First Student

Who was the first student to register for classes at UMBC? How many students were in the first graduating class in 1970? —Felice Pinckney ’92

fa15-firststudent-webThe first students at UMBC were 750 pioneers who arrived on September 19, 1966 and found three academic buildings, a campus still under construction, and a lot of mud. Some of the pathways they found were wooden boards. The Loop Road that would eventually encircle campus was years from completion yet. This first UMBC class laid a foundation of hard work and determination that continues almost 50 years later.

According to the second issue of UMBC News (the student newspaper that was later renamed The Retriever Weekly), Gabija Brasauskas Blotzer ’70, English, was the first student to register for classes and obtain her student identification card. (See “First Student is Gabija Brasauskas,” UMBC News, 1966).

Blotzer recalls via email: “Originally, I did not intend to go to UMBC. I had applied to the College Park campus. However, my application for housing was misplaced, and I had no dorm room assigned to me.”

Blotzer adds that she eventually returned to UMBC twice after getting a graduate degree from Duke University. Both times, she studied to obtain teaching certifications. The first time was to complete state certification to teach English in Howard County Public Schools, and then, later, (with the help of professor emeritus of ancient studies Walter Sherwin) to obtain a certification to teach Latin in York, Pennsylvania.

“I value all the opportunities and support that UMBC offered to me as an undergraduate and as a returning ‘special’ student,” writes Blotzer.
The first UMBC graduate was Robin Keller Mayne ’69, American studies. She received her degree one year earlier than the 239 UMBC students who graduated on June 7, 1970.

— Arooj Rana ’06