Previous Alumni Spotlight

Meet Danielle Barber 

professional-headshot.jpgDanielle earned two associate degrees: one in general studies and another in communication. Since then, she transferred to the University of Maryland Global Campus, where she’s pursuing a bachelor’s degree in communication studies. She is currently working for the Nonprofit Institute at CSM and the CSM Foundation.

What year did you graduate?  2022

Why did you choose CSM? I chose to attend CSM for several reasons. The college was close to home, and it was an affordable option for my family. I was also familiar with the institution from Kids’ & Teens College and completing my driver’s education with CSM. Most importantly, I attended since I did not know what degree or career path to pursue after high school. I initially pursued a general education degree so I could have more time to make decisions regarding both topics.

How did CSM prepare you for what you are doing today?  My experiences at CSM have established my current educational path and career path. While pursuing my general education degree, I took the class Writing and Editing for the Web out of personal interest. When the class finished, I emailed the professor, Cara Fogarty, to ask for more information about local volunteer opportunities. Due to the quality of my classwork, she offered me a part-time paid internship with the Nonprofit Institute at CSM. I later learned that this internship was part of the Work-Based Learning Program. After completing my internship, I became the Nonprofit Institute’s Outreach Specialist. The job introduced me to writing informational articles and managing social media content. I will continue developing these skills and more in my new job position with the CSM Foundation. My work experiences have made me realize that pursuing a career in the communications field suits me best.

What’s your favorite CSM memory? My favorite CSM memory is when I attended my graduation. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I could not attend an in-person graduation ceremony with my high school classmates. Participating in CSM’s graduation ceremony gave me the chance to experience that moment with my college peers. At the time, I was also happy that I finished the first chapter of my post-secondary education.

What advice do you have for CSM alumni and current students? My biggest piece of advice to students and alumni is that it’s okay if you do not know what degree and/or job positions to pursue. The important thing is that you work towards figuring out which educational and career options are right for you. Making any progress, even if only a little, is better than none. I especially emphasize the importance of networking with like-minded peers, professors, and professionals during the process. Having a team of people to guide and support you is crucial for achieving educational and career success.

I would like to thank the people in my life who have enabled me to pursue my educational and professional opportunities. I want to thank my parents for funding my college education, as well as giving me love and support. I also want to thank Cara Fogarty and Michelle Sullivan for giving me the chance to start gaining work experience in my career field. Additionally, I want to thank Toni Kruszka and Marie Domenech for giving me another opportunity to grow professionally. Finally, I want to thank anyone else who has given me help and encouragement during my college journey so far.

MEET THE HONORABLE ANDREA WATKINS '8120139-andrea-watkins1.jpg


Andrea earned her associate degree in 1981. Since then, she has earned her bachelor’s and law degrees. She is an Associate Judge for the District Court of Maryland for Charles County. 

What year did you graduate? 1981

 Why did you choose CSM? I chose CSM because my father was employed there and children of employees were able to attend at a reduced tuition rate. I am also the fourth of six children, had attended the College’s Summer sports camp, had an older brother attending already, and I felt very comfortable at the college. I started taking classes in my Senior year of high school and I was strongly encouraged to take a typing class over the Summer months since there would be many papers to type once in college.  

 Where are you doing now? I am an attorney by training and education and currently serve on the bench for the District Court of Maryland sitting in Charles County.

 How did CSM prepare you for what you are doing today?  Attending CSM laid the groundwork for my future education. I met many wonderful friends there from different backgrounds and had some great teachers. Professor Josephine Williams was a wonderful and challenging English instructor and, in some ways, inspired me to work towards a major in English. Clem Riley oversaw the Student Government Association and was also a lively professor in Government class. Some other notable instructors were Professor Rea (Psychology), Professor Quesada (Philosophy and French), Professor Ron Brown (History), and Coach Nila Toribio (First Aid class and Tennis coach).

 What advice do you have for CSM alumni and current students? My advice for current students is, in the words of Dory, “just keep swimming.” What seems difficult and daunting at first, whether it’s a new job or going to college, usually gets better with time, patience, and perseverance.


