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Meet Our Alumni: Raffael Hoffmann

In this series, we catch up with some of our amazing alumni to get their thoughts on the University College experience, how their education contributes to their professional roles, and more! Today’s post introduces us to Raffael Hoffmann who graduated with a Master of Science in Leadership and Organizations with a concentration in Strategic Innovation and Change in Fall 2017, as well as a Graduate Certificate in Leadership and Organizations in Strategic Innovation and Change. Moving between his home country of Germany and the U.S., Raffael has been able to utilize his education in many diverse environments. Read on to learn more!

Why did you decide to pursue a degree/certificate at University College?

“I didn’t plan to do a full degree at the time of enrollment and just started with one class. My organization at the time was undergoing some change, andI finagled the assignment of tracking the strategic plan outcomes. We were doing alright, but I was wondering if there was a better or proper way to take on this change process. One class led to another, which led to a certificate and, subsequently, the Master of Science. So, a combination of curiosity and joy of learning made me decide on pursuing a degree at University College,” said Raffael.

Raffael is a fantastic example of how students at University College can stack classes, certificates, and eventually, move to a degree plan if they choose.

What resonated with you the most while pursuing your degree/certificate (could be a class, event, program, professor, advice, etc.)

Raffael obtained more than just his education from University College and credits his time at the University of Denver (DU) with not only challenging his perspectives but allowing him to become a better family member.

“The class I enjoyed the most was Leadership Development, as I applied what I learned to become a better husband and father by recognizing that I had some serious weaknesses in listening and in reacting too quickly.”

As an extrovert, Raffael loved the ongoing exchange between both instructors and classmates.

“Having worked mostly in education and nonprofits, I gained a lot of insights from my peers working in industry or government,” said Raffael. 

How do you use your education in your current position?

Raffael has spent over eight years in the nonprofit sector, specifically as a grant writer. As we know, the ripple effects of the novel Coronavirus can be felt across all industries.

“Because of the constant changes brought on by COVID- 19, my education in Strategic Innovation and Change has become particularly valuable in the recent months. I’m a grant relations manager for Laradon, a nonprofit in North Denver serving about 700 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” shared Raffael. “In a situation where everybody has to justify their value every day, I think my education provides me an edge. In the nonprofit world, everybody does a little bit of everything all the time, so I encounter issues like setting up processes to track our fleet of 34 vans for the purposes of a federal grant; addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts; or planning income streams for different programs in a very uncertain environment.”

What advice would you give to current/future students to get the most out of your degree/certificate program?

“It really helped me to use the knowledge I acquired in my classes right away at my job, and that I could combine the needs of my employer with what I was learning. With this direct application I could combine work projects with the classes and basically got paid to do my classwork,” said Raffael.

As many of our alumni recommend, Raffael also emphasized pacing yourself and utilizing the networking and opportunities provided to you by University College and the greater DU community.

What are you reading/listening to right now?

“The Black Lives Matter movement has motivated me to check out some Black writers, and I absolutely loved Colson Whitehead’s Nickel Boys, as well as Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied Sing.

The book currently on my nightstand is The Bonus Army written by Paul Dickson and Thomas Allen, which is quite the eye opener as it pertains to how differently veterans were seen and treated in the 1930s.

A podcast I love is called 5-4. They use foul, irreverent language and a progressive take on failures of the Supreme Court,” related Raffael.

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