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Thomas Tafur, Master’s in Real Estate and the Built Environment, 2018

Thomas Tafur’s love of construction goes back 300 years. During his childhood summers, growing up on the Canary Islands, he and his dad and sister worked on the family’s 300 year-old home. His family moved to Texas in the 80s. He got his bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Texas, Arlington. He graduated in 2004, when the industry was booming.

“Once I went into the field, I fell in love with the construction setting. I enjoyed watching the design come to life. I wanted to go back to graduate school, but when the industry took a down turn, I couldn’t justify it.”

But, in 2011, Thomas decided to move his family to Colorado. He worked in architecture and construction, mainly with high-end residential projects. And, he initially pursued a master’s program in architecture from CU Denver.

“I was three weeks into the program and I felt like it was a review. It was a mix of graduate and undergraduate students and I already knew the information.”

Thomas left the program, looked into CSU and CU Boulder, but landed on DU’s Real Estate and the Built Environment program. He’s in the part-time program, taking two courses per quarter.

“The courses have been nice, but the out of the classroom experience has been the most incredible. It’s opened my eyes to industry that I didn’t even know about, some big commercial construction players. I thought graduate school would be one way, but it’s been so different – exactly what I was looking for.”

Thomas volunteered for the Solar Decathlon, a challenge for college teams to build and operate highly energy-efficient and innovative solar houses. Eleven teams from around the world competed. The DU team took third in the overall competition. And, Thomas brought his 8-year-old daughter to the construction site to help too.

He was also one of 10 graduate students who completed on one of three teams to Re-Imagine Marcus Commons. With a framework outlined by David Radcliffe (MBA 1993), vice president of Real Estate & Workplace Services at Google, the teams were charged with transforming the student area Marcus Commons into a flexible, functional, collaborative space.

“I never thought I’d be talking to someone like that; it shows how connected the school is with community. What really surprised me about DU is the class size. My son is at CU Bolder in aerospace and some of his class sizes are 400 to 500 students. For me Burns it almost feels like extended family.”

Thomas owns Build6, a small business re-building historical homes. Since graduating in June 2018, he plans to continue his business, building a bright future for his family.