Alumni Accolades – Outstanding Alumni of the Year 2011

Published: Sep 30, 2011

Among the highlights of UMBC’s Homecoming 2011 is a ceremony that honors university alumni who have achieved distinction in a wide range of disciplines and careers.

The UMBC Alumni Association – which selects recipients and presents the awards – moved the annual Outstanding Alumni of the Year ceremony back to campus in 2009, and it has since become a key element of the university’s celebration of school spirit.

This year’s recipients of the awards – which will be presented on Thursday, October 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery – include alumni who’ve reached prominence in the fields of technology, medicine, journalism and business. This year’s recipients are:

Ralph Semmel ’92, Ph.D., computer science, is the UMBC Alumnus of the Year in Engineering and Information Technology. In 2010, Semmel was named as the eighth director of The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory – one of the most prominent hubs of advanced technological research in the world.

Ronita Marple, ’05, Ph.D., chemistry, is the UMBC Alumna of the Year in the Natural and Mathematical Sciences. She is an analytical chemist and senior scientist for consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble. (Read a profile of Marple)

Jamie Smith Hopkins ’98, English, is the UMBC Alumna of the Year in the Humanities. She has been a reporter at The Baltimore Sun since 1999, and writes and blogs for the paper on the housing industry in the Baltimore metropolitan region. (UMBC Magazine profiled Hopkins in its Summer 2010 issue.)

Garrett Wright ’01, theatre, is the UMBC Alumnus of the Year in the Visual and Performing Arts. Wright is a Bridge Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights, where he puts his legal skills to work combating racial profiling in New York City’s Police Department. He is also a staff attorney at the Urban Justice Center’s Community Development Project, which provides legal advice to tenants and tenant organizations.

Dr. Jeffery Wilkinson ’89, interdisciplinary studies, is the UMBC Alumnus of the Year in the Social Sciences. He works at the University of North Carolina’s School of Medicine, and he has won renown as a global leader in combating obstetric fistula in some of the poorest regions of the world – including Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. (Wilkinson was profiled in the Summer 2009 issue of UMBC Magazine.)

Delali Dzirasa ’04, computer engineering, is UMBC’s Young Alumni Rising Star. He is the owner of Fearless Solutions, a cybersecurity company based in the bwtech@UMBC Research Park that focuses on secure software development, and already boasts several contracts with the federal government.

Richard Byrne ’86

This article appeared in the Fall 2011 issue of UMBC Magazine.

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