A line up of the 2021 Alumni Award winners, from left to right: Dr. Michael Summers, Deep Patel '19, Michael Berardi '19, Tewodross Melchishua Williams, M.F.A. '00, Dr. Michael Hassett, M.P.P. '17, Ph.D. '19, Dr. Kaitlyn Sadtler '11, Freeman Hrabowski, Sean Pang '04, M.A. '11, Dr. Kate Tracy, M.A. '01, Ph.D. '03, Dr. Scott Banta '97, Dr. Letitia Dzirasa '03, M11, Theresa Bruce '09, and UMBC Alumni Association President Brian Frazee '11, M.P.P. '12. Not pictured: Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett '08, M16, and Christine Osazuwa '11. Photo by Marlayna Demond '11.

Something that has become clear in 2021 is that when celebration is called for—-go all in, in a safe, socially distant fashion, of course. In this spirit, UMBC is excited to announce the 32nd annual Alumni Awards, hosted by the UMBC Alumni Association Board of Directors. While the in-person ceremony may be smaller than past years, there are multiple ways to watch and interact virtually. 

More alumni than ever are being celebrated this year. In addition to the past categories, the Board is honoring a cohort of Retrievers whose work impacted pandemic response on local, national, and global stages. Likewise, the Rising Star category couldn’t be contained to a single alum, so three bright stars are highlighted.

“They are entrepreneurs, leaders, educators, creators, artists, and explorers,” says Stanyell Odom, director of Alumni Engagement. “They’ve stepped forward to lead us during a time where sound leadership was required to get us through some of the most difficult days of our generation.”

Meet the 2021 award recipients

In the Rising Star category, the Alumni Board recognizes Christine Osazuwa ’11, interdisciplinary studies. Osazuwa uses her skills to highlight the intersection of diversity, music, marketing, and technology, and even living overseas, she finds ways to continue mentoring UMBC students.  

Also in the Rising Star category are Michael Berardi ’19, media and communications studies, and Deep Patel ’19, biological sciences and financial economics—cofounders of OCA Mocha, an Arbutus coffee shop that emphasizes community-arts. They’ve found a myriad ways to serve the community even during a pandemic.  

To learn more about the recipients of the 32nd Alumni Awards, you can read about the Outstanding Faculty awardee Dr. Michael Summers in multiple stories. Summers is the Robert E. Meyerhoff Chair for Excellence in Research and Mentoring and a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UMBC.

Meet Dr. Michael Hassett, M.P.P. ’17, Ph.D. ’19, public policy, the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award, a budget analyst for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and president and founding member of Friends of Tonga, Inc. Friends of Tonga received a 2021 Literacy Award from the Library of Congress for their implementation of highly successful practices in literacy promotion.

Outstanding alumni are recognized in multiple categories. Engineering & Information Technology honors Dr. Scott Banta ’97, chemical engineering. From the Humanities, meet Sean Pang ’09, English, M.A. ’11, education. Natural & Mathematical Sciences celebrates Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett ’08, M16, biological sciences and sociology, scientific lead of the Vaccine Research Center’s coronavirus team.

Baltimore City middle school teacher Theresa Bruce ’09, political science and social work, is the recipient for Social & Behavioral Sciences. Visual & Performing Arts honors Tewodross Melchishua Williams M.F.A. ’00, intermedia and digital arts, founder of the film and digital media studio collective Visual Jazz and associate professor and program coordinator of visual communication and digital media arts program at Bowie State University.

The Alumni Association Board of Directors is also taking the opportunity to give special recognition to four alumnae closely tied to the pandemic response: Moderna vaccine lead Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett ’08, M16, biological sciences and sociologyBaltimore City Health Commissioner Letitia Dzirasa ’03, M11, biological sciences; and National Institutes of Health investigator Kaitlyn Sadtler ’11, biological sciences; and special advisor to the senior vice chancellor of Academic and Student Affairs of the University System of Maryland Dr. Kate Tracy, M.A. ’01, Ph.D. ’03, psychology.

Please join the ceremony online on October 20, starting at 6:30 pm.

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Header image: Photo of the 2021 UMBC Alumni Awardees. L-R: Dr. Michael Summers, Deep Patel ’19, Michael Berardi ’19, Tewodross Melchishua Williams, M.F.A. ’00, Dr. Michael Hassett, M.P.P. ’17, Ph.D. ’19, Dr. Kaitlyn Sadtler ’11, Freeman Hrabowski, Sean Pang ’04, M.A. ’11, Dr. Kate Tracy, M.A. ’01, Ph.D. ’03, Dr. Scott Banta ’97, Dr. Letitia Dzirasa ’03, M11, Theresa Bruce ’09, and UMBC Alumni Association President Brian Frazee ’11, M.P.P. ’12. Not pictured: Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett ’08, M16, and Christine Osazuwa ’11. Photo by Marlayna Demond ’11.

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