University of Maryland Individual Studies Program

Spring 2015 Graduates



Jeremy Bennie
B.A., Leadership in a Diverse Society
Faculty Mentor: Gerry Strumpf, Office of Orientation

Jeremy Bennie is excited and grateful as he graduates with a degree in Leadership in a Diverse Society. After finding IVSP in the spring of his first year, his major has been the cornerstone of his undergraduate experience. His studies have enabled him to better understand the intricacies of identity-based diversity and the importance of diversity in group dynamics. As part of his major, he has engaged in leadership experiences where he applied the concepts, ideas, and theories of his coursework with leadership in practice. For his senior Capstone, he researched the relationship between leadership, grit, and other student characteristics.

During his time at the University of Maryland, Jeremy has been a part of a variety of programs and organizations, including the Orientation Office and America Reads*America Counts, and took part in two Alternative Breaks. He also interned with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and at Berkshire Hathaway Energy. In his last year, Jeremy served as a Student Coordinator for the Orientation Office and a Student Intern for America Reads*America Counts. In fall of his senior year, Jeremy was inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society.

Jeremy’s IVSP coursework has challenged him to realize how much more there is to learn, and it has empowered him to continue learning about these concepts through a sustained, conscious, lifelong effort. Jeremy will always be grateful to Dr. Burton, Lori Praniewicz, and his peers in IVSP for welcoming him into such an incredible community; he has learned so much from the friends with whom he lives, learns, and works; and he would not be where he is today if not for his parents, Ian and Lisa, and his brothers, Graham and Colin. Jeremy hopes to make his family and friends proud as he continues his education at the University of Virginia School of Law.

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Mackenzie Burnett
B.A., Interntaional Relations: Democracy & Diplomacy
Double Major: Government and Politics
Faculty Mentor: Paul Huth, Department of Government and Politics

Mackenzie Burnett is a double major in International Relations: Democracy & Diplomacy as well as Government and Politics. A Banneker-Key Scholar, she has studied abroad in Rome and in London.

Her internships included the U.S. Department of State, the U.K. House of Commons, and the U.S. Senate. She has served as chair of the BSOS Dean’s Student Advisory Councils; acted as research assistant for the Center for American Politics and Citizenship; and served as a Teaching Assistant for the Global Semester in Washington, D.C. Program. Last year, she founded Bitcamp, a hackathon at the University of Maryland, and currently directs Startup Shell, a startup incubator and coworking space for UMD students. She has a passion for innovation and achievement in the fields of international affairs and the software development industry. Mackenzie was also names this year’s University of Maryland Student Commencement Speaker.

Mackenzie Burnett is a double major in International Relations: Democracy & Diplomacy as well as Government and Politics. A Banneker-Key Scholar, she has studied abroad in Rome and in London. Her internships included the U.S. Department of State, the U.K. House of Commons, and the U.S. Senate. She has served as chair of the BSOS Dean’s Student Advisory Councils; acted as research assistant for the Center for American Politics and Citizenship; and served as a Teaching Assistant for the Global Semester in Washington, D.C. Program. Last year, she founded Bitcamp, a hackathon at the University of Maryland, and currently directs Startup Shell, a startup incubator and coworking space for UMD students. She has a passion for innovation and achievement in the fields of international affairs and the software development industry. Mackenzie was also names this year’s University of Maryland Student Commencement Speaker.  

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Sanjay Chainani
B.S. Global Health & Development
Faculty Mentor: Donna Howard ,Department of Behavioral & Community Health

Sanjay Chainani is graduating from the University of Maryland, College Park with a double degree in Neurobiology and Physiology and Global Health & Development. Sanjay decided to pursue his Individual Studies major in Global Health and Development after a formative study abroad experience related to India’s public health system in Manipal, India. The Global Health and Development major centers on how countries can undergo sustainable economic, social, and political development while continuing to provide adequate public health resources to their people. Sanjay’s IVSP Capstone project focuses on understanding the structural factors underlying India’s ongoing diabetes epidemic.

