April Dobbins is a photographer, writer, and filmmaker. She is a 2017 Sundance Institute Knight Fellow. Her work has been published in Calyx Journal, Cimarron Review, Cura, GOOD, Marr's Field Journal, Philadelphia City Paper, Redivider, Sojourner: The Women's Forum, Thema, and Transition magazine – a publication of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University – to name a few. She was one of 15 artists invited by renowned photographer Alec Soth to attend his inaugural Camp for Socially Awkward Storytellers at his studio in St. Paul, Minnesota. The Camp was featured on BBC and in IMA – a Japanese photography magazine. She was selected to attend the New York Portfolio Review, which was organized by The New York Times Lens Blog. She is a recipient of the S. J. Weiler Fund Award, which is made in recognition of exemplary artistic achievement and creativity in the visual arts as well as significant contributions to the arts community.
Her films have screened at festivals across the country including the Los Angeles Black Film Festival, Key West Film Festival, Gary International Black Film Festival, Baltimore International Black Film Festival, West of Cannes Film Festival, FilmGate Miami's NoLA Film Festival, and many more. She is currently producing her documentary feature, Alabamaland, which chronicles her family's life and history in the rural South. Most recently, she was awarded a WaveMaker grant to support Alabamaland. April is an alumnus of Grinnell College and Philadelphia's prestigious Rittenhouse Writers Group. In 2015 she was a speaker for TEDxGrinell. She currently serves as the Director of Prestigious Awards and Fellowships at the University of Miami, where she advises and encourages students who are applying for internationally competitive awards and fellowships.
Brandon Mitchell is a passionate advocate for common sense leadership and millennial advocacy. Born in Philadelphia, PA, he moved to Miami, FL for college studying at the University of Miami. In 2011, the student body elected him President of the Student Government. During his time at the University, Mitchell was tapped into the University's Iron Arrow Honor Society and received the Key to the City of Coral Gables in 2012. Following his graduation he worked for technology startups in Philadelphia and recently moved back to South Florida to work for the University of Miami, begin his master's degree and start pursuing his passion advocating for the next generation of leaders. He is currently authoring a book on the future of millennial leadership with an anticipated release in the Summer of 2017.
Caroline Granger is a third-year undergraduate Biochemistry major from Cleveland, Ohio with minors in Chemistry and Biology in the Medical Scholars Program at the University of Miami with plans to graduate in May and begin Medical School the UM Miller School of Medicine in August. Caroline is a member of Alpha Delta Pi Sorority, Phi Delta Epsilon International Medical Fraternity, is a Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society Executive. In addition, Caroline is a researcher in the lab of Dr. Philip McCabe at UM studying human atherosclerotic development under stress conditions. During her summers, Caroline has studied insulin nutritional regulation in embryogenesis at Case Western Reserve University and since starting her undergraduate career has found a passion for nutrition paired with a balanced and healthy life. This passion consequently led Caroline to begin a holistic lifestyle and balanced nutritional blog on Instagram (@carolinecooksclean) that swiftly grew, now reaching 23,500 followers worldwide. Caroline has now turned her platform into a business, working with big-name companies such as Whole Foods and Food Network, along with speaking in NYC at the Connect to Confidence Young Entrepreneur's Panel put on by She's Fit to Lead, publishing a cookbook on Amazon called “Caroline Cooks Breakfast Clean", and gives daily advice to her friends, family, and followers looking to change their lifestyles for the better. In the future, Caroline hopes to practice medicine using an integrative approach to advocate for disease prevention rather than symptom treatment, along with conducting research relating nutrition and exercise to overall health.
Danielle Sheerer is a recent University of Miami Alumna graduating with a Bachelor of Science. majoring in mathematics and minoring in chemistry and English. She currently works as an Academic Adviser in the School of Nursing at the U, excitedly serving current students and sharing stories about her beloved alma mater. While at UM, she was heavily involved in Relay for Life, Chi Omega, the Butler Center for Service and Leadership, ODK, the Math Union, Homecoming Executive Committee and Girls 4 Good. Despite all these org commitments, she still made time to binge watch her favorite Netflix shows. She loves trivia (and has a 7-week win streak and counting), watching TV and movies, and fostering meaningful connections. She is jazzed to be part of this inaugural TEDxUMiami event!
Dr. Michelle Maldonado
Dr. Michelle Gonzalez Maldonado (Michelle A. Gonzalez) is Professor of Religious Studies, Assistant Provost of Undergraduate Education and Director of the Office of Academic Enhancement at the University of Miami. She received her Ph.D. in Systematic and Philosophical Theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California in 2001. Her research and teaching interests include Latino/a, Latin American, and Feminist Theologies, as well as inter-disciplinary work in Afro-Caribbean Studies. She is the author of Sor Juana: Beauty and Justice in the Americas (Orbis Books, 2003), Afro-Cuban Theology: Religion, Race, Culture and Identity (University Press of Florida, 2006), Created in God's Image: An Introduction to Feminist Theological Anthropology (Orbis Books, 2007), Embracing Latina Spirituality: A Woman's Perspective (St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2009), Caribbean Religious History (co-authored with Ennis Edmonds, NYU Press, 2010), Shopping: Christian Explorations of Daily Living (Fortress Press, 2010), and A Critical Introduction to Religion in the Americas: Bridging the Liberation Theology and Religious Studies Divide. (NYU Press, 2014).
