People and Community University

Sisters share why being a ’Cane means so much

Sarah Sluka, this year’s Homecoming Executive Committee chair, and her sister Heather Sluka reflect on how their parents met on the campus they now call home.
From left to right: Cindy Sluka, daughter Sarah, and Bob Sluka.
From left, Cindy Sluka, daughter Sarah Sluka, and Bob Sluka. Photo: Joshua Prezant/University of Miami

From their upbringing in India and England, Sarah and Heather Sluka have always found the concept of American college life intriguing. As children, they heard tales of their parents’ experiences at the University of Miami, including how they met each other, electrifying football games, and this fun place called The Rathskeller. 

Now, that same campus has become their cherished home away from home, too. 

“UM has always had this underlying thing that brought us together as a family, and that was always a really cool thought for me,” said the eldest sister Sarah, a senior studying nursing. “When I toured this place in 2020, as I walked around Lake Osceola listening to my parents share their stories, I finally understood how much it shaped who they are today.”

She pictured it doing the same for her and decided to become a ’Cane that day. Fast forward nearly four years later, today she holds the position of Homecoming Executive Committee chair and was a key player in organizing this year's week-long festivities, filled with fun, tradition, and celebration. 

“It has been so exciting, so fun, and I have loved every bit of it,” said Sarah, who first joined the committee her sophomore year. “Most of all, I enjoyed having face-to-face connections with a lot of incredible people who I wouldn’t have interacted with otherwise.” 

With the help of her vice chairs, selecting “Leave Your Legacy” as this year’s theme couldn’t be any more fitting as Sarah welcomed her parents, Bob and Cindy Sluka, to campus Friday evening for the University’s annual boat burning and fireworks show. 

“Legacy for me is really endearing and this weekend really tied it all together,” said Sarah. “It was especially thrilling to witness my parents’ rekindled love for their alma mater while they were here.” 

For younger sibling Heather Sluka, not only did their parents’ stories influence her decision to attend the University, but because she grew up overseas and traveled throughout Europe on volunteer trips, it was important to her that she find a place that was diverse and friendly. 

“I knew that I would be able to interact with different types of people and I wanted to come to a school where nothing felt small or secluded and this has been a great way to be introduced to new things and people,” said Heather, a sophomore studying English.

During their undergraduate studies, Bob and Cindy Sluka met at the Pearson Residential College and quickly fell in love. They married in 1994 and spent their first year of marriage completing their degrees—Cindy Sluka from the Frost School of Music, and Bob Sluka from the Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science. 

Cindy and Bob Sluka
Cindy and Bob Sluka with Sebastian the Ibis on their wedding day.

“My mom surprised my dad by arranging for Sebastian the Ibis to come to the reception,” said Sarah Sluka. “Because she was a music student, when Sebastian arrived, her friends quickly hopped on a nearby piano and started performing the University of Miami chants. The whole wedding crowd joined in, and I imagine it was an awesome memory they both look upon fondly.” 

They later returned for postgraduate studies. Cindy Sluka pursued her master's in oboe performance while Bob Sluka went on to earn his Ph.D. in biology

“Both my parents have interests and degrees in totally different worlds, and the University of Miami is the commonality that brought them together,” said Sarah Sluka. “When we talk about leaving our legacy, my parents come to mind.” 

“To return home for Homecoming week, accentuated by the fact that our daughter has played a key role in creating the atmosphere for everyone, it is definitely a special moment,” said Cindy Sluka.