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As current UMBC-Shady Grove students, members of the UMBC Peer Advisory Team (PAT) serve as a critical point of contact in the successful and seamless transition of students transferring to UMBC-Shady Grove from other institutions. PAT members undergo extensive leadership development and work closely with UMBC-Shady Grove administrative staff, faculty, and current students to reach out, serve, and create meaningful connections with prospective students through a variety of formal and informal recruitment and retention events. We are proud to be UMBC!

Meet the UMBC Peer Advisory Team members below.

Robert Asante: Psychology

An interesting personal fact…

I look more like my uncle than my dad, so everyone thinks I am his son. (The twist is that he doesn’t have any kids)

Why did you choose UMBC-Shady Grove?

I chose this institution specifically because it was close to home, it had a diverse population, the tuition price was affordable, and I still wanted to be a part of the Achieving Collegiate Excellence and Success (ACES) program. I have been a member since 2013 (11th grade)!

In what internships or extracurricular activities have you been involved at UMBC-Shady Grove?

I am currently a member of the ACES program here at Shady Grove and a member of the Peer Advisory Team. However, I plan on joining the Student Ambassadors, Student Council, Tau Sigma Honor Society, and the Psychology Students Association. I also plan on landing an internship by the summer.

What are your plans following graduation?

I plan on attending a graduate school of my choice and plan to earn a master’s degree or a PhD in my chosen field.

What is your advice for prospective students?

UMBC-Shady Grove is a wonderful environment. The professors are very helpful, so get to know them. There are also many resources on campus, so you should definitely utilize them. Finally, get involved in an extracurricular activity or two. It will make you feel more at home.

Maria Bruno: Social Work

An interesting personal fact…

An interesting fact about me is that I believe in the power of faith.  In my lowest times, when I can not see the light at the end of the tunnel, I continually receive validations to not give up!

Why did you choose UMBC-Shady Grove?

I chose UMBC-Shady Grove for many reasons.  The convenience of the campus location makes UMBC-Shady Grove an optimal choice. The UMBC- Shady Grove offers an excellent accredited social work program.   Lastly, the reputation of the professors made UMBC-Shady Grove my top choice of universities. 

What internships and/or extracurricular activities have you been involved with at UMBC-Shady Grove?

This is my first semester serving as a UMBC-Shady Peer Advisor.  I had such a welcoming and warm experience with the attentiveness I received from my Peer Advisor that I was encouraged to want to help other students with the transition to UMBC-Shady Grove. I did join the Emerging Leadership Program which allows you to work on your leadership skills at your own pace.
There are many other activities which I plan to participate in now that I am acclimated with UMBC-Shady Grove.

What are your plans following graduation?

Following graduation, I intend to work on obtaining my Masters of Social Work (MSW). 

What is your advice for prospective students?

My advice for prospective students is to not be terrified to approach professors, staff or fellow peers.  I have not met one person on this campus who has not been kind and willing to assist me in what I need to succeed.  If possible, attend any of the various campus event, even if it is just for a few minutes.  It is a great way to meet and connect with others in our school community. 
I would highly recommend to make use of the numerous campus resources.  They have been quite beneficial for my success at UMBC-Shady Grove.  My last piece of advice is to not be afraid to pursue your dreams. If there is a will, there is a way!

Kathleen Cene: Psychology

An interesting personal fact…

I LOVE raw salmon... but I hate cooked salmon!

Why did you choose UMBC-Shady Grove?

I choose UMBC-Shady Grove because I wanted to save money. Living on campus at a four- year college is super expensive compared to commuting to USG.

What internships and/or extracurricular activities have you been involved with at UMBC-Shady Grove?

I have a flexible internship working as a social media specialist for The Women Empowerment Project and I am a part of UMBC’s Peer Advisory Team.

What are your plans following graduation?

I plan on attending graduate school. After I get my master’s degree, I plan on working as a school guidance counselor.

What is your advice for prospective students?

