The University of Miami, located just outside the city of Miami, Florida, was first chartered in 1925. This was the same year a historic “land boom” was taking place, as people flocked to the state in search of a new life (and lots of sunshine). By the fall of 1926, the real estate bubble had popped, and a record-breaking hurricane brought devastation to the once-thriving city. The University of Miami held on, surviving the subsequent Great Depression and the Second World War. Despite such a challenging beginning, the university today is a shining beacon in higher education. Students and student athletes aptly call themselves the “Hurricanes”—perhaps as much of a testament to the tenacity of the university as its history.
At the university, students and young alumni alike rely on the Toppel Career Center for career resources and support. Their “Explore, Prepare, Connect” model is intended to “meet students where they are” with a myriad of programs.
“The Toppel Career Center is the centralized career center for the institution,” said Christian Garcia, Associate Dean and Executive Director, Toppel Career Center, University of Miami. “Our mission as a career center is to help provide students a foundation. It’s not about preparing them for one particular job, instead it’s about preparing them with the skills, tools, and knowledge to be able to do this over and over throughout their life.”
University of Miami has a racially and ethnically diverse student population: 25% of undergraduate students and 29% of graduate students identify as Hispanic or Latino, 12% of undergrads and 15% of graduate students identify as Asian/Pacific Islander, and 9% of undergraduates and 8% of graduate students identify as Black. “At Toppel, we always examine things through a diversity, equity and inclusion lens,” said Keashla Marengo, Associate Director, Career Readiness at Toppel. Keashla and the Toppel staff work closely with alumni relations, the LGBTQ student center, the multicultural students affairs center, and student government to structure a feedback loop and ensure student needs are being met.
Toppel’s 2025 Strategic Plan outlines five pillars for success, not the least of which is expanding opportunities for students to develop career readiness competencies. This focus area aligns closely with the initiative set forth by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).