With a nod to rock band Queen and inspiration from the Broadway hit Hamilton, the University of Central Florida College of Business inducted three distinguished alumni at its 18th annual Hall of Fame gala Thursday evening at Rosen Shingle Creek.
More than 740 alumni, community and corporate partners celebrated the Knight at the Opera-themed inductions of Sonya Dixon, ’96, ’98, chief financial officer and senior vice president at Holiday Inn Club Vacations; Antonio “Tony” Moreno Jr., ’91, managing partner/financial consultant, MPC Wealth Management; and Michael O’Donnell, ’09, executive/entrepreneur for the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UCF. The Hall of Fame is the highest honor given by the college to graduates who have been in the industry for at least 20 years and have brought notoriety to the university through their professional achievements.
“Our annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony where we honor our most successful alums is an affirming event for our faculty and staff—it reminds us why we do what we do,” said Paul Jarley, Ph.D, dean of UCF College of Business. “It also is an opportunity to show our community what our college and our students are all about and why we are worthy of their time, talent and treasure.”
On Thursday, the college honored longtime partners CFE Federal Credit Union, Lockheed Martin and entrepreneurs Chip Headley, ’78, ’97, Rock ’Em Apparel and founder Rob Starkman and UBreakiFix founder Justin Wetherill, ’07. Also recognized were Notable Knights Joe Barbito, ’02, vice president of Agency Management, Galaxy Asset Management, LLC.; Kevin O’Connell, ’02, managing partner, Northwestern Mutual; John Gill, ’86, president and CEO, Quest Inc.; and Yvonne Baker, ’80, ’11, regional managing partner, Franklin Street.
The night began with a Minute of Mentorship, at which business students asked guests for career and professional-development advice. High-energy musical numbers, led by UCF mascot Knightro, bookended the night.
“Business people, entrepreneurs and economists have not always been represented fairly in popular culture. But now – in 2017 – we are indisputably cool. The biggest show on Broadway is about the founder of our nation’s financial system. And he’s the hero,” said master of ceremonies Grant J. Heston, ’13, vice president of Communications and Marketing at UCF, as he introduced the opening song. “Like Alexander Hamilton, our students are ‘young, scrappy and hungry’ and they’re not giving away their shot at success, at making a difference or at this opportunity to tell their story in song.”
Several business students joined professional dancers to perform the “B-School Rapsody,” an original song set to the tune of Freddie Mercury’s iconic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which appears on Queen’s “Night at the Opera” album. At the end of the night, 40 student ambassadors joined Knightro and the dance company for a rousing rendition of Queen’s stadium anthem “We Will Rock You.”