Gerard Beenen, Cal State Fullerton Mihaylo College associate dean

Gerard Beenen

Within the national conversation on how to make college accessible and available in a world in which postsecondary education is increasingly a necessity, the growth of online learning is one of the most significant trends in preparing the next generation of leaders. According to the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, a third of all university students are taking at least one online course, while 15.4% are earning their degrees entirely online. Those numbers are based on fall 2017 data.

Gerard Beenen, professor of management and associate dean of community engagement and faculty and staff development at Cal State Fullerton’s Mihaylo College of Business and Economics, and Sinjini Mitra, associate professor of Information Systems and Decision Sciences, compare online and face-to-face instruction in business and related disciplines in their new study, “A Comparative Study of Learning Styles and Motivational Factors in Traditional and Online Sections of a Business Course,” appearing in the journal INFORMS Transactions on Education

“There has been explosive growth in online and hybrid classes in higher education,” says Beenen. “We were curious to explore potential differences in what makes students successful in traditional face-to-face and online instructional approaches.”   Read More

Veronica Torres, director of operations at Warren Street Wealth Advisors and an alumna of Cal State Fullerton's Titan Capital Management program.

Veronica Torres ’16

Three years after graduating with a degree in finance and serving as a fixed income analyst for the Titan Capital Management (TCM) student-managed investment fund, Veronica Torres ’16 is now director of operations for Tustin-based registered investment advisor Warren Street Wealth Advisors LLC.

The alumna is also making an impact on the financial readiness of young women, at Cal State Fullerton and beyond, through Vee Makes Cents, an Instagram-based money education blog aimed at millennial and Generation Z female audiences.

Pursuing a Career in Financial Planning in Orange County

Since joining Warren Street Advisors, the firm in which TCM director Marcia Clark serves as senior research analyst, Torres has expanded her responsibilities, including handling the firm’s billing, payroll, human resources, business processes and customer relationship management. The role has been both rewarding and challenging.

“One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced is taking on a lot of responsibility while still very young in my career,” says Torres. “There are some things that you just can’t learn in a textbook or a training manual; they take experience and practice to master. There have been times when I’ve come across struggles that a little more experience would have helped, but the great thing is that they all become learning lessons for me to get better in my role each and every day.” Read More

Mansi Kalra, Cal State Fullerton ASI vice president

Mansi Kalra

When international business junior Mansi Kalra ’21 arrived at Cal State Fullerton two years ago, she was very reserved and had no previous student government experience. Today, she serves as vice president of Associated Students Inc. (ASI), the official student government of the largest university in the Cal State system, actively advocating on behalf of the campus’ diverse student body to university and state officials.

Kalra encourages her fellow Titans of all temperaments and personalities to recognize their unique leadership potential.

“We tend to see leaders in a very specific way: effortlessly confident, cool under pressure and outgoing. I don’t really check any of those boxes, but that by no means makes me less of a leader,” she says. “If you don’t fit the standard definition of something, go redefine it for yourself. If something seems out of reach or uncomfortable, push yourself to embrace it, especially if it’s important.”

A passion to empower communities and advocate for underrepresented groups and a desire to effect positive change is what motivated Kalra to seek elected office, accepting a running-mate position in the ultimately victorious Aguilar/Kalra ticket in the spring 2019 election.

“It is far easier said than done to take a leap of faith and put yourself out there, but if you are truly passionate about something and believe that you can further a cause, the risk is worth it,” she says. Read More

Amy Vu, a Cal State Fullerton student and 2019 CSU Trustees' Award for Outstanding Achievement

Amy Vu

Among the recipients of the 2019 CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement, which honors a student from each of the 23-campus higher education system’s locations for superior performance and accomplishment in light of need, was Cal State Fullerton accounting senior Amy Vu ’20. The recognition is the highest annual recognition for student achievement awarded by the largest public higher education provider in the United States.

Vu received the honor, which includes a $6,000 scholarship, for a combination of near-perfect 3.99 GPA academic performance, community service through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program that provides tax preparation support for the region’s less fortunate, and her commitment coming from an immigrant and financially limited background to pursue a college education and career.

