The best and brightest minds in the San Diego and Cali-Baja regions will head to UC San Diego’s second annual Ignite Conference to celebrate entrepreneurship and innovation.

The two-day conference connects students and alumni with industry leaders in various industries through keynote addresses, pitch competitions, a startup fair, interactive workshops and more.

“Ignite is a unique opportunity to network with other entrepreneurs on campus and local industry leaders,” said Lada Rasochova (MBA ’08), executive director of the California Institute for Innovation and Development. “We have such a rich ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship and this conference helps to fast track success for students and alums.”

Ignite is catered to those interested in embarking on entrepreneurial journeys, as well as veterans in the startup world. Breakout sessions will cover topics, such as how to use crowdfunding platforms to secure funding for startups, roadmapping early stage startups and navigating the complicated world of intellectual property.

For entrepreneurs and innovators at the Rady School of Management, the decision to participate in the conference was obvious. Ten Rady-affiliated teams will participate in the startup fair, including current mystartupXX and StartR teams, as well as alumni companies such as Ciari Guitars.

Additionally, four Rady speakers will give talks at the event, including Alex Boone (MBA ’18), Silvia Mah (MBA ’10), Sean Haggerty (MBA ’17) and Rasochova.

The first day of the event culminates with a pitch competition where participants will share their enterprise ideas with a panel of expert judges. A number of Rady School student and alumni teams will be participating in the $10,000 Elevator Pitch Competition for a chance to win up to $2,500 in cash.

“The $10,000 Elevator Pitch Competition is a unique event that gives students the opportunity to showcase their ideas to an audience of over 600 people,” said Boone, CEO of the Entrepreneur Challenge — a student run non-profit organization co-hosting the conference. “Access to this early stage funding can be crucial for student entrepreneurs. Additionally, our pitch workshop at Ignite that is mandatory to compete in the $300K Business Plan Challenge will give students the resources to perfect their presentations. ”

February 13, 2018 0 comment
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A technology company and router distributor developed by a Rady School of Management alumna is making waves in the worldwide cryptocurrency market.

Emma Russell (MBA ’15) is the CEO of Gmine, which is the seller and distributor for the Newifi 3 router in the U.S. Gmine distributes routers that can share bandwidth and storage. In return, users will be assigned tokens through smart contract. The Newifi 3 router, the first blockchain-powered router in the world, launched in the U.S. on January 30. Emma is also the CEO of Newifi Global.

The success of the Newifi router was noticed by technical giant Tencent, a Chinese multinational investment holding conglomerate. Tencent decided to explore crowdsourced content delivery networks provided by Newifi 3 router to accelerate its self-developed game, King of Glory. This top-grossing game is the mobile version of League of Legends, which already has 200 million users in China and also generated $5 billion revenue in 2017.

“Thanks to my MBA classes at the Rady School, I can see the big picture, understand entrepreneurial mindsets and know how the real business operates,” Russel said. “Also, my MBA courses gave me the great opportunity to learn and improve my leadership skills, professional knowledge and teamwork values. The Rady School helped me turn my previous role into entrepreneurial one.”

Newifi’s blockchain technology breaks the traditional concept of content delivery network service providers and cloud service providers. Newifi 3 is the only smart router currently available for cryptocurrency mining in the global market. This means that every household can have a premier router to share idle bandwidth and storage resources. Another feature of the Newifi 3 is that the router can become a private cloud by plugging in a portable hard drive. The Newifi 3 also features photo album backup, unregistered device alerts, multi-screen interaction and security protection. All these features make Newifi 3 a popular network attached storage for everyone from typical users to photographers and videographers.



February 6, 2018 0 comment
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Acne, eczema, psoriasis – skin conditions can range from being uncomfortable to embarrassing to downright painful. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, more than 85 million Americans and almost a billion people globally suffer from skin diseases.

Inspired by a need to help those suffering from various skin disorders, a Rady School of Management alumna created a dermatology company that recently partnered with Johnson & Johnson as part of a new collaboration aimed at creating new innovative treatments to help millions of people around the world achieve healthier skin.

