Autumn colors at the Titan Student Union at Cal State FullertonAll 23 campuses of the California State University are scheduled to reopen in fall 2021, as vaccination has helped California overcome the coronavirus pandemic and return to a semblance of normal life. But after more than a year of virtual instruction, many students, faculty and staff are supportive of a permanent expansion of online coursework.

In the largely commuter campuses of the Cal State system, many see benefits of greater flexibility, lower expenses, greater parking availability and improved student retention by offering the option of earning a degree through hybrid or fully online models.

“What we learned during the pandemic is that virtual learning provides the opportunity for students to get an education while they’re trying to balance a number of different things in their lives, whether they’re parents or taking care of an elderly parent or working or living in a rural area,” says the new chancellor of the Cal State system, Joseph Castro. “What I believe, based on what I’ve heard from students and faculty and staff throughout the CSU, is that we will have more virtual offerings after the pandemic is over than we did before the pandemic.”

The fall 2021 semester will likely serve as a prototype for a long-term hybrid model and a chance to assess technological and academic challenges to digital learning. A new initiative to ensure that all students have an appropriate internet-enabled device is in the works for fall 2021, a major step toward making online learning possible for the diverse student body.

While Cal State Fullerton is planning for a 65% to 75% return to in-person coursework this autumn, the percentage varies throughout the Cal State system, from up to 90% at San Diego State University to 45% at Cal State Long Beach.

Read more about the possible future of virtual instruction in the Cal State system and student opinions in this Los Angeles Times article.

CSUF graduating students wear commencement caps, gowns and sashes This weekend and early next week, the graduating classes of 2020 and 2021 will have opportunity to gather for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began to celebrate their achievement of completing a degree amidst one of the most challenging periods in Cal State Fullerton history.

A virtual ceremony will be available to view on the university’s Commencement 2021 page on Friday, June 11, beginning at 3 p.m., followed by in-person stage walks by major and grad year from Saturday, June 12, to Tuesday, June 15.

College of Business and Economics 2021 grads will walk at an 8 a.m. or noon ceremony on Sunday, June 13 (depending on concentration and major). 2020 grads have the option of an 8 a.m., noon or 6 p.m. ceremony on Saturday, June 12. Check out the full online schedule!

Due to the continuing pandemic, however, there will be some changes to this year’s ceremonies compared to previous years.

All attendees – graduates and guests – will need to wear a mask and maintain six feet of social distancing.

Weather Forecast
College of Business and Economics grads should anticipate sunny and warm conditions on both Saturday, June 12, and Sunday, June 13, with high temperatures in the mid 80s on both days and nights in the low 60s, according to the official National Weather Service point forecast for Cal State Fullerton.

Tuesday, June 15, will have temperatures as high as the mid 90s.

Getting Here

While you can park anywhere on campus, the check-in will be at the Titan Track each day, so the closest spots are the State College Structure and Lot A. Parking for our grads and guests with physical challenges will be located in Lot D across from the Student Recreation Center.

And to reduce traffic congestion, the university is asking that grads and their guests travel to campus in the same car.

Be sure to download your free grad pass and guest tickets before the ceremony. These can be scanned through your phone. Or print your pass and tickets and bring them that day.

Enter Titan Track through the service road that runs between the track and the stadium.

What to Expect

After registering at check-in, grads and guests will be guided to a covered outdoor seated waiting area. Wait for the tent attendant to let you know when it’s time to line up and go onto the field.

Line up with your two guests, staying apart using socially distanced marked boxes, much as we’ve become familiar with at amusement parks, shopping malls and other gathering places.

Once a grad is ready to walk, their guests will be escorted to a covered viewing area in front of the stage.

Grads will have to scan their grad pass one more time as they begin to walk the stage. Then your name will be called!

Don’t forget photos to remember your big moment forever! At center stage, stop so a photographer can take your pic as you move your tassel!

Upon exiting the stage, you’ll be reunited with your two guests.

And then it’s time for another photo! Continue in a line to a special backdrop, where a photographer will take photos of you and your two guests.