Meet Kelly Williams '10kelly-williams-pic.jpg

Kelly earned her associate degree in 2010. Since then, she has earned her bachelor's degree in human resources management. She currently works for a Department of Defense contractor.

Why did you choose CSM?
I had just moved to the area from Los Angeles, California. I was working a full-time job and I wanted to go back to school to finish my degree. I needed a school that I could get a valuable education along with flexibility for the non-traditional student.

Where are you now?
Am currently working in Human Resources for a DOD government contractor and living in California, Maryland.

How did CSM prepare you for what you are doing today?
CSM has helped me enhance my communication, leadership and public speaking skills. I also love helping and mentoring other students who are interested in the Human Resources profession.

What advice do you have for CSM alumni and current students?
Life is full of obstacles, hurdles, twists and turns. It doesn't matter how fast you go as long as you work towards the finish line and reach your goal.

Where are you from?
I am originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and moved to the Southern Maryland Area from Los Angeles, California

What is your favorite CSM memory?
Besides finally graduating, I really enjoyed an organization that I was involved in called “Women on Campus”. We had some great times and I am still friends with some of the women from the organization to this day.

Did you transfer to another institution after graduation?
Yes, I transferred to the University of Maryland University college to pursue a Bachelor's degree in Human resources Management.


Meet Brooke Brown '15brooke-brown-photo.jpg

Brooke is a DoD employee at Patuxent River Naval Base. She is also the owner of Bashes by Brooke Brown, a mix of high energy fun mixology courses and restaurant consulting.

Why did you choose CSM?

I chose CSM because I saw people around me go off to college and they were drowning in debt. I wanted to earn my degree at a reasonable price so I chose to go the path of community college. Turns out CSM has many more perks. Smaller class sizes being one of them, which allows you to create a relationship with your teacher and get more one on one experience and knowledge from them.

Where are you now?

I am currently working on Patuxent River Naval Base as a DoD employee but I also run my own business called Bashes by Brooke Brown. Bashes by Brooke is a mix of high energy fun mixology courses and restaurant consulting. I go into restaurants and train employees on service and teach them how to make craft cocktails. I also teach cocktail courses to the community and even with CSM alumni!

How did CSM prepare you for what you are doing today?

CSM has prepared me for today by introducing me to some fantastic individuals and teaching me that the power of networking can be life changing.

What advice do you have for CSM alumni and current students?

Get involved with your school and stay in tune to what is going on. You never know what opportunity might get you further along your career path. Networking with the right people gave me the opportunity to multiple internships (ESPN, Fox 5 News, iHeart Radio) and job opportunities- so talk to strangers! Stay involved- even when you leave. I was recently added to CSM alumni committee and have been able to meet new people and assist CSM in their upcoming alumni events.

Where are you from?

Currently reside in Leonardtown, MD. But grew up in Dallas, Texas.

What is your favorite CSM memory?

My favorite memory at CSM was when I received the opportunity to be on a Women's Leadership panel. I was able to stand next to some fierce business women and talk about how women can enter a male dominated industry and still succeed.

Did you transfer to another institution after graduation?

Yes, I continued my education with UMUC getting my bachelor's degree in communication.

k-waters.pngMeet Kenneth "Kenny" Waters, Jr. '14

Kenny earned two degrees at CSM in 2014: Associate of Arts: Theater and Dance and an Associate of Arts: Arts and Humanities. Since then, he has earned a Bachelor of Science in Theatre from Frostburg State University, graduating summa sum laude. He currently serves as an educator, designer, and production stage manager for Roxy Regional Theatre in Clarksville, Tennessee.

Why did you choose CSM?