Lada Rasochova (MBA ‘08) – who also serves as the executive director of the California Institute for Innovation and Development at Rady – started Dermala, a consumer dermatology company that uses the human microbiome to develop better treatments for skin diseases and various skin conditions based on technology licensed from the University of California San Diego.

The human microbiome is the collection of all microbes that live on and in our bodies. We have ten times more microbial cells than human cells and hundred times more microbial genes than human genes.

“The microbiome is very important for our health. When our body’s microbiome gets disrupted it typically results in a disease, including skin diseases,” Rasochova said. “When the microbiome is brought back into balance, health can be restored.”

Using a variety of microbiome-based products ranging from topical treatment to oral probiotics, Dermala targets the many causes of skin diseases without using harsh chemicals. For example, Dermala’s products for the treatment of acne inhibit acne causing bacteria while promoting beneficial bacteria in the microbiome which restores healthier, acne-free skin.

Dermala is not your average skincare company – in addition to topical and oral treatments, each customer will receive a microbiome sample collection kit. By measuring an individual’s skin and gut microbiome, Dermala will be able to optimize the treatments to fit the specific needs of their customers.

“Most consumer dermatology products are developed for an average customer,” Rasochova said. “Dermala is different. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution similar to all the other treatments currently on the market. We optimize the treatment based on the microbiome and treatment outcomes.”

The decision to partner with Johnson & Johnson was an obvious one. When Dermala launched, the company was accepted into JLABS, the Johnson & Johnson Innovation incubator that supports startup companies in the healthcare sector.

“Johnson & Johnson is a leader in consumer dermatology,” Rasochova said. “Being located at JLABS definitely helped us get noticed. This partnership with Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. and Johnson & Johnson Innovation LLC will help us accelerate the technology development and take it to market.”

Next steps

Dermala recently launched microbiome-based treatments for acne that received overwhelming positive feedback from its first round of customers. Currently, Dermala is working on incorporating into the treatment regimen the microbiome analysis and a mobile application that customers will use to track their treatment progress while using the Dermala products. In addition to acne, Dermala is also working on developing eczema treatments and several microbiome-based anti-aging products.

Rasochova credits her time at the Rady School for helping her develop and launch her successful business.

“My time as an MBA student at the Rady School was transformational,” she said. “It helped me, as a scientist, see the big pictures and see the business case really clearly. The Rady School helped me take the science and turn it into a business.”


January 30, 2018 0 comment
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With unique skill sets and experience in a variety of fields, veterans are equipped to inspire changes in the world with exciting innovations. But not every veteran has the option to enroll in an MBA program to learn the stages of how to get a new business off the ground – a gap that a new program developed at the Rady School of Management aims to fill.

To support veterans embarking on entrepreneurial journeys, the Rady School of Management joined forces with the UC San Diego Basement, an entrepreneurial center on campus, to create Veteran Ventures, an accelerator geared toward helping veterans turn business ideas into functioning enterprises.

Vish Krishnan, faculty advisor of Veteran Ventures and professor at the Rady School of Management, worked with Mike Hayden (MBA ’15) and Brianna Weisinger, a UC San Diego Startup Advocate, to develop courses suited to the needs of veteran entrepreneurs. The program, which is free of charge was developed to assist veterans at all levels of entrepreneurship, from an initial idea to a fully formed concept.

Launched in April, the accelerator program recently wrapped up its initial cohort, graduating 24 participants with business ideas ranging from enhanced cybersecurity technology to better ways to deliver healthcare.

“Veterans have given our country and their communities so much, so we see this as a way to give back to them,” Krishnan said. “We wanted to develop a program that was beneficial and free of charge for veterans not just at UC San Diego, but in our community.”

Throughout the ten-week program, participants come to campus to participate in courses with topics such as idea development and business model discovery and definition. With a strong emphasis on mentorship and training, Veteran Ventures has enlisted a talented group of successful San Diego Veterans and professionals to help the participants throughout the process. Talent and experienced mentors, including Richard Coleman, Colonel USMC Retired and co-founder of Optimal Veteran Enterprises; Matt Harper, Commander USN Retired and COO of Think Tank Innovation; and J.D. Davids, Sargent USMC Veteran and Founder of SmartMoneyStartups all bring diverse skills and backgrounds to advance and assist in idea generation, business development and funding.

