Entrepreneurship senior Gannon Daynes is finishing his career at Cal Poly on a strong note, despite encountering several challenges along the way.
When Daynes first arrived at Cal Poly, he was ranked top 50 in the nation for men’s tennis in his age group; however, despite his successes after 15 years of playing tennis, he struggled to adjust to the dynamic of college athletics.
“I struggled to connect with my peers during my first two years of college due to the diminished confidence that I had in myself — it felt like I had lost my identity for a period of time there,” said Daynes. “Prior to college I perceived myself as an elite student and athlete, but during those first two years I felt like I had lost many attributes that were special to me, I was truly lost.”
At the end of his sophomore year, Daynes knew he had to make a change and resign from his tennis career.
“This was an extremely emotional decision for me,” said Daynes. “I came to the conclusion that I had to take ownership of my life and realized that tennis was a driving negative factor of my happiness.”
After leaving the tennis team, Daynes’ life turned around completely. Throughout his junior year, he began to regain his confidence both socially and academically. He began to set — and achieve — goals he had never before thought were possible.
After his junior year, Daynes had the opportunity to intern for Gothic Landscape Inc. – the largest privately owned commercial landscape company in North America. His work that summer gave him the drive to not only succeed academically but to set out to leave a lasting impression on Cal Poly during his last year here.
Now, in his senior year, Daynes is thriving. He has made Dean’s list both quarters this year — a goal he has always struggled to achieve — and is actively involved in the marketing mentors program.
The Marketing Mentor Program is a new program at Cal Poly that pairs elite students with freshman and sophomore marketing students to help advise and guide them through the development of a marketing plan. Daynes is currently the only entrepreneurship student who is a mentor in the program, but that hasn’t held him back; this past year he spent months writing the training manual that will be used for years to come.
“I attribute all of my success to finally taking charge of my life and making decisions that made me happy and fulfilled instead of focusing on others,” Daynes said. “Although that may sound selfish, I believe that if you are not happy and confident with yourself you will never be able to help anyone else.”
After graduation, Daynes will be participating in the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s Summer Accelerator Program to further develop his startup Sectrvm. Spectrvm is a wearable bass shaker geared toward committed Electronic Dance Music (EDM) fans that will improve the communal and immersive experience of EDM music festivals.
Daynes’ final note the he would like to leave for all readers is, “I hope everyone who reads my spotlight will take away that it does not matter where you start, but where you finish. I am a living representation of that and I am only getting started.”
Only 15 miles separates master’s student Cole Estrada from his hometown of Atascadero and Cal Poly’s campus in San Luis Obispo. But his journey to Orfalea’s Master of Science in Economics program took him around the world first on a trip full of unexpected adventures.
Estrada began his pursuit of higher education at Cuesta College in 1992. After graduating high school and spending the summer backpacking Europe, he discovering his love of travel and adventure. But, quickly, he learned that this was not the right time nor place for him to be in school.
In 1995, Estrada moved to San Francisco and began to work on completing his general education units while still trying to determine what the right major was for him. After studying Japanese for two years, Estrada knew that he wanted to pursue a degree in linguistics. He ended up attending UCLA on a full scholarship studying general linguist theory, specializing in Semitic languages and minoring in Arabic and Islamic studies.
After he graduated from UCLA in 2002, he spent the next few months traveling to places like India, Pakistan, and western China with his friends from UCLA. Then, on his own, Estrada travelled to Tibet and Nepal, deciding to settle down somewhere in the Middle East and fully immerse himself in his Arabic studies. Estrada found the perfect place to do so in Sana’a, Yemen where he spent the next eight months living, exploring and learning.
He returned to Santa Monica, Calif. for a short period of time before returning to Yemen in 2006 to live permanently. There, Estrada worked at an English-language publishing house, serving as a copy-editor and eventually as the managing editor of a twice-weekly newspaper.
At the end of 2010, the political atmosphere in Yemen began to shift towards a revolution, and Estrada made his way back to California one more time. While looking back at his time in Yemen, Estrada began to see the importance of economic development, which encouraged him to pursue a degree in the field.