At the University of Maryland, Sanjay was involved in several student organizations including the Student Association for India’s Development, MEDLIFE, and Anokha A Cappella. He was a research intern for several summers at the National Institutes of Health. He also interned with the global humanitarian non-profit organization, Project Concern International, as a Federal Semester fellow. After graduation, Sanjay will be attending medical school.

He would like to thank his faculty mentor, Dr. Donna Howard, and Dr. Joan Burton for their constant support throughout his undergraduate career.

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Michael Constantine
B.A., Sport Leadership, Administration, & Community
Faculty Mentors: Adam Beissel, Department of Kinesiology and David Andrews, Department of Kinesiology

Michael joined IVSP in 2012 with a major in Sport Leadership, Administration, & Community, which can be defined as the study of sport in relation to the idea of sport as a business and as part of the social community in which it is played and supported. For his Capstone project, he studied a local youth soccer team as a part of greater research on how Hispanic-American culture is influencing youth soccer in particular and U.S. soccer in general.

During his time at Maryland, Michael worked diligently for the University’s Facilities, Operations, and Events division of the Athletic Department, helping run all types of games and large scale events. Michael was an intern for the Marketing Department of the Baltimore Ravens during the 2014 season, working on partnership activation and youth football outreach. Michael plans to work in either the community relations or marketing department of an NFL franchise, preferably the New York Jets or the Baltimore Ravens.

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Ayanna Cotton
B.A., Innovation, Design, & Society
Faculty Mentor: Faedra Chatard Carpenter, Department of Theatre Studies

Ayana Zaire graced the University of Maryland her sophomore year to pursue a B.A. in Innovation, Design, & Society while minoring in Technology Entrepreneurship and Philosophy. Her major consists of business, art, sociology, and philosophy classes. Through her major she has been able to marry her passions by connecting her creative community here in Washington and eventually abroad by employing innovative marketing strategies.

During Ayana’s sophomore year she started a retail business named Evlove, which gave female college students virtual currency for their fashionable clothes. With this new currency they could "purchase” other students’ clothes. Through the business she helped UMD students exchange over 100 garments, and she was able to hire four interns. Then, in her junior year, she started a feminist t-shirt series titled #IBEWOMEN with t-shirts reading, "Your Idea of Beauty is My Idea of Bullsh*t”. She had three different versions of the tees and each sold out. In her senior year she started a magazine titled Distrikt, which showcases the style, art, and culture of the young creative community in the DC metro area. The magazine was carried in Meeps, Art Under Pressure, SMASH!, and Joint Custody, and has sold out in all four stores. Since then Ayana has partnered with "A Creative DC”, an organization that connects Washington’s artists.

Her plans after graduation are to help "A Creative DC” plan and build DC’s first co-working space for creatives. This co-working space will not only act as a physical gathering space for artists, but it will also host pop-up shops, exhibition shows, and workshops. Ayana hosted the first sold out workshop titled "How to Make Your Creative Craft Your Fulltime Job” which was wildly successful. Moving forward, Ayana is excited to uncover new ways to empower artists through business skills.

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Sagar Doshi
B.S., Social Innovation & Philanthropic Management
Double Major: Finance
Faculty Mentor: Robert Grimm, School of Public Policy

Sagar is honored to be graduating from the University of Maryland with a B.S. in Social Innovation & Philanthropic Management. Through the Individual Studies Program, Sagar was able to create an academic major that reflected his two major passions: business and philanthropy. This major develops broad insights and practical skills about creating social change through business practice, financial planning, and economic development. There are three distinct areas of study: Business Management, Finance, and Global Issues and Social Change.

Sagar is also majoring in Finance from the Robert H. Smith School of Business, graduating with a 3.92 cumulative GPA. To complement his major, Sagar has had internship experiences at Oikocredit USA, Fannie Mae, and Google. Throughout his four years at the University of Maryland, Sagar has volunteered in Honduras twice with Students Helping Honduras and won 1st place in the Do Good Challenge, a campus wide philanthropy competition. Sagar is also involved on campus as a Honors100 Section Leader, a tour guide with Maryland Images, and a member of Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society.

