Knight Parent and Staff Member Celebrates All Students
Beth Ganz, above right, has worked at UCF since 1995, helping students chart their educational course. Recently, she became a two-time Knight parent with the graduation of Sabrina in 2021, and her twin, Ryan, in 2023.
By Camille Dolan ’98
“I’ve been a Knight since 1995,” says Beth Ganz. That’s when Ganz started in undergraduate admissions at UCF, having previously worked at Palm Beach State College.
One of Ganz’s many duties was assisting in recruitment of new students. She traveled to high schools and community colleges across the state, extolling the virtues of becoming a Knight – actually, a Golden Knight. It wasn’t until 2007 that UCF announced they would heretofore be known as the Knights.
“We were actively recruiting students,” Ganz says. “That was back before DirectConnect, before UCF became a well-known institution.”
UCF, under the direction of President John C. Hitt, with the leaders of three local state colleges, established DirectConnect to UCF, a nationally recognized program that ensures graduates of now six state colleges seamless admission to UCF upon earning their associate degrees. “I always thought Dr. Hitt was inspirational; at so many institutions they seem to focus on barriers. Dr. Hitt was all about UCF being accessible to all students willing to do the work,” Ganz recalls.
Ganz’s Children Become Knights
While Ganz’s children, twins Ryan ’23 and Sabrina ’21 (below at her UCF commencement), were younger, she began working in Transfer and Transition Services, then when COVID, hit she worked with both undecided transfers and freshman in the Knights Major Exploration and Transition Center until in 2022 when Pam Cavanaugh, Associate Vice Provost for UCF Connect, with Theodora Berry established the new Transfer Center on the main campus.
There are challenges that the incoming DirectConnect students have to overcome sometimes, Ganz says. Although they are guaranteed admission, they often arrive at UCF without all the required courses that they need for their particular major. However, Ganz and the UCF Connect team are proactive in guiding prospective students to be “transfer ready” before admissions.
Ganz also works with students outside the DirectConnect system who want to come to UCF. It is often more complicated for those students, she says.
“We want all students that come to UCF to have a good experience and graduate from UCF. But coming from out of state, private institutions and international colleges can be very complicated and requires a lot more planning. We want to make sure they are on the right path,” Ganz says.
It was the right choice for Ganz’s children. This summer, Ganz accompanied Ryan as he picked up his graduation information at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center, which not only hosts various campus events throughout the year but is also available for private events.
It took Ryan (below, with Sabrina and Ganz) a little longer than his twin sister to graduate from UCF. He was a transfer student from Seminole State College and Sabrina entered UCF as a freshman. Sabrina, a Theatre Stage Management major, began her program as part of a cohort and is now taking graduate UCF courses in Professional Writing online while working in NYC on TV, film, and commercials.
Commencement Regalia Pick-up
It is not uncommon for parents to accompany their children to regalia pick-up, according to Dave Gallucci, director of UCF Alumni Communications.
“We see many students with their parents,” Gallucci says. “Often, the parents are also graduating, but sometimes they are alumni themselves and just had to share the experience with their child.”
Ganz became emotional during her son’s visit as she told one of the volunteers about his UCF journey.
“Ryan is on the spectrum,” Ganz says. “When he started at Seminole State, it was a struggle at first, but he got a little more used to studying and making sure he was getting his work finished. And at UCF, he received an Integrated General Studies degree, so he was able to pick and choose classes that were of interest to him.”
More than anything else, Ganz says that her son’s UCF experience taught him that he can accomplish anything to which he sets his mind.
Ryan’s Determination and Drive
“And when it was hard – yes, particularly when it was hard,” Ganz says, “Ryan was able to do what he needed to do. And when I became emotional at his graduation pick-up, I was just remembering how much he has had to overcome – and he did it all by himself.”
Ganz also says that over the years, she has seen many students who are on the spectrum. For some of them, the struggles that they have are related to communication and organizational difficulties. But Ryan was able to overcome similar issues, and even surprised his mother at times.
“I would ask him if he wanted me to look over an assignment, for example,” Ganz says. “And he would tell me that he had already turned it in. His last and final assignment was a large research project and as usual he completed it on his own (getting a B+). He did always allow me to ask if he got his work done. That’s how he let me kind of push him.”
Part of Ganz’s role in her current position as a Success Coach is not unlike her role as a parent, she says.
“In our office, the Transfer Center, we are there to help students get to their educational goals. We provide resources and support. We encourage all students to stop by and see if there is any way we can assist them, plus celebrate them and make sure that transfer students feel as if they are an important part of this great Knight Nation.”