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Ten undergraduate business students recognized for academic accomplishment

News + Events : Ten undergraduate business students recognized for academic accomplishment


The College of Business congratulates and extends best wishes to each of the ten undergraduate honorees of the graduating Class of 2013.

Each year the department's top performers are selected by the college's academic departments from its graduating seniors. These students receive special recognition from the university during commencement week.

In addition, Kathleen Downing was selected as the college's undergraduate hood recipient, to be recognized at commencement.

The 2013 undergraduate honors recipients with links to read more about these remarkable graduates:

College of Business Hood Recipient and Hospitality & Tourism Management Undergraduate Honoree

Kathleen Downing

Kathleen Downing

Faculty members in the department of HTM are honored to nominate Kathleen Downing as the 2013 Hospitality and Tourism Management honoree. Kathleen’s achievements in university service, leadership, and academia are incredible.

During Kathleen’s freshman and sophomore years, she was an active member in two student organizations: National Society of Minorities in Hospitality (NSMH) and the Hospitality Management Society (HMS).  She went to the NSMH regional and national conferences, which greatly enhanced her personal and professional development. Later, she took on the position as the director of fundraising for NSMH to raise scholarship money for other students to attend conferences. Kathleen also raised funds for the university’s new library. 

Kathleen worked part-time at Roe Event Venue & Lounge as the corporate events assistant in the SOMA district while attending school as a full-time and above average student. 

In the following year, she received distressing news that her mother might lose her home. When Kathleen started her college career, her mother lost her job of 25 years and struggled to cover her mortgage. Kathleen needed to change her part-time position to work fulltime. She accepted a position with Sharon Heights Golf & Country Club in Menlo Park. This was a big change, with a 45-minute commute and going from selling events to operating events. However, with the knowledge Kathleen gained at the University, she knew she made the right decision. She knew she would succeed in supporting both herself and her mother.

After serving for three years on the Taste of the Bay committee, Kathleen decided to take on a leadership position as event chair of Taste of the Bay (TOTB) in 2012. She was in charge of planning and executing the event while leading 25 committee members and 60 HTM student volunteers. 

Taste of the Bay 2012 was the most successful food, wine, and auction fundraiser held at the Bently Reserve Banking Hall. Five-hundred people attended the event, which raised a record breaking $145,000 for the program and over 15 student scholarships. Kathleen’s proudest accomplishment is that she set the bar for a new culture at Taste of the Bay: empowerment of students to experience true passion and pride as they work selflessly for the common goal to support other students, the program, and the university. Taste of the Bay has made Kathleen a superlative leader. 

Recently, Kathleen was promoted from food and beverage intern to food and beverage manager at Sharon Heights Golf and Country Club. In addition, she is an intern at the event department of Peju Winery in Napa. She has been described as a distinguished team leader in all her projects. While working full-time and taking an internship class, she continued to maintain an excellent GPA. 

Kathleen has worked tirelessly in her academic and leadership roles. We are confident that Kathleen will continue to expand her knowledge, excel in her industry relationships and experiences, and become one of the top leaders in the hospitality industry.

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Accounting Undergraduate Honoree

Manhei Sit

Manhei Sit has shown outstanding service in the accounting department while maintaining a very strong GPA. 

She has been actively involved in many of the student organizations at SF State: she served ASO as its Executive Vice President in Spring and Fall of 2012 and has also been Vice President of Social Affairs and Vice President of Profession Development; she is a lifetime member of both Beta Alpha Psi and Beta Gamma Sigma; and she is an Outstanding Member of Ascend. 

She has accomplished this while holding several part-time jobs (sometimes several at once) including a cashier, a student assistant at the student Disability Program and Resource Center, a campus representative for a CPA exam review firm, a property accounting intern, and most recently, an audit intern at KPMG where she plans to work after graduation.

 She is fluent in two languages (English and Fuzhou) and conversational in two more (Mandarin and Cantonese).

Manhei is a first-generation college student whose parents immigrated to the United States when she was two years old. Her parents opened a restaurant in a poor, high-crime city in Connecticut and worked hard to support her family. During this time, her parents were robbed on many occasions including once at knife-point and once at gunpoint. Manhei said she was terrified growing up in such circumstances and was determined to make the most of the opportunities that she had. Her outstanding service and academic accomplishments here at SF State are a manifestation of that determination, and she cites her parents as her continuing inspiration.

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Decision Sciences Undergraduate Honoree

Abbatine Hoover

Abbatine HooverAbby Hoover was born and raised in a rural Nevada town with a population of fewer than 6,000 people.

