UCF Alumni Homecoming Events

UCF alumni, friends and fans are invited to take part in our virtual Homecoming celebrations, including five events hosted by your friends at UCF Alumni. Find details on our upcoming events below!


Oct. 18  |  Shining Knight Awards Ceremony Premiere


Location:  Virtual on Facebook and YouTube | Time: 8-9:30 p.m.


Join us as we honor this year's Shining Knights. 

Distinguished Alumni Award

The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor 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 honor 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 a manager at Manglardi Family Ventures. She also serves as a secretary for the Women’s Club at UCF, Inc. 


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 and 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


Sonja Nicholson sold RE/MAX Park Avenue in Winter Park in 2015, a real estate company that was 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
  • 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
  • She serves as a member of the CAH Dean’s Advisory Council and a past board member of the Flying Horse Editions


Young Alumni Award

The Young Alumni Award is the highest honor 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
  • President’s Leadership Council
  • 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
  • Student Success Peer Mentor
  • Student Development and Enrollment Services Student Advisory Council

Oct. 18-24  |  U Can Finish Virtual Race


Location:  Virtual | Time: All week


Join UCF Alumni runners and walkers on a virtual tour around the University of Central Florida by participating in the U Can Finish Virtual 5 Mile & 2 Mile, October 18th through October 24th. Team up with your UCF Alumni chapter, club or build a team of your own to support your alma mater during the week of Homecoming! You can find participating chapters and clubs upon sign up and don’t forget to use our discount code for $5 OFF - TEAMUCFALUMNI. Will your UCF team be the fastest?

Show us your run! Share your moments with us by using the hashtag #UCFAlumHC and tagging @UCFAlumni in your photos.

Oct. 19-23  |  John Lewis: Good Trouble Virtual Cinema


Location:  Virtual | Time: All week


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’. As we continue to fight for racial equity, we invite you to join us in this special screening of the virtual cinema documentary, John Lewis: Good Trouble, directed by Dawn Porter, to celebrate UCF Diversity. While watching John Lewis: Good Trouble at home, $5 from every ticket purchase will go directly to Social Justice and Advocacy activities and programs designed to increase diversity education and inclusion on campus.


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.


All registrants will be entered in a pool where 3 winners will be randomly selected to win the John Lewis Memoir “Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement,” which will also be highlighted in a UCF Alumni Book Club discussion!

Immediately following the feature, there’s a pre-recorded discussion between Congressman Lewis and Oprah Winfrey, filmed last month and being made available exclusively for virtual cinema and in-theater engagements of the film. This is a wide-ranging, informal, 16-minute conversation that’s a perfect follow-up to the documentary and could not be more relevant.


Additionally, all registrants are welcome to stream an amazing panel discussion hosted by the Freedom Rides Museum and featuring Freedom Riders Dr. Bernard Lafayette and Dr. Rip Patton in conversation with director Dawn Porter.


PLEASE NOTE: Registrants who wish to cast the film to their TVs or require assistance should be directed to the Eventive's FAQ and live chat support.

Oct. 21  |  ChargeOn Panel : UCF Alumnae Leading the Charge


Location:  Virtual | Time: 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.


The ChargeOn Panel is back! This year's theme is UCF alumnae in leadership, so our all-star lineup of panelists will share how they are breaking barriers, overcoming adversity and rising above expectations.


Additional information regarding our panelists is coming soon!

Oct. 22  |  30 Under 30 Virtual Toast Celebration


Location:  Virtual via Zoom | Time: 7-8 p.m.


Presented by

Join us in honoring the 2020 class of 30 influential young UCF alumni!


The 30 Under 30 awards program recognizes outstanding young alumni who strive for greatness in their professional and personal lives. Young alumni currently make up one-third of UCF’s alumni population, making them its largest constituent base. During homecoming week, we will proudly celebrate the achievements of this incredible group of individuals that continue to set an incredible example for our alma mater.

Oct. 24  |  UCF Watch Parties


Location:  Virtual | Time: 30 minutes before kickoff


Celebrate gameday the virtual way with UCF Alumni watch parties across the nation! Our alumni chapters and clubs are hosting virtual watch parties to inspire the spirit of gameday even when you're far away. Check our webpage during Homecoming week for a full list of available watch parties. 

Sponsored by

More Events for Knights

Homecoming, originally scheduled for Oct. 18-25, will look different this fall, with some of the week’s signature events — such as Concert Knight, Comedy Knight and Spirit Splash — postponed until 2021. Other events — such as the Friday night fireworks show, Movie Knight and a Homecoming game watch party — will be held with new health and safety measures in place.

Oct. 19 | Movie Knight

Location: TBA | Time: TBA

Oct. 23 | Fireworks Festival

Location: UCF Memory Mall | Time: 7 p.m.

Oct. 24 | UCF vs Tulane Homecoming Football Game

Location: UCF Bounce House | Time: TBA


The Knights’ Homecoming football game against Tulane is currently scheduled for Oct. 24 at the Bounce House, with capacity limits and added safety precautions due to COVID-19.