Over the past nine decades, a lot of talent has passed through The Miami Hurricane. Hundreds of students have dedicated themselves to this paper, spending their college years hunched over typewriters or computers, writing, editing and designing until their fingers gave out. Behind every headline was a University of Miami student looking to make an impact— and many of them graduated from The Hurricane to do just that.
Some of them pursued careers in journalism, working for renowned publications such as The New York Times and the Miami Herald. Others stayed closer to their undergraduate home, getting hired at UM as professors or staff members. Some went down different paths, finding success in careers that are unrelated to journalism. But there’s one thing they have in common: They’re leading impressive lives.
Class of 1993 Hurricane alumna Maribel Perez Wadsworth, for example, is now the president and publisher for the USA Today Network, a multi-platform news network that reported a print circulation of nearly 2.6 million in 2017. She was a pioneer of the organization’s digital strategy and recently received the McGruder Award for diversity leadership.
But back in the '90s, Wadsworth was getting her start in journalism as a reporter at UM. She said most of her college experience was a blur between classes and The Hurricane.
“I feel like my coming up as a journalist helped me to be comfortable with the fact that there are a lot of things I don’t know, but there is always a path to learning them,” Wadsworth said. “To me, that has been the power of journalism in my life.”
Wadsworth also said working for The Hurricane solidified her passion for journalism and helped her to overcome her childhood shyness. She said her press credentials were “almost like a shield” that offered an easy pathway for asking questions and reducing her inhibitions.
Cynthia Hudson also credits her time at The Hurricane as an important learning experience. She wrote articles for The Hurricane in 1983 and 1984, and now, she’s the senior vice president and managing director of CNN en Español.
“I believe being encouraged to submit work to The Hurricane helped to give me experience in the field,” she said. “I also learned to pitch and speak out and own my point of view, which is great while in college.”
Plenty of the more recent Hurricane alumni are also making waves in the journalism industry. Ernesto Londoño graduated from UM in 2003 after working as a Hurricane staff writer during his four undergraduate years. He’s currently using his reporting skills as the Brazil bureau chief for The New York Times, where he is responsible for the coverage of five countries in South America. Patricia Mazzei was The Hurricane’s editor-in-chief for three semesters in 2005 and 2006 and is now also working for the Time’s, obtaining the position of Miami bureau chief.
Laura Edwins was managing editor from 2010 to 2011, and she said the Hurricane helped launch her career. Bob Radziewicz, who was The Hurricane’s faculty adviser at the time, helped her get an internship at the Miami Herald. After a few years of working in smaller roles, she got hired as the senior social media editor for CNBC and now co-manages a team of seven people. Edwin’s team is responsible for setting and executing the organization’s social media strategy and posting daily content.
Working at The Hurricane taught Edwins how to conduct an interview, write quickly under pressure, pitch story ideas, plan an entire section, manage a staff and work as a team, she said.
“The Hurricane was the single most important experience of my college career,” Edwins said. “It confirmed and engrained my passion for journalism and writing. It gave me hands-on experience in a newsroom at a very early phase in my career.”
Not all Hurricane alumni are working in the field of journalism. Some are working right here in Coral Gables and employed by UM.
Megan Ondrizek is currently UM’s communications director, but she was the Hurricane’s assistant news editor in 2007. More than 10 years after graduation, she still attributes much of her success to the skills she learned while at The Hurricane.
“I think there’s a very fine line between journalism and public relations,” she said. “But at the end of the day, public relations could also be used as a journalistic tool depending on who your client is and the type of work you’re doing. I think here, I’ve really been able to take a look at that and move public relations more towards journalism.”
Demi Rafuls has an office in the Shalala Student Center right next to The Hurricane’s modern newsroom, but at one point, the whole building was just a concept she was reporting on. She was The Hurricane’s editor-in-chief in 2012, and now, she works as the senior financial adviser for UM’s student media.
“Knowing how to write is pretty invaluable,” Rafuls said. “The Hurricane is one of those things that taught me so much because you learn how to work with and lead a team as well as how to meet deadlines. You learn a lot of things from the experience of it.”
Jay Rooney agrees that The Hurricane helped him develop skills that have been helpful outside of journalism. He is currently the senior communications manager at D&A Communications, a public relations firm in California. Back in 2005 to 2007, he worked as The Hurricane’s opinion editor.
“It forced me to engage objectively with many different viewpoints, even ones that were the total opposite of what I believed, which way too few people do today,” Rooney said of his time as opinion editor. He also said working for The Hurricane allowed him to develop his writing skills.
2019 Hurricane alum Hunter Crenian is currently working in Los Angeles as the director’s assistant on the Netflix original movie “The Babysitter 2.” He worked as a photographer and photo editor during his undergraduate years at UM and said his experiences with The Hurricane were the highlight of his college career.
Although he is no longer working in the field of journalism, Crenian said he still hopes to return to photography in the future.
“A secret dream of mine has been to collaborate with a newspaper or magazine to create in-depth photo-essay profiles of people I admire who work in entertainment,” he said.
Whether or not they pursued a career in journalism, past staff members of The Hurricane are grateful for their time with the paper.
“Ninety years is something to be excited about. My hope is that anyone who has worked for The Hurricane would feel the same way about it that I do,” Ondrizek said. "I wouldn’t be where I am professionally today if it wasn’t for The Miami Hurricane."
Jordan Lewis, Naomi Feinstein, Anna Timmons, Shawn Fortune and Jaime Harn contributed to the reporting of this article.