By Karina Valdes

Katarina Jenkins is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Communication majoring in public relations and with two minors; one in media management and a second in marketing. Visit for more information on commencement at the University of Miami.

For Katarina Jenkins, the decision to attend the University of Miami was an easy one. Her mom, a member of the air force, completed ROTC at UM and graduated with her bachelor’s and Ph.D. degrees from the university. As a military child, Jenkins moved every year or two and has lived in 12 different states and countries.

“I moved around schools and so for me having something that felt a little bit like home was really important. My parents both grew up in Miami and UM was such a big part of their lives. I wanted to stay connected to some of the roots that I did have,” said Jenkins.

She began her career at UM as pre-law studying political science, but during her sophomore year she was feeling unfulfilled with her major.

“I love connecting to people because, growing up, the only way I was able to make friends was through connections since I was moving all the time. So, I went to Toppel and I took a career test,” said Jenkins.

The advisor at Toppel, the university’s career and internship center, shared several options for her to explore, one of which was working in public relations developing professional communication pieces.

“From there I was like, ‘You know what? I want to work with people. I want to work with events.’ and the advisors at Toppel said they felt that the School of Communication is for me,” said Jenkins.

While mulling over Toppel’s recommendation, Jenkins was becoming heavily involved in a variety of university clubs.

“I’m currently the chair of Hurricane Productions, the student programming board, and I was also involved in orientation and a lot of experiences that gave me platforms to speak to people and to share information. I was like, ‘How can I continue this for the rest of my career because I love this.’ And that’s how I found myself in the School of Communication,” said Jenkins.

Her involvement with university organizations began her first year when she joined the First-Year Leadership Council, a cohort of about 25 students who were guided through what to expect while at UM including academic, social, and community life on campus.

“My first year I was coming out of high school where I was pretty involved. I like getting to know people and I was like, ‘How can I put myself out there? How can I give myself the best opportunity to make the most of being here on campus?’,” said Jenkins.

The answer to that question came during her first Friday on campus when she stumbled upon an event hosted by Hurricane Productions (HP). She didn’t know the city of Miami very well, had very few friends, and didn’t have a place to go for the evening. The event, called Old Town Road, was organized for students to meet one another and was decked with a mechanical bull, music, and offered horseshoe decorating.

“They had free barbecue, and I was like ‘What’s better?’ I started talking to people and I felt like I belonged. I felt like people wanted to be there,” said Jenkins.

After that experience, she began working at HP, first, as a general body member and now as chair. HP is composed of seven student-run committees and organizes more than 200 events each academic year.

Aside from working with various university clubs, Jenkins also rushed for Delta Delta Delta (TriDelta). There, she found a community of women who empower one another and an outlet to help others.

“Through TriDelta, I was able to do a lot of philanthropic work. We work with St. Jude Children’s Hospital and last year we raised over $100,000, just from our chapter alone which is incredible,” beamed Jenkins.

Another position Jenkins held is program coordinator for orientation; a role only offered to four students who oversee the entirety of the event. Through that role, she supervised 21 orientation leaders, 180 orientation fellows, and was also in charge of training and morale.

“I felt so welcomed and then so loved by this university and everything it had to offer me, so I wanted to make sure I could give that back to first-year students. Orientation was a really great way of being able to share my knowledge, share my love, and share what I learned and pass it down to incoming students,” said Jenkins.

She has also been involved with Greek Week and What Matters to U, a Student Government speaker series that invites thought leaders to the university.

Jenkins’ professional experience was augmented by working for Ryvid, an electric vehicle startup based out of Orange County in California. She began her role last summer and worked with Heidi Carr, lecturer, and her School of Communication advisor to earn internship credit during the academic year to continue working for Ryvid.

“I was looking into how I could stay with them throughout the school year because I still wanted to have that professional life set up for myself, but also be able to complete my credits and be involved in everything,” said Jenkins.

Through the school’s internship program, Jenkins continued working for Ryvid and received a full-time offer in December 2022 to stay working for the company after graduation as its communications and marketing manager.

“I was able to work for them for 15 hours a week while getting three course credits and taking three other classes. So, I was still a full-time student. I was still able to complete all of my credits, while having professional opportunities,” said Jenkins.

Throughout her time at UM, Jenkins capitalized on every opportunity she could to enhance her experience and develop her professional skills. She notes that her proudest achievement during her undergraduate career was working orientation and helping new students learn about all that the university has to offer.

“Being able to touch as many students who come to UM as possible and setting them up for success, giving them advice, and sharing things that helped me get through college, and things that helped me become successful was definitely my most rewarding,” said Jenkins.

She plans on staying connected to the university via alumni events and mentorship opportunities.

“I’m really big on giving back and I really want to be an involved alumni because UM gave me so much. Being able to give back to the university is important to me,” said Jenkins.

The University of Miami School of Communication Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony takes place on Friday, May 12, at 1 p.m. and is followed by the School of Communication Commencement Reception in the school’s courtyard.