In honor of UMBC’s 50th anniversary, the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences is highlighting some of our alumni who are out in the world using their diverse talents, once nurtured on UMBC’s campus. To read an alum’s full story, click on their picture.
Mina Cheon ’02, M.F.A. imaging and digital arts, along with her husband, Gabriel Kroiz, Cheon, who teaches at the Maryland Institute College of Art, says that she and Kroiz “wanted to participate in the healing aspect of our city [after last spring’s unrest]…There’s so many different ways that artists, architects, and culturists could be really active in participating in community development and progress.”
Renato (“Renny”) DiPentima ’84, public policy, is the first recipient of a Ph.D. in UMBC’s public policy program, one of UMBC’s signature fields of advanced study. DiPentima had a distinguished career in the Social Security Administration, where he rose to the rank of deputy commissioner and served on numerous governmental task forces and advisory boards. He was also selected by Government Computer News as the Government Executive of the Year in 1993. After leaving Social Security, DiPentima was president and CEO of SRA International, a company he helped build into a leading provider of information technology services and solutions throughout the federal government.
Christine Ferrera ’10, M.F.A. imaging and digital arts, recently talked to BmoreArt about the trajectory of her artistic career from painting and printmaking to performance art. Ferrera’s best-known performance piece, Starbux Diary, comes from of a decade’s worth of notes Ferrera wrote on Starbucks’ corporate comment cards, and the notes the coffee chain would write back. They were recently compiled into a book.
Christie Finn ’07, music, has forged a career singing in the Unites States, in Germany and in the Netherlands. She is a two-time winner of an interpretation prize at the International Stockhausen Concerts and Courses, and has played at festivals and concert halls with numerous ensembles as well as giving solo recitals. The field of new music and active collaboration with composers in which Finn works is particularly energetic and fertile at present, and the soprano maintains several active collaborations.
Joseph Howley ’06, ancient studies is an assistant professor of classics at Columbia University. As a scholar particularly attuned to the unexpected, Howley thinks the modern fixation on Roman poetry, as opposed to other classical texts, has tended to constrict our perceptions of Roman experiences. His current research on different aspects of the book as a physical and technological object in ancient times sets out to radically broaden that understanding.
Allan Jirikowic ’77, interdisciplinary studies, has spent his career as the life of D.C’s art scene and its party. Having opened several watering holes around D.C., Jirikowic has become a fierce protector of Adams Morgan bacchanalia. He favors life, liberty, art, and dance, and the business that comes with them. He’s a member of the board of the neighborhood’s business improvement district and also heads up his local citizens’ association.
Elliot Lasson ’87, psychology, is the executive director of Joblink of Maryland, a Baltimore-based nonprofit that has helped more than 400 people find new jobs since he took over – and has provided assistance to another 2,400 people seeking work, all for free. As an undergraduate at UMBC, Lasson was able to meld his dual interests by concentrating his course work on organizational psychology – the scientific study of human behavior in the workplace.
Brigitte Pribnow Moore ’05, theatre, is the executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Young Playwrights’ Theater (YPT), a group that fosters arts education in area schools via playwriting and allows high school writers to collaborate with professional theatre makers to see their own work on the stage. Over the next two years, Moore aims to expand her organization to an even larger portion of greater Washington and increase its budget to $1 million.
Jill Sisson Quinn ’97, English, has written extensively on the strange mix of homesickness, and an acute sensitivity to one’s environment, after moving from Central Maryland to Wisconsin. Quinn’s work suggests that the two things tangle like roots from different plants, complicating where personal experience starts and human nature begins. The essays in her 2010 collection, Deranged: Finding a Sense of Place in the Landscape and in the Lifespan, are remarkable literary hybrids designed to explore these complications.
Amy Segreti ‘05, English, is the founder of Twine – a quarterly publication exploring the intersection of play and purpose (www.twinemagazine.com). “Each issue addresses three things: pleasure, or connecting with self, nature, and the spiritual,” said Segreti. Twine is dedicated to the notion of wholeness, and intertwining the seemingly disparate threads of life into one’s own unique and passionate purpose. Segreti found many like-minded souls – writers, artists and designers – around Boulder who wanted to contribute.
Brian Souders ’09, Ph.D., language, literacy and culture, has directed UMBC’s Study Abroad program since 2000. His own travels and study have taken him to (among many locations) Finland and Russia, but Souders spent a week in one of the most secretive and closed-off nations in the world: North Korea.
Michael Tully ’97, cinematic arts, is a professional filmmaker, screenwriter, and director. Septien, Tully’s genre-defying feature about three troubled brothers living together on a farm, was an official selection of the Sundance Film Festival in 2011. Tully’s much warmer, yet still idiosyncratic follow-up, the semi-autobiographical ’80s-set comedy Ping Pong Summer, also played at Sundance in 2014.
Mary Volkman ’92, English, is a Baltimore native who writes fiction under the pen name “Margo Christie.” Her first novel, These Days: A Tale of Nostalgia on Baltimore’s Block, relies not only on the author’s time working in show bars on the city’s most notorious stretch of real estate (right under the shadow of City Hall, hon) in the 1970s and ’80s, but also in her careful attention to the reminiscences of those who’d been there during the heyday of burlesque just after World War II.
Sherece West-Scantlebury ’07, Ph.D., public policy recalls being preoccupied by a single question from an early age: Why is this community the way it is? So, she pursued a career in the nonprofit sector to help address fundamental social problems through targeted programs and investment in communities. West-Scantlebury currently heads the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation in Little Rock, AR, whose mission is to improve the lives of all Arkansans by supporting education and economic development programs, and furthering the cause of racial, economic and social justice. The organization supports the demanding but essential long-term changes required to make Arkansas a better place, and help to engineer those changes through grants that target poverty reduction, education and community development.