A woman sanitizes the Pollak Library at Cal State Fullerton during COVIDSixteen months after the coronavirus shut down society, life is slowly heading back to normal, but it is a new normal, with major changes to company operations post-pandemic.

From the rise of digital commerce and telework to the need for greater resilience, there’s much that has changed because of the pandemic, and faculty from Cal State Fullerton’s College of Business and Economics looked at these shifts in light of their individual disciplines in accounting, finance, information systems and marketing.

Among these faculty members is Associate Professor of Economics Kristin Kleinjans, who suggests COVID-19 has driven home the need for a re-evaluation of workplace policies.

“COVID-19 has shown business leaders that policies aimed at improving people’s lives are also good for their company’s bottom line. It has also shown Americans that we ignore inequality and its consequences at our own peril,” she says.

“Mandated paid sick leave, health insurance and a livable minimum wage would level the playing field and disrupt the market advantage of companies who take advantage of their workers. Women have carried much of the burden the pandemic has placed on families. As a result, a record number of women have dropped out of the labor force, worsening staff shortages and costly employee turnover. Fortunately, women’s unemployment rates have recovered faster than expected. But the pandemic’s differential effects on women and men will increase gender inequality in income and labor market outcomes if they are not addressed.”

Read more about the varying CSUF business faculty pandemic perspectives, as well as what they recommend for informative reading, in this Titan Magazine article.

Judy Miranda poses outside of the Titan Student Union on the campus of Cal State FullertonAmong the thousands of Cal State Fullerton business students to walk at the 2021 commencement was Judy Miranda (accounting and finance), who earned her bachelor’s degree after nearly a decade and a half of career experience, including her most recent role at Disney Music Group.

Miranda shares her experience, the impact of her CSUF education, her current career and future plans, and her advice to fellow Titans taking a less traditional path to their higher education.

You started college at CSUF in 2007 and then returned in 2015 to finish your joint emphasis in accounting and finance. During those intervening years, you worked in several different jobs, including positions at Disney. Tell us about the challenges and benefits of returning to CSUF as a full-time student. 

Returning to college in 2015 was a complete culture shock. Some of the challenges I faced were trying to balance school and work. I needed to work a certain amount of hours to make ends meet while trying to take enough classes so that I could finish within a four-to six-year period. Finding time to balance all of that with studying, homework, projects and family was difficult. However, going back to college made me appreciate every moment more – I am not getting any younger so there really is no time to waste. But I also learned through all my work experience how to manage my time efficiently, finding opportunity costs, and just focusing on what I wanted.

What is one significant thing you have gained during your time at CSUF? 

Besides a degree, I gained the knowledge that networking and creating relationships is very important in the long run. All it takes is one person to believe in you, and that can be a huge difference in getting a job offer, finding help of any kind, or even just getting some great advice.

How do you believe your joint emphasis in accounting and finance will help you in your career? And do you plan to continue with Disney?

I wanted to work for a company and be part of something bigger. Accounting focuses on the past and the present while finance is more forward looking. Having knowledge on both ends allows me to be a better asset to companies and make decisions that will contribute to the success of whatever company I work for.

However, I do plan to stay with Disney. I want to move into a senior role and eventually become a manager so I can support others like myself. I have to personally thank my wonderful managers and peers at Disney for supporting my decision to go back to college and working around my schedule so that I could work full time and go to school full time without completely losing my mind. Without them and the support of my husband and family, this would not have been possible.

Tell us about your role working as a financial accounting analyst at Disney Music Group.

I started my career as a financial accounting analyst with the Disney Music Group in February 2021. I wanted to know what accounting was all about and I applied for this role with that in mind. I was also motivated by my love for music. Accounting tends to have a bad reputation for being boring. But I wanted to know for myself what it’s like. To my surprise, accounting is actually really interesting! Within my role, I primarily recognize revenue from all sorts of companies for recorded music. Music is very complex, and it requires many participants who all need to be compensated, so we have many teams that handle the different parts of the music industry.

What advice would you give to other reentry students?

I want all the working adults, parents or anyone who dropped out of college early on to know that it is never too late to go back! The community colleges and the universities, such as CSUF, have programs and offer financial assistance for working students. There are also so many scholarship opportunities and resources. Take a leap of faith and go back to get that degree!

Alumnus Kathy Au at Behr Paint CompanyWhen Kathy Au ’21 (human resources) was growing up in Los Angeles, her parents strongly encouraged her to be a role model to her younger siblings by earning a high school diploma and then going on to college to get a bachelor’s degree.

