The College of Business congratulates and extends best wishes to the ten undergraduate honorees of the graduating Class of 2018.
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, Megan Elizabeth Larkin is the college's undergraduate hood recipient, to be recognized at Commencement.
Read about the ten undergraduate honors recipients:
Megan Elizabeth Larkin, 2018 College of Business Undergraduate Hood Recipient
Department of Accounting
Megan Elizabeth Larkin is a lifelong San Franciscan who has always had a passion for working with numbers. When applying for college, she chose to pursue accounting as a way to enhance her knowledge and apply her skills towards helping companies operate in a financially sustainable way.
During her freshmen year, Megan joined the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, a nationally recognized IRS program that provides free tax return preparation to low-income, elderly, limited English proficient, and disabled individuals. During her sophomore year, she became the youngest supervisor in the VITA program. Megan helped explain the tax concepts and implications so they could better plan for their future.
Following her junior year, Megan interned with PricewaterhouseCoopers on their Industry Tax Practice team, where she filed tax returns for both corporations and individuals as well as performed research to determine the best practices for clients. She was offered a full time position at the end of her internship and will begin with the company in January, following the completion of her CPA exam.
For this coming summer, Megan has been offered a Labor Capital Strategies Internship with KPS through the Kalmanovitz Institute at Georgetown. In this position, she will help the private equity investment team identify prospective investments and prepare the relevant accounting. Throughout her entire college career, Megan has been a Dean’s List student and was accepted as a member of Beta Gamma Sigma for her high GPA.
Department of Decision Sciences
Hoa Nguyen came from a poor village in Vietnam seven years ago. She pursued a dual major in decision sciences and finance with an emphasis in data analytics despite having financial difficulties, language barriers, and culture shock.
Hoa believes that real success is helping others succeed so she joined the Decision Sciences Student Association. Elected as Treasurer, she helped form study groups, organized fundraisers, and arranged guest speaker events and career workshops. She contributes to her community by volunteering at Habitat for Humanity, teaching Vietnamese at Huong Viet Community, and tutoring free online courses for students.
In Vietnam, Hoa saw numerous friends drop out of school from lack of encouragement and financial unaffordability. Facing such poverty, she was determined to break that vicious cycle and pursue a college education with an iron will.
At San Francisco State, Hoa pursued decision sciences because of its main powerful problem-solving tools: forecasting, simulation, and optimization. She hopes to give back to the community by doing more data-driven research to analyze poverty effects, to predict the numbers of students dropping out of school, and to maximize fund use efficiency. She will utilize her finance knowledge by implementing solutions that meet financial goals and wishes to apply her findings not only in the United States but also in emerging economies. Finally, Hoa will continue working hard to prove that education should not be a pipe dream; but, instead, education is essential and can be accessible to everyone.
Department of Economics
Mage Cyrus believes that pursuing her education is one of the most gratifying accomplishments in her life. However, it took her a few years to be able to take the first step in continuing her education, since after immigrating to the U.S., she needed to focus on working and earning money. As a banker at Chase Bank, she showed great skill which earned her the National Achiever award, given only to the top one hundred bankers in the country. Later, she worked at Wells Fargo as an Online Business Specialist, where she won the Star Performer award for demonstrating outstanding service and excellence to customers, team members, and shareholders.
Although Mage had become a very successful banker, she always wanted to be an activist and to do more in her life. Therefore, she decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in economics at San Francisco State to learn more about policies, laws and regulations in the country she had immigrated to. Here, she often enrolled in challenging courses and tried to work with professors who had expertise in her areas of interest.
Mage is graduating summa cum laude and aspires to complete her master’s degree in economics at SF State next year before attending law school. Her dream is to be a lawyer, to fight injustice, and to give a voice to those who need it.
Department of Finance
Haiyin Huang, born and raised in China, migrated to the US with her family when she was 10 years old. Diligence and passion are the two characteristics which best reflect her as an individual. She believes that the price of success is hard work and that a dedicated person is a valuable asset to society.
After she enrolled in the finance program at San Francisco State, Haiyin quickly realized how powerful the combination of programming and financial skills are to solve problems. Thus, in her sophomore year, she decided to pursue a minor in computer science. Her strong academic performance earned her recognition on the Dean’s List every semester and an invitation to join Beta Gamma Sigma, an international honor society that recognizes academic excellence in business studies. Haiyin plans to pursue higher education in the financial engineering field and aspires to become an influential female engineer in Silicon Valley.
In addition to her academic accomplishments, Haiyin served as treasurer of Financial Analysis & Management Education (FAME). In FAME, she helped coordinate the annual meeting as well as activities that provided opportunities for students to meet working business professionals and to learn about the business world. In Haiyin’s senior year, she decided to explore new cultures by studying abroad at the American Business School of Paris in France. The experience broadened her mind and deepened her learning, making her more independent in solving real-life problems.
Department of Hospitality & Tourism Management
Jinghua Mai (MJ) was born in China and immigrated to the United States with her family in 2010. She is a first-generation college student in her family so she carries expectations from her parents to succeed and graduate from San Francisco State.
After moving to the United States, she felt an urge to learn English as quickly as possible to cope with schoolwork and to communicate with others. Therefore, she spent her days and nights reading English books, watching movies in English, and writing often. During that time, she was often sad because it was difficult to learn so furiously while trying to remain in touch with her friends in China.
When MJ entered SF State, she was not sure she would major in Business; however, in her second year, she changed her concentration to hospitality and tourism management as she realized her growing interest in the travel field. Additionally, she truly enjoys helping others and making them happy. She believes that doing something you like can brighten up life and create meaningful experiences.
