Juan Grimaldo ’90 MAM ’04
Juan Grimaldo graduated from Hamline in 1990 with a double major in communication studies and French. After graduating from Hamline, Juan dedicated his professional career to TV production and teaching English as a second language at a University in Medellin, Colombia, his hometown. His experiences working for The Oracle, The Liner, and through an internship, helped him gain interest and skills to start an active career in diverse communication and teaching fields.
Seeking to expand his professional opportunities and looking for a new career path, Juan came back to Hamline and obtained a Master of Arts degree in Management. After completing his program, he returned to his home country, Colombia. Since then, Juan has held a variety of rewarding professional positions such as manager of the National Bilingual Program for the National Ministry of Education of Colombia, Projects and Partnership director for the British Council-Colombia, CEO for Actores, the Colombian actors’ intellectual property collecting society, Director of the Language Department at Tadeo University in Bogota, Colombia, and this past year he became the Senior Press Information Specialist for the U.S. embassy in Bogota.
What’s your favorite memory of your time at Hamline?
I just loved both of my times at Hamline and remember fondly being the president of the international student association and working to create international awareness and support diversity on campus. I valued working for The Oracle and The Liner and capturing memorable Hamline memories as a photographer. I lived in Drew Hall and Manor Hall and had many crazy adventures and experiences. My friendships from my years at Hamline continue to enrich my life with the amazing life-friendships that I have maintained with Karla Keller ’90, Dan Zapzalka ’91, Quinn Meyer ’89, Kyle Uphoff ’89, Laura Davis ’90, Betsy Kammerud ’90, and Julie Benjamin ’89, among many others who have made my life very special.
Describe a typical day. What do you enjoy most about your work? What is the most challenging?
I work as a Senior Press Information Specialist at the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, where work can be different everyday. A typical day is a mix of communicating with the mission team members and the U. S. ambassador to Colombia, monitoring news, planning, editing, and writing press releases while simultaneously managing, building, and controlling relations with local and international news outlets and journalists, supporting important U.S. government visitors (like Vice President Joe Biden), and keeping the general public informed about current U.S. issues and events. Working for the Public Affairs Section at the press office is very exciting. Serving the State Department’s mission in Colombia has given me the opportunity to stay close to the USA and my own country. Making sure the right message is being told accurately is a daily challenge, but it is definitely worth it. It is also amazing to meet Americans from Minnesota who are currently serving at the U.S. Embassy in Colombia, and believe it or not, I have run into three Hamline alumni!
How has Hamline had an impact on your personal or professional life?
Professionally, it challenged me to think about how diverse and complex the work world is. It also made me seek ways to make things better and think how I could make a difference in the world. I had to study, read, think, and speak in English, my second language, which challenged me to work harder, ask questions, be accountable for my ideas and thoughts, and be accepted. The liberal arts education and experiences I obtained at Hamline have helped me to see the world with a different prospective, with a broader understanding which allowed me to live a systematic life with a wide range of understanding different contexts, judgements, and opportunities.
What advice do you have for current Hamline students?
Take advantage of all the opportunities that are out there — get involved in extra-curricular activities, join clubs and associations of your interest, join sports teams, take a new class that sounds interesting to you, challenge yourself to think differently, meet lots of new people and learn new things from them, study abroad, try to learn a foreign language, do an internship, challenge yourself by being a volunteer, and take advantage of Hamline’s small friendly environment to have meaningful discussions with other students and faculty. All these activities and experiences will teach you as much about life, if not more, than the classroom and textbooks themselves.
Who was your favorite Hamline professor, and why?
There were many, but Tamara Root stands out. I took different French courses with her and, beside the language skills I learned, she made me feel included and accepted. She helped me find my way toward my deepest critical thoughts and reflections. Her teaching, passion, and kindness made me realize how gifted and fortunate I was.
What are you currently reading?
Although I mostly like to read in English, I am currently reading a great fiction novel in Spanish, An Orphan World by Giuseppe Caputo. I am also reading in French L’Etranger by Albert Camus, for the third time, a classic of French literature.