Message from the Director

A three quarters informal portrait of Diane in a gardenIn his classic book, The Call of Service, Robert Coles reminds us that a return to the academic setting is “…being brought back to the place where community service is being done…” (1993, p. 167). The Wisdom Institute invites you back in our own call for volunteers. The Latin root of the word “volunteer” is voluntas—a choice—we hope you will choose to support one of our three main service opportunities through active participation, donations of goods, and/ or through financial gifts. As you decide the direction of your moral energy, we hope you will consider Retriever Essentials, jAdelante Latina!, and the McNair Scholars Program.

Retriever Essentials: Although the United States is one of the wealthiest nations in the world, we have a critical issue of food insecurity and extreme poverty. Literally, many people do not have enough food to eat, nor sufficient funds to secure basic items used in personal hygiene, grooming, and health maintenance. This is a common issue at colleges and universities across the country, including UMBC.

The primary goal of Retriever Essentials is that all students have enough healthy food and personal care items to sustain them in their studies. Retriever Essentials partners with local organizations to help refer UMBC members to access holistic support on- and off-campus. As an organization, Retriever Essentials exists through the support of UMBC students, faculty, and staff members—including alumni and retirees. Donations of food, toiletries, and feminine hygiene items may be dropped off on campus at several locations including Sherman Hall room 205, Admin, the Commons, the library, and the UMBC campus police station. Financial donations may be made through the University’s giving site at by noting “Retriever Essentials” in the Other Designation field.

The Essential Space, the Free Store, is located in the RAC, room 235. Students may pick up food, toiletries, baby items, and even a warm coat from the Coat Closet. Everything is free and accommodations for home delivery are available on a case-by-case basis. To learn more about how to support Retriever Essentials contact:

jAdelante Latina!: ¡Adelante Latina! Is a highly successful college preparatory program for low-income Baltimore City Latinas. One hundred percent of those students who complete the three-year program attend college and receive significant scholarships. Jack Sinnigen reports having worked with a student, Ashley, who came from Guatemala to the United States with her mother when she was five and graduated from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute in 2018. She was accepted at UMBC as a Humanities Scholar and she graduated in May 2022.

Tutoring with ¡Adelante Latina! is extremely rewarding and a good fit for former faculty and staff. It allows tutors to continue to teach and to learn from the students, their families, and other tutors. Importantly, NO SPANISH IS NEEDED if you want to participate and tutor in this program. The focus of the program is on reading comprehension, vocabulary expansion, and writing in English. Tutors meet with their students on Tuesday or Thursday from 4:00-6:00 p.m. at Notre Dame University of Maryland throughout the school year. More information is available at

The vision of the UMBC McNair Scholars program is “to enhance the knowledge, skills, and awareness of critical scholars as they navigate current structures while challenging oppressive systems within the academy.” To equip scholars with the knowledge necessary to handle the demands of higher education and the world at large, scholars are connected with those who have been on the journey and can provide testimonials. Thus, UMBC McNair graduating seniors are paired with members of the UMBC Wisdom Institute. McNair Scholars seeks more Wisdom Mentors to work with UMBC scholars.

The McNair Scholars mentoring component is structured around a holistic critical mentoring (HCM) framework. HCM is a network of power-dynamic-flipped, student-centered, reciprocal relationships. One of the tenets of HCM is to “invite mentees and mentors to collectively bring their culture and lived experiences to the mentoring relationship.” Wisdom mentoring pairings remind our scholars and Wisdom Mentors that they are not alone in their life’s journey. They learn from each other and gain insights based on one another’s lived experiences; wisdom is imparted from both the mentor and the mentee.

The graduating seniors are preparing to enter the world as alums which brings a host of questions, concerns, fears, hopes, and dreams. Director Michael Hunt asks each retiree, “Will you impart your wisdom?” For more information refer to

No matter how you choose to make the world a better place, we hope you will consider giving back to UMBC through one of the efforts described here. There are other avenues where you can make a difference, and we are open to hearing from you about other opportunities as well. Collectively, we can continue to support our campus community in meaningful ways. We hope you will join us.