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Connection FALL 2019 | Alumni & Friends Magazine










EXECUTIVE EDITOR Megan Gonzalez ’09, ’15 MANAGING EDITOR Margaret Roberts ’12 SENIOR EDITORS Tom St. Myer Brittany Swinford ’11 DESIGN AND LAYOUT DIRECTION Jennifer Peck ’08 PHOTOGRAPHY DIRECTION Melissa Dandridge ’10 Morgan Givens ’19 Bernard Wilchusky WRITERS, DESIGNERS AND EDITORS Lacey Berry ’12, Jamie Calvert ’20, Colton Currier ’18, Missy Grace ’10, Michael LeFevre ’17, Allison Morgan, Margaret Roberts ’12, Brittany Sherwood ’14, Claire Stewart, Olivia Teeney ’16




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Email Phone 800.226.1893

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UWF Connection is published semi-annually by Alumni Relations and Institutional Communications. The purpose of Connection is to communicate and engage with UWF alumni, donors, friends and others interested in the activities of UWF.


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Mail UWF Alumni Association, 11000 University Pkwy., Building 12, Pensacola, FL 32514


15 THE DOCTORATE IN INTELLIGENT SYSTEMS AND ROBOTICS is the first of its kind in Florida and will train the next generation of professionals who will develop technologies combining human and machine elements through hands-on, leading-edge research.



Q&A with President Saunders

In a world where new technologies are unveiled daily, the University of West Florida is staying ahead of the curve. This fall, UWF and the Florida Institute of Human and Machine Cognition are launching a doctoral degree program in intelligent systems and robotics—one of only a few in the nation and the first and only in the state of Florida. President Martha D. Saunders explains how this program will make history and position the University as a leader in STEM education. What are some ways the University of West Florida is establishing itself as the “University of the future?” UWF excels at providing increased access, opportunity and career readiness for our students through the creation of a robust culture of student success, tailored student support opportunities, programs of excellence and expanded course delivery methods. We are increasingly agile in responding to the needs of the community, region and state. That agility is serving us well and will propel us into the future in a rapidly changing environment.

Why did UWF decide the intelligent systems and robotics doctoral program was a priority, both for today’s workforce and that of the future? In recent years, we have focused on building programs of excellence by leveraging regional resources with the quality of our academic programs. With the success of UWF’s STEM initiatives in robotics, IT and cybersecurity, alongside the global reputation of IHMC researchers, the timing was perfect for launching a program of this caliber. What is your vision for enhancing STEM education at UWF into the future? I envision programming of all types focused on four key components: academic and social integration; knowledge and skill development; support and motivation; and monitoring and advising. The specifics of the programming will evolve, but the foundation will remain solid.

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News & Notes Letter from the

Vice President

Recent news from the University of West Florida BY JAMIE CALVERT ’20


Thank you for your support throughout the last year. We ended our fiscal year breaking multiple fundraising records including the most major gifts in one year, the largest number of Nautilus Society donors and the largest percentage of faculty and staff who give back to UWF. We are also happy to report we had a significant increase in alumni donors last year. Our goal is to achieve 5% alumni giving in the coming years. Accomplishing this goal would place us in the top tier of peer institutions and demonstrate that our alumni are fully invested in the future success of their University. In this issue, you will learn about students and alumni who are making waves both locally and beyond our borders. On campus, our mechanical engineering department developed the “ArgoTots” program, providing students the opportunity to construct special vehicles for disabled children. In addition, one of our extraordinary alumni, James Buchli, was recently inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. The power of our collective Argo Spirit transforms what is possible. We have momentum but need you with us as we continue to excel. Your continued engagement propels us forward to even greater heights. Sincerely,

Howard J. Reddy Vice President University Advancement


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UWF ranks in top two in the Florida State University System

The Florida Board of Governors named UWF a top-performing public university for the third consecutive year. UWF secured a spot in the top two on the performance-based funding model for the 2018-2019 year, earning 94 points on a 100-point scale—the University’s highest total in the six-year history of the model. The University improved in each of the 10 performance metrics, including four-year graduation rates, academic progress rates and bachelor’s graduates employed or pursuing further education. This improvement resulted from enhanced student support services such as first-year advising, tutoring and student accessibility resources. A comprehensive four-year strategic graduation plan was also implemented, providing priority registration and a $1,000 grant for students in their final semester. The University provides students with internships and high-impact practices that allow more UWF alumni to find relevant employment opportunities or continue their education following graduation. The institution also launched its iHire campaign, a strategic initiative that connects students with area employers.


UWF public sculpture class works to tell stories, transform campus

Temporary art sculptures honoring many of the University’s traditions were installed on the Pensacola campus. A class of UWF Department of Art students designed the aesthetically pleasing artwork in a variety of colors, textures and shapes as part of an advanced sculpture course.

UWF Student Body President elected chair of Florida Student Association

The Florida Student Association, an organization representing more than 350,000 students in the State University System, elected UWF SGA President Zenani D. Johnson as chair. She will serve as the student representative and a voting member on the Florida State University System’s Board of Governors for the 20192020 academic year. FSA is comprised of the 12 student body presidents from state universities in Florida and their respective staffs. Johnson is the third UWF student body president elected to serve as FSA chair in the last four academic years. Jacob Hebert ’17 and Kishane Patel ’18 preceded Johnson as FSA chairs.

Florida SBDC at UWF wins top state awards

The Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of West Florida was named Region of the Year at the Florida SBDC Network’s annual conference. In 2018, the Florida SBDC at UWF delivered more than 15,000 consulting hours to Florida businesses, resulting in $554 million in client sales increases,

5,072 jobs created or saved and more than $31 million in capital infusion. The Florida SBDC at UWF also played a critical role in helping small business owners recover following Hurricane Michael, assisting business owners between Apalachicola and Panama City Beach to Marianna and Chipley in securing more than $21 million in Emergency Bridge Loans.

UWF secures 100th conference championship

After an impressive regular season, the UWF women’s tennis team traveled to Montgomery, Alabama, and returned with its 19th consecutive conference title and the 100th in UWF Athletics history. UWF secured both the Gulf South Conference 20182019 All Women’s Sports Trophy and Overall All-Sports Trophy. The Argos captured conference titles in women’s soccer, volleyball, men’s golf, women’s tennis and softball. They also won regular season titles in women’s soccer, volleyball, softball and baseball.

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UWF surpasses goal number of donors during second annual Day of Giving

The University hosted its second annual Day of Giving, raising more than $130,000 from 1,120 donors across the country. With a theme of “double the goal, double the impact,” UWF built upon the success of last year’s event by doubling the goal number of donors during the 24-hour fundraising initiative.

UWF offers new communication degree at UWF on the Emerald Coast

Beginning in Fall 2019, UWF’s Emerald Coast location will offer a new undergraduate degree program. The Bachelor of Arts in Communication offers an integrated approach to communication and prepares students to build successful careers in today’s communication professions. The curriculum will include classroom instruc-

tion with hands-on learning, client-based projects and internship opportunities. Courses will be offered in advertising, public relations, journalism, speech and social media, including a 3000-level course, “Integrated Advertising and Public Relations Concepts,” which will be co-taught by UWF President Martha D. Saunders and Dr. Mona Amodeo, founder and president of Pensacola branding firm idgroup.

UWF Dance Marathon raises more than $55,000 for Children’s Miracle Network

The seventh annual UWF Dance Marathon raised $55,261.02 in support of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. During the event, participants stood and danced for 10 hours in support of children who cannot. All proceeds from Dance Marathon were donated to Pensacola’s Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart, a member of the Children’s Miracle Network.


