Psychology Student Recipient of 50,000th DirectConnect Diploma


On May 3, psychology major Hannah Holbrook will receive the 50,000th degree at the commencement ceremony for the College of Sciences.

Holbrook, who came through DirectConnect from Lake-Sumter State College in Clermont, wants to eventually go to medical school to study emergency medicine. But first beginning in June she’s going to start an accredited EMT course for the next year to get some hands-on field experience.

She says her transition to UCF was helped by being a member of the Tau Sigma National Honor Society, which is specifically for transfer students.

“It provides a place for transfer students to connect with others, because you are coming like I did from a small town, a small community college, and then transferring to this huge university and you don’t know anyone,” she says. “You don’t get the same experience that a freshman would have, being there for four years and getting to grow with all these people, so sometimes it can be hard for people to connect with others or network or get into research opportunities or volunteer. That’s what Tau Sigma provides.”

The DirectConnect program started as a first-of-its-kind partnership with Eastern Florida State College, Lake-Sumter State College, Seminole State College and Valencia College. It has since expanded to a total of six state colleges, including Daytona State College and the College of Central Florida; been a path to UCF for more than 67,800 students; and received the Institutional Excellence for Students in Transition award by the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students. Similar programs have also been adopted by Arizona State University, University of South Florida and Florida International University.

Of the more than 50,000 degrees that will have been awarded by the end of this semester, 28,959 have been conferred to Valencia graduates.

That is by design. The system was set up to expand access to all students, but especially those who otherwise may not be able to pursue a university degree through traditional channels. In 2018 alone, this included 2,379 minority students, 1,647 first-generation students and 3,180 Pell-eligible students from low-income families.

“The spirit of collaboration has been the key to success for DirectConnect to UCF,” says J. Jeffrey Jones, vice provost for UCF Connect and UCF Global. “Along with our six state college partners, the university has embraced the access mission. Our faculty and staff fully understand that this has been the way that we’ve been able to serve wide distributions of the population while maintaining very high levels of academic integrity…We understand that unless everyone is at the table and has the opportunity to guide our direction, it isn’t likely to be as successful in the future as it is today.”



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