Rachel Smith and Kristion Matas, Class of 2020, knew that embracing the diverse culture in the city of Miami would be a highlight of their time at the University of Miami.
“I would say the culture here is just one, where you can do anything,” Smith said. “You can be anything that you want to be, you can be anyone you want to be, you can create here, especially at the University of Miami. If you have an idea, you can create.”
The duo started working with UMTV as soon as they arrived on campus, jumping right in to focus on their passions. “University of Miami is different, because you can start in your major as a freshman,” Smith shares. “So, I’ve been involved in the School of Communication and UMTV since I was a freshman here.”
The classmates and friends combined their passion for production with their drive to make a meaningful impact and developed the concept for a new TV show at UM.
The Culture is the first show on the University’s award-winning TV station to showcase the viewpoint of the black experience on campus. The show grew out of a sense of awareness and opportunities that they discovered while on campus. “It’s kind of when you have conversations with people in your classes and the people around you that you start to realize that even though we are all here, we don’t necessarily understand each other,” Matas said.
The team covers important topics from politics to entertainment through a perspective that embraces the black community, but weaves in themes that are relevant to students and community members of any background. The Culture celebrates diversity and provides a forum for open dialogue within varied ethnicities and genders, and promotes a greater understanding of one another through thought provoking conversation.
The show, spearheaded by the students, took off with the guidance and persistence of their adviser and professor, alumnus Winston Warrior, B.B.A. ’93, M.B.A. ’96. Smith and Matas knew they had a good concept, but it wasn’t until Warrior stepped in, that the show reached its height for production.
“It was really important for me and my partner Rachel to start a show where people can understand us; can understand our culture and what we believe in and why we are here essentially,” Matas shares. “That was my biggest push, and over my three years here, I’ve seen people become more inclusive. So, I think that the university is definitely making strides in the right direction.”
The University of Miami has long provided an open and welcoming campus, located at the gateway of the country, in one of the most diverse cities in the world. It was one of the first to embrace desegregation and admit black students in 1961. These student trailblazers set the foundation for a university rooted in open-minded dialogue, inclusivity and learning. Learn more about the UTrailblazers and view a video history.
“With history, the thing is if you don’t learn it, if you don’t recognize it, if you don’t respect it, history will repeat itself in a negative way,” Smith said. “We want to be sure that we are respectful and we are doing everything that we can to make sure that the University is a safe place, an inclusive place and that is our responsibility as students.”