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 Affairs 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 Affairs 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!
October 2021: Matthew Gossett, current student
Matthew Gossett is about to complete his bachelor's degree with an English major and Asian studies minor in December 2021. When he is not working on his classes or completing his military duties, he is an avid volunteer within his community.
Since joining the Air Force in 2004, Gossett has enjoyed using his unique position to help people when he sees the chance. He has been a member of his local Air Force Sergeants Association and the Awards Committee leader. His team organized the annual POW/MIA remembrance run at their base and ensured that the POW/MIA flag moved around the base track for 24 hours straight. His efforts allowed his team to win the 2020 division-level Legislation Chapter of the Year Award.
Gossett aids in the professional development of his fellow noncommissioned officers and has been a leader in the E5/E6 ranks for many years. He was secretary of his unit E5/E6 organization at his last base. When he moved to another location and learned his unit did not have such an organization, he was able to bring together a team and build a program for his unit. They held their first elections in July.
"I volunteer because I enjoy helping people. Nobody is perfect; we all need help with something," shares Gossett. "I've been lucky to have been presented opportunities that allow me to be active in my community. Being a mentor to those around me has allowed me to share my experience and encourage others to find out what motivates them as well."
Gossett also encourages other students to find what they enjoy doing and to volunteer.
August/September 2021: Kaandra Wilson, current student
Kaandra Wilson, a psychology major, is currently fulfilling her lifelong dream of being a firefighter. She is now employed in the city of Alexandria as both a firefighter and a paramedic, holding the rank of lieutenant and serving as aide to the assistant chief of administration. Wilson is a member of the Alexandria Explorer's program and has also joined the International Association of Firefighters Local 2141 Union, the Black Professional Firefighter's Association, and the Traumatic Exposure Recovery Program (TERP) team.
The TERP team is a peer-driven group that communicates with Fire Department members who have responded to a call that can be perceived as traumatizing. The TERP team ensures that members have adequate resources to be resilient members of the department. The team's goal is to keep first responders healthy in their work and home environments.
"I believe that we all have special parts of ourselves that, when shared, may be the reason that someone else feels cared for," says Wilson. "Knowing that my peers feel comfortable enough to trust me when they are in a vulnerable state of mind is a humbling experience. I hope that we all can continue to be advocates for one another and build up our strengths so that we can care for the citizens in the city that we represent."
July 2021: Jerred A. Johnson, current student
Jerred A. Johnson is a current graduate student who expects to graduate in December of 2021. At UMGC, Johnson is starting his second year on the Leadership Board for the Behavioral and Social Sciences Student Association (BSSSA), this year serving as the communications director. With the BSSSA, he coordinated the implementation of the inaugural BSSSA newsletter, which won a UMGC Best in Show Student Organization Award. He is also a member of the Events Committee for the Public Safety Student Association and is a member of the National Society for Leadership and Success.
Johnson has been volunteering since early high school. He was named Volunteer of the Year in Worcester County, Maryland, in 2014 and received the Presidential Service Award all four years in high school. His volunteer service includes being a Disaster Action Team Responder with the American Red Cross; deploying to South Carolina during Hurricane Dorian in 2019; packing food for Terps Against Hunger; assisting veterans and loved ones at The Wall That Heals in Ocean Pines, Maryland; helping at the annual fundraisers for the local school that serves individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities; and participating in various events for his local church.
Johnson says, "I have always felt a calling to serve others and be present in the community. Through my service, I have been exposed to some of the best people on the planet, and I am blessed to serve for them or with them throughout the years."
In addition to his education and volunteer work, Johnson works full-time as the emergency planner and public information officer at the county level on Maryland's Eastern Shore and is an avid outdoorsman, spending his free time fishing, hiking, camping, canoeing, gardening, and training as an aspiring survivalist.
June 2021: Michael Bick, current student
Michael Bick, an undergraduate student finishing up his bachelor's degree, is an avid volunteer in his local and military communities. In April, he spent 25 hours helping with flood relief efforts in Nashville, Tennessee, including handing out food and water, participating in cleanup, and rebuilding the local baseball and softball fields. He also helped with similar projects after tornados hit the area in 2020, working with local organizations to help others.
In the past year, Bick volunteered for the 2020 Wounded Warrior 5k, establishing a virtual team comprising 30 members across 12 military commands. Bick is also active in community sports—he is currently the head coach for a local Little League team and has volunteered for the Healthy Kids Marathon and the Nashville Dolphins Special Needs Swim Team.
"The reason I volunteer is simple to me—it is to give back to those around me and to provide support to those who need it," shares Bick. "I hope that if my family were to ever need a helping hand that we would have some level of support from our community. I truly enjoy helping and mentoring others and believe that it is our duty as humans to help one another whenever we can. It is the right thing to do."