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National Writing Project inspires area teachers, impacts students

Thirty-seven local K-12 teachers converged upon UWF’s Pensacola campus to participate in the fifth annual UWF Emerald Coast National Writing Project, a professional development opportunity for teachers. The teachers joined a group of 167 NWP consultants and shared part of their summer brainstorming about writing strategies with other teachers in their schools and districts.

UWF and PSC strengthen academic partnerships with extended PSC2UWF program

UWF and Pensacola State College celebrated the launch of an extended PSC2UWF program, which creates a more accessible and streamlined pathway for students to transfer from PSC and earn a bachelor’s degree from UWF. Students will now receive enhanced advising and support from a UWF transfer pathways coach who will check in each semester to monitor students’ progress and ensure they are on the quickest path to completing their degree.

UWF robotics team takes second place in IEEE competition

The UWF robotics team finished second out of 41 teams in the annual Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers SoutheastCon hardware competition. UWF outperformed every team competing from the Florida State University System, including the University of Florida, Florida State University and the University of Central Florida, as well as other universities in the southeast region with renowned engineering programs such as Georgia Tech, Auburn University and Virginia Tech. For more UWF news, visit


Mechanical Engineering Students Driven to Make a Difference

J Six students from the University of West Florida participated in a new initiative, ArgoTots, that enables children with limited mobility to drive specially outfitted vehicles. BY OLIVIA TEENEY ’16


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ack Carroll, 4, enthusiastically motioned for his father to take him off his shoulders as three University of West Florida students sat the modified John Deere tractor down in front of him outside the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering building. His parents and the UWF students smiled at the sight, but no one’s smile radiated quite like Jack’s. Born prematurely at 24 weeks old, Jack’s movement is limited by cerebral palsy and developmental delays. UWF mechanical engineering students specially designed the vehicle to provide Jack the freedom to explore new terrain. ArgoTots began in Fall 2018 after Dr. Brad Regez, assistant professor of mechanical engineering in the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering, was

inspired by the impact that a similar program at Northwestern University made on its community and modeled UWF’s initiative after the national ‘Go Baby Go’ program. He witnessed firsthand how students modified toddler ride-on cars that aided in the mobility and growth of children who were unable to get around independently, but were either too small for a wheelchair or their families were unable to afford one. Once he recognized a similar need in Pensacola, he began the process of launching ArgoTots. “Seeing the positive impact of initiatives similar to the ‘Go Baby Go’ program, a national program for children with limited mobility, inspired me to start our own program at UWF,” Regez said. “I realized there was great need and opportunity for a program of this kind in the area.”



1. Jack Carroll, a 4-year-old with cerebral palsy, and his parents are thrilled to receive the modified John Deere tractor. 2. ArgoTots, a new program at the University of West Florida, helps young children with physical disabilities move around independently by providing modified vehicles. Isaac Brunet, Cody Sewell and Shane Smith present Jack a modified John Deere tractor, the first modified vehicle completed since the program’s inception.


3. Jack’s father assists with getting safely buckled into his new tractor for the first time.


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Programs like ‘Go Baby Go’ and ArgoTots address a need by having students apply knowledge gained in the classroom to realworld scenarios all while truly making a difference in the lives of local families. When the program was introduced, six mechanical engineering students chose ArgoTots as their enterprise program after recognizing an opportunity to positively impact others. Fred Anderson, Selena Beasley, Isaac Brunet, Phillip Mitchell, Cody Sewell and Shane Smith put in countless hours over the last year custom fitting a tractor for Jack. The design, materials testing and calculations took months of preparations, while the implementation of

the design and planned modifications took less than a week. During the fall semester, students documented in detail each step of the build and modification process. They conducted rigorous testing and inspection after each modification and were required to give multiple presentations on their progress or any issues during the build. Brunet, the fifth Argo in his family of 10, said that this level of personalization makes ArgoTots special. “After connecting with the Carroll family in October, we worked closely with them throughout the process, from the early days of choosing Jack as a good candidate

for ArgoTots, to making a thoughtful decision to modify a tractor, which is one of his favorite things, and finally being able to be there when he first saw and drove the tractor,” Brunet said. Rather than modifying the vehicle in a standard way, the students learned about Jack’s specific needs and tailored the rider experience before the building process began. The team considered important factors such as which side of the car to place the pedal on, the addition of a 3-point-harness to secure a busy child and the installation of a remote control that allows Jack’s parents to operate and stop the vehicle.

“This project has made me more optimistic about life after graduation. I was able to use what is at times seemingly impersonal knowledge that I’ve learned and apply it in a fun way that made a big difference in a child’s life.” —Isaac Brunet, mechanical engineering student

“We did materials testing throughout the process,” Brunet said. “The tractor came with an extra trailer, so we were able to take the tensile properties of the plastics and use that information to apply certain scenarios to the modifications that we made.” This materials testing allowed the team to evaluate the vehicle modifications to make sure they are safe. Students utilized concepts learned in engineering classes to perform preliminary calculations and design prior to building the tractor. “We assumed very radical circumstances that will probably never happen in real life, but accounting for those helped us consider all of the ‘what-ifs’ and ensure that the


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vehicle was safe for Jack,” Brunet said. “In one tensile test, we considered an extreme scenario seeing if the plastic would fail if the car was upside down and an 85-pound child was supported by nothing but the harness at one specific point. Of course, we had to make sure it wouldn’t.” Jack’s newfound independence allows him to explore, play and navigate the world like his friends from school. Danielle Carroll, Jack’s mom, recognizes the value that ArgoTots has for her son and could someday have for similar children and families in the community as the program grows. “The biggest challenge for Jack, of course, is that he wants to be moving,”

Danielle said. “This is something huge for him because he will be able to get on a vehicle and be able to play and get around. From what I’ve seen, we have a lot of kids in the community with disabilities and mobility challenges and this is a great community-university partnership.” This partnership is duly rewarding for students who are able to witness the positive influence of their work. “This project has embodied not only an engineering aspect, but has also helped out others. It is a great project all around,” Sewell said.


“The biggest challenge for Jack, of course, is that he wants to be moving. This is something huge for him because he will be able to get on a vehicle and be able to play and get around.” —Danielle Carroll, Jack’s mom

Jack likes to play at the Vince Whibbs Maritime Park, one of his favorite places.

Looking ahead to the future, the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering plans to build upon the groundwork established from the process of engineering Jack’s car and produce more cars for children in the community. ArgoTots will remain a part of the enterprise program, which is a series of courses that mechanical engineering students complete prior to graduation. ArgoTots, and other offerings within the mechanical engineering program, allow students to utilize their coursework through applied learning as they design and build a real product for either industry use or a national competi-

tion. For mechanical engineering students, this glimpse into the future can be incredibly beneficial when considering their career path. “This project has made me more optimistic about life after graduation,” Brunet said. “I was able to use what is at times seemingly impersonal knowledge that I’ve learned and apply it in a fun way that made a big difference in a child’s life.” Those interested in nominating a child for the ArgoTots program can contact the mechanical engineering department at

Jack’s supporters, comprised of family, friends, teachers and therapists, join to celebrate his new tractor.

Fall 2019


UWF TRADITIONS Linking the Past to the Present BY JAMIE CALVERT ’20












Some are old, some are new, but they’re all for the green and blue. Passing down traditions ensures an ongoing connection between past and present. At UWF, rich traditions are a cornerstone of campus culture and daily life, often shaping the journey of an Argonaut.




