Of his grandparents' nine children and 40-some grandchildren, Westminster resident Mark Engle said he was the first to graduate from college. He thinks that drove him to put a higher value on education. Recently, he and his son Kyle both received degrees from the University of Maryland, just one week apart.
On May 17, Mark got his master's degree in cybersecurity from University of Maryland University College. The 1979 graduate of Westminster High School had already earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1984 from the Clark School of Engineering at University of Maryland College Park and a master's degree from University of Maryland University College in technology management in 1995.
"I like to stay busy," Mark said with a laugh.
The new degree was the next step for Mark after a 20-year career in the field of security. "For about 15 years I worked with most of the major airlines throughout the world, developing systems to operate over their communications network. Now, I work as a project manager for TSA," he said, explaining that the company he works for, Sev1Tech, has this contract with the Transportation Security Administration.
When asked why he would go back for a second master's degree, Mark said, "I've worked with high-availability secure data systems throughout my career. The master's in cybersecurity looked interesting."
On May 22, Kyle, a 2011 graduate of Winters Mill High School, walked the stage at University of Maryland College Park, receiving his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the Clark School of Engineering.
When asked why he chose to pursue the same degree as his dad, Kyle wrote in an email, "I chose the same degree because I've always enjoyed mathematics, as well as finding solutions to problems. I also went into school as the recession was ending and was looking for a degree that offered opportunities for a good job after four years where I could begin pursuing bigger goals. I saw through my father that electrical engineering opened a lot of those doors."
Kyle started his career June 1 with the company Exelis, part of Harris Corporation, in Greenbelt. In his job, he works as an engineer to support communication systems for the International Space Station.
Kyle described the place education plays in his life. "Education has always been important to me because of the guidance given to me by my parents and mentors," he wrote. "Education is a privilege that gives us the opportunity to change our world for the better, and a means to unite. With education, the gaps that divide become narrower and more people gain access to the benefits of a better world."
Kyle's sister Kristen graduated from University of Maryland College Park in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in biochemistry and Spanish and is now completing her doctorate at the University of Georgia in the field of plant biology.
Kristen is researching renewable energy for the U.S. Department of Energy, said Mark.
His youngest daughter, Rachel, is a junior at Winters Mill High School and taking classes at the Carroll County Career and Technology Center. She recently won the Carroll County and then Maryland's gold medal for graphics arts in the Bulletin Board category of the USA Skills competition. Next, she heads to the national competition in Louisville, Ky., to represent Maryland on June 20.
Mark said, "My wife, Deb, is responsible for all of our family's successes." She stayed at home and raised their children, he said, and for the past 10 years has had a career working for the federal government. "We see the value in education."
Talking about why education is important to him, Mark said, "For me, it is not only to earn promotions but also to make yourself more valuable as a person, learn how things operate and to understand the policy side of issues like cybersecurity. When good policies are in place it provides opportunity for understanding the importance of each other's information and a baseline to institute common guidelines for cooperation and collaboration."
Mark said it will be a while before he goes back to school again, as he focuses on his job. "It's very mission oriented," he said, "and I feel like I am doing a service for our country."
Animal Advocates event
By simply walking or running, you can help animals in need.
The Third Annual Animal Advocates of Carroll County's 5K Run/Walk and Vendor Fair will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 13, in Smallwood.
The event was previously held in Cape Horn Park, near Hampstead, but has been moved to Deer Park United Methodist Church, with the walk to travel through church property as well as the adjoining Deer Park. It is to benefit Animal Advocates of Carroll County.
Animal Advocates of Carroll County is a nonprofit "formed to promote the humane treatment of animals, responsible pet ownership, shelter pet adoption and pet spay and neuter, all with the goal of increasing the live release rate of animals from our local animal shelter," according to the organization's Facebook page.
The benefit event opens at 7 a.m. with the vendor fair, as well as coffee and doughnuts for sale to benefit Deer Park United Methodist Church. The vendor fair includes flea market items, homemade handcrafted items and some local businesses.
Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. and the 5K walk/run begins at 10 a.m. Walkers and runners are encouraged to participate with their dogs. Dogs will be available to "borrow" for those who wish to walk with a pet but do not have one of their own.
From 11:30 a.m. to noon, gift card prizes will be awarded in the church pavilion to the top three fastest runners and top two people to raise the most money. Door prizes will be awarded, too.
Lunch will be available for purchase from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., offered by Deer Park United Methodist Church; funds will benefit the needs of the church.
From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., visitors may stop by the church pavilion for a portrait with their pet, by Kristen Pauley Photography. The four-by-six-inch photo will cost $10. Also look for face painting for a donation, and other children's activities in the pavilion for $1 each. All proceeds of the photos, games and face painting will benefit Animal Advocates of Carroll County.
At 1 p.m., a Blessing of the Pets will be performed by the Rev. Pat Dols, pastor of Deer Park United Methodist Church.
"Funds raised at this event will also help us assist low-income residents and others with the cost of spay and neuter surgeries and other concerns," said Laura Shenk, founder and president of Animal Advocates of Carroll County.
Those who are not running or walking are welcome to come out and enjoy the food and other activities. Shenk said the group is also looking for more volunteers to register participants or serve in another capacity.
Shenk is asking that visitors and participants park at Deer Park, 637 Deer Park Road, and walk up to the church. The walk/run will begin and end in the church pavilion.