Meet the Peer Advisory Team

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!

Connect with us!

Nowshin Ahmed: Political Science

Nowshin AhmedAn interesting personal fact about yourself …
I can speak up to five languages. Hindi, which is not my native language, was my first language that I ever learned.

Why did you choose UMBC-Shady Grove?
I chose this campus because being a student who only lives 20 minutes away from the campus, I found the location quite convenient for me. I also chose this campus for the average class size as for me, being in a class that has thirty students is best for student and professor interactions. I feel as if my professors will be more of more help rather than being in a classroom of two hundred students.

In what internship or extracurricular activities have you been involved at UMBC-Shady Grove?
I recently joined the International Club. This is my first extracurricular activity at the UMBC-Shady Grove, so I am excited to be a part of this club and help with International Night at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG)!

What are your plans following graduation?
After graduation, I plan to get a job in the private sector within the government. A few years after graduating, I might consider going to law school.

What is your advice for prospective students?
Transferring to a new school with no friends can be overwhelming. Trust me, I have been in your shoes and I can guarantee you it will get better. The UMBC-Shady Grove campus is super welcoming. There are so many people who you can count on whenever you are stuck on which classes to take for the upcoming semester and tips on how to balance school life with your personal life. This is a great place to be if you want to be successful in earning your degree as well as making good friends along the way.

KeAndre Blue: Psychology

An interesting personal fact about yourself …
I have a habit of waking up at 4:00am with the discipline of going to bed at 8:00pm. Over the years, I have found that my peak productivity hours occur in the morning. Plus, early morning runs are my form of meditation; a perfect combination of quiet solitude and connecting with the environment. (With the added perk of seeing the sunrise).

Why did you choose UMBC-Shady Grove?
I chose my institution based on the hybrid course availability in addition to its location. This allows me to be a full-time college student while being able to work close to home. These two incentives motivated me to become a dedicated student and prioritize my academia.

In what internships or extracurricular activities have you been involved at UMBC-Shady Grove?
As of Spring 2019, I am currently President of the Psychology Student Association affiliated with the University of Maryland, Baltimore County Psi Chi chapter in addition to a new member of the USG’s Peer Advisory Team. I hope to participate in more extracurricular activities and pursue internships relative to my major in the coming semesters.

What are your plans following graduation?
Post-graduation, I plan to apply to an international graduate school to challenge my personal beliefs and nationalistic and cultural values. Being a student amongst a diverse population, I wish to hone my interpersonal skills abroad while gaining a broader perspective on my academic discipline.

What is your advice for prospective students?
My advice for prospective students is to make the most of your university. Being that the Universities at Shady Grove is a progressively renowned regional higher education center composed of several Maryland institutions, it prompts diverse dialogue from all walks of life, scholastic disciplines, as well as diverse perspectives. With this being said, most college students enjoy their studies and or university of choice through being involved in campus activities; whether your niche is captured through student governance or drawn to a book club, the more involved on campus the better your collegiate experience will be. Make the most of your time.

Julia del Carmen Aviles-Zavala: Psychology & Social Work

Julia del Carmen Aviles ZavalaAn interesting personal fact about yourself …
Is that I am an immigrant rights activist. It is a passion I carry wherever I go and put effort to engage in through education and social participation. I often attend rallies, and have even participated in documentaries pertaining to immigrant families.

Why did you choose UMBC-Shady Grove?
I chose to attend UMBC-Shady Grove when I made my decision to attend Montgomery College (MC). Following my senior year of high school, I was accepted to go to UMBC (main campus) but declined as MC was the better option financially and I wanted the intimate classroom environment MC provides. As USG is a similar model to MC, I had no hesitations in attending UMBC-Shady Grove. I really wanted to continue attending smaller sized classes, and again, a better option financially. The biggest influencers in my attending UMBC-Shady Grove was the the Achieving Collegiate Excellence & Success (ACES) program and my need to say close to home. Without the support of ACES, my higher education journey would be in shambles and my family depends on me. I was set on attending UMBC since I decided to pursue social work in high school. It was just a matter of which campus and I am very happy with my choice of attending UMBC-Shady Grove.

