Ellen Wacher, B.Ed.’63

Ellen Wacher shares her amazing voice, her animated school spirit and she gives a thorough answer for what it means to be a Miami Hurricane. The local actress discloses her level of involvement with the school, saying “The more I did, the more I got back” and she declares “every memory was terrific, and that is the truth.”

Yolanda Rodriguez Brennan ’43

brennanHi, my name is Yolanda Rodriguez Brennan and I attended the University of Miami Law School many many years ago, in fact, 72 years ago. I was the class secretary and only female in a group of nine students. I remember attending class in the Anastasia Building, which became known as the “Cardboard College”. (Our class rooms were quite small and separated by room dividers.) During law school I met my loving husband, James (Jimmy) Anthony Brennan Jr., and we started a family right away. Sadly, I was not able to finish my law degree because during the WWII years it was very difficult to continue my studies and raise a family. However, we were blessed with 12 children. We have 26 grandchildren, 20 great grandchildren; and the family continues to grow. Throughout my years living here on Granada Blvd, I have enjoyed being a huge Canes fan !!!

I would like to share the following news. One of my grandchildren, Manuel “Miggy” Alvarez, UM Men’s Basketball Student Head Manager, will be graduating from the University of Miami this May 2015. As a toddler and teenager he always represented the U with pride.

So you can imagine how happy I was years ago when he showed me his acceptance letter to UM :) Today I am very proud of Miggy and want him to know how beautiful and wonderful it is that we share the same bond. It’s great to be a Miami Hurricane. ‘Canes for Life !

Angela Smith, B.B.A. ’98

< blockquote>Marine science was the driving force that brought Angela from Indiana to the University of Miami. However, it was a chance meeting with Dean Foley that set her on her course to follow a business career, embrace marketing and eventually land an internship and ultimately a job with the Florida Marlins. She was a natural for the position as she coupled her passion for sports with her desire to help people while providing service to the community. As Community Outreach and Player Relations Manager, hear how Angela brings her enthusiasm to work every day by engaging in special projects whether local or international. Such inspirational initiatives as Team Marlins Ayudan, RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities), just to name a few, help to support her deep commitment to community service, but it was the work The Marlins did ( Homes for the Poor – Inspiration Village) after the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti that she considers her defining moment.

Sharon Langer, B.Ed. ’69, J.D. ’79

Ever the proud Hurricane, Sharon reflects on her journey from her early days at UM as an education major, to her career shift to go to law school and become an attorney. A defining moment at the U emphasized some of the inequities that still existed in our society and propelled her to strive to right those wrongs. Never one to shrink from a challenge, her days at UM primed her for the groundbreaking, leadership roles she has continued in her professional career as Director of Legal Aid, a founding member of Casa Valentina and as Director of Development for DIG, Inc., a non-profit law firm defending the rights of people with disabilities. She is the champion of the marginalized, always envisioning how to change what is unfair and essentially focusing on “leveling the playing field”. Sharon never met a challenge that she has not confronted head on….hear her story and be inspired!

Marcia Reisman, J.D. ’01

Determination and tenacity describe Marcia and appear to be the catalysts that led her to pursue law school in mid-life. Her desire for a new direction and to expand her world pointed her to a career in legal aide where she learned how to be a lawyer (something not taught in law school). It was there that she discovered what was considered to be her “ah-ha moment that law is built on life!” Along with fellow UM alumnae, Sharon Langer, Marcia was an integral part of the formation of Casa Valentina, a refuge for aged out foster children. Her commitment is to help young adults abandoned by the system by teaching them self-respect and dignity, as well as offering shelter and job preparedness. Casa V provides them the life skills required to break the cycle of the streets and teaches them the necessary coping mechanisms to make their way in society.

Alena Capra, B.S.C. ’01

While growing up in New York, 1,281 miles from Miami, Alena was always a ‘Cane at heart. So when it came time for college, this effervescent, talented young woman could only think of one place, the U. Spirit is surely Alena’s middle name. High energy motivated by art, dance , community service and being a Miami Hurricane define her. She exudes passion for everything she does from her interior design business, being a member of the UM Sunsations and finding ways to merge her talent into giving back to the community. Words of wisdom passed down by her dad are what inspire her each day to embrace life with zest, excitement and enthusiasm. She truly lives his words!

Jacqueline Roch, B.F.A. ’89

After graduating from UM, Jackie moved to New York City and dabbled in graphic design. She had, however, been encouraged by a UM professor to pursue her true calling…painting. Once she decided to return to Miami she followed his advice and embraced what she refers to as “tropical realism” signifying everything she loves about living in South Florida. The common thread in her work is the impact of the colors that surround us here in Miami, the ocean, the mangoes, the everglades to name a few. Jackie feels that one’s “artwork is a reflection of feeling comfortable in your own skin.”

Patricia Ireland, J.D. ’75

Patricia passes on the advice to students that a law degree opens doors even if you choose not to practice law. The skills acquired in law school train you to think and analyze, necessary tools in all professional careers. Patricia’s activism and dedication to social justice is no secret. She has taken her law career and used it to fight for those who need advocates. As the past leader of NOW and currently a labor attorney, Patricia can be proud of the impact she’s made on society.

Elaine Rinaldi, B.M. ’89

Elaine began studying the piano at the young age of 5 and always knew she would be a musician. Trained by a world –renowned teacher she had a very bright future as a pianist. In spite of a series of accidents which imposed physical obstacles and derailed her career as a concert pianist, she set out on another path which eventually led her to help form Orchestra Miami. “Miami should have an orchestra of its own to fulfill the needs of the citizens whereby the musicians take an active role in the community by exposing children to music and art, by showing what music and art can offer to every human being and teaching them to think creatively.”
In the spirit of a true renaissance woman, Elaine, a UM teacher, vocal coach, chorus master and conductor of the orchestra, only proves that no obstacle is too big to keep you from your destiny.

Jack Thomson, B.B.A. ’53, J.D. ’58

Still practicing law at 82, Jack was urged by his wife Dorothy to pursue his Law degree from UM after he returned home from the Korean War. During the early days of his professional career as a trial lawyer, Jack learned firsthand about the racial divide that existed in Miami in 1962. This was unsettling and contrary to his experience in the military. Specializing in real estate law, his practice included land sales and foreclosures throughout the state of Florida. In order to complete his business and still be home for dinner, Jack became a private pilot. While his unique way of letting Dorothy know he’d be home soon was clever and daring, it was often unsettling to his neighbors!

Wyllesheia Myrick, B.B.A. ’01

It’s no surprise that Wyllesheia is an inductee in the 2014 UM Sports Hall of Fame. She is flattered to receive the honor, especially since she is the only women being recognized in this group. Currently coaching men and women’s track and field at FIU, she’s had to prove that, as a women, she was still “a beast”. She’s a stellar athlete and her record speaks for itself; a two-time All-American, five-time Big East record holder, 9th place finisher in the Olympic trials, and one of the fastest sprinters to come out of UM. Possessing a great spirit, a vivacious, infectious energy, it’s easy to see how she could be an inspirational coach and a motivation to her students. “Be proud of what you’re doing and your accomplishments will speak for themselves.” That’s certainly the case with Coach Myrick.