Here’s a recap of what’s in the news in and around the UMBC campus, originally brought to you by UMBC News.

This news recap is brought to you by UMBC’s Division of Professional Studies, offering a broad array of professionally-focused master’s degrees and certificate programs that address industry needs while anticipating future opportunities.

UMBC Students Create an App showing the Link Between Physical and Mental Health

Yvann Tientcheu ‘21, information systems, and his collaborators earned first place in the annual Idea Competition held by the Alex. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship this year. Their winning idea was an app called Strive, showcasing the link between physical and mental health; it would be able to track how a patient was feeling at any time. Tientcheu said “Our target market is the medical community,” Tientcheu said in his presentation. “We’re hoping to provide [healthcare providers] with a constant, continuously updated steam of data that shows the connection between [patients’] mental and physical health.” He also said that the app began as something to track exhaustion during the COVID-19 pandemic, but later evolved into something that would be useful after the end of the pandemic. Congratulations to Yvann Tientcheu and his collaborators!

Humanities Students Carve Their Own Path by Honoring Their Parents’ Immigration Stories

Graduating seniors Anthony Cano, Renato Zanelli, and Maya Scheirer all came to UMBC with a desire to learn instilled in them by their parents and their stories. Cano recounts walking to school with his mother as she walked to her job as a janitor, a job she had to get in order to make ends meet after the stock market crash in 2008. As a first generation college student, he wanted to use his interest in journalism, photography, and business to not only help his family, but help people around the world. Cano travelled to Cartagena, Colombia and and studied displacement of Afro-Colombian people in the Nelson Mandela neighborhood of the city. In January of this year, Cano will start his position as an Operations Analyst at Morgan Stanley. 

Zanelli’s love for education is also grounded in his family, similar to Cano. He immigrated from Peru when he was 10 years old, and moved to Anne Arundel County. From the lack of diversity in his schools, he came to UMBC wanting connections with others, especially of Hispanic descent. He joined the Hispanic Latino Student Union which encouraged him to take more Spanish classes to be connected to his roots. He met professors that he has life long bonds with, and began working as a Spanish language translator in a hospital soon after.  He also is signed to the professional Esports team, D.C. United. 

Schreier, a child of Sri Lankan and German immigrants, grew up in Montgomery County, MD surrounded by all kinds of people. As a mixture of ethnicities herself, she felt right at home. When she came to UMBC, she was immediately drawn to the Global Studies program. It allowed her to research, write, speak different languages, and travel. She studied abroad in Germany during the Spring of 2020, but that was unfortunately cut short due to COVID-19. Currently, she is awaiting a response for her Fulbright application, where if she gets accepted she will use her French speaking skills in Andorra as an English teaching assistant. Congratulations to all three of these students!

New Arts Graduates Find Their Way During the Pandemic

The pandemic has been hard for everyone, but art students have been impacted in such a way that they do not have access to most materials they need for their classes, such as cameras, paints, or a stage just to name a few. However, recent graduates Brianna Harper, Celine “CJ” Jones-Cameron, and Pramuk Mohanlal-Vargas have made the most of their situations. Harper says she was able to focus on her research on artist Hilma af Klint’s work and its relation to astrology without any distractions. Preminda Jacob, associate dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and professor of visual arts, who was Harper’s advisor, said “The outcome of Brianna’s research was a uniquely exciting interpretation of visual artworks.”

Jones-Cameron notes that she believes the pandemic has brought the students in the Theatre department so much closer. Since Theatre is such an interactive course of study, the students were not able to connect in their normal manner by producing two shows a year. Jones-Cameron says that “It’s been nice to see us talk to each other more,” she said. Thanks to the “closeness” of students in the department, she says, “I think we adjusted pretty well,” Regarding the switch to a completely online format. CJ will be taking her talents outside of Maryland and start auditioning in New York or Los Angeles  and possible focus on producing children’s theatre.

Mohanlal-Vargas is a citizen of the world, growing up in Paraguay and India alongside the United States, so majoring in Global Studies was something he knew he wanted to do. He also has loved music from a young age, so adding a double major in Music was something he always wanted to do. He has emerged as a singer-songwriter  under his first name “Pramuk,” and released his first EP titled Ordinary Soul on November 27th of 2020. Mohanlal-Vargas said that his classwork at UMBC as well as his participation in UMBC ensembles such as the Camerata Choir and the Opera Workshop has helped him blossom as a musician. He has said that the pandemic wa shard for him since he could no longer perform live and had to do everything virtually, but he said it has kept him grounded and more still in the moment.

Computing Graduates Share Stories of Connection, Support, and Opportunity

Fikir Ejigineh knew she wanted to attend UMBC when she heard about the Living Learning Communities (LLCs). She moved into The Shriver Center LLC, living alongside students committed to civic engagement, service and community building. She was later selected for UMBC’s CoLab program focusing on racial and social injustice, where she and two peers worked with a new mapping software from UMBC’s Image Researching Center to create a 3D Space to collect and share the multimedia stories of people living in Baltimore. After graduation, Ejigineh will work as a Business Administrator at Alakrity, a startup IT company, and hoped to further her education in user experience design in the future.

Fabiha Mahmood knew that UMBC was a great place to establish a solid network before enrolling in her freshman year. She said it was really important for her to have interpersonal relationships with her professors, and UMBC gave that to her. She notes that interest from one of her  professors, Eric Brown, made a huge impact on her educational journey where she says that “He was so invested in my journey here, and from that first interaction, I knew that UMBC was different,” Mahmood graduated with her degree in Political Science in 2018 and just got her M.P.S. in Cybersecurity this past fall semester, and plans to pursue a career as an intelligence analyst.

William Easley was interested in human-computer interaction ever since he was an undergraduate student at UMBC. He went on to earn a Masters degree in that field and is now pursuing a Ph.D. in the same field. He loves that as a researcher he is on the cutting edge of creating knowledge.  He says that “The idea of designing and building technologies to help people with disabilities is super exciting to me. It’s something that’s worthwhile and meaningful.” As someone with a visual impairment, this research is especially meaningful to him. However, Easley notes that his mentors at UMBC guided him on this path to researching human-computer interaction, and that they encouraged him to pursue higher education in this field.

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