UCF Alumni Homecoming

With a memorable Shining Knights Awards Ceremony, an inspiring ChargeOn Panel, a resounding victory over Tulane and so much more, we thank you to all of our alumni, friends and fans for taking part in our virtual Homecoming celebrations this year.


 

Shining Knights Awards Ceremony

Relive the special moments from our premiere as we honored our 2020 Shining Knights. You can view the honorees in the UCF Advancement Exposure gallery below or watch the entire ceremony again on Facebook or YouTube.

Distinguished Alumni Award

The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest award UCF Alumni bestows on a graduate of the university.

 

Honorees exhibit the following characteristics:

  • Demonstrated professional achievement, outstanding service and philanthropy to UCF
  • A lifelong devotion and loyalty to the university
  • Maintenance of the UCF creed of integrity, scholarship, community, creativity and excellence

 

Our 2020 Honorees are:

Linda E. Gooch ’85

 

Linda Gooch is the coach of UCF’s cheerleading team and head coach of UCF’s Spirit Program – including the cheerleaders, KnightMoves Dance Team and UCF mascot Knightro.

 

While attending UCF, Gooch was encouraged to try out for the cheerleading team and joined in the fall of 1980.

 

Highlights of Linda’s experiences include:

  • Earned her bachelor’s degree in Social Science Education from UCF in 1985
  • Is married to Alan Gooch, executive director of the Orlando Sports Foundation and UCF instructor who formerly served as a member of UCF’s football coaching staff and Arena Football League president and general manager
  • The Gooches have two children, sons Noah and Zachary Gooch
  • Coach Gooch’s cheerleading team has earned numerous achievements including earning three national championship titles in 2003, 2007, and 2020
  • Her team was featured in a six-part television documentary about the team defending their national title and being inducted into the UCF Athletics Hall of Fame
  • Received the Gene Moeller Award during the ESPN College National Championships
  • Serves as a volunteer for the UCF Advancement Social Media Ambassadors

Anna V. Eskamani 12 15MNM 15MPA


Orlando native, Anna Eskamani, has worked relentlessly to protect all members of her community through effective advocacy, bold leadership, and smart management.

 

Highlights of Anna’s experiences include:

  • Received her dual bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Women’s Studies from UCF in 2012 along with a certificate in Service Learning
  • Earned dual master’s degrees in Nonprofit Management and Public Administration and a certificate in Gender Studies in 2015
  • Is currently pursuing her PhD in Public Affairs at UCF
  • Was elected to serve in the Florida State House of Representatives, District 47, in November 2018
  • Serves as the state strategic advisor at NEO Philanthropy in Florida
  • Is the 2020 Florida state lead for the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators
  • Served as the former senior director for Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida
  • Serves on the UCF CAH Dean’s Executive Council
  • Served as a former board member of the UCF Women’s and Gender Studies Program Advisory Board
  • As an undergrad, served as vice-president of the Iranian Student Organization, co-president of the Political Science Honor Society and as the Women’s Caucus Chairwoman and vice-president of the College Democrats

 

John C. and Martha Hitt Honorary Alumni Awards

The John C. and Martha Hitt Honorary Alumni Award is the highest award UCF Alumni bestows on a friend and supporter of the university.

 

Honorees exhibit the following characteristics:

  • Demonstrated outstanding service and philanthropy to UCF
  • A lifelong devotion and loyalty to the university
  • Maintenance of the UCF creed of integrity, scholarship, community, creativity and excellence


Our 2020 Honorees are:

Karen Manglardi


Karen Manglardi is dedicated to serving UCF and her community. She is involved in a number of charitable endeavors and derives enormous satisfaction from those relationships.

 

Highlights of Karen’s experiences include:

  • Founding co-chair of the UCF Parent and Family Philanthropy Council
  • Past board member for the Trinity Preparatory School
  • Member of the Florida Freewheelers, a cycling club with more than 700 members based in Central Florida
  • A Family Affair - The Manglardis have four sons, two of whom are UCF grads with the third graduating this December. They also have four nieces/nephews who are all UCF alumni.
  • Currently serves as a volunteer for the UCF Advancement Social Media Ambassadors and as a board member/co-chair of the UCF Parent & Family Philanthropy Council

Sonja Nicholson

 

In 2015, Sonja Nicholson sold her boutique real estate business, RE/MAX Park Avenue in Winter Park, Florida, previously known as Rose Properties Inc. She is married to Tony Nicholson, an honorary alumni award winner in 2018. She previously served on the UCF Board of Trustees and on the board of directors for the Golden Knights Club.

