By By Bárbara Gutiérrez
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 4, 2016)—Often it takes a village to get an internship, a job, and a career. That was the message behind the Toppel Career Center’s inaugural Toppel Awards, which were presented Thursday during a ceremony in the BankUnited Center’s Hurricane 100 room.
Toppel honored nine people, companies, and organizations that are promoting and encouraging professional development among themselves and others during the luncheon that drew more than 100 invited guests.
“It is clear that career education does not only happen within the walls of a career center,” said Christian Garcia, associate dean and executive director of the Toppel Career Center. “It happens across campus, inside classrooms, at internship sites, and more.”
Wearing her Iron Arrow jacket, honoree Roberta Goode, a professor in the College of Engineering’s Biomedical Engineering Department, accepted the Excellence in Career Education Award for her outstanding work in mentoring students and preparing them to enter the workforce.
Goode, who founded a course to help students transition from the theoretical world of engineering into the practical, real-life biomedical field, said the honor was very personal to her.
“After graduating from UM 18 years ago, I found myself struggling in the first job because I did not know FDA (Food and Drug Administration) regulations or laws that govern the practice,” she said. “I was given the chance to teach a course (which included laws and regulations) to UM students, and now they’ll never struggle the way I did.”
Also tapped for an award was undergraduate Marian Li, who received the Student of the Year Award in the undergraduate category. Li, who majored in business administration and graduated in December with a Bachelor of Science in Health Science, credits the Toppel Career Center for her success. She worked there for two years, first as a receptionist than as a peer counselor who critiqued résumés and advised other students.
Following the advice of Toppel counselors, she participated in several internships in the health field that proved instrumental in her nabbing a full-time job at AON Hewitt, a human resources and outsourcing company.
“Going to work at Toppel every day kept me focused on my goal of getting a job,” said Li. “The professional staff there gave me wonderful opportunities and even provided great advice that I would have never imagined I needed.”
In the category of Private Employer of the Year, the Nielsen Company took the honors. Nielsen has partnered with UM for the past seven years and has hired more than 20 UM graduates. Their program fosters relationships between their employees, many of whom are UM graduates, and UM students. Through the internship program they provide mentoring and career coaching to all participants.
During the luncheon, each winner received a plaque with an inspirational quote designed by Gapingvoid, the agency that created the inspirational cartoons that grace Toppell’s walls.
Garcia also recognized the invaluable contributions of Patricia and Harold Toppel, whose generous donations established the center and allowed it to transform into one of the nation’s leading career centers.
The Toppel Awards were judged by a selection committee made up of students, University staff and faculty, and recruiters who could provide unbiased reviews of the nominees, said Garcia.
The winners in other categories were:
Distinguished Administrator: Susie Picar, UM assistant director of student employment
Student Group of the Year: Student Government
Student of the Year (Graduate): Alexander Kreymerman
Internship of the Year: Estefan Enterprises
Recruiter of the Year: Steve Hunsicker, from the Peace Corps
Employer of the Year (Not-for-profit/public): U.S. Marine Corps