Nominate a Student or Graduate for Volunteer of the Month
Nominate a UMGC student or graduate today to be the next Volunteer of the Month. This recognition highlights outstanding student and alumni volunteers who serve their communities. Each month, one volunteer will be honored.
UMGC faculty, staff, alumni, and students are encouraged to submit nominations of outstanding volunteers who show a high level of commitment to helping others. This commitment can be demonstrated in a variety of ways, including consistent participation, a willingness to give extra effort, and going beyond the duties of their role.
To be eligible for the award, a nominee must be
- A UMGC student or graduate
- A current or recent unpaid volunteer for a program, organization, event, or service project
- A reliable and effective volunteer who is dedicated to helping others
To nominate a UMGC student or graduate for this award, please e-mail UMGC Student Success with the following information:
- Nominee's name
- Nominee's e-mail address
- Summary of the nominee's volunteer service
- Website or contact information for the organizations, events, and/or programs for which the nominee volunteers
You can e-mail UMGC Student Success if you have any questions. Self-nominations are welcome.
A new winner will be selected the first week of each month.
UMGC commends students and alumni for all of their volunteer work. We encourage you to nominate a student or alumnus who is an active volunteer, including yourself!
March 2020 Volunteer of the Month: Adam Arruda, current student
Last spring, when Adam Arruda received an e-mail to volunteer as a student leader for the UMGC chapter of the National Society of College Scholars, he jumped at the opportunity. As chapter president, Arruda took the initiative to revive the chapter by holding regular meetings, conducting information sessions, and collaborating with other officers to develop activities for members.
"As chapter president for NSCS for the past year, I have become a better leader and team-builder, while building skills in communication, social media, planning and development, and conflict resolution." Arruda graduates this year with a bachelor's degree in business administration, and he hopes the next president will benefit from the structure he's put in place.
Arruda also volunteers outside UMGC when opportunities arise within the military community. He is currently assisting in coordinating a USO mobile tour for a local Freedom Fest event, and recently participated in an Adopt A Highway® clean-up effort. Arruda has an interest in volunteering his time to teach mental health first aid and intervention skills to adults.
"I feel a sense of reward in helping others," says Arruda. "It is good for the mind and body and allows me to gain a broad spectrum of experience. I truly believe knowledge is power, so my main focus is to educate and professionally develop those around me at any opportunity I am given."
Thanks, Adam, for your dedication to the UMGC NSCS chapter and beyond!
January/February 2020 Volunteer of the Month: Marisa Sees, current student
Marisa Sees is an East Asian studies major at UMGC and an active-duty servicemember in the U.S. Air Force. Sees volunteers as team leader at the Titans' Refuge Ministry Center at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, which provides approximately 3,000 U.S. military and NATO personnel with a place to connect and recharge through complimentary amenities, refreshments, and special events.
Sees has more than 382 volunteer hours, has trained more than 200 new volunteers, and has supported 188 community events. She has also taught Japanese classes so that she can share her love for Japan and educate her peers about the language and culture. Through her dedication, community service, and time working with the Ministry Center's volunteer team, she's received the President's Volunteer Service Award (Gold Level), as well as the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal (MOVSM).
Sees also served as the secretary for the dorm council at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota and as the president of the Incirlik Air Base Security Forces dorm council.
"I knew I wanted to grow as a leader," says Sees. "As president [of the dorm council], I have worked hard to improve the quality of life for our residents, as well as raise funds for dorm events."
December 2019 Winner: China Lee, current student
China Lee was nominated due to her participation on the University of Maryland Global Campus Student Advisory Council (STAC). "When I transferred from Towson University to UMGC in 2017, I wasn't sure that I would be able to play a role in changing or contributing to the lives of others," said Lee. "When I was presented with the opportunity to be a member with STAC, I was thrilled." Lee was elected as an alternate on the council and in this role, she attended the monthly meetings and regularly chimed in with her ideas and suggestions. For a welcome call initiative that STAC was conducting, she volunteered her experience and shared her strategies and email templates with the other representatives.
Volunteering is something Lee has done for years. During her time in nursing school, she volunteered at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center. She has participated in the Annual Red Shoe Shuffle 5k Run hosted by the Ronald McDonald House, and she was an active events committee member with her previous employer. She has served on the STAC at UMGC for the past year and will continue her role through the end of December, when she will be graduating with a bachelor's degree in social science.
"As a person who truly enjoys helping others, it is important to me to take advantage of any opportunities that allows me to do so," said Lee. "My favorite quote is from Mark Twain: 'The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.' I am glad that I have found my purpose and take pride in helping others discover theirs."
