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Discovery Scholars 2015

Christina Bartko

Christina Bartko
Major: Financial Economics; Minors: Music and Entrepreneurship & Innovation; Certificates: Preprofessional Studies Accounting and Management Accounting
Senior
Email Address: cbartko1@umbc.edu

Where did you go to high school?
Howard High School

When and why did you decide you wanted to attend UMBC?
I decided I wanted to attend UMBC right before the deadline for acceptance because UMBC was actually my second choice. My first choice was located in Nashville, TN, and though I was accepted there as well, I decided to attend UMBC for financial reasons and because it was closer to home. I love UMBC and have never regretted my decision.

When and why did you decide you wanted to attend UMBC?
I decided I wanted to attend UMBC right before the deadline for acceptance because UMBC was actually my second choice. My first choice was located in Nashville, TN, and though I was accepted there as well, I decided to attend UMBC for financial reasons and because it was closer to home. I love UMBC and have never regretted my decision.

How did you hear about the Discovery Scholars Living Learning Community (DS LLC)?
As I applied for housing the spring before my freshman year, I noticed the opportunity to apply to the DS LLC, so I did.

Why did you decide to participate in the DS LLC?
My mom encouraged me to apply. At the time, I thought I knew what I wanted to major in, but after a lot of thinking, I ended up switching majors first semester of my sophomore year. Discovery Scholars provided me with resources and relationships to assist me in making an informed decision.

Did you know anyone else in Discovery Scholars when you started? Have you made friends through the program?
Technically, I came in on the floor having met two people previously, but I did not know either of them well. However, I made many lasting friendships through the program. My roommates freshman year through junior year were all people I met through the Discovery Scholars.

What was the most interesting thing that happened during your first year at UMBC?
Not to give anyone any ideas, but with the help of friends I made on the floor and in Patapsco, I pranked my RA on April fools day my freshman year…a story for another day. Also, when I started at UMBC, I was not the best at recognizing sarcasm. I always assumed people were serious, and they’d be like "…Christina…haha", so my friend and I developed a hand sign to use whenever anyone was sarcastic to help me start to recognize sarcasm. Needless to say I taught it to almost everyone I knew at the time, and it helped A LOT. People started to think it was sign language though, haha.

What was your favorite part of being part of Discovery Scholars?
I think the most common question asked of new college students is “What are you majoring in?” I know it can be frustrating when you don’t yet know, or are not yet confident, in what you want. Discovery Scholars doesn’t dwell on questions regarding your major. Instead, it provides students with resources with the ultimate goal of figuring out what path is best for you. Not only is the focus YOU, but the program understands that determining that choosing a major is a gradual process, and not something most people wake up one day and know. Discovery Scholars provided me with countless opportunities to learn about myself, so I could make that decision for my future. I am looking forward to helping the new DS learn about themselves this coming year!
Also, the friends I made through the program played a huge part in my experience…they are incredible and I am truly blessed.

In what ways did the DS LLC experience help you at UMBC?
The DS LLC played a large role in helping me find my place at UMBC. It was the community I was included in since the beginning, where I was encouraged to be myself and to pursue my passions. I still remember meeting Jill at my freshman orientation.

Would you recommend DS LLC to other new UMBC students?
Absolutely!!! I participated in the DS LLC my freshman year and enjoyed it so much that I came back as a peer mentor when I was a sophomore. I genuinely believe in its mission to both foster a healthy community and to help students learn more about themselves, discover which major is right for them, and ultimately be successful in their pursuits.

Tell us a few interesting things about yourself…
Green is my favorite color. I love mangos. I recently have been reading the Twilight series for the first time. A few years back, I earned my black belt in Tae Kwon Do. After graduating, I plan to move to Nashville, TN to pursue accounting by day and music by night.

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Dani Frank

Dani Frank
Major: Biology
Sophmore
Email Address: frank13@umbc.edu

Where did you go to high school?
I went to River Hill High School.

When and why did you decide you wanted to attend UMBC?
I decided in my senior year of high school that I wanted to go to UMBC because of its great biology program, its small and friendly campus, and it’s the perfect distance from home.

How did you hear about the Discovery Scholars Living Learning Community (DS LLC)?
I wanted to be part of a LLC from the moment I heard about them. I went online and read about the different LLCs offered, and that’s where I saw Discovery Scholars.