“It was truly an honor and a memorable moment that I will never forget,” says Vu. “I plan to use my scholarship for my master’s program, and I have a long-term educational goal of a doctorate in accounting and information systems. I want to be a professor who will teach with enthusiasm and passionate understanding to inspire students to learn more and achieve greatness.”

Certified public accountant (CPA) and certified information systems auditor roles are also among Vu’s career goals.

Putting Family First, a Young Immigrant from Vietnam Rises Higher

Arriving in California with her family from their native Vietnam, Vu postponed going to college and worked a full-time job to financially support her parents. In 2015, she enrolled in Santa Ana College, a community college serving central Orange County, where she studied business administration and earned a 4.00 GPA upon graduation in 2017.

“I did really well in all of my accounting classes at Santa Ana College, so when I transferred to Cal State Fullerton, I chose an accounting concentration,” she recalls. “After taking an information systems course, though, I found another passion in life and decided to add a second concentration.”

Vu shared her accounting skills with the community by serving as an IRS quality reviewer and assistant site coordinator for the VITA program during the 2017 and 2018 tax seasons, for which she earned the CSUF President’s Volunteer Service Award.

Vu’s Advice on Achievement

Vu knows her success can be replicated by many others.

“I believe anyone can achieve greatness by putting 200% into what they do,” she says. “What makes someone standout is their perseverance and determination in achieving their life goals. I hope my story can inspire everyone, regardless of their origins, to achieve their dreams with hard work and the tenacity to better themselves.”

For More on Accounting and Awards

For more information on accounting education programs at Cal State Fullerton’s Mihaylo College of Business and Economics, visit the Department of Accounting online. Or read more of our articles on accounting.

Are you a Cal State student and believe you should be considered for the Cal State Trustee’s Award? Apply online for consideration for next year’s awards.

Cal State Fullerton business student Rachel Griffin

Rachel Griffin, the first place winner at the Impact Sales Competition

Students involved in Cal State Fullerton’s Sales Leadership Center, which provides sales-related education and networking for Titans of any major, took first and third place at the 3rd Annual Impact Collegiate Sales Competition in Chicago on Sept. 20. The event, which gave students from seven universities the opportunity to perfect their sales pitch skills while competing for scholarships, involved more than 90 participants.

It was the first time that Cal State Fullerton has participated in the event.

“I am excited to see that our students performed so well in their first attendance to this collegiate competition,” says Brad Anderson, director of the Sales Leadership Center. “To have three of the top eight contestants and two of the top three is an amazing reward for the students’ hard work.”

Rachel Griffin ’20, student president of the Sales Leadership Center and a Mihaylo College student assistant, netted gold, with a $2,000 scholarship, while Jacob Miknuk ’20, a Mihaylo College ISDS and marketing double major and big data analytics specialist for Irvine-based Alteryx, earned the number three spot and a $750 scholarship.

Other Cal State Fullerton contestants included Octavio Lobato ’20 (economics), Casey Powell ’20 (marketing) and Ezequiel Pena-Pena ’20 (management).

Cal State Fullerton student Jacob Miknuk

Third-place winner Jacob Miknuk

The student delegation was accompanied by Anderson and Assistant Professor of Marketing Joshua Dorsey.

Impact Networking, a Lake Forest, Illinois-based business process optimization firm, first hosted a sales competition in 2017. The seven universities competing in 2019 were the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh, University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, Northern Illinois University, Ball University, Winona State University and Cal State Fullerton.

For More on Sales Leadership

The Sales Leadership Center provides resources and events for students interested in pursuing sales careers or gaining valuable experience in selling, presentation skills and building student confidence. More than 30 sponsor companies, including Impact Networking, participate in activities including workshops, seminars, career fairs, sales competitions, and social events. Students may earn a sales minor or a certificate of professional sales through academic and participation in such events.

For more information, visit the center online. Or read more of our articles about Cal State Fullerton’s sales education initiatives.

Sara Hashemzadeh ’18, a Cal State Fullerton grad and event coordinator for North Hollywood-based Russell Harris Event Group.

