Los Angeles entrepreneur witnesses Providence provide for LSU adventure
August 25, 2009
By Taneshia Farquharson
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – ( www.lasierra.edu )Robert Anguiano entered La Sierra University in 2006 with literally a few dollars in his pocket and a bag of clothes in his hand. He never imagined that three years later he would walk on stage in La Sierra’s Hole Memorial Auditorium to collect three awards and $3,300 in scholarships for his outstanding contribution to the School of Business and its internationally acclaimed Students In Free Enterprise, or SIFE team.
During La Sierra’s 16th Annual School of Business and SIFE Awards ceremony on June 10, Anguiano, then a senior business management major, walked away with the Alumni Association Award and a $300 scholarship; the SIFE President’s Award; and the Pay It Forward Alumni Award with its $3,000 scholarship. He graduated on June 14 and looks forward to starting a Master of Business Administration degree at La Sierra this fall. “It was very moving that they considered me to be the recipient of these awards. It showed me that our work doesn’t go unappreciated,” Anguiano said.
Listening to him tell it now, Anguiano’s story sounds like a work of fiction, but testifies to a walk of faith and many open doors that took him from humble beginnings as the son of immigrants living in East Los Angeles to being captain of the SIFE presentation team at a school he thought was intimidating and beyond his reach.
It all started with a call from Paul Negrete, a SIFE alumnus who challenged the young entrepreneur and manager of his own landscaping business to reach for something bigger. Negrete encouraged him to apply to LSU, just 10 days before the start of the school year. Sitting in the lobby outside enrollment services he recalls hearing students comment on waiting months to get accepted and registered or not being able to start at all. He recalls with a smile how impossible it seemed that he could get into such a school in only 10 days. But with Negrete’s prayers he went forward in faith.
The experience of actually being accepted and registered in such a short time was so surreal that for the first six weeks Anguiano lived in his room in Sierra Towers men’s dormitory with just a pillow, a blanket and a bag of clothes, expecting at any moment to be told he had to leave for some unknown reason. But that reason never came and with no money and no family resources to support him, Anguiano watched God provide for his tuition and expenses year after year.
“I didn’t know if I would be able to pay for school. A lot of people in financial aid went out of their way to find funds for me to attend. Everybody around me was getting denied for loans and I didn’t have a co-signer,” Anguiano said. Yet he against the odds he secured school loans and later received grants to help cover costs.
Three years later Anguiano is one of the most respected members of La Sierra’s SIFE team. The conferring of the SIFE President’s Award, which some presidents give when they encounter a member who has gone above and beyond what is required to make the organization a success, recognizes Anguiano’s contributions.
SIFE is an international organization based in Springfield, Mo. that implements global economic development projects through 1,376 university student teams around the world. The teams compete each year in regional, national and international events. La Sierra’s SIFE team has won an unprecedented six national trophies. The team also won the SIFE World Cup in 2002 and 2007. La Sierra’s team, led by Anguiano, placed third in the nation during national competitions in May in Philadelphia. Panels of corporate leaders judged the events.
As a member of SIFE, Anguiano was involved in multiple areas most notably serving as captain of the presentation team, a member of the organization’s leadership team as well as being involved in such projects as the Kalaala Green Village in Ethiopia. Despite this however he felt particularly connected to the Welfare-to-Work program which exists in partnership with the Family Service Association in Riverside.
The program teaches welfare-dependent women success skills such as how to write a business plan and how to start and run a business. It was most rewarding for Anguiano to work with women who lived in circumstances similar to those he grew up in, many of who reminded him of his own mother and aunts. He remarks that his background made it easy for him to relate to these women and identify with their story and their struggles because his mom and his neighbors all came through the same types of difficult circumstances. “Getting e-mails and hearing success stories [that read] ‘Because of you I feel like I’m someone now, I feel like I’m worth something again,’ that to me is worth more than the awards and championship,” he recounts with pride.
School of Business Dean Dr. John Thomas challenged Anguiano to rise to his potential, crowning the student’s life-changing La Sierra experience. “You don’t know it yet, but you’re a champion and you’re destined for greatness, so no low hanging fruit. Don’t let challenges bring you down and always make sure you strive for success,” Thomas told the young student.
With this in mind Anguiano, whose parents stressed the importance of education, appreciates the fact that he grew up under such difficult circumstances as it has made him more driven and more eager to achieve. “I believe that certain individuals need that to motivate them, to push them to the next level. If I had been handed things I don’t think I would have been as driven, I definitely would have settled more.” He admits that his background has caused him to value even more what he has and what he has achieved and is poised to achieve.
With a mind buzzing with creative entrepreneurial ideas, Anguiano looks forward to remaining heavily involved with helping people in a professional setting in the future, a step which begins with his Pay It Forward Award which will go toward offsetting the cost of his MBA program in the fall.
PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University