Confidence Builder

USD School of Business alumnus Austin Dias


Austin Dias ’16 (MS) sets the bar high. He exemplifies the amount of scholarship support that real estate students can apply for and obtain through the Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate. He stands out for many reasons, but his impressive background and community involvement made him a standout candidate for a vast number of scholarships.

During his undergraduate studies at California State University, Channel Islands (CI), Austin was selected by CI President Richard Rush as a university representative at the Panetta Institute for Public Policy, which provides a variety of study opportunities in government, politics and public policy, and sponsors a range of other programs. Austin studied under former Secretary Panetta in Monterey, California and then interned for Congressman Brian Bilbray of San Diego in Washington, DC. Dias earned his undergraduate degree in business with an emphasis in entrepreneurship and a second degree in political science from CI.

Following completion of his undergraduate degree, he returned to San Diego and worked at the San Diego Yacht Club, running the junior racing program for two years. He also owned a residential brokerage firm selling homes.

 Dias knew he wanted to further his real estate career, and he’d always had an interest in graduate school. In 2015, he learned about the Master of Science in Real Estate (MSRE) program at the University of San Diego School of Business. He took the GMAT exam, applied to the MSRE program and was accepted into the 2016 MSRE cohort. He says that the MSRE program helped him obtain the technical and analytical skills that professionals in the real estate industry must have.

“I was attracted to USD’s MSRE program because it stood out as a well-rounded program,” Dias says. “Students come out very polished and are ready to jump into a career. The MSRE program gives students the foundation to do almost anything in real estate.”

The Meaning of Scholarships

While at USD, Austin was awarded The James T. Gianulis Memorial Scholarship, the USD Real Estate Alumni Association Scholarship, the Mickey Carhart Memorial/NAIOP Scholarship, the BIA Cares Scholarship and the California Homebuilding Foundation Scholarship.

“The Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate does an incredible job of making the scholarships process very easy,” he says. “All of the scholarships are available on the website and the center has a dedicated professional to assist students with the process. Getting the collective $30,000 in scholarships was a great affirmation that the MSRE program was the right choice for me—I was truly honored. My reputation has been enhanced as a recipient of these prestigious scholarships.”

In 2017, Dias was asked to attend the California Homebuilding Foundation event to share how that scholarship had impacted his life and career.

“The event was very special to me,” he says. “Only a few people get to speak at their Hall of Fame Dinner event, so this was a great honor.”

Dias recommends that students invest the time to research each scholarship before applying.

“Spend time on the essays and research each organization or individual offering a scholarship — do your due diligence before submitting your application — the pay-off will be well worth it.”

Dias also attributes the success of the scholarship awards to his involvement in activities and the community. During his time at USD, he represented the university as an official blogger at the MIPIM property conference in Cannes, France. The event is the largest property conference in the world. Additionally, he was on the winning USD ARGUS University Challenge real estate team.

Building a Future in Real Estate

Dias is now vice president at Duhs Commercial, where he works with some of San Diego’s top investors, developers, tenants and landlords. He has been featured in the San Diego Daily Transcript as one of San Diego’s Top Commercial Leaders.

He credits the MSRE program for helping him to get in front of the top real estate professionals in the industry.

“When you’re in the program, you learn how to put a project together as a team and you get to meet developers in person,” he says. “This empowers students so that they are ready to get out there and execute real-life projects and not just read about them in the paper.”

Dias’ future is bright. He enjoys the variety of the projects he manages and the value they add to the community. “I enjoy finding a void in a community and finding a way to fill the void,” he says.

And he feels strongly that having an MSRE degree pays off. “I tell a lot of students that graduate school is a worthwhile investment and that it pays off even while in the program,” he says. “Each day I learned something new in class and subsequently I was involved with more complex transactions and sophisticated clients. I did more business when I was in the MSRE program than before. Better deals in combination with the incredible scholarship awards made the investment in a graduate degree pay off even faster than I ever anticipated.” — Kimberly Malasky


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