LEGACY Highlights

Mentor: Dr. Carolyn Massiah

“That’s a role I take seriously. That I’m not just there to shove marketing down your throat.”

– In reference to taking an entire class period to answer students’ career and education-related questions instead of lecturing

Name: Dr. Carolyn Massiah

Course: The Principles of Marketing

Hometown: Bridgeville, Delaware

Fun fact: “I’ve been riding motorcycles since I was 16.”

Favorite Quote: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

Her Campus UCF (HCUCF): How did you become interested in marketing?

Carolyn Massiah (CM): “I had gone through several majors… Tried to find my way. I had a student job on campus. I was at the University of Delaware and we had guest conference housing. They asked me to make up the directory that goes in the rooms. I was like, ‘well…okay.’ I have no experience in this, but okay. While I was doing it, I wondered if there a career around doing this. What is it called? And one day during a meeting they said, ‘And thank you to Carolyn for her marketing efforts.’ And I said ‘that’s what I was doing. It was marketing. That’s what I want to do.’… Ever since then, I haven’t looked back.”

HCUCF: What brought you to UCF in the summer of 2005?

CM: “When I came out of my Ph.D. plan after I was looking for schools, two things were important to me.

1) That the school had a diverse student population. Being a minority, I managed to go through all three of my degrees without ever having a minority professor. And I think it’s important for students to be able to see. And it’s also nice to be able to see a diverse student body when you are teaching.

2) The percentage of students here who are first generation students. I was a first generation college student and really had nowhere to turn to say ‘Is this what I should be doing?’ And I wanted to be in a place where I could help and influence first generation students.”

*Check out the LEGACY Leadership and Mentoring Program where Professor Massiah and other faculty members are able to directly impact ethnic minority students through mentorship.

HCUCF: What is the most rewarding feeling about being a professor?

CM: “The most rewarding thing is when a student comes up to me, even a year or two years later and says ‘Thank you. I felt like you cared.’ And with the number of students that I have, I am very blessed to have these kind of interactions on a weekly basis.”

HCUCF: What is your favorite aspect of UCF?

CM: “You know it’s funny. We say UCF stands for opportunity, but that really is my favorite…There is something for someone everywhere. One day I was walking over to Career Services and these people were out playing Quidditch on the lawn. And I’m like ‘Well there you go. There is something for everyone.’ Which is always so funny to me that I have students who complain about [having to attend two outside activities for my course]. I’m like, ‘Holy cow. You can trip over something to do everywhere you walk on campus.’ Like how do you not find something to do on this campus… You can roll out of bed and hit an opportunity.”

HCUCF: How would you say having professional connections with organizations like Delta Sigma Pi and Beta Gamma Sigma (as a member) has impacted your career?

CM: “I always truly believe in the power of networking. Where you start to begin your professional network is in your undergraduate years. So being involved in a professional fraternity, for me Sigma Delta Pi, really truly began the start of my professional career. My first internship and full-time job both came from the person who was interviewing me, actually a Delta Sigma brother. I had never met them before. I wore my little gold DSP pin to my interview and they realized that is what it was. And then before you know it, the interview was about DSP… So being involved with Delta Sigma Pi helped start my network because I was linked with Delta Sig on LinkedIn. And literally every city I go to, I can find a DSP brother.”

“It is never about who you know. It is about who knows you.” – Dr. Massiah

HCUCF: Tell me more about your time as a combat medic at Delaware Army National Guard.

CM: “I joined the army when I was 17. Did boot camp at the age 17. By the time I was 18, I was in the Gulf War. You know it’s interesting when you have different experiences to look back on. You feel like someone else lived that part of your life. That was definitely a different me than Dr. Massiah or Sergeant or Specialist Thomas. I wasn’t even married then. But I wouldn’t give that experience up… Less than two percent of our population serves in the military, though we all enjoy such amazing freedoms that we don’t even think about… We have such amazing freedoms, but freedom isn’t free. So I’m very grateful for the time I served.”

“Freedom isn’t free.” –  Attributed to U.S. Air Force Colonel Walter Hitchcock

HCUCF: What’s your favorite hobby?

CM: “I have two. I love to read. I pretty much read anything. Hopefully I am going to do a lot of reading while I am on my break. And I love to travel. I’ve been to six of the eight continents. I haven’t been to Antarctica.”

HCUCF: What’s your favorite social media platform and why?

CM: “The business professor in me should say LinkedIn. The correct answer is LinkedIn. *We laugh* But the personal answer to that question is Facebook. You can just find out about what’s going on in everyone’s life. I swear I spend way too much time on Facebook. You always say, “I’m just going to look at the first few posts and next thing you know you have scrolled down a whole day. And I’m like “OK. I’m caught up. That was the last one I saw.”

HCUCF: What would you say was the most important day of your life?

CM: “The day I married my husband, Andrew. June 15, 1995. We just celebrated 20 years. It was the beginning of a wonderful partnership. He has been my biggest cheerleader.”

Footprints in the Sand – Poem Dr. Massiah referenced while reflecting on her 20-year marriage to Andrew Massiah.