Sara Hashemzadeh ’18

If you were one of the more than seven million viewers of this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards, you were watching the culmination of pre-planning and support by hundreds of workers and professionals, including Cal State Fullerton’s own Sara Hashemzadeh ’18 (entertainment and hospitality management), who serves as event coordinator for North Hollywood-based Russell Harris Event Group.

In a little more than a year since joining the firm, Hashemzadeh has put support for major televised events such as the Emmys and Teen Choice Awards, as well as corporate functions, under her belt as she embarks on a career in event planning.

Hashemzadeh gave us an inside look at her job, where she sees herself going forward and her advice for her fellow Titans.

What do you do as event coordinator at Russell Harris Event Group?

In my first year, right after graduating college, I’ve had the privilege of working on a vast number of large-scale events, such as the Teen Choice Awards, The Emmys, The LA Screenings, The Passage Premiere, and multiple Fortune 500 corporate events. There are a variety of responsibilities that I hold as an event coordinator at Russell Harris Event Group. In the pre-production phase, I am focused on creating intriguing proposals, designing layouts, sourcing items, attaining pricing, inspecting venues, conducting research, and tracking costs and profit margins. Read More

Hadi Mansour, a Cal State Fullerton graduate now teaching economics and business at Abu Dhabi International School

Hadi Mansour

Hadi Mansour traveled to the United States at the age of 16, where he pursued an undergraduate education in accounting and finance at Cal State Fullerton’s Mihaylo College of Business and Economics from 2004 to 2009. Mansour uses the business acumen he gained at CSUF to benefit the next generation of young people living in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where he is a business studies and economics teacher at the Abu Dhabi International School, teaching at the secondary level.

Familiar with diversity through his studies at Cal State Fullerton, Mansour is equipped to teach students from more than 70 nations who attend the school of more than 4,000 students in the heart of the UAE’s wealthiest emirate. The school specializes in educating the children of expatriates from around the world who live in the region due to business or government roles.

“This level of diversity allows teachers to take a more global perspective, using many countries and cultures as reference points,” says Mansour. “Although it is my job to educate and inform, I am constantly amazed at how much I learn from my students.”

Mansour has found that teaching business enables him to delve deeper into the historic roots of some of the differences in beliefs, values and norms of the varied cultures his students come from. Read More

Chris Salomone, Cal State Fullerton alumnus and former staff member, at work in his workshop on a woodcrafting project.

Chris Salomone ’06 embarks on a woodworking project that will be broadcast on YouTube. The former Cal State Fullerton staff member has made a full-time living off of a YouTube-based woodworking business.

While serving as marketing director for Cal State Fullerton’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, alumnus Chris Salomone ’06 (business economics) launched Foureyes Furniture, a YouTube-based woodworking business that quickly grew. Last year, the 38-year-old quit his full-time job to focus squarely on his YouTube channel, which, at more than 437,000 subscribers, was rapidly becoming a lucrative income source and fulfilling venture in its own right.

Even as a student in the 2000s, Salomone (pronounced Sala-moan-ee) had skill as a craftsman, prompting him to take coursework in art as well as business. During his more than a decade of employment at Cal State Fullerton, woodworking was his side gig. But today, creating videos about how to make high-end furniture has become a bigger part of his business than making and selling the creations themselves.

“It started off as making custom furniture as a side hustle, but after four years, I hit the limit of what I could do and felt like I wasn’t enjoying it as much anymore because I was building the same things over and over,” says Salomone. “So I wanted to build more things on YouTube and make videos about it. I finished up the orders I had agreed to and tried my hand at making videos. I published my first video in March 2016. I was thinking that not many people would watch it, but that if I did a good job, it would eventually catch on, and it caught on quite a bit sooner than I had expected it to. By January 2017, I did my first brand deals, having sponsored content and sponsored videos on the channel.” Read More

Mike Groff, the retired CEO of Toyota Financial Services and the namesake of the Mike Groff Scholarship.

Mike Groff

As a management student in Cal State Fullerton’s business college, Mike Groff struggled financially and faced first-generational challenges. In the decades after his graduation, Groff served 35 years with the world’s largest automaker, including as president and CEO of Toyota Financial Services. But he never forgot the needs of college students from underprivileged backgrounds.

