At first glance, Justin Glaze ’16 seems like the quintessential UMBC alum—a graduate in business technology administration but a minor in fine arts, a track & field athlete who went on to work at T. Rowe Price. But if he looks a little more familiar than most Retrievers, it’s probably because you’ve seen so many of his facial expressions as the runner-up on season 17 (with Katie Thurston) of ABC’s The Bachelorette. Glaze sat down with UMBC Magazine to discuss the behind-the-scenes friendship of so many of the men on set and how they still keep in touch daily. He also shares some UMBC memories, like forming an unexpected connection with President Freeman Hrabowski and eventually hanging his own art in the Hrabowski’s family home.
UMBC Magazine: So, you were the runner-up on the most recent season of The Bachelorette. How’d that happen?
Justin Glaze: In November 2020, during Tayshia’s season, I was in my house eating Ben & Jerry’s—and it was COVID so you couldn’t really go out and do anything. I was single as a Pringle. I was in a group chat with some people that watch the show and we were kind of joking about applying. It just so happened to be [an episode with] an art group date, and I was like, “Wait a minute. If I was on this date right now, I feel like I’d crush this.”
So I thought, “If it’s a short application and I can knock it out during a commercial break, why not?” Less than a week later, I got an email from a casting producer from ABC and two months later, I was getting casted.
UMBC Magazine: We loved watching the bromance develop this season. Can you share a bit about your relationship with the other guys?
Justin Glaze: Oh yes, but I don’t know where to start. But take Michael A., for example. He’s taught me no matter what life throws your way, no matter what you’re going through, to keep pushing forward. He’s experienced almost all that life has to offer, and so that’s invaluable to have as a close friend, to be able to bounce ideas off of and to kind of keep you grounded. We’ve all been able to lean on each other through tough times though. I’m super grateful for the house of guys that I had.
UMBC Magazine: How did your time at UMBC prepare you for this experience?
Justin Glaze: At UMBC I learned about creating a strong social circle and staying true to myself, which were crucial elements of my time on the show. Being a student-athlete at UMBC, you’re all joined together through the unity of sports and the togetherness of cheering for each other, whatever team you’re on.
Obviously UMBC’s a fantastic academic school and that, in my opinion, is what should come first and foremost, but you have to be involved in something. It really helps you to branch out and feel included and have that tight-knit feel, which I think helped me get through college.
The other thing I felt strongly about on the show was something reinforced to me at UMBC: Stay true to yourself. Be comfortable with who you are. As long as you know who you are, you have a strong support system who knows who you are, that’s what’s most important.
UMBC Magazine: How did you end up choosing UMBC?
Justin Glaze: UMBC is huge on inclusivity and diversity, and so it felt like a natural fit for me, but I did consider transferring because I was thinking about using my art skills to study architecture. But at a meet-and-greet my freshman year with Dr. Hrabowski, I thought, “You know what? Let me go shoot my shot and introduce myself.”
To no one’s surprise, he was super friendly—asked what my grades were like, what my major was, what I was interested in. I told him my thoughts about transferring, and he was like, “Okay, well, how about at the end of the semester, shoot me an email, we’ll set some time up, and we’ll figure something out.” I’m like, “There’s no way. I’m just a freshman, one of however many thousand.”
Long story short, I ended up meeting with him and to this day, he’s been probably one of my biggest mentors. He introduced me to the job I’m at now and took me under his wing for the remaining four years and beyond, and so he’s played a huge role in my experience.
UMBC Magazine: What’s your fondest memory with President Hrabowski?
Justin Glaze: Every time I met with him, he served me a big slice of humble pie. He gives me that tough love that I need, and that’s what I love about him. He shoots it straight and he sees the potential in me. He has this drive to always improve himself and be better, and that is something that really resonates with me.
I have to say, it’s also pretty cool that I have a couple pieces of commissioned artwork I’ve done that he has hung up in his house.
UMBC Magazine: Wait, what? Tell us more.
Justin Glaze: I was definitely nervous, because for all my art clients, I want to give my best, but especially him—after all he’s done for me—I wanted to give my best work. I was very grateful that he had the trust in me to create some artwork for some special people in his family. So yeah, it was an honor.
UMBC Magazine: How have you been managing the return to normal life after you came back from the show?
Justin Glaze: I was a bit naïve as to what it would be like. I expected a little bit of it, but I didn’t expect the magnitude that it is. It’s still new to me how to navigate it. I’m the type of person, I’ll talk to anybody, so when people come up to me, gym, grocery store, out in public, I don’t want people to be nervous. I’m a normal, nice guy. I’ll talk to people, take pictures. It doesn’t bother me.
The biggest thing is just coming to grips with people’s expectations of you. It’s been tough trying to find that balance of staying true to who you are but also knowing that being true to who you are can be perceived in so many different ways.
UMBC Magazine: If the season was in a post-COVID era and you were able to bring Katie [the eponymous bachelorette] to Baltimore for a hometown visit, what places or activities would you have done with her?
Justin Glaze: For the best view, I would have taken her to Federal Hill to overlook the harbor. I think that would have been a really nice place to chat and talk about home with that view. Katie is really into animals, so I would have taken her to the aquarium, maybe through the zoo. Definitely would have taught her how to pick crabs.
UMBC Magazine: If you had the chance to do it all over again, would you?
Justin Glaze: Without hesitation. The good, the bad. All of it. 100%.
Interview conducted by Tsai-Ann Yawching.
All photos courtesy of Corey Jennings ’10.