Campus Life

a screen shot of a face mask with text that says "what if? decorative face mask prompts." for a talk about susus

Finding one’s face and building financially resilient spaces through ‘susus’

Sonya Squires-Caesar, a doctoral candidate in UMBC’s language, literacy, and culture program, has been interviewing communities who use susus to save money for big-ticket items like homes, farms, or everyday needs like transportation and bills. Susu, a word thought to come linguistically from West African languages, is an informal structure of communal savings where individuals agree to give an equal amount of money to one pool. Members then decide the frequency of when someone receives the entire amount. “I remember my mother planning her spending around when she would get her payment,” says Squires-Caesar, whose family is from Barbados. Squires-Caesar… Continue Reading Finding one’s face and building financially resilient spaces through ‘susus’

a woman in glasses stands in a business suit against a wooded background

Renique Kersh, VP for student affairs, values listening as the first step of leadership

Renique Kersh became UMBC’s vice president for student affairs in August 2023, and her first days were a whirlwind that included dropping her sons at school, moving from Boston to Maryland, and attending a number of UMBC welcome events for students and the community. Now that she’s had the chance to replant her roots at UMBC (her first job out of graduate school was as a community director for Residential Life from 2001 – 2003), Kersh is using her time to listen to the community and bring her expertise to the table as she works with campus leadership and partners… Continue Reading Renique Kersh, VP for student affairs, values listening as the first step of leadership

a group of students gather on the stairs, smiling together

Your story belongs here

Joining a new community can be tough sometimes, especially post-pandemic. And with new Retrievers coming from every background imaginable, it’s important to make sure everyone feels welcome when they get here.  That’s where “Your Story Belongs Here” comes in. Now in its second year, this video storytelling collaboration between Initiatives for Identity, Inclusion, and Belonging (i3b) and the Department of Theatre brings students together to learn how to share—and celebrate—their own stories of belonging.  “I think it’s pretty common to enter college and be worried that you’re not going to find your people. It’s very different from high school,” said… Continue Reading Your story belongs here

A woman and a college student sit talking to each other across a conference table with lots of windows behind them during office hours

Office Hours 

Each week during her student-facing office hours, UMBC President Valerie Sheares Ashby meets with students to chat about their lives and experiences at UMBC. Today, she’s speaking with Okechukwu Tabugbo ’25, computer engineering, president of UMBC’s Black Men’s Society, a group that provides mentorship, skills training, and community to students while trying to eliminate negative narratives and stigma around what it means to be a Black man in America. Okechukwu Tabugbo: I found out about UMBC’s Black Men’s Society when I was in my first year. I knew Marvin Onwukwe, the club secretary at the time. He was always walking… Continue Reading Office Hours 

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

Fever dream, a band, practices in a lecture hall

Biology department members create an experiment of note—a band called Fever Dream

Before you let your imagination run wild, we’re going to go ahead and temper whatever expectations you may have upon hearing the phrase “biology band.” Nobody is banging on a centrifuge in lieu of drums. Test tubes aren’t lined up as a makeshift xylophone. The final rock flourish is not a shattering of beakers. In fact, when the band members of Fever Dream get together, they leave biology in the lab and concentrate on what matters—the music.  “We are incredibly lucky to be able to do important research on the topics that we are interested in while at the same… Continue Reading Biology department members create an experiment of note—a band called Fever Dream

A volleyball game at UMBC

Meet a Retriever—Aysia Miller ’24, volleyball player and biology major

Meet Aysia Miller, a senior on the America East championship women’s volleyball team at UMBC. Originally from Mililani, Hawaii, Aysia is majoring in biology and minoring in bioinformatics. As a student-athlete and scholarship recipient, Aysia says she’s found a community at UMBC that lets her dive deep into the STEM fields that interest her while supporting her on and off the volleyball court. 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: UMBC has people that can fit you perfectly. There will always be someone that… Continue Reading Meet a Retriever—Aysia Miller ’24, volleyball player and biology major

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

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

Two individuals stand smiling indoors wearing gray UMBC Homecoming t-shirts.

A love letter to Homecoming

When you think about UMBC’s Homecoming, you undoubtedly conjure images of carnival rides, black and gold decorations, and the beloved Puppy Parade. But what Homecoming is really about, for us, is the people. We asked social media intern Allison John ‘24, psychology, to share what it was like to walk a mile (or more accurately, many, many miles) in her shoes during this year’s Homecoming. Continue Reading A love letter to Homecoming

umbc in autumn, filled with colorful trees

Top 6 ways to celebrate (a slightly spine-chilling) autumn at UMBC

The leaves of the trees on campus are turning red, orange, and gold as the temperature finally starts to cool down. The semester is halfway over now as the autumn weather settles in, but there are still many great events to look forward to. So take a sip of your apple crisp oat milk macchiato and let’s look at six of the best ways to get in the spirit of the season at UMBC. Peek “Beyond the Veil” Throughout the months of October and November, online “Beyond the Veil” lectures will take a look at the ways different cultural histories… Continue Reading Top 6 ways to celebrate (a slightly spine-chilling) autumn at UMBC

musicians play in front of a carnival at homecoming

Celebrate Your Retriever Spirit at Homecoming 2023

Homecoming this year is full of fun events for canine and human Retrievers alike, whether they’re students, staff, faculty, alumni or friends and family. The week kicks off with the women’s soccer game on October 8, followed by a Maryland-themed dinner event and the Homecoming Bonfire.  Homecoming Saturday on October 14 has something for all the good pups on and off campus. While dogs have always been a large part of UMBC’s culture, UMBC has been creating new traditions with its furry friends in the past few years, like the RAC’s new Laps with Officer Chip and the now annual… Continue Reading Celebrate Your Retriever Spirit at Homecoming 2023

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