Both photos will be available for purchase. You’ll get an email on your student/alumni email account with a proof.

And then it’s time to celebrate! After leaving campus, take in some of the beautiful June sunshine! Take a hike, go out to eat at your favorite restaurant, go to the beach, go shopping, or celebrate with family and friends!

Check out this video for a full rundown of what to expect and how to be prepared.

Congrats to all of our graduates! You’ve worked hard and stayed focused on your goals during one of the most challenging periods in modern times. Now it’s time to celebrate!!!

Ari Leon holds a graduation cap noting her MBA achievement in front of Titan Student Union at Cal State Fullerton

Stanley Wu Photography

Cal State Fullerton’s College of Business and Economics is a leader in providing an affordable and accessible graduate business education to Southern California working professionals through the Fully Employed MBA (FEMBA) program.

This 36-month, cohort-based initiative enables students to balance studies with their busy work schedules, completing each course in eight weeks, while gaining expert insights from faculty and fellow students on how to lead and succeed in today’s competitive business environment.

L3 Harris Technologies program manager Ari Leon ’21 is graduating through the FEMBA program this spring. She looks back at her time as a graduate student at the College of Business and Economics, how it will help her in the future and how she adapted to the virtual learning environment during COVID-19. Read More

Selene Hanna poses in cap and gown in front of the Nutwood Parking Structure at Cal State Fullerton

Selene Hanna in front of the Nutwood Parking Structure

When the Cal State Fullerton College of Business and Economics class of 2021 receives their diplomas at commencement this June, they will hear from finance and entrepreneurship grad and real estate agent Selene Hanna ’21, an achiever who embodies the college’s focus on female empowerment and reaching higher despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At 22, Hanna has already been a licensed real estate agent for four years, part of ALT Financial Network Inc., her father’s real estate company. Hanna sees her experience as a steppingstone to a bright and socially responsible future.

“My plan is to enter the commercial real estate industry and eventually invest in real estate around the world,” she says. “I want to pursue a graduate degree, ideally in Europe, but would be grateful for an opportunity to learn anywhere. Eventually, I’d like to start my own company and nonprofit.”

Selene Hanna, dressed in professional business attire, sits in front of the Titan sign at the Titan Student Union at Cal State FullertonOn campus, Hanna served as the ASI board of directors’ treasurer/secretary and was responsible for leading the ASI finance committee that manages the student government’s $9.7 million budget. She also held roles as front desk coordinator for the Business Tutoring Center, student assistant to Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Emeline Yong, and resident advisor (RA).

“Between basketball games, Business Madness week and unclogging residents’ toilets, picking one favorite memory at CSUF is difficult. One night I’ll never forget as an RA was when housing lost all its power,” Hanna recalls. “From 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., several RAs and I caution-taped hallways, unlocked doors and even napped in the Pine Lobby. I learned what teamwork truly meant. Being an RA taught me how to work with just about anyone ‒ no matter how different we may be.”

Hanna has this advice for her freshman self: “Drink water and go to the events you think you’ll be uncomfortable at. Go to the athletics events, rock climb in the Student Recreation Center and play super smash brothers in the Titan Student Union. Whether by yourself or with friends, do whatever stands out to you. I personally benefitted from doing a semester of jiu jitsu. College is for making weird memories.”

Where will Hanna be 10 years from now? Based on her determination and goals, it’s likely to be impactful.

“In 10 years, I’ll be 32 years old, and I hope to be a CEO running a global company. I also hope to be well traveled and have visited countries such as Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Morocco and many more. It is hard to know for certain where I’ll be in 10 years, but I hope to have made an impact on the world.”

Congrats to Selene Hanna and all of the class of 2021 for rising above the challenges to earn your degree! Wishing you all a stellar future!

View of Cal State Fullerton promenade in spring, with lavender blossomsNorth Orange County and Los Angeles Gateway Cities students will soon have the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting in four years and earn a master’s degree in one additional year. The course of study is the result of a recent agreement between Cypress College, a community college of more than 16,000 students serving far western Orange County, and Cal State Fullerton’s Department of Accounting.