Upon his retirement from Toyota in 2018, Toyota introduced the Mike Groff Community Impact Scholarship. With the support of his longtime employer, $25,000 is awarded to deserving undergrad students from underprivileged demographic backgrounds who are headed to grad school and are involved with philanthropic endeavors, such as the Boys & Girls Clubs or Toyota’s many nonprofit endeavors. Groff is a national trustee of the Boys & Girls Club of America and is currently serving on the Dean’s Advisory Board of Mihaylo College.

Thanks to the Mike Groff Scholarship, a Titan Alumna Looks Forward to a Career Helping Others

In 2019, Cal State Fullerton human services alumna Monica Gutierrez ’18 was the inaugural recipient of the Groff Scholarship. She rose above academic challenges as a transfer student from Fullerton College to make it to the dean’s list and serve as the branch director for the Boys & Girls Club of Fullerton throughout her undergraduate career.

Monica Gutierrez, a Cal State Fullerton grad now working on a master's degree at Azusa Pacific University

Monica Gutierrez

Gutierrez is currently pursuing a graduate degree in college counseling and student development at Azusa Pacific University, the largest and oldest evangelical Christian higher education institution on the West Coast. She is looking forward to supporting today’s diverse student populations in discovering their passions and interests through higher education.

“My passion lies in education and empowering students to be the best version of themselves,” says Gutierrez. “I aspire to work in higher ed as a counselor and advocate for students in marginalized groups. I am mostly passionate about supporting first-gen students, transfer students and women. My goal is to ultimately work in a community college setting to be a mentor for those who need encouragement and validation the most. I am extremely appreciative of the Boys & Girls Club and Toyota for their support of my life and career journey.”

Groff recognizes that the scholarship is an example of the impact companies and organizations can make on the lives of young people while working together. “I think this shows the power of support and mentoring from organizations like the Boys & Girls Club and the role corporations like Toyota can play in helping talented and hardworking students such as Monica pursue their passions.”

Funding Your Future

Are you a Cal State Fullerton student seeking financial support for your studies? Discover the options available to students of all disciplines from the Office of Financial Aid.

Andre Rishi, graduate career advisor, at Mihaylo College of Business and Economics

Cal State Fullerton’s business graduate students are seeking the next advancement in their careers or a new career direction. Supporting them in their efforts is Andre Rishi, the graduate career advisor at Mihaylo Career Services, who brings nearly 12 years of higher education vocational advising history to support the graduate students of Cal State Fullerton’s business college.

Want more career support but have trouble finding time? Andre’s got you covered, even if you have a full-time job.

Available for half-hour career advising appointments Monday through Friday until 7 p.m., which can be scheduled online through AppointmentQuest, you’ll have the opportunity to get your résumé and cover letter reviewed, mastermind your vertical move or career transition, get tips on the latest social media practices that win for today’s job seekers, and plan your best strategy for the rest – and best – of your working life.

Andre, a New York University fine arts grad with a background in acting, knows how you can put your best foot forward whether you are looking to make a move in the company you currently work at or are looking to break into a different industry.

An avid international traveler, Andre knows about the world, which equips him to advise students in today’s globalized age.

“I love to travel whenever possible and my favorite destinations so far are Costa Rica, Abu Dhabi, Malaysia and Indonesia,” he says.

Also be sure to sign up for the monthly graduate career newsletter, which provides tips for landing interviews as well as an updated list of featured jobs. Let Andre know you’ve applied to these jobs, so he can advocate on your behalf, as Mihaylo Career Services has built a relationship with each of the featured employers.

Check out our video with Andre about what he can do for you.

For more on how Andre can help you, reach out to him at or 657-278-7997. Or visit Mihaylo Career Services online or at SGMH 1401 for more ways to get your career tuned up, including workshops and events covering a wide range of industries.

One such upcoming event, exploring living and working in Canada, is designed for international graduate students and will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 29, at 5:30 p.m. in SGMH 3210. Register today!