When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.” – Mary Stevenson

HCUCF: If you could sum up your college years in a few words, what would those words be?

CM: “Two came to mind. “Too long”. It took me 7 years to complete my undergrad. Once I figured out my major, it only took me 2 and a half years to complete my degree. I always tell people I did not fall off the tree. I went to college thinking I was the smartest person because I was no. 2 in my high school class. And I got there and realized I didn’t know how to study. I was in chemical engineering. I had a GPA that you could multiply by four and barely get four. I went to school on a full scholarship and then some, and lost it all within a year. I was on academic probation. I was about to be kicked out of school. I had to get up in front of an appeal board to beg and plead and throw myself at their mercy. And I got another chance. Then I wandered aimlessly from major to major because I honestly didn’t know what I wanted to do. But once I declared marketing and travel and tourism as my major, I graduated in two years. I declared Fall ’96 and graduated Fall of ’98.  I managed to graduate with a 3.6 GPA.”

HCUCF: What do you know now that you wished you knew when you were my age (21)?

CM: “I wish I knew then that this is the point in life where you take all of the risks possible. You are at the best point in your life to take risks. Take on challenges. Travel abroad. Absolutely travel abroad.”

HCUCF: What advice do you have for students looking to enter the marketing field?

CM: Network. Early and often. Marketing is such a social field to be in. The quicker and earlier you become adept at interacting with others you just met [the better].”

Brand You” – The first thing that Dr. Massiah discussed on Day 1 of our Principles of Marketing course this semester. It is a phrase she continued to repeat to us throughout the course. What she means by it is to develop your brand and reputation.

HCUCF: What piece of wisdom do you have for UCF students?

CM: “Take advantage of every opportunity. Nowhere else in your life will this many opportunities be at your feet. All you have to do is bend over and pick it up.

HCUCF: What’s the next step for you in 2016?

CM: “The biggest thing will be sending my older son, Alex, off to college. His number one choice is Florida State. He wants to study business.”

While reading this interview, I hope you were able to see the compassion Dr. Massiah has for the students who enroll in her course. Not many professors possess a trait like that. If you gain one thing, make it that. Take Professor Massiah’s course if you have the chance to. You won’t regret it. Catch her next during Summer B 2016 when she returns from her break to continue the legacy that is her Principles of Marketing course.

“I want someone when they leave my class, to say they learned more than marketing. They learned a little bit more about themselves.” – Dr. Massiah


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Youth Breakfast Mentoring

On October 24, 2015 during of University of Central Florida’s Homecoming tailgate against Houston, over on the other side of campus in the Teaching Academy. A Youth Breakfast Mentoring Session for the young men of My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) was coordinated by Dr. Cindy Schmidt, Center for Law and Policy, Director, and Danielle Malcolm, Gary Alderman, Wadeview Community Center, Manager and Stefanie Campbell, Program Coordinator for LEGACY: Leadership and Mentoring Program.
To provide a well-rounded event that can contribute information of college life and professional experience the team decided to recruit the members of the Learning Institute of the Elderly (LIFE).
The young men in middle school and high school met with LIFE members and the Scholars from LEGACY. Where LIFE members shared their professional experience from Nursing, Engineering, teaching, and even working for NASA. While the LEGACY Scholars gave advise on their individual college experience, regarding time management, working, extracurricular activities, and academic resources.
The young men of MBK also shared their future goals, and where they are currently in their academic journey.

Scholar: Milka Derisma

University of Central Florida student Milka Derisma, a 25-year-old human communications major, started at the bottom with a 1.8 GPA; now she’s here, in a position as a CEO in her own formulated company: Build Your Goals Shift.

As a transfer student, Derisma explains how the UCF Blackstone LaunchPad acted as the foundation of her academic success supplying her with the knowledge to formulate her own company BYG Shift.

Derisma transferred to UCF in fall 2014. She choose UCF because of the opportunities UCF offered, in particular, the Blackstone LaunchPad. The Blackstone LaunchPad is a student-serving organization which provides mentoring and support on the creation of innovative products and ideas.

Milka Derisma to Serve on National Student Transfer Panel

Derisma’s background significantly impacted her initial academic success.

“I am an advocate for the ghetto, It was a struggle growing up on Sistrunk Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, a place where people were automatically perceived as criminals, but in reality those same skills they are using to commit crimes just aren’t being cultivated” Derisma said.

When it comes down to inner cities Derisma explains that yes there is crime but there are also talented people who arise from these rough situations who get overlooked. With this in mind, Derisma said UCF was her opportunity to do better than what was expected of her.

In 2009, Derisma attended Valencia College East Campus.

“I wasn’t as focused as I should have been… Academically it was great if I could even get C’s or D’s,” Derisma said.

Derisma was not academically driven and was placed on academic suspension, losing her financial aid. With the lack of financial support from her family or school, Derisma contemplated dropping out.

Derisma transferred to Seminole State, then to UCF with a 1.8 GPA, and with this transition came the start of a new beginning. Derisma was determined to get an education for herself rather than the purpose of proving others wrong.