The partnership, which is similar to one established with Irvine Valley College and the Department of Accounting in March 2016, ensures that transfer students are prepared for the rigors of university accounting coursework, provides a better opportunity for entry-level vocational recruitment even at the freshman and sophomore levels, and makes lucrative accounting careers more accessible and affordable to low- to middle-income students.

“Our graduates are in high demand because of the rigors of our program,” says Vivek Mande, accounting professor and chair of the CSUF Department of Accounting. “Preparing students at the earliest stages means there is a greater chance of them succeeding. That’s something we all want.”

In the years to come, the Department of Accounting plans to continue to work with Southern California community colleges to develop similar partnerships. The agreement with Cypress College was two years in the making and stayed on track despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

New accounting students at Cypress College can apply for the program beginning in spring 2022 and be a part of the first cohort group in fall 2022.

“As the demand for accountants continues to increase, it makes sense to start reaching out earlier,” says Jenny Zhang, associate dean of the College of Business and Economics. “By partnering with community colleges, we can coordinate the curriculum between two institutions. We are working with faculty members at Cypress College to ensure that our teaching builds upon the foundation they have laid and they are aware of our expectations for transfer students. This more seamless transition helps ensure student success.”

Read more in this CSUF News article. Or reach out to the CSUF Department of Accounting at accountingdept@fullerton.edu or Cypress College’s business studies counselor, Robert Grantham, at rgrantham@cypresscollege.edu for more on the Cypress College program and how you can take part.

Joe Greco, finance lecturer at CSUF

Joe Greco

Signs of reopening abound, and predictions of a return to a life somewhat as we once knew it are now everywhere.

After 16 months, the COVID-19 crisis finally shows signs of abating in the United States. That means good times may be ahead, but the post-COVID world will be different than what we were accustomed to before the pandemic.

What can we expect? And how can today’s young professionals position themselves to thrive in the future?

Cal State Fullerton Finance Lecturer Joe Greco, who studies international and corporate finance and investments, and is also owner and principal consultant for Irvine-based Global Financial Strategies Inc., gives an expert perspective of what might be on the horizon.

What are the biggest changes in business that you’re seeing as we reopen?

As the global economy reopens, which will be slower than in the U.S. as most countries don’t have the supply of vaccines that we do here, the most changed industry will be the security industry. This is due to the increased use of digital media, especially purchasing online. The need to secure increased use of digital transactions will hasten the decline of markets already in progress, especially shopping malls and department stores.

How can today’s college students and graduates prepare for these changes? 

The best preparation is to be observant as the government continues to change the status of the lockdowns. Industries that depend on live bodies to attend will have the best opportunities for job openings. The most immediate openings will be in the sports industries. There will also probably be an increased demand given the significant number of retirements.

There are anecdotal reports that “pent-up demand” may power the economy in coming years. Is there any evidence to back this up?

I know of no academic research that proves conclusively that increased savings rates result in increased pent-up demand. The pent-up demand that is present now is probably most concentrated in the consumer sector, where major purchases have been postponed or constrained by the lockdowns globally.

Will higher rates of savings continue? 

Americans traditionally are not great savers compared to residents of other developed countries, such as Germany, which has a savings rate as high as 32% of consumer income, according to World Bank data. We are lucky to see 17%, but estimates vary. If the past is any indicator, there will not be a significant change in American consumer saving patterns in the long run. Additionally, if interest rates paid to savers continue to be very low, there is no more incentive for Americans to save other than the safety factor in light of a future pandemic.

If you would name a single industry that is primed for the most growth post-COVID, what would it be and why? 

The sports industry that relies heavily on live attendance is most primed for the most growth in profits. Other industries that have been heavily impacted by retirements will also be primed, especially the fields of teaching and insurance.

Asha Bhattacharya

Asha Bhattacharya

When Asha Bhattacharya ’21 (marketing) looks back on her four years as an undergraduate at Cal State Fullerton’s College of Business and Economics, her impact is significant.

