A BIG Idea

“We have reached that happy time in the program when…” I think this is Dr. Hitt’s most genuine phrase. He has uttered it with an authentic combination of anticipation and pride at every graduation I have been a part of at UCF. Every time he says it, I can’t help but smile because he seems to relish this moment. It is the validation of his life-long commitment to UCF’s access mission and begins the procession of graduates who walk across the stage in triumph.

This scene repeated itself Saturday, and as I watched Dr. Hitt go through this ritual, I had an idea: A BIG Idea. May will be Dr. Hitt’s final set of graduations. It needs to be just one, not the three or four a semester we usually have, and it needs to be in a full Spectrum Stadium. I say we invite every UCF alum who has graduated in the Dr. Hitt era to attend. We give them one of those Hitt Squad T-Shirts and we pack the place. We show him our gratitude. We make the single most visible, human display of the equation “scale times excellence equals impact” and celebrate the bright future he has given us.

Have Dr. Hitt pass the baton to the next President at the end of the ceremony, and we have our promo video for the next 10 years.

I know Dr. Hitt isn’t going to like this idea. He is too humble. He would never want to make it about him. But it’s not about him. It’s about us. It’s about UCF and what we have become during the Hitt years and it is sure to draw national attention to this next-generation university. It would also be an awesome experience for those May graduates. Having a speaker like Bill Clinton or Bill Gates wouldn’t hurt either.

Don’t tell me it’s too risky–that’s an insult to the “can do” attitude that defines this place. We have almost six months. Let’s get this done.

Saying Goodbye to our Graduating Ambassadors

It is the nature of our business that every semester ends with some of our favorite students embarking on new challenges.   This semester we say goodbye to five of our Ambassadors, students who have worked hard to help shape the culture of the college and make it a better place for students, faculty and staff.   Each of our graduating Ambassadors has “walked the talk” by developing the mindsets and engaging in the actions we expect from all of our students:

Illian Hernandez  was our biggest risk taker this semester because she got out of her comfort zone and presented her student experience story  in front of some of our most important donors.   She served on the A team while she was here and did an internships for a year with the Golf Channel.  She is interviewing at a marketing agency in Atlanta today.  Go get em, Illian.

Joshua Easdon is the most ardent advocate for out Integrated Business program.  He attended every  Street Smarts II session this semester to talk about the benefits of being in IB.  Joshua got a job as an event manager at Amp Exposure and has already started working  Wear purple Joshua (the official color of the IB program). It looks good on you.

Jeremy Moss  was our most persistent ambassadors.  He wanted a job in commercial real estate and he asked Jennifer to introduce him to 5 companies.  He ended up landing a job at Marcus & Millichap.  Jeremy was laser focused on what he wanted and did not quit until he got it.

Vanessa Gomez has come a long way through the program from being shy, quiet and not wanting to be in the spotlight to presenting street smarts and being my “go to” ambassadors for promoting initiatives and programs.    She  has learned to get out of her comfort zone, studied abroad in China for two semesters and taught English.  She has been accepted into the peace corp and will be returning to China to continue teaching

Kevin Ortiz is our game changer.  He helped take the ambassador program to a whole new level, by thinking differently and collaborating with faculty and students to create Street Smarts.   He did an internship with Boeing in Seattle, founded the Latino Leadership Council at UCF, was a  member and advocate for Dreamers at UCF.  He also helped organize Hispanic Heritage Month.  Kevin has created a legacy here at UCF.

Risk -takers, advocates, collaborators, young professionals who are willing to get out of their comfort zones, persistent in achieving their goals, and create legacy.  Not bad Ambassadors.  Now take these same qualities and use them to succeed in your careers and life.  Remember, you are and forever will be UCF Knights.  Your success is our success.  Here’s to seeing you tell your stories in the Exchange in a few years….. Charge On!