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Entrepreneur Panel

Have a business idea, but don't know where to start? Have a small business and want to take it to the next level? Join us at Homecoming for a special alumni panel to find inspiration for your startup or small business. Hear from alumni entrepreneurs as they share their experiences. Sign up so you can help get your business idea moving.

Beyond The Beach is a life skills series designed for recent graduates, and all alumni. Alumni and friends are invited back to campus to share their expertise for personal and professional development.


Brian Budzinski

Brian Budzinski '16
The Boeing Company

Brian Budzinski received a B.S. degree in Aerospace Engineering and a private pilot license from Purdue University. After receiving his engineering degree, he worked as a flight test engineer, design engineer, and aerodynamic analyst out of Mojave,CA. For the last five years he has worked for The Boeing Company and is currently an engineering manager. He received an M.B.A. from CSULB. Brian served as the president of the Graduate Business Association and was one of the co-founders of the CBA Business Incubator.


Marie Rippen

Marie Rippen '09
CEO of Lab Launch Inc.

Marie Rippen is the CEO of Lab Launch Inc., a non-profit dedicated to providing LA's biotech entrepreneurs with quality, affordable lab space. She has been with the company since they opened their first laboratory facility in Monrovia, and has helped Lab Launch grow from three members to more than 20. Marie is now planning to open a second Lab Launch location in Chatsworth. While at Lab Launch, Marie recruited twelve organizations to form the Biotechnology Entrepreneurship Coalition, a group of LA-area non-profits, industry organizations, and research institutions that are working to educate academic scientists about entrepreneurship. Marie completed her PhD in developmental and stem cell biology at USC in 2015. At Long Beach State (Class of 2009) she was a President's Scholar and biology major, with an option in molecular and cell biology.


Bruce Sparks

Bruce Sparks '10, '12
Lecturer CSULB, Small Business Consultant

Bruce Sparks earned a bachelor’s degree in finance and a MBA from Long Beach State. For the last five years, he has taught a variety of classes for the College of Business Administration, including Entrepreneurship. Mr. Sparks founded and led a small chain of furniture stores (a total of 9 stores over 25 years) and also founded and launched a private school. After retiring from retail, Mr. Sparks spent five years as a consultant, assisting small business clients to launch and grow. He has assisted over 70 businesses to get launched as well as aiding many existing businesses in surviving and prospering.


Gio Ferraro

Gio Ferraro '08
Owner, Founder Groundwork Fitness

Gio Ferraro graduated from CSULB with a bachelor's of science in health science, with an emphasis on health education. After graduation, Gio worked as a health teacher in LAUSD, but after budget cuts Gio--a part time personal trainer--pursued her passion and now runs her own small business, Groundwork Fitness. Gio is actively involved in the Long Beach community. Currently Gio serves as a commissioner on the City of Long Beach Human Relations Commission, is part of the Historic Pine Ave. Business Association, and recently started her own non-profit organization called Keep LBC Fit.