She was the only student to represent CSUF at the American Council on Education Mental Health Summit in New Orleans. A forthcoming mental fitness center at Pollak Library is her brainchild. And, as a resident advisor at the Juniper 5 on-campus housing community, she saved a life performing CPR to revive a student suffering cardiac arrest.

Bhattacharya adds to the list the 2021 Outstanding Student Scholarly and Creative Activities Award, which she received this spring for her study, “Leadership Emergence: Promotion Mindset, Prevention Mindset, or Both?,” examining the synthesis of mindsets that create the most effective leadership in student settings.

The Mindsets of Leadership

Bhattacharya’s study, which was advised by Cal State Fullerton Assistant Management Professor Ryan Gottfredson, looks at leadership emergence – the process whereby an individual is recognized as the leader in a formerly leaderless group. Read More

Joanne Tran of EPIC Insurance Brokers Inc.

Joanne Tran

Today, Joanne Tran ’04 (marketing and economics) is vice president and senior benefits consultant for Newport Beach-based EPIC Insurance Brokers & Consultants. Her career in the employee benefits field began 17 years ago when she was introduced to the field by her father, who was working on the technology side of the industry.

Tran discusses her career path, what it takes to succeed in the employee benefits field, her Titan experience, and why and how professionals can maximize their LinkedIn usage.

You are an employee benefits consultant with experience in the health and welfare insurance industry. What drew you to this field? What do you find rewarding about it? 

Like any college graduate, it was my first job out of college. I knew I was stepping into insurance, but at the same time, I didn’t quite understand what I was getting into. Read More

Jocelyn Lee

Jocelyn Lee

Jocelyn Lee ’19 (accounting) last year passed the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination, enabling her to jumpstart her accounting career during the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. But Lee did more than merely pass. She far exceeded the national pass rate of 50%, earning an average score of 95.50% across all four sections of her exam, on the first try.

Lee is one of only 89 individuals among the 75,000 test takers in 2020 to receive the Elijah Watt Sells Award from the American Institute of CPAs in recognition of her accomplishment. She is the first CSUF Titan to receive the accolade.

The entryway to accounting careers, the CPA exam is a 16-hour, four-part test, which applicants must pass within an 18-month window. Considered one of the most challenging professional exams, the experience requires preparatory education, such as the program Cal State Fullerton’s Department of Accounting offers its students.

Vivek Mande, chair of the department, says Lee’s success is no surprise, given the alumna’s achievements while a student and the quality of CSUF accounting coursework.

“Jocelyn was an outstanding student and talented accountant from the start. During her years at Cal State Fullerton, she was an active member of the accounting honor society and carried a GPA of 4.0,” he says. “She was also awarded a prestigious $10,000 scholarship from the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. This is yet another feather in her cap.”

Today, Lee is a tax accountant at Big Four accounting firm Deloitte and earned a master’s in business taxation at University of Southern California.

At CSUF, she graduated summa cum laude and was heavily involved as a student, serving in the Accounting Society, Beta Alpha Psi, Beta Gamma Sigma, Delta Sigma Pi, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program and as an instructional student assistant.

She sees campus involvement as integral to maximizing the college experience: “Get involved on campus. If you’re curious about something, try it. Utilize the resources the school has to offer,” she says. “It really makes a difference.”

For More Information

Read more about Lee’s achievement in this CSUF News article. Or learn more about Cal State Fullerton’s accounting program, which includes undergraduate and graduate career paths, and related faculty research and student success, in our articles on accounting.

Quinlan Cantrell'21

Quinlan Cantrell ’21

This April, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the U.S. banking regulator and insurer, held its first Academic Challenge, which engaged teams of undergraduates from across the nation in examining the impact of community banks on local economic development.

A team of four Cal State Fullerton economics students placed among the top five teams, along with teams from such research-focused universities as the University of Chicago, the University of Delaware and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A team from New York’s SUNY-Geneseo was selected the winner.

The Titan team members were Quinlan Cantrell ’21, Owen Hoogeveen ’21, Ivan Patel ’21 and Quynh Phan ’21. Read More