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About Us

Mission: To help students and alumni develop career-related skills by providing high quality resources, services, programming and events that will prepare them for a lifetime of career success.

Vision: Empowering and Connecting a World of 'Canes.

Executive Director

Christian Garcia • (305) 284-5451 • 
Christian is a higher education professional with 15 years of experience in a variety of areas within student and academic affairs. He currently serves as the Executive Director of the Toppel Career Center, where he is responsible for the management and strategic direction of one of the country's most innovative and dynamic career centers. Previously, Christian served as Associate Director of Employer Relations, responsible for creating and maintaining relationships with employers representing a wide range of industries. He is currently working toward his doctoral degree with a dual concentration in Higher Education and Organizational Leadership. Christian earned his Master of Science degree in Higher Education from Florida State University and Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Florida International University. Prior to the UM, he worked at the University of Michigan and Millersville University of Pennsylvania.



Brian Reece
Associate Director, Assessment & Communication
(305) 284-1816 –
Brian oversees development and implementation of the Toppel Career Center’s assessment and research agenda and communications plan. He joined the staff in September 2014. Brian has experience in higher education administration, research, and teaching. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Education in Higher Education Administration from the University of Delaware. He also earned a post-master’s certificate in Nonprofit Management and a Master of Education in Counseling, Family, and Human Services with a graduate specialization in Prevention Science from the University of Oregon. Brian is currently a Vice Chair of the American College Personnel Association’s Commission for Social Justice Educators and a reviewer for the Journal of Critical Scholarship on Higher Education and Student Affairs.

Karen Duque
Office Manager
(305) 284-2469 -
Karen joined Toppel in June of 2008 as Office Manager. Karen's professional experience includes work in the fields of logistics, sales, purchasing management, and general organizational operations. She has been with the University of Miami since 2002 and has worked for the Office of Admission, Alumni Relations and the Cuban Institute. Karen is currently pursuing her degree at the University of Miami.

Employer Relations

Alicia Rodriguez
(305) 284-1819 -
Ali oversees the Toppel Career Center's efforts to build a strong recruiting program and provide students, alumni, and employers with opportunities to connect.  In this role, she supervises the Employer Relations team. In addition, she works to develop partnerships with employers and oversees the Employer Advisory Board and the Toppel Employer Partner Program. Ali earned a Master of Education in College Student Personnel and a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from the University of Florida. She joined the staff in July 2000 and led Toppel's Career Development team for 13 years, overseeing career and walk-in advising, programs and workshops, and assessment testing.  In addition to career services, she has worked in Academic Advising and Residence Life.

Megan Morini
Assistant Director, Business Consultant
(305) 284-1813 -
Megan is a primary liaison to the School of Business and is responsible for advising students in defining career options, developing employment skills, and job-search procedures. She also assists the Director of Employer Relations in building partnerships between the university and external communities to expand internship and full-time employment opportunities. Prior to UM, Megan worked in career advising at Nova Southeastern University and also in corporate sales and account management in the information technology and services industry. Megan earned a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and Management from Siena College and Master of Science in Student Affairs in Higher Education from Nova Southeastern University. 

Jordan D. Adams 
Assistant Director, On-Campus Recruiting
305-284-1989 -
Jordan joined Toppel in November 2012, and he works with the dynamic Employer Relations team to conceptualize, lead, and manage career-related programs and events. Previously, Jordan served as the Manager of Civic Engagement at UM's Center for Latin American Studies, partnering with various civic organizations and overseeing a million dollar federal National Resource Center grant. Jordan holds a Master of Arts in Latin American Studies from the University of Miami, and a Bachelor of Science in Management Science from the University of California, San Diego. He also studied at La Universidad de Concepción, Chile and at La Universidad de Chile, Chile.

Adela Ghadimi
Assistant Director, Employer Development
Washington, D.C.
Adela graduated from the University of Miami in May 2008 with a triple major in International Studies, Political Science, and Geography & Regional Studies. She went on to live in London for two years, where she earned a Master's degree in International Relations from the London School of Economics. She has been in the D.C. Metro area for two years, and has enjoyed serving as the first UM in D.C. Program Coordinator. Prior to working for UM, Adela worked as a consultant for D.C. Public Schools and assisted with a start-up non-profit organization that advocated for campus safety and mental health issues. She is thrilled to be joining the team, and looks forward to developing and expanding new projects to advance the Toppel Career Center.

Richard Combs
Assistant Director, Business Consultant
(305) 284-1988 -
Richard is a higher education professional with over 10 years of experience in a variety of areas including career development, fundraising, alumni relations, and sports marketing. In his current role, he is responsible for building partnerships between the university and external stakeholders in order to expand both internship and full-time employment opportunities for business majors. Additionally, he provides career advising and coaching to business students and alumni. Richard earned his Master of Arts degree in Career Counseling & Placement from North Carolina Central University and Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Wake Forest University. He completed a graduate assistantship at the Duke University Career Center. A self-proclaimed ACC basketball aficionado, he is excited to follow the Hurricanes.

