UCF Alumni Author Spotlight: Jana Piragic ’07 ’09MA
It’s book release week for alumni author Jana Piragic ’07 ’09MA! Her first book, UCF Knight in Training, is a board book for infants and young toddlers.
Jana shared with us what inspired her to write UCF Knight in Training and what she loves most about being a Knight.
Share a little about yourself!
I was born and raised in Minnesota where I had a fun and loving childhood. Most of my free time was spent playing indoor volleyball which led me to the University of Central Florida. I saw the potential in UCF back in 2002 when I came down for my recruiting trip. Everyone was so excited about UCF’s current programs and the future of the university. I was thrilled to leave 6 months of winter for the sunshine state and the most beautiful college campus I had ever seen!
During my undergraduate years at UCF, I was a four-year varsity letter winner, two-year volleyball team captain, and four-year Student-Athlete Advisory Committee member. Most importantly, I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders. I stayed at UCF for my Master of Arts degree as well, which brought me to a rewarding career as a speech-language pathologist, adjunct professor and now author! I am currently fulfilling my most cherished role as a wife and mother. As for me personally, I love my handsome husband, our two sweet little boys, and living a healthy and happy lifestyle.
Let’s talk about UCF Knight in Training! Tell us about the book and what inspired you to write it.
UCF Knight in Training is a board book for infants and young toddlers. The book’s main character, a young boy, takes you on a tour of the UCF campus while pursuing his quest to become a UCF Knight. The illustrations are absolutely beautiful as they are bright and colorful to appeal to the littlest Knights, but also give an accurate representation of our exquisite campus. Not only will UCF Knight in Training introduce your little Knight to UCF, but there is an underlying message of bravery as the main character builds confidence and achieves success. Bravery, confidence, and strength are all characteristics of a Knight, and I hope this book will to help build those characteristics in our little Knights. I feel it is very important to help instill belief in oneself from a very young and impressionable age!
I first realized we had a need for this book, UCF Knight in Training, when my husband and I were expecting our first child. I was looking for a fun way to announce we were expecting a “future Knight.” I was hoping to find a UCF themed baby book to share the news. Knight Nation has so much passion and school spirit, I was surprised to see this did not exist! The inspiration for this book came from the passion of UCF’s current students and UCF alumni and the hopes to pass this down to the next generation of Knights in our UCFamily!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I have always enjoyed writing as a creative outlet. While studying Communication Sciences and Disorders at UCF, long before becoming a mother, I learned how beneficial it is to read to young children. It not only strengthens the parent/child bond, but it helps build the child’s vocabulary, improves listening skills, lengthens attention span, promotes creativity and so much more! We read a lot of books in our house!
I have found creating personalized short stories helps my children learn new concepts, understand life lessons, and feel loved. I am so happy that I can finally read to my children about our wonderful university, UCF!
What do you love most about being a UCF Knight?
There is an uplifting and electric energy or feeling on campus that is unique to UCF. As alumni, we may leave campus, but we take a small piece of that and carry it in our hearts forever. I believe, the comradery of Knight Nation is unmatched by any university.
What are you working on next?
I’m currently working on education short stories for young toddlers that introduce simple math concepts.
Where can we follow you?
Facebook: UCF Knight In Training Book