Top Business Journalists Share Their Experiences Covering the Economic Crisis

Three prominent national business journalists will explore the collapse of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and why top banking executives have not been held accountable for the financial crisis of 2008.

The discussions will take place in the Titan Student Union next week at Cal State Fullerton’s annual Communications week.

The guest speakers include David Evans, a Los Angeles-based senior writer at Bloomberg Markets magazine; Alison Fitzgerald, a senior reporter at The Center for Public Integrity, a Washington-based nonprofit group specializing in investigative journalism; and Dawn Kopecki, a Washington-based special projects reporter for Bloomberg News.

Evans Headshot

David Evans, writer at Bloomberg Markets magazine.

Evans’ storied career includes the 2011 Columbia Journalism School’s John Chancellor Award for lifetime achievement. He was a Pulitzer Award finalist in 2011 for “Duping the Families of Fallen Soldiers,” a story that exposed how MetLife, Prudential and other insurance companies concocted a scheme to withhold and profit from $28 billion in death benefits owed to families of service members, including soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Evans will discuss his experience in reporting the story and what the fallout has been.

Evans will also discuss his 2013 investigation of how respected national charities allow telemarketers to mislead donors in order to boost fundraising. The story earned Evans a Sigma Delta Chi award, adding another tribute to a career that includes six Society of American Business Editors and Writers awards, the George Polk Award and two Gerald Loeb Awards, all among the highest accolades in business journalism.

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Titan Travels Part 2: Immersion in Florentine Culture

Mihaylo College lives out its mission to produce globally aware business leaders and provide international immersive experiences to students. The Center for International Business assists in creating and supporting international study initiatives for business students through the Business Europe Study Tours (BEST) Program, the Heidelberg Program, and the Business Honors Study Abroad Program. This post is the second in a series of six articles written by Mihaylo accounting student, Elizabeth Garcia ’14, narrating her unique study abroad experiences in Florence, Italy. Elizabeth is currently enrolled in a semester long program at the Lorenzo de’Medici International Institute in Italy, through CSUF’s Global Student Experience.  

Ciao ragazzi! I’m now a little over halfway through my stay in Florence, and I must say, the concept of time truly amazes me. How have I been spending mine? Leisurely reading countless books on my growing list, befriending some phenomenal individuals from all over the world and most importantly, immersing myself in the unique culture Italy so proudly holds on to.

Florence has a unique atmosphere and historical richness that keeps me mesmerized and curious. The city’s historical significance is most notably attached to the Renaissance; however, Florence was also once home to Europe’s strongest banks and still thrives off of the profitable textile and fashion industries. This beautiful city is undoubtedly founded on artistic innovation and creativity, which brings a great abstract perspective to my business studies.

Italian lifestyle is very relationship driven: calm, cool, and somewhat collected. As an aspiring entrepreneur with a capitalistic mindset, this was VERY new to me. I was shocked to find out that most stores in high traffic areas close at 7 p.m. when there are STILL hundreds of potential customers willing to spend more money. Italians believe in a little something called “going home in time for dinner is more rewarding than earning a few extra bucks.” I had a lot of assimilating to do, so I decided to temporarily replace my “go, go, go” non-stop mentality with a new “slow down and open your eyes” frame of mind. With so many peaceful areas of the city to experience – my favorites being Piazzale Michelangelo and Giardino delle Rose – switching lifestyle pace was less conscious and more of a natural transition. Enjoying beautiful scenery while sunbathing, studying for midterms or having a nice picnic overlooking the Florentine clay tile roofs has been an enriching experience. I have learned to appreciate the simplicity in Italian lifestyle thanks to a much broader global perspective and openness to change.

Florence, Italy gardens

My favorite aspect of Italian culture has to be the amount of walking I do. I walk to my classes all over the city, passing through cafes at every corner and luxury fashion brands through the center. I walk to the grocery store daily, to group meetings, to choir, you name it. I think I forgot what it’s like to be behind the wheel. (Warning: Stay off the road for a few weeks after I’m back folks!) This independent method of transportation has really helped me naturally become one with the city and its vibrant atmosphere. Continue reading

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Mihaylo Students Attend 2014 American Economic Association Conference

Nobel laureate Edward C. Prescott walked across the stage, giving a lecture about the path to prosperity for the United States. Among the thousands of attendees, four Mihaylo business students got a better understanding of life as an economist.