I originally started in 2000, when it was called Charles County Community College, right after high school because I didn't have a college lined up and because that's what I thought I had to do. I didn't have any direction or motivation to really continue school. The professors then, namely theater director C. Emmitt Woodey, gave me a purpose and a reason to continue school. But, life got in the way and I dropped out in 2004 after switching majors from Theatre to Computer Science (because outside forces told me a theatre degree wouldn't amount to anything), then only taking one class a semester before just stopping. In 2010, a year after the death of C. Emmitt Woodey, I was introduced to Keith Hight, the new theater director and advisor for the Theater Department. He was putting together a show for the Capital Fringe Festival in Washington, D.C., something that hadn't been done before for the College of Southern Maryland Theater Department. Thanks to a friend that was still in the department, Deidre Locklear, I auditioned. Keith looked at me and said, "Do you have your four-year degree?" I said no. He looked confused and asked why. I couldn't answer it. That got me thinking, "Maybe it's time to come back." The department had grown, and the courses had become more vigorous and that was truly intimidating! And I was already in my late 20's at this point, in a career that I had been building upon for over a decade! But I heard Emmitt's voice in my head saying, “You know this is what you are supposed to be doing!” I couldn't argue with that. He was right. I should be doing theater. I should have my degree by now. But I put it off, I didn't want to give up my cushy job to go back to school. 

November of 2010, I was cast in "Pirates of Penzance," a wonderful Gilbert and Sullivan operetta full of farce and song and dance. A good friend of mine came to see the show. His name is Bobby Balint. I've known this man since he was seven years old, and he was one of the dwarves in CSM's production of Snow White and The Seven Dwarves. He was a senior in high school getting ready to graduate and go and pursue his dreams of being on Broadway at a four-year university. After the show he came up to me and said, “You should really get your degree. You are too good to not have your degree in this.” Again, someone else had said it to me. And again, I ignored it.

March 26th 2011, Robert Edward Balint passed away in his sleep. At 17 years old, a week before opening night for his final high school musical performance of “The West Side Story” where he was playing Tony. His words echoed in my head again. I knew what I had to do.

To honor the memory of Emmitt and Bobby, in 2012 I quit my cushy job, worked part-time for another, and enrolled back in school at the College of Southern Maryland. This place was my home, and the only place I knew I had to go to continue my education.

Where are you now?

I'm currently living in Clarksville, Tennessee. I work for Roxy Regional Theatre where I am an educator, a designer, and the production stage manager. I'm currently teaching sound design, livestreaming, and stage management. Every Wednesday and Saturday we do a live book reading series with the executive director, Ryan Bowie, on our Facebook page. Just search Roxy Regional Theatre!

In addition, myself and several others  started an online production company in June 2020 called We Thr3e Queens Productions, creating content and productions for the LGBTQIA+ community offering educational information, entertainment, and interviews with members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Visit our website at for more information!

And finally, I host a weekly podcast called “The Whole Note” where myself and a guest will introduce people to a musical that they probably never heard of or will be reintroduced to. For more information my podcast, visit

How did CSM prepare you for what you are doing today?

CSM helped so much! My work ethic is because of the very rigorous theatrical courses that Keith Hight had developed, pushing us beyond our own limitations to discover our true talents. My love for sound, stage management, and other designing aspects came from CSM.

What advice do you have for CSM alumni and current students?

DO NOT GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS AT ANY AGE! It's never too late. You are good enough! If you work hard, you will get the benefits!

Where are you from?

I'm from Maryland. Charles County. I graduated from Westlake High School in 2000. Go Wolverines!

Did anyone else in your family attend CSM?

My Mother, Addie Leonard, graduated from CSM to help further her career as a counselor working for The Center for Children.

Did you receive scholarships while at CSM – if so which one(s)?

This part. This part right here was probably one of the most emotional moments at CSM. I was the first recipient of the C. Emmitt Woodey Theater Scholarship. My final year at CSM was completely paid for between grants and this scholarship. It meant the world to me because I saw it as Emmitt saying, “You got this Kenny! I'm proud of you!”

Needless to say, I am a homegrown College of Southern Maryland alum. I owe a debt to this place. Thank you, CSM, for not only believing in me but pushing me to become my absolute best!

Stay amazing you beautiful creatures!

MEET Nicole Ransom ‘14nicole-headshot.jpg


Nicole is a wealth management associate with The Rosenfield Group at Morgan Stanley, She is also the owner of WorkIt Online Clothing Boutique, which provides fashionable, unique, versatile, and affordable business attire to women.

What year did you graduate?