In May 1965, the chambered nautilus was selected as the official emblem of UWF. On the University’s seal, the nautilus shell rests on a shield of colors representing the green of the sea and the blue of the sky. The shape represents constant evolution in science and nature. For UWF, this symbolizes our dedication to growth and lifelong learning.


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Discovered in the Pensacola Pass by archaeology student Robert Annin in 1970, Annin’s Cannon can be found on the Cannon Green between the John C. Pace Library and the University Commons. The cannon serves as a good luck charm. Students are known to rub the cannon before a major presentation or exam in the hopes of receiving a good grade.




One of the more hands-on and interactive traditions, the cardboard boat race takes place during Homecoming Week. Student organizations, members of the Homecoming Court, faculty and staff create boats made entirely of cardboard and duct tape, and race them in the HLS Aquatic Center in hopes of being the fastest Argo—or at least one that doesn’t sink.



UWF’s annual series of events that take place during the first few weeks of the fall semester are designed for new and returning Argos. The campus community ushers in new Argos, welcomes them to campus and introduces them to life at UWF, while greeting familiar faces with an itinerary of signature events.



It’s common to see students at signature Homecoming events clad in blue or green glitter, spreading both spirit and sparkle. Known as the Glitter Gods and Goddesses, these students epitomize Argo Pride and elevate the energy during Homecoming week. If you see one, be sure to ask for a picture. We hear they love a photo-op.

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UWF Faculty Spotlight

Dr. Justice Mbizo

“I live by the slogan, ‘Train locally, serve globally’”


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A native of Zimbabwe, Dr. Justice Mbizo connects with Argos globally, motivating them to achieve their dreams in the public health field.

phone calls to communicate with students everywhere. “I live by the slogan, ‘Train locally, serve globally,’” Mbizo said. “We train our students wherever they are. I have one student in Saudi Arabia and BY ALLISON MORGAN another in Nigeria, and we are looking to expand that reach. Online courses allow faculty rowing up in a rural vilmembers to teach in places where people lage in southern Zimbabwe, have never heard of UWF, and now we have Dr. Justice Mbizo learned a UWF flag there.” important life lessons. His Rose Belony, a graduate student in the grandparents were key members of the Master of Public Health program, said Mbicommunity, instrumental in establishing zo’s devotion of time and resources helped sustainable resources, such as drinking her understand all facets of public health. water, wells and a school for their village. “When he’s not teaching, he emails us His family was active in the fight against articles about changes or happenings in the British colonialism, which helped shape field,” Belony said. “He’s always there to his view of the world and people today. give advice, listen and work with students. Mbizo lives in pursuit of their lasting Even as chair, he finds time to give back and legacy, aiding the underserved and marginexplain concepts.” alized by conducting and disseminating reShe said Mbizo helps students inside and search on chronic diseases that affect these outside the classroom. two focuses, including women and children. “I’m Haitian and came here alone for “My family ingrained in me the sense of an internship,” Belony said. “It was lonely justice and fairness, and a deep conscienat first until Dr. Mbizo helped connect me tiousness toward equity,” he said. “Public with other Haitian students.” health is by nature a humanitarian profesGeorgia Washington Utuk, a UWF sion in the most practical sense, seeking to alumna and health analyst at the National improve the lives of people everywhere.” Institutes of Health, said she leaned on His intrinsic pursuit of knowledge led Mbizo for guidance on her projects while him to the U.S., where he completed his working full-time at the NIH in Bethesda, education and ultimately landed at the Maryland, and pursuing her Master of University of West Florida in 2005. Public Health degree. Today, Mbizo, chair of the Department “I reached out to him all the time of Health and an associate professor in through phone and email,” Utuk said. “He the Usha Kundu MD, College of Health, always encouraged me and would say, ‘if teaches online, graduate level public health I were you I would do it this way.’ He also courses. Once instrumental in connecting connected me with one of his former prowith a tight knit community in Africa, fessors who works in the same building as Mbizo now connects with people all me at the National Institutes of Health, who over the world from his office on UWF’s offered additional assistance as needed. Pensacola campus. He uses technology Outside of his classroom and office hours, such as Skype, LinkedIn, Facebook and Mbizo’s research focuses on diabetes. email, as well as handwritten notes and


“Diabetes as a disease has the most profound implications for the quality of life of individuals and tremendous societal costs,” Mbizo said. “It affects the body from head to toe and spares no organ in the middle. For most cases, diabetes is preventable, by eliminating the risk factors, the majority of which are modifiable.” Mbizo said he credits UWF for the opportunity to try out new ideas and grow the Master of Public Health program. “It has been an adventure like no other,” Mbizo said. “When I joined the program we had five students. Today we have approximately 150 students and more than 200 graduates of the program.” When he’s not changing students’ lives or striving to improve the health of others, Mbizo enjoys spending time with his wife, three daughters and church group. He also enjoys visiting museums and zoos in Pensacola, as well as reading and gardening.

OUTSIDE of the classroom, Mbizo’s research focuses on diabetes.

“My family ingrained in me the sense of justice and fairness, and a deep conscientiousness toward equity. Public health is by nature a humanitarian profession in the most practical sense, seeking to improve the lives of people everywhere.”

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Fall 2019

By Brittany Swinford ’11 t’s already embedded in our society in a million unseen ways: responsive apps and websites we visit on our smartphones; the cars we drive; the medical devices we depend on to save our lives when it matters most. And this is only the beginning. It’s ever-changing and seemingly limitless; the way of the future. It’s the field of intelligent systems and robotics, and the University of West Florida and the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition in downtown Pensacola have joined forces, keeping Northwest Florida at the forefront of technological innovation.

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Duncan Calvert and Dr. Jerry Pratt, his IHMC mentor, work together on research and projects pertaining to the humanoid robot ATLAS.

This fall, UWF and IHMC launched a doctorate program in intelligent systems and robotics—one of only a few in the nation and the first and only in the state of Florida. “This is a one-of-a-kind program that will increase visibility both for the University and IHMC,” said UWF President Martha D. Saunders. “It’s the type of initiative that the community will feel, and I’m eager for the program’s future.” ENHANCING COLLABORATION

IHMC was formed in 1990 on UWF’s Pensacola campus by Dr. Ken Ford, thencomputer science professor, and Dr. Alberto Cañas, a former Tulane professor and IBM official. It remained a research insti-

tute under the UWF umbrella until 2004, when it was restructured as a not-for-profit research institute of the Florida State University System. Ford, CEO of IHMC, said the joint program fosters the optimal circumstance for enhancing the relationship between the Institute and the University. “This is an opportunity for new connections,” he said. “Many people who joined UWF or IHMC after 2004 have never met or worked together, and they’ll now be partnering for a historic opportunity. This will undoubtedly greatly expand the partnership as we jointly pursue something exciting and important to the mission of both organizations.”

Dr. Jaromy Kuhl, dean for the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering and professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, said he’s seen the power of those new connections firsthand in the months leading up to the program’s launch. “I’ve been at UWF for 15 years, but I had never been to IHMC until we began working on this program,” he said. “Now, we have committees with IHMC scientists and researchers and UWF faculty meeting regularly and working together on grant proposals and more. There’s a lot of collaboration woven into the development of the doctorate program, with much more to come.”