Why did you decide to participate in the DS LLC?
I wasn’t sure what I really wanted to do for my major so when I saw there was a LLC dedicated to people who weren’t sure about their majors I was glad I wasn’t the only one!

Did you know anyone else in Discovery Scholars when you started? Have you made friends through the program?
No, I didn’t know anyone coming into Discovery Scholars. And I have made a lot of friends, since everyone is so friendly and you live on the same floor, so you meet people very easily.

What was the most interesting thing that happened during your first year at UMBC?
The most interesting thing that happened during my first year was meeting so many new people. In high school you are pretty much stuck with whoever you are in class with, but at college there are so many new people and all so friendly. I’ve met new people with different interests than myself and I’ve gained a lot of new perspectives of life.

What was your favorite part of being part of Discovery Scholars?
My favorite part was that there was always someone there to help you by giving you advice about college, whether it’s a peer mentor or the directors.

In what ways did the DS LLC experience help you at UMBC?
It helped the transition from high school to college go smoothly and introduced me to resources on campus I would not have had otherwise.

Would you recommend DS LLC to other new UMBC students?
Yes! Especially those who are not sure about what they want to choose as a major in college.

Tell us a few interesting things about yourself…
I’m part of the Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Team and hope to get involved with other clubs soon. I love animals, music, and Doctor Who. I also love to read, so I almost always have a book in my backpack, and several on my desk at all times!

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Thomas Gower

Thomas C. Gower
Major: Biology
Sophmore
Email Address: gower1@umbc.edu

Where did you go to high school?
Seneca Valley High School in Germantown, Maryland

When and why did you decide you wanted to attend UMBC?
I decided to attend UMBC in the spring of my senior year of high school after a long difficult decision process. I decided to attend UMBC because the campus felt warm and friendly and I felt that at UMBC I would be afforded the best educational opportunities in terms of both research and the classes offered.

How did you hear about the Discovery Scholars Living Learning Community (DS LLC)?
I heard about Discovery Scholars LLC during the housing application process.

Why did you decide to participate in the DS LLC?
I had a bevy of interests and only a general idea of what I wanted to study in college so I thought that this program would aid me in discovering what I truly wanted to do.

Did you know anyone else in Discovery Scholars when you started? Have you made friends through the program?
I met several fellow Discovery Scholars during my orientation session and we became fast friends and remain friends to this day.

What was the most interesting thing that happened during your first year at UMBC?
I went with a number of other Discovery Scholars to the Concert for Valor in Washington DC, it was an excellent bonding experience and I got to see several of my favorite musicians play live.

What was your favorite part of being part of Discovery Scholars?
My favorite part of the program is the sense of community and friendship that it builds.

In what ways did the DS LLC experience help you at UMBC?
The Discovery Scholars LLC gave me a plethora of useful tips and knowledge about the opportunities on campus and the surrounding area.

Would you recommend DS LLC to other new UMBC students?
Yes! I recommend the Discovery Scholars LLC frequently to new students or people considering UMBC.

Tell us a few interesting things about yourself…

  • I have two cats
  • I spent several summers working as a Veterinary Assistant
  • I am an adrenaline junky I love whitewater rafting, kayaking, and anything that gets the blood pumping. The next thing on my list is skydiving.

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Noah Owens

Noah Owens
Major: Information Systems with a minor in Entrepreneurship
Sophomore
Email Address: nowens1@umbc.edu

Where did you go to high school?
Atholton High School in Columbia, Maryland

When and why did you decide you wanted to attend UMBC?
Two major reasons led me to choosing UMBC. First, in my junior year, a family friend told me about how great UMBC was with technology-focused majors and also how their undergraduate and graduate students were highly sought after by employers. It was really important to me to study at the best (and nearest) school in the field and to get a job after graduation, so UMBC shot to the top of my list. Second, but most importantly, I made some great friends at New Student Day. We kept in constant contact weeks after the event had ended, joking around in the group chat we had made and just being ourselves. I felt like I really fit with this group of people, while I had barely made an acquaintance at the other new student events of different colleges. Though I knew friends could be made at whichever college I went to, being able to start this new life with a group of new friends from the get-go made my choice that much easier.

How did you hear about the Discovery Scholars Living Learning Community (DS LLC)?
I found out about the Discovery Scholars when I read through the living options provided by Res. Life.