What internships and/or extracurricular activities have you been involved with at UMBC-Shady Grove?
When it comes to internships and extracurricular activities at UMBC-Shady Grove, I have participated in a handful. I and two friends started the Latinx Student Association in the fall semester of 2019. As a co-founder, I have been able to bring cultural awareness to our campus while providing a safe space for students to share in culture. I am also an active member of the Social Work Student Association and the Psychology Student Association. I have been lucky enough to have been able to participate in USG’s First Gen. Panel event and thanks to UMBC’s internship fairs, I have been actively applying to internships for this upcoming summer.

What are your plans following graduation?
My immediate plan following graduation is grad school! I am going to pursue an MSW in my efforts to becoming a LCSW-C. I look forward to attending the University of Maryland School of Social Work in Baltimore. I also hope to apply for the Title IV-E program, which will catapult my work in child welfare following my master degree completion.

What is your advice for prospective students?
My first piece of advice for prospective students is to not overload yourself. The transfer process can include preparation for attending a four-year-university, but you are not truly prepared until you are immersed in the environment. This will be a shock especially to first generation students. At your community college, the work load is possibly more lenient and easier. There is a demand for more dedication to your work and it will pay off in the long run. My second piece of advice is to use your resources at USG! It can be intimidating asking for help, or maybe you think it is unnecessary, but it is not. All the resources and staff at USG and your home institution are here because of you and for you! You will not find helping hands such as these outside of USG.

Emma Earnest: Social Work

An interesting personal fact about yourself …Emma Earnest
I am a fire spinner and spend some of my free time dressed up and playing with fire.

Why did you choose UMBC-Shady Grove?
I chose UMBC-Shady Grove because I wanted a unique college experience that included students from many different campuses.

In what internships or extracurricular activities have you been involved at UMBC-Shady Grove?
I started a student advisory board for the Counseling and Consultation Center and am also the president of it. I also am the president of the honor society, Delta Sigma. It is an honor society for students with disabilities. I also am starting a chapter of the Psychedelic Club International at USG. Lastly, I volunteer my time visiting clubs and offering meditation and mindfulness.

What are your plans following graduation?
I plan to go right into grad school at UMBC and spend my free time completing psychedelic therapy related trainings. I will become a certified psychedelic psychotherapist.

What is your advice for prospective students?
The best advice I can give is to make time for your self-care. For anyone to be successful they must be able to take care of themselves. Additionally, be sure to really take time to study and integrate what you are learning in your classes into your life in some way. Learning comes easier when we practice what we learn or teach others what we learn.

Elsy Estrada: Psychology and Social Work

Elsy EstradaAn interesting personal fact about yourself …
I am a foodie! I love traveling and finding new places to visit and trying new cuisines.

I also love Disney World and travel there at least once a year; what can I say? Disney World truly is the most magical place on earth for me.

This past year I also discovered that I love all things related to skincare. I can spend all day watching YouTube videos on my favorite new skincare tips and new products to try out. P.S. wear your sunscreen daily!

Why did you choose UMBC-Shady Grove?
I chose UMBC-Shady Grove because I wanted to be a part of a small, close-knit community, and UMBC-Shady Grove is precisely that. I love that campus is very close to my home, the class sizes are right for me, and I get personal interactions with caring faculty, plus I have an array of opportunities to get involved in campus.

In what internships or extracurricular activities have you been involved at UMBC-Shady Grove?
This is my second semester at the Universities at Shady Grove and my first semester as a Peer Advisory Team (PAT) member. I am currently a member of the Tau Sigma Honor Society, the Phi Alpha Honor Society, and I soon hope to be a member of the UMBC Circle of the Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Society.

Additionally, I look forward to joining the Social Work Student Association in the fall and starting my Field Placement internship for my Social Work Major.

What are your plans following graduation?
Following graduation, my plans are to take a nice long vacation to celebrate my achievements and try a ton of different foods. After that, I look forward to pursuing my Master of Social Work (MSW) at the University of Maryland School of Social Work in Baltimore, MD. My current goal is to work in Child Welfare following my master’s degree; therefore, I have applied for the Title IV-E Program and hope to finish my degree with the advance standing master’s program.

What is your advice for prospective students?
My best advice for prospective students is to hang in there! Both figuratively and literally! An undergraduate can be daunting at times; therefore, do not be afraid to lean into your peers, friends, faculty, and the community as much as you need to. Everyone here wants you to be successful and achieve great things. Ask questions, be present, get involved in what interests you, and be the best version of yourself. I promise it gets easier, and I promise UMBC-Shady Grove has many opportunities to get involved and to get out of our comfort zone.

