Graduating From SJSU: A Family Business
The Dizon family celebrated two graduations at the fall 2022 College of Business commencement ceremony — father Rom Dizon, ’96 Business Administration, ’23 MBA, and his daughter Caitlin, ’23 Business Administration. (From left to right: mother Jennifer Dizon, ’97 Business Administration; Rom; Caitlin; daughter and second-year SJSU student Emily Dizon; son Matthew, ’16 Business Administration; and grandmother Sharon Hanson, ’69 English). Photo: Jim Gensheimer
On December 15, the Dizon family shared a unique moment when father Rom Dizon, ’96 Business Administration, ’23 MBA, and his daughter Caitlin, ’23 Business Administration, graduated side-by-side in the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business fall 2022 commencement ceremony.
Earning a degree from San José State University is a regular order of business for the Dizons — in fact, a total of 11 family members have graduated or will graduate soon from the university.
In addition to Rom and Caitlin’s graduation this fall, wife and mother Jennifer, ’97 Business Administration, will earn her MBA, in spring 2023. Meanwhile, their youngest daughter Emily is halfway through her second year of undergraduate studies and also plans to study business. The eldest Dizon sibling, Matthew, graduated in 2016 with a BS in business administration and concentration in marketing.
So what was it like to have the parents and two daughters attending the same university, let alone studying the same major, at the same time?
“I never imagined myself going to college at the same time as my parents,” said Emily.
Caitlin commented, “It was kind of funny, because it was during the pandemic. So the house became a little bit like a library at times, where we would all hop on Zoom and be in class or do our class work.”
Those times in the makeshift “library” resonate with Emily. “Being able to see [my family] working hard in a way that I can understand and relate to, in terms of studying and doing homework, has allowed me a new perspective into seeing their motivation in action.”
For Jennifer, her impending graduation in May is a stroke of good timing and smart business. Jennifer has worked at Paypal as a senior product manager for over a decade, though with workforce reductions on the rise, she has been notified that her current role will be eliminated within Silicon Valley.
“I’m glad that I started my MBA when I did,” she said. “One of the things that really spurred me to go back to school was the idea of being competitive within Silicon Valley. I saw more and more people entering the workforce with an advanced degree.”
A family of Spartans
Jennifer, and Rom, who is director of product management at Change Healthcare, first met at a summer job while they were in high school, before dating at SJSU. Both worked full-time during their undergraduate careers — Jennifer at a grocery store and Rom in night security. On top of their academic and job workloads, they also welcomed their first child, Matthew.
“When there was an overlap of classes, we would hand off [our son] to each other,” said Rom. “Our son would have been [at SJSU] one or two times out of the week. Getting the San José State degree helped us [form] the foundation [of our careers].”
Jennifer and Rom both point to SJSU’s affordability — then and now — and the networking opportunities of their programs as major factors in why they sought out the university for themselves and why it made sense for their children. While juggling a career and raising three children, the desire to pursue a MBA was “always there” for the couple. As their youngest daughter entered her senior year of high school, the desire grew even stronger. Rom also noted a presentation led by Interim Dean Marco Pagani was another key factor in pushing him to obtain an advanced degree.
Caitlin, who was a member of the Gary J. Sbona Honors Program and participated in the International Collegiate Business Strategy Competition, said she had a gut feeling that SJSU would be the best place for her.
“I am really thankful for all the experiences I’ve had with the different programs and my professors,”she said. “I feel like I’m a completely different person, and I think San José State is a big part of it. It helped me grow and learn a lot more about myself and see the possibilities out in the world.”
Aside from the five members of the Dizon family, several of Jennifer’s family members are also SJSU alumni. In 1969, Jennifer’s mother, Sharon Hanson, and father, Sidney Castro, both graduated with English degrees. Robert McCard, Jennifer’s stepfather, graduated in 1972 with a degree in political science. Jennifer’s aunt, Kathleen Hanson, graduated with a degree in Spanish in 1971 and earned her secondary education teaching credential in 1972. Her uncle, Roger Hanson, graduated with a degree in Business in 1975 and grandfather, Norman Hanson, obtained his School Counseling Credential.
Learn more about the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business.