Why did you decide to participate in the DS LLC?
I joined Discovery Scholars partially because I wasn’t sure of my major. I knew I wanted to do something in the field of Computer Science, but Computer Science as a major didn’t interest me. I also knew that whatever major I chose having to do with technology was going to be intense in terms of workload and that it’d be hard to balance obligations inherit with other LLCs in addition to my first year’s classes. Discovery Scholars addressed both of these concerns as it that could help me find my major and seemed like the LLC with the least amount of additional time requirements.

Did you know anyone else in Discovery Scholars when you started? Have you made friends through the program?
Yes and yes! Though I didn’t know it at the time, a friend of mine from high school had applied to the same LLC. Also, students I recognized from the incoming students’ Freshman Excursion trip had also applied to the LLC. I’m glad to say that I’ve made MANY friends through the program. No kidding, living and learning together made making friends a lot easier, created a lot of memories and formed not just a community, but a family.

What was the most interesting thing that happened during your first year at UMBC?
The most interesting thing, or rather the most interesting things that happened to me was that I discovered all of the things I can do and amazing ways that I can get involved on campus. From seminars in business and innovation to my favorite clubs and sport events to volunteering on a service project to introducing even newer students to campus- all of these things were open to me as a student and I couldn’t wait to participate in each one of them (one at a time of course!).

What was your favorite part of being part of Discovery Scholars?
All of us sitting together in our dorm at 12 AM chatting it up about life. This happened multiple times out of nowhere in the middle of Welcome Week and it was awesome!

In what ways did the DS LLC experience help you at UMBC?
It allowed me to make some great friends and engage in activities that helped me discover my major. It also informed of various resources on campus that could help me as a student, person and Retriever!

Would you recommend DS LLC to other new UMBC students?
Absolutely. The Discovery Scholars is a chill and fun program that helps new students find their major with people who are also ‘fundecided.’ It’s one of the best LLCs to choose, even if you’re sure of your major. If you ever want to switch your major or want to explore a minor, we provide resources and two great advisors (Jill and Laila) to help!

Tell us a few interesting things about yourself…
– I’m a people person and I love to help others. That’s why I’m returning as a peer mentor for the Discovery Scholars and also why I’m working as a Student Ambassador and Welcome Week Leader for the Undergraduate Admissions & Orientations department.
– I like watching Star Wars, football, anime, Marvel and DC movies, reading and writing poetry, playing video games and just having a good time with friends.

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Briana So-Demps

Briana So-Demps
Major: Pre-Dental Hygiene
Sophmore
Email Address: Briana123@umbc.edu

Where did you go to high school?
Quince Orchard High School.

When and why did you decide you wanted to attend UMBC?
UMBC was actually my last choice. I only decided to go to UMBC because I need to stay close to home for family reasons.

How did you hear about the Discovery Scholars Living Learning Community (DS LLC)?
While filling out the housing application at the beginning of my freshman year, I saw the option to join a LLC. I read through all of the descriptions and chose the Discovery LLC.

Why did you decide to participate in the DS LLC?
I did not think I would fit into any of the other LLCs and I was not sure if I should declare a major, so I picked the Discovery LLC.

Did you know anyone else in Discovery Scholars when you started? Have you made friends through the program?
Nope, I did not know any one at all. I have become friends with practically everyone and we are all like a family. Not having any siblings makes everyone feel like my like my new brothers and sisters.

What was the most interesting thing that happened during your first year at UMBC?
Being able to spend time with my LLC and floor mates during the weekend is really exciting to me. I truly enjoy just staying up late and hanging out in each other’s rooms.

What was your favorite part of being part of Discovery Scholars?
My favorite part of being in this LLC is being able to go to the FYS, FYE, and other classes with everyone.

In what ways did the DS LLC experience help you at UMBC?
The LLC made it easier to make new friends, to explore my interests, and build a network.

Would you recommend DS LLC to other new UMBC students?
I would defiantly recommend the Discovery LLC to a new student, especially if they are nervous about meeting new people and deciding on a major. Being surrounded by peers who are in the “discovery” phase too can make the high school to college transition easier.

Tell us a few interesting things about yourself…

  • I like to play Final Fantasy.
  • I volunteer with the Shriver Center at BARCS.
  • I am a member of CAB.
  • I have two small dogs and a black cat.