Christian Figueroa: Social Work

Christian FigueroaAn interesting personal fact about yourself …
Something I consider interesting about myself is the fact that I enjoy watching Chef Gordon Ramsay’s videos on YouTube. I have been teaching myself to cook through his tutorials and learning how to make more complex dishes.

Why did you choose UMBC-Shady Grove?
I chose UMBC-Shady Grove because it was much more affordable and convenient for me. I also felt much more welcome at this campus than I did in other college visits. I also really appreciated the idea of small classroom sizes, and the ability to feel less overwhelmed by the number of students.

What internships and/or extracurricular activities have you been involved with at UMBC-Shady Grove?
I have been involved with the DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) Interprofessional Scholars Program, SWSA (Social Work Student Association), and the Student Leadership and Diversity Learning Series.

What are your plans following graduation?
Right after graduation, I would like to go to Ecuador with my friends, one of which is from there. He has told me a lot about his country, and I would love to visit the Galapagos Islands. After my trip, I am hoping to go to University of Maryland- Baltimore to continue my education in Social Work with their advanced standing master’s program.

What is your advice for prospective students?
My advice for any prospective student is to visit the campus during an open house to experience the many options and facets the school has available for its students. I also believe that asking questions, although sometimes uncomfortable, is very important. The professors and other staff members are very helpful and are almost always available and willing to answer.

Tracey Heckel: Social Work

Tracey HeckelAn interesting personal fact about yourself …
An interesting fact about me is that I returned to college at 49 years old. I started taking classes at Montgomery College (MC), was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa, and received my Associates Degree at 52 prior to transferring to UMBC at the Universities at Shady Grove.

Why did you choose UMBC-Shady Grove?
I first learned about UMBC Shady Grove because of the information I received while attending a transfer fair at MC. A member of the Peer Advisory Team told me about the Raptor to Retriever (R2R) Program which helps students with advising prior to transfer. The program piqued my curiosity and after attending an event at the Shady Grove campus for UMBC I was impressed by the small class sizes, the feeling of community within the different programs, as well as the fact that I would be receiving the same classes and education as students on UMBC’s home campus. I have strong ties where I live now – family and friends are my support network. Being able to continue to live here and go to school close to home in Montgomery County was crucial to me.

What internships and/or extracurricular activities have you been involved with at UMBC-Shady Grove?
This is my first semester as a Peer Advisory Team member for UMBC. My first semester on campus I was focused on succeeding academically. This semester I am excited to become more involved in extracurricular activities on campus. I am in the process of securing an internship for my senior year next fall. I’m inspired by all the opportunities to put my learning into action.

What are your plans following graduation?
I plan to take a graduation trip to the Republic of Georgia with my husband and daughter. After that I would love to secure a social work position in a hospital or medical facility. As a cancer survivor I feel called to work with people in the medical field. I also look forward to furthering my education by completing a Master of Social Work (MSW) program.

What is your advice for prospective students?
I would advise prospective students to talk to advisors, peers, and the head of the program you are interested in attending. Tell them what you want, where you want to go, and if you have any issues that might make reaching your goals more difficult. The members of the UMBC and USG staff are immensely knowledgeable at helping you set plans to reach your goals. I also think it is important that someone tells you that at UMBC-Shady Grove you are welcome. And when I say you, I mean your true authentic self. The understanding, support and acceptance at UMBC-Shady Grove for all types of students are truly one of the best attributes of campus.

Dashawn Herbert-Williams: Social Work

An interesting personal fact about yourself…Dashawn Herbert-Williams
I rank in the top 100 in the nation for shot put.

Why did you choose UMBC-Shady Grove? 
I picked UMBC-Shady Grove for two reasons. The first reason is that the UMBC social work program is a great program and I know that I would achieve my goals at UMBC. My second reason for choosing UMBC-Shady Grove is for the location. Being a mother of two young children, distance is always a priority for me. Going to UMBC campus would be time consuming and difficult for me.

In what internships or extracurricular activities have you been involved at UMBC-Shady Grove? 
I am a second semester junior, so I am happy to say that PAT is my first extracurricular activity I have joined.

