Irnande Altema serves as Associate Vice President of Government and Business Affairs of the Maryland Independent College and University Association (MICUA). Irnande is a first-generation college graduate of Notre Dame of Maryland University (NDMU). Irnande has remained involved with her alma mater on various committees and boards that improve the student experience and re-engage alumni. After graduating from NDMU, Irnande continued her studies by earning both a Master of Science from Georgetown University and a law degree from Hofstra University. She has a strong passion for higher education, and she knows first-hand the tremendous support and exposure to various career opportunities that are afforded to students who attend independent institutions. Recently, Irnande served as the Policy Director of Special Populations at the Mental Health Association of Maryland. Prior to holding this position, Irnande was the Chief of Staff for Maryland State Senator Kathy Klausmeier and practiced civil litigation as an associate with the Law Office of Derek Challenger. She is admitted to both the Maryland State Bar and Maryland Federal Bar. She founded FirstGenRISE to create a platform for first-generation law students, graduates, and professionals navigating academia and the workplace. Also, Irnande is the author of “The Rise of a First Gen” which journeys the struggles and successes of a first-generation American determined to rise: www.firstgenrise.com.