May 2021: Kirk Platt '99
For the last year, Kirk Platt has dedicated his time and talents to coordinating more than 6,000 food donations and deliveries to countless hospitals every week. This work has recently earned him a Governor's Citation from Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. He also applies his engineering skills to V-Linc, a volunteer initiative where engineers work to solve problems for the disabled.
Platt has always been a steadfast volunteer. In 2017, he received a UMGC Achiever Award from the Alumni Association because of his participation in numerous UMGC alumni activities, including UMGC's Operation Welcome Home initiative. In 2014, he received the Boy Scouts' Silver Beaver Award, which is given to scouters who have made an impact on the lives of youth. He also received the Points of Light Volunteer Award from President George H. W. Bush in 2013 as well as Bronze, Silver, and Gold President's Volunteer Service Awards.
Platt has spent most of his life working in the government sector, protecting the country from harm, and is currently a consultant for Tower Technologies.
April 2021: Ashley Esposito, current student
As Ashley Esposito finishes her final classes for her bachelor's degree at UMGC, she reflects on the hours she has spent volunteering for the university and representing the UMGC student body in various ways. "I have chosen to volunteer and be active because at a young age I realized that using my voice alone, and within a collective, has power," shares Esposito. "I am very passionate about volunteering and being an advocate for students, especially those with learning differences." Esposito has served on the UMGC Student Advisory Council for more than four years, including holding the roles of secretary and chair; the Maryland Higher Education Commission Student Council; the University System of Maryland Student Council; and more. In addition, she recently participated on two panels geared toward new and prospective students, sharing her own educational journey. Many of these roles require her to take time out of her schedule to attend meetings—on weekends, before work in the mornings, and even on Friday evenings—so that she can provide feedback and work on behalf of students.
"One of my favorite quotes, by Maggie Kuhn, is, 'Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes,'" says Esposito. "That phrase resonates with me because people may not realize their perspectives are unique and valuable. As volunteers, collectively we can paint the big picture and offer solutions to tough challenges."
In addition to her volunteer work and classes, Esposito works full-time as a technology analyst and enjoys spending time with her husband and baby.
March 2021: Bernetta Reese, current student
For the past year, Bernetta Reese deferred her graduation so that she could advocate for adult students—first as a representative on the UMGC Student Advisory Council (STAC) and then as the 2020 STAC executive chair. Shortly after assuming these roles, she also became involved with the University System of Maryland Student Council (USMSC) and was elected to serve as the vice president of undergraduate affairs. Reese managed both roles while also working full-time and taking classes. On both student councils, Reese's goals included expanding opportunities for students who are pushing through the pandemic.
"It has been an honor to serve and represent UMGC and USM students across the globe," shares Reese. "I am enormously grateful for the many relationships that have been formed with students and faculty across USM and with senior leaders and elected officials. Our collective student voice and positive relationships within and across the USM continue to grow stronger and make a difference."
Beyond the university setting, Reese enjoys being active in her community. She has worked with homeschool families and with youth across the state as a homeschool mom and as a 4-H volunteer and certified archery instructor. Professionally, Reese has more than 20 years of public service in the federal government and with the military. She is finishing her bachelor's degree in Digital Media and Web Technology.
February 2021: Corey Watkins, current student
Corey Watkins has a passion for public safety, which shows in his work, studies, and volunteer activities in his community. In Harford County, Maryland, Watkins has served as a volunteer firefighter for 14 years. Currently, Watkins is a captain, overseeing both fire operations and the training officer, while also acting as a liaison to the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute.
Watkins also volunteers for the county's Special Operations Team, which is responsible for technical rescues and hazmat incidents. Recently, he started managing their wilderness trail mapping and accountability system. Watkins participates in deployments after hurricanes with the Maryland Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team and is involved as a deputy safety officer with Austere Medical Professionals, a group that focuses on educating the community about event risk management, specialized medical care in the wilderness and in isolated environments, and more.
"Growing up, my family was always involved in many types of volunteer work. It was only natural to begin volunteering myself when I was old enough," shares Watkins. "Through the years, I have gained many lifelong friends and have met so many incredible people. Working together and accomplishing tasks is a great feeling, especially when you look back and see the great things done to help an organization."
At UMGC, Watkins is finishing up his bachelor's degree, majoring in Public Safety Administration and minoring in Emergency Management. Professionally, Watkins works as a fire specialist at a local fire department.
