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In high school, I was a science nerd with little common sense and even fewer social skills. When I arrived in 1985 as a Chemical Engineering major, I was scared of my own shadow and had never even spent more than a weekend away from mom and dad. Over the next year, I befriended some very kooky and wonderful people from the Susquehanna dorm, ate a lot of pizza, started attending a discussion/therapy group, eventually found a more appropriate major, and became for a while, BIG GAY on CAMPUS. I was frequently found organizing a social, preparing for a parade, behind an information table, wearing a button or a T-shirt with a pink triangle on it. Silence = Death and all that.

I switched to history which suited me better. With that major one could stay in the library for hours and didn't have to either show emotions in public or handle dangerous chemicals. There was not much motivation in school. Neither one of my parents graduated from high school and could not prepare me. It was so different to have all this freedom, and sometimes choose to misuse it. Some classes I aced and loved, some I squeaked by totally confusing my instructors. I occasionally would take the bus off campus to events or hitch a ride with other people as I did not have a car until my senior year.

Going to UMBC exposed this student with a limited background to foreign films, experimental theater, linguistics, voice study, logic, Shakespeare on Wheels, Rocky Horror Picture Show, and the unlimited drama of other people's romantic lives.

UMBC was not a place where I thrived and "broke out". I did broaden my experience a great deal, but did not know what I wanted to be, or who I wanted to be, and was frankly envious of those around me that did. I was still very shy. I met a lot of great people, and hope to see a bunch of them and read their stories although I think many of the people I knew transferred out or got jobs in their field before graduating.

Now. I just got a great job working with a small commercial lending group in Annapolis. I have been in lending in rather unexciting positions for about 20 years. Southwest Baltimore is now my stomping grounds after a lot of moving. I stay very active in a local Presbyterian congregation and sing in a predominantly LGBT community chorus. Mr. Right has not yet found me , but I have adopted a sweet little pitbull and grow vegetables in my back yard, which works for now at least.

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Richard B. '86

So delighted you shared this great story with us!

Sara M. '18

Glad to know I'm not the only one confusing my professors in attempt to pass.

Meredith P.

Thank you, Michael, for sharing your story!