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Today is National Unplugging Day—Here’s why you should join in

National Day of Unplugging, a holiday created to bring awareness to the hold that technology has on the everyday person, is next Friday, March 5. A holiday you may not have heard of, participants in this annual tradition bathe in a digital detox for 24 hours– no cell phones, no laptops…just mindfulness.

The holiday originates from a Jewish nonprofit called ‘Reboot,’ an organization that started in New York City but is rapidly growing in cities across the country. If you’re thinking, “I’m not Jewish,” don’t worry. The holiday is for everyone, regardless of religious affiliation.

In recent years, the event has had hundreds of thousands of participants nationwide, and it is looking to be a major hit again this year. According to the celebration’s website, it aims to help participants “start living a different life: connect with the people in your street, neighborhood and city, have an uninterrupted meal or read a book to your child.”

Audrey Cleary, a University of Miami licensed clinical psychologist, spoke with The Miami Hurricane about why putting your phone down for a bit to focus on the world around you might not sound as bad as you think.

“Mindfulness can be as simple as becoming aware of what is around you– experiencing the sounds, sensations and your senses as a whole,” she explained. “You can deliberately become mindful in the moment with effort, but in general, focusing on one thing helps. Also, focus on gratitude and appreciation. Take time to focus on what you’re appreciative for. It can improve your happiness and overall well being.”

Cleary also spoke about the negative side effects of cell phone overuse, often seen in college students across the nation.

“Cell phone usage can be too much when it starts causing problems in your life. The distraction from academics it brings, and conflict in relationships. Not being present with the people around you can be a sign,” she said. “Social media can also bring on negative comparisons to other people. You don’t want to compare yourself to the negative, edited versions of someone else.”

According to Cleary, the benefits of unplugging can be monumental. Breaking the habit of always having to check your cell phone over and over again for notifications can be a positive experience. Yes, technology has provided many benefits into everyday life, but no one should want to feel locked down by their cell phone.

“It can be healthful to not have to focus on your cell phone and other technology. Kicking away that demand on your attention can help a person get reconnected with their natural environment. Getting aware of your emotional experiences can make the urge of your cell phone less powerful. Even just being present and aware of the negative emotions in your mind like sadness or anxiety can help you feel better about them since you know they are there.”

She continued to list the specific benefits of unplugging, saying that the awareness and physical contact with other people around you to be especially powerful. She says that when you are face to face with a person, your communication can often feel way more authentic. According to Cleary, an improved sleep schedule is another benefit worth mentioning.

Psychologists and researchers have begun identifying disorders that exist when individuals are unable to go lengths of time without their cell phone. One such disorder, known as ‘phone separation anxiety,’ is a struggle that many students deal with every day.

This disorder may sound funny or peculiar, but according to Cleary, it is not a joke. It is defined as “a sense of fear and panic when separated from a mobile phone and the overwhelming fear of anxiety coming from the inability to immediately respond to a notification or have your device in your hand.”

“If having immediate contact with your cell phone is something you’ve learned to depend on, it’s definitely real,” she explained. “If students are feeling anxious about not having their cell phone, it’s important to really think about why. Identify what the fear is, and challenge your fears associated with the phone.”

She listed several questions that students who think they may have this disorder might want to consider in order to try and cure their separation anxiety.

“What do you think you’re missing out on? Do you feel like you’ll really miss out on those things? Are the consequences really as bad as you think they are?”

Whatever the case is, she assured that phone separation anxiety does not have to be permanent. It can be overcome with a little cognitive work.

So, whether you unplug or plug in, make sure to think again about your technology habits. While 24 hours away from a cell phone may not immediately cure problems, everyone has to start somewhere.

Featured image from flickr.com.

Frenk’s choice to leave UM before the centennial is shocking

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By: Katie Karlson and Ethan Mannello

UM recently announced that President Julio Frenk would be stepping down immediately as he prepares to take over as Chancellor of UCLA in January 2025.

Frenk’s decision to leave is shocking to many in the UM community as he left without warning and without a solidified president in place for the school’s 100th anniversary year.

After centering so many of his plans around the centennial year, Frenk should have seen UM and his projects through.

It was his steady hand that led the university through the pandemic and created the Ever Brighter campaign, which was set to be completed next year.

According to the website, the campaign has raised at least $2 billion of its $2.5 billion goal, but Frenk will be abandoning his keystone project before its completion, leaving much of the community hanging as it transitions to its centennial celebrations.

“I don’t understand why he would leave so abruptly,” said Celena Rivard, a rising senior majoring in marketing, “especially with our 100-year anniversary coming up.”

Knowledge of Frenk leaving and the hiring process was kept from everyone because of the University of California Board of Regents hiring process.

According to JoNel Newman, the chair of the faculty senate at UM, this process requires them to keep any information confidential until a decision is made, therefore almost all of the UM community was in shock when UCLA made the announcement.

“I still can’t believe it,” said Tyler Cahill, a rising junior and architecture major. “I figured we would at least hear something, but for UCLA to just drop it was shocking.”

In his statement to UCLA, Frenk stated his excitement about “returning to the public sector to lead one of the top research universities in the world “ during such a “crucial moment for higher education.”

UCLA had a difficult year managing pro-Palestinian protests on campus, and the university will need a strong leader willing to address campus concerns in order to thrive. Managing UCLA and its intense political environment will be far more difficult than what Frenk encountered at UM.

There is no doubt that during the pandemic Frenk’s background in public health was an advantage for UM. However, the protests and clashes with police on UCLA’s campus are vastly different from the environment seen at UM.

Events such as those seen at UCLA need to be addressed by the university’s leadership. Frenk was rarely a prominent influence on UM’s campus and UM has a poor history of addressing campus events. How Frenk chooses to handle the conflict at UCLA will be central to his success.