Do not be afraid of asking for help! I will admit that the first semester was not easy for me. I had to get used to many changes like different professors, not living on campus, and being away from my friends. The transition was so hard to the point where I had a hard time keeping up with my assignments. I decided to talk to my professor. I was so scared at first because I thought she was going to tell me to suck it up and deal with it, but she did the opposite -- she gave me a few tips and referred me to a time management counselor. I am so grateful that I talked to her because if I didn’t I probably would have failed the first semester.

Sandy Cockrell: Social Work

An interesting personal fact…

I have completed two sprint triathlons with my mother who is 63! What a boss! I also have completed two 10 mile Tough Mudders (obstacle races).

Why did you choose UMBC-Shady Grove?

I chose to attend UMBC-Shady Grove because I was amazed at the concept when I was first introduced to it. A university campus where I can explore what I am passionate about within the area I currently live was really appealing to me. I was excited that I could attend my top choice for social work school and also stay local to save my parents and myself money for the same incredible education as on the Catonsville campus. I also appreciate the class sizes - intimate enough to where I am able to get to know my classmates and professor. 

What internships and/or extracurricular activities have you been involved with at UMBC-Shady Grove?

I first joined Tau Sigma which is a transfer honor society in the fall of my first semester. I later became and am currently the Vice President of Tau Sigma.  In my third semester, I started my internship at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility as a social work reentry services intern and I absolutely love it. 

What are your plans following graduation?

Following graduation I am going to pursue my Master of Social Work (MSW) degree hopefully from the University of Maryland Baltimore (UMB) at Shady Grove. I will have a break between when I graduate and when I start graduate school in which I will be interning in a corrections environment. 

What is your advice for prospective students?

The best advice I can give to prospective students is that it is okay not to know. It is okay not to know how to do everything right the first time and that asking for help is a strength that you learn along the way. I would also say that you are a lot stronger than you realize and that Shady Grove has so many resources to help you reach a potential in yourself you didn’t even know you had.  

Fatima Conteh: Social Work

An interesting personal fact …

An interesting personal fact about me is that while growing up, I wanted to become a lawyer.

Why did you chose UMBC-Shady Grove?

I chose UMBC-Shady Grove because it allows me to maintain my current lifestyle. For example, staying at my current place of employment and residence. Additionally, the small intimate setting of the campus allows me to establish a more personalized relationship with my professors, staff, and peers.

What internships and/or extracurricular activities have you been involved with at UMBC-Shady Grove?

I am currently a USG Student Ambassador as well as a member of the Peer Advisory Team (PAT) at UMBC-Shady Grove.

What are your plans following graduation?

Following graduation, I plan to enroll in an international Master of Social Work (MSW) program at the University of Maryland Baltimore (UMB).  I am also interested in the Peace Corps.

What is your advice for prospective students?

My advice for all prospective students is to seek help and utilize all the wonderful and unique resources UMBC-Shady Grove has to offer.

Valeria Erazo: Psychology

An interesting personal fact…

One interesting fact about me is that shortly after moving to the United States from Ecuador, I enrolled in the French Immersion program at my elementary school, which allowed me to learn English and French at the same time.

Why did you choose UMBC-Shady Grove?

I chose UMBC- Shady Grove for a few reasons. For one, I was immediately drawn by the fact that this campus allowed me to earn my bachelors degree while keeping my job and still living at home. I also appreciated the fact that UMBC-Shady Grove provides quality education in a small class size environment. The smaller campus also helped make the transition from Montgomery College to UMBC much easier.

What internships and/or extracurricular activities have you been involved with at UMBC-Shady Grove?

During my time at Montgomery College, I was not very involved in extracurricular activities. I knew I was missing out on great opportunities which made me set the goal to be more involved at UMBC-Shady Grove. Now, I am a part of the Peer Advisory Team (PAT)! I plan to become more involved during my next few semesters at USG!

What are your plans following graduation?

My ultimate goal is to get my Master’s Degree in Human Resources. Following graduation, I plan to take a year off school to gain professional experience and then I plan to apply to the Graduate Program in Industrial Organization Psychology offered here at UMBC-Shady Grove.

What is your advice for prospective students?

My advice for prospective students is to work hard and get involved. Through hard work and perseverance you will succeed! By getting involved in extracurricular activities you will have the opportunity to make new friends, grow as a person by becoming the best version of yourself. USG is filled with amazing people who are there for you. Ask for help if you ever need it. The amount of support and resources available at UMBC-Shady Grove is incredible and you should take advantage!

