Daniel Taylor, Cal State Fullerton Guardian Scholar grad

Daniel Taylor

Cal State Fullerton’s Guardian Scholars Program, supported by generous donors, provides academic opportunities, mentoring and support for former foster youth as they pursue degrees and their careers.

One of the graduating Guardian Scholars this year is Daniel Taylor ’20, who just completed the undergraduate entrepreneurship concentration as part of a business administration degree.

Overcoming early hardship, Taylor has grown to become a versatile business professional ready for the next chapter.

Travis Lindsay, adjunct entrepreneurship professor who taught Taylor, describes him this way: “Daniel was a great student and very conscientious. He was always prepared in the classroom and made the extra effort to meet with me, his team and his clients outside of class as well. I look forward to seeing what he does professionally.”

Taylor shares his experience, the impact of the Guardian Scholars Program and the entrepreneurship program, and his plans for the future.

How did you come to be a student at Cal State Fullerton?

My academic journey began at Mount St. Jacinto College in Menifee, California. I spent one year there and changed my major five times, from biomedical engineering to business administration. I later had a falling out with my family and moved to Cerritos, where I discovered Cypress College. I attended Cypress Community College for about two years while living in a house filled with strangers. At the time, I did not have much life experience or business experience. I couldn’t write a résumé, but with time and education, I began to learn how to conduct myself professionally. I then decided to attend Cal State Fullerton. I did not apply to any other universities because I was confident that CSUF was my home.

What was your experience as a Guardian Scholar?

The donors made my experience as a Guardian Scholar amazing. I give them a lot of the credit for my achievements. Their relentless support and a willingness to help me gave me all the motivation and leadership I needed to succeed.

How did you decide to study entrepreneurship at CSUF?

I decided to choose entrepreneurship because it was a reflection of my life. My life is filled with so many obstacles, perils, innovation and risks. I’ve overcome so many challenges, so when I heard that there was a degree in which you can study entrepreneurship, I pursued it. This degree means that I have the ability to navigate the business world in various locations all over the globe, adapting and creating and bringing new ideas, technology or just about anything into this world.

What are your plans for the future?

I plan to open up a company that assists minorities all over the United States, whether that be in housing, food, education or occupations.

Cal State Fullerton management professor Richard Parry

Richard Parry

JCPenney, The Hertz Corporation, J. Crew, Neiman Marcus, Gold’s Gym, Pier 1 Imports and the McClatchy Company are just a few of the major corporate names that have declared reorganization bankruptcy during the economic downturn accompanying the coronavirus pandemic.

While there are some cautious signs that the worst may be over for job markets as nationwide unemployment fell to 13.3% in May from 14.7% in April, most economists and business analysts anticipate a continued spate of business closures, as the economy transitions to a post-COVID-19 world and the full impact of the shutdown is felt, especially in fragile industries.

Richard Parry, management professor and business law and ethics expert at Cal State Fullerton’s Mihaylo College of Business and Economics, notes that many of these bankruptcies were years in the making, with the coronavirus pandemic the final straw. Read More

Brandon Sayphraraj, in graduation fatigues, in front of the Titan sign at Cal State FullertonWhen Brandon Sayphraraj arrived at Cal State Fullerton in 2017, he was focused on an accelerated completion of his degree and a career in accounting.

The lifelong Southern California native and Valencia High School grad used a combination of internships, on-campus employment, and participation in the Business Honors program to get the most out of his time at Mihaylo College and CSUF and best prepare for his career.

Sayphraraj, who you may recognize from the Starbucks locations on campus, looks at the highlights of his journey and gives advice to his fellow accounting Titans.

He’s just one of the thousands of hardworking students finishing their degrees in 2020. Best wishes to all of them for a great future despite the current challenging times! Read More

Cal State Fullerton campus, looking at Langsdorf HallIf you are fortunate enough to retain your job during the coronavirus crisis, you are likely working from home.