What are your plans following graduation? 
Following graduation, I will go on to work on my master’s in social work. At the moment I am not sure about which school I will attend.

What is your advice for prospective students? 
My first advice I’ll give to prospective students is to always ask. Never think that the staff or even classmates will not help you when you are in need. Always communicate to your professors even when you think you shouldn’t. These professors understand that life happens, and they are more understanding when you speak to them when things happen.

Jamilet Machado: Social Work

Jamilet MachadoAn Interesting personal fact about yourself …
My guilty pleasure is dipping my chocolate chip cookies in fruit punch! (Not weird at all right?).

Why did you choose UMBC–Shady Grove?
I chose to attend UMBC-Shady Grove due to its location and it being so close to home. I get to still spend time with my friends and family, but especially, I am able to continue being the main caregiver of my father who has received two kidney transplants. Attending USG not only saves me tuition money but it gives me a higher chance of being awarded scholarships. I also like the idea of smaller class sizes which helps to build stronger relationships with faculty members and peers.

In what internship or extracurricular activities have you been involved at UMBC -Shady Grove?
I am a member of the Achieving Collegiate Excellence and Success (ACES) program, and I have just become a member of the UMBC-Shady Grove Peer Advisory Team (PAT).

What are your plans following graduation?
After graduation from UMBC, I first plan to reward myself with a nice vacation with my family and friends! Continuing on, I hope to get into an advanced placement program, so I can pursue my Master of Social Work (MSW) degree.

What is your advice for prospective students?
DO NOT hesitate to ask for help! UMBC-Shady Grove has many resources to help you reach your goals. Coming to a new school is pretty scary but if you stay open-minded, you might surprise yourself at the end. Involve yourself with campus activities — trust me you will meet wonderful people and the fun will be endless. As for studying, I recommend keeping a color coordinated planner; it will become your best friend. Organization is key. The ride will bring hard situations but when you sit down, take a deep breath and organize your tasks, things will flow better. Remember, hard work pays off; your future is bright!

Mariandree Paiz: Social Work

Mariandree PaizAn interesting fact about yourself …
Well…a few interesting facts about me! After graduating from high school in 2016, out of passion and as a way to pay for college, I decided to start my own photography business. I’m also a huge fan of self-care, as I’ve come to realize how important it is for my well-being. I love working out, hiking, finding new places, and spending time with my friends and family. I took American Sign Language classes for almost 2 years and it’s one of the most beautiful languages!

Why did you choose UMBC-Shady Grove?
I have been a part of the Achieving Collegiate Excellence and Success (ACES) program since I was in high school, so that’s where I made up my mind of following the Montgomery College and The Universities at Shady Grove (USG) pathway. Attending USG was going to save me a lot of money and ACES would support me with scholarships if I took this pathway. I also decided to come to USG because of the convenience in location and small class sizes.

In what internships or extracurricular activities have you been involved at UMBC-Shady Grove?
I am the Public Relations Officer for the Social Work Student Association (SWSA), a member of ACES and Career Experience Opportunities (CEO) programs, and I just became a member of the UMBC-Shady Grove Peer Advisory Team (PAT). In addition, last summer I was an intern for the client relations team at A Wider Circle. I was responsible for conducting intakes for incoming clients and assisting them throughout the whole process of their appointment.

What are your plans following graduation?
After graduation, I definitely want to take a nice vacation and celebrate with family and friends! I also plan to devote a lot of time to my photography business so I can remodel my studio. I also plan to go to graduate school and get my Master of Social Work (MSW) degree. I hope to get into an advanced placement program, so I can complete my MSW in one year instead of two. That summer I plan to get an internship in order to explore more and make more connections.

What is your advice for prospective students?
Please, please, please use the resources the UMBC-Shady Grove campus has for YOU. All the professors and staff here want to help you. They will go out of their way to help you be successful. Also, use a planner. It is so helpful to have all of your classes’ due dates written down in order for you not to miss anything. Be organized in every way possible and that will make a huge difference. Lastly, get involved, have fun, and give it all you got. Best of luck to you! You can do it!