“We have some amazing, dedicated and successful veteran and civilian mentors that selflessly integrate and support our Veteran Ventures members,” Hayden said. “The mentorship doesn’t stop once the program is over – we continue to work with the veterans to help support them and continue to build their businesses.”

In addition to top-notch support and mentorship, participants have the opportunity to earn funding for viable ventures.

“Thanks to state grant money and private donations, we are able to provide teams that have proven viable ideas with some initial startup funding,” Hayden added.

The program culminates with a pitch to potential investors, followed by an idea contest with the opportunity to win funding for the best innovations.

The success of the initial cohort and amount of positive feedback from participants set the stage for the program to continue. Veteran Ventures is currently supporting a new group of eager veterans with exciting ideas for future commercial opportunities.

“Veteran Ventures at UC San Diego has been a great way for me to practice pitching my idea and listen to others pitch their ideas,” said Robert Sweetman (MBA ’19), Navy Petty officer. “The network of mentors gives us professional feedback and a resource for improvement. The networking within VV has already opened up several doors. When I first arrived at Veteran Ventures at UC San Diego, I did not have a solid plan. Now, with the mentorship, our funding award, and space to grow, I feel like we have hit a major mile marker for our business.”

Would you like the opportunity to attend the next Veteran Ventures at UC San Diego? Sign up now for the April 2018 cohort:

January 19, 2018 0 comment
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The start of a new quarter signifies the start of a brand new cohort of innovative thinkers. The StartR Accelerator housed at the Rady School of Management admitted a new batch of startups in the fall who will be working throughout the next few months to develop business, marketing and pitching skills. At the end of the program, teams will pitch their companies to  investors, industry experts and the San Diego community at the StartR Demo Day event.

Fall 2017 StartR teams

Utilizing patent pending electrical biomarkers and machine learning, CReATE provides patient-specific electroanotomical heart models to aid physicians with the diagnosis of ventricular dyssynchrony, program CRT devices and predict patient outcomes to CRT treatment.



E-Way is developing the technology to safely electrify the roads using solar panels.



Key is a platform that enables professional labor partners and doula agencies to build, manage and support their birth clients, within a growing business. We are first-to-market, industry-creating infrastructure, transforming a freelance-based lifestyle market into a profitable industry, delivering an essential pregnancy and birth service.



Kibots reduces the cost, time and risk associated with food safety compliance and enables food establishments to monitor compliance across multiple sites in real-time.


Viking Scientific
Viking Scientific, Inc. (“VSI”) has created a groundbreaking delivery system for pharmaceutical agents, by using drugs as molecular building blocks to construct biodegradable materials. This proprietary “hydrogel prodrug” platform allows measured release of active agents and optimizes management of patients who require regular and consistent dosing.


Wasim the Dream

Wasim The Dream is a platform for motivational speaking services, book sales, career and fitness coaching.

January 18, 2018 0 comment
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The Rady School of Management was home to the recent Global Interdependence Center Money, Models, and Digital Innovation conference – an event dedicated to exploring current trends and their effects on portfolio management, big data and machine learning and crypto-digital currencies.

The conference brought together Rady School academics and practitioners to discuss exciting innovations, the current economic climate and trends that are shifting the world of finance.

According to Michael Melvin, Executive Director of the Master of Finance program: “We are delighted that the GIC chose the Rady School of Management as their partner to host this important conference and bring 75 distinguished finance practitioners to our campus. This reflects the growing stature of our School in the eyes of the global finance community.”

Rady School professors participated in the event as moderators and lecturers. Allan Timmermann, Professor of Finance, presented a talk titled “Quantitative Methods and Judgment: Competitors or Complements?”Michael Melvin served as a moderator for the panel. Finance professor Ross Valkanov gave a lecture detailing different strategies to optimize portfolios. Accounting and finance professor Harry Markowitz — who started the modern portfolio era with his pioneering work on risk and portfolio selection — gave a presentation about his life and the theory that earned him a Nobel Prize in Economics.

