specialist at a local nonprofit. Outside of academia, she says, she’s obsessed with her two dogs, enjoys bouldering, reading fiction and manga, and hanging out with friends. Take it away, Amy! Q: What’s the one thing you’d want someone to know about the support you find at UMBC? A: The support… Continue Reading Meet a Retriever—Amy Caballero ’22, new social worker with strong ties to UMBC-Shady Grove

Ron Pettie and his family at Homecoming 2022.

Meet a Retriever—Ron Pettie ’82, retired police officer and true Retriever Believer

Meet Ron Pettie. Ron is a retired Baltimore City police officer and a loyal Retriever alumnus, graduating with a B.A. in English in 1982. When he’s not writing postcards to incoming UMBC students, commenting on UMBC Alumni Association Facebook posts, or attending alumni events, Ron can be found spending time with his wife Christine. Ron’s path in life may not have always gone according to plan, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. Take it away, Ron! Q: What’s one essential thing you’d want another Retriever to know about you? A: I am a true believer that education is… Continue Reading Meet a Retriever—Ron Pettie ’82, retired police officer and true Retriever Believer

a woman in sleeveless shirt and glasses

Meet a Retriever—Camilla Sandoval ’17, M.A. ’19, program coordinator for Maryland Humanities

Meet Camilla Sandoval ’17, history, M.A. ’19, historical studies, a first-generation student who spent part of her time on each of UMBC’s campuses before graduating and putting her studies to work. Today, she spends her days as the program coordinator for grants with Maryland Humanities, where she still employs lessons learned from her time as a Retriever. Continue Reading Meet a Retriever—Camilla Sandoval ’17, M.A. ’19, program coordinator for Maryland Humanities

All photos courtesy of Monroe Kennedy.

Meet a Retriever—Monroe Kennedy, III, ’12, mechanical engineering professor at Stanford University

Meet Monroe Kennedy, III, a Meyerhoff Scholar (M20) who earned his B.S. in mechanical engineering from UMBC in 2012 before earning his M.S. in robotics and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and applied mechanics from the University of Pennsylvania. Monroe is now an assistant professor in the mechanical engineering department at Stanford University. His work is in collaborative robotics, building systems capable of extending robotic autonomy to scenarios where robots work closely around humans and must anticipate their needs to be effective teammates. Outside of his role as a professor, Monroe serves as a national director for Black in Robotics, a… Continue Reading Meet a Retriever—Monroe Kennedy, III, ’12, mechanical engineering professor at Stanford University

Laura with House Speaker Adrienne Jones ‘76, and fellow Alumni Association board member Lisa Nissley ‘01, after all three women spoke at the 2024 UMBC Annapolis Reception: Saluting Women Leaders.

Meet a Retriever—Laura Howell ’86, disability advocate and Alumni Association governance committee chair

Meet Laura Howell; she graduated from UMBC in 1986 with a B.A. in political science. She is an advocate for those with developmental disabilities and the CEO of the Maryland Association of Community Services, having recently celebrated her 20th anniversary in the position. Laura is also an active member of the UMBC Alumni Association Board of Directors, serving as chair of the governance committee. She credits her time at UMBC and the support she received here for preparing her for a career of advocacy and service. Take it away, Laura! Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself. A. I… Continue Reading Meet a Retriever—Laura Howell ’86, disability advocate and Alumni Association governance committee chair

Poulomi Banerjee '16, M.P.P. '21, and Emma Hagen '14, high five while holding a sign that reads Welcome to Our Community of Inquiring Minds. (Marlayna Demond '11/UMBC)

Meet a Retriever—Poulomi Banerjee ’16, M.P.P. ’21, annual donor and advocate of the UMBC community

Meet Poulomi Banerjee, a double alumna—earning her degree in health administration and policy in 2016 and her M.P.P. in 2021—and current public policy Ph.D. student at UMBC who believes in the power of this community! She has her sights set on becoming just the 141st triple alum in UMBC history (bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. from UMBC). When she’s not working toward Retriever history, Poulomi works as the associate director of annual giving and alumni communications at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In her spare time (we’re just as surprised as you that she has any), you can… Continue Reading Meet a Retriever—Poulomi Banerjee ’16, M.P.P. ’21, annual donor and advocate of the UMBC community

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