Try New Ideas, Take Risks: Fund Supports CSUN Students with Entrepreneurial Dreams by Patty Park, CSUN Today
Emily Serebryany ’94 (Accounting) has some words of wisdom to share with CSUN’s aspiring entrepreneurs: Success lies in trying new ideas, and failure is the risk of trying.
To support CSUN’s innovators and risk takers, Serebryany recently made a $50,000 gift to establish the Emily Serebryany Leadership Fund in Entrepreneurship in the David Nazarian College of Business and Economics. The fund is open to all full-time CSUN students who have creative ideas and dream of starting their own businesses.
Serebryany’s definition of success and failure comes from her own life experiences as an immigrant who arrived in the United States from the former Soviet Union in 1988. Married with a young child, she had made a promise to her father that she would continue her education. She enrolled at CSUN because of its affordability and good reputation, and said she majored in accounting for practical reasons, thinking she could always find a job in that field.
Instead, the skills and knowledge she gained in the Nazarian College inspired her and her husband to create Mediscan, a successful healthcare staffing company, where she served as president from 1995 until it was sold to a publicly traded company in 2015.
“The most impactful classes for me at CSUN were marketing and business law,” Serebryany said. “I remember my marketing class final project was to create a business plan for Starbucks and identify areas of potential growth. I learned how to conduct the research necessary for putting together a growth plan. I used the same type of research when we started developing Mediscan. And business law helped me navigate numerous contracts that the company was signing.”
Serebryany said she established the Emily Serebryany Leadership Fund in Entrepreneurship because she feels grateful for the education she received at CSUN.
“I feel that it gave me a good foundation to build my own company,” she said. “This fund is a way for me to say thank you and to give back.”
It’s also a way for her to inspire students who face roadblocks, like she did.
“Being an immigrant and a woman when we started the company in 1994 was a very different playing field than it is today,” Serebryany said. “It was helpful that the company was in healthcare, because even then, healthcare traditionally had a higher percentage of women managers. However, it was normal to be discounted or not to be taken seriously. My solution at the time was to continue building the company’s reputation by creating value for the customers by over-delivering and uncovering new business opportunities ahead of the competition.”
Her strategy worked: Mediscan built its reputation on offering a personal touch while connecting its clients with healthcare professionals, and it became a leader in providing medical staffing services across the nation.
Serebryany said that coming from a different country, she questioned everything to understand how things worked. “Did we fail multiple times along the way with trying different ideas? You bet we did,” said Serebryany, the mother of two successful entrepreneurs. “However, looking back at our business journey, if we never tried and finally figured out what was working, I would not be in the position that I am in today.”
Now, thanks to Serebryany, other students will have the chance to embark on their business journeys to bring their viable ideas to market.
“Emily Serebryany has played an inspirational role to our students,” said Chandra Subramaniam, dean of the David Nazarian College of Business and Economics. “She has participated as a judge for several student pitch competitions in our college and has been an advisor for startups as well. She understands the challenges students face when trying to launch a business, and her generosity in establishing the Emily Serebryany Leadership Fund in Entrepreneurship will provide our innovative students with the support and resources they need.”
Serebryany is happy to give back.
“With this fund, I hope to support students who have the dreams and courage to venture out on their own and start their own companies,” she said. “It is also my hope that students with backgrounds similar to mine will apply: first-generation immigrants and women. I want to help them succeed.”
Visit the Nazarian College website to apply or learn more about the Emily Serebryany Leadership Fund in Entrepreneurship.