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Alumni of the Month

Alumni of the Month - June 2011

Jessica Robles
Cecilia Pagkalinawan

Jessica Robles - Q&A

What was your favorite class and who was your favorite professor at Hofstra?
My favorite class was Psychology of Sexual Health with Dr. Corinne Kyriacou.

What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
I currently work as a community health educator, particularly with maternal and infant health.  In high school I was introduced to public health and advocacy. While at Hofstra, I interned at Planned Parenthood of Nassau County and NARAL Pro-Choice New York. I have always had a passion for women's health issues, reproductive health, and women's rights. After graduation I knew I wanted to fuse my passion with the skills I learned as a community health major – I landed the perfect position as a community health educator, with a primary focus on women's health.

What at Hofstra gave you your edge?
The relationships I developed with my professors and Hofstra administrators gave me my edge. I fostered mentoring relationships, and have maintained them since graduation. The professors in the Health Professions and Kinesiology Department care about their students' academic, professional, and personal goals. Student Affairs administrators taught me invaluable leadership skills and gave me the opportunity to implement programs for other students.

What advice would you give current Hofstra students?
Hofstra is the perfect place to explore your interests, and students should take advantage of the endless possibilities an education at Hofstra can provide. Get involved in clubs and organizations that interest you, especially those that complement your major or area of study.

In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
Progressive.

As a student, what were your goals for the future?
My goals were to graduate from Hofstra and find a job as a health educator for a leading women's reproductive health organization. I also wanted to return to school for a master's degree in public health or nursing.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I will begin pursuing a master's degree in higher and postsecondary education at Columbia University, Teachers College, in fall 2011. In 10 years, I see myself working as a university administrator, perhaps as a director of student activities. I will definitely continue to advocate for women's rights.

Jessica Robles

Jessica Robles '10 has always had a passion for women's rights. She earned a Bachelor of Science in community health and psychology, and credits her educational experiences at Hofstra with providing the foundation for a career as a health educator. Jessica's community health interests include family planning and reproductive health issues for women.

While at Hofstra, Jessica worked as a public health aide for the Nassau County Department of Health in 2008, interned in public affairs at Planned Parenthood of Nassau County in 2009, and served as the youth programs intern at NARAL Pro-Choice New York in 2010. Jessica is currently working as a community health educator at The Bronx Health Link (TBHL), a community-based organization focused on improving the health of women and their families in the Bronx. As TBHL's community health educator, Jessica facilitates workshops on various health topics, including chronic diseases, family planning, nutrition and obesity, maternal health, infant and child development, and home safety. Jessica is also responsible for a youth advisory board, a project she proposed to The Bronx Health Link.

Jessica will begin course work towards a master's degree in higher and postsecondary education in the fall.

Cecilia Pagkalinawan - Q&A

What was your favorite class at Hofstra?

I really enjoyed my journalism classes at Hofstra and being part of the News & Views team.  It was great to work in a world-class broadcast video facility and have the opportunity to work with Cablevision & SportsChannel on their original programs.

What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there? 

My first job after graduating was working as an assistant at Zink Entertainment.  It was founded by a couple who had worked at Children's Television Workshop, and they were looking for someone to work on the development team and help create children's programming.  I assisted with writing treatments, pitches, and working on the production of children's videos.

What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry? 

My field of specialty is in e-commerce and online marketing.  I had been working at an advertising agency in the early '90s as a media specialist when the Internet was just emerging as a viable marketing tool.  Clients started asking what the internet was about and what they should do with it.  I was the in-house person who always shared articles about the Internet and tried to get the agency to pay attention to this new medium.  I wound up being assigned to help clients develop their websites.  I had to find Web developers to help with this process.  At the time there were only a handful of Web developers in New York.  One of the companies we selected wound up hiring me as the sixth person for K2 Design and, eventually, I became vice president of client services, helping clients such as AOL, IBM, Audi, Toys R Us, and Nine West with their online strategies.

What at Hofstra gave you your edge? 

