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75th Anniversary Profile: Karly Oristian

Theresa Schempp
By Theresa Schempp

For UMGC’s 75th anniversary, we spoke with Karly Oristian about some of her favorite experiences and where she hopes to see the university in years to come. Oristian is a success coach, and primarily works with UMGC’s Amazon alliance students. She supports students throughout their education journeys by developing learning strategies, assisting with scheduling classes, and providing a support system as students achieve their goals.

During your time at UMGC, how have you seen the university evolve and change? What is the most significant change you've witnessed at the university?

One of the most significant changes I have had the honor to be a part of is the development of the success coach role. UMGC previously had about 50 advisors available to assist UMGC students. Our department has since evolved and now consists of about 150 success coaches overall. This is an extremely impactful change because each UMGC student is now assigned a specific success coach to partner with throughout their educational journey. Success coaches have the amazing opportunity to get to know their students both personally and professionally in order to provide academic guidance and unwavering support all the way until graduation! We also started to offer virtual advising appointments via Zoom recently. I love this new option for our students. It is a great way to physically show students different UMGC tools, as well as walk students through a variety of platforms and resources needed while participating in courses online.

What has been your favorite part about working at UMGC?

One of my favorite aspects of working at UMGC is being able to witness my students accomplish their academic, professional, and personal goals. I have had the pleasure of getting to know many of my students throughout my time here thus far, and now I am starting to even see those same students graduate! It is an extremely rewarding experience being able to see all their hard work pay off. This winter, I plan on volunteering for Commencement for the first time with hopes to finally meet some of those students in person. I really look forward to watching them cross the stage and accept the diploma they have worked so hard to earn. What a full-circle moment! (I have a feeling volunteering for Commencement will be my next favorite thing about working at UMGC)

UMGC is celebrating 75 years of excellence in education. What does that history mean to you? Why is it important?

This history showcases UMGC’s commitment toward making education accessible, which I find extremely important. Decade after decade, UMGC has been able to adapt in an ever-changing environment for a variety of student populations. It is remarkable to think of it from that perspective. Between growing technological needs and the unique delivery of education, UMGC has been able to support their students, foster educational success, and meet a very specific set of needs relevant in that time for 75 years—it’s extraordinary!

UMGC recently introduced its new mission “Inspire hope, empower dreams, and transform lives ... one student at a time.” What does that mean to you?

When I read this new mission, I think of the importance of meeting my students where they are. Each student will have specific goals and aspirations. As a success coach, of course I want to be a member of their support system and empower students to achieve them. However, I think this mission also highlights the importance of paying attention to the details along the way to help them get there. In other words, before students reach those milestones, it is my intention to create an effective foundation that will help foster that growth and get them on the path of obtaining certain results they seek for themselves.

How do you feel about UMGC’s role in supporting the military wherever they are?

I am extremely proud to say that I work for an institution that makes education accessible for our military servicemembers. Before working here, I didn’t realize all the resources UMGC offers for our military students. I remember learning about the number of locations offered globally and all the online/hybrid course options available and thought it was a wonderful opportunity. Having over 175 locations gives students so many options to continue their education and stay on track even while being abroad. Thank you to all our military students for their service!

If you had one word to describe your experience at UMGC, what would it be and why?

Enriching: As a first-generation student, I chose a career within higher education because I have a passion for learning and helping others achieve their own educational goals. At UMGC, I get the chance to do that for my students each day. From working adults, military servicemembers, veterans, families and many more, UMGC encourages lifelong learning. That really resonated with me. I also enjoy being able to watch students I have grown close with finish their degree and start that next desired stage of their career. Although students learn from me as their success coach, I equally learn from them as well. That process of growing those relationships and watching my students get to the finish line is extremely fulfilling and enriching day after day.

Where do you hope to see UMGC in the next 75 years?

I see UMGC accomplishing major milestones within the next 75 years. That can take many forms, but overall, I hope to see UMGC continue to support lifelong learning. UMGC has been dedicated to finding creative and effective ways to support our diverse student population around the world. UMGC has increased partnerships and provided a wide variety of flexible services and career-relevant degrees, all at an affordable cost. UMGC will continue to embrace innovation and evolve with the educational needs of our evolving students (It’s what we do.). I am confident UMGC will still be a leading global name in educational success!