Frenk may not have been a strong presence on UM’s campus, but under his leadership UM flourished and joined the Association of American Universities, a group of 69 select research universities, including schools like Harvard and Columbia.

Frenk was very valuable to the UM community and we will feel his loss, especially as the community approaches our centennial. His transition to UCLA may have come as a surprise, but we wish him luck and hope the best for his future.

It is still hard not to feel the sting though, as Frenk has left the university with a massive question to answer as a year of celebration approaches.

For the time being, UM CEO Joe Echevarria will assume Frenk’s role as president but Frenk’s unexpected exit will loom over the university as we prepare for its centennial.

An unforgettable legacy, what former president Julio Frenk means to the U

The sixth President of the University of Miami Julio Frenk throws up the “U” to conclude his speech at the inauguration ceremony in the BankUnited Center Friday afternoon. Victoria McKaba // Assistant Photo Editor
The sixth President of the University of Miami Julio Frenk throws up the “U” to conclude his speech at the inauguration ceremony in the BankUnited Center Friday afternoon. Victoria McKaba // Assistant Photo Editor

The COVID-19 pandemic tested educational institutions around the world. In an unprecedented time and just four years into his tenure, Julio Frenk sought to be a beacon of hope to a grief-stricken community.

Calling on his experience as Mexico’s former Secretary of Health, Frenk made the University of Miami one of only 30% of institutions offering in-person classes with intricate procedures that put student and faculty health first.

“The way the University dealt with the pandemic really became a model for many other universities because of [Julio Frenk],” Dr. Mitchell Shapiro, School of Communication professor and honors program director, said.

As he departs to become the University of California, Los Angeles’ next chancellor, here’s a look into how Frenk truly embodied the U’s slogan: ’Canes care for ’Canes.

From his first day in office in 2015, Frenk made an immediate effort to welcome the incoming class.When cases of COVID-19 were rising in 2019, he sent frequent video messages to the campus community ensuring updated safety precautions were taking place.

After the 2021 Surfside complex collapse, Frenk offered counseling services to those affected and encouraged the campus community to aid victims. In 2022, he then appointed Joe Echevarria, the current acting president, as the University’s chief executive officer to continue executing his plan, “The Roadmap to Our Century.”

During Frenk’s tenure, the University’s Miller School of Medicine and UHealth steadily improved and made a remarkable impact on cancer research.

The Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Cancer was awarded the National Cancer Institute designation in 2019, making it one of the leaders in clinical studies and the only NCI-designated health system in South Florida.

Frenk’s fundraising campaign, “Ever Brighter,” united international donors to surge campus academics, athletics and facilities to drive it into a new centennial of success, raising more than $2 billion toward its $2.5 billion.

With a $100 million donation from Dr. Philip and Patrica Frost, to establish the Frost Institutes, ongoing research into chemistry, molecular science and data science will continue unearthing ground-breaking discoveries and provide students with a greater array of research opportunities.

It doesn’t end there. A $50 million gift from Kenneth C. Griffin, founder of Citadel and Griffin Catalyst, will bring a new 12-story research building to cement the University as a pioneer of medical education innovation.

These initiatives led to the University’s membership in the honored Association of American Universities in 2023, a goal decades in the making.

Frenk’s efforts in spearheading UHealth’s growth matched his dedication to students.

It’s common to find Frenk at campus events and attending Miami Hurricane football games, eager to take pictures with students.

“For rising seniors like me, we remember President Frenk energetically welcoming us in-person our freshman year for ’Canes Take Flight,” Roy Carillo Zamora, University student government president, said. “His legacy at UM will be felt.”

President Frenk and Arva Moore Parks sing the alma mater with Firsts at UM attendees. Hallee Meltzer // Photo Editor
President Frenk and Arva Moore Parks sing the alma mater with Firsts at UM attendees. Hallee Meltzer // Photo Editor

Frenk took part in dunk-tank fundraisers for student organizations and even answered student questions concerning a viral shirtless picture of him.

His commitment to improving student life would peak in 2020 with the creation of Lakeside Village and the Knight Center for Music Innovation.

The Knight Center for Music Innovation doubled the nationally ranked Frost School of Music’s musical performance possibilities and gave musicians a new sanctuary to experiment. It has since hosted orchestras and esteemed performers, like Tony award-winner Kristin Chenoweth.

Lakeside Village introduced state-of-the-art dorms that overlook Lake Osceola and the Fate Bridge. The living spaces bring ultimate comfort and easy access to almost every classroom, making them the most in demand.

Frenk leaves behind the upcoming Centennial Village as a parting gift to the incoming class of 2028. The freshman-exclusive residence halls will replace Hecht Residential College and Stanford Residential College, bringing more students together under Lakeside Village levels of luxury.

Echevarria promises to continue improving campus life as acting president with Frenk taking a sabbatical leave to prepare for his transition to UCLA.

“As someone who has worked closely with Julio for years and who has had an inside view of his courageous leadership, I can understand why an outstanding institution would select Julio for such a role,” Echevarria said in his first message to the University community.

Taking over after former president Donna Shalala stepped down put high expectations on Frenk. His efforts exceeded them and made the U home to acclaimed students, faculty and professionals.

Now, Echevarria and the University’s Board of Trustees begin their search for a new leader for the University.

“As the Board begins the process of working with the faculty to identify the institution’s next president, my message to you today is simple: Let’s keep rising,” Echevarria said.

Who is Joe Echevarria, the new acting president of UM?

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Joe Echevarria was announced the acting president of the University of Miami earlier today by the University of Miami Board of Trustees, assuming both the role he previously held as CEO and president of the University.

