Staying Up All Night for a Good Cause

On Feb. 23, I volunteered to stay up all night to help a local nonprofit during the ninth annual PhilADthropy, where students like me create campaigns and other communication pieces in 25 hours. 

The event kicked off at 11 a.m. at the University of Miami School of Communication’s courtyard with speeches by assistant professor of practice in the Department of Strategic Communication and PhilADthropy founder, Meryl Blau, and dean of the School of Communication, Dr. Gregory J. Shepherd. After the 11 nonprofits were introduced, a lunch sponsored by the event's charter sponsor Markham and Stein and Evos was served, and then the student teams met with their clients.

My team was assigned to The Melissa Institute for Violence Prevention and Treatment, an organization that was founded in 1996 after Melissa Aptman, a Miami-native, was murdered in May 1995 in St. Louis two weeks before her college graduation. We met with Executive Director Heather Winters and her intern to discuss what the organization was looking to get out of PhilADthropy. As the only nonprofit on the University of Miami campus, Winters expressed that they hope to create awareness among UM students.

After the client meeting, we quickly got to work. Within minutes, the whiteboard of our assigned classroom was covered in to-do lists and ideas. It was roughly 1 p.m. and there was a group census that morale was high. By 2 p.m. we had broken off into teams depending on our strengths. Natalia Diaz, Isabella Ciardelli, and Alice Hsu began tackling the design aspects of the campaign by creating a style guide for the company’s website and social media platforms to give them a more cohesive look. As a copywriter, I began to write the script for the PSA we planned to film.

At 3 p.m., our team leader, Vicky Suarez, an alumnus working as a media planner in New York, left for the team leaders meeting. At 3:30 p.m., snacks were provided by URAWK Energy and UM’s SASO in the courtyard. Next to the snack tables, were three coolers overflowing with Red Bulls. I grabbed my first one of the day.

Regrouping in our room at 4 p.m., we found that our team had expanded to include Sonia Broman, a photographer and videographer, and Georgia Harvey, an account planner. I began working closely with Broman to transform the bland idea of the PSA that we had created. Within moments, she was on the phone and had recruited several actors and actresses for the clip, as well as a voice for the narrative. In the meantime, the design team had completely revamped the logo.

A little before 7 p.m., I worked with Harvey on the manifesto when we were interrupted by a dinner break sponsored by Lime, HipPOP Ice Cream, and UM’s School of Communication. After refueling, we started working on the creative brief when Broman came into the room and told me the woman who would be doing the PSA narrative arrived. We found an empty UMTV studio and recorded the script at least 10 times, ensuring the pronunciation and timing was perfect.

Just before midnight, I left the School of Communication for the first time in over 12 hours with Broman, Hsu, and a late-night addition to our team, Beverly Chesser, to meet up with the actors and shoot the PSA in downtown Miami. Afterwards, we brought a few of the actors back to campus to do a photo shoot in the studio that we reserved for 2 a.m.

The hours between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. are a blur of staring at my computer screen and sleeping with my head on the table, but I was finally revived with breakfast – several cups of coffee – provided by Sergio’s Family Restaurants.

At 8 a.m., we gathered the troops from their various napping locations: cars, random corners of classrooms, etc. and created the deck where we compiled everything we had produced in the past 21 hours.

At 11 a.m. all 11 teams gathered in Shoma Hall for a closing ceremony and to watch the video that Professor Trevor Green’s team had filmed throughout the previous night and day. Then it was time to present our work to the client. 

It was a long, exhausting day, and I can honestly say that I’ve never put that much work into such a short of a period of time. But seeing the client’s reaction and hearing the genuine tone of appreciation in her voice when she thanked all of us for the campaign, all of the empty cups of coffee, and crushed cans of Red Bull paid off, and I was able to crawl into bed at noon feeling accomplished and proud.

Aside from the nonprofit I worked with, the other selected organizations were: Active Divers Association, Inc., Crime Stoppers of Miami-Dade and The Florida Keys, Ear Peace: Save Your Hearing Foundation, Empowered Youth USA, The Home Team-Miami, LEAPlete Foundation, NAMI Miami-Dade County, Resource Depot, The Sandler Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Education, and Wines for Charity. 

To view the work created in 25 hours visit, Visit to view photos from this year’s PhilADthropy.