Alumni in 10
Raquel (DeLeon) Irwin, '08 & '11
Title/Employer: Director of Marketing and Communications, Great Lakes Caring Home Health and Hospice
Degree Earned/Emphasis Area: BS in Advertising and Public Relations, MPA in Public and Nonprofit Administration
1. What has your journey been since graduation?
Trial and error. As a student, I thought I had to have it all figured out by graduation, which is the farthest thing from the truth. I have had jobs I loved and others I did not, but each experience helped me understand my strengths, what type of company culture I wanted, and what impact I wanted to have on the world around me. Through trial and error I found that healthcare is where both my passion and technical skills lie.
2. How has Grand Valley had a role in your journey?
Grand Valley was the catalyst, the point in time where I was able to be “me.” Every new interaction with a fellow student opened my eyes to different ways of thinking. I discovered new passions, lifelong friends, and what type of woman I wanted to be.
3. What is your favorite Grand Valley memory?
President Haas came to Grand Valley at the beginning of my junior year. At the first home football game, I remember him and his wife coming up into the student section bleachers and interacting with everyone – taking pictures, shaking hands, being involved. It really impressed me. He really understands what it means to be a university president and positive leader for the students.
4. What three words describe your experience at Grand Valley?
Engaging. Challenging. Home.
5. How have you stayed involved with Grand Valley since graduation?
I stay involved with the University Development Office and the activities of the Grand Valley University Foundation. As a graduate student, I worked in University Development and still attend an annual reunion luncheon with fellow students. The current students ask us questions, specifically about our time in University Development and our variety of career paths after graduation.
6. Why are you proud to be a Laker for a Lifetime?
I went to Grand Valley after I fell in love with the campus and its location. Once I was a student, I learned so much more about its unique inception and history. Every time I return to campus, I am amazed at how much the physical landscape has grown and changed. Yet, it still feels like “home.” The founders were pioneers and each Grand Valley alum carries that legacy. As the university continues to grow, innovate, and succeed, I feel like I am personally doing the same. I’m proud of what GVSU is doing and what alums are doing around the world.
7. What do you like to do for fun?
I enjoy the simplicity of being outdoors. Taking a walk through the woods can be a peaceful experience. I love to travel and discover new places. Weekend road trips up north are a favorite. I live in the country now, which has been full of great new experiences like caring for chickens and pigs. It isn’t always easy, but it’s never boring!
8. What is your favorite quote/motto to live by?
“Passion is the bridge that takes you from pain to change.” – Frida Kahlo
9. What motivates you?
My late husband, who was also a Grand Valley alum, passed away from cancer. He had a passion for life and learning new things. He inspired me to be the best version of myself I could be and to view happiness or success in the relationships around me – not material items.
10. What book or movie have you recently enjoyed?
I recently read Furiously Happy, by Jenny Lawson. The book explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. It is insightful and absolutely hysterical. I highly recommend it.