Bahareh Farahifar: Psychology

An interesting personal fact…

I took ballet for 9 years! The last year I took it, I finally went on pointe. It had been my dream to finally get my own pointe shoes and I’m so glad I had the chance to do it!

Why did you choose UMBC-Shady Grove?

I first heard about UMBC-Shady Grove at a transfer fair at Montgomery College. I had seen the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) growing up because it was close to home and I always passed by it, but didn’t know much about it. At the transfer fair, I learned that UMBC-Shady Grove was similar to Montgomery College - small class sizes, more interactions with professors and classmates, and low cost. I chose UMBC-Shady Grove because of all those reasons! I loved getting to know my professors and classmates, and in addition to that, I would be attending the campus that I had grown up seeing.

What internships or extracurricular Activities have you been involved in at UMBC-Shady Grove?

I have taken yoga in the Recreation Center! I went every Wednesday and got to make a few friends as well. It really helped me relieve stress. I also took part in the Steps Challenge, where we had to log in the amount of steps we took weekly for 8 weeks. It was really fun and I enjoyed getting my steps in because it motivated me to get moving. I also became a part of the Peer Advisory Team - which had been a dream of mine ever since I heard it - and recently got accepted into Tau Sigma Honor Society.

What are your plans following graduation?

After graduation, I plan on attending graduate school to earn my master’s degree and also take the steps to become a teacher. I love working with kids and I would love to do something related to that population with my Master’s degree and through teaching.

What is your advice to prospective students?

My first semester here was hard… but I really couldn’t have done it without the help of so many people. The support you receive really makes you feel like you’re a part of this university. At one point, I became really overwhelmed, but I talked to my professors and my friends and everyone was willing to help me. Reach out to others when things become too much. In addition to that, get involved by attending events and workshops and extracurricular activities. There are flyers all around campus to notify when things are happening, so if you have time, drop by and interact with other classmates! It’s how I became more involved, and it made transitioning to UMBC-Shady Grove a lot smoother for me!

Christian Freolo: Psychology

An interesting personal fact …

I love the outdoors -- camping on a mountain, road trips, skiing, hiking, rafting and urban cycling or just simply strolling at night!


Why did you choose UMBC-Shady Grove?

I chose UMBC -Shady Grove because of its convenience and its friendly atmosphere. When I was a Montgomery College student, I would always get invited by my peers to attend events at The Universities at Shady Grove (USG), and I have always enjoyed the atmosphere. Class sizes are smaller here and this is very important because it allows me to get closer to my classmates and professors. The setting is excellent as well as I can study everywhere on campus without being bothered.


In what internships or extracurricular activities have you been involved at UMBC-Shady Grove?

Besides serving as a member of UMBC-Shady Grove’s Peer Advisory Team, I am also part of the Rock Climbing Team! The club was founded last semester, and it has been a success in helping students that are interested in rock climbing enjoy the sport.  If you are interested, join us! There are a lot of clubs and activities you can participate in on campus!


What are your plans following graduation?

I want to travel after graduating -- see the world and enjoy life. I intend to use my degree in psychology and integrate it with physical therapy in the future.  When I am ready, I will go back to school to complete my Doctor of Physical Therapy degree.


What is your advice for prospective students?

Have the courage to ask questions if you are confused about anything. There is no such thing as a stupid question and you are not bothering anyone. Everyone on campus is a resource you can tap into and gather information about almost anything! Knowledge is power and the best part of asking questions is that it’s free. You just have to muster the courage to ask your questions. Building your connections are essential as well. There are a lot of peers and professors here at UMBC-Shady Grove that share the same interests as you and you’ll be surprised how well certain connections can impact your future career path. So, in summary, don’t be afraid to ask questions and use the resources that are available to you here at UMBC-Shady Grove!

Emely Garcia: Social Work

An interesting personal fact…

I am obsessed with elephants and one day I hope to own lots of land and have elephants be as free to roam as they please!

Why did you choose UMBC-Shady Grove?

