Embracing the Unexpected

Name: Miriam Welderufael

Current Status: Alumni

Graduation Year: 2012

“This could only be by the hands of God,” is how Miriam Welderufael (MBA ’12) explains many instances in her life. A La Mirada native, Miriam started her undergraduate studies at a local state university and ended up finishing her degree in the Virgin Islands. Her undergraduate studies in Communication and Journalism assisted her as she went on to share stories in her roles with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Earth Tones, an organization committed to transforming the human spirit through the power of music. 

Miriam’s passion to serve others dovetailed perfectly with Hope International University’s graduate program. Majoring in International Development, she found the Servant Leadership core in her courses “impactful” and “eye-opening,” sharing that she hadn’t heard of the concept, though she had been living it out for years. “I learned more about myself and began to feel more comfortable in leadership roles with the mission to serve others,” shares Miriam. “Those courses and the program in general made me feel at peace with seeing my career as a ‘life mission’ and not just about climbing the corporate ladder.”

In response to her calling, Miriam joined the Peace Corps and was stationed in Paraguay after completing her MBA. She taught English, managed marketing projects, partnered with locals to facilitate youth programs, and more whilst serving as the Community Economic Development Specialist.

“During my time in Paraguay, I saw firsthand that how you can really impact people. Simply taking the time to participate in the community is when I saw the biggest shifts,” Miriam fondly. “I was able to build relationships with many of the young girls in the area. I remember one particular student who was really intelligent and wanted to go to college, but just lacked the confidence to apply and commit to the challenges ahead. It was sitting with her and encouraging her daily that sparked in her the confidence she needed to pursue her goals, which just goes to show that little things that can make a huge difference.”

Miriam has since returned to Paraguay to visit the friends and families that she served alongside, and was thrilled to discover that the young girl she once mentored went on to get a full-ride scholarship to a college and now has a family of her own!

Miriam now serves as the Portfolio Manager for AmeriCorps, monitoring the implementation and financial operations of 19 AmeriCorps National Service programs. She believes her position at AmeriCorps aligns with her life purpose – to serve and care for others. Her experience in several nonprofit organizations has shown her the unique challenges many of these organizations face, from grassroots projects to government funded agencies.

Recently, Miriam’s problem-solving skills served her in a totally different way when she competed as a contestant on the hit TV game show, Wheel of Fortune, where she won a grand total of $57,997 including a brand-new Mustang Convertible. (The episode aired on 2/23/21.) “Wheel of Fortune, like most things in my life, was unexpected, but I am so grateful for it. It was a pleasant surprise in what has been a particularly crazy year!”