I started CSM in 2008 after I graduated high school.  Like many fresh-out-of-high-school students, I struggled to figure out my path in life and ended up taking quite some time off of school.  After about 4 years of catching my bearings, I made the decision to go back to school and finally graduated from CSM in 2014.

Why did you choose CSM?

Initially I chose CSM out of convenience.  It was expected for me to attend college after graduating high school and CSM had several campuses that were easily accessible to me.  After taking time away from school, I made the decision to come back to CSM because of the amazing faculty.  Once I made connections with some very impactful teachers and administrators, I knew that CSM is where I would be able to grow and thrive.

What are you doing now?

Now, I work for The Rosenfield Group at Morgan Stanley and have been doing so for the past 8 years.  In my time here, I have obtained my associates degree at CSM, bachelor's degree at UMUC, and Series 7 and 66 certifications.  I live in Bryantown, MD with my amazing husband, Dylan, and two kittens, Raja and Jazzy.  Out of our home, I run my side business, GirlBoss Boutique, which focuses on providing fashionable, unique, versatile, and affordable business attire and accessories to women all over the US. 

What is your favorite CSM memory?

My favorite CSM memory has to do with failing an English class.  I took an English class within my first few semesters at CSM that seemed completely over my head.  I took notes, asked questions, and did everything else I could to comprehend the content of this class and it didn't matter - I flunked every assignment. When I returned to CSM, I had to re-take this English class in order to proceed with getting my associates degree.  I was dreading it!  Thankfully, I had the absolute BEST administrator who recommended a specific professor to me for this course.  This professor took a different perspective of the course than my first instructor and something in my head finally clicked.  For the first time in my entire life, I got an A on every single assignment.  Through this experience, I came to the realization that I was more capable than I thought.

Did you transfer to another institution after graduation?  If so, where and what degree did you acquire?

After I graduated from CSM, I took a couple years to focus on my Series 7 and Series 66 exams that I needed to obtain for work.  After I passed both exams, I enrolled in University of Maryland University College and graduated in 2019 with a bachelor's degree in Marketing.

What advice to you have for CSM alumni and current students?

It is never too late to go back to school – live is ever-changing, so there is always something new to learn, something new to interest you, and somewhere you can advance.




Teirra earned an Associate of Science in nursing from CSM in 2008. Since then, she has earned a Bachelor of Science in nursing, a Master of Science in nursing education, and a Master of Business Administration degree. She currently serves as an ambulatory nurse case manager for a Fortune 500 company, performing in-depth mental and/or physical health analysis of clients within the tristate area - ensuring clients are connected with healthcare resources in the traditional healthcare settings as well as in the community.

Why did you choose CSM?

Choosing CSM was not just about saving money. It was also about selecting a higher education institution that offered support, flexibility, and access. The smaller class size at CSM allowed for a better group dynamic within the traditional class setting and various community practicum settings. The focus at CSM is student centered.

Where are you now?

Currently I am an ambulatory nurse case manager at a Fortune 500 health care organization, performing in-depth mental and/or physical health analysis of clients within the tristate area - ensuring clients are connected with healthcare resources in the traditional healthcare settings as well as in the community.

What is your favorite CSM memory?

My favorite CSM memories were the various nursing study sessions as a group in the back of the Library. We would all come strolling in to the library with our huge backpack on wheels that probably weighed 25-30 pounds.

How did CSM prepare you for what you are doing today?

CSM prepared me for real life experiences within the nursing profession. Being able to complete nursing clinicals within rural and suburban communities, as well as the inner-city institutions like Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC., exposed me to the diversity in healthcare coordination.

Did you transfer to another institution after graduation? If so, where and what degree did you acquire?

I transferred to the University of Phoenix for my Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN), Masters of Nursing in Education (MSN-ED), and my Masters in Business Administration (HealthCare Management)

What advice to you have for current students?

It is important to map out your future on paper. To help establish goals and set timelines as it applies to your education. The resources, professors, and sense of community available at CSM provides a solid foundation for achievement to both personal and professional goals.



Jay Lilly and family
Celebrating the renaming of three areas in the Community Education Building to honor the Lilly family from left are CSM Faculty Emeriti and Former Dean of Arts and Sciences Josephine Williams, Joel Lilly '76, Jay Lilly '75, Chris Lilly, Mary Lilly and former CSM Academic Advisor Maryland Del. Edith Patterson.


