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Before They Were Alumni: Student Jobs

Beach alumni are leaders in their fields and champions of their industries, but how did they get to where they are today? Before they were directors, entrepreneurs, and professionals, they built their skills in colorful roles throughout the Long Beach community.

Sometimes unusual, sometimes completely left of field from their career path, the jobs alums held as students nonetheless shaped the professional they would become. They got their hands dirty, donned costumes and took tickets, and opened some unexpected doors along the way.

Decade to decade, time on the clock has proven the best way to manage the costs of living while going to school. As many of our alums attest, however, even the most offbeat work experience can be as valuable as any classroom.

Abigal Alvarez

ABIGAIL ALVAREZ

2016, M.S., NURSING
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Harbor UCLA Medical Center
Former: Pediatric Emergency Department Registered Nurse

“I worked full time at Harbor UCLA Medical Center’s Pediatric ER while taking classes to become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. I was exposed early on to many different cases and medical situations, which gave me the opportunity to learn, grow and network. In fact, networking with Pediatric and Adult specialists on the job led to my full time position as a Nurse Practitioner at Harbor.”

Jeff Briones

JEFF BRIONES

2012 B.A. COMMUNICATION
Education Sales Consultant, F.A. Davis
Former: Server, Bartender, Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen

"Working in a restaurant 30 hours a week and taking 15-18 units a semester taught me to prioritize my wellbeing above most other things. I made sure to eat better and exercise regularly – it was the only way to manage the stress and help maintain my stamina. I gained a great respect for school, which I still carry as a consultant for higher education."

Frances Caron

FRANCES CARON

2010 B.S. BIOLOGY-PHYSIOLOGY, CHEMISTRY MINOR
Assistant Director of Recreation at UCR, Administrative Overhang for Campus-Wide Student Employment (UCR), and Adjunct Faculty (CSULB)

Former: Lifeguard/Swim Instructor, Senior Guard, Aquatics Coordinator, City of Los Alamitos, Recreation & Community Services Department

"As an undergrad, I took a job as a recreation center Lifeguard/swim instructor, and it shaped my entire career path. It was unrelated to the academic program I was in, but I ended up falling in love with the Recreation field along the way. I am so incredibly lucky to have found a career I absolutely adore from my part-time job as an undergraduate student."

LYNN CURRY

LYNN CURRY

1984 B.A. RECREATION
PRESIDENT AND CO-OWNER, RESOURCES FOR LEISURE ASSETS

Former: Intern, San Diego Sea World Marketing Department; Intern, Long Beach Visitor and Convention Bureau.

"I was a recreation major, heading into the business of fun, but I did not understand the business potential of the recreation industry until my internships at Sea World and the Long Beach Visitor and Convention Bureau, which led to management positions at the Anaheim CVB and Hyatt Resorts Hawaii. Today I own a wellbeing hospitality consulting firm with offices in Sonoma, Vienna and Dubai."

JOHN DE LA CUESTA

JOHN DE LA CUESTA

1991 B.A. BIOLOGY
1996 M.S. BIOLOGY

Radiation Safety Officer, Science Safety Officer, CSULB
Former:  Teaching Associate, Graduate Assistant, Graduate Student Research Assistant, CSULB

"I was a janitor in Orange County, a bartender in Santa Ana, and a student assistant in many positions on campus. Wages started at about $6 an hour, but I got years of experience in the biology department as teaching assistant and as research assistant on a professor’s NSF grant. The assistant gig parleyed into a technician position at CSULB and CSULA, and the research position is where I made some of my best friends and colleagues."

CYNTHIA GUZMAN-BEAHM

CYNTHIA GUZMAN-BEAHM

2004, B.S. MARKETING
Administrative Assistant, Office of Educational Services, Sanger Unified School District

Creative Entrepreneur, C. B. Escribe Illustrator, Watercolor Artist, Calligrapher
Former: Davie Brown Entertainment, Santa Monica, CA

“I worked as an unpaid intern for Film/TV Product placement at Davie Brown Entertainment in Santa Monica. I learned extensively about the ad side of the film and television industry and how partnerships within brands help finance a project. Though thankful for the significant & eye-opening experience, I realized it was not a field I would pursue long-term.”

