College of Business {College of Business}

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College of Business Undergraduate Department Honorees Announced

News + Events : College of Business Undergraduate Department Honorees Announced


The College of Business congratulates the Undergraduate Department Honorees for 2008.

Each year the department’s top performers are selected by the college’s academic departments from its graduating seniors. These students will receive special recognition from the university during commencement week. In addition, one student is selected as the college’s Undergraduate Hood Recipient, to be recognized at commencement.

We extend our congratulations and best wishes to each student!

Bachelor of Science in Business Administration

  • Andrew Hines, Decision Sciences, and Undergraduate Hood Recipient
  • Robert Kellett, Accounting
  • Aaron Augustis, Finance
  • Philip Mak, Information Systems
  • Ching Guoa (Norman) Guan, International Business
  • Saloomah Vargha, Management
  • Fred McFadden, Marketing

Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management

  • Katarína Burton, Hospitality Management


Andrew Hines—Decision Sciences, Undergraduate Hood Recipient


Anderw Hines

From surfboard entrepreneur to SF State’s dual degree undergraduate to admission to Stanford’s PhD program—that has been Andrew Hines’ journey over the last three years. As a teenager who was not engaged by school, Andrew started Apex Precision Surfboards, manufacturing surfboards using an advanced computer-aided design technology. The innovative approach caught the attention of the market and the company grew so quickly that he almost neglected to graduate from high school.

Based on Apex’s success, Andrew received an attractive offer not long after high school graduation and accepted a position with a competing surfboard company at an attractive salary with stock options, travel and many other “perks.” College was not part of his plans. But six months later, when the company founder launched into an explosive argument with the primary investor, that company went “poof.”

At nineteen, Andrew reconsidered college and decided to enroll in SF State as a business administration major. To his surprise, he found his new academic career interesting, engaging and fun, and he experienced a new-found satisfaction in learning. After taking a lower level Decision Sciences course, he switched his concentration to that discipline, and committed himself to completing all his college course work as quickly as possible. He maintained such an outstanding academic record that his petitions each semester to exceed the maximum allowable unit load were always approved. As Andrew says: “Rise, study, eat, repeat. That was my rhythm and I loved it.”

Another Decision Sciences course introduced Andrew to the benefit of applying analytical techniques to solve industry problems and address complex issues of economic competitiveness, social equity and environmental protection. He became so captivated by the possibilities that he decided to pursue an additional bachelor’s degree in Statistics in the College of Science and Engineering, in addition to his business administration degree.

In addition to his superb academic performance, Andrew demonstrated his leadership capabilities with the successful launch of the Decision Sciences Students Association at San Francisco State and a tutoring program for freshman students majoring in business. While pursuing his studies, Andrew took a job writing a business column for CNET Networks and later worked in the Analytical Modeling and Forecasting group at Cisco Systems. He was offered a full-time position at Cisco but decided instead to pursue a new dream: a PhD. Andrew has been accepted into the PhD program in Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University, one of the leading programs in the United States.

His professor says, “Of all the students I have seen at San Francisco State, I can say that Andrew has the highest intellectual ability and the best capacity for critical thinking. The combination of his excellent intellectual ability, his never-ending urge to explore new directions, his leadership and communications skills, and his charming and engaging personality make him a truly unique graduate, the best I have seen in over twenty years.”

Robert Kellett—Accounting

Robert Kellett

Robert Kellet’s long path to becoming the first member of his family to obtain a college education was not an easy one due to the personal adversity associated with the collapse of his family’s business. Over the years that followed, Robert demonstrated his dedication to obtaining an education by taking classes piecemeal from various institutions of differing caliber. In each setting, Robert exhibited his ability to adapt to new circumstances while persevering academically. Fortunately, Robert’s efforts lead him to SF State’s College of Business and the Accounting program, where he has a near-perfect academic record.

The nontraditional nature of Robert’s educational pursuit has allowed him to develop a unique professional pedigree that exceeds that of his peers. He has been exposed to technical issues as a computer systems programmer for PacBell. He has also worked in the corporate setting for GATX Capital Corp. and IBM. More recently, Robert worked as an intern with the Bay Area firm, Novogradac and Co. His diverse experience as well as his personal drive and dedication also fostered his entrepreneurial business pursuits. Robert’s intellectual curiosity and willingness to explore areas new to him are evident in his work on independent film projects as a videographer, editor and production manager.

