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Meet Our 2019 Commencement Student Speakers
Five new grads will share lessons learned, inspirations and the legacies of the Class of 2019

For the first time at Commencement, five students—one from each degree program—will take the stage to inspire and impart lessons learned with their fellow class of 2019 graduates, families and friends at the Graduate School of Management ceremony this Saturday, June 15.

Go. Be Great.

At 243-strong, the class of 2019 is the largest in the School’s history, and includes:

  • 53 Bay Area Part-Time MBA candidates
  • 44 Full-Time MBA candidates
  • 38 Sacramento Part-Time MBA candidates
  • 64 Master of Professional Accountancy (MPAc) candidates
  • 44 Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) candidates

Our Five Student Speakers

  • Zoelle Cacia, MPAc
  • Trevor Gould, Full-Time MBA
  • Jesse Rodriguez, Sacramento Part-Time MBA
  • Ananta Sen, Bay Area Part-Time MBA
  • Shini Yang, MSBA

Meet Our Speakers

We asked the speakers about what attracted them to UC Davis, their student experience, their inspirations and what’s next after graduation.

Zoelle Cacia, MPAc

Zoelle Cacia

Hometown: New York City, but I moved to San Diego when I was seven, so I call it home.

Why UC Davis? I applied to UC Davis because I was interested in the Audit Data Analytics program, and I heard it prepared students well for recruiting. When I visited for the first time, I knew the GSM would be a great fit. Going through the interview process, I felt that they wanted to find students who they thought would be a great addition to the program. I loved the family feel and close-knit community.

Trevor Gould, Full-Time MBA

Trevor Gould

Hometown: I originally hail from San Rafael in Marin County.

Why UC Davis? I chose UC Davis for my MBA for two primary reasons. First, its close proximity to the Bay Area, the world’s center for technological innovation and commerce. Second, the tight-knit community of students, faculty, staff and alumni that embody the inclusivity and diversity that define the School.

Jesse Rodriguez, Sacramento Part-Time MBA

Jesse Rodriguez

Hometown: I grew up in South Gate, in southeast Los Angeles, but eventually moved to the Sacramento area to finish up high school.

Why UC Davis? After community college in the area, I transferred to UC Davis as an economics major and sociology minor. That’s where my relationship with UC Davis began. After being in the workforce for a few years, I wanted to sharpen my business acumen and get into more of a business consulting role, particularly with Latino and minority-owned businesses. Given my ties to the city, to UC Davis, and desire to continue building in my community, the GSM was the best choice for me.

Ananta Sen, Bay Area Part-Time MBA

Ananta Sen

Hometown: I was born in London, and spent the larger parts of my school and college years in Singapore, India, Edinburgh, U.K. and Muscat, Oman. I moved to the U.S. in 2015.

Why UC Davis? I chose UC Davis after attending an MBA information session in early 2017, and after meeting with current students. Having never studied in the U.S. before pursuing an MBA, I was looking for a business school in the Bay Area with smaller class sizes, diversity in the classroom and renown professors. The UC Davis program seemed to have it all. What really drew me to the School was how collaborative and helpful the students and faculty were. I can honestly say that I have not been disappointed a single day for the last two years. Studying at the GSM has truly been the best academic and career decision I have ever made.

Shini Yang, MSBA

Shini Yang

Hometown: I am from Yunnan, China.

Why UC Davis? I graduated from the School of Economics at the Renmin University of China. I chose the MSBA program at UC Davis because I enjoy business analytics, combining data and business. Another big advantage is the UC Davis MSBA program location in San Francisco, the program’s network in the Bay Area and the very considerate student services staff who provided quick responses during my application and the reputation of very helpful faculty members.

What are your favorite GSM Memories?

Jesse Rodriguez: My favorite memory is participating in the School’s first international Integrated Management Project experience. We visited Chile for a week to conduct in-country research for our client, UC Davis Global Affairs. We also had the opportunity to explore Santiago and eventually made our way to Valparaiso. It was incredible to work on a project that benefits the university as a whole while also gaining experience working with groups in South America. 