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Matthew Taylor

Matt Taylor
Major: English
Sophomore
Email Address: taylorm2@umbc.edu

Where did you go to high school?
Leonardtown High School & Eureka High School

When and why did you decide you wanted to attend UMBC?
My sister who also attends UMBC suggested I come out here and I didn’t really take her seriously. But then I started to really check out the campus and academics and decided it was a really good fit for me.

How did you hear about the Discovery Scholars Living Learning Community (DS LLC)?
In my applications for UMBC and just doing research on the school.

Why did you decide to participate in the DS LLC?
It seemed like the best fit for someone who doesn’t really know what they want to do with their life!

Did you know anyone else in Discovery Scholars when you started? Have you made friends through the program?
I didn’t know virtually anybody coming to UMBC but I’ve made a ton of friends this year.

What was the most interesting thing that happened during your first year at UMBC?
It’s hard to pin down one particular thing, probably going out with friends to certain concerts in nearby areas.

What was your favorite part of being part of Discovery Scholars?
The sense of community.

In what ways did the DS LLC experience help you at UMBC?
It helped me with motivation and keeping a clear head.

Would you recommend DS LLC to other new UMBC students?
Absolutely, it certainly helps if you need some direction.

Tell us a few interesting things about yourself…

I’ve lived all over the place. California to Maryland, Japan & Hawaii. I love playing and listening to new music, I also like to write it. Among music, I love writing creatively. I love the outdoors, I’m always down to go hiking or camping. I’m also always down to go to a concert or show, if I have the money!

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Alexa Thornton

Alexa Thornton
Major: Environmental Science
Sophomore
Email Address: althorn1@umbc.edu OR alexa.thornton96@yahoo.com

Where did you go to high school?
Laurel High School in Laurel, MD

When and why did you decide you wanted to attend UMBC?
I decided very late in my senior year, almost last minute. UMBC had offered me more money in scholarships than any other school I got into, plus it was close to home and I already had a friend here. I did some research before making a final decision and found that UMBC was less sports-oriented and didn’t have a big party scene, which appealed to me because I’m not into that scene. I think I made a good choice!

How did you hear about the Discovery Scholars Living Learning Community (DS LLC)?
I only heard about it when I was filling out the housing questionnaire thing, actually.

Why did you decide to participate in the DS LLC?
Honestly, my first thought was that I wanted to secure a place in one of the nicer dorms (Patapsco West is awesome). When I began reading about it, however, it caught my attention because although I had already declared a major, I wasn’t confident in my decision or in my knowledge of the field I had chosen. I wanted to meet people who felt similarly, because I often felt like I was the only one who hadn’t figured everything out yet.

Did you know anyone else in Discovery Scholars when you started? Have you made friends through the program?
Nope! I didn’t know anybody. Since coming in I’ve made wonderful friends because of the program; my best friends in the world I’d say.

What was the most interesting thing that happened during your first year at UMBC?
Well, the Baltimore riot situation was rather interesting. It didn’t affect me personally, but it was amazing to see so many of my peers and friends go out and protest and make a difference in the world. You could actually see the fires from the top floor of the library. Also, I met my current boyfriend; that was pretty cool.

What was your favorite part of being part of Discovery Scholars?
I loved being part of such a close group of people; the sense of community DS fosters really helped me transition smoothly into college. It was so cool watching everyone in DS grow and find themselves over the course of two semesters, and growing along with them. I feel like most other communities on campus don’t have that sort of dynamic, which is what makes the DS LLC so special.

In what ways did the DS LLC experience help you at UMBC?
Like I said, it helped me transition to college and become comfortable in my new surroundings. It also helped me with money and time management skills and with finding a sense of direction. Because of DS I know a lot about campus resources and how to get motivated to get involved on campus and in life in general.

Would you recommend DS LLC to other new UMBC students?
Yes! Especially if those students are unsure of themselves or want to empower those who are unsure. It’s simply perfect for first-year students.

Tell us a few interesting things about yourself…
Well, I really like cats. I have four of them, all black. I was the chief editor of my high school newspaper for two years. I got some awards for that… Every day is Halloween for me. I crochet a little bit and I love puzzles. I was a physics major coming in, but I decided that I’d follow my tree-hugging heart and get a degree in environmental science, maybe save the world or something. I actually wrote a speech about global warming in fifth grade, so I guess that kind of stuff is where my heart’s always been. I can’t wait to meet my mentees! YAY!

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