“Joe Echevarria, our exemplary CEO and an incomparable leader, has been absolutely essential to navigating every crisis and challenge we have overcome during my tenure as president,” former President Julio Frenk said in a statement to the UM community.

“There is no doubt that Joe is the right person to take the helm as the U navigates this transition.”

Echevarria comes from a primarily business background. After graduating from the University of Miami in 1978 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, Echevarria went on to start a 36 year career at Deloitte LLP, a professional service provider focused on financial advising and consulting, eventually serving as CEO from 2011 to 2014.

During his time heading Deloitte LLP, the company was fined $22 million dollars by the Financial Reporting Council for a failure to address conflicts of interest and consider public interest. Before this, in 2013, Deloitte agreed to pay a $10 million fine to New York state regulators and a year-long suspension from working with New York-regulated banks to settle allegations with New York’s Department of Financial Services over anti-money laundering work for the UK bank, Standard Chartered PLC.

Echevarria has explained that navigating challenging economic times has been a part of his life.

“The person who doesn’t make mistakes doesn’t make anything,” Echevarria said as a life lesson of his to Bloomberg.

His connection to UM has followed him through his career as he served on the UM Board of Trustees from 2012 to 2019 and filled a series of advisory roles to former UM President Julio Frenk before being appointed Chief Executive Officer of UHealth, UM’s sprawling medical arm, in 2020.

Echevarria led UHealth through COVID-19 and what Frenk described as “one of the most challenging periods in our history.”

In 2022, Frenk requested the Board of Trustees add a CEO position to oversee UM in its entirety. After a quiet hiring process, UM announced the addition of a CEO for the university and a unanimous decision to hire Echevarria for the position. He then assumed 100% of the labor and revenue responsibility for UM, increasing from the 79% he oversaw as CEO of UHealth.

“Those of you who have worked with Joe know that his gift for asking the right questions, empowering talented professionals, and insisting on accountability is precisely the steady leadership we need to persist on our journey of continuous improvement,” Chair of the Board of Trustees Manny Kadre said.

Echevarria has filled a number of other roles including several affiliated with former U.S. President Barack Obama as an advisor to the Obama Foundation and chair of Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, work he considers close to his heart.

Raised in the South Bronx by a single Puerto Rican mother, Ecehvarria believes he got to where he is today as a product of social intervention. He benefited from a government program that put students in his area on track to attend college.

In an interview with the Hispanic Executive, Echevarria detailed the philosophy of his leadership

“People always remember how you make them feel,” he says. “They rarely remember everything you said. They just know how they feel when that interaction is over, and that stays with them. It took me a while to figure that out. But it certainly became sort of the way I process leadership, even today.”

He currently also chairs the Board of The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation and serves on the Board of Directors for Pfizer and UNUM, an insurance company.

Ashley Sewall contributed to the reporting of this story.

Julio Frenk steps down, CEO of UM to become acting president

This story was last updated at 4:09 p.m. on Wednesday, June 12.

Julio Frenk is leaving his post as president of the University of Miami effective today. UM CEO Joe Echevarria will be serving as the acting president of the University of Miami, as chosen by UM’s Board of Trustees. Frenk will take on a role as chancellor at the University of California, Los Angeles beginning Jan. 1, 2025.

The Board of Trustees will be working with the faculty senate through the next several months to identify the next president of UM.

“At this key juncture, we are especially grateful for the constructive partnership we have built with the Faculty Senate,” said Manny Kadre, the chair of UM’s Board of Trustees, in a statement from UM communications.

The chair of the faculty senate, JoNel Newman, reported that the University community, faculty, staff and trustees were unaware of Frenk’s departure until it was announced by UCLA due to the strict procedures of choosing UCLA’s chancellor.

“Protocol concerns stemming from the University of California Board of Regents processes required that President Frenk’s appointment be kept in strict confidence until the Board of Regents met today. Thus, this announcement has come as a surprise to almost everyone in our University community, Faculty, Staff, Trustees and Alumni alike,” Newman said.

Throughout Frenk’s tenure, he led the university through the COVID-19 pandemic, a $2.5 billion fundraising campaign and a campaign to make UM a force throughout the western hemisphere. Also during his administration, students protested over the rights of janitorial workers, COVID-19 policies and most recently held vigils and teach-ins regarding the war in Gaza. Frenk’s role as chancellor at UCLA is effectively that of president, making him the senior official at the university.

Frenk will however be taking a $700,000 pay cut from his last reported salary at UM of $1,685,829, a nearly 40% decrease. He will be making $978,904 per the LA Times.

Through the past few months, UCLA saw some of the most intense ongoing campus protests across the country, which saw widespread encampments and violent attacks from counter protesters.

“At this crucial moment for higher education, returning to the public sector to lead one of the top research universities in the world — including one of the 10 largest academic health systems — is an exciting opportunity and a great honor for me,” Frenk said in a statement released by UCLA.

Frenk’s move to UCLA means his university policies will now be beholden to the oversight of the state of California. While heading UM, Frenk notably allowed his administration to maintain policies that were banned at public Florida universities, such as having DEI positions. Transitioning to a public university will also mean more significant financing from the state.

“I look forward to adding my lifelong commitment to public service in education and health care to the vibrant, diverse and cosmopolitan community that is Los Angeles.”

Echevarria was the former CEO of the vast UHealth network before he was brought into the role of UM’s CEO as a whole, an exceedingly rare role for an educational institution as most schools have the president assume the responsibility of a CEO. The position was created for Echevarria in April 2022.

“Joe is a proud alumnus and a proven and accomplished leader whose deep commitment to our academic mission has enabled much of our recent success, with clear strategy and focused execution of our education, research, and health care missions,” Kadre said.

Echevarria will continue serving in his role as CEO of UM as well.

