Tag Archives: Academic Success

Taz: Making Big Waves in SD and Brazil

Name: Jose Tomaz de Alencar

Country: Brazil

Major: Communications with a minor in International Business

Languages: Portuguese, Spanish, English, French


996885_318972594905494_1632919081_n (1)“My name is Jose Tomaz de Alencar and I am from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Coming from a family of five brothers, all of which have double-names (“nomes compostos”), each one of us has a nickname, mine being Taz. I picked up English at a very early age through private tutoring. Likewise, by traveling to Spanish-speaking countries and befriending Spanish-speaking people I learned a mixture of Portuguese and “Español”; I call it Portuñol. I was also fortunate enough to spend my high school years at the American School of Paris, where I picked up a little bit of French. When I came to college I was uncertain of what I wanted for my future. After many conversations with my family and peers I decided to pursue a path of entrepreneurship. My major at the University of San Diego is Communication Studies, with a minor in International Business.

12050_10151473194731636_226494511_nWhen applying for colleges I knew I wanted to study in California. My brother was studying in UC Santa Barbara at the time, and after a couple of visits I knew this was the place for me. I wanted the sunny weather and firing waves that I had experienced while visiting California. When I arrived, I was not surprised to see that was exactly what San Diego had in store for me. At first, I was solely focused on experiencing the luxurious lifestyle of a Californian. However, as I matured and grew intellectually, I noticed that all of the tools I need to succeed in this life are in the same environment in which I sunbathe and surf. Here, I am surrounded by innovative minds that constantly challenge one another–I have multiple entrepreneurial friends who have their own start-ups and have begun to see profit. Everyday I am enlightened by brilliant professors who challenge me in ways that I have never been pushed before. For the first time in my life, I have started to see what my future might look like. I was no longer worrying about the next party or the next wave, but rather my next steps toward pursuing a successful career.
1013108_10151477115471636_1353255079_n (1)I decided to take a semester abroad my Sophomore year to return to Brazil and be with my family. I went to the International Office to explore my options and was presented an opportunity to study abroad back home. This gave me the chance to attain credits while being with my family through some tough times. The staff helped make the transition smooth and stress-free. Coincidentally, USD’s corresponding PUCE University in Brazil happened to be the same university at which many of my friends were studying. I would be walking around campus and run into some surprised friends, often exclaiming, “What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be back in California?” It was intriguing to experience how different university classes were and a student life lacking an actual “community campus.” Overall, I loved experiencing the university in Brazil. More importantly, I loved being there for my family when they needed me most. I sincerely thank USD for the opportunity to studying ‘abroad’ when I needed to, as well as the opportunity to studying abroad here and experience the amazing Californian life.”

 -Jose Tomaz De Alencar

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(Photos by Jose Tomaz De Alencar)

Tips from Abdullah: Transitioning from Kuwait to a Master’s in Accounting at USD

Name: Abdullah Al-Owisi

Country: Kuwait

Major (s): I finished my undergraduate years with a finance major and an accounting minor. I am now finishing up my Master’s of Science in Accountancy (MACC)

Languages spoken: Arabic and English


I picked the University of San Diego firstly because it was on the list of approved schools I could attend under the scholarship from the Kuwaiti Ministry of Higher Education. The list of schools I could choose from was rather broad but choosing a school in the beautiful city of San Diego, which I had heard a lot about was easy. I had never been the United States prior to my college career but I had a friend who started college in San Diego before me. So I consulted him about San Diego in general and the University of San Diego in particular, he told me I shouldn’t think twice about coming here, and the rest is history.

In terms of transitioning from Kuwait to the United States, I thankfully did not face as much of a culture shock as I initially anticipated. Academically speaking, I had attended an American school my whole life back in Kuwait and so the academic setting required almost no adjustment whatsoever. Culturally speaking, it was the college culture that was relatively new to me. I think this is the same regardless of where you go to school, the transition from high school to university always requires some form of adjustment. For me personally the biggest difference was living alone for the first time in my life, away from my family, my friends, and my country. I was truly independent for the first time in my life, and I flourished with this newfound independence.