Zoelle Cacia: Some of my favorite memories each quarter are watching the presentations in Professor Will Snyder’s class and the way students always make them funny and exciting. I’ve also made wonderful friends in the program, and some of my best memories are just hanging out on campus together or exploring Sacramento together.

Ananta Sen: My friends refer to me as a “global citizen.” That’s because the question of where I am originally from has always been a tough to answer. Although my family is originally from Kolkata, India, neither my parents nor I were brought up there. I was born in London, and spent the larger parts of my schooling and many of my college years in Singapore, India, Edinburgh U.K., and Muscat, Oman. I moved to the U.S. in 2015 to study—it became a stepping stone for an MBA. Being able to travel again and be a part of the GSM’s first international capstone course Integrated Management Project in Santiago, Chile, for our client, UC Davis Global Affairs, in March 2019, was truly one of my favorite memories here. It’s something I’ll never forget.

Which Professor(s) Inspired you the Most?

Mike Palazzolo was instrumental in conveying to me the powerful capabilities of marketing analytics coupled with the innumerable benefits associated with data fluency. He has also served as a mentor, and I’ve really benefitted from his support.”

—Trevor Gould

Shini Yang: The professors that impressed me the most are Lecturer Noah Gift (Machine Learning course) and Lecturer Mehul Rangwala (Data Management course). I was impressed by their professionalism, enthusiasm for spreading knowledge, and most of all, their well-designed courses. They prepared us for the real business world.

Who has had a Big Influence on Your Life?

Zoelle Cacia: My step-dad has had an incredible influence on me. He has always encouraged me to follow my dreams and most importantly, chose what will make me happy. When I am unsure of something or have a big decision to make, I know I can always look to him for advice and guidance. But regardless of what I ultimately end up choosing, I know he will still support me. I am so thankful that I have him. My step-dad will be one of those who will place my hood at the  Commencement ceremony. I’m so happy that he is willing to participate.

“My family plays a huge role in my life. My parents immigrated from El Salvador to the U.S. so that their children could have the opportunities that I’ve gratefully been provided over the years. They’ve worked hard and have endured challenges along the way. I thank them for everything and know that this celebration is for them, just as much as it is for me.”

—Jesse Rodriguez

Trevor Gould: My parents have had a profound amount of influence on me. They have always demonstrated how unwavering character and commitment to meaningful purpose can positively impact the world in so many ways. To say, “They have been unconditionally supportive of me throughout my life,” would be a gross understatement and I will always possess immense appreciation for everything they have done for me. I thank them by doing my best to continue to grow on a personal and professional level on a daily basis.

What’s Next?

Jesse Rodriguez: I’m working for an investment consulting firm, Upwelling Capital Group, in Davis, which is headed by a GSM alumnus. It’s a role that I started mid-way through my time in the MBA program, and I plan to stay with the firm after graduation. We have the opportunity to work on a broad array of projects that impact institutional investors and fund managers in the private equity and venture capital space.

“I intend on taking on a job in the education sector to give back to students, as I have truly enjoyed my time here at the GSM and I want to offer this amazing experience to future students.”

—Ananta Sen

Zoelle Cacia: The MPAc program prepares us very well for job interviews and meetings with potential employers. Although most recruiting is done in September and October, I applied to six companies and received five job offers. Three out of the five were at Big Four accounting firms. I was also hoping to find a job in San Diego to be closer to my family and was surprised when three of the offers were for the San Diego Offices. I ultimately chose to accept a position as an Audit Associate for EY in San Diego and I’m very excited to start working there!

Live and on-demand webcasts of the GSM Commencement will be available at the campus Commencement Video web site.

Learn more about GSM Commencement.

2019 UC Davis GSM Commencement Speakers