BSHS Alumni: Taking Care of Business
Last updated 4/3/2020 at 12:45pm
As the college counselor at Borrego Springs High School, I had several students express an interest in "studying business" in college. After asking them what they wanted to focus on specifically, they could rarely answer. After life and college exploration, many of our graduates have found their way toward interesting jobs within the world of business. This story focuses on Miguel Manzano and Jack Taylor, graduates from 2009 and 2015, respectively.
Both Miguel and Jack were outgoing, well-liked, and amiable students who had a desire to attend college after high school. Both young men made discoveries about themselves, their strengths, and their interests during their post-graduation journeys.
Jack Taylor has been a golfer--and a good one--since he was very young. He was on the successful golf team at Borrego Springs High School for four years. His passion was golf! While completing college searches in his Senior AVID class, he discovered that the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) has a PGA Golf Management program that prepares students for a variety of careers in management, hospitality, marketing, consulting, or retail in--all in the world of golf. UNLV is one of only 18 PGA-accredited university programs in the country. Jack said, " I didn't have a passion I knew of at the time I was a senior, except golf. I thought studying business of some kind might be a good idea, too. UNLV was the closest school to Borrego that has a PGA Golf Management program. I applied to UNLV, then it was the first college I visited." His visit to UNLV his senior year was so impressive, that he accepted admission to the 4 ½ year program.
Jack experienced what he called "huge culture shock" when he first arrived at UNLV. "The first semester was the hardest. I came from a high school of 110 students, and at UNLV I had a class the first semester with 300 students." Fortunately for Jack, the PGA program community within the university is small, with 100 students in the program at the university of 30,000 students. "The directors of the PGA program were like counselors and advisors. The older students served as mentors to us. The program kept us really busy with classes, and I was on the golf team, so it helped to keep me busy and away from negative things. I think being so busy helped me focus and get better grades." Jack also said that he chose UNLV because it would give him an opportunity to live away from home and learn about a different world outside of Borrego Springs, while being close enough to easily drive home for a weekend visit.
While at UNLV, Jack had classes in accounting, cooking, food health and safety, cost control, business planning, teaching golf, and hospitality. "The hospitality program at UNLV is the best in the country! We have a lot of access to the hospitality industry, so we had many guest speakers from the large hotels come to our classes. Our golf facilities are some of the best in the country, too. Golfers on the pro tour come to our facilities to improve their skills." The university has added a 60 million dollar hospitality complex, and has infused $2 million dollars into their golf technology.
In addition to the required coursework, golfing, and working part-time during the school year, Jack was required to complete three summer internship programs at different golf courses around the U.S. His internships were in Lake Tahoe, California; Portland, Oregon; and Boston, Massachusetts. These internships not only afforded Jack an opportunity to see other parts of the country and be surrounded by golfers, but also to learn some of the "soft skills" that employers value. "I learned to work with different types of people and different personalities. I learned to network. The experience in Boston was the most startling for me. It is very hustle-bustle there, and the East Coast is more intense than the West Coast. It was completely different from Borrego!" These internships also gave Jack an opportunity to narrow his focus in his college studies and consider his future. " I worked 60 – 80 hours a week, and 100 hours a week when there were tournaments. That made me think about whether I wanted to be a golf pro at a course full time. I love golf, but doing that might make me not like it. I decided to take on a marketing minor. Working in marketing can pay more money than working at a golf course, but I can still be in a golf-focused business." And of course, he can still golf! In fact, as part of the program, Jack is a certified PGA professional, which qualifies him to give lessons.
Jack graduated from UNLV in December 2019, with a Bachelors in Hospitality, and a minor in Marketing. To complete the program, he is required to complete a seven-month post-graduate internship. He is meeting this requirement by serving as the manager at a TravisMathew store in Las Vegas, which sells golf apparel.
Miguel Manzano graduated from Borrego Springs High School in 2009. He earned very good grades, including in his AP and advanced classes. "I was good in math in high school, so I thought business might be a good major for me," said Miguel. "I was always thinking of something I could make a career out of, where I could make good money. When I was young I thought I wanted to open a restaurant. In college they told us that restaurants have an 80 percent failure rate, so then I thought maybe I could own a different type of small business."
