MSU Denver

Nominations continue to roll in for Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Roadrunner Shoutout of the Week awards, highlighting the excellent and important work happening at all levels of the University. This week, we celebrate three members of our University community who inspire students and their colleagues.

Christine Márquez-Hudson.

“The work we do here at MSU Denver is intended to enrich lives both inside and outside of the classroom,” said Christine Márquez-Hudson, vice president of University Advancement and executive director of the MSU Denver Foundation. “This week’s winners have generously shared their time and talents to help achieve that goal and support the greater Denver community. Well done, Roadrunners!” 


Faculty winner – Inna Soifer, Ph.D., assistant professor in the School of Hospitality

Nominated by Christian E. Hardigree, J.D., dean of the School of Hospitality, who wrote: 

Inna Soifer, Ph.D.

“I am honored to work with Dr. Soifer for so many reasons, including this example from a student: 

“‘Inna Soifer, my former Contracts and Negotiations professor, has been incredibly helpful. For the sales-coordinator position at Visit Aurora, she sent me a personal message on LinkedIn along with the application. I did not even know this position was open until she told me about it. She sent them an absolutely glowing recommendation, and they called her as one of my references. Today, I was offered that job!!! Inna also wrote a letter of recommendation for the City of Dacono, and my second interview is Monday. Today, Inna talked to me on Teams for over an hour going over a presentation I am giving to the city, where I will be demonstrating the process I would use to plan one of their big events. She gave me amazing feedback. It was selfless of Inna to take time out of her day to help me with this presentation, which turned out way better than if I had done it on my own. I am proud to be an alumnus of a university that cares about its students even after graduation. I now have a job offer and a second interview, all within two months of graduation.’ (email edited for length)” 

Inna, thank you for going above and beyond to ensure the success of Roadrunners. We are so grateful to have educators of your caliber paving the way for future leaders.  


Staff winner – Lauren Koppel, assistant director of Scholarship Support and Retention, Student Success

Nominated by Michele McKinney, contractor for the MSU Denver Champions program, who wrote: 

Lauren Koppel

“Lauren Koppel is worthy of a shoutout as she has the ability to engage an incredibly diverse cross section of the University community in her work serving students. She understands the value of more voices, the more consensus and more engagement the better for the entire University community. She has opened up several opportunities to raise awareness about the MSU Denver Champions program and its legislative priorities with her students and staff. Lauren is the consummate Champion. She values the power that advocacy can have to create positive change, and this is always done with a lens focused on what is best for MSU Denver. Lauren invited me and Kaycee Gerhart, director of Government Affairs, to present to groups she is engaged with about the University’s advocacy and legislative priorities. She has attended the most Champions programs of any staff member. Lauren does all this with a smile and kind heart. She is an outstanding representative for MSU Denver outside the campus, especially with important organizations like the Denver Scholarship Foundation and Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative. I know that the students who work with her hold her in very high regard. Lauren is a true rock star in her own right and will go the extra mile to do what will be best for the University and its students.” 

Lauren, it’s clear you have gone above and beyond to advocate for MSU Denver students. Thank you for being a shining light to students and co-workers and a true MSU Denver Champion. 


Student-employee winner – Lakshmi Abraham Vasquez, Civic Engagement coordinator in the Classroom to Career Hub

Nominated by Koppel, who wrote: 

Lakshmi Abraham Vasquez.

“Lakshmi has been a student employee in our office for the last four years (including the summer before she started fall courses through the College Works program). Throughout this time, Lakshmi’s leadership skills have grown as well as her contributions to our office. 

“Lakshmi is a Civic Engagement Student Coordinator, meaning she plans the organizational logistics for our Alternative Break trips; trains, coaches and mentors site leaders on the trips; coordinates fundraising efforts; advertises and recruits participants on trips; and develops and maintains our community partnerships. 

“Lakshmi has implemented increased organization for our group – developing a transition handbook, building out a Teams site and folders, developing protocols and creating trainings that future generations can use. She has done all of this while taking into consideration all the extra safety/health concerns that go with planning travel and group functions amid Covid-19. 

“Lakshmi, we are so grateful for your leadership and mentoring of other student leaders.” 

Lakshmi, it’s inspiring what you’ve been able to accomplish professionally while advancing your education. There’s no doubt you’ll go far, and we’re grateful that you’ve included MSU Denver in your journey.

To nominate outstanding employees for the Roadrunner Shoutout of the Week award, please complete the form on the Roadrunner Shoutout of the Week webpage. Tell us how your nominee is making an impact through great teaching, service to students or innovation. Winners will be selected each week and profiled in the Early Bird on Thursdays. Winners will also get a shoutout on social media.