The start of the school year means new beginnings. For most, this looks like new classes and friends—new experiences and opportunities. UMBC’s new president is even experiencing a whole chapter of firsts! But among the new beginnings, some things never change. This is what we love about UMBC:
We bond over new experiences
In the classroom and in student clubs, Retrievers take pride in finding ways to connect with each other. “People are more open to learning about different things than you would think, like different cultures,” says Sara Motamedi ’23, mathematics, who has found her classmates to be truly inquisitive and open minded. “I never expected it to be so diverse, which is awesome,” says Michael Washington ’23, media and communication studies, who enjoys playing basketball at the Retriever Activities Center (RAC) in his free time.
Some students bond over a game in the RAC, others might find a home in high level debate. UMBC’s intellectual sports teams include the top Mock Trial team in the nation. More than 250+ student organizations and clubs can connect you to the larger community: from Retriever Music Society to HackUMBC to Meditation at UMBC, students can engage with their interests, majors, and cultures alongside one another. Bolstered by a bevy of academic and social support systems, like the Academic Success Center and the new Center for Well-Being, each Retriever can find something they love here on campus.
We make it a point to explore campus and beyond
One of the keys to academic success is decompressing, and Retrievers know how to relax in style. One of UMBC’s major hubs is The Commons, where students meet between classes to socialize and grab a bite to eat. Students hang out in the Sports Zone—where they might catch a game on the projector or an open mic performance—and the gameroom, where they play pool, ping pong, and video games. On the 530-acre campus, many students find their own personal spots to take a breather. “I always found the tunnel between the Chesapeake Arena and The Commons parking garage to be a chill place where I can sit and draw quietly,” says Krista Mitchell ’23, English.
After classes and on weekends, students often use the free transit system to explore nearby Catonsville and Arbutus, where UMBC-affiliated and alumni-operated coffee shop OCA Mocha can be found. “OCA Mocha is UMBC’s local place to hang out,” says Shawn Abraham ’24, political science. “Their study hours for students are really helpful.” In addition to drinks and treats, OCA Mocha showcases local artists in its gallery and hosts live events that are open to all.
We find ways to succeed together
For Camila Rudas ’22, biology and English, UMBC is defined by its community—people who embrace each other, look towards the future, and ask tough questions. In her eyes, this all starts with the professor. “They are always there to uplift students. Honestly, I feel like they are there to guide, instead of simply teach,” says Rudas, who has seen faculty go the extra mile—whether that’s collaborating with students through office hours, sharing internship opportunities, or providing research mentorship. UMBC’s students connect with faculty and staff in addition to their professors, though. “What surprised me most about UMBC was how personable my advisors have been,” says Maya Babu ’23, political science. “They honestly go above and beyond to help you succeed.”
As the school year gears up, UMBC’s students have a lot to return to—and plenty of new experiences waiting. Not least of which is welcoming and connecting with our new president, Dr. Valerie Sheares Ashby. “It’s cool,” says Motamedi. “She’s a woman of color in STEM—she’s just like me.”