With $750 in his pocket and one suitcase in hand, Isaac Larian, ’78, moved to the United States from Tehran, Iran, when he was 17 years old.
He found work as a dishwasher by night, making $1.65 an hour. By day, he attended Cal State LA in pursuit of a civil engineering degree from the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology.
In the four decades since, Larian founded and built MGA Entertainment into the largest private toy company in the world. His toy company is well known for launching the Bratz line of dolls that revolutionized the doll industry and the toy sensation L.O.L. Surprise.
“I am thankful to Cal State LA for giving me the foundation that was needed for me to be successful as a businessman and as a person in this country,” said Larian, CEO of MGA Entertainment.
“I am thankful to Cal State LA for giving me the foundation that was needed for me to be successful as a businessman and as a person in this country.”
Larian shared his awe-inspiring story with dozens of fellow Cal State LA alumni, friends and supporters as he accepted the Alumnus of the Year award.
The Alumni Awards Gala, held in October 2018, was marked by moving stories of humble beginnings, transformative education and exceptional accomplishments. Generations of Diablos and Golden Eagles returned to Cal State LA to honor Larian and 10 other distinguished alumni award winners.
Photo: (From left to right:) Souzane H. Tacawy, Raul Porto, Jr., Margarita Navarro, Beatriz Porto-Magadan, Patricia A. Chin, Isaac Larian, President William A. Covino, Raul J. Cardoza, Laurie Lopez Tixier, Ricson Chude, Gerald Freeny and Sumanta Kumar Pal. (Photo by J. Emilio Flores)
President William A. Covino thanked alumni and supporters for their part in the University’s success and contributions to the region and the world.
“Los Angeles and the nation need Cal State LA alums who understand our ethos of excellence and of service. The world needs Cal State LA graduates who will follow in the footsteps of the alumni we are honoring tonight,” Covino said to the hundreds of guests gathered in the Golden Eagle Ballroom. “To the honorees, simply, thank you. Your success inspires us all. Because of you, Golden Eagles, we are soaring.”
Speakers included Cal State LA Alumni Association Board President Dwight Nakata, ’81, and program emcee and host Rosario Marin, ’83, who is a former U.S. treasurer and the 2002 Alumna of the Year.
The 2018 Alumni Awards Gala honorees included 2019 Tournament of Roses President Gerald Freeny, ’83, alumnus of the College of Business and Economics, and Patricia A. Chin, ’80, ’84, alumna of the Rongxiang Xu College of Health and Human Services.
Freeny thanked the professors and mentors who influenced his success in life, including one who was in attendance, fellow Cal State LA alumnus Ron Okum, ’63, ’70, who also served as Tournament of Roses president in 2001-2002.
“I have always been and continue to be proud to say that I am a graduate of California State University, Los Angeles.”
Photo: A family of Golden Eagles and Dodgers fans at Cal State LA Night at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Tyrone D. Washington)
Connect with alumni and friends
Throughout the year, the Cal State LA Alumni Association offers opportunities to gather and celebrate. Alumni joined students, faculty and staff for Cal State LA Night at Dodger Stadium in August. Guests received a limited edition Dodgers cap in Golden Eagle black and gold and a Star Wars-Dodgers bobblehead. The boys in blue delivered an exciting performance against the Toronto Blue Jays, with the Dodgers coming from behind to win the game in the bottom of the ninth.
Dozens of alumni, friends and supporters gathered at Los Angeles City Hall in June for an elegant evening reception, hosted by the Cal State LA Alumni Association. Guests connected with fellow alums, received updates about the University and learned about We Are LA: The Campaign for Cal State LA, the first comprehensive fundraising campaign for the University.
“Cal State LA holds a special relationship with Los Angeles. Cal State LA students represent the future of this great metropolis. And our alumni play a vital role in the region,” Cal State LA President William A. Covino said. “That makes Los Angeles City Hall the perfect place for us to connect, share ideas, and hear good news about Cal State LA.”
For more information regarding our upcoming events, please contact the Alumni Association at (323) 343-2586 or firstname.lastname@example.org.