January 2021: Mae Beale '20
Mae Beale has spent the past 40 years supporting her community in Howard County, Maryland, through community activism, civic engagement, and volunteering. Beale volunteers on the boards of a number of organizations in the county. She also has a passion for helping children. She is one of the organizers and a charter member of the Southeastern Howard/Laurel Chapter of Continental Societies, Inc., an organization that provides services related to health, education, employment, and recreation to children and youth. Under Beale's leadership as president and first vice president, the chapter won numerous awards for the programs and projects implemented in the community.
At UMGC, Beale served on the Student Advisory Council for four years, first as an alternate, then as a full voting member. As a member, Beale made a commitment to participate in the meetings and to provide feedback whenever she could. When she graduated in May 2020 with a bachelor's degree in management studies, she continued to participate as an ex-officio member until her term ended in December.
"It was an honor and a privilege to serve on the Student Advisory Council," shares Beale. "I hope I added value to the council and helped to make a great council better."
Moving forward, Beale hopes she can continue to volunteer for UMGC as an alumna.
December 2020: Ashley Glass '20
In the past year, Ashley Glass has volunteered her time as secretary for the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center at her local base, Joint Base San Antonio. Glass and her team host virtual community events, including opportunities for socializing, development, and support, to stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic. Just this month, the group has hosted a virtual party, a spirit week, and a donation drive, as well as other events to help celebrate the holidays. This group supports 4,700 airmen over four units.
Glass also originated the Air Force writing and self-improvement platform that provides airmen with networking opportunities and writing and professional development courses. In August, she hosted a virtual mentoring session for 300 members.
Overall, Glass has dedicated more than 200 hours toward developing leaders, peers, and subordinates. "I am passionate about helping others and providing an example to my young daughters on making a difference in others' lives," she says. Glass is graduating this month with her bachelor's degree in Communication Studies.
November 2020: Weiping Qin, current student
Weiping Qin already had a long history of volunteerism when he transferred to UMGC from Harford Community College (HCC). At HCC, Qin served as the Student Government Association President during the 2019-2020 year and was actively involved in the school's Alternative Break program, where students provide community service during their spring, summer, or winter break. These opportunities led Qin to volunteer in New Orleans, Rome, Italy, and at the National Marine Sanctuary in Key West, Florida. Qin enjoyed being part of a team that was there to help others. In addition to his community service at HCC, Qin donated money in 2019 to create the "Weiping Qin Freedom Scholarship" at Harford Community College.
"His Holiness the Dalai Lama told me that love and an altruistic heart can make me happy and make our world better," said Qin. "I totally agree — volunteering is one important part of my wonderful life."
Qin joined the Navy earlier this year and recently participated in the UMGC Virtual FUNd Run to support military veteran students. He began his journey at UMGC this past summer, where he is pursuing a bachelor's degree in management studies. In addition to his military commitments and studies, Qin is a YouTuber and enjoys being active on Twitter.
October 2020: Loyce Pailen '90, '96 & '05
Dr. Loyce Pailen is an author, alumna, current UMGC employee, and an avid volunteer. Dr. Pailen helps older members of the Metropolitan Baptist Church by supporting Zoom call-in services for those who do not have computers in their home. Within her community, Dr. Pailen is a court-appointed surrogate advocate (CASA) for children in the foster care system, often using her vacation time to attend court appointments for the families.
"Loyce is such a kind-hearted giving person," shared colleague Jennifer Hull. "I don't think Loyce considers volunteering a job. She is just being herself; she would help anyone one that needed it."
As an author of children's books that focus on cybersecurity, Dr. Pailen donates some of her books to children both locally and internationally. She also volunteers her time to talk about the importance of cybersecurity to people of all ages as well as local associations. Dr. Pailen is the Director of the Center for Security Studies at UMGC, where she is currently organizing the annual Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which hosts a series of events open to students, alumni, and staff.
"I have been blessed to have many people who have helped me," said Dr. Pailen "I am dedicated to helping others who may not be as fortunate."
September 2020: Kevin Juico, current student
Kevin Juico first volunteered at the age of 15 as an altar server at Good Shepherd Catholic Church. He joined the U.S. Navy in 2017 and was stationed at Naval Medical Center in San Diego. During his time there, Juico assisted with the summer camp for the San Luis Rey District of the San Diego Imperial Council of the Boy Scouts of America and delivered food to people in need with Meals on Wheels.
Currently stationed at Camp Foster in Okinawa, Juico supports the local catholic church as an usher. He works with Single Marine Program (SMP) and leads base clean-ups to promote camaraderie among different commands. Overall, Juico contributed 296.5 hours of volunteer service in the 2019 and received a Gold Level of designation from the President's Volunteer Service Award.
"Volunteering enables me to be engaged with our community, especially in Okinawa where it helps strengthen our relationship with the local nationals," says Juico. "Helping make an impact — no matter how small the task — can positively affect those around you!"
