Jeff van Raaphorst ’87 B.S., ’97 M.B.A.

Which groups or activities were you most involved in at ASU? What did you gain from that involvement?

I was most involved with athletics, of course, being the quarterback for the football team. I also was involved with the Athletes in Action club, a Christian group.


Being part of a team taught me hard work, how members of a team can motivate each other, and how to communicate effectively.  The diversity of everyone’s backgrounds at ASU is great … at no other time in your life do you meet so many people so quickly.


How did your education at ASU prepare you for your current profession?

I graduated with an undergraduate degree in real estate. I wasn’t sure what to career to pursue after my two-year quest to play in the National Football League did not materialize. I began in the finance industry before specializing in the medical device industry.


Ten years after receiving my undergraduate degree, I completed my MBA at ASU. I had two children and my wife was pregnant with our third so that was a turbulent time, but graduate school was a fantastic experience for me. I was able to compete equally on an academic level with my classmates without the demands of college football.  I still apply what I learned from my MBA program on a daily basis.


How did ASU help you achieve your dream?

My dreams really weren’t exclusively focused on my degrees or my athletic career. I have focused on faith, family and friends. Ron Wilson, the Athletes in Action pastor, brought many ASU athletes to Christ, including me. It is about who we are, not what we learn.


Tell us about your involvement with the 2016 Legends Luncheon, hosted by the Alumni Association?

The event this year will honor on the accomplishments of the 1987 Rose Bowl Championship team. I can’t believe it’s been 30 years already! We worked for years for that Rose Bowl victory, and when we won, everyone won: players, coaches, family, fans, the city of Tempe, and the state of Arizona!


I’ve been helping the event planners track down teammates and friends for this event. It’s going to be a perfect celebration of the Rose Bowl win, and a chance to relive some great memories. Hopefully, we’ll also be able to give something back and help the current group of players, too.


What advice would you give today’s college students?

I would tell them several things:


  1. Hold tight to your core values. It’s good to stand up for your beliefs and be yourself, even if it isn’t popular. Don’t be swayed by the liberal group-think that occurs on college campuses. Think for yourself.
  2. Maximize your experiences and opportunities. Academics always have to come first, but if the opportunity to do or experience something comes up, say yes!
  3. Be a victor, not a victim. Approach your success and failures as a victor. Learn from each experience, become better and move on.  
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