Frankie Hedgepeth is a second year student studying political science and African American History at the University of Miami. He wants to work as a civil rights attorney when he is older, which means he'll be going to law school when his undergraduate years are over. He understands that a lot of things have worked out very well for him to be in the position he's in, and he also understands that in order for those things to work out for him, they had to not work out for a lot of other people. So he wants to do what he can to make it so that his privileges don't have to come at someone else's expense. He also wants to start a program that both encourages black and Hispanic children to play lacrosse and provides opportunities for them to do so. Athletics were a major part of his childhood, but because he chose lacrosse as his sport, he didn't see a lot of people who looked like him, and he often felt as if he was playing in an arena that belonged to someone else. Frankie's hope is that by creating an initiative of this nature, he can help to diversify the sport and eradicate that feeling of otherness for a new generation of young athletes. And once he finishes all that, he wants to be a writer.
Madelyn Paquette is a senior graduating from the University of Miami in May with a BFA in Acting and minors in Classics and Religious Studies. She has previously appeared at the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre in productions of Spring Awakening, Of Thee I Sing, and The Women. In addition to being an actress, she serves as the artistic director of Once Upon a Stage Interactive Children's Theatre Group, a DC-based Theatre for Young Audiences ensemble. She is the current president of UM's Theatre Action Group, writes for the Edge section of The Miami Hurricane, facilitates for the Theatre in Action Forum Theatre Ensemble, co-hosts the video game podcast Talk This: It's Dangerous to Podcast Alone, and is a member of the 2016-2017 cohort of Library Research Scholars.
Professor of Religious Studies, Assistant Provost of Undergraduate Education
Dr. Michelle Gonzalez Maldonado (Michelle A. Gonzalez) is Professor of Religious Studies, Assistant Provost of Undergraduate Education and Director of the Office of Academic Enhancement at the University of Miami. She received her Ph.D. in Systematic and Philosophical Theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California in 2001. Her research and teaching interests include Latino/a, Latin American, and Feminist Theologies, as well as inter-disciplinary work in Afro-Caribbean Studies. She is the author of several scholarly works on her field of expertise.
Nathanael Nunez is a University of Miami alumnus, and the cofounder of Apprentice Worldwide, a Miami based organization that focuses on career and leadership development of young professionals and college students. He began his career at Bank of America Merrill Lynch serving large multinational corporations. In January 2017, he relocated to New York City, where he now works at J.P. Morgan. His entry into the banking industry prompted him to volunteer as a mentor and coach, teaching young adults success strategies for breaking into finance.
During his time at the University of Miami, Nathanael majored in Philosophy and Economics while serving as president of Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity. He has also been a guest at the university's Toppel Career Center, teaching students strategies for networking, interview skills, and resume building. However, his passion extends beyond professional achievements, as he believes that career success is only one piece of a balanced life. Nathanael aims to create a culture where vision, strategy and work ethic determine success, rather than one's own circumstances.
Rachel Ohnsman is an up-and-coming singer/songwriter working in the Miami music scene. She combines her various musical influences of R&B, jazz, musical theatre, and pop to create a unique sound. Rachel grew up in Wyomissing, PA, before moving to Miami to pursue a Bachelors degree, studying jazz voice at the Frost School of Music. In addition to performing regularly in a variety of styles, she arranges charts for vocal ensembles and teaches private lessons in both voice and piano. Rachel has performed in many musical settings including Sofar Sounds, Festival Miami, Carnegie Hall and Vizcaya Gardens, and with such artists as Becca Stevens, Ira Sullivan and John Daversa. Recent stage highlights include: 13 The Musical (Musical Director, 2015); Stardust Cabaret (Alumni Center, 2016); and Cats (Assistant MD, 2015).
Tanya Villanueva Tepper
Tanya is the 9/11 widow living happily “even" after who is featured in the Peabody award-winning documentary, Rebirth, which has a permanent home at the National September 11th Museum. Tanya is a senior advisor and speaker for the nonprofit
organization Project Rebirth, and uses the film to give audiences a personal connection to September 11th while inspiring hope and encouraging resilience to those who are coping with grief and trauma.
Tanya is also a member of the Advisory Board for Soaring Spirits International, which brings peer-based programs to the widowed community. Each year, Tanya delivers hope, comfort, and laughter through her workshops at Camp Widow, a weekend-long gathering of widows from around the world.
Tanya has written for the Huffington Post and loves her life in Miami with her husband Ray, two young daughters, and their baby bearded dragon.
For more information please visit www.tanyavtepper.com
Travis Suit is an entertainment producer and professional host of multi-media content and events focused on lifestyle and sporting activities. Travis is a graduate of the University of Central Florida with a focus in business management and entrepreneurship. Travis has founded multiple companies and lifestyle brands, and has developed a variety of highly successful multi-media and event management projects by extending these brands through the creation of large-scale public events, entertainment, music, and merchandise. As a proud father of a beautiful daughter named Piper with Cystic Fibrosis, Travis turned his focus toward becoming an advocate for the CF community and founded the Piper's Angels Foundation. Travis created the Crossing for a Cure, a 50-mile endurance paddle boarding trip to raise money and awareness to support CF families and research. Travis has also served as an event chair, lead volunteer, and speaker for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and was recently named the Awareness Ambassador of the Year for the Palm Beach Chapter.