Dr. Venable is engaging in a European-style of teaching, immersing the doctoral students in research from the very beginning.


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The overall goal is to ensure an outstanding level of research and a strengthened partnership between UWF and IHMC. Dr. Kristen “Brent” Venable, inaugural director for intelligent systems and robotics


In July 2019, UWF and IHMC announced the most important piece of the puzzle in launching a new and historic program: the appointment of an inaugural director. Dr. Kristen “Brent” Venable joined UWF from Tulane University, where she held a joint appointment as a professor of computer science and research scientist for IHMC. “This program is new, not just to UWF, but to the state,” Saunders said. “We really needed someone with the savvy to take it

and match a University and its traditional academic contributions with a major research institute. We were looking for someone who wanted to build something and had the right tools to do it. Dr. Venable is the perfect fit for the job.” Beyond her primary research interests in the artificial intelligence field, Venable also brings personal experience with European-style doctoral programs, which UWF and IHMC are emulating in the design of the new program. She began her career in higher education as a faculty member

in the Department of Pure and Applied Mathematics at the University of Padova in Italy, where she also earned a doctorate in computer science and a Laurea degree with honors in mathematics. Typical U.S. doctoral programs place a heavy emphasis on lectures and core course work from the beginning, with students participating in research closer to graduation. In many European programs, and now at UWF, doctoral students are immersed in research from the very beginning.

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“In the future, I hope to see biologically inspired robots, such as legged robots, become commonplace. I believe they have the potential to provide enormous value to the world.”

scientists are currently engaged in projects where The structure is one of many characthey remotely operate a teristics that make the program stand Valkyrie humanoid robot out from the crowd. Five students were from the NASA Johnson selected from 20 submitted applications to Space Center in natural and form the inaugural cohort, an intentional man-made environments to decision made by program leadership to accomplish useful work. start small and seamlessly launch both or“I’m interested in fast, autonomous, ganizations into new and exciting territory. humanoid behaviors and demonstrating Students are assigned a doctoral adviresults on our in-house humanoid robot sor upon acceptance into the program. platforms,” Calvert said. “The robotic sysRather than follow a set curriculum, the tems that are currently integrated with our advisor will work with the student to tailor everyday lives are still relatively primitive, research experiences to his or her unique mostly due to the exorbitant costs of buildbackground and interests. ing and maintaining robotic systems. In the “We’re shaping the program to the future, I hope to see biologically inspired student, rather than the student to the robots, such as legged robots, become comprogram,” Ford said. monplace. I believe they have the potential Duncan Calvert ’14, a research associto provide enormous value to the world.” ate for IHMC, is among the first students Jacques Perry, lead cybersecurity ento join the program this fall after spending gineer and information system security five years working in the manager for the 782nd IHMC robotics labs. “This program will Test Squadron at Eglin Air He described the doctoral allow me to move Force Base, was driven to program as a “perfect fit” the doctoral program by into a leadership for him to study humanoid an interest in researching robotics, an area already position in the the correlation between in high demand for its Air Force cyber artificial intelligence and potential future impacts on cybersecurity. community, where society. At IHMC, research TAILOR-MADE, STUDENT-CENTERED

I’ll be able to bring more focus on the capabilities of AI in cyber defense and offense.”


DR. VENABLE’S leadership style emphasizes the importance of connecting with each of her students.

“This program will allow me to move into a leadership position in the Air Force cyber community, where I’ll be able to bring more focus on the capabilities of AI in cyber defense and offense,” he said. “I eventually expect to see AI playing both strong defensive and offensive roles in cyberwarfare. This will inherently require the next generation of cybersecurity personnel to thoroughly understand the capabilities and limitations of AI and how it will shape the cyber battlefield.” Venable said her first priority as director is creating an optimal environment for collaboration among students, faculty and researchers. “These students will work in labs with researchers for more than four years, so we have a chance to make a real difference in their lives,” she said. “From a mentor’s perspective, this is ‘academic parenting,’ and it’s my job to make sure it’s successful for everyone involved. The overall goal is to ensure an outstanding level of research and a strengthened partnership between UWF and IHMC.”


Numerous studies identify artificial intelligence and robotics as the industry of the future. A study by the National Robotics Initiative reports robotics technology holds the potential to transform the future of the U.S. and is expected to become as ubiquitous over the next few decades as computer technology is today. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook projects a 19% growth rate for computer and information technology research scientists over the next 10 years. The present and future workforce demand is undeniable, and producing future leaders of the field is top of mind for UWF and IHMC. Visibility has been

the buzzword in discussions surrounding the launch of the program. “This is an opportunity for Northwest Florida to be known as a leader in artificial intelligence,” Kuhl said. “Like Silicon Valley is known as the home of entrepreneurial startups, we’re at the forefront of intelligent systems and robotics education.” Artificial intelligence and robotics have potential applications in virtually every career field, making qualified graduates of AI and robotics programs some of the most valuable in the present and future workforce. “This program will produce professionals at the top of the workforce, driving the creative ideas that transform the industry,” Kuhl said.


Rather than a dystopian society where evil robots take charge, Ford predicts artificial intelligence and robotics of the future will look like “a more efficient, smarter version of today’s society,” with robots and technologies created as more of a “cognitive prostheses” to leverage and extend human cognition. “AI is a powerful technology,” he said. “It’s neutral, but it can be used for good or bad. It’s all in respect to the wisdom of those who dispense it.” Experts and leaders in the field agree—artificial intelligence and robotics will continue to expand as society heads into the future. UWF and IHMC are claiming a position at the forefront of innovation to produce bright, talented thought leaders and changemakers of tomorrow.

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THE FAMILY Alumna guides Argos to World Series in first season as head coach By Tom St. Myer


t’s always bittersweet when a successful coach resigns, but for Melissa Paul and Ashliegh McLean, it was a valuable opportunity to keep the University of West Florida softball team under the guidance of a tried-and-true Argo. Paul announced her plan to resign from a successful four-year stint as head coach following the 2018 season to move with her husband, the senior athletic performance coach for the NBA franchise, Oklahoma City Thunder. Athletic Director Dave Scott used the opportunity to offer a year-long audition to McLean, a UWF


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alumna who played on the UWF team and served as an assistant coach after earning her master’s degree in 2015. The 29-year-old McLean impressed Scott with her coaching acumen; namely how she handled the UWF pitching staff and communicated effectively with the players. It was her prior six years of dedication to the program, though, that ultimately convinced him to promote someone with zero head coaching experience. “I wouldn’t say it was a slam dunk, but based on past history it made for an easier decision,” Scott said. “Ashliegh’s a hard-

working individual and I think it’s huge that she’s a product of our culture. She’s somebody who’s lived the ‘West Florida way’—upholding character, working hard, being honest and true to who she is and what UWF is about.” McLean rewarded Scott’s vote of confidence in her by guiding the Argos to the third best record in program history in 2019. UWF posted a 54-11 record, held the No. 1 national ranking, won the Gulf South Conference championship and advanced to the NCAA Division II National Championship for the second time in three seasons.


