Katherine Gwaltney ’18 (marketing) and Rachel Herzog ’18 (entrepreneurship) will address graduating Mihaylo College students at commencement this Saturday.
Graduating seniors Katherine Gwaltney ’18 (marketing) and Rachel Herzog ’18 (entrepreneurship) look back on their years at Mihaylo College as a time of forging career paths, actively engaging in student organizations, achieving academic excellence and making a positive impact on the lives of other Titans.
With advice and inspiration for the class of 2018, Gwaltney will address students at the 8 a.m. ceremony, while Herzog while speak at the 5 p.m. event.
Katherine Gwaltney ’18: From Titan to Tech Companies
Gwaltney, who will begin an account executive role at Google Inc. in Ann Arbor, Michigan in July, held an enterprise account development manager intern role with Adobe in the San Francisco Bay Area last summer. She has been active on campus with Associated Students Inc. (ASI), the American Marketing Association and Zeta Tau Alpha, as well as serving as a senior resident advisor.
Drawn to the innovation of the tech companies, her Adobe internship played a pivotal role in helping Gwaltney identify her career aspirations. “At the end of my internship, I was sure I wanted to do marketing or B2B sales at a tech company but was unsure of how this would play out,” she says. “I quickly found that I would need to be one of the hardest-working people in the room to stand out. The learning curve was huge! I also saw how relationship-building is at the core of business.”
Campus involvement was a highlight of her time at Mihaylo College and CSUF. “Being involved in various clubs and ASI helped me to apply what I was reading in my business textbooks, while enhancing campus life,” she says. “As a student trustee, I was part of a team that planned, oversaw and ultimately unveiled the new Titan Student Union. I felt more and more confident in my major choice and business skills while taking on new projects like this. Most importantly, campus involvement taught me to overcome challenges and introduced me to friends and mentors. I believe these lessons, in addition to what I was learning in the classroom, made my Mihaylo experience invaluable.”
A yearlong appointment as a resident advisor on the Mihaylo Theme Floor in Student Housing was a particularly memorable experience for Gwaltney. “Watching 55 freshmen move in, learn about Mihaylo and get to know each other so quickly was amazing,” she says. “They jumped at every opportunity to get involved, and they made me literally jump during prank wars. They grew as individuals during their first year away from home. Watching my residents get connected reminded me of how fortunate I was to have spent time in building relationships at Mihaylo College.”
For Gwaltney, her family, and particularly her grandfather, have served as influential role models. “When I was a child, I was especially excited for the days when my grandpa would drive me to school,” she says. “As I left the car with my ridiculously heavy backpack, he would say, ‘Katherine, use your brain, make a new friend, be a good person.’ To this day, this is some of the best advice I have ever received.”
“Don’t sell yourself short or be afraid to dream,” she advises her fellow graduates. “Many of the opportunities I have had stem from being in the right place at the right time. When those opportunities arise, share your successes and shine. And while you are waiting for them, know that they are on their way soon.”
Rachel Herzog ’18: Entrepreneurship, Scholarship and Involvement
In June, Herzog will join CEO Coaching International as a project manager. “I’m very excited about the firm because their mission is to meaningfully improve the businesses and lives of CEOs,” she says. “This will help me learn more about strategic management and effective leadership and how it relates to many aspects of business.”
With a passion for entrepreneurship, she hopes that this experience in consulting will prepare her to launch a professional services firm.
“What entrepreneurship looks like in action varies widely,” she says. “It doesn’t require a particular personality and promises no certain lifestyle. It guarantees hard work, sacrifice, failure and unending responsibility, but the risk and adventure of it excite me.”
After a few years in a full-time career, Herzog plans to pursue an MBA.
Herzog has been active on campus as a President’s Scholar, University Honors student, CSUF Startup Incubator consultant, vice president of operations for the Entrepreneur Society and a Cal State DC Scholar.
“While I’ve loved the time spent in all of the organizations I have joined, President’s Scholars will always be especially close to my heart,” she says. “It is a program that stands not only for achievement and excellence, but also service, mentorship and giving back. Being a part of this competitive yet supportive group of scholars has allowed me to grow from a nervous high school student to the person I am today. There is something very special about staying connected with the same people from my first day of classes to graduation.”
Competing in the Sales Leadership Center’s 2016 Titan Sales Competition was a particularly memorable experience for Herzog. “I had never considered sales before, and was actually terrified of it, but I decided to try something outside of my comfort zone and made it a goal to place in the competition,” she says. With the help of Director Mark Mantey and workshops and practices, Herzog’s team finished in first place. “It was a testament that hard work pays off, and we can do anything we put our minds to. Sales Leadership has been incredibly impactful for me in building lifelong skills and developing me as an aspiring businesswoman.”
Faith and gratitude are integral to the ethos that undergirds Herzog’s life. “I live by Psalm 118:24: ‘Today is the day the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it,’” she says. “It is a reminder to me that God is in control and there is so much to be grateful for. It is a blessing just to have air in our lungs, so I love the inspiration to be joyful every single day.”
Herzog gives this advice to fellow graduates: “A successful life is a humble, generous and grateful one. Remember to always put others before yourself and be genuinely thankful for every good thing.”