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FEMBA Class of 2021 Representatives

Kay Gonzales and Abraham Chen

Kay Gonzales and Abraham Chen, recently elected class representatives for the CSUSM FEMBA Class of 2021, share how they came to CSUSM and how they are bringing the cohort together in the new virtual format!

Tell us a little about your careers and what brought you to CSUSM?

Kay: I work at Thermo Fisher Scientific as an Associate Director of Alliance Management.  I've spent most of my career focused on precision medicine to support cancer diagnostics and love that I get to combine my scientific background with building relationships and supporting innovations in oncology that directly impact patients.  Since I have a background in molecular biology but work on the business side, I've been considering an MBA for a long time to increase my skills.  When I found out there was a great, affordable MBA program just 15 minutes from home and work that had a comprehensive program and was designed for working professionals, I knew I'd found the right place for me. 

Abraham: I spent 6 years at Illumina as a Sr Customer Service Rep, then joined Codex DNA, a start-up Biotech company, in the same role this month. In my daily work, I dive deep into the order fulfillment process: the complex framework that moves products from the assembly line into customer's hands. Simultaneously, I interact with people every day, both with external customers and with internal partners. I call it "marrying people with process" and that is what I love most about my job. I joined the FEMBA program at CSUSM because I realized that taking big steps in your career requires investment far in advance. Before joining the program, I genuinely did not know where I wanted to go next in my career. If I'm being honest, I still don't! However, I knew that I needed to invest in something that opens the most doors when opportunity comes knocking in the future.


What inspired you to be the class representatives?

Technically, you should be asking our fellow classmates why they volunteered us! In all seriousness, the cohort model is one of the major reasons we both chose the FEMBA program, and we want to make the most of it.  Our cohort represents 40 of our potential future colleagues or even board members.  By becoming the cohort representatives, we have the opportunity to be leaders among future business leaders, and find opportunities to add value to the MBA program for everyone.  Being cohort reps also provides the opportunity to build a network with the great CSUSM professors and staff.

What are you excited to do as the class representatives?

We are excited to plan networking events for our cohort, especially in this virtual environment.  We're also excited to bring feedback to the CSUSM leadership as we're the first fully virtual (so far) FEMBA class so they can continue to improve the experience for future cohorts.  We also enjoy planning fun events to celebrate our progress like virtual happy hours and a potential socially-distanced holiday party later this quarter.   

Do you have a favorite MBA memory so far?

Despite the fact that we originally had some concerns about an online MBA program, we've truly enjoyed getting to know one another through interactions via Slack and Zoom (best for virtual happy hours).  Watching themed group presentations in BA611 with Dr.Deboskey (cruise ship attire was a highlight), speed dating our classmates in BA616 with Dr.McCarthy (ironically the HR course!), and our MPA Slack channel (Masters of Pet Appreciation) are some memories that stand out from our past five months together!