The extracurricular activities at Hofstra gave me an edge.  I found out that another person who graduated from Yale also applied to my first job at Zink, but since I had more extracurricular and hands-on experience, I was able to get the job.  I had also spent every summer and winter break working at ad agencies, so having work experience on my resume helped quite a bit.

What advice would you give current Hofstra students?

I think it's very important to know what you want and be determined to pursue that goal.  I hate to say this, but I worked all the time while at Hofstra.  If I wasn't in classes, I would work on television programs for Issues and News & Views, plus have at least 20 hours a week of work-study at Dempster Hall, the television and broadcasting facility.  Real-world work wound up being easy after such a long and demanding schedule while at Hofstra.

In one word, how would you describe Hofstra? 

Vibrant.

What about the e-commerce industry attracted you to become involved in the field? 

You have to be multidisciplinary when working in e-commerce.  It is beneficial to use both the left and right sides of your brain.  One day you could be producing or creative directing a photo shoot and, on another day, analyzing data on site performance.  Working with a variety of clients early on had helped me understand the core needs of an online marketing campaign. No matter if it's a car company, a bank, or a toy company, the goals are the same; it's just the target audience that is different.

What advice would you give to an e-commerce business seeking exposure? 

Do plenty of research and competitive analysis.  It is important to understand what you are getting into and who your target customer is.  A strategy should be accurate and realistic.  It's important to dream big but also be pragmatic about what is achievable.

What marketing strategies do you feel are essential for e-commerce businesses to incorporate?

Social media is an important component of online marketing right now.  The voice of individuals who may not be as famous can be very influential with marketing your brand as long as they have the right influence and social network.  Targeting multiple customer demographics is challenging and exciting at the same time. 

Cecilia Pagkalinawan

Cecilia Pagkalinawan '89 has a remarkable track record in launching and marketing successful e-commerce businesses. She currently is CEO of StyleTrek.com, an e-commerce boutique dedicated to helping entrepreneurial fashion designers from around the globe reach new customers through social commerce. Ms. Pagkalinawan founded StyleTrek in February 2010 after raising $1.5 million in seed capital from angel investors and venture capitalists, including RRE Ventures, Pelion Venture Partners, Primera Capital, Freestyle Capital, Madison Angels, and Angel Hub. Previously, she launched and marketed online stores for Nine West, Burberry, Frette, and La Perla. She has grown sales from 40 to 70 percent year after year for fashion brands.

Cecilia has experience in running and working for Internet startups such as K2, RichFX, and Abilon, and was CEO of BoutiqueY3K, an e-commerce consulting firm. After working at several dot-com startups, Cecilia was the founder/CEO of Boutique Y3K (1998-2001); vice president, strategic development at RichFX (2002-2004); consulting director of e-commerce at Burberry (2004-2006); and became vice president of e-commerce and direct marketing at Frette and La Perla (2006 to 2010).

Cecilia has received numerous prestigious awards for her work, including the National Association of Women Business Owners Award and the Rockefeller Foundation's Next Generation Leadership Fellowship. Cecilia was featured in both Silicon Alley Reporter's "Top 100 Internet Executives of New York" and A Magazine's "10 Hottest Asian American Entrepreneurs Under 30." Cecilia is among 96 executives featured in the book Distinguished Asian-American Business People, published in 2004. She has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Wall Street Journal Asia, VOGUE, Asiaweek, BusinessWeek, Fortune Small Business, Entrepreneur, Advertising Age, and E-commerce Times and appeared on CNN's "Entrepreneurs Only." She is a frequent speaker at conferences on e-commerce, multi-channel marketing and entrepreneurship.

Cecilia has been actively involved with Mayor Bloomberg's Fashion NYC 2020 initiative, chaired by Rick Darling, CEO of LF USA; Diane von Furstenberg, chairman and founder, DVF, and president, Council of Fashion Designers of America; Terry Lundgren, Chairman, president and CEO of Macy's; Andrew Rosen, CEO of Theory; and Kevin Ryan, CEO of Gilt Groupe. Cecilia is also an active member of the Luxury Marketing Council and is on the advisory board of the Luxury Interactive Conference.