Celeste Puente: Psychology

An interesting personal fact about yourself …Celeste Puente
I have a collection of about 200 Funko POPs and about 10 of them are Chase (which are rare) of my favorite TV shows and movies. Some of my favorite POPs are from the Stranger Things, Star Wars, and Marvel collection.

Why did you choose UMBC-Shady Grove?
I chose UMBC-Shady Grove for many reasons. The first being that the cost of tuition is cheaper. I only live 20 minutes away from the campus and I take advantage of staying at home with my parents and not paying for room and board. Also, I did not have to take out a loan to pay for school. Another reason I chose this campus is because the class sizes are smaller. Being in classes filled with mostly my peers who have similar interests as me makes it easier to connect with my classmates and professor and feel comfortable in the environment. Lastly, I’ve always grown up in such a diverse community. I’ve lived in the Montgomery County area all my life and in every level of education I was in a school filled with different backgrounds and I love it! Here at the shady grove campus I only get to continue to see new faces and learn different backgrounds from my peers around me.

In what internships or extracurricular activities have you been involved at UMBC-Shady Grove?
I am part of the Writing Fellows program at the Center for Academic Success (CAS). I work with the Psychology students in the course Psyc 309. If you sign up for the class I hope to work with you and your writing!

What are your plans following graduation?
Once I hopefully graduate in Fall 2021, I plan to take a semester off so I can work an internship in my field of psychology. Then I plan to apply for the graduate program, Industrial Organizational Psychology, here at UMBC-Shady grove.

What is your advice for prospective students?
Some advice I would give is to take advantage of the resources available to you on campus and in life! Don’t be afraid to ask questions, get out of your comfort zone, or to just put yourself out there. This is your time to discover and learn more about yourself. Who you are as a student, a peer, a friend, a classmate, and as an individual. So get out there! Not just in the classroom but also around campus.

Leigh Robertson: History

An interesting personal fact about yourself …Leigh Robertson
I’ve been a choral singer for going on nine years! I started in high school and haven’t looked back since. It has led to some awesome opportunities, including singing in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. It’s a difficult activity to do virtually so I’m sadly not singing with any group right now but am looking forward to getting back to it somehow once it’s safe again.

Why did you choose UMBC-Shady Grove?
I’ve had a pretty unwieldy undergraduate career, which has included transferring three times. I found out about UMBC-Shady Grove when Dr. Nolan, the History program director, came to speak at a history class I was in at Montgomery College. Logistically, it was a great option because of how close the Shady Grove campus is to my house and it was also affordable. When I visited an Open House, I appreciated how genuine everyone was – an impression that’s only gotten truer as I meet more students, professors, and staff here. A student community of all transfers is rare to come across and I’ve found it to be invaluable.

In what internships or extracurricular activities have you been involved at UMBC-Shady Grove?
The Peer Advisory Team is the only extracurricular I’m involved in currently. When I transferred here in Fall 2020 I really wanted to dedicate myself to my classes, especially since I’ve never taken online classes before. I love the collaboration and camaraderie of my history and public history cohorts, which are small enough that we often have multiple classes together. I haven’t had an internship here either but am excited by the internship experiences I’ve heard about from others and I feel confident that the support here from professors and other school resources will help me find opportunities.

Outside of UMBC-Shady Grove, I work at an accounting firm and am involved in the Rockville Rainbow Collective, an organization that prepares and delivers meals to local LGBTQ+ people of color.

What are your plans following graduation?
I don’t have any specific plans for after graduation right now, beyond wanting to do something that I think is important. One thing I love about history is that it and the skills you develop studying it lend themselves to many different applications and paths. I learned last semester that there are a fair number of archaeology opportunities in Maryland, which piqued my interest! I’m also fascinated by archives, so those would be two internship ideas for me to think about.

What is your advice for prospective students?
Something that has held me back for too long is not asking questions out of fear of seeming unintelligent. It can be intimidating to be vulnerable, but being genuine is the only way to go beyond where you are. This doesn’t just apply to schoolwork but to pretty much everything. It’s an ongoing struggle to resist repressive instincts, but it helps me to continually remind myself of the kind of person I want to be. On a less emotional note, I’d definitely recommend keeping a planner if you don’t already – I’m the kind of person who needs to write everything down!

Ana Rodriguez: Social Work

Ana Rodriguez CruzAn interesting personal fact about yourself …
I have 5 parakeets!