Robert has also been quite active on campus and in the community. He has been a member of both accounting student organizations, Beta Alpha Psi and Accounting Students’ Organization. These organizations have provided Robert with exposure to the accounting profession and have enabled him to foster his leadership skills through participation in group projects, community outreach events and social gatherings. Nevertheless, Robert has continued his individual community involvement as a member of the Board of Directors of San Francisco Suicide Prevention and assists the organization as a nightline suicide counselor.

His professor says, “Robert was without question the best student I have had the pleasure of teaching at San Francisco State University. His ability to ask and answer difficult questions was truly impressive. Robert worked well with his group members, addressed difficult issues and submitted high-quality work products that received the highest marks in the class. To find a more dedicated, hard-working and intelligent individual amongst our graduates would prove a difficult, if not an altogether impossible task.”

Aaron Augustis—Finance

Aaron Augustis

Aaron Augustis deployed to Iraq in 2003 for seven months and can attest to the 24/7 schedule a soldier must follow. As a sergeant responsible for a three man combat engineer team, he had to make command decisions under pressure in a war-time situation. He tells potential employers that he is not afraid of long hours, and knows what it is like to work around the clock. The military experience taught him to maintain maximum flexibility and adaptability because situations can change on a moment’s notice.

Upon his return from Iraq, Aaron embarked upon his studies at San Francisco State, majoring in business administration with a concentration in corporate finance and attaining an excellent academic record. He has applied the discipline and focus he learned in the military to his academic career and to his interest in a career in finance. He has taken a challenging set of elective courses in order to strengthen his readiness for the industry, has traveled to New York to visit Wall Street and the commodities exchange floor to experience firsthand what he has studied, and has done the same in San Francisco to learn more about the trading and institutional sales side of investment banking.

One of Aaron’s finance professors says: “He is extraordinary intelligent and aced every test in my class. He is excellent at quantitative analysis, especially when applying finance principles and concepts to real world issues. I believe his good performance comes from his inquisitive nature and his passion for learning.”

Aaron is currently seeking a position in the finance industry. His letter of introduction says it all: “My military and academic experience will provide your company with an experienced leader, functional multi-tasker, and a highly motivated and professional individual willing to do what it takes to get the job done.”

Katarína Burton—Hospitality Management

Katarina Burton

Born Katarína Cižmárová in a small town on the eastern edge of then-Communist Slovakia, Katarina Burton was raised in a loving family by honest, hard-working parents.

As a young woman, she left the village in pursuit of adventure, and spent time in the capitals of Europe: Paris, London, and Prague. As time passed, however, the lessons from home held, and she found herself longing more and more to make a contribution. After casting around in jobs from waitress to receptionist to bartender, she tried working as a front desk agent at the Prague Hilton. Suddenly something clicked, and she found where her talent, her enjoyment, and her wish to do something more come together: in treating other people.

If there is one cultural value of her homeland that Katarína respects most deeply, it is the respect and comfort given to a guest. Many cultures can claim this of course, from the time of the ancient Greeks, but in Central Europe it is more than politeness or obligation, it is an act of warmth and openness that makes a guest almost part of the family. Hospitality is more than a field of study, or even a life calling: it is a philosophy of life that spans boundaries and blends the best of traditional and modern.

But values and instincts are only a beginning: at SFSU Katarína strove to attain the formal background and expertise needed to bring these to their highest development. With graduation fast approaching, and her employment already begun at the San Francisco Ritz-Carlton, Katarína’s dream and goal is to bring her deep background in the culture of hospitality to the hospitality business.

Phillip Mak—Information Systems

Ching Guoa (Norman) Guan—International Business

Norman Guan

Norman grew up in Taiwan, in Taichung and Taipei and after attending commercial college there, he worked for China Airlines as a flight attendant for six years, which took him to the US, Europe, Australia, SE Asia, and Japan. In that position, he flew frequently to San Francisco and became so attracted to the Bay Area that when he decided to return to college to complete his studies, he selected SF State to pursue a degree in business administration.