Telecommuting has emptied workplaces, quieted our roadways, led to a surge in home internet use and made video conferences tools staples of professional life.

We have been forced to accept the new working-from-home reality. There are pros and cons.

What Workers Want

In early spring, as workers across the U.S. were told to work from home as part of social distancing, opinions at the time seemed to be on the side of telecommuting as a long-term approach. Read More

Students congregate on campus at Cal State FullertonFor the 13th time in three decades, Cal State Fullerton’s MBA students netted a first-place win in the National Small Business Institute Consulting Project of the Year Competition in 2020. The competition involves graduate students providing real-world consulting for local businesses.

This year, a team of six students and recent alumni, working under Associate Professor of Management Lorenzo Bizzi, advised LapWorks Inc., a Rancho Cucamonga-based ergonomic solutions company, specializing in solutions such as carts and stands for technology use and lap desks.

The owner of the firm is retiring and planning to sell the business to the general manager, but sought the students’ consultation to ensure that the business was on good footing before transitioning to the new management.

“We surveyed potential customers extensively to understand the market and the client’s problems. From these insights, we developed several ideas ranging from new product development to new distribution channels to online marketing,” says Minh Dang ’18, a Mihaylo MBA alumnus now working as a business development manager in Vietnam, who supported the team. “We developed a plan of action to make LapWorks create better products and attract more customers.”

Read more about how both the students and LapWorks gained from the experience in this CSUF News article. Or read more of our articles on entrepreneurship and management.

Torrell Foree, director of Cal State Fullerton's African American Resource Center

Torrell Foree

When Torrell Foree arrived at Cal State Fullerton in 2008 as a first-generation college student, he felt lost and isolated, unsure of what path he should take in life and what major he should pursue.

One day during his sophomore year, Foree’s life would forever change when a fellow African American student stopped him in the Quad and told him about the Alliance for the Preservation of African Consciousness, a student organization dedicated to cultural preservation and awareness and personal development for black Titans.

There, Foree took on leadership roles, developed friendships and even met his future wife. Read More

Cal State Fullerton economics professor Gabriela Best

Gabriela Best

As economists and analysts increasingly anticipate nationwide unemployment rivaling the worst levels of the Great Depression of the 1930s, Gabriela Best, associate professor of economics at Cal State Fullerton’s Mihaylo College of Business and Economics, points to predictions that joblessness will stay high through the end of 2021.

“But we are going to see a W-shaped recovery, where some unemployment will decrease as businesses reopen through the end of 2020 and a slower decrease in unemployment until 2021 when the businesses that closed permanently are replaced by other businesses,” she says.

How the Unemployment Rate Works

Economists speak of several types of unemployment: cyclical (related to the business cycle mainly through changes in demand), structural (resulting from changes in labor market characteristics, and industrial reorganization) and frictional (as people move from one job to another). Read More

Mehrdad and Mariam Komeili at a trade show floor presenting their business concept, My Office Apps.

Mehrdad and Mariam Komeili present My Office Apps at a trade show.

Computer engineers Mehrdad and Mariam Komeili recognized a void in configurable software solutions for business processes, especially for small- to medium-sized businesses. They saw the need for a software that would handle sales, procurement, inventory management, manufacturing, warehouse management and finance, for boutique accounting firms and small manufacturers.

In 2014, with decades of experience in the technology and business sectors, the married couple launched Santa Ana-based My Office Apps, a fully integrated solution designed to help smaller enterprises operate their businesses efficiently. In the past year, the Komeilis have turned to the CSUF Startup Incubator, part of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Cal State Fullerton, which provides business development and connections for entrepreneurs, to help grow and innovate their companies.

They discuss My Office Apps and how Cal State Fullerton’s startup experts are helping them transform their business. Read More

Photo showing dollar bills and a rising trend line

Photo from Pixabay

With a diverse local economy, a highly educated workforce and affluent demographics in many areas, Southern California’s Orange County typically avoids the worst of unemployment during recessions.

