"House Hunters" features MSUM international student alum Poonam Budhiraja with fellow Dragons

If you’re an avid "House Hunters" fan, you might have seen a few local faces on your screen recently. 

Fargo-Moorhead residents Jerry Griggs and Alexa Dixson-Griggs, along with their realtor Poonam Budhiraja, appeared in the popular HGTV series on Wednesday, March 9. The best part? Jerry, Alexa and Poonam are all MSUM alumni. 

Poonam Budhiraja was an international student at MSUM when she graduated in 2012 with a double major in Broadcast Journalism and Film Production. When she moved from England to Moorhead to start school at MSUM, she was pleasantly surprised by the sense of community. 

Her favorite memory of her time in college was based on the kindness of others. Underestimating the weather her first winter in Moorhead, she went on a walk in a leather jacket and leather shoes. By the time she realized it was too cold for what she was wearing, it was too late. Far from home, a stranger invited her inside their house to wait for a ride. To her, that act of kindness represents the Fargo-Moorhead spirit she knows and loves. 

"Thank you to the community," Budhiraja said, "To all the professors, everyone at MSUM including the librarian who was there to help. It wasn't easy being an international student."

Budhiraja was grateful for the effort MSUM makes to promote diversity. She cites Jered Pigeon, the Director of Diversity and Inclusion at MSUM, as an especially important figure throughout her college years. He was always helpful and continues to be a resource to Budhiraja years after graduating. 

She chose MSUM and the Fargo-Moorhead community because of her sister, Aruna Hagen. After visiting her sister and learning about her sister's experience, she decided to make the move. Having family in the area was a great benefit to her. Budhiraja's sister helped her while she was a student and then when they went into real estate together. As a team, they sell more than 100 homes a year. 

Budhiraja is passionate about the work she does in real estate. Her degrees from MSUM help her with marketing, public speaking and writing. For her, real estate is an opportunity to help people on their journey to their American Dream and a way to share her love of the community. 

"The Fargo-Moorhead area is a hidden gem. I love it here," Budhiraja said with a laugh, "I've started to say that I'm no longer Indian, I'm North Dakotan!"

Being on "House Hunters" in her role as a realtor allowed her the unique opportunity to show properties in a community that she calls her own. Along with that, she was able to help her friends and fellow Dragons, Jerry Griggs (2016, Business Administration and Management) and Alexa Dixson-Griggs (2015, Social Work), find a new home to fit their growing family. 

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