Extended Stay

UBalt alums stay for second degrees and more


Whether it started with a campus tour, a fellow alum, or even just a feeling, many students at The University of Baltimore can point to a moment when they knew it was the right place for them. So right, in fact, that when they started considering a second degree, it was never a question that they would stay.

Ashlyn Woods,
B.A. ’21, J.D. ’23

Ashlyn Woods
Photo of Ashlyn Woods by Marissa Zuckerman.

Ashlyn Woods was introduced to UBalt and the idea of law school long before she would become a J.D. candidate there. As a student at Eastern Technical High School, Woods had a criminal justice alum, Luci Smith, M.S. ’13, teaching her law and related classes. After high school, though, Woods chose a different college. At least at first.

Ahead of her second year, she transferred to UBalt to major in jurisprudence (now the Philosophy, Law, and Ethics program)—a year experimenting with other majors had only cemented that a career in law was what she wanted most.

Whether she made the right move was immediately apparent: Not only did the University have a law school, but it offered her the option to start law classes in her final year as an undergraduate. “When I found out about their early entry program, I changed gears completely and was like, ‘This is what I need to do,’” she said.

In 2020, two years after starting at UBalt, Woods became the law student she long wanted to be. But the law school wasn’t the only advantage to UBalt. The first thing Woods loved about the school was its community and how easy it was to feel part of it.

In her first year, she joined the Student Government Association, and remained involved in various student organizations, including the Anti-Racism Coalition, which she co-founded, and the Black Law Student Association. “Just having the opportunity to connect and be involved in different organizations made me feel a part of the community,” she said. “It made it easy to stay and find my place.”

Luke Newman,
B.A. ’20, M.F.A. ’23

When he was serving in the U.S. Army, Luke Newman already knew his future was in the arts. He transferred his military credits to the University of Baltimore to hone his creative skills and build his business savvy in the Integrated Arts program (now Arts Production and Management).

“When I read the description, and everything basically taught you the business of how to be an artist, that really, really appealed to me,” Newman said.

He quickly realized the benefit of UBalt’s affordable tuition—he could stretch his GI Bill further and go for a master’s degree.

Luke Newman
Photo of Luke Newman by Nicole Munchel.

A creative writing class during his undergraduate studies helped Newman realize he wanted to pursue an M.F.A. at UBalt. It served as an early introduction to some of the professors he could learn more from in Creative Writing & Publishing Arts.

“Every professor here has been so open and willing to see me how I need to be seen,” he said.

The final confirmation was a table covered in books at an admission event and the person sitting behind it, Betsy Boyd, the M.F.A. program’s director. She had made a pitch that sold him: “In other M.F.A. programs, you will write a thesis, but here, we make books.”

“That’s what I wanted to do my whole life,” Newman said. “I looked around at others [M.F.A. programs], you write a thesis manuscript and it’s a collection of short stories, but it doesn’t go to print, they don’t publish it, they don’t have a big launch party and invite all of our friends and family. It was so exciting to just think that part of how I earned my degree is just living that dream.” Newman fulfilled his dream ahead of his second graduation, publishing a collection of essays he titled, “The Last Cowboy.”

Sarah Creighton,
B.A. ’20, M.S. ’23

Sarah Creighton has always loved learning. It wasn’t a surprise, then, that her school counselors had her joining the older students on state college visits when she was still a sophomore at Baltimore City College High School. This was how she discovered—and set her sights on—the University of Baltimore.

“It was something about the environment, the diversity; the tour guide was super nice. It just felt very welcoming,” she said.

Sarah Creighton
Photo of Sarah Creighton by Nicole Munchel.

After she graduated from high school in 2017, Creighton came to UBalt to study psychology. She didn’t know yet that she would end up staying for her master’s degree or become an admission counselor. Over her undergraduate years, she found dedicated professors and diverse classrooms that revealed the depth of UBalt’s value to her.

“I feel like if I emailed the professor at midnight, they would answer. And then they kind of get to know your whole life story so that if you are falling behind, they work with you. You don’t feel like just a number in one of those big lecture halls,” she said. “And then the diversity. People in my classes were not only my age—straight out of high school—but they were in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, even 70s. I got to learn a lot about life through these people and their experiences.”

“ I feel like if I emailed the professor at midnight, they would answer… they kind of get to know your whole life story so that if you are falling behind, they work with you.”

Creighton graduated with her bachelor’s degree in fall 2020 and started pursuing her M.S. in Industrial-Organizational Psychology the following spring. During her time as a graduate student, she joined the University’s admission team as a counselor—all of whom are either also current students or UBalt alumni.

“Honestly, I knew since my first few semesters here, I want to be here forever, if possible,” she said, laughing but genuine. “Maybe I’ll get another master’s one day.”

Randy Wells III,
B.A. ’23, M.P.A. student

When Randy Wells III transferred to the University of Baltimore, he was hoping for the on-campus experience he was missing after starting out at an online-only college. He transferred his classes in 2019 to begin the Human Services Administration program and got just a brief taste of campus life before the COVID-19 pandemic pushed him back to online learning.

Still, that was enough for Wells to understand his time at UBalt would be different. Whether it was online or in person, the people here connected easily and often.

“UBalt has been a family-oriented place. Everybody gets along,” Wells said.

Randy Wells III
Photo of Randy Wells III by Chris Hartlove.

Wells did finally get his chance to learn and engage on campus when the University re-opened before his senior year. He made the most of it, including serving on the Student Government Association and running the Student Events Board. Wells said he’s been proud of his part in reinvigorating the student life that was diminished by the pandemic.

The opportunities, he said, led to friendships and lessons on leadership he never expected but holds close.

“Coming here is what I wanted.  I wanted it to be in person when it came time to graduate.  I wanted to be in a room full of people,” Wells said. “Riding by [campus], I always felt this urge to come here. And once I got here, I was like, ‘I can’t leave.’”

Wells started working toward a master’s in public administration this fall and is staying on as the Student Events Board president. He hopes to bring back some old traditions and start some new ones, and looks forward to spending more time on campus, where everyone, he said, knows him by name.

Kristi Moore is the associate director of marketing and communications at The University of Baltimore.

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