University of Minnesota alumni swell with pride when they hear “The Rouser” or see a crowd decked out in their finest maroon and gold. The urge to cheer for the U of M—for team victories, a bright new graduate, or a significant research discovery—never goes away. Andrea Hricko Hjelm, BS ’65, has been cheering since she was a student and isn’t stopping anytime soon.
Andrea was first in her family to graduate from college. Her mother emigrated from Ukraine at age 13 and made sure her children understood that attending college was not optional. At the U, Andrea took every opportunity she could to get involved. That included joining the cheerleading squad and serving as 1962 Homecoming queen.
Today, Andrea is president and owner of Moore Creative Talent, Inc., one of the most established modeling and talent agencies in the Midwest. With her entrepreneurial spirit, she gives back enthusiastically to causes she is passionate about. That has included serving on and leading as president of the University’s Alumni Association National Board of Directors, serving on the Intercollegiate Athletics Advisory Board, organizing the Masonic Children’s Hospital Fashion Fest, and cofounding the CEHD Women’s Philanthropic Leadership Circle.
Andrea’s participation in the CEHD Improving Lives campaign cabinet introduced her to another cause to champion: a new facility for the Institute of Child Development (ICD). On a tour of the current facility, she was struck by how outdated and inadequate it is, especially for a top-ranked program.
“When you walk into the ICD building, you walk into the past, but their work is being done for the future,” she says. “Very gifted researchers are doing remarkable work on behalf of children, and they are held back by an obsolete space.”
She was especially inspired by faculty-led discoveries in early detection of autism indicators and studies working across traditional disciplines, such as integrating neuroscience and social psychology. She realized that, if the institute had a modern facility, CEHD faculty could uncover the next horizon in the early childhood field.
Andrea and her husband Ken were moved to make a gift to the ICD capital project, and her generosity will help transform the building and sustain research that has a positive impact on children. She hopes others will join her in supporting a part of her alma mater that is meaningful for them.
“The University provided me with so many resources that led me in a positive direction,” says Andrea. “Though it is a public university, it receives minimal funding from the state of Minnesota, while doing so much to enhance our state’s human resources. I wish every proud graduate would retain a connection and give back with their time and treasure.”
Story by Ann Dingman | Photos by Jayme Halbritter (top) and Roy D. Conradi, courtesy of University Archives | Spring/Summer 2018