Local business leaders pay it forward at Fresno State

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- At Fresno State, students are getting a closer look at what business life is like for Valley leaders.

"I wanted to create a place where they could regularly come, meet with community members, and get comfortable. That's why we started it. We had 30 community members in the beginning and now we're at 250 plus," said Mendy Laval, found of Pay It Forward.

Laval, a former business owner, started the Pay it Forward Luncheon Series in 2016.

Student Joshua Gragnani owns his own business and comes to learn.

"A lot of the real-life lessons, the behind the scenes stuff. How do you become a manager, how do you lead people, how to be successful in non-monetary terms," said Fresno State student, Joshua Gragnani.

Leaders in a variety of professions, from manufacturing to engineering and more, are a part of the interactive session.

"I'm a Fresno State grad. I wished I had talked with business people before I graduated and did whatever lunacy I did," said Rudy Newfield, retired adviser.

Owner of Brown Bear's Hot Dog, Benjerman Raya, spoke about how to make your dreams come true.

"Never give up on life. Life has an opportunity to give you a chance to be somebody in this world. And you have a chance this time," Raya said.

As for students, they're already learning lessons.

"I've gotten help with my hemp product line, humble hemp products, so I'm appreciate of it," said Fresno State student, Alicia Porras.

Organizers believe efforts like this help strengthen our future workforce.

The next Pay It Forward luncheon will be March 10 here at the Satellite Student Union. Leaders and students will be discussing leadership, life and legacy.
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