“She always talks about what we can leave behind as people when we leave here. She believes in us more for who we are as people than who we are as student-athletes.” —Mika Garcia, shortstop

“When I was out recruiting this summer, coaches were like, ‘You’re not supposed to do that your first year,’ but it was a special year and I knew what kind of year we could have just because I was a big part of the recruitment of these kids,” McLean said. Junior shortstop Mika Garcia said McLean has transitioned seamlessly from assistant to head coach by staying true to character. Youthful both in appearance and demeanor, McLean is easily mistaken for one of her players. She embraces an “act a fool” in the dugout mantra, joining in with her players when they dance and cheer. Garcia recalls McLean jumping around as if on a pogo stick from the third-base coach’s box after a game-winning hit last season. McLean coaches with an infectious exuberance, but what her players appreciate first and foremost is the family culture

she instills in the program. She created blue-and-green bracelets with the words “Argonaut Softball For 4” inscribed, symbolizing that the team members play for themselves, their family, their University and their community. Outside of their time on the softball field, she encourages her players to set weekly goals that focus on other aspects of their lives beyond their athletic talent. “She always talks about what we can leave behind as people when we leave here,” Garcia said. “She believes in us more for who we are as people than who we are as student-athletes.” McLean demonstrated that same integrity as a pitcher/outfielder for the Argos in the 2010 and 2011 seasons, which is why former teammate Emma Johansen readily accepted an assistant coach position at UWF after serving in the same capacity for four seasons at Alabama State

University. McLean captained the Argos as a player and Johansen said everyone considered her the leader on the diamond. Now, McLean leads the entire program and indoctrinates her players in the West Florida way. “Everybody can coach softball, but if you want your kid to have an incredible experience and grow as a person on and off the field then you are welcome to come here,” Johansen said. “I think that’s what separates Ashliegh from other coaches. She makes the student the priority. It’s not just about what’s on the field in terms of wins and losses. She prioritizes the kid as part of the family. You’re going to grow every year into a young woman. You’re going to reach your potential as an athlete, but you’re also going to reach your potential in the classroom and leave here better than when you came.”

THE HUGELY SUCCESSFUL 2019 SEASON led the Argos to the NCAA Division II National Championship.

Fall 2019



Taking the Lead UWF emerges as international leader in cybersecurity education, workforce development BY TOM ST. MYER


Fall 2019

LEFT: Dr. Eman El-Sheikh engages the crowd with best practices for cybersecurity in higher education. MIDDLE: Left to right - Diane Janosek, commandant of the NSA’s National Cryptologic School; Dr. Martha Saunders, University of West Florida president; Honorable Jeanette Núñez, lieutenant governor for the state of Florida; and Honorable Kristi Noem, governor of South Dakota, discuss contemporary cybersecurity challenges faced in academic, government and industry spaces RIGHT: Harry Coker, Jr., executive director of the National Security Agency, addressing cybersecurity education and thought leaders.

s she stood on the stage in front of dozens of cybersecurity world leaders, Dr. Eman El-Sheikh briefly paused to put the surreal moment in proper context. The University of West Florida broke barriers as the first U.S. academic institution to participate in the fifth annual NATO Cyber Defence Smart Defence Projects Conference on May 15-16 in Lisbon, Portugal. El-Sheikh, director of the UWF Center for Cybersecurity, shared how UWF cybersecurity initiatives and innovative higher education practices enhance workforce development regionally and across the U.S. “I was extremely honored and humbled to represent UWF and present on behalf of the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity,” El-Sheikh said. “Our initiatives in higher education and workforce development resonated with world cybersecurity leaders who are trying to address the critical shortage of cybersecurity professionals. It’s a global crisis.” Cybersecurity Ventures, an industry provider of data and analytics, projects that the global shortage of professionals will reach 3.5 million by 2021. Cybersecurity job openings in the U.S. top 300,000 according to CyberSeek. Lt. Col. Luis Salomão de Carvalho, project manager for the NATO Multinational Cyber Defence Education and Training Project, invited El-Sheikh to the conference after attending the Cybersecurity Centers of Academic Excellence Executive Leadership Forum on Pensacola Beach in April. UWF serves as one of eight Cybersecurity CAE Regional Resource Centers across the nation and partnered with the National Security Agency and U.S. Department of Homeland Security to host the forum. The University is the only academic institution in Florida that offers a stand-alone bach-

elor’s degree in cybersecurity designated by the NSA and DHS as a National Center of Academic Excellence, and it launched a master’s in cybersecurity degree program this fall. The UWF Center for Cybersecurity, which operates out of a new facility inside the Studer Community Institute Building in downtown Pensacola, upholds its mission to “secure your future” through innovative education, workforce development programs and partnerships.

“The time for cybersecurity vigilance is now, and UWF is proudly at the forefront.” —Martha D. Saunders, President, University of West Florida

“The time for cybersecurity vigilance is now, and UWF is proudly at the forefront,” said UWF President Martha D. Saunders. “United behind a common cause, cybersecurity professionals from across the country gathered along Florida’s Cyber Coast for the CAE Executive Leadership Forum. We will continue our role in leading the future generation of industry leaders.” NSA Executive Director Harry Coker Jr. delivered the keynote address to approximately 300 academia, business and government executives at the forum. Lt. Gov. Jeanette M. Nuñez welcomed the executives on behalf of the state of Florida,

followed by South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem who delivered the plenary address. Forum topics included national challenges in cybersecurity workforce development, state and industry workforce needs, international cybersecurity education initiatives and industry innovations in cybersecurity. The forum hosted distinguished speakers including cybersecurity executives from the NSA, DHS, NATO, IBM, AT&T, Trend Micro and academic institutions with nationally recognized cybersecurity programs. “The collaboration at the CAE Executive Leadership Forum demonstrates that education, industry and government can effectively collaborate to rapidly and purposefully meet the growing challenges of workforce transformation,” said Jonathan Arneault, who serves as the director of the North America Software-as-a-Service, Center of Excellence and Go-to-Market Transformation for IBM. Arneault commended UWF for its prominent role in the collaboration. Established as a nationally recognized leader in cybersecurity education, research and training, UWF is expanding its initiatives and leadership on an international level after participating in the NATO conference. Carvalho said those opportunities include participating in the NATO Cyber Academia Working Group, developing cyber curriculum for the NATO Communications and Information Academy in Portugal, and sharing education, training and exercises to various audiences. “With experience, knowledge, available resources and best practices, there are a number of initiatives for enhancing NATO cybersecurity and cyber defense,” Carvalho said. “The U.S. and other allies are ready to promote collaboration and support these efforts via the NSA/DHS CAE Program and the University of West Florida.” Fall 2019


President Saunders with UWF’s 2019 National Merit Finalists


Brilliant Futures The University of West Florida welcomed its third consecutive class of National Merit Finalists this fall. This makes nine total finalists enrolled at UWF since Fall 2017—students who stand out from the crowd, brimming with the potential to become future leaders and world changers. Out of the approximately 1.6 million juniors who enter the National Merit Scholarship Competition each year, only 15,000 meet the requirements for Finalist standing. At UWF, National Merit Finalists earn the most prestigious scholarship, valued at more than $50,000. We believe in the power of higher education to push beyond limits, into a world of possibilities.

MEET UWF’S NATIONAL MERIT FINALISTS, CLASS OF 2023 Shane Durepo Legal Studies Major Adeline Watson Chemistry Major Read their student profiles and learn more about UWF’s Top Scholars at



ERIC BRAMMER The New President of the UWF Alumni Association

Upcoming UWF Alumni Events FELLOW ALUMNI,

Visit for event details and RSVP information.