I choose UMBC-Shady Grove because it was close to home yet a good university. All my life I have been very family oriented, so finding a school close to home was a priority. It was not until attending a USG Open House that my mother dragged me to that I realized UMBC-Shady Grove could be an option. After two years at Montgomery College, I began to question what I wanted to do with my life. During work, I had a mini meltdown and right before my meltdown truly grew, I received a call from UMBC-Shady Grove asking to confirm my attendance to a student-only open house for their social work program. I vented to this person as if I had known them my whole life; they assured me it was going to be okay and to take it one-step at a time. Then they recommended I speak with Chelsea Moyer, who helped me find out that UMBC-Shady Grove was where I needed to be. Not only is this university close to home but the vibes everyone gives are of a family. Had it not been for these two ladies, I may have still been wondering what I wanted to with my life. UMBC-Shady Grove may be small in numbers, but it is big in heart..

What internships and/or extracurricular activities have you been involved with at UMBC-Shady Grove?

During my first semester at UMBC-Shady Grove I was told that extracurricular activities and internships were very good! I went to a lot of meetings and found that one program I wanted to apply for was the “Peer Advisory Team.” They did so much for me my first semester I wanted to do the same for others. I was lucky enough to get chosen to join this semester. Being a social work major requires a year in an internship during your second year. I look forward to doing this because it will give me an actual feel for what my career will be like. I plan to continue to search for extracurricular activities while I remain at UMBC-Shady Grove.

What are your plans following graduation?

After graduation, I plan to pursue my Master of Social Work. I hope to be able to qualify for advanced placement, which allows me to get my Master’s degree in one year instead of two to save time and money! Far into the future I think I’ll possibly want to open my own private practice.

What is your advice for prospective students?

My advice to prospective students is to come and visit! If there is any part of you that thinks UMBC-Shady Grove might be the school for you, come to one of our many open houses! Also, when you come to UMBC-Shady Grove, always ask questions! Do not think that asking too many questions is annoying or you may be a hassle -- you are not! I used to think asking as little as possible made you look smart but half the time I didn’t know what I was doing! Do not be afraid to ask questions; it makes you look smart!

Shireen Golchin: Psychology

An interesting personal fact…

One interesting personal fact about me is that I love learning about hair and makeup.

Why did you choose UMBC-Shady Grove?

I chose to attend UMBC-Shady Grove after transferring from College Park because of the welcoming atmosphere, convenient campus, excellent professors, and the diverse population.

What internships and/or extracurricular activities have you been involved with at UMBC-Shady Grove?

I am a part of the Peer Advisory Team (PAT) and recently joined the Psychology Student Association (PSA). I plan to join more organizations next semester.

What are your plans following graduation?

My plans following graduation are to take about one year off to travel, and then I plan to start working in a position that allows me to use my bachelor’s degree in psychology. In the future, I will continue my education and plan to earn my master’s degree.

What is your advice for prospective students?

My advice for prospective students is to make as many connections as you can! Professors are here to help you whether it’s with the class material or a future job or internship. Getting involved and asking questions is a must because there are so many opportunities to be aware of both on campus and off campus!

Isabella Hlavacek: History

An interesting personal fact...

I love going to concerts! If money were no object I would probably be at one or more a week. I love going with friends, but if no one likes the artist or band playing... I'll go alone!

Why did you choose UMBC-Shady Grove?

I chose UMBC-Shady Grove so I could continue living at home while getting my degree. I quickly learned that it is super valuable to be able to go to school with almost all people who live locally, but many of whom are from different parts of the country or the world. You get to hear different perspectives while connecting with people who are invested in the DMV area.

What internships and/or extracurricular activities have you been involved with at UMBC-Shady Grove?

I am currently the copy editor for UMBC-Shady Grove’s History Student Journal and I am also a member of the History Student Association. I hope to have an internship over the summer or maybe next year!

What are your plans following graduation?

I hope to put my degree in history as well as the writing, reading, and analytical skills I will have gained to good use. I do not have a concrete idea of my dream job at the moment, but I’m working on it!

What is your advice for prospective students?

