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

Published: Apr 23, 2024

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)
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
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 find Poulomi with her camera taking family portraits, at a Philadelphia Union soccer game, or reading with her best friend, Sarah Lilly ‘17, information systems, and her two cats, Gizmo and Dolly. Take it away, Poulomi!
Poulomi Banerjee '16, M.P.P. '21 sitting on the True Grit statue while wearing her graduation gown.

Q: Tell us about what you love about your academic program.

A: I love the practicality of the grad programs in the School of Public Policy. Throughout my time in both the master and Ph.D. programs, I’ve been able to have my assignments directly correlate with my work and research goals. In fact, my professors have made it such a wonderful experience that I continued after my master’s degree with my Ph.D.—something I never thought would be in my academic journey.

Q: Tell us about someone in the community who has inspired you or supported you, and how they did it.

A: I attribute a lot of my UMBC experience to my best friend, Emma Hagen ’14, media and communications studies. She made me excited about going to UMBC from her Tumblr posts before I became a student and we’ve made amazing memories together as students and continue to as alumni.

(Pictured left: Banerjee sitting on the True Grit statue after her undergraduate Commencement.)

Q: What is your WHY? What brought you to UMBC?

A: I came to UMBC because they accepted me. It’s not glamorous or inspiring, I know. I’ve lived in Maryland my entire life and people who know me know I did not want to go to UMBC in the first place. I wanted to transfer after my first semester, but now I’m working on my third and final degree here and I think that’s an important story to tell. As I mentioned earlier, I used Tumblr to get excited about UMBC once I was accepted and that’s where I found Emma posting about a zip line, a cotton candy machine, and concerts from the Student Events Board.

I also would spend time talking to Yoo-jin Kang ’15, interdisciplinary studies and modern languages and linguistics, and Asif Majid ‘13, interdisciplinary studies, whom I went to high school with, about their experiences at UMBC. I wanted to find a community, and I wanted to have a purpose and a meaningful experience at UMBC. From my conversations with Yoo-jin and Asif, I felt hopeful about being able to do that.

To tap into the magic that is UMBC, you have to seek your community.

Poulomi Banerjee ’16, M.P.P. ’21

Q: What’s your favorite part of Retriever Nation?

A: The unlimited Google storage space with my UMBC email. Just kidding! My best friends and so much of my community comes from UMBC. So much of who I am today is because of the people I met and continue to meet from UMBC. When you lean into the Retriever spirit, there’s really nothing you can’t do with the support that this community provides.

Q: What’s the one thing you’d want someone to know about the community support you find here?

A: To tap into the magic that is UMBC, you have to seek your community. Everyone who is a part of my network didn’t come into my purview on their own. I found people who would help me enjoy my time and be as successful as possible at UMBC and beyond. Once you find those people, the opportunities you can receive are endless.

Poulomi with her pod at the STRiVE Leadership Retreat
Banerjee (bottom, right) with her pod at the STRiVE Leadership Retreat.

Q: Tell us about your HOW. 

A: I started getting involved in different groups to find my community and purpose. I joined organizations like SGA, the Student Events Board, Tea Club, and started researching sororities at UMBC. What really changed everything for me was the STRiVE Leadership Retreat. That’s where I truly learned the impact I could make at UMBC and in my community. It’s where I started forming my network at UMBC.

STRiVE is why I fell in love with UMBC and why I’m still a student to this day. Once the spring semester started my first year, I hit the ground running at UMBC and haven’t looked back since. I grew closer to Emma through the Student Events Board and she ended up bringing me into commonvision, UMBC’s design and print center, where I learned about graphic design and printing. Sarah Lilly, Kelly Robier ’15, political science, and Bentley Corbett-Wilson ’17, M.A. ‘20, all taught me about leadership and organizing, and all of them, along with Emma, are also always helping me grow and be a better person. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

There is an endless list of staff, faculty, and students who are now alumni who have shaped me into the person I am today. I attribute so many of my accomplishments to the folks I’ve met at UMBC. Had I not stayed, had I not found my community, and had I not made the effort to take advantage of what UMBC had to offer, I, 100 percent, would not be as successful as I have been both in my personal and professional life.

Q: Tell us about your current job. What do you like most about it?

A: I’m the associate director of annual giving and alumni communications at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. My favorite part of fundraising in higher education is getting to help students have an incredible experience while on their academic journey. I studied public health in undergrad so being back in that space is a nice full-circle moment for me too.

Q: What drives you to support UMBC?

A: As someone who works in and studies higher education funding and fundraising, I understand that there’s so much a university wants to do to help students but can’t because of limited funding or not wanting to significantly increase tuition. That’s where the alumni community comes in.

I’m happy to donate to Retriever Essentials or The Women’s Center so they can provide the most resources to students during their time at UMBC. I’m of the belief that every dollar counts. I graduated with a hefty amount of student loans, but I know that I can give $10 or $20 every year on a day of giving or when I get an email from the dean and still make an impact on a student’s life.

(Pictured right: Banerjee wearing a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health sweatshirt.)

Poulomi Banerjee smiling at the camera wearing a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health sweatshirt.

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UMBC’s greatest strength is its people. When people meet Retrievers and hear about the passion they bring, the relationships they create, the ways they support each other, and the commitment they have to inclusive excellence, they truly get a sense of our community. That’s what “Meet a Retriever” is all about.

Learn more about how UMBC can help you achieve your goals.

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