People|Meet Us

Executive Board (E-Board)

Co-Chairs
Coordinate and direct all the members of the executive board to achieve organizational goals

Theresa Socash

Year: Senior
Majors: International Studies/Psychology
Past Experience: Participant Medford Oregon Environmental Conservation (2010) Site Leader Rural Healthcare Virginia (2011)

Hi! I'm Theresa, I will be a junior and am majoring in International Studies and Psychology. I went on my first alternative break trip my freshman year and was drawn to it because of the emphasis on service and creating social change. I was looking for an outlet and an opportunity to demonstrate a small group of people can make a change in the world, as well as experience social justice issues first hand and make friends that had the same mindset. That year I went to Medford, Oregon for environmental conservation and preservation and my life was changed forever. The organization and people we worked with demonstrated so much passion and love that creating a difference in their community as well as inspiring and empowering others came naturally, and facilitating conversations about social change was easily created during service and reflection..

Meera Nagarsheth

Year:Senior
Major: Microbiology and Immunology
Past Experience: Participant for HIV/AIDS and homelessness in Los Angeles (2010)

Alternative Breaks serves as a platform for change.. It calls students to be agents of social change. Alternative Breaks opens the eyes of thousands of students to social justice issues that are plaguing society and allows them to not only be educated about them, but to also address the root cause of the problem. This allows students to truly gain something from their experiences. Personally, Alternative Breaks and its model for social change are aligned with my beliefs about social justice. I love how the community service is not simply a one-time act, it is always paired with education and reflection so that the issue can be put into a broader context. I was called upon to emerge out of my comfort zone and question my view on the issue to HIV/AIDS from a social perspective. I loved my experience and I hope that other students will feel the same way. Most of all UMAB is a calling because we are all called at various times in our lives to serve others. We must also call on others at important and sometimes inconvenient times in their lives to serve.

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Site Leader Education Co-Chairs
Prepare and implement site-specific and general education topics for trip site leaders.

Puja Patel

Year: Junior
Major: Psychology
Past Experience: Environment at Everglades National Park (2012)Cherokee Rights/ Env. Advocacy - Tennessee (2013)

This is the best organization because it challenges me to get out of my comfort zone and see the world from a completely different perspective. I have grown tremendously from my previous UMAB experiences because I was able to change the way I think about various social justice issues and see thing in a new light. I love UMAB because it has allowed me to meet amazing people who inspire me to be better everyday. This organization benefits each and every person involved with it because everybody walks away with something new learned. I couldn't have imagined my undergraduate experience without Alternative Breaks now.

Roshni Patel

Year: Senior
Majors: Neurobiology
Past Experience: Participant for neighborhood revitalization in Detroit (2011)

I love Alternative Breaks because it empowers people to act. Before Alternative Breaks I was aware of the issues but I didn't understand the root causes. After having participated in Alternative Breaks I am able to identify issues within the context of a community. This program allows students to reflect on their experiences and to comprehend problems within the context of a community. This newfound perspective has changed my life. Join Alternative Breaks, it's one of the best experiences you will have at UM!

Budget Chair
Manages the overall budget for the program and presents a report to the Student Activity Fee Allocation Committee (SAFAC)

Raymond Luo

Year: Senior
Major: Finance and Business Law
Past Experience: None

I love UMAB because of students are able to directly experience and impact a community through direct service rather than classroom discussions. While I have unfortunately been unable to attend a UMAB trip due to health reasons, working with UMAB and interacting with participants has been an amazing experience. It is inspiring to see students engaging in thoughtful discussions and taking an active approach towards improving the community and the lives of others.

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Site Logisitics Co-Chairs
Manage the booking of flights and other logistical aspects of trips.

Olivia Haas

Year: Senior
Majors: English, Education
Past Experience: Participant for environmental conservation in Oregon (2010) Immigrant Rights in San Juan Texas 2011

This organization has really opened my eyes to different issues and has made me a more informed citizen. I love that alternative breaks provides opportunities to students to develop a commitment to the community through travel. My experience with UMAB has been incredible and I am so excited to further my involvement this year.

Miranda Goot

Year: Sophomore
Major: International Finance and Marketing
Past Experience:Fall Break 2012 Participant (Trafficking), Spring Break 2013 Participant (Children's Issues and Racism))

I joined UMAB because I enjoyed service and thought it would be a good experience. I never expected that a "good experience" would leave me feeling ignorant, unsettled, frustrated... and loving every minute of it! UMAB pulled me out of my comfort zone, helping me to develop a new worldview, a new philosophy on life, and new friendships that will last a lifetime. I fell into the majority of students who came into college expecting to open their horizons and expand their minds but I also fell into the minority of students who decided to give up their school breaks for service trips. And that has made all the difference.

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Carly Bencivenga

Year: Senior
Majors: Political Science


Past Experiences: Participant for Serving Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities in Chicago (2012), Site Leader for Immigration in Miami (2012), Participant for Environmental Sustainability in Puerto Rico (2012), Site Leader for Hunger and Poverty in Arkansas (2013)

I first got involved with UMAB when I participated in a fall break for LGBT rights and advocacy during my sophomore year. The trip allowed me to see firsthand the social issues that take place in our backyards on a daily basis, and inspired me to continue on a path of serving my community. My first spring break trip was also during my sophomore year. I went to Chicago to work with individuals with disabilities, and the trip was extremely transformative. I was able to grow so much as an individual, bond with a group of strangers, and learn a great deal about the disabled community. I have since traveled to Perryville, Arkansas and Puerto Rico on alternative break trips, and I wouldn’t trade those experiences for the world. Each trip leaves me more and more inspired to take action in my community, and with a new, close group of friends. UMAB is unique in that it really allows participants to immerse themselves into the community they are volunteering in and the issue they are working with. There are few experiences that are as impactful as living and breathing an issue for an entire week.

