How CSULB master’s degrees equipped alumni to lead, embrace opportunity

Published July 8, 2024

Graduate programs are important components of Cal State Long Beach’s educational offerings and students who complete master’s programs often find themselves prepared for high-level opportunities.

The Beach awarded more than 2,000 master’s degrees – amounting to about 18% of all degrees conferred – during the 2022-23 academic year. The campus offers master’s degrees in more than 160 disciplines including art, business, education, engineering, humanities, nursing, math and science. 

“The time is always right,” said Dina Perrone, interim dean of graduate studies at The Beach. “Our faculty work really hard to work with their students to ensure that our graduate students are successful. They recognize that our graduate students are juggling multiple responsibilities in addition to their education.”

Those who pursue master’s degrees can be motivated by desires to become more competitive for jobs and promotions, develop advanced skills, or engage in research. Indeed, 75% of respondents to the 2023 graduate student exit survey indicated they planned to seek a new job related to their degrees. 

Sometimes, undergraduates already have their eye on a master’s degree while they are still completing their bachelor’s. Cal State Long Beach is making it easier for students in this situation by introducing Beach EDGE, designed so students can take courses that simultaneously confer credits for bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Debuting this fall, Beach EDGE will lay out pathways for nine degree combos in subjects including business economics, health science and linguistics.

Whatever one’s goal, one alumna counseled would-be students to have confidence in their abilities.

“My advice would be for the person coming in, whether it’s their undergraduate or graduate degree, to take these chances and not second guess yourself as to what you’re capable of,” said Delilah Nuñez ‘98, who earned her MBA and a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Cal State Long Beach and is now a Systems Director for The Aerospace Corp.

Beach alumni who have also completed master's degrees include Mychelle Hale ‘22 (M.S. applied statistics), Minh Duc Ho ‘23 (M.S. finance) and Munachiso Osisioma ‘19 (M.S. school counseling).  

Their stories:

Mychelle Hale

Mychelle Hale arrived at CSULB with a degree in mathematics and a drive to learn about data science.

“I did my undergraduate in pure math, and I always wanted to dive a bit deeper into statistics,” Hale said.

A portrait of alumna Mychelle Hale

Hale was working for a Long Beach firm providing data visualizations and analysis to automotive industry clients when she enrolled in her master’s program, she said. She studied key programming languages (Python, Tableau, SQL, R, SAS) and secured an internship at Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  

That led to a thesis blending Hale’s work on atmospheric chemistry at JPL with her math studies, which included discussing complex statistical methods and machine learning with her thesis advisor, mathematics and statistics professor Kagba Suaray.

“The guidance that I was able to receive from my teacher, Dr Suaray, really played a role in my success at Cal State Long Beach,” Hale said.  

Hale works for Northrup Grumman in a post that rotates through different business areas. She is now focused on projects involving modeling the firm’s workforce and attrition rates.

Minh Duc Ho

Minh Duc Ho earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The Beach, experiencing portfolio management while concentrating on financial analysis. He participated in Beach Investment Group, a portfolio management program that lets students work with real money, on his way to earning his Bachelor of Business Administration in 2022.  

A portrait of alumnus Minh Duc Ho

His graduate program, now known as the M.S. in Financial Analytics, prepares students for certification as a chartered financial analyst. Ho said this is the gold standard in finance education and credited faculty finance experts Peter Ammerman and Michael Gibbs for their teaching.

“The skills and knowledge provided by the master’s program are very well-aligned with what top employers in the field are looking for,” Ho said.

Ho now works as a portfolio compliance analyst for PIMCO, a Newport Beach investment firm. He said his master’s enabled him to “hit the ground running” and that he keeps in touch with other alumni.

“We’re still friends to this day, and we exchange ideas,” he said.  

Delilah Nuñez

The movies set Delilah Nuñez on a course to earning degrees from Cal State Long Beach and a leadership position in at The Aerospace Corp.

A portrait of alumna Delila Nuñez

Nuñez’s fascination with space exploration began when her father took her to see “Star Wars,” she said. “War Games,” piqued her interest in computing and in 1989, she enrolled at Cal State Long Beach and went on to earn her undergraduate degree in computer engineering.

She found belonging in the student organizations MAES - Latinos in Science and Engineering and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. She also interned with Aerospace Corp., a federally funded research and development nonprofit, when she determined to prepare for management. Nuñez earned an MBA with a specialization in information systems in 1998.

“It’s really helped me bridge the skillsets,” she said. “I work with a lot of leadership, both corporate and aerospace, but also the government is one of our larger customers.”

Aerospace Corp. clients include private organizations and government agencies including NASA, the Defense Department and the Intelligence Community. With her dual degrees, Nuñez is conversant in customers’ business and technical needs.

“There’s a lot to be done and a lot of smart people,” Nuñez said.

Munachiso Osisioma

Munachiso Osisioma, counselor coach for the Santa Ana Unified School District, was a coach of a different sort – leading the girls’ basketball team at Saddleback High School in Santa Ana – when he decided to pursue a master’s degree in school counseling.

“When I was coaching basketball, I often felt that folks were leaning on me, asking questions about my life. I was a trusted adult on campus,” he said.

A portrait of alumnus Munachiso Osisioma

Osisioma chose Cal State Long Beach’s program due to its emphasis on social justice. He was so sure the program would match his interests that he did not apply anywhere else.

The program exceeded his expectations, and he appreciated the curriculum’s emphasis on leadership. Osisioma views school counseling as a mission to advance justice within the K-12 system since counselors can advocate for fairness when school leaders consider Advanced Placement assignments or discipline reforms.

“It was helpful to know myself and exactly what I needed,” he said. “I knew what my strengths were, and I needed to add to my toolkit.”