August 2020: Joshua Lavoie, current student
Joshua "Jay" Lavoie is a peer tutor volunteer, assisting students with computing courses. The student who nominated him shares, "Jay is the embodiment of a good tutor. He is positive, patient, knowledgeable, and a good listener. Tutors like Jay has made my learning experience at UMGC pleasurable and successful!" Lavoie's interest in helping other students comes from his own experience of receiving valuable assistance from others. "I have had many people who have mentored me in several areas of my life," Lavoie states, "My wife and her family have instilled the importance of education in me, and I have enjoyed being able to pass that along to others when I have the opportunity to do so."
Lavoie is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in computer networks and cybersecurity. As he moves forward in his career, Lavoie aims to be a professor one day. He is very thankful for the nomination and to UMGC for recognizing him for this award.
July 2020: Diana Ravelo, current student
Diana Ravelo is an active-duty servicemember in the U.S. Army, pursuing her bachelor's degree in human resources management. Ravelo received her associate's degree in general studies from UMGC in 2019.
Ravelo has volunteered more than 500 hours of service in support of various agencies. She served as the non-commissioned officer-in-charge for Better Opportunity for Single Servicemembers, planned holiday events and coordinated the gifting of baby baskets for soldiers and expecting mothers. Ravelo has also volunteered for the Green Berets Foundation. She received the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service member award in May 2020 from the U.S. Army for her efforts and contributions.
"Giving back to my community is what I'm passionate about. Doing that throughout my military career has been by far one of the best experiences," says Ravelo.
June 2020 Volunteer of the Month: Judy Kitusa '10, '12 & '17
Judy Kitusa is an alumna of the dual master's degree program, earning an MBA in 2017 and a Master of Science in cybersecurity in 2012. Kitusa earned a Bachelor of Science in information systems management in 2010.
Kitusa volunteered throughout her UMGC journey. As a member of Alpha Sigma Lambda, she participated in the Allies Mentoring Program as a peer mentor in 2016. Kitusa has been student vice president of the Phi Kappa Phi chapter of the National Honor Society for the last three years and has worked with the chapter's board of directors by attending monthly meetings and contributing to the annual initiation ceremonies. She helped organize annual book drives to support several local nonprofit organizations.
"Volunteering has given me motivation and a sense of self-accomplishment in knowing that I help to make a positive impact in the society," says Kitusa.
May 2020 Volunteer of the Month: Ron Jackson '15 & '16
Ron Jackson is a graduate of UMGC's dual master's degree program, earning an MBA in 2015 and a Master of Science in Management with a specialization in human resource management in 2016. As an alumnus, he has volunteered multiple times to present in webinars hosted by UMGC Career Services and Alumni Relations. In the webinars, Jackson helped other students through sharing his extensive work experience and by providing peer career advice.
Jackson joined the Natural Resources Conservation Service Office of the Chief Human Resources Management Officer in April 2017 as a Presidential Management Fellow Management Analyst in Washington, D.C. During this time, Jackson was the human resources liaison responsible for the day-to-day management of the agency's PMFs and the recruitment of the 2018 class of PMFs.
Before entering the federal workforce, Jackson served in the U.S. Army and spent nearly 23 years on active duty. He enlisted in the infantry with an assignment in the 82nd Airborne Division at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. However, most of his career was in the U.S. Army Recruiting Command, where he served in several positions, including, recruiter, recruiting operations analyst, and senior trainer.
April 2020 Volunteer of the Month: Danielle Davis, current student
Danielle Davis, an undergraduate student pursuing her bachelor's degree in psychology, has a passion for helping others. As an instructor at the Airman Leadership School within the Air Force, in addition to teaching the curriculum, Davis mentors students through real-world barriers and helps them find resources so they can write a plan for success. On her base, she serves on the Base Club Board and the Innovation Council and has helped organize events, such as a Multicultural Day and a women's Veterans summit. She also volunteers at a local animal rescue and helps to fundraise for the shelter in her free time.
"I genuinely care about the health and wellbeing of others", states Danielle. "This is the driving force behind my passion for helping people."
When Davis served as a police officer in Baltimore City, she voluntarily completed Crisis Intervention Training to learn about different resources for citizens so that she can better assist the people she interacted with in the community. Davis continues to serve her hometown by volunteering as an emergency medical technician for the Baltimore County Volunteer Firemen's Association when she is home. She also enjoys visiting her old high school to speak with students about military opportunities.
Excited about the award, Davis appreciates "the opportunity to share my contribution to the selfless things UMGC students are doing for society." Congratulations, Danielle!
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."