Miami loses former Freshman All-American Blake Cyr to the transfer portal

Miami loses former Freshman All-American Blake Cyr to the transfer portal

Following a disappointing season in Coral Gables, the Miami Hurricanes were now faced with weathering the storm of the transfer portal, which opened up on June 3rd. As the portal opened on Monday, former Freshman All-American Blake Cyr entered after two seasons in Miami.

Ranked 150th nationally and 34th in the state of Florida according to Perfect Game, Cyr was recruited heavily by some of the top baseball programs and MLB teams. The shortstop was ranked fifth at his position in his state, and garnered attention at the pros when playing for the Philadelphia Phillies scout team in 2022.

Coming out of Windermere High School, Cyr chose to stay in-state and committed to Miami in late 2018, almost four years before enrollment.

In his freshman year at Miami, Cyr exceeded his already high expectations, playing a key role in the Hurricanes run in the NCAA tournament alongside star Yohandy Morales.

In 59 games that season, Cyr slashed a stellar .306/.420/.628 season, tallying 17 home runs and 63 RBI’s as one of the best hitters in the entire ACC. Cyr’s season awarded him Freshman All-American Honors in 2023.

In 2024, Cyr’s sophomore campaign was not as fortunate as his freshman season. Despite slashing .284/.397/.537 with seven home runs, the infielder played just 25 games.

In an April series against Duke, Cyr broke his thumb on an attempted steal to second base in the top of the ninth, sidelining him for the rest of the season. That game would be the last time Cyr would wear a Miami uniform.

As the No.55 prospect in the MLB draft according to FSS PLUS, Cyr entered the portal on June 3rd.

Miami head coach J.D. Arteaga will have to be aggressive in the transfer portal this offseason as the team tries to replace the production of Cyr and others that will follow him.

Alexa Noel caps off incredible season as women’s tennis singles champion

After leading the Hurricanes to the Sweet 16, Miami’s ace and captain, Alexa Noel, tore through the NCAA Individual Championships to bring home the Canes’ first title since Estela Perez-Somarriba won in 2019.

Noel, who’s ranked No. 10 nationally, began her tournament with a convincing win over Texas’s No. 42 ranked Tanya Sasnouskaya, 6-2, 7-5. In the Round of 32, Noel was taken to three sets against USC’s No. 60-ranked Grace Piper but prevailed, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1. Noel saw a fellow ACC opponent in the Sweet 16 and displayed a stellar performance over North Carolina’s No. 31-ranked Anika Yarlagadda 6-1, 6-2.

Her Elite 8 consisted of a match against Stanford’s No. 29-ranked Alexandra Yepifanova in which she won, 6-2, 6-3, sending her to the Final Four to take on the No.1 women’s tennis player in the world, Mary Stoiana.

Noel and Stoiana had seen each other earlier in the year when the Aggies came to town to take on the Canes in an out-of-conference matchup in which Noel pulled off a huge 6-2, 6-7, 6-3 victory over the 2023 SEC Player of the Year. Despite the rankings, Noel made it look easy, as she breezed by Stoiana in a 6-3, 6-2 win.

Noel went head-to-head with Georgia’s No. 70-ranked Anastasiia Lopata for the championship on Saturday, May 25. Lopata came out firing and quickly had Noel down 6-4, 3-1, but in a monumental comeback, Noel’s crafty game carried her back and to the finish line in a thrilling 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 title victory.

Noel joins a selective group of UM legends, becoming the third single’s champion in Miami history, all under head coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews (Audra Cohen in 2007 and Perez-Somarriba in 2019).

Yaroshuk-Tews had high praise for Noel in the postgame press conference.

I’m so proud of the tournament that Alexa played,” Yaroshuk said to reporters. “She showed uncompromising poise and the toughness of a champion. She’s a special young lady.”

Noel will most likely return next year for her senior season and shoot up the national rankings.

HUMOR: Toppel Center…more like I’m toppling over

This was originally published in the March 27 Print Edition.

While my resume is a disaster and my bank account is overdrawn by 23 cents, I am sick and tired of receiving emails from the Toppel Career Center. My issue isn’t with their intentions. If they want to help me find someone stupid enough to hire me, that’s fine.

Before I get into the pressing topic at hand, I want to offer a disclaimer. Toppel is a last name and I have nothing but respect for the Toppel family.

I know how inconvenient a last name can be. When I was in high school representing a face riddled with pimples, I embarked on my accutane adventure and landed the nickname “chapped lips.” My last name is Chapman and my lips were shedding, and maybe if my last name was different or I moisturized as part of my morning routine, I could’ve slid under the radar.

That being said, the obvious dilemma here is because of their name: Toppel. I’m already not particularly interested in joining the workforce next year assuming I pass my classes, and with a name like Toppel, I’d rather keep firing off job applications to jobs which I won’t receive a rejection letter from until I’ve completely forgotten I applied there.

Toppel sounds like the day we graduate and see President Frenk for the first time, they’re going to push us off the stage as we topple down the stairs and into a 9 to 5.

Why isn’t it called something more encouraging, like the Next Step Center? Or Securing the Bag Depot? Or Chasing the Bread Express (their slogan could be “time to start breadwinning”)? Call me crazy, but I’d bet all negative 23 cents that the name Toppel Career Center is the reason people get their master’s degrees in areas where a master’s degree won’t make them any more money.

For instance, much to my parent’s dismay, I’m studying broadcast journalism. Because I refuse to parade into the Toppel Career Center out of fear and potential embarrassment that I have nothing of quality to put on my resume, there is a possible scenario where I will have to get my masters in broadcast journalism.

No matter which way I spin it, if I go down that road, I will still have to live in Nebraska and make $5 an hour. The only difference is, I will have spent more money and time on learning how to look good on camera, which is a lost cause as it is.

