Future Entrepreneur Will Be First to Graduate from Cal State Fullerton's Specialized Program
Joseph Gazmen of Downey will be the first student to graduate from Cal State Fullerton's Dan Black Program in Physics and Business. The curriculum provides a background in business to undergraduates who are majoring in physics. The program was launched in 2000 and funded by the CSUF alumnus for whom it is named.
Gazmen's interest in physics was sparked by his seventh-grade teacher. "She introduced me to the work of Steven Hawking. In fact, I wanted to study astrophysics when I first got to CSUF," he recalled. During his freshman year, he learned about the Dan Black Program from Physics Department Chair Roger Nanes. "I told him that while physics was my interest, I still really loved business," said Gazmen, who had been a state officer in Future Leaders of America while in high school.
"He mentioned the program, and I decided to give it a try. It was interesting because we were the first students," he noted. "There wasn't anyone to talk to who had been through the classes and the curriculum, but I am glad I chose the Dan Black Program."
Black, who earned his bachelor's degree in physics from CSUF in 1967, went on to become a successful entrepreneur, selling one of the companies he founded, Advanced Medical Nutrition, for more than $16 million in 1998. His ongoing financial gifts to the university underwrite the program - believed to be the only one of its kind in the nation. It's designed for physics majors who want to apply their technical knowledge to launch businesses or join the management teams of technology-related companies. Students take courses in finance, management, marketing and advanced business communication.
Gazmen is the first to complete the program and will earn a bachelor of science in physics with an emphasis in business. His commencement exercise is scheduled for Saturday, May 27, on the lawn west of the Engineering Building.
According to Gazmen, those dog-eat-dog clichés about the business world don't apply to students in the program. "We all help each other because we all want to learn. The professors and the administrative staff are awesome. If I ever had a question, they were always there to help me. It is one of the best learning environments I have ever been in."
As far as Gazmen is concerned, physics and business go hand-in-hand. "I think that in business it is important to be analytical and creative, as well as methodical. Physics gives me the ability to do that," he noted. "In business I am encouraged to look at the 'big picture,' but the physics part of me says, 'don't lose sight of the little things.' It's really more of the mindset I get from being a physics major that I think gives me an advantage when dealing with business situations or problems."
Gazmen credits his grandfather for inspiring him to pursue a career as an entrepreneur. "He started a business in the Philippines many years ago, and it's still up and running strong. I would love that kind of longevity in my own firm.
"As for what it is, I am not entirely sure. I have lots of ideas. I know that times will change, the business, social and political climate will change and new opportunities will arise," he said. "Eventually I want to give back to CSUF because it has given me so much."
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