Post-graduation, Sagar will be working in D.C. as a Business Analyst at Deloitte Consulting. He hopes to take on projects in their Social Impact service line and one day create his own nonprofit organization focused on poverty and education. He would like to take this time to thank Lori, Dr. Burton, Professor Grimm, and most importantly his parents for all their support.

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Margaret Doyle
B.A., Urban Policy Studies
Faculty Mentor: Jim Cohen, School of Architecture

Margaret Barnard Doyle is incredibly excited to graduate Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Maryland with a double major in Urban Policy Studies and Government and Politics. Her IVSP major in Urban Policy Studies enabled her to combine her fascination with cities and urban studies with her passion for policy, and she graduates with a head full of urban studies, geography, political science, economics, sociology, and history to inform her. Also part of her major was an internship with the EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities. For her Capstone project, she wrote a report on the challenges facing Washington, D.C. in the provision of affordable housing, offering policy solutions to address the problem.

Outside of her IVSP studies, Margaret has been deeply involved on campus. This year, she finished her tenure in the Residence Hall Association as Vice President; served as Co-President of Sex Week at Maryland, a sex education initiative; and worked as a tutor at the university’s Writing Center. In addition to EPA, she interned with a nonprofit, Communities for Transit, and UMD’s National Center for Smart Growth, where she worked on the Purple Line Corridor Coalition. She also participated (as both a student and a teaching assistant) in the Energy & Environmental Policy concentration of the Federal Semester program.

Margaret is a proud member of Omicron Delta Kappa and Phi Sigma Alpha, the leadership and political science honors societies, respectively. Thankfully, she doesn’t have to leave UMD just yet—Margaret is in a five-year BA/MPP program and will continue her studies in social and urban policy next year at Maryland’s School of Public Policy.

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Benjamin Ellison
B.S., Biomechanics
Faculty Mentor: Adam Hsieh, Fischell Department of Bioengineering

Benjamin Ellison was born and raised in Charleston, SC. His major, Biomechanics, studies the structure and function of living organisms and how these structures contribute to motion. Biomechanics consists of three concentrations: Biological and Chemical Background, Mechanical and Quantitative Background, and Kinesiology and Prosthetics. For his Capstone, Benjamin summarized the findings of material properties of different types of tendons through a literature review.

In addition to creating his own major, some of Benjamin’s other University of Maryland accomplishments include working at the Rosenbloom Hillel Center, playing on the club water polo team, and working at the Orthopedic Mechanobiology lab. After graduation, he plans on moving to Israel and will eventually utilize his degree in Biomechanics.

Benjamin Ellison was born and raised in Charleston, SC. His major, Biomechanics, studies the structure and function of living organisms and how these structures contribute to motion. Biomechanics consists of three concentrations: Biological and Chemical Background, Mechanical and Quantitative Background, and Kinesiology and Prosthetics. For his Capstone, Benjamin summarized the findings of material properties of different types of tendons through a literature review. In addition to creating his own major, some of Benjamin’s other University of Maryland accomplishments include working at the Rosenbloom Hillel Center, playing on the club water polo team, and working at the Orthopedic Mechanobiology lab. After graduation, he plans on moving to Israel and will eventually utilize his degree in Biomechanics.

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Tal Lee
B.S., Public Health & Structural Inequalities
Faculty Mentor: Donna Howard, Department of Behavioral & Community Health

Tal Lee is enthusiastic about graduating with a B.S. in Public Health & Structural Inequalities. IVSP has provided Tal with the unique opportunity to study the access and quality of healthcare in relation to a variety of social determinants through diverse coursework. Tal’s studies included a summer Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Health study abroad program in India, where she explored disparities in the Indian healthcare system and conducted research on the rising rates of cervical cancer among rural women.