Betty Zambrano
Assistant Director, Career Events
(305) 284-8593 -
Betty is responsible for coordinating a variety of events that benefit UM students and alumni, most notably the Spring and Fall Career Expos that occur every semester on campus. Through her role, Betty aspires to help others find meaningful and gainful employment experiences at the meet-ups, fairs and other networking events coordinated through Toppel. Prior to joining the staff in December of 2014, Betty served as a Peace Corps volunteer in northern rural Peru, where she worked with local youth promoting higher education and college preparedness. Betty has experience in event management, program coordination, grassroots campaigns and public relations. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations from the University of Florida.

Career Development

Edward Cruz
(305) 284-5023 -

Eddy oversees the Toppel Career Center's efforts in training and empowering UM students and alumni through various career exploration, experiential education, pre-health and pre-law initiatives. In this role, he supervises the Career Development team. Eddy earned a MA in Student Affairs in Higher Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and had an assistantship in the Career Development Center. He received his BA in Speech Communications from Kutztown University. He joined the staff in June 2008 and served as the AD for Graduate Student & Alumni Programs. In addition to career services, he has worked in residential services.

Samantha Haimes 
Associate Director, Career Readiness
(305) 284-1808 -

Samantha earned a MS in Higher Education from the University of Miami and a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising & Public Relations from the University of Central Florida. Samantha helps enhance Toppel resources and services by creating professional development tracks for UM students and recent graduates. Her ultimate goal is to ensure that UM students are better prepared for the workforce. Samantha advises students regarding internships, international opportunities, and works closely with international students. She also coordinates the UShadow program. She joined the Toppel Career Center as a full-time staff member in July 2012 and served as the Assistant Director for Experiential Initiatives. Prior, she worked at Cabrini College in Philadelphia, PA and as a Graduate Assistant here at Toppel. 


Carly Smith
Assistant Director, Campus Outreach
(305) 284-1818 -
Carly received a Master of Science in Higher Education Administration at the University of Miami and a Bachelor of Science in Human and Organizational Development from Vanderbilt University. While completing her Master’s degree, Carly was a Graduate Assistant at the Toppel Career Center.  In her current role, Carly manages Toppel’s career outreach program by coordinating with faculty, staff, and student organizations. She also advises students regarding their career plans and job search skills, and is responsible for co-supervising Toppel’s undergraduate Peer Advisers.
Anna Kenney
Assistant Director, Internships & Assessment
(305) 284-1809 -
Anna earned a Master of Science in College Student Personnel from the University of Dayton and a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs from the Florida State University. Prior to joining the Toppel Career Center, she worked for University Housing at the Florida State University. Anna oversees the Toppel Internship Program as well as advising students regarding internships and career plans after graduation.
Esther LamarreEsther Lamarre
Assistant Director, Graduate Student & Alumni Career Programs
(305) 284-1820 -

Esther is a Miami native and the newest addition to the Toppel staff. Esther earned a Bachelor of Science in Communication Studies & Political Science from the University of Miami and a Master of Education in College Student Affairs Administration from the University of Georgia. Prior to returning to her alma mater, Esther worked to advance leadership education and development at the Illinois Leadership Center on the University of Illinois campus.
Jennifer Macias
Academic and Career Advisor in Residence (ACAR)

Jenny currently serves as the Academic and Career Advisor in Residence (ACAR) for Hecht Residential College, where she helps freshmen successfully transition into sophomores. She assists students in course selection, switching majors and developing a plan for academic success. Jenny also helps students find research opportunities and apply for prestigious awards and fellowships. She has a great team of 27 Academic Fellows (AFs) who live on freshman floors and help her advise students, share information about university events and present programs in the building. Jenny earned her Master of Science degree in Higher Education from Florida State University and a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Miami.
Justin Childs
Academic and Career Advisor in Residence (ACAR)
Justin earned a Master of Science in College Student Personnel Services and Administration from the University of Central Arkansas and a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from Mississippi State University. Justin serves as the Academic & Career Advisor in Residence (ACAR) for Stanford Residential College. He assists students with services designed to triage academic concerns through academic orientation, assistance with major and career selection, and referrals to the appropriate academic support services. Justin also assists students with the development of a career plan that is consistent with their abilities and interests through individual advising and educational programs. Prior to joining UM and the Toppel Career Center, he worked for University Housing at Florida State University.
Austin Swift
Graduate Assistant
Austin received a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from Texas A&M University, and is currently pursuing a certificate in Geographic Information Systems and Master of Arts in Geography and Regional Studies. Prior to attending the University of Miami, Austin served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Burkina Faso, in west Africa. In his role as Graduate Assistant, he holds walk-in advising hours where he critiques resumes, cover letters, and personal statements. Austin is excited to join the Toppel team and looks forward to meeting with students.
Koi James
Graduate Assistant
Koi, originally from Trinidad and Tobago, is a proud alum of the University of Miami, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and International Business. She spent the past two years working with a governmental non-profit organization and is now back at UM, pursuing a doctorate in International Studies, with a regional focus of Latin America and the Caribbean. Koi is excited to serve as Graduate Assistant, helping students with résumé, cover letter and personal statements critiquing.