Miguel was always a hard worker in high school, working part-time and playing multiple sports. "I had the advantage of being in the AVID class, so my senior year, I learned about everything I needed to do to go to college. I would never have known about the SAT, placement tests, or even how to apply to colleges without that class." He applied to San Diego State, which was his first choice. SDSU typically receives more freshman applicants than any other university in the U.S. An offer of admission is often more dependent on luck than anything else. Although Miguel had qualifying grades and SAT scores, he was not one of the lucky ones in 2009.
He decided to go to Palomar College, then transfer to SDSU or CSU San Marcos. "I went to Palomar College for three years. The first couple of semesters, I didn't have a counselor so I took classes I didn't need. I applied to get into the TRIO program. I finally got in, which was super helpful." (TRIO is a federal program that supports first-generation college students. One of their supports is specialized guidance and counseling for TRIO students.)
Miguel encountered a few challenges while at Palomar College. "The placement tests (in English and Math) were a wake up call. I didn't feel prepared." One of the biggest challenges Miguel had was paying for school. "I had a couple of scholarships, but there was a time when I was working full-time and going to school full-time. One of the most expensive things to pay for at Cal State was parking. I didn't get any free financial aid. I had all my buddies who were asking me to go do things, but you just have to say 'no' because you have to pay for your school. What helped some was I was living with my sister, Laura, who was also going to college at Palomar."
After three years, Miguel was able to transfer to CSU San Marcos. At CSU, business majors can choose their emphasis. Miguel chose accounting because of his math skills. While there, he was part of a student society that focused on business. "We would bring in people from different industries around San Diego County. We had a speaker who talked about supply chain management. He told us that the job forecast for supply chain management in the next 10 years would grow more than many other areas in business. At that moment, I decided to switch my emphasis. I never looked back."
All seniors at Cal State are required to complete a Senior Experience. Miguel's team worked with a local real estate company in their social media marketing plan. His team recommended that the company create an app so they could interact more effectively with well-known home builders.
"We helped them optimize their systems. The Senior Experience really helped me learn how to schedule my time and interact with others. People don't realize how hard it is to work with different personalities. The Senior Experience helps prepare you in that aspect."
Miguel graduated from CSU San Marcos in May 2016. After a stint at Hewlett-Packard in Rancho Bernardo, he began work in procurement for government projects at General Atomics. "I deal with procurement for government projects for the navy or the army, like drones. Security is really tight at General Atomics because it's a government entity. We have to make sure that everything is cost effective. What I like about it is it's very clear cut. I work with forecasts and trends to predict how much customers will buy. It can be really stressful, though. Sometimes we are asked to build a plane 'right away,' so I have to be really careful about procuring materials."
Reflecting back on their high school years, Jack and Miguel have similar perspectives.
"I'm grateful that I went to high school there (in Borrego Springs), but also I'm glad that I have seen other places and met other people. I've met people from so many different industries and from around the world," Jack shared with me. "In hospitality and working at different golf courses, I've met people from all over. In Borrego, you have a close-knit group of friends, and you can get individual help and support from teachers. But in high school, you don't always see the whole picture of what goes on in the real world. You can get stuck in a routine. College made me grow so much as a person, and gave me more opportunities to learn about the world and about myself."
Miguel feels college helped him "grow up." "College is not a scary thing; there are people who do it with two kids and work full time. It's also fun too. You meet so many people who become lifelong friends, and you form more meaningful relationships. You also figure yourself out. It's real life. No one tells you when to study, so you have to figure out your own time schedule. You also have to wash your own clothes and make sure you have enough food for dinner."
Both young men, having different experiences and choosing different paths, have the same advice for others. They encourage high school graduates to experience the world and try something new, at either community college or a four-year college. The classes will expose you to something new and something that you may really enjoy. Jack Taylor sums up, "There are risks but there are also opportunities. You will come to a personal realization that you are good enough."