“The way my life might go is not at all the way I thought it might when I started at DU.”
A full plate and busy schedule are nothing new for Joel Portman. Through DU’s undergraduate/graduate dual degree program, he completed his bachelor’s degree in international studies in June 2010 and will receive his MBA in June 2011.
Originally from St. Louis, Portman has dabbled in a little bit of everything during his time on the DU campus, including positions at the Center for Multicultural Excellence and on the Undergraduate Senate. In 2006 he founded Never Again!, a student organization that raises awareness about the Holocaust and current genocide in countries such as Sudan and Rwanda. In 2008 he studied abroad in Israel.
“He works tirelessly, and in doing so he’s brought a different level of awareness to his peers,” says Kerrie Rueda, assistant director of Campus Activities.
In St. Louis, Portman is the assistant scoutmaster of his old Boy Scouts troop, Troop 310. He helped young boys muster the courage to complete swim tests during the Dad ’N’ Lad program held at Camp Famous Eagle in July.
This summer Portman also interned at the Build-A-Bear Workshop corporate headquarters in St. Louis, where he learned about international business firsthand.
“It was a great opportunity,” says Portman, who is considering careers in diversity consultation and international business operations once he receives his MBA. “It’s been great to see how what we’re learning in the classroom applies to the real world beyond the work I’m doing at DU.”
Portman received the University of Denver Pioneer Award, the University’s most prestigious student recognition, in 2010. He says becoming part of the campus culture has changed the way he thinks about his future.
“The things I’m involved with now are not at all the things I’d thought I’d be involved with,” he says. “The way my life might go is not at all the way I thought it might when I started at DU. I just had a lot of phenomenal opportunities to get involved, learn new things and meet new people who have really shaped my interests and helped me develop a passion for making the world a better place.”