It is my privilege to introduce myself as the new president of the UWF Alumni Association. As a proud UWF graduate from the class of 1999, I couldn’t be more excited to begin my role during such a dynamic time for the University. Last year alone we hosted 46 events nationwide, attended by over 5,000 alumni. While many of the events were held in Florida, we were able to host about 30% of our gatherings in other states. We launched one of our most exciting new ventures, GOLD, or Graduates of the Last Decade. This initiative promotes events, newsletters and programming specifically for our most recent graduates. The Alumni Board and I invite you to network with the UWF Alumni Association. We want to help you find your niche, so below are the three main ways you can get involved:

October 23

GOLD Happy Hour


Ghost Tours of Historic Haunted Pensacola


UWF Football tailgate for the Coastal Classic game at Florida Tech


• Submit your contact information at • Attend an alumni event near you— check out the upcoming events to the right. • Make a gift to the University.


Tallahassee Network Event


UWF Basketball at Valdosta State


UWF Football tailgate at Valdosta State

Whether you are from the charter class of 1967 or the class of 2019—let’s leave a legacy of excellence, together.




Eric Brammer President UWF Alumni Association




88,636 102,356

Stay Connected with UWF Alumni | |

/UWFAlumni Fall 2019



James Buchli

Operations and Utilization Manager for Space Station, Boeing Defense and Space Group


Retired United States Marine Corps Colonel James Buchli dedicated 25 years to military service following his 1967 graduation from the United States Naval Academy. He earned a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering systems from UWF in 1975 and became a NASA astronaut in 1979. In 1992, Buchli retired from the Marine Corps and the NASA Astronaut Office and spent the next 25 years working with Boeing Defense Space Group. He currently serves as the operations and utilization manager for Space Station, Boeing Defense and Space Group in Houston, Texas.

Congratulations on being named a 2019 inductee into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex! How does it feel to be honored in this way? First, I am very humbled to have been given this honor. Many who have been honored before me are true giants in the astronaut family and to join their ranks is rewarding and quite exciting for me and my family. I also feel that this represents every one of the men and women who have and continue to work in the human space programs. Nothing is done without teamwork!


Fall 2019

How did your education at UWF help you achieve your career goals?

Without a doubt, the master’s degree I received from UWF made a huge difference in the screening and selection process. It also provided a very strong education foundation for me to succeed in the aerospace community. My education from UWF helped greatly. What advice would you give to students or alumni seeking to become a NASA astronaut? Be persistent! Prepare yourself as best you can with education and experience and then let people know what your goals are and what you wish to attain. You will be surprised how many people along the way are there to help you.

JAMES BUCHLI during his time at NASA.

Brittany V.A. Rappise

Freelance Wig & Make-Up Designer, Owner of The Makeup Wigstress

“THE BEAST” is the finished product of Brittany’s thesis project for her master’s degree.

Brittany V.A. Rappise is currently a freelance wig and make-up designer. After graduating from UWF in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in theatre, Rappise attended the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and earned a master’s degree in wig and make-up design. She has had the privilege of designing, teaching workshops and building wigs for world-renowned operas, playhouses and entertainment companies. In the summer of 2019, Rappise made her New York City Opera debut, designing wigs and make-up for Jazz at Lincoln Center. She owns her own business, The Makeup Wigstress, in Pensacola.

Why are you passionate about what you do? Because I grew up in theatre, I have always loved storytelling. While many people see buying a wig as something you can quickly do at any Party City, personalization helps create a character and tell their story. I read into the background of each character because their individuality is crucial to the story. Getting to know the characters on an intimate level is what I love about my job. One way you use your time and talent is to give back and build custom wigs for people who have

experienced hair loss from medical conditions. What inspired your decision to give back in this way?

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

My hair is a huge part of my identity, my personality and how people know me. I can’t imagine losing that over something that I couldn’t control. That sense of never wanting to lose that part of myself prompted me to give back to people who have experienced hair loss. I’m currently working on a wig for someone in the UWF community who’s going through chemotherapy, and I cannot wait to see the smile on her face when I get to give her a part of herself back.

I don’t think I’ve hit it yet. I’ve been doing this for 10 years now and every show I do I see myself growing and my skillset getting stronger. The more I work, the more I want to work for myself. I want to see my vision come to life as part of a collaborative effort and witness it as a final product on stage. I’m climbing a ladder and I don’t know if it ends. We’ll just see where it goes.


Fall 2019



Smile! Whether we gather at commencement, a banquet, network event or tailgate, our events provide the perfect opportunity to show our appreciation of your continued support. They are also a wonderful chance for you to socialize with fellow alumni, current students, staff, faculty and friends of the University.

Don’t miss out! We continue to add new events to the mix. For a look at upcoming events, visit

Dr. Kim LeDuff, Vice President of Academic Engagement and Student Affairs, presents an award to James Edward Smith at the annual Trailblazer Award luncheon.

UWF students and the donors who make their scholarships possible meet and mingle at the inaugural Endowed Scholarship Luncheon. 29

Fall 2019

Alumni enjoy the game and a special visit from Kazoo at the annual UWF Night at the Blue Wahoos.

Tampa alumni gather for an alumni and athletics meet-and-greet during the annual Tampa Network reception.

Members of the Jacksonville Alumni Network hold a beach cleanup as part of UWF Founders Week Day of Service.


Dr. Saunders visits alumni volunteering at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Florida during UWF Founders Week Day of Service.

Graduating student-athletes gather during the annual end-of-year donor banquet. Charter class alumni attend the unveiling of the Linda Evans Memorial Education Pavilion in downtown Pensacola, named for their classmate Linda Evans ’70.

Donors show off their branded socks, an added benefit of giving $30 or more during Day of Giving!

Heritage Club level donors socialize during an annual luncheon at the Museum of Commerce in downtown Pensacola.

Alumni and their families dress up for lunch and enjoy a production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid by the UWF Department of Theatre. Fall 2019



Class Notes 1970s

’70 John Currivan, M.S. Aeronautical Systems; Currivan was presented with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award by Marquis Who’s Who, the world’s premier publisher of biographical profiles. ’71 & ’91 The Honorable Cherry Fitch (Morgan), B.A. English Education & M.Ed.; Fitch was named mayor of Gulf Breeze. ’73 & ’74 Ruth Lovejoy, B.A. Communication Arts & B.A. Social Work; Lovejoy was named NWFL Daily News 2018 Person of the Year. ’78 John Sheridan, B.S. Chemistry; Sheridan was named president & CEO of Tandem Diabetes Care. ’78 & ’79 Antoinette McCovey (Pete), B.A. Accounting & MBA; McCovey will serve as the vice president for finance and administration and chief financial officer at Davidson College. ’78 James Cost, M.A. Communication Arts; Cost was presented with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award by Marquis Who’s Who, the world’s premier publisher of biographical profiles. ’78 Margaret Shimmin, B.A. Social Work; Shimmin was presented with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award by Marquis Who’s Who, the world’s premier publisher of biographical profiles. ’78 Donald Snyder, B.S. Physical Electronics/Applied Physics; Snyder retired from 40 years of service to the Department of Defense. He spent two years as a contractor and 38 as an Air Force scientist.

1980s ’82 Brian Leathers, B.A. Accounting; Leathers was appointed chief financial officer by Philly Shipyard, Inc. ’83 David Hawkins, M.A. Psychology; Gov. Ron DeSantis reappointed Hawkins to the Florida State College at Jacksonville District Board of Trustees.


