Ds Scholarship

Down to Business

Newswise – With 4 million live alumni scattered around the world, CSU has former students who serve as decision makers across a range of industries, organizations, and government agencies. This includes a number of Chambers of Commerce participants and organizations that promote and support local business communities. We asked three CSU alumni who serve as their roommates and CEOs to think about their work, the CSU and the year ahead.

Jennifer Barrera

President and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce CSU Bakersfield, BA English ’98

What inspires you to work at Cal Chamber? When I joined the organization, I believed in its mission, which is to provide resources and advocate on behalf of California corporations. And I’m still driven by this task. California businesses and employers make the lifestyle we live here in California. They create jobs, they deliver benefits, and they are the innovators we turn to in California for many different things, like the world of pharma or our technology. Being able to represent those companies, tell their stories and advocate on their behalf is a huge honor.

We are entering a challenging legislative year, and there will be a lot of uncertainty. We will work hard on advocacy to mitigate any problematic mandates and try to promote any positive policies that will hopefully help companies on our path to recovery from this pandemic.

How has your experience at CSU prepared you for your current role or helped you on your career journey? CSU Bakersfield at the time was a small community where you had a personal relationship and connection with a lot of your professors and teachers, and you just got a sense of the community there, which was a very supportive environment for learning. I did have a degree in English, but I can’t tell you how well that has served me in the roles I’ve been in, including this job today. The importance, the stress and the challenge these teachers put on me as I was getting my English degree to be a better writer and do literature analysis…helped give me a solid foundation to do a lot of legal writing in law school and now I write a lot of advocacy writing in the position I I work in it. I am very grateful to the institution you have given me for helping me advance my career.

What advice would you give to students graduating this year? Don’t underestimate what you can do. Set goals and know that despite the challenges you may face, you can achieve them. Hard work, perseverance and always willingness is a motto I have lived by. You have the resources available for a successful career because you have already chosen to become more educated, which is a great first step.

ifthat it Solache

President and CEO of the Great Lakewood Chamber of Commerce; City of Lynwood Mayor Pro Tem CSU Dominguez Hills, BA Liberal Studies ’06

What will motivate your business in the next year?

In 2021, at least in part, we experienced a post-pandemic reality. We’re on our way to a more normal situation in 2022, but there’s still an overlap between the pandemic that hasn’t completely gone away. So, how do we fully get out of this pandemic? How do we use some of those things we’ve learned, especially technology, to better serve our business community, and how do we work better with these tools? As Chambers, we are always looking at how we connect with the business community and different interconnected groups.

How has your experience at CSU helped you in your career journey? I was definitely a very engaged and engaged student. I took getting involved to a whole different level, in a sense, from getting involved in a club on campus to the campus activities the university brings together to eventually becoming a university vice president for students. My experience as a student and my involvement has led me to a career where I can be a leader in my own organization, but more specifically, interact with people and be that person. CSU gave me that hands-on experience I needed to understand what I was going to thrive in to be a vibrant person and to be basically myself. I wanted to find a job that gave me the opportunity to be in the same atmosphere, the same environment – not necessarily a safe place, but a space to be pro and vocal.

What advice would you give to students graduating this year? First, celebrate the moment you achieved. I think we only get that moment once in our lives, and it’s a happy and successful moment that I achieved. Then use that degree and see where it takes you. Don’t limit yourself to that profession you went to school for. Use it to go perfectly into the field you studied for, but note that the possibilities are endless, especially after earning a degree from CSU.

Bob Lynched

President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce and Output Creek and Visitors Bureau; CSU Honorary Secretary Chico State, B.A. Public Administration ’75, M.A. Public Administration ’78

How has your experience at CSU prepared you for your current role? When I was a student at Chico State, I was elected President of Student Affiliate and got involved with the California State Student Union. During my tenure, it was a turbulent period in the history of Chico State. The unrest centered around previous wars, political turmoil, and the desire for local control [at the campus-level]. But Chico State has also provided opportunities for students to participate at all levels of the university – from faculty assessments to selection committees. Also, the student government owns and operates all campus institutions (bookstore, catering, and student union). This was unique to CSU at the time. I learned the important lesson of listening to all sides of an issue and allowing students to participate in the governance process.

Later during my involvement with the Alumni Association, I was the Chico State representative on the CSU Alumni Board and was elected alumni trustee from 2005 to 2014. I served as chair of the CSU Board of Trustees from 2012 to 2014.

What advice would you give to students graduating this year? Find a career you are passionate about.

What are your goals in 2022 for the Chamber?

  1. Increase the clarity and effect of the room.
  2. Create an environment in which Walnut Creek’s business can thrive.
  3. Create partnerships to help attract innovative companies to the region.
  4. Creating world-class innovation centers in the region.

Count the advisor in

In addition to alumni serving in this capacity, Chancellor Joseph I. Castro was appointed in 2021 to serve on the California Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Board members are elected by members of the Cal Chamber and provide leadership as the organization seeks to advocate for employers and promote a strong economy both in the state and the nation.



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