Working to Become

2016 Undergraduate Commencement


When it comes to actually achieving your heart’s desire, tenacity turns out to be a common theme.

Jesse Nebres, a double accounting and finance major, was methodical in working on connections in order to gain a competitive edge.

Mackenzie Dandoy, who walked the commencement stage to accept her dual BS/BA degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering, was certain that the happiest place on earth was the place for her.

Jimmy Bried, who just earned his BBA in marketing, was just as clear about what he didn’t want as what he did want.

While these three newly minted USD graduates took different paths to reach their goal, each praises the university for helping them hone the tools they need to succeed.

Nebres, a Los Angeles native, was drawn to become a Torero due to the School of Business’ excellent reputation. “Generous financial aid helped too,” he admits.

Working in conjunction with the Career Development Center, he had multiple internship offers from big accounting firms, including Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCooper, but he set his sites on Ernest & Young (EY) after an internship the summer between junior and senior year.

“I made a lot of friends there, and received an offer to work on the audit side, but where I really wanted to be was transactional advisory services. I was told early on that this was a very competitive area.”

So he got creative. “I found a USD alumnus, Andy Kaestle ’09 (BBA), on LinkedIn, who had worked in that area at EY.I called him up and he was super enthusiastic about coaching me through the process.”

It worked. Nebres, armed with the inside scoop, wound up getting an offer for the incredibly competitive position. He starts his job in downtown Los Angeles this summer with a comfortable starting salary. “And it’s just a few blocks from the Staples Center,” he laughs. “I am definitely going to catch some games.”

Watch a video of Jesse talking about his path to the future.


Mackenzie Dandoy always loved math and science. “My mom thought I should be an engineer. I thought she was wrong.”

As it turns out, Mom really did know best. “I had planned to major in business, but my first semester, I took an engineering class and completely fell in love.”

Another love was all things Disney. “I love everything about them.” A YouTube video, “Industrial Engineering the Magic at Disney,” helped her hone in on her major. “It showed me a direct path to what I wanted to do, which was work at Disney.”

So Dandoy set about making her dream come true. She auditioned for the Disney College program and earned a spot in the entertainment division, as a friend of Chip and Dale. She took the fall semester of junior year off from school to make it happen. Her decision was practical; not only did she get paid a living wage, but was able to make crucial connections.

Since then, she’s interned with three different departments at the company, taking off an additional semester from USD. “I’m graduating a year late, but it’s well worth it. It’s really hard to get your foot in the door of Disney engineering. But once they know you, it’s all about relationships.”

Speaking of which … “Yes, I met my fiancé at an engineering class at Disney,” she admits. The couple will take up residence in Orlando after their June wedding, and Dandoy starts her new job in Disney’s Revenue Management Department on July 1.

“I can’t wait,” she says. “I love the idea that they’re a company that actually creates happiness.”

Watch a video of Mackenzie talking about her journey.



Jimmy Bried knows exactly when the wheels fell off the cart. As a first-year at the University of Arizona, he dove headfirst into the party scene. By the time he emerged, it was to enter rehab, where he remained until the age of 21.

Looking back from the perspective of one who’s been clean and sober for four years, Bried is excited about the life he’s created for himself. “I worked construction at first and took a few classes,” he recalls. “When I decided that I didn’t want to swing a hammer forever, my boss had an enormous influence in convincing me to go back to school full time.”

He came to USD as a transfer student in the spring of 2014. It wasn’t necessarily easy. “I was behind the curve in terms of academics. I figured out pretty quick I needed to sit in the front row and go to office hours. Oh, and hold myself accountable as a sober person.”

Bried credits the Career Development Center for keeping him on track. He followed the center’s advice about being strategic when it came to getting an internship the summer after his junior year.

“I got an internship at Stryker Sustainability Solutions, which was huge, since it was the one sales intern opportunity available throughout the entire company.”

Upon graduation, Bried was able to choose between job offers, ultimately accepting a major account executive position with CareerBuilder’s Phoenix office. The starting salary is exceptional, with major incentive bonuses to sweeten the deal.

“I’m so grateful to USD,” he says. “They knew my background and took a chance on me. I can’t wait to see what my future holds.” — Julene Snyder

Watch a video of Jimmy talking about how he got here from there.

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