Once Student Now Instructor

Maya Hemachandra

Sometimes a certificate program transforms your life. For Maya, her experience in the Certificate in Nonprofit Management led to a 15-year career that includes teaching in the same certificate program.

I’ve really enjoyed getting to know my certificate students. They’re all passionate, interesting individuals who are committed to making a difference in our community.

 — Maya Hemachandra

Maya Hemachandra, a 2006 graduate of the UW Certificate in Nonprofit Management, knows the impact a professional certificate can have. 

“My certificate really helped launch my career,” Maya said. “It helped me fully transition into the nonprofit space, show I was serious about the work and make me a viable candidate. It was the tool that got my foot in the door and has turned into a 15-year career in nonprofit work and fundraising.” 

Maya went on to earn her master’s in public administration from the UW’s Evans School of Public Policy and Governance and began appearing as a guest speaker in the same certificate classes she had taken. 

In 2018, Maya went from guest speaker to instructor when she began teaching for the UW Certificates in Nonprofit Management and Fundraising Management

“It’s fun, and it’s challenging because the students are coming in with different levels of knowledge and experience, and you have to figure out how to really draw on the expertise in the room,” Maya said. “Honestly, the research that I have to do to make sure that my presentations are on point has helped push me to learn more. 

“Even though I’m the instructor, I have learned so much from this side of the table.” 

Teaching in both certificate programs has helped Maya stay connected to a network of professionals who share her passion for empowering others. 

“I really believe in the power of nonprofits, and I think we have a really big job to do: to change the world and make it a better place,” she said. “It’s exciting and invigorating that there are people who come into this space and want to do their best and want to learn. That makes our whole community a better place.”