Fall 2019

’84 & ’85 Jill Singer (Tummler), B.S. Computer Science & M.S. Systems Analysis; Singer, vice president of national security at AT&T’s global public sector solutions unit, was presented with her fourth Wash100 Award. Singer was also presented with Executive Mosaic’s Chairman’s Award for completing her third year as chairman of the Intelligence Leadership Group for Executive Mosaic’s 4×24 program. ’84 Charles Logue, M.S. Cell and Molecular Biology; Logue was hired as Special Projects Manager for Spartanburg Water. ’87 Ricky Owens, B.S. Management; Owens has been promoted to administrator of D.W. McMillian Memorial Hospital. ’87 Leah Dianne Nelson (Herndon), B.A. Communication Arts; Nelson will join the next class of The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Hall program in Gainesville, Florida.

1990s ’90 Kathryn Lawrence (Easton), B.S. Chemistry; Lawrence was hired by Redbud Labs as vice president of business development. ’90 David Brennan, B.A. Management; Nonprofit Lender, Business and Community Lenders of Texas, has appointed Brennan as the new board of directors chair. ’91 Dr. Christopher Culbertson, B.S. Chemistry; Dr. Culbertson, Kansas State University chemistry professor, received the Masao Horiba award recognizing him for work on microfluidic devices. He was also named College of Arts and Sciences associate dean for research. ’91 Kevin Mason, B.S. Management; Mason was named a 2018 Agent of the Year by Insurance Journal. ’91 & ’93 Michael Jeffcoat, B.S. Sports Science and M.S. Physical Education; Jeffcoat was named Gulf South Conference Coach of the Year. ’93 Dr. Caryn Turner, B.A. English Education; Turner was named Principal of the Year by Clayton County Public Schools. ’93, Dr. T. Allen Culpepper, M.A. English; Culpepper was recently promoted to associate professor of English at Tulsa Community College and has been named coordinator of the college’s honors program.

’95 & ’97 Gerald Johnson, B.A. Accounting & MBA; Johnson was named partner at Frazier & Deeter, a nationally ranked top 60 CPA firm. ’97, ’01, ’02 Laurence Vance, B.A. History, Master of Accountancy, BSBA Accounting, BSBA Economics; Vance recently published his 27th book, “The Free Society.” He is currently a columnist and policy adviser for the Future of Freedom Foundation, an associated scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and a columnist, blogger and book reviewer for ’98 Keith Whittaker, B.S. Mathematics; Whittaker was named director of global quality management by ValvTechnologies, Inc. ’98 Kenneth Hargreaves, MBA; Hargreaves has been appointed as Caltech Institute’s external relations officer. ’99 Janet Magno LaBar, B.A. Communication Arts; LaBar was named president and CEO of the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance. ’99 Dr. Jeremy Pridgeon, B.A. Interdisciplinary Social Science; Pridgeon was named senior pastor of First United Methodist Church in Panama City. ’99 Dr. Robert Jacobs, M.A. Psychology; Dr. Jacobs began pursuing writing six years ago. He released his debut novel this year titled, “And Then You Were Gone.”

2000s ’00 Mara Viksnins, B.A. Studio Art; Viksnins, current president of the Pensacola branch of the National League of American Pen Women, will display her work at the Coastal Branch Library for the month of June as part of Art in Public Places. She has won many awards and her work has been displayed at the Florida State Capitol as well as in Washington D.C. ’01 Julian Wallace, M.A. Psychology; Wallace was named business management chair at Clemson University. ’02 John Gibson, B.A. Communication Arts; Gibson won the Grand Prize for the 2018 Words Matter Publishing Holiday Book-Writing Contest for his novel titled, “Soul Sprints.” He was awarded a publishing contract with the company for his achievement, and his book will be available for sale online and in bookstores in Fall 2019.


’02 Clark Reid, M.S. Computer Software and Software Engineering; Reid was named to Krewe of Bowlegs LXV Honor Guard.

’08 Eduardo Arraez, B.S. Business Administration; Arraez has opened Mr. Pollo Pensacola, a fast casual restaurant on Ninth Avenue.

’02 & ’09 Craig Miller, B.A. Psychology and M.Ed.; Miller was named principal of Shoal River Middle School in Okaloosa County.

’09 Brandon McFarren, B.S. Business Administration; McFarren was named a 2019 Rising Star by Inweekly in Pensacola.

’03 Derrik Lang, B.A. Communication Arts - Journalism; Lang was named deputy editor at Palm Springs Life magazine and editorial director of the GuestLife publications. He was formerly senior editor at American Airlines’ American Way magazine and an entertainment reporter at The Associated Press. ’03 & ’06 Nicklaus Heath, B.A. Communication Arts; Heath was named a 2019 Rising Star by Inweekly in Pensacola. ’05 Nicolle Cestero, M.A. Psychology; Cestero was named to the 40 under 40 list for She serves as senior vice president for Human Resources and chief of staff at American International College. ’05 Xiaoqun Clever, MBA; Clever has been appointed to the Board of Directors of Capgemini SE for a fouryear term. ’05 & ’08 Timothy Roberts, B.A. History & M.A. History; New Mexico Historic sites has named Roberts deputy director, to assist in oversight of the state’s eight historic sites. ’06 & ’08 Meagan Leonard (Outzen), B.A. Communication Arts and Journalism; Leonard was named a 2019 Rising Star by Inweekly in Pensacola. ’06 Mary Smith (Wilks), B.A. Legal Studies; Smith was named a 2019 Rising Star by Inweekly in Pensacola. ’07 Michelle Brooks, B.S. Business Administration; Brooks was named a 2019 Rising Star by Inweekly in Pensacola. ’07 Jeffrey Cole, B.S. Environmental Studies; Cole was named Commander of the U.S. Army Reserve 350th Civil Affairs Command Higher Headquarters Company. ’07 & ’10 Mary McNally (Barrow), B.S. Marketing and MBA; UWF College of Business and the Combined Rotary Clubs of Pensacola named McNally as this year’s recipient of the annual Ethics in Business Award. ’08 Kelsey Stone, B.A. History; Stone was named a 2019 Rising Star by Inweekly in Pensacola.

2010s ’10 Michael Johnston, M.S. Mathematical Science; Johnston was named a 2019 Rising Star by Inweekly in Pensacola. ’10 & ’14 Joshua Newby, B.A. Communication Arts and M.A. Strategic Communication and Leadership; Newby was named a 2019 Rising Star by Inweekly in Pensacola. ’10 Richard Humphreys, B.A. Art and Graphic Design; Humphreys was named a 2019 Rising Star by Inweekly in Pensacola. ’10 Aliza Ray, B.A. Communication Arts; Ray was named a 2019 Rising Star by Inweekly in Pensacola. ’11 Kathleen Potter (Diiorio), MBA; Potter has been hired as associate professor at Lasell School of Fashion. ’11 & ’13 Nicholas Gray, B.A. Communication Arts Television and Film; Gray was named a 2019 Rising Star by Inweekly in Pensacola. ’11 Donte Sheppard, B.A. Diversity Studies; Sheppard was named a 2019 Rising Star by Inweekly in Pensacola. ’11 Kaycee Lagarde, B.A. Communication Arts and Journalism; Lagarde was hired as public information officer for the City of Pensacola. She was also named a 2019 Rising Star by Inweekly in Pensacola. ’11 & ’16 Cory Hogue, B.S. Business Administration and MBA; Hogue was named a 2019 Rising Star by Inweekly in Pensacola. ’12 Leah Courtney, B.A. International Studies; Courtney has been appointed communication director for U.S. Rep. Ross Spano’s Washington office. ’12 Jayme Terell, B.S. Marketing; Terell was named a 2019 Rising Star by Inweekly in Pensacola. ’12 Scott Stephens, B.A. Criminal Justice; Stephens was commissioned as a naval officer in May 2019 by his father who is a civilian employee at the Center for Information Warfare Training in Pensacola.