 

Highlights of Sonja’s experiences include:

  • She and her husband, Tony, were awarded the Kenneth F. Murrah Outstanding Philanthropist Award in 2018
  • Tony Nicholson is currently a member of the UCF Athletics Director’s Cabinet, and a board member of the UCF College of Science Dean’s Advisory Board, UCF Foundation Board of Directors, UCF Foundation Real Estate Committee, and UCF Nicholson School of Communication Board of Visitors
  • Sonja Nicholson is currently a member of the UCF Nicholson School of Communication Board of Visitors and Town & Gown
  • She was formerly a board member of the Golden Knights Club Board of Directors

 

Margery Pabst Steinmetz


Margery Pabst Steinmetz is an entrepreneur, seasoned consultant and educator. Along with her late husband, Mark, a financial and global business professional, Margery founded The Pabst Charitable Foundation for the Arts in early 2003 with a mission to support artists and art forms for community of life.

 

Margery married Chuck Steinmetz in April 2014. The couple combined their foundations in 2018 to co-find the Pabst Steinmetz Foundation and together, support the University of Central Florida in a variety of ways.

 

Highlights of Margery’s experiences include:

  • Earned her MA in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Is a writer, speaker, facilitator and an expert in personal and family communications
  • Emeritus of UCF Foundation Board
  • Board Member of Legacy Pointe, College of Medicine Teaching Hospital and UCF’s Town and Gow
  • She serves as a member of the CAH Dean’s Advisory Council and a past board member of the Flying Horse Editions
  • Is the creator of mycaregivingcoach.com, a website dedicated to caregiver wellbeing and the author of four books
  • Along with her late husband, Mark, she founded The Pabst Charitable Foundation for the Arts in early 2003
  • In 2018, she and her current husband Chuck, co-founded their combined foundations to become the Pabst Steinmetz Foundation whose is to inspire and support innovation in arts and education for community impact
  • Pabst Steinmetz Foundation Arts and Wellness Innovation Awards

 

Young Alumni Award

The Young Alumni Award is the highest award granted to a graduate from the most recent class of 30 Under 30 Alumni Awards recipients.

 

Honorees exhibit the following characteristics:

  • Demonstrated outstanding service and philanthropy to UCF
  • A lifelong devotion and loyalty to the university
  • Maintenance of the UCF creed of integrity, scholarship, community, creativity and excellence

 

Our 2020 Honoree is:

 

Kristina Merritt ’12


Kristina Merritt is the manager of legal services at Checkers Drive-In Restaurants, where she tackles a variety of projects from insurance issues to managing new franchises.

 

Highlights of Kristina’s experiences include:

  • First-Generation college student
  • Dual degrees in psychology and political science in under four years
  • Graduate of Stetson University College of Law
  • UCF social media ambassador and the philanthropy chair of the UCF Alumni Tampa Bay Chapter
  • Chair-elect for the Junior League of Tampa's Kids in the Kitchen program

 

Distinguished Student Award

The Distinguished Student Award is given to a currently enrolled Knight who is dedicated to maintaining a lifelong relationship with UCF, demonstrates outstanding academic achievement, inspires leadership within their co-curricular activities and positively impacts the UCF community.

 

Our 2020 Honoree is:

 

Jordan Bubar ’20

 

Jordan Bubar is a College of Business senior from Jacksonville, Florida. Studying Marketing, he is also a member of the Professional Selling Program. He is interested in pursuing a career in sales with a technology company, leveraging innovative solutions to promote business growth and efficiency.

 

Highlights of Jordan’s student involvement experiences include:

  • 3.811 GPA
  • Student Donor to the LEAD Scholars Program
  • College of Business Ambassador
  • LEAD Scholarship Academy
  • President’s Leadership Council
  • Student Success Peer Mentor
  • Student Development and Enrollment Services Student Advisory Council

U Can Finish Virtual Race

Thank you to all of the participants in the U Can Finish Virtual 5 Mile & 2 Mile.

John Lewis: Good Trouble Virtual Cinema

John Lewis: Good Trouble tells the story of Congressman John Lewis, an American hero who spent his life fighting for voting rights and racial justice. As he put it, making ‘good trouble’.


Supporting Diversity at UCF
Your personal philanthropy serves a vital role in UCF's diversity initiatives. Please consider a one-time or monthly recurring gift to support important enrichment programs designed to improve equity and inclusion within the UCF community.

ChargeOn Panel: UCF Alumnae Leading the Charge

We had a wonderful chat with an inspiring group of alumnae from a variety of industries at our ChargeOn Panel: Alumnae Leading the Charge. We learned how UCF has played a in role in their lives, how they have overcome obstacles and what advice they have for the future. UCF Alumni is proud to feature the following alumnae:

 

Emcee:

  • Martiza Martinez ’00 ’05MA ’11MBA, associate vice president for the Division of Government and Community Relations and director for the Office of Community Relations and Economic Development at UCF

Panelists:

  • Phyllis Klock HC’14, retired president and chief operating officer of CompBenefits Corporation
  • Ruth Colombe ’12, portfolio marketing manager at The Coca-Cola Company
  • Jonell Radabaugh ’15, associate project manager for Walt Disney World's Facility Asset Management
  • Reverend Marcietta ‘Marcie’ Washington ’83, retired NASA engineer, ordained minister and cancer survivor
  • Ybeth Bruzual 05, two-time Emmy award winner and News 13 anchor

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