CSM Honors Lilly Family During Naming Ceremony at La Plata Campus Community Education Building

The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) recently named the lobby, wing and conference room in the Community Education (CE) Building at the La Plata Campus in recognition of the Lilly family and their recent legacy gifts to CSM.

Brothers and CSM alumni Jay and Joel Lilly, and Jay's wife, Mary Lilly, were recognized for their legacy planned gifts in support of CSM Foundation scholarships in the amount of $250,000 each, totaling more than $500,000. The various rooms were named in honor of them, and in memory of Jay and Joel's parents Ethelmae and Reuben.

“On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the college, we are proud to recognize and honor our alumni, Jay and Joel, and our dear friend Mary, who are so supportive of everything we do,” said CSM President and Dr. Maureen Murphy during the renaming ceremony. “It is truly an honor to recognize them and their generosity.”

The Lilly brothers started their college careers at CSM more than four decades ago. Both Jay, class of 1975, and Joel, class of 1976, said that they greatly benefitted from scholarships when they attended CSM and they wanted to create the same opportunities for other students to learn and achieve.

Their passion for CSM is evident. The Lilly family has established three annual and one endowed scholarship fund: the Coldwell Banker Jay Lilly Real Estate Scholarship Fund for Construction Trades and Industrial Training; the Coldwell Banker Jay Lilly Real Estate “Reward for Referral” Program; the Ethelmae M. Lilly Memorial Annual Scholarship; and the Ethelmae M. Lily Memorial Endowed Scholarship.

“CSM provided a great foundation for both Joel and I,” said Jay, speaking on behalf of the family during the naming ceremony. “It is our pleasure and honor to make this legacy gift.”

According to the Lilly brothers, their CSM experience allowed them to further continue their education to prepare for their professional careers. Both transferred from the community college – Jay continued his college career at Georgetown University and Joel at the University of Maryland – earning their bachelor's degrees and then returning to Southern Maryland to work and live. Today, Jay is the broker/owner of Coldwell Banker Jay Lilly Real Estate with his wife, Mary, and Joel is retired from his position as store manager at Southern Tire in La Plata.

Jay has been a director on the CSM Foundation since 2008, serving as chair from 2013 to 2016. He was instrumental in launching the CSM Foundation's recent ‘Make an IMPACT' Campaign by making one of the first gifts when the campaign launched in 2015. Jay and Joel's most recent gift of $250,000 each, helped the CSM Foundation to surpass its $12 million goal which will support scholarships, programs, technology and innovation and entrepreneurship.

“While they were here in the mid-70s … we did not have a nursing program yet and our student population was 2,217,” Murphy said. “One thing that has not changed from the 70s, is that our students still need our support in accessing higher education. They need help ‘affording and navigating' their way through college, and that's our job. They depend on scholarships – like those being provided by the Lilly family – to make it through.”

“Many of us know the importance or impact of scholarships,” added CSM Foundation Chair Nancy Hempstead. “For many of our students here and across the nation, it is the difference between attending college, or not. It provides that opportunity to go full time, work less and focus on being a student.

“On behalf of the CSM Foundation and all of our donors, I want to thank Jay, Mary and Joel for making such an impact at CSM in the past, in the present and in the future,” Hempstead said. “We are grateful.”

During 2018, the College of Southern Maryland celebrates its 60th anniversary. Established as part of the continuing expansion of the community college in America, Charles County Junior College opened Sept. 17, 1958. The La Plata Campus was established at its present location in 1968, with college services expanding to St. Mary's County in 1978 and Calvert County in 1980. For information about the college's history, visit

Today, CSM is a regionally accredited community college that provides programs and services with a special focus on local workforce development to maintain and grow a healthy economy and community. CSM serves more than 24,000 credit and continuing education students at its campuses located in Hughesville, La Plata, Leonardtown and Prince Frederick, as well as a Higher Education Center shared with University of Maryland University College in Waldorf and a Center for Transportation Training in La Plata. For information about CSM, call 301-934-7765 or visit

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