ERIK HAYHURST

ERIK HAYHURST

2014 B.S. ACCOUNTANCY, SPANISH MINOR
Real Estate Broker, United Real Estate Professionals
Former: Tax Intern, Murphy, Murphy, & Murphy, CPAs

"I worked in accounting while going to school. I didn’t choose to make a career of it, but I enjoyed my time there and the phenomenal foundational experience it paired with my studies. Working meant that I had to improve my time management skills exponentially. The experience helped me build connections with peers outside of school, and I am still in touch with my prior coworkers and fellow interns, referring business and clientele. The referrals have paid me more than my tuition cost for my entire degree."

PAULINA JONES

PAULINA JONES

2017 B.A. HISTORY, ENGLISH CREATIVE WRITING MINOR
2019 M.P.A. CANDIDATE
COLLEGE FOUNDATION SECRETARY, CERRITOS COLLEGE COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT
Former: Office Administrator, Long Beach Artificial Limb CO., Inc.

"During my undergraduate studies, I worked as the sole office administrator at a local artificial limb company. Working with people with amputations taught me much about perseverance. I learned how working professionals could improve the livelihood of many and how, through meaningful conversations with our patients, I could become a better citizen. All meanwhile, I learned principles of bookkeeping that has now prepared me to manage hundreds of college foundation scholarships and programs. Working while enrolled in the history program prepared me for my continued personal development."

LORNA PAUGH

LORNA PAUGH

1980, B.S., HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT
SR. DIRECTOR, HUMAN RESOURCES, AVID BIOSERVICES, INC.

Former: Student Assistant, CSULB College of Engineering; Resident Assistant, CSULB Student Housing

"At the time I didn't fully understand, but every role supported my career. I initially worked in a clerical role in the office of the Dean of Engineering. I became a Resident Assistant in my dorm and landed a paid internship during my last two semesters. Not everything I did was a success, but learning to bounce back was critically important.  In class, we go from success to success, but it is from what we don't succeed at that we learn the most."

LLUVIA MONARREZ

LLUVIA MONARREZ

2005 COMMUNICATIONS WITH EMPHASIS IN RHETORICAL STUDIES, CHICANO & LATINO STUDIES
GENERAL MANAGER, HOLMES & ASSOCIATES, CPAs
Former: Tax Assistant, Liberatore, CPA

"I received degrees in Rhetorical Studies and Chicano and Latino Studies, and I worked in accounting and tax field. I studied what I was interested in, and found it helped me excel in business. My communication skills helped me translate accounting and tax terminology into plain English and the clients loved it."

JOANNA MONTOYA

JOANNA MONTOYA

2015 B.A. RECREATION
RECREATION COORDINATOR,
Former: Caller, CSULB Beach Fund; Supplemental Instructor, CSULB Learning Assistance Center; Cast Member, Disneyland Hotel Gift Shops; Recreation Leader, City of Lakewood

"With pursuing a degree in Recreation, my jobs at the Beach Fund and Disney gave me great experience in customer service. I would learn something in class and be able to apply it at work later that day. My counselor, Joanie Conley, told me to get my foot in the door as a Recreation Leader for the City of Lakewood, and have since worked in Recreation."

BRIANNE UNDERWOOD

BRIANNE UNDERWOOD

2010 B.A. COMMUNICATIONS
Marketing and Communication Director, Providence, St. Joseph Health

Former: Field Marketing Intern, Cast Member, Disneyland

"I had no idea what I wanted to do when I was in college, but my internships at Disneyland introduced me to the marketing industry. Between working on Buzz Lightyear and doing field marketing to fellow students, I developed my communication skills and met many people that I am still connected with today. Now I’m the youngest Director in my company, and am told my persistence, hard work and positive demeanor are what people notice about me – the work ethic I learned from my time at Disney."