Recruitment & Reorientation Co-Chairs
Program campus-wide recruitment and reorientation functions.

Andrea Jacobo

Year: Senior
Major: Exercise Physiology
Past Experience: Freedom Foundation in Selma (2012)

Alternative Breaks it gives an opportunity for a person to grow into a active member of society. The type of person that recognizes the issues of today and takes action to help ameliorate the situation. In order for society to function, all members need to be active. AB is creating a movement for our society's future.

Roland Calderin

Year: Junior
Major: Classics

Of the many things I have been apart of here at the University I can honestly say U.M. Alternative Breaks has completely enriched my college experience. I went on my first trip during spring semester of my Freshman year, and ever since then I have been passionate about the various issues that still continue to plague society. My first trip opened my eyes to the gravity of the issues, my second trip showed me the steps that we all as individuals could take in order to improve the world. That's what makes the UMAB experience unique, the fact that you are doing more than just participating , or vainly doing service.

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Fundraising/Sponsorship Co-Chairs
Organize fundraisers and seek corporate sponsorships and grants.

Shannon Pammer

Year: Junior
Major: Nursing
Past Experience: Chicago dealing with ageism; Gaston, NC dealing with education.

I love UMAB because it opens my eyes to many new experiences. Learning more about a social justice issue and doing service in a completely new environment gets me out of my comfort zone. Also, meeting the people in my group and hearing their opinions on different issues challenges some of my view points and I am able to see things from a different perspective. Meeting new people and working in different communities makes me more culturally aware and helps me to make positive changes and inspire others to do the same. lives.

Jasmine Tomita Barber

Year: Junior
Major: Biology
Past Experiences: Environmental conservation in Jupiter Florida, Disabled rights in Chicago Illinois

My first UMAB experience was a fall break trip to Jupiter, FL for environmentalism and conservation, it was a great experience and I had the opportunity to work with community leaders to preserve the environment. I also had the privilege to become a spring break site leader for developmental disabilities in Chicago, IL. It was a fantastic and truly a trip that I will never forget. Alternative Breaks is a program like no other, allowing students to become connected and personally involved in service work. UMAB has allowed me to meet a number of amazing individuals and I look forward to working with them this coming year to create an even better alternative break experience!

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Ayush Amin

Year: Junior
Major(s): Biology
Past Experience: Participant for disabled rights Lynchburg Virginia

Hi my name is Ayush Amin. I am a junior at the University of Miami. I attended my first Alternative Break my freshman year. As sad as it sounds, my parents made me sign up for it. So honestly, I didn’t really know what it even was. I never paid attention at any of the meetings, so I had no idea what I was getting into. But my first trip was an amazing experience! I started to see what UMAB was all about. At this point, I felt kind of bad that I never paid attention during any of the meetings, because I felt jipped out of part of the experience. So I decided to attend another trip, this time making sure I fully immersed myself and dedicated myself to whatever UMAB had to offer. I had another spectacular experience, and I tried my hand at being a site leader on what would be my third trip. Finally, I felt like I finally had a great understanding of what UMAB was about and was in support of its ideas and concepts. And now here I am, on the Eboard, hoping that another student will be able be able to learn as much as I did. UMAB really opens your eyes to whats real in this world, and the experiences you will receive you will never be able to replace- I guarantee that much.

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Publicity Co Chairs
Coordinates the design of promotional materials.

James Hennessy

Year: Junior
Major: Math
Past Experience: Participant for Selma Alabama (2012) Poverty in Detroit (2013)

UMAB is a dandy organization that knows more than a thing or two about change on all levels of society. It is both fun and educational. James is also a FANTASTIC dancer with a heart of gold. These things are undeniable .

Matt Hibbs

Year: Junior
Majors: Biology, psychology
Past Experience: Participant for rural healthcare in Virginia (2011),

I went to Wise, Virginia to help with Rural Healthcare with UMAB. The trip was amazing, but what makes UMAB so unique is the fact that the people you are with truly care about what they are doing and want to do it. UMAB changed my perspective on how actively involved I am in helping others. Simple actions can make a big difference. UMAB not only helped me actively volunteer while I was in college, but also allowed me to enjoy the presence of other people who enjoy it as much as I do. UMAB taught me valuable lesson not only in healthcare but also gratitude and compassion one can have for their career. I am so glad I chose to join UMAB. I am glad my sister got me involved because it really had an impact on who I am and who I want to be.

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International Site Coordinator
Coordinates service sites outside of the country.

Kelsey Kearns

Year: Senior
Major: International Studies/Political Science
Past Experiences: HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles (2010)

UMAB is unique in the way it has an ability to bring together people from all different walks to life to gain common understanding when working with social issues throughout the country. It has the ability to erase stigmas and stereotypes, and truly change not only the communities we have the honor to work with, but also our community at the U. It has impacted my college experience in that I learned extremely valuable leadership skills while also learning about social issues in a way that exceeds learning within a classroom. Through UMAB I have also met many amazing friends that I may have never met otherwise.

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Advisor
Oversees organization to make sure it continues in the appropriate direction.

Andrew D. Wiemer

I earned my B.A. in Business Administration (Management) from Doane College and my M.S. in College Student Personnel Services and Administration from the University of Central Arkansas. Currently I serve as the Director of the Butler Center for Volunteer Service and Leadership Development at the University of Miami. My responsibilities include administrative oversight of 40+ Service and Leadership Organizations, Alternative Break Programs, Service and Leadership Living-Learning Communities, Campus Wide Days of Service, Leadership Retreats and Symposiums, along with engaging students to help support non-profit organizations in the Miami Dade Community and throughout the world.
E-mail: andreww@miami.edu

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