Her interest in decision sciences can be traced back to high school, where her favorite class was a senior-level statistics course she took her junior year. In 2007, she graduated with a $10,000 scholarship to the University of Nevada, Reno, her family’s first college student. However, she had a long-term dream of discovering “fast-paced” city life in California. She decided to forego the scholarship and moved 30 minutes away from her home town to South Lake Tahoe, California, and enrolled in Lake Tahoe Community College. While at LTCC, she worked part-time for a law firm, gained California residency, became the president of the Alpha Gamma Sigma Honor Society, interned twice as a reporter for the Tahoe Daily Tribune, and obtained an A.A. in Finance. 

She transferred to SF State with dreams of becoming a business journalist and one day writing for Forbes or BusinessWeek, so she declared her major as Journalism and her minor as Finance and started taking a mix of classes in both departments.

Despite several warnings against simultaneously taking both Corporate Finance and Operations Management (DS 412), the introductory Decision Sciences course quickly became her favorite, and she looked forward to each class and each new topic. She was such an active and enthusiastic participant that at about halfway through the semester, Professor Ozluk good-naturedly informed her several times that she was not allowed to answer any more of his questions during lectures.

Towards the end of the course, Dr. Ozluk encouraged her to take another DS course (Sustainable Supply Chain Management) the following semester with Professor Cholette. It would be “fun,” he said, “challenging, but fun.” 

It was in this class that Abby met and worked closely with “the most brilliant, self-motivated, and amazing students in the entire university,” she said. During that time, one of those students invited her to a Decision Sciences Student Association (DSSA) meeting. She was soon attending them regularly, became involved in the organization’s efforts to work on some of the campus’s “green” projects, spearheaded fundraisers, and was even elected to an officer position the following semester.

During the summer break, she and several other DSSA members taught themselves R programming. She’s attended and organized several seminars, including sitting on a panel for supply chain transparency during SF State’s Ethics Week.

Abby was also part of a team of four students who were the first to represent SF State in a nationwide supply chain competition put on by Littlefield Labs. The team placed 29th out of over one hundred teams of both graduate and undergraduate students from universities across the country, including USC and Yale. 

Most recently, she has become the DSSA’s Director of Professional Development and has led several workshops on developing LinkedIn profiles and building resumes. She is also a teacher’s assistant for Dr. Ozluk’s graduate-level management course. On occasion, she’s been known to drop in and help out with tutoring for DS 412. 

After graduating in the spring (with a degree in Decision Sciences), she plans to obtain some work experience as a business analyst before applying to grad school. Even though her dreams of becoming a business reporter have become eclipsed by a desire for a career in analytics, she still hopes to one day write for BusinessWeek. “Preferably, on any DS-related topic,” she said.

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Economics Undergraduate Honoree

Sydney Ryan

In many ways, Sydney Ryan is a prototypical San Francisco State University student. Upon graduation from community college, she could not immediately financially afford to attend a four year college. She worked over 50 hours of week for years to save enough money and to provide for her family’s income.

What differentiates Sydney from our other students is her performance. Her high GPA doesn’t even begin to demonstrate her true abilities.

One of our faculty wrote the following about her: “Sydney is hands down one of the best students I ever had in the last six and a half years at San Francisco State. What really caught my attention is the quality of her work, the effort that she puts in answering every single question, her motivation, and curiosity.”  Other faculty are unanimous in echoing this evaluation.

Sydney has contributed to the department, college, and university in a number of ways. She has been active in the Economics Student Association, she has served as a grader for our lower pision classes, and she has been a research assistant for our faculty. Her research abilities were so strong that she was asked to help present Professor Chattopadyay’s economic impact analysis of San Francisco State University to President Wong and his staff this semester. 

She is also last year’s recipient of the department’s Ramona K. First Award given to outstanding undergraduates.

Sydney is also extremely motivated in continuing her studies to serve the public good. In her application for the Ramona K. First Award, she wrote: “From the very first introductory economic class that I took, I was inspired by the effects of economic theories and analysis in public policy and the applications of economics to daily life… I truly believe in the importance of the impact that economists can make in people’s lives. For this reason, after I receive my bachelor’s degree in Economics from SF State, I plan to pursue graduate studies in Law and Economics and eventually follow a career path in public service.”

Sydney has been accepted to law school and will start classes at Boalt Hall at the University of California, Berkeley next year.

She has demonstrated ability that puts her into a select group of our students that have gone onto graduate schools in law, economics, and public policy. She is committed to doing public policy in the future. We are certain that she will be extremely successful in a public policy career.

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Finance Undergraduate Honoree

Jason Au

Jason Au was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Singapore and Malaysia. His parents moved from country to country seeking a better life for Jason and his younger brother. The family immigrated to the US when Jason was a high school student. 

Jason had to overcome several challenges when he entered SF State in 2009: he was a first generation college student and English was his second language. Jason attributes much of his success in life to overcoming these challenges that made him multicultural, multilingual, and highly adaptive.

