Nine recent UMBC graduates and alumni will soon travel to the UK, El Salvador, Kuwait, France, Colombia, Taiwan, South Korea, and Germany as 2022 Fulbright U.S. Student scholars. They include emerging leaders in education, astrophysics, cybersecurity, human rights, and more, and they are excited to explore difficult questions through fresh perspectives.
Kateryna Yakusheva ’22, global studies and economics, looks forward to working on the international stage, with an organization like the World Bank or International Monetary Fund. Wherever her career takes her, she knows she wants to help different groups come together to manage risks, address conflicts, and build new futures.
Farah Helal ’24, global studies and political science, is the newly appointed 2022 University System of Maryland (USM) student regent. “Student representatives provide educators and policymakers with the perspective needed to ensure the student voice is valued and understood throughout the decision-making process,” she says.
Persistent. Innovative. Determined. These are the words UMBC’s commencement speakers returned to again and again to describe the Class of 2021. And despite a year of challenges—missing family and friends, technological frustrations, life lived through the computer screen—one of the resounding themes of this year’s Commencement ceremonies was gratitude.
“I had never been part of a university whose work was centered around social justice,” says Nicholas Nguyen ‘21, M.A. sociology. “The Peace Corps showed me how political systems work at an international level. UMBC’s Peaceworker Program is giving me an understanding from a social justice and antiracist perspective.”
As the pandemic surged across the country last spring, university arts venues closed their doors, but that didn’t stop UMBC artists from creating. Without the traditional opportunities for collaboration that can be so important in dance, music, theatre, and the visual arts, they turned to new approaches and to individual projects with determination and passion.
Graduating seniors Anthony Cano, Renato Zanelli, and Maya Scheirer came to UMBC with pride and hunger instilled by their immigrant parents’ work ethic. They brought rich cultures, languages, and hearts full of dreams and aspirations with the goal of forging futures of their own. “As a first-generation college student,” Zanelli says, “I can now be a role model for my younger cousins. I can help and inspire them. They will not have to do it alone.”
Ten recent UMBC alumni are recipients of 2020 – 2021 Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards, including seven from UMBC’s Class of 2020. Each year over 11,000 students apply and just over 2,000 are selected from hundreds of colleges and universities across the United States. The award secures funding for U.S. students to pursue international graduate study, research, internships, or teaching.
Each summer, hundreds of UMBC students complete summer internships to get hands-on experience related to their majors and career goals. The COVID-19 pandemic has moved many networking opportunities and jobs online, including some internships. Still, undergraduate and graduate students from across the University have spent the summer developing their skills and connections virtually.