In addition to her coursework, Tal has been a HEALTHWorks Peer Educator at the University of Maryland Health Center for two years and assists her peers in achieving their wellness goals. Inspired by the meaningful impact of peer outreach, Tal created the Greek Health Center Liaison Program at the Health Center for her Capstone project. This program is now a permanent program at the Health Center, training leaders in the Greek community to advocate for their peers’ mental wellbeing. Tal also participated in the Federal Semester Program and interned at the National Library of Medicine, where she carried out virtual health outreach to minority populations.

Following graduation, Tal will be working with Project Renewal in New York City for one year providing accessible and affordable health care to homeless and underserved communities. After her year of service Tal plans to pursue her passion for improving the lives of others and combating health disparities by becoming a primary care physician and working with marginalized populations.

Tal would like to thank Dr. Howard, Dr. Burton, Lori Praniewicz, Sarah Wilson, and her parents their unwavering support, guidance, and positivity.

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Terrence Maliff
B.A., Urban Planning & Renewal
Faculty Mentor: Jim Cohen, School of Architecture

Terrence joined the Individual Studies Program in the spring of 2013. With a strong interest in both architecture and criminal justice, Terrence decided to create a major in the field of Urban Planning & Renewal. His major focuses on the study of city and community building with attention to issues of social inequalities. Broken into four facets, Terrence took classes relating to the foundations of architecture and the environment, urban renewal, geography, and crime and economics.

For Terrence’s Capstone, he studied how the pattern of crime changed when specific neighborhoods were gentrified. He chose neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. including Columbia Heights and Shaw-Howard. He obtained crime data from a number of sources to support his hypothesis.

A member of the track and field team, Terrence competed in the 400-meter hurdles and made the All-ACC Academic team in 2014 for his accomplishments on the track and in the classroom. He plans to find a job in the field of land development or real estate development in the future.

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Amara Ndumele
B.S., Global Health Equity & Epidemiology
Faculty Mentor: Justicia Opoku-Edusei, Department of Biology

Amara came to the University of Maryland to embark upon an experience that will help her change the lives of others around her by earning a B.S. in Global Health Equity & Epidemiology. She created this major to seek an in-depth and holistic understanding of health inequalities. For her senior capstone project, she conducted a literature review that aimed to understand why women of childbearing age in Sub-Saharan Africa are disproportionately affected by preventable and treatable sexually transmitted infections, and the impact such infections have on infant mortality and morbidity. She then proposed the development of a social innovation project in reproductive health for young girls called the WOW Campaign.

At Maryland, Amara served as the Community Service Chair and President of the African Student Association and interned at Department of Health and Human Services through the Federal Semester Program. She also worked as a Resident Assistant, Teaching Assistant for Anatomy and Physiology, Peer Educator at the University Health Center, and Pre-Medicine and Minority Student Mentor. She served as the only black member of the Student Government Association Health and Wellness Committee to represent and advocate for minority health and civil rights on campus. She was inducted into the Charles R. Drew Pre Medicine Society, WEB DuBois Honors Society and the Public Health Honors Society. She was nominated as a Top Ten Spirit of Maryland Finalist in fall 2014.

As an aspiring physician, her goal is not only to be challenged by the atmosphere of a clinical or hospital setting, but also by the health disparities that impact a community. After college, she will work as a Student Clinical Researcher at the Anne Arundel Medical Center and will be going to Ghana to serve with the Unite for Sight, a global health organization, in August. Her faith is greater than the fear of the future.

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Lili Notovitz
B.A., Digital Media & Marketing
Faculty Mentor: Kent Norman, Department of Psychology

Lili is currently a senior, double majoring in Psychology and Digital Media & Marketing. She is originally from Great Neck, NY, but is interested in moving out to California to pursue work in the film industry. She created the Digital Media & Marketing major with IVSP because of her passion for technology and its ability to shape the world through well-crafted messages.

