Nausheen AhmedNausheen Ahmed

’14 M.S. Mathematics

Current Role: Supply Chain Optimization Director, Cedars Sinai

How did your time at CSUCI make a difference in your life?
My time at CSUCI reinforced the value of building and maintaining relationships, working collaboratively and helping others succeed. I was able to return to the campus after graduation and interact with students in the Data Science Club prior to COVID, and to speak on the use of mathematics in supply chain analyses at a seminar during COVID. The personalized instruction I received at CSUCI opened career opportunities, without which I wouldn’t be where I am today.

What is your fondest memory of CSUCI?
Having the opportunity to work closely with Dr. Ivona Grzegorczyk (Mathematics) on my thesis project. She took the time to review the work of a stay-at-home mom, me, when I first started writing children’s math books.

Olivia TaylorOlivia Taylor

’20 B.S. Biology, Minor Psychology

Current Role: Beekeeper, Reiter Affiliated Companies 

How did your time at CSUCI make a difference in your life? 
My team visits various ranches within Ventura County and Santa Barbara County to feed, manage and grow our 1,600 hives to support the demand for pollination for berries in the agricultural fields. I gained the opportunity to train and learn how to be a commercial beekeeper through the CSUCI apiary program. If it wasn’t for studying in Dr. Ruben Alarcon’s class, which sparked my interest in the fascinating eusocial complexities of honeybees, I don’t think I’d be where I am today. 

What is your fondest memory of CSUCI?
I am forever grateful for all the experiences I’ve had in my courses, leading me to these continual, unexpected opportunities. I never expected to start my career path as beekeeper, but I wouldn’t change anything about the path I’ve been on.

Shirley WilliamsShirley Williams

’19 B.S. Biology

Current Role: Biologist/inspector, Ventura County Agricultural Commissioner, Pest Exclusion Division. 

How did your time at CSUCI make a difference in your life?
CSUCI gave me the opportunity to find what I was passionate about. I knew I wanted to do something regarding nature and animals, and CSUCI helped me focus my skills. Being in the first cohort of the Apiculture and Bee Biology course with Dr. Ruben Alarcón changed my life.

What is your fondest memory of CSUCI?
Every moment of the Bee Program. From taking the class to assisting Dr. Alarcón with the subsequent cohorts. I volunteered through the summers just so I could learn and experience as much as I could.

Claira CastilloClaira Castillo

’16 B.S. Biology

Current Role: Entomology and Acarology Research Associate II, Driscoll’s 

How did your time at CSUCI make a difference in your life?
I was able to learn so many soft skills that come in handy in my day-to-day work, and I made friendships that have continued to support me throughout life’s ups and downs. By working with one of the CSUCI professors, I was able to land a part-time job at Driscoll’s, which later turned into a full-time job after I graduated.

What is your fondest memory of CSUCI?
When I was working as a tutor at the STEM Center, the campus internet went down for the day — but we still did our normal tutor shifts to help students who were still on campus. In between tutoring sessions, our group played the Google Dinosaur Game and logged our scores on the whiteboard. Sometimes students were too shy to ask for help with their homework, but the Dinosaur Game acted as a fun icebreaker. We ended up getting lots of student visits for tutoring that day even though many students had left campus to get internet service.

Dev ChahilDev Chahil

’04 B.S. Cell and Molecular Biology, Chemistry minor
’07 M.S. Bioinformatics and Biotechnology
’08 M.A. Business

Current Role: Global External Innovation and Strategy Lead, Bayer Crop Science

How did your time at CSUCI make a difference in your life?
I was exposed to real-world cases, helping to draw the parallel between learnings and assignments, and industry application. Professors with industry experience and others who encouraged internships at local firms provided a window into industry and options for the future after graduation.

What is your fondest memory of CSUCI? 
At the end of Island View orientation in 2002 I followed signs through the maze of hallways in the Bell Tower toward registration. When I turned the corner into the registration office, I was greeted with flashbulbs from a local newspaper photographer and cheers as I had inadvertently become the first student to ever register for classes at CSUCI. This was the start to my many years of engagement with CSUCI as a student, volunteer, donor, industry partner, and Alumni & Friends Association Board member. My fondest memory is of the people who made the University what it is and the community of students and faculty I was able to spend days and nights with, learning and growing. It’s perhaps not a specific moment or memory but a feeling and experience that leaves an imprint on your life.

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© Winter 2023 / Volume 27 / Number 2 / Biannual

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