I had always had plans to pursue higher education and not stop at a bachelor’s degree. So after completing my four years of undergraduate studies, I stumbled upon the MACC program at USD. Due to my solid academic performance in my four undergrad years, I had qualified for a scholarship to pursue a Master’s degree. At the same time the job market back home in Kuwait was flooded with recent graduates, especially with business majors like myself. I needed to go one step further to distinguish myself from the other recent graduates and stand out from the pack. I can’t say I had had enough of San Diego at the end of my four-year adventure, but on the contrary. I was eager to stay. And so I applied for the MACC program at USD, and I got in. Being a numbers guy, I liked finance and accounting, and I did very well in those classes, so naturally I jumped at the opportunity to pursue the Masters of Science in Accountancy at my same school, USD.

The MACC program is only one year long so before I knew it I was staring at my last remaining months here in the United States. At this stage of my life, I had spent five years in undergraduate and graduate studies and was ready to enter the job market to apply all that I had learned. I welcomed the prospect of working in San Diego but acknowledged the potential difficulty regarding my international visa status. So I applied for the Optional Practical Training Program (OPT) and I am expecting to receive my card any day now. At this moment I am still engaged in the job search and I have accepted the obstacle set forth by my international student status. However, this does not discourage me any less to keep trying to find a job here and hopefully get the opportunity to prove myself in the American job market. If I feel I have a better opportunity to progress in my working career back home, then I am not hesitant to go with that. I had the disadvantage of starting my job search a little late as a piece of advice I would give to international students is to try and establish networking connections with employers early on in your academic career. I am looking forward to this new chapter in my life and I thank the University of San Diego for being my home for the last five years.

I wish all the USD students the best of luck in their current academic careers and future employment. Go Toreros!

-Abdullah Al-Owisi

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USD Staff Woman of Impact: Regina Bernal ‘12

From Inside USD:  The University of San Diego Women’s Center held its 17th Woman of Impact awards luncheon Dec. 5. Nominees in all categories — undergraduate student, graduate student, faculty, staff and administrators — attended and one winner per division emerged. Inside USD is spotlighting the five award recipients. This is the second article in the series.

When the discussion of what comprises an entrepreneur, several characteristics come to mind. Persistence. Motivated. Energized 24 hours, seven days a week. Always forward and positively thinking about being better. Remember the good and let it fuel you when things are stagnant or not going well.

“Entrepreneurs have a lot of unique traits,” Regina Bernal says. “My personality goes along very well with the people I work with here. We get things done. You’re always thinking, always talking, always communicating your ideas and trying to make them better. For me, what I do goes way beyond what is a job. Being entrepreneurial is a way of life.”

Bernal, a 2012 University of San Diego Communication Studies graduate, seemingly knows no other way to be. Her daily passion as the entrepreneurship and experiential learning coordinator within the School of Business Administration is always focused on what’s in the moment and what’s possible to make the future more successful.

Asked to describe the Woman of Impact Award she received in the USD staff member category and she answers it flawlessly and without hesitation.

“A Woman of Impact is someone who lives her truth every day. It’s simple, really. She dedicates her life to doing what she loves and doing it well,” she says.

There are many instances in which Bernal has demonstrated those words and has translated it into action.

• She’s helped the Fall USD Legacy Entrepreneurship Conference grow in popularity and importance among students, alumni and entrepreneurs throughout San Diego after only two years.

• Bernal is the coordinator for the spring event, the Venture Vetting (V2) Pitch Competition, which has steadily grown as a celebration of business entrepreneurship with a “Shark Tank” approach. The event has served the winning students well, raising their business idea’s worth and profile significantly with increased investor interest.

• Bernal, born in Mexico City, helped introduce an international initiative to the V2 program by adding a bi-national track with Mexico-based student entrepreneurs.

• She seized an opportunity to empower female entrepreneurs, by helping facilitate a “Women Investing in Women” two-day event on campus last summer.

“Regina’s tireless efforts to promote innovation across campus have motivated students toward their own social and business ventures,” says her nominator, who is kept anonymous by the USD Women’s Center. “Regina is definitely a woman of impact and the perfect person for this recognition!”

Bernal says winning the Woman of Impact award is humbling. She’s just as quick to credit others, including those who helped her while she was a USD student and, currently, Clinical Professor of Management Michael Lawless, who is the director of V2 and the Legacy Conference.