On campus, Lili is an alumna of CIVICUS. She also served as the Fellowship VP of the service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, and is now serving as their Webmaster. Lili is also the Co-Sponsorship Director for Student Entertainment Events (SEE) and runs the SEE Review Board. She currently interns with REACT to FILM, a nonprofit that uses documentary films to promote social responsibility and spark civic engagement. She has also worked as a Teaching Specialist at The Gateway Counseling Center, interned at the Rogosin Dialysis Unit in past semesters, and served as the photography intern for The UM Office of Sustainability, producing promotional photos and graphics.

For her Capstone project, Lili recreated the website of Alpha Phi Omega, in order to increase internal organization and to better project their mission and chapter to the world. She used Adobe Muse to create an integrated site, which it will serve to connect and inform current members, prospective members, alumni, and any other relevant parties.

Lili would like to thank Lori and Dr. Burton for their help throughout this process, without whom she would have not been able to pursue this endeavor. She would also like to thank her mentor, Dr. Kent Norman, for the support and advice he gave that shaped her academic experience with IVSP. Lili thanks her parents for not only putting her through an out-of-state university, but helping her with so much along the way.

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Sydney Perlotto
B.A., Global Social Change & Development
Faculty Mentor: James Riker, Beyond the Classroom

Sydney is delighted to be graduating Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in Global Social Change & Development and a minor in International Development and Conflict Management. Her IVSP major combines concentrations in social change, international development, and Latin America to create an active learning experience that views development through a social justice lens while drawing from intensive regional knowledge. She is passionate about women’s rights and stopping the cycle of violence against women and girls.

For her Capstone project, she teamed up with three other students to enter an international development case competition, where they submitted a project proposal focusing on clean water and women’s rights in the Mayagna indigenous communities of Nicaragua. The experience simulated real world development processes and sparked an interest in the intersection of gender and environmental justice.

During her undergraduate career, Sydney has been fortunate enough to travel to Chile, Costa Rica, Panama, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic to learn about community development at the grassroots level. At Maryland, she is an avid devotee of the Leadership and Community Service Learning Office, serving as an Alternative Breaks Experience Leader twice. As a student in the Beyond the Classroom Nonprofit Leadership program, Sydney won the Civic Leadership Award during her junior year. Additionally, Sydney is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society, and was selected as a University Medal finalist for the class of 2015. She looks forward to pursuing a career and lifestyle that strives for active citizenship and social justice.

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Michael Perrotta
B.S., Neuroscience
Faculty Mentor: Yasmeen Faroqi-Shah, Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences

Michael Perrotta considers himself very lucky to be graduating as part of the Individual Studies Program. After a few long semesters of searching for a major, Michael joined the Maryland Neuroscience Society. He quickly realized his passion in neuroscience and became president of the club the following semester. The wonderful staff at the IVSP office then helped him craft a Neuroscience degree. This custom curriculum allowed him to study abroad twice—in Copenhagen and in Dublin.

Michael also joined and became president of the Meditation Club at the University of Maryland. He was able to merge his interests in meditation and neuroscience in the creation of his Capstone project: creating a device to help people learn to meditate. Michael joined the Startup Shell, a student-created co-working space on campus. He credits this space to inspiring and assisting him in taking this product to market.

Michael is thrilled for his future and knows that being part of the Individual Studies Program, the Startup Shell, the Maryland Neuroscience Society, the Meditation Club, the Child Development Laboratory, and of course the Maryland Adventure Program, has greatly shaped this exciting future.

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Folashade Pratt
B.A., Design & the Built Environment
Faculty Mentor: Madlen Simon, School of Architecture

Shade is excited to be graduating from the University of Maryland with a B.A. in Design & the Built Environment. Her major combines components of art, architecture, engineering, and sustainability. These concentrations were each used within her capstone project, in which she used the design thinking process to aid her in the creation of a multifunctional piece of furniture: a chair that turns into a coffee table and vice versa.

Shade was an athlete for both the Women’s Soccer team and Women’s Track team all four years at Maryland. She was named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll for the 2013-2014 school year and Big-Ten Academic All-Conference for the Fall 2014 semester.