Have fun! Make connections with classmates who can lean on you and who you can lean on when there are challenges in your classes. Getting your degree will feel a lot less like work if you have people you can enjoy your time with. You might find some lifelong friends along the way.

Joann Manugh-Khaloyan: Political Science

An interesting personal fact…

An interesting fact about myself is that I am trilingual. I am fluent in English, Armenian, and Russian.

Why did you choose UMBC-Shady Grove?

As a transfer student from Montgomery College, I had to choose between going to a four-year university far from home or staying near my family, friends, and work. My sister is an alumna of UMBC-Shady Grove, and at the time she was a peer advisor. During my transfer process, she suggested I attend the Undergraduate Preview Night at UMBC-Shady Grove to meet with peer advisors, students, and faculty. As soon as I entered, they all made me feel very welcomed and I learned that UMBC-Shady Grove would be the best fit for my last two years of my undergraduate studies.

What internships and/or extracurricular activities have you been involved with at UMBC-Shady Grove?

At UMBC-Shady Grove, I have been an active member of the Tau Sigma Honors Society. I also look forward to being a part of the Political Science Student Organization and attend Wednesday Wipe Out (current affairs discussions) sessions as much as I can during the academic year.

What are your plans following graduation?

Upon graduation from UMBC-Shady Grove, I plan to attend law school and become a criminal/civil attorney.

What is your advice for prospective students?

My advice for prospective students is to plan in advance. For instance, make an appointment with your prospective advisor before you apply. The faculty at UMBC-Shady Grove is always ready to help you navigate, create a smooth transition, and succeed. There are also many organizations, clubs, and resources accessible at your fingertips. Take advantage and make the most out of your undergraduate years at UMBC-Shady Grove because it goes by in a flash!

James Mitchell: History

An interesting personal fact…

With all humility, I belong to two national academic fraternities, Phi Theta Kappa and Tau Sigma. I have a great affinity for history which makes learning the subject matter enjoyable. 

Why did you choose UMBC - Shady Grove?

I chose UMBC-Shady Grove because of one, the closeness to home and, secondly, the small class sizes. I had transferred from Montgomery College-Rockville and I was used to the commute.  But I have to thank History Program Director, Dr. Andrew Nolan, for helping me realize that UMBC at Shady Grove even existed. He came into a class at Montgomery College and explained the benefits of continuing my education. He mentioned my two reasons (stated above) for attending UMBC-Shady Grove and I knew it was the place for me.

In what internships or extracurricular activities have you been involved at UMBC - Shady Grove?   

I joined the History Student Association (HSA) where we not only discuss history of the past and relate it to the future, but we also attend field trips that interest the association. We sometimes have student lectures on history topics that we are passionate about.

What are your plans following graduation?

After graduating from UMBC, I plan on acquiring a Master of Education degree so I can teach history at the high school level. In my opinion, the greatest accomplishment a human can have is educating and inspiring the minds of the future!


What is your advice for Prospective students?

Don’t just come to class every day and go home after. UMBC-Shady Grove has many extracurricular and student associations to join. If you put yourself out there, you never know who you will meet…future spouse, lasting friend, or a resume reference!

Harrison Meyers: History

An interesting personal fact…

Outside of school, baseball is my passion.  For the last 10 years I have been deeply involved with the local youth league as a player, a coach, a member of its Executive Board, and now as its President. The league serves over 1,000 players and families in the local Rockville area with the express mission that every child and young adult in the area has the opportunity to get outside and play ball.  Understandably, outside of school this is what I spend most of time on.

Why did you choose UMBC-Shady Grove?

I chose UMBC-Shady Grove because this group is more like a family than a school.  My previous institution was massive and I felt like I was getting lost in the crowd.  Additionally, as a student with dyslexia and other learning disabilities, it was important for me to find a school with small class sizes, professors that care, and a culture that make me want to do my best.  I found all three and so much more here at UMBC-Shady Grove.


In what internships or extracurricular activities have you been involved at UMBC-Shady Grove?

I first game to UMBC-Shady Grove after being invited to the Wednesday Wipeout current affairs discussion group, where I still am very active.  I am also a member of the Political Science Student Organization (PSSO) and the History Student Association (HSA), and am a contributor to the History Student Journal in addition to my work with the local youth baseball league.