But in an alternate universe, where Toppel is called something more welcoming, like “The Long Road to Retirement with a Vacation Here and There Junction,” I will go in there with my 3 short-term jobs and my subpar GPA from the School of Communications and I will ask them where I can sign up for the Law School Admissions Test.

With all my free time from not having a job or friends, I did a Google search. I looked up the word topple. And in .30 seconds, which is the amount of time I approximately spent deleting Toppel’s emails, Google offered me two definitions from the Oxford Dictionary.

And if there’s anything I know about the Oxford Dictionary, it’s nothing. I’ve always been more of a Merriam-Webster kind of guy. Anyway, both definitions were verbs, and neither motivated me to journey through the hot scorching sun to the career center.

Option one: “Overbalance or become unsteady and fall slowly.” And while “Falling Slowly” from the hit Broadway musical “Once” is objectively one of the greatest songs ever created, I don’t know what it means to be overbalanced as I imagine you can never be too steady.

Option two: “Cause to become unsteady and fall.” Enough said.

The truth is, in life sometimes we need to fall in order to get back up. It’s one of the only ways to build resilience. Could it be the whole time Toppel was just trying to teach us this lesson?

While they almost certainly were not trying to teach us anything, and I could not be more sure that Toppel is simply the name of the person who donated the building or the name of the person the building was named after, I will try to frame it as if it is meant to inspire.

I will one day galavant into the Toppel Career Center and put my resume, desolate of any meaningful work experience, on the table, and ask for a job working for them. As Kevin Durant proved by joining the Warriors and ruining basketball back in 2016, and as the saying goes: “If you can’t beat them, join them.”

Freshmen feast for six RBIs to push past Clemson and keep baseball’s season alive

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Coming off the heels of a season-saving win against Louisville, the ‘Canes were up against the wall once again with a win-or-go-home situation against the projected national No. 6 seed, Clemson. Thanks to clutch extra-base hits from the team’s freshman hitters and a valiant effort by Gage Ziehl on the mound, Miami was able to extend its season at least another game, defeating the Tigers in an 8-7 nail-biter.

The biggest inning at the plate for the Hurricanes came in the bottom of the second and was vital in jumping out to an early lead. Heading into the inning, Clemson was up 2-1 with the bottom of the order due up for Miami.

Carlos Perez led off the frame with a single, followed by Lorenzo Carrier, who doubled, putting runners on second and third with nobody out, setting the stage for freshman Antonio Jimenez.

On just the first pitch of his at-bat, Jimenez launched only his second homer of the year, giving UM a two-run lead and bringing much-needed energy to the dugout.

Daniel Cuvet kept up his incredible ACC tournament play, capping off the five-run Miami second inning with a two-run double, giving the ’Canes a 6-2 lead through two.

While it was not his most smooth start of the year, Ziehl was able to grind through six solid innings of work and put the team in a position to close out the dangerous Tiger lineup.

Ziehl finished with six innings, six hits, three runs (two earned), three walks and four strikeouts. This line was good enough to see him exit the game with UM on top 7-3 heading into the late innings.

With how good this Clemson lineup has been all year, UM head coach JD Arteaga and the ‘Canes knew that the ballgame was far from over, and promptly, the Tigers began their climb back into the game.

Clemson scratched across three runs in the seventh and eighth innings to make it just a one-run game, with the Hurricanes coming to the plate in the bottom of the eighth.

Desperately needing another insurance run were the ’Canes when freshman Jake Kulikowski stepped into the box for his first at-bat of the ACC tournament, but it certainly did not look that way.

Straight from the bench, Kulikowski deposited a 2-1 pitch for a no-doubt home run over the right field fence, lighting a fire in the Miami dugout with victory just three outs away and now ahead by two runs.

To make things interesting, the first batter up for Clemson in the ninth, Jacob Hinderleider, homered to dead center, shrinking the lead to just a run.

Next, Golden Spikes Award semifinalist Blake Wright stepped up and drew a walk, putting the tying run on first base with no one out.

Myles Caba, the Hurricanes most dependable reliever as of late, then dialed it in, getting star Cam Cannarella to pop out followed by a groundout to Cuvet, making the situation two outs and a runner still on first.

Tristan Bissetta then smoked a flyball into deep left-center field that sent Edgardo Villegas to the track, who leaped up and caught what would have likely been a game-tying double and instead kept the Miami baseball season alive, sealing the 8-7 victory.

Slated next for the Hurricanes is yet another win-or-go-home game against the winner of Pool C, the Duke Blue Devils, who took care of North Carolina State and Virginia Tech.

First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Saturday night.

Sorting through the noise: How microbiome science launched health influencer culture and how 20-year-olds can make sense of it all

This article was originally published in the December 6 Print Edition.

Ella Caggiano, an Instagram fitness influencer with over 150,000 thousand followers, refuses to post a “what I eat in a day” video.

“I’ve never posted one before. I never will,” she said. “Eat like me, you’re not going to look like me.”

Even if a follower were to copy Caggiano’s exact meal plan and workout routine, they would inevitably, always look different.

“Everyone has different lifestyle factors that go into achieving the results that you want,” Caggiano, the recent University of Miami exercise physiology graduate, said.

“There’s a million ways to achieve results, a million ways to be fit, a million things that you could do to be successful in your fitness journey. But at the end of the day, one thing might work for you and something else might work better for someone else.”

This is not a revelation Caggiano came to on her own. The idea is backed by several decades of research in what may be the most-exciting new wave of science – microbiology.

Over 50% of you, is not really you.

Microbiology is the study of the thousands of microbes, commonly known as bacteria, that make up more than half of cells in the human body.

