Nominate a Student or Graduate for Volunteer of the Month

Nominate a UMUC student or graduate today to be the next Volunteer of the Month! This recognition highlights outstanding student and alumni volunteers who serve their communities. Each month, one volunteer will be honored.

UMUC faculty, staff, alumni, and students are encouraged to submit nominations of outstanding volunteers who show a high level of commitment to helping others. This commitment can be demonstrated in a variety of ways, including consistent participation, a willingness to give extra effort, and going beyond the duties of their role.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for the award, a nominee must be

  • A UMUC student or graduate
  • A current or recent unpaid volunteer for a program, organization, event, or service project
  • A reliable and effective volunteer who is dedicated to helping others
Nomination Process

To nominate a UMUC student or graduate for this award, please e-mail UMUC Student Success with the following information and with any questions. Self-nominations are welcome!

  • Nominee's name
  • Nominee's e-mail address
  • Summary of the nominee's volunteer service
  • Website or contact information for the organizations, events, and/or programs for which the nominee volunteers.

A new winner will be selected the first week of each month.

UMUC commends students and alumni for all of their volunteer work. We encourage you to nominate a student or alumnus who is an active volunteer, including yourself!


November/December 2017 Winner: Angela Chavis, '09, '11

Angela ChavisAs a resident of Glenn Dale in Prince George's County, Maryland, Angela Chavis supports many efforts that benefit her community, school, place of worship, and workplace. She remains an active member of the UMUC alumni community and is a regular event volunteer through the UMUC Alumni Association's My Volunteer Program.

"From my work experience and the wonderful education that I received from UMUC, I stand prepared and committed to support those who may not be able to walk this path alone, understanding the fundamental truth that the strong should bear the weak," Chavis says. "I recognize that my support is part of the solution, not all of the solution."

In addition, Chavis's son is a U.S. military veteran, which means she is well aware of the commitment servicemembers and their families make to their country. She says that's why she enjoys supporting efforts that ensure our troops are appreciated.

"Volunteering is an integral part of my life," she says. "I never viewed volunteering as anything to be recognized for. It's just part of who I am and the way that I express my love."

October 2017 Winner: Jessica Gilles, '17

Jessica GillesJessica Gilles's passion for serving the community was inspired by her mother who would bring the family with her to volunteer for the local sports leagues and at the annual carnival. Most recently, Gilles has acted as coordinator for her law firm's Susan G. Komen Maryland Race for the Cure team and for their Operation DaySpring: Adopt-a-Child, through which the firm provides holiday gifts for 65 families. Gilles has also been active in her son's schools, raising money for the Parkville High School Athletic Boosters Club and serving as Parent-Teacher-Student Association president and as vice president of fundraising for her son's middle school.

"My engagement in the community and local youth advocacy and mentoring is very important to me," remarked Gilles. "It has been my pleasure to serve, and I have instilled the same in my son, who is as kind-hearted and understanding as his mom."  

Gilles balances her volunteer work with her other responsibilities, including raising her son as a single parent, taking a full-time course load, and working as a legal assistant at Goodell, DeVries, Leech & Dann, LLP. Gilles completed a bachelor's degree in August 2017, and is studying for the LSATs. She plans to begin a dual MS/JD program in fall 2018, focusing on health law.

September 2017 Winner: Michael L. Hurd, current student

Michael L. Hurd, Finance StudentMichael Hurd is pursuing his bachelor's degree in business administration while serving as an active-duty servicemember and volunteering in his community.

Since 2015, Hurd and his wife have served as Sunday school teachers at their church for a class of 13 children. Hurd says it is an honor to volunteer in this position and see the growth of each child.

Hurd also volunteers at his local state park, where he leads various activities like hiking, kayaking, and other outdoor adventures. Here, he works with diverse groups—from young children to adults with special needs.

"I love volunteering and accepting any opportunities that come my way," Hurd says. "I will always accept the call to serve others and feel joy when I do so."

Recently, Hurd found out about the One2One Mentorship program with UMUC's Office of Veterans Initiatives, and he is now a mentor for other UMUC military-affiliated students.

Thank you, Michael, for your willingness and eagerness to serve your community!

August 2017 Winner: Amanda Estrada, current student

Amanda Estrada, StudentAmanda Estrada is currently a part-time student at UMUC. She recently completed all of the requirements for an associate's degree in general studies and is now working toward a bachelor's degree in social science with a minor in women's studies.

Volunteering has been an important part of Estrada's life since she was a teenager. She spent two summers volunteering at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona. After graduating from high school, she entered the military, during which time she continued her volunteer work with other programs, including the Adopt-A-Highway Litter Removal Service of America and the Pensacola Humane Society. Estrada makes sure she instills the same values of volunteering in her daughter, who received an award for Outstanding Junior Volunteer of the Year.

Estrada also organizes the Lunch Buddies Mentorship program with Warrington Middle School in Pensacola, Florida, providing on-to-one mentoring for middle school children during their lunch periods. Estrada also created the Flight Academy mentorship program—also at Warrington Middle School—in which aviation professionals mentor students through their course of study.

Congratulations, Amanda, and thank you for your service to the community!

June–July 2017 Winner: Linnita Hoston, '15

Linnita Hosten, AlumniNational speaker, college success advocate, and UMUC alumna Linnita Hosten is known for challenging young women to set a standard of excellence. She recently volunteered as the emcee for UMUC's 27th Alumni Reception and Awards celebration, where she kept event attendees engaged throughout the evening with her enthusiastic, dynamic speaking talent.

Hosten has had the privilege of speaking for the U.S. Army; Washington Redskins Cheerleaders; Georgetown University; Howard University; University of Maryland, Baltimore County; several public school systems; and many other organizations.

