As Mother’s Day approaches, a mother-daughter bond grows

Alina and Kristina Hudak at the Newman Alumni Center. Photo: Mike Montero/University of Miami

By Barbara Gutierrez

Alina and Kristina Hudak at the Newman Alumni Center. Photo: Mike Montero/University of Miami

As Mother’s Day approaches, a mother-daughter bond grows

By Barbara Gutierrez
Alina Hudak, the deputy mayor of Miami-Dade County, will be the alumni speaker during her daughter’s commencement ceremony on Friday.

When Alina Hudak steps onto the stage at the Watsco Center as alumni speaker during Friday’s mid-day undergraduate commencement ceremony, the proud University of Miami alumna will receive an early Mother’s Day gift.

Not only will she be welcoming the 750 graduates to their alma mater, but among the sea of robed students will sit her oldest daughter, Kristina Hudak.  

“This is such a special honor,” said Alina Hudak, who received her undergraduate and graduate degrees at UM. “Of all the amazing moments that I have had at UM, being able to welcome my daughter’s class is so very special. I talk about it and get sentimental.”  

“I know I will have tears in my eyes,” said Kristina, who will graduate from the School of Education and Human Development with a Bachelor of Science degree in sport administration and a minor in sports medicine.

Alina Hudak is deputy mayor of Miami-Dade County, a leader who has served the county for 35 years overseeing many operational departments, including the Department of Solid Waste Management with about 1,000 employees and a $500 million budget. 

Kristina’s father is Coral Gables Police Chief Ed Hudak, also an alumnus who has received both his undergraduate and master’s degrees from UM.

Alina Hudak credits her prestigious career to UM. When she entered the University she intended to study political science and perhaps go to law school. But then she met professor Jonathan West, who headed the master’s program in public administration and offered her advice and an internship.

“He gave me focus and started me on this amazing career,” she said.

Widely respected for her professionalism, Alina Hudak served as the last county manager before Miami Dade County transitioned into a strong mayor system. She was also the only woman to serve as county manager, and in July will retire from the county.

She has also continued to serve at UM—as a member of the Alumni Association, as a mentor to business school students, as a yearly guest lecturer in various classes and, along with her husband, as a donor to UM’s Athletics programs. In 2018, she was tapped as a member of the Iron Arrow Honor Society, one of the University’s prestigious honors.  

To Kristina, however, Alina Hudak is just “the best mom in the world” who was always present at every important event in her life and that of her younger sister Jennifer, who is now a junior at UM.

The University has always been a part of Kristina’s life. She remembers both parents taking her and her sister to countless Hurricanes football games, as well as baseball and basketball games. “I was taken to my first game when I was nine months old,” she said.

As she developed a love of sports, which included playing basketball at Our Lady of Lourdes Academy, she realized she could marry her love of the game with that of her knack for socializing and engaging people.

As part of her degree requirement in Sport Administration, Kristina Hudak worked as a fulltime intern with the 2020 Miami Super Bowl Host Committee. She is learning all about event management, a field she hopes to pursue. After graduation, she will continue to work with the host committee until the 2020 Super Bowl game at Hard Rock Stadium.

“I am learning about all the things people don’t think about when you think of an event: power, water. During the Super Bowl, I will be spread everywhere but that is the best way to learn all the aspects of events production,” she said.

Her dream is to work fulltime for the National Football League or the National Basketball Association.    

She credits her parents for teaching her a strong work ethic and giving back to the community.

“I want to be like my mother,” she said with pride in her voice. “I want to work hard and be my own person and not rely on anybody. She taught me that.”