The job for China Airlines allowed Norman to meet many interesting people from various countries, and to learn about different customs and cultures. It also focused his interests and helped him decide to study international business. The concentration in International Business was a logical choice for Norman as the Taiwan international business community is large and diverse and his international business studies should be very helpful in his job search upon returning to Taiwan.

Norman says, “It is hard to focus on one thing I like best about SF State. First, I very much like the concept of general education courses in so many different subjects and disciplines. Initially, I was surprised and even a little upset that it would take me two years to just satisfy all those requirements. But now, looking back, I see how much I learned and that it helped me a lot when I began taking courses more related to my business major. Second, I liked the variety of courses that I had to take in my business major, and the opportunity that gave me to meet so many different professors. I think having many different professors, each with their own background and viewpoint, helped me grow intellectually and professionally.”

Norman’s decision five years ago to study at SF State also enriched his personal life because it led him to his life partner, who he met here in San Francisco. They will both be

moving back to Taiwan in a few months where Norman plans find a job that will help him continue to grow in the business world and allow him to apply what he has learned at SF State. His long-term plans include returning to school for a master’s degree (perhaps MBA) or doctorate in finance or marketing.

Saloomeh Vargha—Management

Saloomeh Vargha

Saloomeh Vargha is a first generation immigrant to the United States, arriving in 2001 and hoping to realize her childhood dreams of becoming a lawyer and helping others. In her home country of Iran, she was deprived of going to university because of her culturally unacceptable religion (Bahai Faith.) Her childhood was filled with anxieties and nightmares due to incidences with school administrators berating and pressuring her to conform.

In hindsight these pressures might actually have made her stronger and more resilient, instead of hindering her love of learning. She excelled at biology, chemistry and mathematics, and saw learning as a door that would open to a better life and a better vision of the world. Yet attending university was impossible unless she bowed to the authorities and denied her faith.

She spent eight of the hardest months of her life in Turkey as a refugee, surviving a harsh winter in austere conditions while waiting for the American Embassy to interview and declare her refugee status. She says those rough times make her deeply appreciate the little things in life, and her passion for learning is even more prevalent than before.

Saloomeh continually added great value to her classes at SF State with her strong personal code of ethics, quiet dignity and professionalism. Her professor says “Saloomeh's participation in class was not just for the sake of participation, but her contributions always touched deeper levels and moved the discussion forward. She embodies a quiet dignity and confidence that influences others for good."

Fred McFadden—Marketing

Fred McFadden

Mahatma Gandhi’s words, “You must be the change you want to see in the world”, have inspired Fred McFadden to get involved in society and attempt to be a catalyst for positive change.

After high school, Fred held customer service, sales and sales management positions with several different organizations. After experiencing the loss of someone dear to him and being hospitalized himself, he realized he needed to fulfill a dream that had been on the back burner: college. Graduating with a major in business administration and a concentration in marketing, Fred has been accepted to SF State’s MBA program for fall 2008. His ultimate goal is to pursue a Ph.D. and eventually teach at the university level.

Fred has had a near-perfect academic record at SF State, demonstrating a thorough grasp of the subject matter through his class performance, presentations and written work, indicating strong leadership, creativity and interpersonal skills. One of his professors says, “His overall peer evaluations in class were exceptional and he was regarded as a productive and motivated team player and leader by his peers. He is open-minded, friendly, articulate, and versatile. I consider him a role model for other students.”

During his studies, Fred has continued his practice, of the last 20 years, of giving back to the community through participating in volunteer activities and donating to causes. His involvement has ranged from volunteering at St. Anthony’s Dining Room in the past, to sponsoring a child in the Dominican Republic for the last 7 years, to strolling with his family through Golden Gate Park at the annual SF AIDS Walk. Fred says, “I vote in every election because I want to see a world where all citizens play an active part in choosing their leaders. I support Doctors without Borders because I want poor people around the world to have access to quality medical care. Through involvement in activities such as these, and others, I strive to fulfill my societal responsibilities. “

He is looking forward to graduation and having his three nieces (Jazmine, Mariah and Isabela), “who inspire him to do his best”, share his graduation day with him. He hopes the event will be another opportunity to motivate his nieces to follow in his footsteps and pursue a college education. He strives to be a role model for them and other young people.

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