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Entrepreneurship Scholarship Program Founder, Local Real Estate Firm Honored

Southern Management Companies to Receive Inaugural Presidential Flagship Award

By Laura Barnhardt Cech

Student at Southern Management Leadership Program welcome event

Prince Nwankwoala ’21 attends a welcome social for Southern Management Leadership Program students in Marie Mount Hall in February 2020. The University of Maryland is honoring Southern Management Companies today with its inaugural Presidential Flagship Award to recognize its longtime commitment to the university and Greater College Park.

Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle

An Army reservist studies musical arts without worrying about how she’ll pay the rent. A first-generation college student is graduating with a job at a major technology corporation. And an alum is running her own nonprofit, providing job training to homeless women.

They are just three students among hundreds supported in their academic and professional pursuits by Southern Management Companies, and part of why the company is being honored today with the University of Maryland’s inaugural Presidential Flagship Award.

Presented by UMD President Darryll J. Pines, the annual award honors the outstanding commitment of a university partner to the continued success of UMD and the growth of the Greater College Park ecosystem as an educational, research and business corridor. Today’s ceremony will celebrate Southern Management and its founders, Suzanne and David Hillman, who created the Southern Management Leadership Program 16 years ago. The company continues to partner with the university on projects such as The Hotel at University of Maryland and its new Visitor Center for UMD’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

“Southern Management shares our ambitious vision for the future. They have invested in our diverse student body and the Greater College Park community,” said Pines. “Their impact and generosity are extraordinary, and we are pleased to honor them with this award.”

The program has awarded more than 500 scholarships to students at Prince George’s Community College, Montgomery College and the University of Maryland. It also provides mentorship and guidance, with the goal of graduating ethical leaders who want to energize and give back to their local communities. Students earn a minor in technology entrepreneurship from the A. James Clark School of Engineering while building professional skills and participating in community and team-building activities.

“We are deeply honored by this award and the recognition of our company’s core value–giving back to the communities we serve,” said Suzanne Hillman, CEO and president of Southern Management Companies. “We have always been committed to being good corporate citizens where we do business and we remain absolutely dedicated to developing impactful, creative and inspiring local leaders.”

L. Audrey Awasom ʼ18 credits the SMLP with helping her achieve her goals. Today, she runs Noble Uprising, a nonprofit that empowers women in shelters with job readiness training and sustainable job opportunities.

“The SMLP was vital in my entrepreneurship journey,” she said. “It was through the program that the concept of Noble Uprising was planted and where the idea was tested and developed. Participating in the program gave me the opportunity to develop my business model and business strategies using the assignments in class.”

The company’s impact is also visible in its Graduate Hills & Gardens community for UMD students, and in the Cambria hotel, just up the street from The Hotel at the University of Maryland on Baltimore Avenue.

Southern Management provides complementary housing each year to a U.S. military veteran seeking a graduate degree at Maryland. This year’s recipient, Kat Robinson, is a member of the Army Reserve and the 300th Army Band who is pursuing her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in horn performance. She will perform at today’s Presidential Flagship Award ceremony.

Also speaking at the event will be Talita Fernandes de Oliveira, a first-generation college student under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act who is graduating with a degree in operations management and business analytics. She has a summer job lined up with IBM.

Schools & Departments:

Office of Undergraduate Studies

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