Tag Archives: International Center

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

Reflections from German Biochemistry Graduate and Researcher: Lea Kiefer

Name: Lea Kiefer

Country: Germany

Major: Biochemistry with a minor in Mathematics

Languages Spoken: German and English


Lea Kiefer (1)

Hey! My name is Lea Kiefer and I used to be an international student at the University of San Diego up until recently (Dec 2014) when I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and a math minor. I specifically picked USD for its great science department. The department of Chemistry and Biochemistry as well as the Biology department are very small and full of great professors. Undergraduate research is mandatory and is easily accessible to all students studying in the sciences. The professors are highly supportive when it comes to scientific work inside and outside the classroom. It is even possible that a professor will take you to a national conference to present your research or include you on a scientific article published in a prestigious magazine. The key, not just in the science department, is to get to know your professors early on. USD professors are generally willing to help you out and are great connections to have.

Besides the academic side of USD, I think it is important to get involved in student life on campus. A great organization to join is, of course, the International Student Organization (ISO). I joined ISO my freshmen year and got selected into the executive board at the end of that year. I have served on the board until I graduated and never regretted my time commitment to ISO. I found many of my best friends in ISO and it somewhat evolved into my family far away from home. Another great opportunity that USD bears is the Outdoor Adventures Club. They usually organize amazing camping and hiking trips to the various national parks close by. In addition, it is also important to join professional clubs and honors organizations to boost your resume.15993561985_c50764d742_z

Even though USD might not be one of the top schools in the country, it can definitely give you what most top schools cannot give an undergraduate student: lots of one-on-one time with your professors. So make use of that because it will give you an advantage over many other skilled applicants when you go on to graduate school or into the working field. If you decide to go to graduate school you should take the generalized tests necessary (GRE, GMAT) early on in the summer before your senior year. This will allow you enough time to find schools, apply and send the necessary documents. It is important to keep checking in with your faculty advisor while in the application process, since he or she will have a tremendous influence on your application through the letter of recommendation.

Overall, it is never too early to start thinking about future plans and the earlier you start the better prepared you are for what is about to come.

– Lea Kiefer

USD Soccer Part of International Students’ Acclimation!

From Inside USD —  Down 1-0 at halftime of its season-opening game against the University of Buffalo last Friday, the USD men’s soccer team was off to one side of the Torero Stadium field to discuss second-half strategy.

As that happened, ThomasInternationalSoccer-group Debray was one of five Torero fans picked for a contest. Contestants sprinted to midfield, collected a soccer ball and kicked the ball into the net for a goal. Debray, running as fast as he could, reached the ball first and completed the task to claim a free pizza as his prize.

After posing for a celebratory photo, Debray returned to his seat. Meanwhile, the USD soccer team returned to the field and proceeded to take care of business with four unanswered goals, including two in the first two minutes. While it was an impressive offensive display, one might concur that the sizzling halftime strike by Debray, an international exchange student from Strasbourg, France, was a sign of good things to come.

Debray sat with nearly 100 fellow USD international students and staff members from the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) who’d walked from Serra Hall to the stadium. A social event during USD’s international student orientation, both Debray’s effort and the Toreros’ second-half surge gave the latter’s newest fans plenty of reasons to smile, clap and cheer.

“I like that I’m not just coming to the U.S. on holiday, but I will be here for one year,” said Debray, a senior who is studying business marketing and wants to learn entrepreneurship from a U.S. perspective. Being at USD opens up other possibilities, too. “I want to discover all of San Diego. I want to travel, do a road trip to other parts of California, to Las Vegas and see the Grand Canyon.”

The University of San Diego, just beginning its 2014-15 academic year, is a growing popular destination institution for international students. The student population has grown immensely in the last few years. USD had more than 700 international undergraduates, graduate and law students in 2013, OISS Director Chia-Yen Lin said, and that number could rise this year.

The large group on Friday, despite members being from several different countries, was unified. They wore white t-shirts with “Torero Time” and a picture of mascot Diego Torero’s face. Individually, students were happy they’d chosen USD.

Russian Alexandra Leonidova is an incoming freshman from Togliatti, southeast of Moscow. Interested in becoming a doctor, she’s looking into USD’s pre-med program and plans to major in either biology or chemistry. She’s not new to the U.S., either, with visits to Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York at age 15. Two years later, she was in Wisconsin on a scholarship for a Future Leaders Exchange program.

California was where she wanted to attend college. Via USD’s website, she learned about its dedication to international students and study and that USD’s Campus Recreation offers ballroom dance classes.

“It’s a dream come true,” she said. “When I saw USD on its website, I thought it would be the perfect place to be.”

International student-athletes on a USD sports roster is a common sight. Men’s soccer, for instance, has players from Germany, Norway, Canada and England.

Another USD sport with a strong international presence is tennis. Lisa Schlatter, a native of Tyrol, Austria, is a freshman who will vie for a spot on Coach Sherri Stephens’ women’s team this year. Schlatter checked out USD’s academic programs and has interest in studying business. But she’s equally focused on tennis, being among other international students and immersing herself in American culture.

“It is a beautiful campus, great weather and I’ve already been to the beach,” she said. “It’s been easy to find new friends. I look forward to playing tennis and being more independent.”

Schlatter, Leonidova and Debray and most new USD international students seem to enjoy what USD has to offer. Seeing how the international student orientation programming has gone so far, this makes junior mechanical engineering major, Khaled Alaskar of Kuwait, very happy.

“I want to share my experiences with the other international students and help them not make the same mistakes I did,” said Alaskar, who is part of the international student orientation team. “I want them to know I understand what they’re going through right now.”

Alaskar’s “mistakes” aren’t truly that; more so, he’s now doing for other international students what current OISS Associate Director Greg Grassi, a 1996 USD alumnus, did for him.

“Greg helped me come out of my shell,” he said. “I now have a lot of American friends as well as international friends. It’s been easy for me to blend the two together.”

Alaskar’s advice to other international students is for them to not be shy, to get involved on campus and take full advantage of campus resources such as meeting with professors during office hours, visiting and seeking help through the Center for Student Success and finding an organization or activity that connects them within the campus community.

“That’s why I joined the international orientation team,” Alaskar said. “I’d meet RA (Resident Assistants) and PA (Preceptorial Assistants) students and I’d always see how happy they were, happy about what they were doing. Being an orientation leader, I’ve found an opportunity and now I know what that happy feeling is like, too. I recommend that all students to get out of the bubble.”

Friday’s soccer game was a start. Noticeably, there were loud cheers from the group during pre-game player introductions, especially when a Torero international student-athlete’s name was called. It was a reminder that anywhere they go on campus, there’s always the potential to find a place that makes them feel right at home.

— Ryan T. Blystone