To You – Spring 2017

Jenny O'GradyDear Retrievers,

There’s nothing quite like snow seeping through your boots to wake up the brain and tune you into what’s really important. This happened for me in April, when staff photographer Marlayna Demond ’11 and I traveled to western Maryland to witness UMBC’s 33rd annual weekend-long Emergency Health Services (EHS) “Search and Rescue” wilderness training workshop.

We arrived to find ourselves in less-than-spring-like conditions. As I stood freezing my toes off on a snowy hillside of trees, waiting for a group of students to appear over the ridge where they were conducting a practice grid search, I realized three major things:

  1. My sad, leaky boots were not made for anything other than Baltimore weather. More importantly, though…
  2. Despite the bone-chilling wind, these students were smiling, seemingly oblivious to the cold. They were doing their work with the gusto of people who know how important it is and would continue to do so again and again all weekend, without complaint, long after Marlayna and I had departed for the warmth of our beds, because – quite honestly – they love helping people.
  3. That love extends past their work and into the EHS community. More than twenty former search and rescue alumni from the program’s nearly 40-year history stood in the woods and the cabin as volunteer trainers beside them, many of them coming back for the second or tenth or twentieth year in a row because they share that same guiding desire to help people.

This is not just an EHS attribute, of course, but one that runs through UMBC. During my twelve years working in the loop, I’ve been knocked over time after time by the sheer selflessness that drives our community to learn, perform, and make positive change. In this issue of UMBC Magazine, you’ll see numerous examples. Researchers working to understand the brain in ways that will help Alzheimer’s patients and astronauts and children. People from all disciplines at UMBC working to connect with our neighbors in Baltimore. You’ll meet this year’s winners of the Legends of Excellence award – including one staff member and alumna who has served UMBC’s students since 1966. And this is just the tip of the iceberg of our Retriever community near and far.

In my new role as editor of UMBC Magazine, I look forward to continuing the work of capturing and sharing the best of these stories with you. Standing on that snowy hill in western Maryland reminded me yet again of just how lucky I am to get to see it all up close.

— Jenny O’Grady
Editor, UMBC Magazine

P.S. Thank you to the hundreds of you who shared your thoughts about UMBC Magazine via our web survey this spring. Your voices will help us continue to share the types of stories you love best.