November 2019 Winner: Adonis Cooper, current student
Adonis Cooper's commitment and involvement with the Student Advisory Council (STAC) over the past year has earned him this award. As a new member, he volunteered to be on the executive committee as a vice chair, attending monthly meetings, making welcome calls to new students, and providing feedback.
Cooper is an event volunteer for the BSides Augusta InfoSec Conference, a vendor-sponsored conference that is attended by cyber security professionals to discuss trends, best practices, and new technologies. He also mentors soldiers who are looking to obtain experience in the IT and cybersecurity fields. "I get to watch the soldiers who earn certifications and/or change jobs achieve their goals," states Cooper. "The icing on the cake is when they come back and thank me for the time I invested in their future and development."
In addition, Cooper has volunteered for Meals on Wheels America, where he personally delivered more than 400 meals to senior citizens in the Presbyterian Homes and Housing Foundation of Florida assisted living facility. "It brings me joy to see the gratitude on someone's face after I have helped them. I believe positivity and kindness are contagious, so I just try to do my part to spread it so that others will join in and do the same."
Cooper is graduating with his bachelor's degree in computer networks and cybersecurity in December.
Thanks for your volunteer work, and congratulations on your degree completion, Adonis!
October 2019 Winner: LaShown Nicole Sterling, current student
LaShown Sterling started volunteering for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in 2015 and joined Maryland's AFSP committee in year 2017. She has hosted a series of fundraising events and led AFSP's annual walk in Rockville, Maryland in 2018, with more than 500 participants. Sterling continues to be involved in AFSP to this day.
"I have personally lost loved ones [to] suicide, so it is important for me to continue to volunteer and fundraise to raise awareness, educate, and help AFSP reach their goal of reducing the suicide rate 20% by year 2025," said Sterling.
Sterling is also currently serving as an officer for the UMGC Chapter of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, which is committed to scholarship, leadership, and service.
"True wealth is not determined by the amount of money you make or the number of things that you possess. Your true wealth is determined by your mental and physical health and it is vital to actively take care of both," said Sterling. "Volunteering is rewarding and provides me with the opportunity to do my part and give back to my community."
Sterling is double-majoring in investigative forensics and psychology, and she anticipates graduating in 2021. Upon graduation, she plans to earn a master's degree in digital forensics and cybersecurity, then pursue work in the forensic psychology and computer forensics fields.
August/September 2019 Winner: Jose Cabiya, current student
Jose Cabiya is an active-duty servicemember in the U.S. Air Force, a husband, a student, and a volunteer who manages a non-profit CrossFit gym on RAF Molesworth in the United Kingdom. To date, Cabiya has dedicated more than 780 hours to coaching military servicemembers, dependents, and contractors to remain fit-to-fight—or to simply get back in shape. Cabiya has earned the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal for his work with the military community.
"I believe in taking care of your body and mind, and I find that giving back to the community in the way of fitness is very rewarding," says Cabiya. "I enjoy volunteering my time helping others push their limits and find that I have created a tight-knit community that aims towards a positive goal of self-improvement."
Cabiya is pursuing a bachelor's degree with a major in marketing. Although he is originally from Puerto Rico, he is a huge New York Yankees fan, and hopes to work for the organization once he retires from the military.
July 2019 Winner: Kelly Steveson, current student
The thing Kelly Steveson enjoys most about his volunteer work is that it allows him to help military spouses and veterans.
Steveson began volunteering for Veterans of Foreign Wars in 2010 and is now the junior vice commander/service officer for Post 9555 in Yokota Air Base, Japan. Steveson provides counseling and educational guidance for all veterans in the Yokota area, whether they're transitioning back to civilian life or thinking about starting their academic careers at UMGC.
In addition to his work with the VFW, Steveson also works with the Retired Activities Office in the Airman Family Readiness Center on base. In this role, Steveson gives medical and career advice to the retired community. He also helps the surviving spouses of servicemembers with funeral planning.
"I see people at their most vulnerable state," Steveson says. "It is a great feeling when we can make them feel at ease knowing we are going to hold their hand through the process."
Steveson has been taking classes at UMGC since 2016. This past spring, he completed a certificate in Japanese Studies.
Thank you, Kelly, for all you do for the military community!
June 2019 Winner: Fredricia Cunegin, '97, '12
Fredricia Cunegin has a passion for teaching fellow entrepreneurs how to distinguish themselves in the market. That's why she's proud to be a member of the UMGC alumni My Volunteer Program (MVP), where she serves as both an industry expert and a headhunter volunteer.