But the coronavirus crisis has sent the jobless rate in the coastal county to 13.8% in April 2020, and the rate is likely to be even higher when May’s data is calculated.

The total number of jobs in the county – about 1.41 million employees – is similar to levels seen in 2012, as the recovery from the Great Recession was just beginning.

In March and April alone, 77% of the number of jobs gained since the Great Recession were lost, a victim of the stay-at-home orders accompanying COVID-19.

During the last recession, unemployment reached double-digit levels, but just barely, peaking at 10.1%.

Divining the Labor Market

Anil Puri, director of the Woods Center for Economic Analysis and Forecasting at Cal State Fullerton’s Mihaylo College of Business and Economics, anticipates some improvement in the situation as many of the job losses are temporary furloughs that may be reversed as business operations come online.

But a return to the strong job market at the beginning of 2020 is not likely in the foreseeable future, according to his commentary in the Orange County Register this week, in a piece written by renowned business columnist Jonathan Lansner.  

“I expect next month’s number [released in June but covering May’s number] to be as bad, if not worse, than this. But the June rate would be better given the efforts underway to open the economy,” says Puri of April’s dismal numbers. “We have predicted a W-shaped recovery and it very much looks that way.”

According to the Spring Economic Forecast issued earlier this month, Puri and his fellow economist and Woods Center Co-Director Mira Farka expect Orange County joblessness to average 11.1% in the second quarter of 2020, with somewhat better conditions thereafter.

But uncertainty reigns, with coronavirus and a number of other factors complicating the picture.

“There will be a second wave of higher infections this fall and there will be a spate of bankruptcies. We expect household spending to jump in the third quarter relative to the last three months, but then the trend over the next year is going to be moderate and it will move in fits and starts depending on spread of the disease, election results and geopolitical developments,” says Puri.

Orange County Job Market Losers

Which sectors of the Orange County economy have performed the worst during this crisis?

Restaurants have lost 46% of employment – a loss of 68,700 jobs, in only two months, the worst performing sector. Coming in second-worst were hotels, losing 41% of payroll, or 10,700 jobs. And third-worst is arts, entertainment and recreation, declining 39%, or 20,600 positions.

The National Picture

So where does Orange County stand in unemployment compared with the rest of the United States?

On May 22, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released jobless rates for each of the 50 states, covering the April 2020 period.

Lowest joblessness is in Connecticut, where a highly-educated populace has an unemployment rate of but 7.9%. Worst is tourism- and entertainment-heavy Nevada, where a rate of 28.2% exceeds even the worst national numbers in the Great Depression. Second worst is manufacturing-focused Michigan, at 22.7%, followed by tourism-focused Hawaii, at 22.3%, rounding out the only three states with jobless rates in excess of 20%.

Statewide, California’s jobless rate is at 15.5%, above the national level of 14.7%. The state is 10th worst in the nation.

David Nanigian, director of the Personal Financial Planning Program at Cal State Fullerton's Mihaylo College of Business and Economics

David Nanigian

David Nanigian, director of Cal State Fullerton’s Professional Certificate in Personal Financial Planning Program and an associate professor of finance at Mihaylo College of Business and Economics, recently presented a paper, “Rating a Robo-Rater,” at CFP Board’s Academic Research Colloquium. The paper looks at whether or not a machine-learning model designed to emulate the decision-making processes of human analysts can do as good a job as humans when picking actively managed mutual funds for investment.

The study is specific to products provided by financial services company Morningstar Inc., which in 2017 launched its “robo-rater,” because it is not feasible for Morningstar to assign a human analyst rating to every mutual fund in existence.

“This provides a laboratory to gauge the value of ‘soft information’ in analyzing mutual funds,” says Nanigian in a recent article about his study published on Machine Lawyering, a blog of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Read More