Drawing from personal experience and knowledge, Jason has developed a sense of global understanding and awareness. It is no surprise that he enjoys learning about global markets and has developed a passion for analyzing the impact of financial policies on developing countries. Jason funneled his passion into a concentration in Finance where he focuses on the quantitative analysis of global and financial markets. His long-term goal is to work in a senior leadership position in global finance with an emphasis on emerging markets.

Jason’s college activities have prepared him for a leadership role in his future career. Jason was elected as the treasurer and later as the president of FAME. He became involved in FAME after he committed to grow the organization and bridge the gap between school and the real world.

Building on FAME’s legacy, Jason implemented a career services program in AY 2011-2012 to empower students beyond academics. The program included resume workshops, public speaking seminars, speaker panels, equity research teams, and case competitions.

Under Jason’s leadership and coaching, FAME’s career outreach extended to financial firms in the local bay area and during this time, 22 FAME members earned internships and 11 landed full-time employment.

After serving as President of FAME, Jason headed the very successful 2012 FAME Student Investment Conference as Chairman. Under his direction and the hard work of his team, the conference was attended by over 300 students and professionals. Top sponsors included Forward Management, Barrons, Wall Street Journal, and Kaplan. Attendees reviewed the event as one of the best and most worthwhile conferences that they have ever attended.

Jason grew both as a professional and a leader with his active involvement in FAME, the Finance department and the College of Business. He is considered by all who know him as an extremely nice guy, self-effacing, and a joy to be with. Jason plans to pursue a career in investment banking upon graduation, ready for new challenges and eager to continue his support of the SF State community.

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Information Systems Undergraduate Honoree

James Prosser

James Prosser took the initiative to be one of the first students in the College of Business to complete the required courses for the Information Systems Department’s SAP Recognition Award.

Not only did James complete the courses with great academic success, he applied for and received an internship with PG&E, due particularly to the work he put into his courses and the industry skills he learned there.

James put the same strong effort into his PG&E internship project that he puts into his academic career, resulting in his being awarded first place in an end-of-summer poster competition held for all 57 interns that PG&E hired. 

That award was based on the business value of James’ project and on his ability to perform as a professional employee at PG&E. The firm was so impressed with James’ work that they have since hired him as a full-time employee.

Also due to his strong work and study ethic, James has maintained an excellent GPA. In response to James’ nomination for department honoree, one of his instructors in the IS department affirmed that, “James was an excellent student who worked well with his peers in taking a leadership role.”

With his ability to concentrate on his academic career, understand the relationship between coursework and industry work, and his proven ability in the real world of business projects, James is sure to succeed in his career goals.

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International Business Undergraduate Honoree

Allen Atristain

Allen Atristain’s background and educational profile strongly exemplify the missions of both the University and the College of Business.

As a second generation American from a Mexican family, and the first to attend college, Allen represents the school’s mission in social justice which includes helping minority students excel in their professional careers, and the success such students can have through the help of university programs like SF State’s.  

His professors commended him as a consummate student. Allen is deeply grounded in international business and economic history. He is persistent about learning even more on these topics. His passion is to become particularly competent as a way of leveraging his service-outreach in the next phase of his career. 

His aim in life: to make a difference in the world. Having that in mind, Allen’s passion and career path have evolved to include poverty relief and social entrepreneurship. 

This interest was strengthened in his current work with SF State’s Whirlwind Wheelchair International.

In working with Whirlwind, he has shown his drive in helping those often overlooked by traditional businesses.Since he began his internship towards the end of the fall 2012 semester, he has been playing a role in Whirlwind’s recent entry into the U.S. market. 

Alongside his other accomplishments, he has been a contributing member of FAME (Financial Analysis and Management Education). He served as the vice president of marketing for the group’s operations and later as marketing director for FAME’s symposium events. 

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Labor & Employment Studies Undergraduate Honoree

Matthew Miller

Pursuing a college diploma has been my life-long dream. As determined as I was 20 years ago, I was unable to achieve this goal. After being admitted to California State University at San Bernardino, my girlfriend became pregnant and I had to drop out of college to support our child.

Growing up, I did not know my own father, so it was extremely important to me to create a stable environment for my family. I went to work. Unlike many other single fathers, my daughter lived with me. Working and raising a child on your own with little financial help or family support is a humbling experience. No matter how hard it gets, you cannot quit that job.

I dreamt of a job that was intellectually stimulating and emotionally satisfying. Although I earned a steady income, the work was not a career. The closest I came to satisfaction was working as a labor compliance investigator for a nonprofit in Southern California. After 10 years as a union laborer, I was able to help others receive the types of rights that I had enjoyed for many years as a white male in the U.S.—rights they equally deserved, regardless of their race, gender or country of origin.

