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Naval history, including the USS Wisconsin docked nearby, was on full display as UMUC alumni gathered for a fall mixer at the Nauticus maritime museum in Norfolk, Virginia. A heavy rainstorm may have dampened the turnout, but the hearty souls who attended the event enjoyed a supportive and friendly atmosphere.

Chad Dillon '13 & '14, Master of Science in Management and Master of Business Administration, spent 23 years as a Navy diver and instructor and retired as a Senior Chief Petty Officer. He began planning his transition to a civilian career about eight years before he officially separated from the military.

"I began looking toward retirement from the military and what I wanted to do with the rest of my life," said Dillon, who is now a civilian program analyst with the Navy. "I'm from Baltimore, so I knew the reputation of UMUC was very good when I was looking into a master's program that would help me attain the skills I needed to succeed in the civilian world."

The alumni event gave Dillon, a veteran who lives in the Hampton Roads region, an opportunity to network and check in with other graduates.

Kathryn Riddick '15, Master of Education in Instructional Technology, relocated to the Hampton Roads area to help with her parents. Riddick worked in the District of Columbia Public School system teaching webpage design, television production, and other digital arts and recently started as a substitute teacher for Portsmouth Public Schools. She hopes to eventually help design digital arts curricula.

That may happen sooner rather than later, because Sandra Brooks-Green '14, MBA, who expects to earn her Master of Science in Acquisitions and Supply Chain Management next May, was able to supply Riddick with a lead who is in education design within the Portsmouth School System.

Brooks-Green works for Apple on the retail side and is a career switcher. She owned and operated her own hair salon for 17 years and now hopes to follow her passion for acquisition and supply chain management. She was particularly complimentary of the UMUC career services office for helping her transition from her sole proprietorship to a career in industry.

In addition to the entrepreneurial and managerial experience she gained while running her salon, Brooks-Green is active with the national chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, where she co-chairs the International Awareness Committee. As part of that work, Brooks-Green is negotiating contracts for fundraising events and maintaining community partnerships. She is also involved with development, including raising money for a local HIV clinic.

The mood throughout the evening was clearly upbeat and positive as alumni exchanged business cards and provided advice, mentoring, and words of encouragement. Despite the rain outside, no storm seemed too difficult to weather inside.