’12 Christopher Jardine, B.A. Political Science/Pre Law; Jardine has joined the Juneau County Star Times as a reporter. Jardine has written articles for the Juneau County Star-Times, Reedsburg Times-Press, Wisconsin Dells Events and Sauk Prairie Eagle. ’13 Megan Crombie, M.Ed.; Crombie is a finalist for Florida Teacher of the Year. ’13 Laura Tate, B.A. Psychology; Tate was named a 2019 Rising Star by Inweekly in Pensacola. ’13 & ’17 Michael Egan, B.A. Accounting and MBA; Egan was named a 2019 Rising Star by Inweekly in Pensacola. ’13 Nicole Wilson, B.A. Education; Wilson received the 2019 Black History Month Excellence in Education Award. ’14 Jasmine Hunt, B.S. Hospitality and Resort Management; Hunt was named a 2019 Rising Star by Inweekly in Pensacola. ’14 Matthew Lother, B.A. English; Lother was named a 2019 Rising Star by Inweekly in Pensacola. ’14 Tavaris Brooks, B.S. Public Health; Brooks was named a 2019 Rising Star by Inweekly in Pensacola. ’15 & ’18 Terry Griner, B.A. English and M.A. English; Griner was named a 2019 Rising Star by Inweekly in Pensacola. ’15 Marcy Ringdahl (Mills), M.Ed.; Rongdahl was named principal of Riverview Academy of Math and Science. ’15 Michael Corelli, M.A. Psychology; Corelli was hired as an associate in Harter Secrest & Emery LLP’s corporate and transactional group. ’15 Ryan Hess, M.Ed.; Hess was named a 2019 Rising Star by Inweekly in Pensacola. ’15 & ’18 Dakota Lee, B.S. Sport Management and MBA; Lee was named a 2019 Rising Star by Inweekly in Pensacola. ’16 & 19 Mary Elizabeth L. Woodard, B.S. Hospitality Recreation Resort Management and M.A. Strategic Communication and Leadership; Woodard accepted a position as Assistant Director of Internships at DePaul University in Chicago. ’16 Gabi Garrett, B.A. Public Relations; Garrett has published the comedic self-help book, “Kicked Out of Therapy: Six Steps to Joy.” This book is available on Amazon. Fall 2019



’17 Kasey Moore, B.A. English and Creative Writing; Moore was named director of sales and marketing of Charter Senior Living of Panama City Beach.

’73 & ‘80 Thomas L. Ewing, B.A. Music Education & M.E.d.

’79 Suella G. Smith (Osborne), B.A. Accounting

’73 & ’74 Ruth R. Lovejoy (Dandrow), B.A. Social Work & B.A. Communication Arts

’80 Richard P. Carpenter, B.A. Social Work

’18 Henry Westmoreland, B.S. Sports Management; Westmoreland is competing in the PGA Tour SeriesChina, one of the PGA Tour’s three affiliated international tours.

’74 Audrey J. Grill (Marker), B.A. Social Work

’18 Robert Shollar, M.S. Mathematics; Sholler was hired by State College of Florida to teach mathematics.

’80 & ’82 William W. Smith, B.S. Management & MBA

’74 Ron L. Beckwith, MBA

’80 Ronald S. Figueroa, B.A. Political Science

’74 Pamela Dowling, B.A. Special Education

’83 Lynne C. Campbell II (Mock), B.S. Management

’74 Gerald S. Sutton, B.S. Physical Education

’84 Jean B. Strebeck (Launders), M.Ed. ’85 & ’87 Sandra E. Hays, B.A. Accounting & MBA

’18 Erica Jenkins, B.S. Nursing; Jenkins was named a 2019 Rising Star by Inweekly in Pensacola.

’74 David Geeslin, B.A. Social Work

In Memoriam

’75 Richard M. Harris, M.A. Psychology

’86 Dr. Carolyn A. Fleming, Honorary Doctorate

’75 & ’84 Faye S. Jones, B.A. Elementary Education & M.A. Elementary Education

’86 Guan-Wen Wang, M.S. Systems Analysis Business

’68 Cynthia A. Russell (Henderson), B.S. Biology

’76 Patrick C. Remele, B.S. Marine Biology

’87 Sherlee M. Aronson (Holmes), B.A. Communication Arts

’69 Jearold C. Eakins, B.S. Biology

’76 Lawton D. Roland, B.S. Health Education

’88 Robert L. Lee, B.A. Communication Arts

’70 Donald B. Page, B.A. Psychology

’76 Stanley W. Schoolcraft, B.A. Accounting

’70 & ’74 Michael R. Welch, B.A. Mathematics & M.Ed.

’77 Robert T. Halfhill, B.A. Communication Arts

’89 & ’95 Mary Ann Fabbro (Wrench), B.A. Anthropology & M.A. Interdisciplinary Humanities

’70 Normal V. Scurria, M.S. Aeronautical Systems

’77 Linda C. Walen (Cozine), B.S. Management

‘90 Marlene G. Battle (Lint), B.A. Elementary Education

’71 Peter Bonifay, B.S. Management

’77 Kay McClung Owens (McClung), B.S. Management

’91 Phillip A. Black, M.Ed. Education Leadership - Training and Management

’77 & ’79 Horace L. Pete, B.A. Accounting & MBA

’91 Angela M. Simone, B.A. Accounting

’69 Carla A. Martin (Lyons), B.S. Industrial Technology

’72 Paul Henry Garst, B.A. Economics ’72 Anna E. Krohn (Molander), B.A. Elementary Education ’72 Thomas S. Sherman, B.S. Marketing ’72 Joseph D. Slater, B.A. Accounting ’72 Bethany G. Work, B.A. Elementary Education

’74 Jane A. Moseley (Hoopingarner), B.S. Vocational Technical Education

’78 Robert Ann Taylor, M.A. Clinical Teaching ’79 James A. Cameron, B.A. Communication Arts

’86 Mozelle S. Folmar, B.S. Nursing

’90 Melanie S. Davis, B.A. English

’92 Marilyn Wells Koch (Spivey), B.A. Elementary Education ’93 Donna J. Creel (Jones), B.A. Special Education ’95 Michael R. Young, B.S. Business Administration – Finance ’99 Sonya Gibson-Kirk, B.A. Criminal Justice ’05 Jennafer Leilani Baker, B.A. Psychology ’09 Jennifer Lynne Dawson, B.A. Interdisciplinary Social Sciences ’10 Craig Peter Anderson, B.S. Electrical Engineering ’15 Spencer Barrow, B.S. Information Technology


Fall 2019

UWF THROWBACK JANE MOSELEY admires the mileage sign on campus in 1975.

Fall 2019


Connection University of West Florida 11000 University Parkway Pensacola, FL 32514

Unleashing more than creativity. UNLEASHING POSSIBILITY.

We are a community of passionate people who are transforming the unfathomable into the undeniable. We’re unleashing the power of possibility by embracing creativity, and collaboration. Together, we’re shattering the ceiling, and shaping the world into what we want to see. What will you unleash?


Profile for University of West Florida

Connection Fall 2019  

The University of West Florida's Bi-annual Alumni Magazine

Connection Fall 2019  

The University of West Florida's Bi-annual Alumni Magazine