When he was just an infant, Hardy Rawanduzy and his parents immigrated to Colorado to pursue a better life. However, they quickly learned that navigating the school system as a first-generation family was going to be no easy task.
Hardy had to work hard to stay on track and often felt like he was doing it all on his own. Then one day, he toured CU Denver and he fell in love with the convenience—Hardy could stay close to his family in Denver while continuing his education. Coming from another country as the oldest child, Hardy had nobody here except his immediate family, and knew he did not want to leave his siblings and parents all alone.
Shortly after starting school at CU Denver, Hardy came to the realization that he wanted to be successful, but by doing something he loved and felt passionate about. He took some time off because of some unanticipated and difficult situations he had to attend to. After roughly three semesters away, Hardy returned to pursue a business degree. He was initially anxious, feeling like too much time had passed and he would be considered “behind.” When he saw just how many students at CU Denver had their own unique stories and paths, those feelings went away.
Diving into his international business degree, Hardy knew he needed to learn another language, so he picked French 1 taught by Lori Willard, PhD. The professor and the entire French Department took the time to explain everything about pursuing a French degree alongside his international business degree, emphasizing what doors might open by learning another language. This was the first time Hardy felt like he was getting guidance on his career path. “I took it all in with so much appreciation,” he said.
Willard would eventually encourage Hardy to look into taking his French classes in France—something he never thought was possible as a first-generation student working multiple jobs. Hardy went on his first study abroad trip to the south of France and hasn’t looked back, going on three more study abroad trips, completing an international internship, and more, all before his graduation this December.
Traveling alone, living with host families that didn’t speak English, and immersing himself in different cultures gave Hardy a newfound confidence. The experiences also instilled a desire to get involved and make the most out of his life.
He was welcomed as the first American intern at an international company in Singapore, where he gained international experience in finance and human resources and made meaningful, life-long professional connections. During his weekends off from work, he was able to travel to five different countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea, and the Philippines).
During his time at CU Denver, Hardy tested and tried out countless clubs, eventually sticking with the Society Human Resources Management (SHRM) and Generation United Nations (GenUN). He continued to grow through his club interactions and eventually became the president of SHRM, helping lead the largest Business School event that year that welcomed chief human resources officers from esteemed companies like Arrow Electronics, DaVita, and Molson Coors. He also moderated a live Q&A panel with ABC’s The Bachelor entrepreneur Ben Higgins to discuss how entrepreneurship and international social responsibility contributes to a better world.
Last December, Hardy secured an internship with the United Nations, an organization he admired for being at the forefront of most international affairs. Even though at the time he was living in a very tiny studio apartment during an isolating pandemic, he felt like he was on top of the world every day. He knew all his international exposure and hard work had set him apart and given him a prestigious internship.
Hardy’s excitement for life became evident in his studies, too. He will graduate Dec. 12 with degrees in French, international business, human resources, and management with information systems—a goal he never would have had the willpower to accomplish before his world travels and discussions with Willard and CU Denver’s French Department.
Hardy is now interning for the United Nations for a second time, this time remote and for a different department. He hopes to work for a company that operates internationally someday but might pursue his master’s degree first, given the complexity of international travel/work caused by COVID-19.
Looking back, it’s difficult for Hardy to believe he was once anxious to get involved, adventure, or chase big dreams. Despite the struggles of being a first-generation student, he credits all his achievements to the love and support he received from his parents and siblings. He encourages his fellow Lynx to step outside their comfort zones and take advantage of their time at CU Denver, because it can lead to unbelievable experiences.