Estrada moved back to his childhood home in Atascadero where he started all over at Cuesta College. He spent two years there studying calculus and linear algebra before he began to take upper division economics courses at Cal Poly in the Orfalea College of Business.
While he was unable to pursue another bachelor’s degree from Cal Poly, he was able to enroll in classes with empty seats with instructor permission. After taking more than 10 economics courses at Cal Poly, Estrada knew that he wanted to earn his master’s degree. As luck would have it, the Orfalea College of Business was just launching its M.S. Quantitative Economics program. “I was over the moon,” said Estrada, “I felt like it was created just for me.”
Estrada is now one of 12 individuals participating in the program. He will be graduating this spring and plans to work for the United Nations, with hopes of taking an assignment somewhere on the Horn of Africa or in the Middle East.
Yuriy Kalbov, a senior accounting student, came to the United States from Russia just six years ago and is already well on his way to having a successful career in accounting.
Before coming to Cal Poly, Kalbov attended Los Angeles City College for two years. There he met his favorite professor, Elenita Ayuyao, who encouraged him to pursue accounting and laid the foundation for him to succeed at Cal Poly.
Though 2014 was a competitive year to transfer into Cal Poly, Kalbov got in and chose to attend because of Cal Poly’s high academic rankings.
During his time here, Kalbov worked as a tutor in the Cal Poly Accounting Club and volunteered as a tax preparer in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. His time as a CPAC tutor taught him how to work with diverse individuals and helped to improve his problem solving skills.
Throughout his academic career Kalbov has completed more than 225 units, allowing him to qualify for his Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license without having to complete a master’s program.
Thanks to the help of Orfalea Student Services and the support of students and faculty, Kalbov has been able to thrive during his time at Cal Poly. “Everything has been pretty smooth,” Kalbov said, “with all of the resources Cal Poly has to offer it is hard not to succeed.”
After graduation Kalbov will join the federal tax practice at KPMG, where he interned this past summer.
Christy Carter is graduating with academic excellence from Cal Poly with an MBA from the Orfalea College of Business and a Master of Science in Engineering Management from the College of Engineering. She earned her bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Cal Poly as well. In her time on campus, she has been a part of a Coleman Fellows research program investigating student interest in innovation and entrepreneurship with Marketing area Chair Lynn Metcalf. In the College of Engineering, Carter helped teach classes and mentor students for aircraft senior design. She also served as secretary for the Graduate Students in Business Association, an ambassador for the College of Engineering, and a study session leader for math and physics courses at Cal Poly.
Additionally, Carter teamed with co-manager Michael Haworth on a large-scale project to design, create and build an Engineering Welcome Center and self-guided tours for each of the thirteen engineering majors for Cal Poly’s College of Engineering. Carter helped navigate the approval process with many campus constituents and students. “We had the idea that it would be great to facilitate self-guided tours, so we initiated a project to develop brochures that would allow anyone to get a feel for each department, whether you’re a prospective student, parent, alum, corporate sponsor, current student looking to change majors, or just curious about the college of engineering,” said Carter.
Carter created and seized opportunities to experience several engineering internships, including an internship with Nor-Cal Products Inc. as a research and development engineer, sales engineer, and supply chain engineer. During the summer of 2014 Carter began an intership at Northrop Grumman Corporation as an aerospace systems engineer and, upon completion of her degrees, will begin a full-time position as an aerospace systems architect with the company in Redondo Beach, Calif.
Cal Poly has become a family tradition in the Carter family with Christy’s younger sister Kelly now attending Cal Poly as a sophomore. Together, the two have volunteered in activities that they both enjoy, including FFA and equine therapy for special needs individuals. “I am so grateful to spend this quality time with my sister building our friendship while giving back to the San Luis Obispo County community,” said Carter.
Carter is excited to take her next step in life pursuing professional goals, exploring the world, and continuing to make family and friends a priority. She will spend the summer visiting family and taking a trip to Alaska before beginning her professional career in September. She also looks forward to returning to Cal Poly in the future to recruit Cal Poly students for jobs and be a guest speaker for classes.
“Cal Poly feels like extended family,” said Carter. “I want to ignite that same passion in other Cal Poly students to make the most of their education.”