Direct Connect to UCF: more about students than ever

UCF cares about you. Photo courtesy of

When I walked into room 108 of the J building at our Sanford/Lake Mary campus, I was greeted by two ladies with inviting smiles who were just so happy to see another human being. “Yay! A person,” they exclaimed almost in unison.

It was about a minute until the Direct Connect to UCF skill sessions workshop was scheduled to begin and I was the only person that had showed up at that point. After a couple of minutes, we had 3 other students join. They were genuinely thrilled to see us, not because they had some kind of requirement but rather they really wanted to help us out.

I could tell right away that they both absolutely loved their jobs and was not just here for a paycheck. The session started with the ladies introducing themselves as Luisa Mejia, M.S. and Pamela Gruen, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions. They were there to inform us about the Direct Connect to UCF program.

Upon introducing Pam, Luisa told us that, “[You] will come and see her and she will be your best friend. She has a little magic wand that can make things happen when it comes to admissions.” Pam’s smile grew wider as she put the tips of her fingers together and began a maniacal sounding laugh and was cut short by the roar of laughter coming from her four student audience. Her sense of humor knew how to put us all at ease.

We were given the complete run down about the program; the transfer process to UCF, enrollment requirements, the admissions process, financial aid information, educational plan, program restrictions (if any), anything and everything. Their presentation was just as entertaining as it was informative. Pam has an infectious laugh that you can’t help but to love.

Before coming to a close, Pam told us about a poll that Gallop has started doing at Purdue University that polls people that have graduated from college. Last year, there was 30,000 responses and this year there was over 60,000. They will keep doing it until they have conglomerate data that cannot be refused.

The data shows that the two indicators of how happy you’ll be when you graduate are: Number one, how much debt you have over $23,000 and number two, is that a faculty member had cared about you as a person.

“Which to me says more about what we’re not doing than anything else I’ve ever read in my fifteen years of doing education,” said Pam. Choking back tears, she continued,

“you’re not a number, you’re somebody that we want here and we want to help you be here. Whatever we have to do to help you that is within our power, we will do. That’s my promise to you. I’m not a faculty member but I care whether or not you go to college and I care what kind of life you have after. Don’t ever doubt that I don’t care because I do. I just want you all to know that.” 

As Pam wiped a tear from her eye, Luisa continued by saying, “this is human services, we don’t get to disconnect. Our heart really goes out to you guys because you’re working hard to make it happen. Your education comes out of your pocket whether you pay now or later when you make your loan payments so we want to give you the best advice possible.”

Come on down to the UP Building, across from the library in the UCF suite and visit Pam and Luisa, two wonderful women that are truly glad to help you with anything you need to have a seamless transfer to UCF. You’ll be glad that you did. I guarantee it.


Stephanie can be reached at

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