“Something I really loved about being a student at USD was having incredible mentors. I had incredible professors who were always available to help me,” says Bernal, who specifically mentioned current Office of International Students and Scholars Director Chia-Yen Lin, Communication Studies Professor and Department Chair Kristin Moran and the late Yolanda “Yolie” Ingle, who directed the office of international constituent relations and developed USD’s affinity alumni group Comité México, for their support and advice.

Lawless has been “an incredible part of my journey and a great mentor” as has marketing professor Thomas Yang.

Together, “They shaped me. I’m still so young and I have a lot to learn,” adds the 25-year-old Bernal, “but I feel so lucky to be around people who’ve helped me so much.”

Bernal’s thorough enjoyment as a communications major, which included a study abroad stint in Madrid, was another key to her success.

“I really, really liked going to school and the communications major was great. I also studied psychology. But I’ve always been amazed at the art of communication and how powerful it is. When I studied it, I thought it would be a great foundation for anything I’d want to do.”

Bernal further praised her USD education experience for the values it instilled while also training her to be effective in the business world.

“I think the most valuable thing about this university is that it doesn’t just train you professionally, but also as a person. I think that’s unique. Being in this really tight community gave me a strong foundation and I could reach out to mentors whenever I ever had a question or an issue. I always knew the resources were there.”

Bernal, in turn, wants to be a resource for others.

“I think that’s what made me want to stay at USD (after graduation). I really do think that through our work, we can change students’ lives and we can instill a seed to make them Changemakers for the future.”

One prime example of Bernal’s USD student time paying dividends now is the confidence she has as a public speaker.

“Communications really drives you to perfect your public speaking skills. It helped me step out of my comfort zone and be able to stand in front of people to tell them what I want to say.”

Communicating well helps her work better and smarter. She can network and work well with business company representatives who come to campus to speak to USD business students, faculty, staff and administrators. She’s more effective when she meets with campus community members to seek their interest and participation in V2 or legacy conference events.

And, knowing the importance of communication, Bernal can often slip into a mentoring role to offer good advice and encourage student entrepreneurs.

“An important part of one’s entrepreneurial journey is being able to tell your stories of success. It’s very important when it comes to delivering your pitch because you need to effectively communicate your ideas,” she says.

Spoken like a true entrepreneur who is a woman of impact.

— Ryan T. Blystone

From Morocco to San Diego: A Semester on Exchange

Name: Kenza Lyagoubi

Major: Business student double majoring in Finance and Marketing

Country: Morocco

Languages: Arabic, French and English.


“When I first enrolled in my university back home, I was not sure about whether or not to go on an exchange program. Being part of the national swimming team when I was a teenager gave me the opportunity to travel a lot around the world and discover new countries and cultures. I have always been curious about the different traditions, religions and way of living of other people. I have never been to United States before and that was the main reason why I choose this country.

Going on an exchange program at USD was the best decision I have ever made. I had the opportunity to meet people of different nationalities, backgrounds and cultures, thus I learned a lot of their traditions, beliefs and practices. In addition to that I had the chance to discover an incredible country where people make it easy for you to integrate. During my stay, I didn’t feel like I was in a foreign country at all.  California is known to be a melting pot of students from all around the world, but now I strongly believe that this diversity is their most valuable asset as this sharing of knowledge and information contributes greatly to the mightiness of United States. San Diego is a wonderful destination not only for its warm weather all year long but also for the way the citizens conceive life. It is a city where people live in the moment, where life is not moving fast and where you can easily adapt.

Compared with some other international students, I had no problem with USD’s system of teaching and grading since my university uses the same approach. What was really interesting was the diversity of classes offered, the quality of teaching and the competency of the professors. I had the chance to work and interact with some national companies in my marketing classes by presenting to them a lot of our ideas and this was something I have never done before. It was really interesting and exciting and I feel really lucky I had the opportunity to take these classes

All in all, I can assure without the shadow of a doubt that these past three months were the most wonderful and fruitful period of my academic life. I enjoyed every single minute of it, and I wish it never ended.”

-Kenza Lyagoubi