Student Staff and Interns

Becca Graffam

Becca Graffam
Peer Advisor

Becca is majoring in Finance and minoring in History and Art History. She is originally from Los Angeles, CA, but is proud to call Miami her new home. Her passions are helping animals in need, traveling, history, and any activity on the water. She hopes one day to combine her passions and live a happy life with a career she loves.

  Kiernan King

Kiernan King
Peer Advisor
Kiernan is majoring in Economics and minoring in Psychology. He is originally from San Antonio, TX, but grew up in the Dallas area. He has worked on marketing and promotions teams with Six Flags Fiesta Texas and Y100 KISS Country and is currently a Resident Assistant in Stanford Residential College and a brother of Phi Delta Theta. Upon graduating, Kiernan plans to join the Peace Corps and hopes to work in the field of community development.

Maura Gergerich

Maura Gergerich
Peer Advisor
Maura is in the five year architecture program here at UM. She is originally from Pittsburgh but prefers it here in the sunshine state. Maura is a sister of Kappa Kappa Gamma and is on the executive board for Quantum Theatre Company. Outside of class, she is kept busy with rehearsals for various productions as well as for her a capella group, Biscaydence. She also enjoys many other artistic outlets such as sewing, dancing, and painting.

Kelly Martin

Kelly Martin
Peer Advisor
Kelly is majoring Marine Affairs in the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science, with a minor in economics. She was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, across the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County. This past summer she had an internship at the New England Aquarium in Boston and hopes to continue this work in education and outreach to promote marine conservation in the future.

Marian Li

Marian Li
Peer Advisor
Marian is currently majoring in Health Science Business Administration and minoring in Business, Chemistry, and Public Health. She was born in Omaha, NE, but her family quickly learned of the winters and moved to St. Augustine, FL. Outside of class, Marian is the President of the Asian American Students Association (AASA) and a committee member on both the Student Activity Fee Allocation Committee (SAFAC) and the Committee on Student Organizations (COSO). After graduating, Marian plans to work in the business side of healthcare either in consulting or hospital administration.

Emma Melissa Reyes

Emma Reyes
Social Media Intern

Emma earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Communication with a minor in English from the University of Miami. She was born in Honduras, but was raised in Miami, FL. Reyes has a passion for writing and providing awareness for people with disabilities. She has been the Social Media Intern since May 2014.

Vanesa Rodriguez

Vanesa Rodriguez
Social Media Intern

Vanesa is majoring in Public Relations with a minor in Architecture. Being born and raised in Miami, her dream was always to become a ‘Cane. She’s an active member of the Public Relations Student Society of America and has an immense passion for writing and public speaking. Vanesa aspires to one day manage the publicity for a major corporation.

Amelia Abe

Amelia Abe 
Graphic Design Intern

Amelia is currently a sophomore majoring in Marketing and Women's and Gender Studies. She was born in California and grew up in Tokyo, Japan. Amelia enjoys graphic design and hopes to work in the future empowering women through various business endeavors.

Erica Nicewarner

Erica Nicewarner
Employer Relations Intern

Erica is majoring in Health Science Business Administration. She is originally from Frederick, MD, outside the DC area. Erica plans to attend business school after graduation and hopes to work in healthcare management or consulting.

Kirstin Marshall

Kirstin Marshall 
Toppel Assistant

Kirstin is in the five year program for architecture. She is from Fort Myers, FL. Outside of class and work, Kirstin is a sister in Alpha Delta Pi sorority and a member of Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society and the Miami Commitment Program. After graduation she hopes to become a licensed architect.

Lauren Gonzalez

Lauren Gonzalez 
Toppel Assistant

Lauren is majoring in Nursing and History. At the Toppel Career Center, Lauren works at the front desk where she assists students, Toppel staff, employers, and parents. Born and raised in Miami, she enjoys swimming and dancing. Lauren is a counselor for Great Start, a pre-Orientation program for commuting freshman, and she is the Arts & Crafts coordinator for Camp Kesem, a week long summer camp devoted to children whose parents have cancer.

Samantha Rose

Samantha Chatkin
Toppel Assistant

Samantha is majoring in Marketing in the School of Business Administration. She is pursuing a career in marketing and has completed internships with SiriusXM Radio and Estee Lauder Companies Online. At UM, Samantha is a sister of Alpha Delta Pi Sorority and a brother of Alpha Kappa Psi, Business Fraternity. She is a leadership facilitator at the Butler Center helping to promote leadership growth and development in individuals and groups. Samantha is also a Teaching Assistant in the School of Business where she counsels and facilitates ten Freshman business students in an introductory business course. Samantha is passionate about traveling, fitness, and giving back to the community. She aspires to travel the world and then settle down in California and work for a marketing company that will allow her to follow her passions.

Toppel Career Center
Physical Address:
5225 Ponce De Leon Blvd.
Coral Gables, FL 33146
Phone: 305-284-5451
Fax: 305-284-3668
Mailing Address:
PO Box 249175
Coral Gables, FL 33124-5610