Woman of the World

USD alumna Lynn Hijar Hoffman

WHEN THE JOURNEY TURNS OUT TO BE THE DESTINATION

As a teenager, Lynn Hijar Hoffman ’98 (BBA), ’06 (MSGL), ’18 (MS) didn’t see higher education as part of her future.

“In truth, I didn’t think I even wanted to go to college.”

Born in Chicago, she’d grown up in Mexico City. Hoffman was 11 years old when her businessman dad retired and relocated the family to Bonita, then a sleepy rural community located just a few miles north of the U.S./Mexico border.

“College wasn’t pushed on me, but it’s not like I had alternative plans, so my mom suggested I give it a try, so we came up to USD to take a tour.”

In a moment, everything changed. She was so enamored that she only submitted a single college application. Much to her delight, she was accepted to USD.

“I studied business administration and absolutely loved it. I stayed for four and a half years,” she says with a laugh. “I tried extending it because I was enjoying it so much. I participated in every activity and every club — the International Club and the Orientation Team and the Spanish Literature Club and the Ski Club and probably 10 more.”

After graduating, she got a job at World Trade Center San Diego. “Our role was to help clients figure out what countries would be best for their products,” she recalls.

That position led to an introduction to a Naval Air Force admiral, who hired Hoffman to serve as the director of community relations and protocol for the command. “It was fun. I would go with him and his wife to events in town and introduce them to the movers and shakers of the business world and politics.”

After attending a lecture from a United Nations speaker in 2005 sponsored by USD’s Joan B. Kroc School of Peace and Justice, she was “blown away.” The very next day she started thinking about graduate school, specifically looking into a master’s degree in global leadership at her alma mater.

“It was perfect for me,” she says about the program.

Now armed with that master’s degree, Hoffman’s next stop was as chief of protocol to then-San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders in 2006.

“It was fantastic,” she recalls. “I was in charge of all the international dignitaries that would come to town, from consul generals to ambassadors, from presidents to royalty.”

Looking back, it’s clear that her childhood shaped her worldview as an adult.

“Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve travelled all over the world. My parents had me a bit later in life. When I came along, they decided, ‘Sorry, we’re not changing our plans. We want to travel, we’re taking you with us.’” Hoffman has since traveled to more than 60 countries, most recently with her husband, Steve, to Costa Rica, Panama and the Bahamas.

In the years since Hoffman moved on from her job with Mayor Sanders, her professional life has been hopping. She founded an event management company, circled back to a different job with the World Trade Center, developed an online platform designed as an international trade research resource, and took an interest in cybersecurity. 

“So naturally, I came back to USD,” she says with a rueful smile. “I’ve just graduated with a second master’s degree in cybersecurity.” In 2017, she founded Cibernetika, a consulting company focusing on cyber risk management, compliance, cloud computing and IT services.

Through the years, she’s continued to be connected to the university, serving on various committees, joining the Emerging Leaders Council and donating to the best of her ability, all the while singing USD’s praises.

“I give because the university is committed to bringing in diverse students of all economic levels,” she says. “If you believe in the university — and I do — it’s important to give back.” — Julene Snyder

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