The conference also served as a platform to award Eric Rosengren, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, with the Fredrick Heldring Award for Global Leadership. In his keynote address titled “Considering Alternative Monetary Policy Frameworks: An Inflation Range with an Adjustable Inflation Target,” Rosengren discussed the current United States economic climate and suggested alternative frameworks for Federal Reserve inflation targeting policy.

“We were honored to host the GIC Conference,” said Rady School of Management Dean Robert Sullivan.  “The Rady School’s increased focus on quantitative finance and data analytics was perfectly aligned with the theme of the conference.”

About the Global Interdependence Center

 The Global Interdependence Center is a Philadelphia-based nonprofit organization with a global reach. Its mission is to encourage the expansion of global dialogue and free trade in order to improve cooperation and understanding among nations, with the goal of reducing international conflicts and improving worldwide living standards.


January 17, 2018 0 comment
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The Rady School of Management is home to a number of innovative startups launched by students and alumni with the goal of changing the world for the better. One of these companies has been making waves since its inception in 2014, recently launching a partnership with one of the world’s leading ridesharing services.

Aira – an operating system that enables individuals who are or visually impaired to navigate their world with instant access to information – recently secured a partnership with Lyft to ensure transportation is accessible for blind or visually impaired individuals.

So how exactly does this unique company operate? A customer of Aira – dubbed an explorer – uses Smart Glass technology in conjunction with a smartphone device to connect with a network of highly trained people, called Aira Agents, allowing the agents to see a real-time video feed of the user’s surroundings. These agents stay on the line with the explorer to help locate items at the grocery store, navigate through crowded airports, and even compete in marathons.

The partnership with Lyft allows explorers to connect with a driver while staying on the line with an Aira agent, rather than ending an Aira call, contacting Lyft and getting back in touch with an agent once the Lyft request is placed. Aira agents can help explorers navigate to designated pick-up spots, identify vehicles and drivers, provide ETAs, cost estimates, and other ride details.

Aira’s commitment to encouraging explorers to embrace autonomy pairs perfectly with Lyft, which supplied 160 million rides to users in 2016. The new partnership supports Lyft’s commitment to increasing accessibility for their diverse community of riders.

“Lyft is an extremely popular service used by a large number of Aira explorers,” said Amy Bernal (MBA ’14), Vice President of Customer Experience for Aira. “This integration makes it easier for explorers to identify their ride in a busy location, or know which car theirs.”

“Lyft is committed to be a model for the type of community we want our world to be: diverse, inclusive, and safe,” says Suman Kanuganti, Aira Founder and CEO. “Aira’s mission is to give people who are blind or low vision the power of information. I am psyched about this partnership as it’s designed to provide an end-to-end enhanced experience that makes transportation more accessible to all blind and low vision people, anytime and anywhere.”

Suman Kanuganti (MBA ’14) launched Aira during his time as a student at the Rady School of Management as part of the Lab to Market sequence which helps students transform ideas into functioning startups.


January 12, 2018 0 comment
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We all get the same 24 hours, so why do some people accomplish so much more with their time than others?  The answer is good time management. It’s a shift in the way we look at things. Being busy is not the same as achieving results. In fact, the opposite is often true.

Having a frenzy day of activity slows most of us down because we’re dividing our time between so many different tasks.

Time management is the process of organizing and planning how much time you spend on specific activities. Start by tracking where your time goes this week — you might be surprised.

How often do you run out of time?

Are you getting everything done on your to-do list? Do you feel you need another Saturday to keep your head above water?  If so, welcome to the human race — now let’s find our way to sanity.

To start managing time effectively, you need to set goals. Once you know where you’re going you can figure out what needs to be done, and in what order. Without clear goals our time gets used up, thanks to conflicting priorities. By taking time to set goals you’ll quickly spot distractions that can often lead you astray.

The foundation of good time management is setting goals, then backing into the activities needed to make those goals a reality. Here’s where you start if goal setting is new to you.

  1. Start with the big picture. What do you want to do with your life over the next 5 to 10 years?
  2. Next, break these down into smaller targets that you must hit to achieve your big goals. Look at what you can do to start moving towards them. Look at what things you can do in the next year, what could you do in the next month, next week and today.
  3. Last, once you have your plan, start working on it to achieve your goals.

