Great Start Staff

Apply to be a Great Start Counselor TODAY

Great Start Staff

“I came into Great Start basically not knowing anybody and I was scared of having a hard time finding friends. Great Start introduced me to some really amazing and fun people, both new students and counselors.” – Great Start 2018 Participant


The Great Start staff welcomes you to the University of Miami. Our staff is comprised of counselors of various majors and class standings who have experienced commuter life and are trained to help new commuter students in their transition to the University of Miami. After a year of preparing to welcome commuter students to campus, Great Start counselors spend the entire weekend of Great Start building community with program participants, and then serve as Orientation Fellows once students arrive for the ’Cane Kickoff orientation program in August.

If you are looking to get involved as a future Great Start counselor, look for applications in October!

The Great Start program is supervised by professional staff in the Department of Orientation & Commuter Student Involvement. Meet the professional staff by clicking here!

You can contact the Great Start staff by emailing


The Student Program Coordinators serve as the lead student facilitators of Great Start. They supervise the counselor staff and manage Great Start both as the face of the program as well as behind the scenes.

Andrea Candelaria

Andrea Candelaria

Student Program Coordinator

Ecosystem Science and Policy

Rafa Cariello

Student Program Coordinator

Economics; Finance


The steering committee consists of six Great Start counselors who serve as the chairs of various committees in the Great Start program. Each chair oversees unique projects which come together to make Great Start an exciting and seamless experience for new students. Steering Committee chairs also serve as counselors during Great Start.

Craig Contreras

Chair, Hospitality Committee

Mathematics; Computer Science

Laura Florez

Chair, Campus Exploration Committee

Exercise Physiology

Annabelle Menendez

Chair, Outreach and Registration Committee


Brian Rodriguez

Chair, Recreation Committee

Chemistry – Probability & Statistics

Priscilla Ruiz

Chair, Sponsorship Committee

Legal Studies

Patricia Santana

Chair, Transition and Student Development Committee

Psychology; English Creative Writing


The Great Start counselors are student leaders who facilitate new student engagement in Great Start. Counselors provide mentorship and help build community throughout the Great Start program. Counselors are a wealth of knowledge on how to be successful as a commuter student at the University of Miami.

Maria Bucarano


Abdiel Caballero

Mathematics; Political Science; Religion

Avani Choudhary

Graphic Design; Computer Science

Genesis Cosme

Public Relations

Andy Fernandez


Alexa Gonzalez


Jennifer Hudak

Media Management

Julie Llano

Mechanical Engineering

Taylor Miragliotta

Health Science

Katerina Quintairos

Music Business and Entertainment Industries

Vanessa Rivas

Microbiology and Immunology

Carlos Rohl

Psychology; International Studies

Sebastian Sabbagh

Biomedical Engineering

Daniella Sanchez


Julia Sirven

Music Business and Entertainment Industries

Dija Thomas