RICHARD OXLEY

RICHARD OXLEY

1968, B.A. ART
1973, Secondary California Teaching Credential

SECONDARY EDUCATOR, ST. HELENA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT (RET.)
Former: Food Prep/Server, CSULB Student Housing Cafeteria; Various

"I certainly gained an appreciation for those who worked for lesser wages as a necessary survival mode. I spent my summers working in the agricultural processing business and as a house painter. Even though expenses seemed more reasonable back in the day, working was necessary to pay for my year in the dormitory ($1200), tuition ($75), books, materials, fees and living expenses."

TYECHIA THOMPSON

TYECHIA THOMPSON

2002, B.A. ENGLISH SPECIAL EMPHASIS JOURNALISM
DIGITAL HUMANITIES POST-DOCTORAL ASSOCIATE, VIRGINIA TECH

Former: Technology Teaching Assistant; Special Education Trainee; Special Education Assistant, LAUSD; Public Relations Intern, Levine Communications

"I affirmed that I am a teacher through working as a special education trainee in the LAUSD. Because of my work in special education, I have an appreciation for different learning styles, perspectives, and developmental needs. I work to meet my students where they are and build on the knowledge, gifts, talents, and capacities that they already have."

Katrina Watson

KATRINA WATSON

2010, B.A. JOURNALISM, COMP WORLD LITERATURE MINOR
2013, M.S. COUNSELING – STUDENT DEV IN HIGHER ED
HIGH SCHOOL COUNSELOR, DUBAI AMERICAN ACADEMY
Former: Private nanny; College Advisor Aide, Educational Talent Search (ETS); Career to College Advisor, Cal Soap; Promotions Team, 98.7 FM; Waitress and Bartender, Various Restaurants

"I started working with low-income, first-generation students at Robert A. Millikan High School. I declared my major in journalism, but this job was something I loved getting out of bed for. I felt a sense of purpose and my students felt my enthusiasm to help. Those students 10 years ago were the reason I decided to go to graduate school and pursue a counseling degree. At the same time, I was working for 98.7-FM radio station and although it was in the field I thought I wanted to go into, I realized that the industry wasn't for me. That part-time student job changed the trajectory of my career path."

MARIBEL ALEJANDRE

MARIBEL ALEJANDRE

2017, B.A., HUMAN DEVELOPMENT, PSYCHOLOGY MINOR
Energy Pathway Program Director, SBCC Thrive LA, A.K.A. South Bay Center For Counseling

Former:

"I worked part time and attended school full time, and I think doing both was vital to my success. I was offered employment at South Bay Center for Counseling one week before graduation. After my first year, I asked what made me the candidate they hired, and was told that my work experience and education were the main factors. I advise students to do both and join at least one on campus club or organization. It defiantly will make a difference."

 

KEVIN OPYRCHAL

1994 B.A. ENGLISH LANGUAGE & COMPOSITION
COMMERCIAL TRUCK SALESMAN, SELMAN CHEVROLET
Former: Part-time Loading Supervisor, UPS

"Tuition was about $1,500 per semester, and I worked to keep up with my cost of living. As it turns out, though, I more than likely would not have pursued a career in business if not for my work experience. I supervised the early morning loading operations at UPS and really became interested in the idea of being manager in the transportation business."

ELIZABETH ORTIZ

ELIZABETH ORTIZ

2018 B.A. JOURNALISM
DIGITAL MEDIA CONSULTANT
Former: Editorial Student Assistant, CSULB Alumni Association

"I worked as a writer for the CSULB Alumni Office and Beach Connection Magazine! I got to interview inspiring alumni such as a Pixar animator, a developer of the first GPS systems, San Bernardino’s first African American female police Lieutenant and so many more. It helped me broaden my jJournalism skillset, and I now work independently creating copy, podcasts and videos for small businesses."

MELISSA MAGCALE

MELISSA MAGCALE

2018 B.A. LIBERAL STUDIES TRACK I
Former: Moderate/Severe Special Education Student Aide, Long Beach Unified School District

"I worked as an aide in a moderate/severe special education classroom. Not only was it my first time working with middle school students, it was also my first time working in a special education classroom. I felt a little nervous before starting, but I found my job to be rewarding and fun. It was my favorite job I’ve ever had, and I’m looking forward to returning to the field after getting my teaching credential this Spring."