“At first Milka didn’t know what she wanted to do in life, but once she transferred to UCF she began to motivate herself.” Said Natiria Vasquez a 25-year-old junior at UCF who has known Derisma for 7 years.

After a year of growth and development at UCF, Derisma went to Blackstone LaunchPad for advice on how to create her own business. What started as a website transgressed into much more.

Derisma created her own business entitled BYG Shift, a business which helps transfer students acclimate to new universities, giving students the opportunity to build their own goals. Her own goal was to make students feel like they are in a major that is not difficult but still challenging them to reinforce their ability to become more active in the university community.

“I sought to make a website which allows students to get everything in one place, a transfer HUB which facilitates easier communication between advisors, schools, and students.” Derisma said.

Derisma recently participated in the new faces of UCF Business Model Competition winning third place against 28 other student business.

Today, she continues to manage her company in hopes of creating a business which is scalable and acts as a main line of communication between colleges and universities. In the near future, she aspires to take her business to Shark Tank.

Dr. Chanda Torres, the assistant vice president of Student Development and Enrollment Services here at UCF, commented on Derisma’s progress as a transfer student.

“She has incredible initiative and passion for helping transfer students succeed. She is a pioneer and advocate for student success at UCF and nationally. She is a role-model.” This roaring determination to succeed her circumstance was noticed by her peers.

“Derisma pushes me to want to do better, with two children it gets difficult but she motives me to continue with my education,” Vasquez said.

What Derisma aims to demolish is the idea that her past will define her future. Derisma believes that in order to be successful you do not need to follow the rubric of extreme poverty or extreme greatness.

Derisma has exceeded people’s expectations of academic failure and has become her own success story.The young entrepreneur hopes to expand her business in the future and become a pioneer for transfer student who like her want an opportunity to overcome their circumstances.

By Barmel Denisha Lyons on December 1, 2015 – full article

Scholar: Ketney Jean

One student has not only overcome her own struggles but is now helping pave the way for others to as well.

When it comes to helping people, Ketney Jean, a social worker and junior at the University of Central Florida, has no limits.

Student Overcomes Struggles, Helps Homeless Family Get Back on Feet

“The thing is that I always knew what I liked,” Jean said. “I love helping people that are going through tough times and struggling. Helping them at their very low point is what I find most fulfilling.” Jean said, adding that she finds happiness every time she helps someone.

Jean started helping out at the Covenant House in January. The company is a privately funded agency that provides immediate help the homeless. Since she started volunteering there, Jean said she has gotten a clearer vision of where she wants her life directed.

Jean had a rough start in life. She didn’t get much attention from her mother and didn’t feel much of her support growing up.

“It was more like tough love,” Jean said. That led to different personal situations that she said sank her into constant depressions and auto-destructive situations to the point of having suicidal thoughts.

She said this is one of the reasons why she finds helping homeless people so fulfilling and also why she takes so much interest in helping them.

“In my opinion, they’re at the lowest, lowest point in their lives. That is the best time to look up at where you can go,” Jean said.

Recently, as Jean was driving to work she saw a homeless family walking down the street and decided to stop to see if she could help them in any way. After learning that they had been homeless for a while, she offered them a ride to a hotel on Lee Road and ended up spending half of the day with this family.

Kaylum Manuel, Tabatha Malley and their three kids have been homeless for seven years. They have tried different ways of finding a way out, but after losing everything they had and being stuck with no money, Manuel said it becomes very hard.

“The system doesn’t make it easy,” Manuel said with watery eyes.

Manuel and Malley said Jean not only gave them a ride to a hotel, but also paid out of her own pocket for them to stay three nights. They said she talked to them about the available options they have to get back in their feet. They described Jean as a great human being and said the world needs more people like her, willing to help.

Jean wants to start a company in the near future to financially be able to sustain the vision she has to help out her community and give to the people that are most in need, such as the homeless. She said she hopes to provide a place to stay as well as counseling to help them get out of the financial and mental situations they are unable to brake by themselves.

Jean is thankful for her past, because it has made her into the woman she is now.

“If I didn’t go through half the stuff that I’ve done, I wouldn’t be the person I am now,” Jean said.

Jean said is not about how you act is when everything is good, but how you are when everything is chaotic.

“Regardless of what happened to me, today I still remain grateful because there’s always something that I can learn from,” Jean said.

By on February 24, 2015 – full article

Elizabeth Santiago, LEGACY Program Scholar

Scholar: Elizabeth Santiago

Elizabeth Santiago, sophomore psychology major, and second year Legacy Scholar, was selected to participate in this year’s UCF President’s Leadership Council (PLC). Established during the 1977-1978 academic year, the PCL sets out to recognize students who exemplify well-rounded excellence through leadership, academic achievement, extracurricular activities, and service to the university and the community. PCL members serve UCF as official student ambassadors at all times and at special events such as Commencements, Board of Trustees’ meetings, Board of Governors’ meetings and Gubernatorial visits. In return, PLC members receive experience and training in leadership, administration, and public relations as a result of their interaction with campus and community leaders. Among many of her goals as a LEGACY Scholar and UCF Knight, Santiago has her future sights set on becoming a family attorney for families who cannot afford proper representation.