The year was 1983. She was chair of the Carni Gras Committee and a member of the Homecoming Committee. He was captain of the cheerleading team, a Lambda Chi Alpha brother, and an Interfraternity Council member who struck up a conversation with her at a party, sealing their fate as a UM couple for life. Sherra and Todd Payne began giving back to the U—both in financial support and leadership—as soon as they graduated. Todd has served on the UM Alumni Association Board and as president of the Law Alumni Association, and Sherra has chaired Ear Dears, a fundraising organization for the UM Ear Institute.
The Paynes are thankful for the well-rounded education that prepared Sherra to launch a successful consulting business and enabled Todd to become the co-founding partner of a Fort-Lauderdale law firm. But their gratitude to the University reached a pinnacle in 1996, when their three-year-old son, Austin, received a cochlear implant at the UM Ear Institute that introduced him to the hearing world. Today Austin is a Hurricane who is “making the most of his UM experience,” Sherra says, by getting involved with the Homecoming Executive Committee, the residential colleges, the Honors Program, and the cheerleading team. Austin’s younger brother Tristan, a high school junior, also bleeds orange and green. “It’s wonderful to feel part of something so special,” Sherra says, “not only because of the value of our degrees but because of the people. The University really is a family.”