What are your plans following gradation?

After graduation I would like to work for a government organization or a local public radio station like NPR or its affiliates.  Either way I would like to work on solving problems and reporting on things that effect every one of us with the ultimate goal of being a public servant.  


What is your advice for prospective students?

Don’t be scared!  Going to college can be a scary thing, but here at The Universities at Shady Grove there is absolutely no reason to be scared.  No matter what department you are in, what you’re scared about, or what problem you are having, there is always somebody who wants to help you.  Going to school here at Shady Grove is nothing to be afraid of.

Mark Schulze: Social Work

An interesting personal fact…
I am really into music. I enjoy all types of music as well as playing the guitar and piano. The piano was forced onto me when I was younger by my mother who was a music major, and for the guitar, I blame AC/DC.

Why did you choose UMBC-Shady Grove?
When I started taking classes at Montgomery College, I decided to change the career and educational path I was on, and started taking classes in preparation for a degree in social work. One of my advisors first told me about the Social Work Program offered at UMBC-Shady Grove. I looked into the college, heard feedback from current UMBC students, and went to visit and attend an information session held on campus. It felt like a great fit and opportunity from the first time I heard about it, and looking back, I know I made the right decision.

What internships and/or extracurricular activities have you been involved with at UMBC-Shady Grove?
Currently, this is my second full-time semester at UMBC, so as of now, no internships. However, each fall for upper-class students, part of what the social work major offers is a “field placement” experience. Through the field placement, students are selected to go to various sites to get real life practice in the field under the supervision of a license social worker before they graduate. The Peer Advisory Team had been my first extracurricular activity that I have taken part of since I have been at UMBC-Shady Grove. There are many different groups available to enlist in however, and they are a great way to meet new people while becoming more involved with the school.

What are your plans following graduation?
Right after graduation, I am going to need some breathing room, which will most likely involve some type of vacation. After that is over, it will be back to the books, as I plan to continue and pursue a Master’s Degree in Social Work.

What is your advice for prospective students?
My advice for prospective students would be to get involved in something around campus, whether that be a club or student association. For me, getting involved in the Peer Advisory Team made me feel I was doing more than just showing up for classes day after day; now I have a role to play in bettering the transitional experience of incoming and prospective students, which can be tough. Another thing I would mention is do not be afraid to ask questions or seek out extra help or information when needed. The staff at UMBC-Shady Grove are here for us, the students. They put in a lot of extra effort in each stage of the collegial process to ensure student success.

Julia Zathang: Psychology

An interesting personal fact …

Growing up in the U.S. at a young age, I taught myself how to write and speak in Chin (dialect in Burma) fluently by watching movies and reading books from Burma.

Why did you choose UMBC Shady Grove?

I choose UMBC-Shady Grove for several reasons. The location is convenient for me as it allows me to commute from home, keep my internship, and attend my church which is all located in Rockville. Also, knowing that I can take all my classes, have the same resources, and earn my degree on the Shady Grove campus without having to drive all the way to Catonsville was a win for me.

In what internship/extracurricular activities have you been involved at UMBC-Shady Grove?

During my time at UMBC-Shady Grove, I have had the honor of being involved with the Psychology Student Association, and the UMBC Peer Advisory Team. I have also been involved with Sigma Alpha Lambda and Psi Chi at main campus. Throughout my time with Sigma Alpha Lambda, I had the chance to participate in events like Relay for Life where we raised awareness and funds for the American Cancer Society.

What are your plans following graduation?

Following graduation, I plan to pursue my studies by completing a Master’s in Professional Studies in Industrial-Organizational Psychology offered here in the UMBC-Shady Grove.

What is your advice for prospective students?

My advice for prospective students is to connect with your professors. If you have concerns or questions about a class, internships, or careers, your professors are wonderful resources. Do not be afraid to ask them questions after class or during their office hours. The small class sizes offered here at Shady Grove makes professors approachable. Take advantage of that. Not only do professors serve as great advisors, but they can also be great references to write your recommendation letters for scholarships, graduate schools, and your future career! :)