Both of her parents were born in Vietnam and immigrated to China before finally settling down in the United States with the hope of providing a better life for themselves and their children. Neither of her parents had attained a high school diploma, much less a higher education.

“I am grateful to have both a high school and college education. There were many times that I wanted to give up and dive right in to the job market, but I didn’t want to let my parents down,” says Au. “During my senior year of high school, I had no thoughts of going to college because I wanted to support my family financially. But they told me to try college for a year and see how it goes.” Read More

Benches under trees at Fullerton arboretum

Fullerton Arboretum. Photo by CSUF News

Cal State Fullerton’s post-COVID reopening will include the Fullerton Arboretum, which will again welcome visitors during summer hours beginning July 7.

Set on 26-acres, the botanical gardens provide an escape from the urban landscape of North Orange County and will be open Wednesdays through Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For Fullerton Arboretum members, it is also open on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Since March 2020, the arboretum has been closed due to its status as part of the Cal State system, even though many similar nature preserves in and around Orange County reopened within a few months of their pandemic closures. During that time, the arboretum’s staff maintained the gardens, conducted virtual events, including online gardening and cooking classes, and hosted native plant sales.

Now that the Fullerton Arboretum will again be open for in-person visits, here are seven things not to miss when exploring this free botanical enclave.

  1. Heritage House

Learn about North Orange County’s past at the 1894 Victorian cottage that was once the home and professional office of George Crook Clark, one of the first medical doctors in Fullerton. The adjacent gardens are planted in the style typical of late 1800s Southern California. The house and grounds, including a windmill, will be open for free guided tours on weekends beginning fall 2021. One particularly memorable aspect of the tour: seeing giant ostrich eggs and learning about the ostrich races that were once a North O.C. tradition.

  1. Orange County Agricultural and Nikkei Heritage Museum

The development of local agriculture and the contributions of the Japanese American community in Orange County are featured in this museum, which is housed in a building designed to look like an early 1900s citrus packinghouse. The museum hosts regular exhibits – next up will be “Birds in Art,” on display from Nov. 21, 2021, to Jan. 23, 2022.

The Ombu tree in the Fullerton Arboretum

The dramatic multi-trunked Ombu tree at the Fullerton Arboretum. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

  1. The Ombu Tree

The multi-trunked Ombu tree – a massive evergreen native to South America – is a great place for a selfie. Growing to heights of up to 60 feet, Ombu trees are a symbol of Argentina and Uruguay, but have also been introduced to similar climates in South Africa. Take some time to relax or eat a lunch at the picnic benches in the shade under the massive tree.

  1. Watch Some Beekeeping in Action – From a Safe Distance

You better bee-lieve it! The Fullerton Arboretum has been the site of beekeeping research since 2019, dedicated to finding ways to save endangered bee populations that are essential for agriculture and the ecosystem. Located near the arboretum’s border with the residential housing communities, the bee houses can be observed (at a safe distance) from nearby picnic benches. Try some honey products from these Titan bees at Monkey Business Café, open daily from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at their Fullerton and Irvine locations.

  1. Travel the World By Visiting Diverse Plant Ecosystems

Southwest deserts. Louisiana bald cypress swamps. Pacific Northwest temperate forests. Tropical rain forests. Chinese bamboo. These are just some of the natural botanical ecosystems from around the world represented at the Fullerton Arboretum. A walk through the gardens is a great way to gain a better appreciation for our diverse world – and take selfies in environments that are typically a plane trip away!

  1. Buy Some Native Plants

With California back in drought conditions, it’s all the more important to landscape your property with plants that can withstand the hot and dry conditions of the region. Stop by the Fullerton Arboretum to talk with horticultural experts, who can advise on the best solutions for your home or garden. There’s always a good selection of plants for sale! Regular sales events provide an opportunity to learn more about plants while connecting with members of the Orange County community and beyond who share your passion.

A young woman shows a wolf at the Fullerton Arboretum in October 2016

A naturalist showcases a wolf at an educational event at the Fullerton Arboretum in October 2016. Photo by Daniel Coats ’15,’18

  1. Take in a Nature Class

The Fullerton Arboretum hosts unique, informative and educational nature classes, designed for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages. From getting up close and personal with wolves and coyotes, to practicing yoga in the arboretum or creating your own bonsai tree, there’s something for everyone. Check out the schedule of current classes.

Titan Student Union building on CSUF Campus All 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.

[su_box title=”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. [/su_box]

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!!!

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.

Stanley Wu photographyThis 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.