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Toppel Center Recognizes Champions

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    Members of the University of Miami community and UM partners recognize those who support career readiness with the Toppel Awards

    By Jennifer Palma
    UM News


    From left are the Toppel Center’s Executive Director Christian Garcia, Director of Employer Engagement Alicia Rodriguez, benefactor Patricia Toppel, and awardee Shirelle Jackson.

    CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 22, 2017)—Students, recruiters, employers, and three employees—Shirelle Jackson, Ann Helmers, and Justin Tatman—were honored last week for their dedication to impacting the future careers of UM students through the University of Miami’s Patrica and Harold Toppel Career Center and beyond.

    As Christian Garcia, associate dean and executive director of the Toppel Career Center, was quick to mention, “career services are everyone’s business at the University of Miami.” While he and his team  lead the way on various career-based initiatives, Garcia attributed much of the center’s success to career champions both on and off campus. The Toppel Awards were created to honor and recognize the outstanding achievements and tireless efforts of the many champions from the past year.

    Jackson, the assistant athletic director for student athlete development, who likes to say she tries to prepare athletes to go from the locker room to the boardroom, received the Distinguished Administrator Award for making “sure every student has a Plan B to ensure their future.”

    Helmers, the director of career services and alumni relations in the College of Engineering, received the inaugural Patricia Toppel Award for an unsung administrator who consistently makes an impact on the work Toppel does.

    Tatman, a lecturer in the School of Education and Human Development’s Department of Kinesiology and Sport Sciences, received this year’s Excellence in Career Education Award for enlisting the Toppel Center’s help in preparing students in his Athletic Training course.

    Other categories and honorees included the following:

    Student Group of the Year

    Noted for their continuous support of career-focused events, Delta Sigma Pi was awarded Student Group of Year. The coed business fraternity was recognized for its commitment and passion for career readiness by hosting their own career events, alumni panels, and workshops throughout the year. The fraternity’s endeavors often include non-members and have had a great impact on the UM community.

    Graduate Student of the Year

    Among the many “career champions” in attendance, Miller School of Medicine graduate student, Celeste Amadei, echoed the importance of mentors as she accepted the award for Graduate Student of the Year.

    As a Ph.D. student in biochemistry and molecular biology, Amadei took it upon herself to fill a void for children in Miami-Dade County. In an effort to provide education, outreach, and mentorship to children interested in science, she founded Women in Biomedical Science. The organization encourages children to explore career options in science-related fields and provides mentoring and support along the way.

    Undergraduate Student of the Year

    As a student who has benefitted from the support of mentors during his time at UM, Malik Bibby stressed the importance of giving back during his acceptance of the Toppel Award for Undergraduate Student of the Year.

    “I encourage you to give as much as you can to everything around you,” he said as he thanked everyone who offered support during his time as a student.

    Bibby, a senior in the School of Education and Human development and a medic in the Florida National Guard, was praised for his unique leadership abilities that inspire those around him. In his numerous roles on campus, Bibby is consistently recognized as a student who empowers other students to be the best version of themselves in every aspect of life.

    In addition to recognizing student career champions, the ceremony also celebrated the partnerships across and beyond campus that have been essential to Toppel’s success. The awardees for the 2017 Toppel Awards are listed below:

    Student Group of the Year

    Delta Sigma Pi

    Student of the Year (Graduate)

    Celeste Amadei

    Student of the Year (Undergraduate)

    Malik Bibby

    Alum of the Year

    Kara M. Cavuto

    Recruiter of the Year

    Catherine Rodriguez, U.S. Department of State

    Employer of the Year (Private)


    Employer of the Year (Public/Not-for-Profit)

    Federal Bureau of Investigation

    Local Employer of the Year

    Northwestern Mutual

    Inaugural Patricia Toppel Award (Employer)

    Kathleen Cymbaluk, Federal Bureau of Investigation






























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