At the age of 19, Hosten began a life of service starting on her college campus. Various leadership roles quickly fostered her competency in student leadership program development, community outreach, volunteer management, and youth development and advocacy.

Hosten is an adjunct professor of speech communication at Anne Arundel Community College and a communications professional at Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

Hosten recently released a new book titled The College Strategy: How Ambitious Students Create Workplace Value While on Campus.

May 2017 Winner: Donnetta M. Porter-Jones, current student

Donnetta Porter-JonesDonnetta M. Porter-Jones is a natural leader who makes a positive impact on society by assisting our future crisis, emergency, and disaster management volunteers and professionals.

When Porter-Jones was treasurer of the student chapter of the International Association of Emergency Managers, she recognized an opportunity to assume a leadership position within the organization when the current president and vice president of the chapter departed. Upon the chapter solicitation, Porter-Jones immediately volunteered to lead the chapter. As president, she helps fellow students fill out application forms and explains to the student members how they can get the most out of their IAEM membership. Porter-Jones believes students can benefit immensely from an active student chapter to help advance their future credentialing and employment opportunities.

Previous Winners

April 2017 Winner: LaVita McCray-Morris, current student

LaVita McCray-MorrisLaVita McCray-Morris has a passion for volunteering. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in business administration, is a recent a member of the Student Advisory Council, and has previously been a mentor in the Allies Mentoring Program. Through these roles, LaVita has been able to represent the needs of UMUC's overseas students.

In addition to volunteering within UMUC, LaVita is an active volunteer in her community. She has held the positions of secretary and vice president for the RAF Lakenheath High School Roundtable, and participated in various positions with the Protestant Parish Advisory Committee, the Brandon Basketball Club, and other community organizations.

Over the years, LaVita has managed to balance volunteering with her responsibilities as a student, a substitute teacher, a wife, and a mother of three.

"I began volunteering many years ago when I was taught it is better to give than to receive," says LaVita. "I found the more I gave the more I received. My volunteer experiences have given me the chance to lead, serve, and to give back to my community and to my university. Volunteering provides opportunities to improve and learn new skills, learn new things about myself, and to network. Volunteering for me is rewarding, exciting, and fun!"

Thanks to LaVita for being a role-model for community involvement!

March 2017 Winner: Nicole Allen, current student

Nicole AllenNicole Allen is pursuing her bachelor's degree in public safety at UMUC while serving as director of industrial security and facility security officer for federal contractor DELTA Resources, Inc. In January of this year, Nicole volunteered her time and expertise as a subject matter expert for a UMUC Career Services webinar, "Security Clearances: What You Need to Know." During the webinar, Nicole shared her insights about how the U.S. government grants individuals access to classified information and offered timely advice to attendees about the clearance process. She also provided follow-up resources for interested students.

More recently, Nicole readily agreed to participate in a "flash" mentorship (informational interview) with a fellow student who had an interest in industrial safety and human resources to talk about her professional background.

Nicole's volunteer efforts have provided valuable information and industry know–how to many UMUC students and alumni. Thank you Nicole!

February 2017 Winner: Philippe Ki, '15 and '16

Philippe KiPhilippe Ki, a UMUC alumnus from the Cybersecurity Technology graduate program, was a volunteer mentor with UMUC's Allies Mentoring Program for two years. Philippe committed himself to providing encouragement and advice to several students majoring in information technology and related areas.

Philippe also coached students through educational challenges, sharing strategies for success. Most recently, Philippe signed up to be a tutor with WiseGuy.com, a university-centric online community, so he could offer academic help to current students.

"This [award] means a lot to me because my primary motivation is my desire to help others," said Philippe. "That drive and determination has enabled me to successfully teach traditional and non-traditional students (older adults) for years in remote and rural areas in Africa and to be a Peace Corps Volunteer Counterpart."

Thank you, Philippe, for your commitment to helping UMUC students and for your volunteer efforts!

December 2016–January 2017 Winner: Maria Foster, '11

Maria FosterWith the support provided by her employer, UPS, Maria Foster successfully obtained her UMUC bachelor's degree in Human Resources Management in 2011. "I enjoyed taking classes through UMUC," Maria said. "They offered many of my classes online, which allowed me a great deal of flexibility to balance school, work, and my mom duties."

Since graduating, Foster has been promoted to full-time management at UPS, and enjoys participating in volunteer activities with the UPS Veterans Business Resource Group. The activity closest to Foster's heart is UMUC's participation in Operation Welcome Home. The UPS Veterans Business Resource Group collaborates with UMUC alumni in preparing travel snack bags and "welcome home" cards for military members—and their families—as they pass through airports when returning from deployment. Foster's son is currently serving in the U.S. Army and he has started classes with UMUC as well. In 2017, he will begin his second overseas deployment since joining the military. Foster says it's wonderful to think that, as he returns, a group of well-wishers may be waiting at the airport to provide snacks and their "thank yous."

Thank you, Maria, for all you do for UMUC, our students and alumni, and our nation's service members!

November 2016 Winner: Seth Barksdale

Seth BarksdaleSeth Barksdale is an undergraduate finishing up his bachelor's degree in Cybersecurity. During a biology class in the Spring 2015 semester, he attended weekly study sessions led by a peer leader. Seth appreciated the support so he decided to return the favor.

For the past year, he has worked closely with a few classmates in his computing courses, tutoring them over the phone, on the computer, and in person. He also signed up to be a WiseGuy tutor, volunteering to help other students through the WiseGuy platform. Since joining in mid-September, Seth has helped four students and logged more than ten hours in that system.

Thanks, Seth, for taking the initiative to help your fellow students in multiple ways.