“Every single nook and cranny of your body – inside and out – is inhabited by microbes, but their densest of all in the gut. Here they produce vitamins our body cannot synthesize, aid in digestion, fortify the immune system and even play a critical role in modulating our moods,” Kathleen McAuliffe, an adjunct professor in the Ecosystem Science and Policy Program and a book author who writes on biomedical topics, said.

It was not until two decades ago though that the human microbiome began to be recognized as a critical component of well-being, as scientists demonstrated the prominent connection between gut health and mental health. Most of this occurs through the “gut-brain axis”, a system composed of the vagus nerve, circulatory system and enteric nervous system that help the brain communicate with the microbes in the gut.

Between 2007 and 2012 alone, the number of journal articles published on the microbiome increased by almost 250%.

“There is no question that microbiome science is of fundamental importance when it comes to understanding how diet affects health,” McAuliffe said.

Since their discovery, microbes have been linked to a variety of diseases including Parkinsons, Irritable Bowel Disease and obesity. The field shows promise for potentially treating these chronic conditions, but medical research is a slow process. In the meantime, the limited information has been adopted by a far faster moving field: the online wellness industry.

Probiotic Promises

Alongside microbiome discoveries came a wave of interest in probiotics, supplements that introduce “good” bacteria into the gut microbiome to enhance health. Studies revealed probiotics could do everything from prevent osteoporosis to lower levels of depression.

Companies like Dannon ran with this data and probiotics quickly became the marketable product of the microbiome and solution to gut health. The probiotic industry is now forecasted to exceed $70 billion in market size before 2030.

However, Dannon was also accused of overstating the benefits of probiotics in its yogurt in a 2009 lawsuit, later settled for $35 million. These heavily-marketed false promises are used throughout the probiotic industry that remains unregulated by the FDA.

“When it comes to the entire probiotic industry, I think that it’s a classic case of the industry taking advantage of the ignorance of consumers to sell useless products,” McAuliffe said.

For every study suggesting the positive results of probiotics, another claims its uselessness, predominantly because of colonization resistance that prevents the probiotic bacteria from taking hold in a gut already dominated by microbes. A tremendous amount of funding has been invested into research looking to generalize and improve the strains of bacteria that can be used in probiotics, with only a handful of large-scale success stories.

Not a solution to be written off, the “Wild West” of unregulated probiotic shelves, is also not one to be promoted, McAuliffe noted.

Still, probiotics have infiltrated the recommendations of many influencers including Caggiano. She suggests specific supplements or probiotics to aid in digestion, but only after natural remedies have been pursued.

“I am a very big proponent of making sure that your nutritional needs are being met through food before you go to supplementation because a lot of people rely on supplements in order to fix problems that could be fixed with their nutritional protocols,” Caggiano said.

Probiotics are only at the surface of this new health obsession. Since the start of 2019, the term “gut health” has tripled in Google search popularity and related products have become a leading trend for consumers.

Poppi, an alternative soda company, has branded themselves as a gut-friendly soda packed with prebiotic agave inulin and under 25 calories a can. The company received a $25 million investment in December 2022 after a revenue growth of nearly 150% in one year, most of which was led by a massive social media campaign.

When new science meets social media

The influx of microbiome studies and probiotics on the market hit consumers in the late 2000s. At the same time social media, especially with the 2010 launch of Instagram, was on the rise.

This overlap allowed influencers, most untrained in fitness and nutrition, to take control of the microbiome narrative, leaving not only probiotics unregulated, but also the people endorsing them.

Soon emerged 5-minute workouts that could take 3 inches off your waist in days, supplement obsessions and new forms of miracle diets that could transform the body overnight.

“​​Most of what you’re hearing on social media is one size fits all, and everything we’re learning about the microbiome is telling us exactly the opposite,” McAuliffe said.

A 2023 investigation into leading social media “dieticians,” found at least 35 posts that were paid for by American Beverage, a lobbying group that represents popular soda brands Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. The influencers, including Steph Grasso with over 2.2 million Tik Tok followers, posted that the World Health Organization’s artificial sweetener warnings were clickbait and promoted soda as a healthy drink option to curb further sugar cravings.

This is part of a wave of influencers that have taken advantage of their registered dietician status to suggest supplements, probiotics and specific diets to their followers with the promise of achieving a better figure.

“These “influencers” most certainly take away from those of us who are trying to properly educate, even myself have been accused of being ‘fake’ and ‘a liar’ on many, many occasions,” said Celeste Fisher.

Fisher is a National Council on Strength & Fitness (NCSF) certified personal trainer, with an Instagram following just short of 100,000 and University of Miami student. She tries to educate her audience of the basics of nutrition, as opposed to highlighting one specific method to be healthy.

“Overall, influencers get a horrible reputation, but rightfully so. There’s not many of us out there that stay science based, are certified by a reputable source, and stay true to ourselves and our audience.”

Sophomore psychology major, Austin Schulman, is training to compete in a body builder competition next summer. He follows an extensive regime, but not the one most influencers tell him to.

“There’s a lot of people who are like researchers first fitness influencers second, but, if you go to the people who are fitness influencers first, they’re just trying to make money, They’re just trying to convince you, not tell you the truth,” he said.

Instead he uses his background as an exercise physiology minor, shadowing in PT clinics and specific trainers to guide him.

For example, Schulman avoids pre-workout, a supplement blend typically high in caffeine meant to boost energy before the gym. Pre-workout, traditionally mixed with water, grew in popularity after a TikTok trend in 2021 that promoted dry-scooping, taking the supplement, without a liquid, with the promise of a better workout.

While pre-workouts can enhance performance, “dry-scooping” quickly jolts the body with caffeine as opposed to the gradual effect of drinking it. Pre-workout has been linked to heart attacks and even death, when 29-year-old personal trainer Thomas Mansfield overdosed on caffeine.