Why did you choose UMBC-Shady Grove?
I chose UMBC – Shady Grove because of the convenience, cost, and smaller class size.

In what internships or extracurricular activities have you been involved at UMBC-Shady Grove?
I am an active volunteer at the Universities at Shady Grove’s mobile market and I am also an active member of Latinx Student Association, and the Achieving College Excellence and Success (ACES) program. I will be starting my internship at Adventist HealthCare in the Fall, which I am super excited about!

What are your plans following graduation?
Following graduation, I plan on pursuing my Master of Social Work. I am still undecided on where I will be attending grad school.

What is your advice for prospective students?
My advice for prospective students is to ask questions. University can be scary, but ultimately, we are here because we want to be. There are many resources available on campus, all which are available for student use – use them! I definitely recommend joining clubs and extracurricular activities — they helped me step out of my comfort zone.

Morgan Schrader: Social Work

Morgan SchraderAn interesting personal fact about yourself …
I love hunting for fossilized shark teeth! In Maryland, there are actually a few beaches where you can find them. I enjoy finding shark teeth because they all have a different story. Not to mention, it can be so peaceful to be on the shore during sunset, engaging in such a relaxing activity.

Why did you choose UMBC-Shady Grove?
I chose to attend UMBC- Shady Grove because it was the most advantageous choice for me. In choosing this campus, I have a short commute to school. I also work close to the campus as a behavior technician so it’s very helpful for me to be close by, in the case that I may need to accommodate one of the clients last minute. Lastly, I chose to attend UMBC- Shady Grove because of its many resources. The Universities at Shady Grove offers free groceries, a gym, and counseling services to name a few.

In what internships or extracurricular activities have you been involved at UMBC-Shady Grove?
I just started my second semester at the Universities at Shady Grove as a Peer Advisory Team (PAT) member. I have also participated in a few of the events in the Social Work Student Association (SWSA), like one of our famous bake sales. I hope to join SWSA soon, but first I will be focusing on developing my skills as a PAT member.

What are your plans following graduation?
After graduation, I intend to travel for a bit. Earning your bachelor’s degree, after all, does take some hard work and dedication. I think I will owe it to myself to practice some self-love and earn some more stamps on my passport!

What is your advice for prospective students?
New environments can be daunting at times. I recommend students be vulnerable with their peers and teachers during this time of change. All teachers and students have once been in the shoes of a new student, so they can empathize. Also, when you engage with your peers, staff, and faculty you’ll find many resources whether it be the staff members themselves or the resources they can refer you to.

Selena Servellon: Psychology

An interesting personal fact about yourself …Selena Servellon
I am drawn to the creative outlets; for me that looks like writing poetry, calligraphy and hand lettering, and even doing makeup looks!

Why did you choose UMBC-Shady Grove?
The Psychology program and the small class sizes attracted me at first! Along with the convenience of not having to commute long distance to main campus.

In what internships or extracurricular activities have you been involved at UMBC-Shady Grove?
I am a new member of the Peer Advisory Team (PAT)! I am currently working on seeking acceptance to a National Leadership Society and hope to join another extracurricular activity this semester. I worked through an extensive Hotline Training over the winter break that did not work out unfortunately, but I hope to seek out other internship opportunities in the coming semesters!

What are your plans following graduation?
Post-graduation I plan to apply to graduate school for a master’s in clinical psychology and following that I hope to find a career pertaining to helping children and their families work through individual or group trauma. After a master’s degree, I hope to start a family as well! Following that, I will strive towards a PhD program in clinical psychology and make research contributions to the field of Development/Human Life Span psychology!

What is your advice for prospective students?
Please use the resources provided to us! Attend the events! Join that club that you’ve been thinking of applying to! These are the experiences I have been grateful to attend, use, and be a part of!

Lucy Tembo: Social Work

Lucy TemboAn interesting personal fact about yourself…
Some exciting facts about me are that I love watching soccer, and the other thing is that I like gardening.  I grow grapes in my back yard and enjoy making grape juice during the holiday season, an idea which has now become a yearly holiday tradition.

Why did you choose UMBC–Shady Grove?
I chose UMBC-Shady Grove for a few reasons.  As a working family woman, I can live at home, take care of my family, continue to work and attend school at the same time. I chose UMBC specifically because of its excellent reputation and diversity.  When I came for the open house, I found both faculty, staff, and students to be very welcoming and always willing to help.  I also liked the smaller class sizes at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG), which made it easy to build relationships with faculty members and students or seek help when needed.