I always wanted to return to college. When my daughter entered high school six years ago, I saw an opportunity to return. Talking to her about the importance of college when I, myself, did not have a degree felt hypocritical. I wanted to prove my own commitment to higher education. Although I knew it would take time to complete my baccalaureate, I started taking a night class at Riverside Community College.

What I find interesting about returning to college is that, with all my experience, I know what I want to be when I grow up. My current major is quite different from the one I chose 22 years ago.

As a curious young man I entered college to major in psychology. And today, I am graduating with a major in labor and employment studies. I have even been fortunate to be offered a permanent position with the Carpenters’ Union in labor compliance upon graduation. In this capacity I will put the skills and knowledge I gained at San Francisco State to help working people again.

I did not know what to expect as a nontraditional full time student at SF State, but my goal was to put the same effort into my education as I put into my work. I was awarded several University scholarships, as well as the Bernard Osher Reentry Scholarship. Receiving money to help with school affirmed my belief I had made the right decision.

In my first semester, I was fortunate to take a GWAR course where I learned valuable research and writing skills. I was not a natural when it came to these skills, but after many revisions and hard work, I entered my final paper for the class into the David Selvin Student Essay contest and won first prize for undergraduates.

Because I improved my writing skills so much, I was able to begin an internship with The Alliance for Labor Standards Enforcement and Training. Run by two prominent women labor and employment lawyers, this educational website helps working people understand workplace rights, and enforces them when necessary. In this capacity I wrote tutorials in both public works investigation and enforcement.

As an SF State student I have been able to put my education first. Education is not like a job that you leave when your shift is over. You can always do more to improve a paper or study for a class. I did not want to miss the opportunity to see what I was capable of after having dropped out 22 years ago.

While there are many opportunities for distraction—when friends are out for the night, or making weekend plans—I always stayed true to my goals. The ideals that made me a good and dedicated father made me the successful student who will graduate and fulfill a dream today. I have…had the honor of earning a position on the Dean’s list for three consecutive semesters. I will always look back on my experience here as an example of how to pursue my future endeavors with the same level of dedication and enthusiasm.

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Management Undergraduate Honoree

Jared Funkhouser

Jared Funkhouser didn’t plan to go to college at all. 

Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, he graduated from high school and felt he’d taken all the flack he needed to for being one of the bright kids. But after Jared moved to California, a friend of his took sign language courses at a community college, and that sounded like fun.

That initial discovery led Jared from classes in art history, to business and an associate’s degree. 

When he arrived at San Francisco State, the management concentration appealed to him because of its focus on leadership. That turned out to be a great fit, as several of his professors remember watching Jared lead project teams with quiet strength, and noted that he was one of the top academic performers in their classes. 

Several years of working in the hospitality industry led him to his current position as a manager in an upscale pub he describes as a “beer geek’s paradise.” 

Describing his work, Jared says he discovered that he is “a fixer.” When there’s an issue at work, he says, “I always like to identify the underlying problem and fix it, instead of just bashing away at it.”

Now that an MBA program is in his future, Jared describes his management philosophy in simple terms. “I want to learn how to turn a business idea into something that works for everyone involved.”

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Marketing Undergraduate Honoree

Ian Mallie

Ian Mallie began his professional career working in the restaurant and service industry where he developed his skills as a chef and leader. Today, Ian is lead chef and on-site manager for a prestigious North Bay catering firm.

While he had taken a few classes part-time with an eye on earning his bachelor’s degree, the courses didn’t seem relevant enough to justify the costs of giving up his successful food industry career, so Ian quit school. Despite his early success in business, Ian always felt like something was missing, and he hoped someday to return to school and earn his degree.

Sadly, it took the death of his grandfather, and a small inheritance, for Ian to restart his academic career. Wanting to use this gift for something that would make his grandfather proud, Ian decided to invest in his education by cutting back on work hours and resuming coursework at San Francisco State. 

Having worked in a management capacity in the demanding food service industry, Ian suddenly found college exciting, invigorating and useful, earning straight As in his marketing courses and consistently making the Dean’s list. 

In addition to his professional, academic and catering work, Ian enjoys volunteering his time to help those less fortunate. Having spent the summers of his adolescence volunteering at a camp for the developmentally disabled, Ian continues to help nonprofit organizations through his employer, who provides catering support for a number of non-profit organizations in the North Bay. 

Additionally, Ian has traveled to Chicago to volunteer with the organization City Year that helps inner-city schools and at-risk children in need of academic help. In his spare time, Ian enjoys creative writing with an emphasis on screenwriting, and hopes to integrate this passion into his future in marketing.

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