“The harm with social media is taking everything at face value. I don’t think you can, because people don’t see nuance with social media. It’s like a straight fix thing. You want to create content that’s fast that people can digest easily,” Schulman said.

Not all users are able to spot the differences between these quick-fixes and the genuine science-backed advice however. But a general rule of thumb Fisher said, is that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

“Take information with a grain of salt”

Diet and fitness trends show no signs of stopping, nor does the research on the capabilities of harnessing one’s microbiome to achieve perfect health. For college students, trying to stay in shape while being full-time students, the most important part of fitness is focusing on yourself, and what works for you, Caggiano said.

Caggiano tried several diets and workout routines before figuring out her approach to fitness, it’s something she’s very candid with on her account, posting videos making fun of the “insane weight loss trends” she tried in middle school.

“You have the power to achieve all the goals that you want, but you need to be able to be a smart consumer. Take information with a grain of salt, realize that nobody’s perfect and no one diet is going to bring you the happiness that you want for yourself,” she said.

From one win, to one win away; the story of Miami Club Hockey’s miraculous turnaround

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Ashley Freedland also contributed to this report.

The University of Miami ice hockey team knew from the first day of tryouts, the first practice and the first game that this season was going to be different.

The team opened the year with a tough test against the University of Central Florida (UCF), a team it had lost to by 10 goals in the season finale just seven months prior. To both teams’ surprise, the ’Canes were able to shock the UCF Knights 8-5 in an opening road win.

“We went out there, having never played together. We’d just had one practice, and we were able to pull it out against a [Division II] team, and they were so shocked, so shocked,” senior assistant captain Max Mencimer said. “The last game they beat us like 10-0 so they were not expecting that at all, and honestly, I wasn’t either, but it was sick, it was awesome.”

This unexpected victory was a catalyst for a team that is about to play as the number one seed in the Division III Nationals tournament over spring break. This was a team that only won a single game last season and couldn’t even get half of its players to show up to practice or games.

Two weekends ago, the team was able to win all three of their playoff games including a shutout of rival Florida Southern. The team had already locked up the number one seed for the playoffs, but the playoff dominance only fueled their confidence heading into nationals.

The Hurricanes had no consistent practice schedules, a sporadic coaching cycle, and a commute of almost an hour to practices during the week. Luckily, for this year’s squad, the group of leaders love hockey and wanted nothing more than to turn the team around in their senior season, and that’s just what they did.

“Our seniors and our captains really pushed kids to be accountable,” sophomore defenseman Owen Gupta said. “Communication was huge, to not skip practice just because you feel like it, and saying, ‘Let’s get people here and let’s work hard.’ Everybody on the team loves the sport, but last year did not feel the same; them getting that love back really pushed all of us to work harder.”

The commitment is felt on and off the ice. This is not just a group of hockey players at Miami; this is a group of friends.

“We’re a pretty close team, probably the closest team I’ve been on in my life,” Gupta said.

That sentiment is felt all over the roster. For senior forward Billy Cincotta, who has been through it all over his four years at UM, this team is special.

“For me, this is more than a team,” Cincotta said. “I’ve never felt better about a group of guys than this year, it’s nice that we’re all super close; that’s not something we had in the past to have that this year has been awesome.”

The buy-in for this group started at the top, and with the work the seniors have put into making this group more than just a hockey team, the guys have all seen that work play out on the ice.

“I feel like our team just committed to put the work in and to be together, and this year our team is so close,” Mencimer said. “I’ve been on a team for three years. Last year, it was kind of tough to even go to hockey ’cause we always knew that we might get pumped. This year has just brought all of us so close. It’s been the best thing.”

This new sense of comradery among the players helped fuel them to the most successful season in Miami hockey history. This team was 16-4 in the regular season, 3-0 in the postseason, and will enter the championship tournament as the number one seed.

“Our coaches are focused on having a good locker room and making sure all the team is together as one, and there’s no issues on the bench or anything like that,” freshman forward Brenden Moore said. “And I think it’s worked out well for us because it’s helped us get along as a team and perform well on the ice because we’re not fighting each other off the ice.”

While this newfound committed culture is all Moore knows, it was not always that way.

It takes a hefty amount of dedication to get a group of college students to play puck late at night in Kendall, a 45-minute drive away. Even when players are not playing, they come to support the team.

“In previous years if Tom said to someone, ‘Hey you’re not playing today’, that person was not showing up,” senior goalie Ethan Gany said. “There’s not a chance in hell that a person who was not playing would take their Friday or Saturday to come to support the team, it was just not going to happen. This year we’ve constantly had two to three scratched players come to the game and sit on the bench and help out, that’s a huge difference.”

The team has dealt with destructive coaches in the past, but head coach Tom Immello brings a renewed heart and soul to the club. He flies in from New York every weekend for the games, ensuring the team is ready for action before they hit the ice.

“He just cares so much about our team, and it means the absolute world to all of us. He flies down from New York every single weekend for us. And he does so much that none of us see. He cares so much, and all he wants is for us to have fun and for us to have an opportunity to play hockey,” Mencimer said.

Immello’s passion for the team resonates with each player, bringing them together and pushing them toward success.

“We wouldn’t be playing hockey without Tom,” Cincotta said.

Immello brings players together and creates a sense of community on the ice.

“Before the season started, I’d say it started with Tom and our leadership. The biggest difference was people leading by example, seeing them commit to making UM hockey fun and good again,” Gany said.

Going from a losing record to the road to nationals depended on more than simply skill but passion and leadership. The team was in desperation for a role model, and Immello filled that void.