Managing interruptions

How do you manage your time when you’re continually interrupted? If you’re a manager it can be very challenging to work on your top business priorities. For some of us, our employees have new questions and unexpected problems that need to be dealt with right away. Ultimately, that can be a barrier to success. If that’s you, do what you can to minimize those interruptions without scaring people off when they need help.

One step is to realize your day only has so many hours in it. A number of small interruptions can eat up time you need to achieve your goals. With each interruption comes time that you must spend to refocus to successfully complete complex work.

Get control over interruptions by knowing what they are and plan for them in your daily schedule. If the interruptions are to a point where you are frequently pushed off schedule and causing delays in completing your work, start to record the interruptions you experience throughout the day. Do this for a week noting if the interruption was urgent of could have waited for a better time. Once you have recorded your interruptions for a week, analyze the information.

Which interruptions are valid? Ask yourself, “Could some of the valid interruptions be eliminated with a weekly meeting for increased training and clearer communication? Could some of the non-urgent interruptions have waited to be addressed at the same weekly meeting?”

Last, plan how much time is taken up by the urgent, valid interruptions. Block the appropriate amount of time into your schedule needed to handle interruptions and only take on as much work as you can fit into the remaining time.

Nancy Drew teaches Time Management at the Rady School of Management’s Center for Executive Development. Drew is a dynamic business speaker with over 15 years high-level business expertise who is recognized internationally in the United States, Canada and Europe. The course takes place on Jan. 18 and runs from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

January 9, 2018 0 comment
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Research conducted by Michael Callen, Rady School of Management Assistant Professor of Economics and Strategic Management, is being used in Afghanistan to combat government corruption and ensure government workers receive payment for their work.

To combat lost wages and corruption, Callen and his fellow researchers conducted a pilot study using mobile salary payments (MSPs) to pay workers at the Ministry of Labor in Afghanistan. MSPs allow employees to receive their salaries directly via mobile money. Callen’s research is critical for the strengthening Afghan state institutions and guaranteeing service delivery, factors viewed as critical for creating peace and stability in the country.

The preliminary results of that study indicate that using MSPs to pay workers could save the government hundreds of thousands per month, reduce travel cost associated with getting paid and provide salaries in a timelier manner. Because of Callen’s research, the use of MSPs is being written into agreements for future aid and is driving international policy.

Callen’s research is especially important because the U.S. sends more money to Afghanistan than any other country, yet there is little accountability for how that money is spent. The Afghan government spends 59.5 percent of its annual $7.3 billion (in U.S. dollars) budget on salaries. The international community covers about $5 billion of the Afghan annual budget, with most of the remaining $2.3 billion coming from domestic revenue. It is estimated that 40 percent of this money is lost to corruption. This is especially problematic with the payment of government workers, such as police, military and administrators. These agencies often pay “ghost” workers – fake employees added to the payroll so that others can capture their salary.

Delays in payment, garnishments, and payments to ghost employees are common problems in paying government employees in Afghanistan. Many of these issues stem from the fact that most of the salary payments outside urban centers happen in cash as part of a “trusted agent” system. In this system, instead of paying employees directly, the governments make a transfer to a bursar, who is in charge of then distributing cash. The problems using existing trusted agent system are widely recognized, but transitioning all government workers to bank transfers is a challenge. Only four percent of Afghans use a bank account, however, 74 percent of Afghans have a mobile phone. This makes public employee payments in Afghanistan ideally suited for MSPs.

Callen’s research has proven that MSPs are effective for government workers in Afghanistan and the Afghan government is implementing a large reform to start paying all government salaries with mobile money. The goals of this wide-scale reform are to eliminate ghost workers, reduce salary leakage, improve the payment experience and create an inclusive digital payment system appropriate for Afghanistan. The reform has been approved by the President’s High Economic Council, and milestones in the reform are being added as conditions for future assistance from the U.S. and the World Bank. The hope of using MSPs for all Afghan public employees is that in addition to saving the money and fighting corruption, the ability for the government to more accurately deliver payment will strengthen the delivery of services and effectiveness of the Afghan state.