In what internships or extracurricular activities have you been involved at UMBC – Shady Grove?
I have not been very much involved in extracurricular activities at UMBC-Shady Grove.  I have, however, volunteered at Manna food center with my kids and also took part in volunteering for the Elderly Abuse Awareness Annual Campaign.   Now that I am a member of UMBC-Shady Grove’s Peer Advisory Team (PAT), this will allow me to be more involved in the activities around Shady Grove campus and the community for the remainder of my semesters.

What are your plans following graduation?
Following my graduation from UMBC, my goal is to first get licensed as a social worker and work part-time while pursuing a Master’s Program, hopefully here at USG.

What is your advice for prospective students?
The advice I can give to prospective students is not to be scared to ask for help, no matter the situation.   Prospective students should try to make full use of the opportunities and benefits offered here.  There is a lot of support and resources available for use to enable new students to achieve success.  Faculty, staff, and students are fantastic and are always willing to help.

My-Trinh Tran: Psychology and Social Work

An interesting personal fact about yourself…My-Trinh
I’m really crafty! I taught myself how to crochet about 6 years ago, and I’ve been making blankets for families and children for the last 5 years to donate. I’ve also taught myself how to do calligraphy, sew, and cook over the time that we’ve been in quarantine.

Why did you choose UMBC-Shady Grove?
I chose UMBC-USG because it’s close to home and, honestly, makes it easier for me to save money. Money management is a skill that I found that I lacked in, and picking the USG campus versus main campus was a clear choice for me.

In what internships or extracurricular activities have you been involved at UMBC-Shady Grove?
I have not been involved in any internships or extracurricular activities yet, but I have been thinking about being a USG Ambassador, as well as being a future member of Alpha Phi, the honor society for social work students. I was also looking into SWSA, the Social Work Student Association, so I’m looking forward to learning more about these organizations.

What are your plans following graduation?
After graduation, I plan on working within my field. I currently work at Sheppard Pratt, and hope to continue to be able to stay within this organization. I further hope to be able to continue my education into a Grad Program. I wanted to do Australia, but I’ll settle for UMB.

What is your advice for prospective students?
Time management!!! Coming from a person who transferred from Montgomery College to UMBC, adjustment may be difficult. Balancing work, school, and personal life is difficult. Finding that happy medium or happy spot for all of these things is a skill, but attainable. But this little happy medium will help keep you feeling sane!

Donta Williams: Social Work

Donta WilliamsAn interesting personal fact about yourself…
An interesting fact about me is that I love animals. I wanted to become a zoologist before I discovered my interest in social work. One of my goals later in life is to go on a safari and observe exotic animals in their habitats. As of now I have two cats, one dog, and I’m trying to get a snake, but my wife is not budging.

Why did you choose UMBC–Shady Grove?
I chose to come to UMBC-Shady Grove for a few reasons. First, the environment here on campus is great. The professors are attentive and ready to help. The students at UMBC- Shady Grove are welcoming and hard working. I have met many cool people my first semester who are my friends today. Second, is the location. I live in Germantown, MD, a 10-minute commute from my house to the campus. Third, is the affordability. For the education I am acquiring, the tuition is inexpensive. Also, students here at the Shady Grove campus have two pools of scholarships, scholarships available here at Shady Grove and scholarships that are available from UMBC’s home campus. Lastly, the class sizes are small. With the smaller class sizes, I have more one-on- one time with the professors.

In what internships or extracurricular activities have you been involved at UMBC – Shady Grove?
I haven’t been that involved with any internships or extracurricular activities. Besides working and focusing on schoolwork, the Peer Advisory Team “PAT” is the only group I am part of at the moment.

What are your plans following graduation?
After graduation I plan on earning my LBSW, working part-time, and immediately plan to start pursuing my masters.

What is your advice for prospective students?
My advice for prospective students is to jump out there. Leaving your comfort zone can lead to extraordinary results. Sit in the front of all your classes because the professors will remember your name easily. Also, everyone is either going through the same thing as you or they are there to help, so don’t be shy and ask for help if you need it.