In addition to her work with UMGC, Cunegin is also the founder and CEO of HRinMotion, LLC, a woman- and veteran-owned consulting firm located in Largo, Maryland. She and her company provide human resource management services to small and mid-size organizations.
This entrepreneurial spirit is what led Cunegin to participate in last month's LinkUp with UMGC Alumni Entrepreneurs event, where alumni were given an opportunity to build meaningful connections with industry experts. During the event, Cunegin proved to be a valuable resource, sharing key insights and helping participants further their career goals.
Thank you, Fredricia, for all you do for UMGC!
May 2019 Winner: Shaei Rodriguez, current student
In his three years of active-duty service in the Air Force, Shaei Rodriguez received plenty of support from the USO, especially when traveling. That's why, when he was deployed to the Middle East in 2018, Rodriguez decided to give back and volunteer with the USO on base.
During his deployment, Rodriguez logged over 70 hours volunteering with the USO. "While it's not the most glamorous of jobs, I definitely appreciated it," Rodriguez says. His tasks included managing the front desk, cooking meals for other servicemembers, cleaning, and planning events such as a weekly poker and cornhole tournament. His favorite event, he recalls, was a Star Wars trivia night. "The night ended with a tie, so the two runner-ups had to perform their best Chewbacca yell for everyone to see!" he says.
Rodriguez states that his experience with the USO has been nothing but positive. "The highlight of volunteering at the USO is the relationships you form with your peers," he says. "I made plenty of lifelong friendships from the many hours we spent collaborating on projects to make the deployment a little easier on servicemembers."
Rodriguez is working towards a Bachelor's of Science in accounting and aims to be in the graduating class of '22. His accomplishments at the university include becoming a member of the SALUTE Veterans National Honor Society and receiving a Veteran's Initiative Scholarship. Thank you, Shaei, for all you do for UMGC!
April 2019 Winner: Matt Williams, '16, current graduate student
Matt Williams was working through his undergraduate degree in marketing when he was selected to serve on the UMGC Student Advisory Council. Now, he serves as the Executive Committee chair.
As a representative voice for the students, Williams provided feedback on the UMGC initiative to move towards a textbook-free environment. In addition, he has represented the university at the state level and supported UMGC initiatives by testifying at both the University System of Maryland Board of Regents and the Maryland State Senate. Williams has also represented UMGC as its representative to the University System of Maryland's Student Council, working with student government leaders from across the state to address issues of diversity and inclusion, student welfare, and inter-campus relationship building. Williams is graduating this spring with a Master of Science in management with a specialization in information systems and services.
Having served in the U.S. Air Force from 2001 to 2015 as a language and cultural analyst, Williams continues to engage in interpersonal outreach with fellow vets, assisting them with their transition to civilian life through job placement mentorship and free résumé services. He is an active participant in a veteran's suicide awareness and prevention group that provides a sense of community and agency to service men and women.
Most recently, he was asked to be a principal adviser to a non-profit seeking to serve a wide range of backgrounds with a specific focus on transitioning servicemembers, veterans, and minorities who are interested in public, state, and federal service.
"Volunteering, for me, is my way of being grateful for the opportunities I have been given and fostering those opportunities for others," Williams says. "Pay it forward!"
Outside of his university engagements, Williams also organized a disaster recovery volunteer group to assist with local business cleanup after the devastating Ellicott City flood of 2018.
Thank you, Matt, for all you do for UMGC!
March 2019 Winner: Harvey Muñoz, current student
In 2017, Harvey Muñoz wanted to bring cultural awareness to his community of military and civilian families at Beale Air Force Base, so he stepped up to propose, and later coordinate, the base's first international event. Titled "Hands Around the World," the event took place in September 2017 and consisted of expositions of different countries including displays, entertainment, and food.
Muñoz committed more than 200 hours to organizing the event, recruiting and leading volunteers, and participating and managing the schedule on the big day. Following up on the success of that event, he also played a prominent role in organizing the second annual "Hands Around the World" event in October 2018. Through his hard work, folks in his community were able to learn from the diverse performances and exhibits of no fewer than 12 countries and two U.S. territories.
In addition to managing these international events, Muñoz leads a professional networking group and a lifestyle group for expatriates in the Sacramento, California area. Last fall, he worked with military organizations to provide school supplies, shirts, and more for children in need.
As a computer science major at UMGC, Muñoz manages to balance his coursework, his military career, and his volunteer efforts. His positive attitude, dependability, and commitment have made a strong impact on his community.