Mark Mejia ’15, Charmaine Lansangan ’15, Bita Kianian ’13, Aaron Mendez ’14

Economics majors Bita Kianian ’13, Charmaine Lansangan ’15, Mark Mejia ’15 and Aaron Mendez ’14 were selected to attend the 2014 American Economic Association Annual Conference in Philadelphia. The group attended the three-day event as part of the Mihaylo Undergraduate Research Program, in which each student is currently working on a research paper regarding economics.

Conference poster sessions included research projects displayed by economists, and the authors were present to answer questions and discuss their theories. Kianian attended the microeconomics poster session, which she says, “consisted of more than 20 different authors researching various subjects from measuring economic change in Indonesia to infectious disease detection with private information.”

Kianian’s research paper focuses on gender-specific wage differentials, and much of her time at the conference was spent at meetings or talks, which were held in different locations across the city. During these sessions, four economists presented their research papers, which were then critiqued by a colleague and discussed by the audience.

One of the presentations that stood out for Kianian was the lecture, “Rapid Growth or Stagnation for the United States Economy,” given by Prescott, the Nobel laureate.

“It was surreal to have someone I have read about in school standing right in front of me presenting to a packed house,” says Kianian. “The experience was very educational, and I learned many things that I wouldn’t have been able to in the classroom.”

In addition to her research on wage differentials, Kianian is also interested in the economics of the Middle East, and she took advantage of the sessions hosted by the Middle East Economics Association (MEEA).

In order to be selected to attend this conference, students participating in the Mihaylo Undergraduate Research Program submitted a paper explaining why they would benefit from attending the conference, and the entries were reviewed and selected by the Economics Department faculty.

“I had an unforgettable time at the conference,” says Kianian. “And I am eternally grateful for being chosen to attend.”


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Marketing Professor Teaches Professional Selling Class Using New Technologies

Olga Di Franco

Olga Di Franco, Professor of Marketing

Marketing 401 is a Professional Selling course taught by Olga Di Franco that allows students to use as a typical salesperson would in an actual business environment.

Students are put into teams and then decide what technology is needed to run a business more successfully. They put together a presentation that describes what the technology is, how it works, why it is cutting edge and why the business needs it to be successful.

Di Franco brings more than 15 years of marketing experience to the classroom, and she is providing students with a competitive learning environment supplemented with the latest industry tools and technology.  She says she finds it very important to provide students with hands-on experience.

“I’m an academic but I’m also a practitioner,” Di Franco says. “I’ve worked in the industry. I try to teach [sales] theory to the students, but I also want them to understand how it works in the real world. I try to bring the real world to them.”

hoovers web pageThis course uses new technologies through websites such as, Salesforce, Hoovers and Brainshark. By using these technologies and different social media tools , students are given a real-life sales business environment.

“We use social media once we have identified potential buyers to verify who they are and to find ways to connect with them,” she says. “It is a tool we use to better understand our buyers.”

Many companies are using some form of sales technology but not all of them have time to train their new hires, says Di Franco. Continue reading

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International Student Finds Passion in Advocating for Affordable Higher Education

Because of her gender, Abinaya Prabakar ’15 was always told she could not do certain things and was always held to different standards than the males in her family.

Abinaya Prabakar

Abinaya Prabakar ’15 (business economics)

Prabakar is a third-year business economics student who has moved from country to country due to her father’s work as a software engineer working on temporary projects. She was born in India and lived in 10 different countries before moving to the United States six years ago.           

“I realized my passion for advocating for equality and education at a very young age,” she says. “I was motivated to stand up for myself and for the women in my family.”

Prabakar has accomplished many things that countless people take for granted. She is the first in her family to attend college, speak English fluently and to have a driver’s license. Many people around the world are denied access to basic rights and opportunities, she says, and Prabakar’s life experiences fuel her passion and aspirations to practice either immigration law or international human rights law, and her goal is to eventually own her own law firm.

Before moving to the United States, Prabakar lived in Singapore for five years.

Abinaya Prabakar with classmates in Singapore

Abinaya Prabakar with classmates in Singapore

“I had grown very accustomed to Singapore’s culture and people,” she says. “It was very hard for me to bid farewell to my close friends there and come to a completely new environment, where I had to quickly adjust to new people, a new culture and a new education system.”

Upon moving to the United States she watched a lot of American television shows to practice her American accent. After moving to Irvine, she realized that joining clubs and getting involved would help her make friends who share similar interests.

“I started to adapt quickly, and it felt more like home after I started to get involved,” Prabakar says. Continue reading

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