During her senior year she held two graphic design intern positions, one for the Office of Sustainability and the other for the Marketing Office in the Athletic Department. She also joined and became a coach for Grassroots, which is the only non-profit organization solely run by Division I athletes in the nation, where she taught inner city kids about HIV and AIDS.

Through the Individual Studies Program, Shade was able to create an academic major that reflected her true passion, and she is excited to further her education as she pursues a Masters in Industrial Design.

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Adan Ramos
B.A., Sustainability for the Built Environment
Faculty Mentor: Jim Cohen, School of Architecture

Adan is graduating with a double major in Sustainability in the Built Environment as well as Architecture. His IVSP major focuses on how sustainability relates to the built environment. For his capstone paper, Adan studied how to design a sustainable community for Baltimore looking at the environmental, social, and economic lenses to find the best practice methods.

Four years at the University of Maryland has given Adan opportunities to explore a wide diversity of his interests, including landscape, economics, sociology, urbanism, sustainability, and design. His experiences have instilled in him a passion for social sustainability that he hopes to apply working in Baltimore for two years before returning to Graduate School.

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Alyssa Snider
B.A., International Development
Faculty Mentor: Stacy Kosko, Department of Government & Politics

Alyssa is graduating with a degree in International Development. This interdisciplinary major combines policy, economics, and anthropology to provide a broad and deep understanding of how to improve the quality of life for people around the world. During her time in college, Alyssa studied abroad in Chile and Ghana. She was a member of the Catholic Student Association, the Film Symphony Orchestra, the Gamer Symphony Orchestra, and the Maryland Equestrian Club. She was also a speaking partner for students learning English and a leader in the Upward Bound Pre-College Program. She is an Honors Humanities student, a Banneker-Key Scholar, a Behavioral and Social Sciences Emerging Scholar, and a member of Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society. Alyssa is deeply grateful to her professors and mentors, who support and encourage her; to her wonderful friends, who are her source of strength; to her parents and family, who have taught her what unconditional love is; and to God, who guides her in every step of her journey.

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Jennifer Wivell
B.A., Medieval Studies
Faculty Mentor: Rose-Marie Oster, School of Languages, Literatures, & Cultures

Jennifer Wivell is ecstatic to be graduating with degrees in Medieval Studies and Germanic Studies. Medieval Studies is an interdisciplinary study of the Middle Ages, encompassing history, religious studies, cultural studies, women’s studies, and languages to create a holistic foundation. Within her major, Jennifer focused especially on medieval Scandinavia and Church history.

Jennifer has had a wonderful four years at the University of Maryland. She completed the Honors Humanities program and is a member of Phi Alpha Theta – National History Honor Society and Delta Phi Alpha – National German Honor Society. She was a member and apartment leader of the Language House’s German Cluster and was President of the German Club. Jennifer has been involved at the Catholic Student Center all four years. This semester, Jennifer has been blessed with a trip to Sweden and to the 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, MI. She has also had two other wonderful experiences abroad: a summer in Lüneburg, Germany and Oslo, Norway. Some of her fondest memories at UMD have happened in the Individual Studies office, where she worked as a student assistant thiiues past year. Jennifer is beyond excited to be walking El Camino de Santiago de Compostela, a 500-mile pilgrimage through northern Spain, with Alyssa after graduation.

Jennifer sends a heartfelt thank you to Dr. Burton, Lori, and her mentor, Dr. Oster, for supporting her and making her dream education experience a reality; her IVSP peers for being a constant inspiration; and her parents, Eric and Annette, brother, Robin, and friends for their unwavering support and for putting up with her crazy antics. And, of course, she thanks her best friend, Alyssa, for dragging Jennifer into the IVSP office to turn her academic passion into a major in the nick of time.


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Individual Studies Program  Campus Location: 2407 Marie Mount Hall
Appointments: 301.314.0023  Email: individualstudies@umd.edu
IVSP is a degree granting academic program of the Office of Undergraduate Studies