December 14, 2017 0 comment
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My Name is Kambiz “Kam” Zardouzian and I am privileged to have graduated from Rady’s inaugural MSBA class in 2017, which was my second master’s degree.  I have also earned an MBA from the University of San Diego.  I’ve been an entrepreneur most of my career having been involved with a number of technology startups, and have also worked for more established companies such as WD-40, Electronic Data Systems and more. I co-founded Analytica Data Company (ADC) with my fellow student Christopher Armstrong while we were students in the MSBA program. We provide scalable data analytics services to progressive organizations across a number of industries including retail, cyber security, marketing, manufacturing, healthcare and bio-environmental sciences.  Taking a lesson from Silicon Valley startups such as Apple, Google and Facebook, Chris and I recently moved into a house in North San Diego that serves as our headquarters. We currently have two paying clients and are working hard to scale our bootstrap startup.  Having support from everyone at the Rady School of Management means the world to us as we compete in a hyper-growth industry.

1) What impact has Rady had on your career progression?

The MSBA program has brought relevancy to my expertise.  I believe, wholeheartedly, that my 20-plus years of industry experience is packaged more valuably with my MSBA degree from Rady.  There is no door that I can’t open with my new-found knowledge and I owe this fresh start to the MSBA program.

2) Has your Rady MSBA enabled you to change industries or functional areas or even achieve a promotion?

I’ve had several job offers but as I mentioned I am more of an entrepreneur.  So, while I am repeating the startup organizations skills I already possessed, my MSBA degree has opened a lot more doors for me, helping me engage organizations and individuals whom I may not have access to in the past.  It was time for me to reignite my knowledge and reinvent myself by becoming more relevant with today’s business trends and the MSBA program has provided the opportunity for me to engage in discussions to solve impactful challenges facing our world today.

3) What event or realization served as a ‘turning point’ for during your Rady School and/or professional career?

Chris and I were waiting on Professor Nijs to start a tutorial session for his customer analytics class about half way through the quarter.  We had learned enough about the potentials of data analytics to engage in conversations on where and how we would apply our newfound skills post-graduation.  It was during that conversation and the brainstorming of what we could do that Chris and I came to realize that consulting engagements would offer us the best opportunity to sample the world of data analytics from which Analytica Data Company is launched from.

4) Tell us a fun fact about you, or something people may not know about you.

I was introduced to the Rady MSBA program by MBA Alumni Rady Chung, with whom I practice Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  During a training session in early 2016, Brady told me about Rady’s new MSBA program and brought me to school to meet Professor Nijs.  I sat in on his diet customer analytics class for MBA students (diet because he toned it up for the MSBA cohort!) and I found the subject fascinating.  I applied and was accepted from the more than 450 applicants, for which I am truly grateful for because I was on my way to law school and, well, I don’t think the world needs another attorney! Also, Lei Cong and I teamed up with two MBA students (Juliana Brasil and Sabrina Qutb) from Rady to take fourth at last year’s NetImpact business competition. And finally, I am a former collegiate tennis player, accomplished former triathlon and cycling racer, current Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner, as well as standup and regular surfer!

5) What was your favorite class and why?

This is a tough question to answer because I appreciated all the classes because they built off one another.  However, if I had to choose one, it would be Professor Balac’s Big Data class followed closely by Professor Coggeshall’s Fraud Analytics class.  I choose these two classes for their practical application as I am currently using some of the code we wrote for class assignments in real life.

6) What is the most memorable moment from your Rady School experience?

The most memorable moment was when the bobble head doll of Professors Nijs and August that I had made arrived 3 months before graduation.  I waited patiently during that time to finally present them with their dolls on behalf of our cohort.  That and our Nice Decision Tree T-shirts that we had made after the first quarter.

7) How have you applied your studies to your career?

Absolutely … without question! Chris and I are working with a couple of clients for whom we leveraged some of the code we developed during the program. I can’t stress enough for students to keep all their work in a well-organized fashion for this very reason. This becomes even more important as students graduate and are removed from the daily opportunity to practice their knowledge — use it or lose it becomes relevant quickly.

December 4, 2017 0 comment
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