In recent years more than ever — among high schoolers and parents most of all — there’s been a national debate: Is college really worth it?
As young people across the country contemplate their futures, and you think back on becoming a Knight, you can confidently answer “absolutely!” Because on top of aiding your individual growth, a UCF degree is valuable for so many reasons. And that value continues to rise.
Studies have shown that securing a degree means higher earnings over your career. It also contributes to upward mobility — socially, economically and professionally. It leads to more opportunities, a better quality of life, and a stronger sense of fulfillment and personal success.
Your achievements impact your family and fellow Knights, too. Here are some of our many alumni whose positive recognition and powerful trajectories are steadily increasing the value of your own UCF degree.
Tiffaney Miller Alexander ’99 ’05MS ’16PHD
With a bachelor’s in electrical engineering and a master’s and doctorate in industrial engineering from UCF, Alexander realized her childhood dream of working for NASA by landing at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) 24 years ago — first as a contractor, then a NASA civil servant.
“As the Medical and Environmental Services Division chief, I lead an amazing team of medical and environmental professionals ensuring the protection and wellness of our KSC workforce, workplace and environment, which are essential to the Artemis missions,” she says. “My hope is that our younger generation, especially young women, are encouraged and inspired to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering or math, and perhaps, even desire to work for NASA someday.”
George Tunaya ’03
After serving 26 years in the U.S. Navy, Tunaya started a new chapter at age 47: pursuing a degree alongside his sons at UCF. He already had real-life industry experience.
“But I wanted to make sure my sons would know that this is how they should do it,” he says.
Tunaya’s extra work paid off. He earned a bachelor’s in electrical engineering with a computer systems track, then continued working as a defense contractor supporting the Naval Air Warfare Training Systems Division and later started his own company.
Jacyln Fraser ’09
A bachelor’s in event management launched a dream business for Fraser: making others’ dreams come true.
“In high school, I knew I wanted to eventually run my own wedding planning company and, being in Orlando, it was important to me that I attend UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management to get my education and kick that dream into action,” she says.
“While in school, I worked for various wedding venues and a wedding planning company. Upon graduation, I created At Last Wedding + Event Design and we’ve been in business for over 13 years.”
Veronica Sampayo ’13
A transfer student, Sampayo earned her bachelor’s in nursing (BSN) through UCF’s online RN to BSN program before going on to get a master’s and Doctor of Nursing Practice. She created a career-coaching business, The Clinician Life, and credential-tracking software, NurseRep — as well as The Clinician Life Scholarship in Support of Hispanic Nurse Practitioners at the UCF College of Nursing.
“The scholarship support I received was invaluable, and I’m excited to be able to pay it forward to help make the journey easier for other Hispanic nurses seeking to advance their career and become the leaders our patients need,” she says.
Teresa Falcone ’14 and Christopher Sanchez ’14
From Sony Pictures Imageworks’ Smallfoot and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse to Pixar’s Toy Story 4 and Turning Red, the collective work of Falcone and Sanchez is awe-inspiring and award-winning. Both alumni got their start by earning their bachelor’s in emerging media with a character animation track from UCF’s School of Visual Arts and Design.
“UCF gave me a really solid foundation for my career,” Falcone says. “It was great getting to learn different aspects of the pipeline like modeling and texturing as well because those skills have been helpful in getting jobs after school. Studios always like to see that you’re a team player and work well with others, and [UCF’s] program definitely prepares you for that.”
Matthew St. Hubin ’19
As team captain of the world-renowned UCF Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition Team and vice president of the Hack@UCF club, St. Hubin had standout skills from the beginning. He and his teams often bested students — even professionals from leading tech companies — in competitions across the country and around the globe.
St. Hubin has continued to make a name for himself and the level of cyber defense talent coming from UCF since graduating with his bachelor’s in information technology. After a couple impressive internships, he became a security engineer tackling incident response at Amazon.