MJ is very thankful for her friends and family who have supported her throughout her academic journey. After graduation, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in business and gain additional traveling experience, which will allow her to better develop her career in the hospitality industry. She looks forward to contributing her knowledge to her future work.
Nadim Omied Ebadi
Department of Information Systems
Nadim Omied Ebadi is an Information Systems major at San Francscio State, graduating in spring 2018. Both of his parents were born and raised in Afghanistan and later immigrated to the US during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. He was born and raised in California, where his parents dedicated themselves to providing him with a successful life, and for that, he is forever grateful.
Throughout his life, Nadim has always been fascinated with technology, especially with computer systems. As the rise of the Digital Age became more prominent, his fascination with technology continued to grow further. Due to his experience and interest in technology from an early age, he decided to major in information systems, allowing him to continue to work within information technology. He began his studies at Los Medanos Community College and transferred to San Francisco State in the Fall 2015 semester to obtain his B.S. degree.
Throughout his time at SF State, Nadim formed new friendships, both with students and professors, took great interest in and strived in his academic studies, and had the opportunity to explore the city of San Francisco. In regards to some of his hobbies, Nadim enjoys working with computers and has built several desktop computers in his spare time. He has also been dedicated to bodybuilding for three to four years and enjoys spending quality time with family and relatives.
Kona Melissa Kawai
Department of International Business
Kona Melissa Kawai was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. At the age of 15, she left her family and friends in Japan to move to San Francisco. When she first moved to the U.S., she did not have any English skills. She studied hard to learn the language and overcome cultural differences. Kona graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco in 2014. During her high school years, she met people with different backgrounds and beliefs and became more interested in learning about diversity. Although she initially planned to go back to Japan after high school, she decided to stay and study international business at San Francisco State.
Throughout her college years, Kona has been working at a Japanese restaurant as a server and discovered her passion for customer service and hospitality. In 2017, she decided to add a minor in hospitality management.
During her junior year at SF State, Kona participated in the Northern California Cherry Blossom Queen Program, which is dedicated to young Japanese/Japanese-American women to develop leadership and community service skills. She volunteered at various events for a year to help the Japanese-American community thrive. Through this cultural program, she was able to learn more about Japanese-American history and culture. She also gained leadership, teamwork, and communication skills. Kona’s next goal is to work in a business field where she can serve as a bridge between Japan and the United States.
Labor & Employment Studies Program
Born in Russia, Alisa Pokrovsky moved to Israel with her mother at the age of four in the late nineties. When she was ten, they moved to the Bay Area after winning the green card lottery. These immigrations made Alisa question how different her childhood might have been if her mother had access to better working conditions and improved training opportunities. For that reason, she decided to pursue a career in workforce development and to focus on Labor and Employment Studies.
Alisa already has significant experience in workforce development. She first worked at Diablo Valley College (DVC) Careers Office where she connected students with employment opportunities and helped them transfer to universities and vocational schools. She then worked for United Contractors, spearheading recruitment efforts for 270 unionized contractors and assisting with contract negotiations and research. While there, she completed her studies at DVC and transferred to San Francisco State.
While studying at SF State, Alisa has received several awards. In summer 2017, she was accepted into a Cornell University research program on corporate labor relations strategies. In fall 2017, she was awarded a paid internship with the San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement, which was intended for a graduate student, where she conducted data analysis on city labor and employment laws. Based on her outstanding academic and professional achievements, Alisa received the Zetoony Labor Studies Scholarship in 2017–2018 and worked as a teaching and research assistant for the Labor and Employment Studies program. Alisa plans to continue pursuing labor studies by obtaining a graduate degree.
Jefferson (Jake) Trevor Van Vorhis
Department of Management
The oldest of six children, Jefferson (Jake) Trevor Van Vorhis knew responsibility at a young age. His family adopted three young girls while he was in high school so he learned about unconditional love and the joy of adoption firsthand from his three new sisters.
After graduating from high school, Jake went to a community college for a year and a half and worked in a restaurant to save up enough to get married just after his 20th birthday to his high school sweetheart of four years. By managing a hardwood flooring store as well as selling San Francisco real estate as a Realtor—both before the age of 22—he supported his wife while finishing his undergraduate degree in Business Management. A month before finishing his degree, he joined a three-year-old "bootstrapped" property management startup as COO & Head of Growth.
Passionate about sustainability, ethics in business, providing customers with an unbelievable purchasing experience, and how innovation can positively impact society, Jake plans to spend his career working to make a positive impact on the world through business and entrepreneurial activity. A quote that Jake loves and lives by is from Jim Elliot: "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."
Chelsea Yiun Sze Teng
Department of Marketing
Chelsea Yiun Sze Teng was born and raised in Malaysia but immigrated to the United States when she was 19 years old. With the emergence of many creative marketing platforms that allow companies to reach their target audience, she decided to major in marketing to pursue her interest and love for content creation.
As a highly motivated and career-driven individual, Chelsea always makes sure she is constantly improving herself professionally and individually. She is currently the vice president of marketing at the professional business fraternity, Alpha Kappa Psi, which has given her many opportunities to take on leadership roles as well as providing her a home away from home. This role allows her to give back to the community. For example, she helped Alpha Kappa Psi with their annual Heart Beats Benefit concert that raised funds for the Organization of Autism Research. She has also interned in the President’s Office at San Francisco State. Currently, she is helping the Marketing department organize the 2018 Marketing Expo.
Chelsea believes she has the passion and the drive to achieve her goals in life by working hard. In the future, she hopes she can use her marketing knowledge and skills learned at SF State in the beauty industry. This will not only allow her to have a career in a field that she has a passion for but also to be a part of the beauty community to help women worldwide embrace themselves for who they are with self-confidence.