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