“He cares so much, and all he wants is for us to have fun and for us to have an opportunity to play hockey. And the more I’ve played on this team, and now that I’m on the e-board, now that I’m assistant captain, Tom and I have gotten really close. And he’s just such a good guy. I don’t have enough good things to say about that man,” Mencimer said.

This is Immello’s second time coaching the team. He coached the team when his son played on it many years ago and has now returned to the club simply because he cares. His return brought life to the team again. He isn’t just a coach to the players; he is a role model and inspiration to them.

Immello works alongside Griffin James, a graduate student, who advises the players on the ice during practices and gets them game-time ready.

The investment that the seniors, the coaches, and all the players have put into this team has let the seniors leave their mark on the program that they love.

“I was in a really odd position, I couldn’t try out due to an injury,” Gany said. “Tom was telling me that I was going to be on a different team, he was trying to get me some games and I just told him ‘Listen, I appreciate the offer, but I’m not going to do that.’ I’d been on the team for three years, and I was the only goalie on a lot of those road trips, and I told him ‘I don’t care if I’m not the starter,’ I just want to see through what I started here.”

These seniors have a tremendous passion for the game of hockey, and to be able to ride out their last season like this has been nothing short of a dream for them.

“My favorite thing to do in the world is play hockey,” Cincotta said. “And to see where we’re at now is just mind-boggling.”

Miami continues to load up on the defensive front with transfer Tyler Baron

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On Monday night the Miami Hurricanes made another addition via the transfer portal landing big-time pass rusher Tyler Baron.

Baron spent the last four years at the University of Tennessee before spending some time with Louisville this offseason. Currently, Baron is third among active college football players in quarterback pressures according to PFF. Baron has 12.5 career sacks and over 100 career tackles. Baron is large at 6’5” and 260 pounds with ability to play all over the defensive line. He can be a standup player or move inside and pass rush with his hand in the dirt.

The Hurricanes had already added Marley Cook, Simeon Barrow, and Elijah Alston as impact players on the defensive line. Now with Baron, that makes an entire quality starting defensive line in just transfers. The newcomers will join Reuben Bain and Ahkeem Mesidor to do some damage for the Miami defensive line.

In addition, they got two studs at the top of their recurring class in edge rushers Marquise Lightfoot and Booker Pickett Jr. as well as interior defenders Armondo Blount and Justin Scott.

Miami defensive coordinator Lance Guidry will have a lot of fun dialing up different packages for these guys. The versatility of this group will give opposing offensive coordinators nightmares.

Baron is another huge addition to Miami this offseason and brings the Miami defense to another level. Miami has one of the best defensive line groups in the country with the addition of Baron.

All stats and data via ESPN, PFF, and the Miami Hurricanes unless otherwise noted.

Cuvet’s two homerun afternoon powers Miami to opening ACC tournament win against Louisville, 8-5

The Miami Hurricanes arrived in Charlotte, North Carolina as an 11 seed in the ACC tournament, needing a magical run to have its name called on Selection Sunday.

In group B of pool play, the ‘Canes opened the competition against the No. 7 seed Louisville Cardinals, who took the season series against UM back in April.

In a late morning showdown against the Cardinals at Truist Field, Miami freshman Daniel Cuvet announced himself to the rest of the country, smashing two three-run home runs, leading the way for the Hurricanes to take the opening game of the tournament, winning 8-5.

Facing Evan Webster, the Hurricanes jumped on the senior pitcher right away, forcing the Cardinals to pull him after one inning of work.

In the top of the first, with two runners on and no one out, Cuvet launched his 22nd home run of the season into the seats in right field, getting UM out to an early 3-0 lead.

On the mound in Charlotte was Rafe Schlesinger, who, for the most part, held the Louisville bats at bay, keeping Miami’s lead intact. In 5.2 innings of work, the junior lefty surrendered three runs on six hits, and struck out five Cardinal batters.

After scraping a run off Schlesinger in the third and fifth frames, the Hurricanes only led by one, needing some insurance runs to fend off a Louisville team on the bubble in the NCAA tournament.

In the top of the sixth, Lucas Costello powered his seventh home run of the season off the scoreboard in left field, extending the lead to two and giving UM some much needed breathing room.

A few batters later, shortstop JD Urso smacked an RBI single to left field, bringing home Carlos Perez to bring the lead back to three.

With Webster out after one inning of work, Louisville turned to sophomore Patrick Forbes to keep Miami’s lead at three. In five innings of relief, Forbes battled, allowing two runs on five hits to keep the Cardinals in striking distance of the Hurricanes.

In the top of the seventh, Cuvet put the game out of reach against the Cardinals. With two on and no one out, the third baseman crushed his second home run of the game off the scoreboard in left field, allowing Miami to hold an 8-3 lead.

Cuvet’s 23rd long ball of the season ties Pat Burrell record set back in 1996 for the most home runs in a season as a freshman, continuing a historic campaign for the Fort Lauderdale native.

While trying to maintain arms for No. 2 seed Clemson, UM head coach J.D. Arteaga turned to sophomore reliever Myles Caba to pitch the final three innings of the game. Caba battled, throwing 58 pitches in 3.1 innings of work and striking out five batters to finish the game and picking up the save.

Miami looks to keep its tournament hopes alive with a matchup against the No. 2 seed and No. 3 nationally ranked Clemson Tigers. The Hurricanes likely need to win the ACC tournament in order to get a bid on Selection Sunday and will have its ace Gage Ziehl on the mound on Thursday.

Ziehl was nothing short of dominant in his last game against the Tigers, striking out 15 batters in a complete game. UM will need something similar from its ace to keep playing in the postseason.

First pitch will be at 11 a.m. at Truist Field in Charlotte, North Carolina. The game will be broadcasted on the ACC Network.