Burbank native and recent California State University, Northridge, graduate, Danny Bustos, has been chosen as the 2021 CSUN Wolfson Award recipient.
Receiving the Wolfson Award, a namesake of CSUN’s first vice president, Leo Wolfson, is a prestigious accomplishment which is decided through a vote of all university deans and Provost Council. To qualify for the award, a Northridge student must demonstrate an outstanding academic record and significant community contributions. Bustos has achieved excellent academic feats through graduating summa cum laude with a 3.97 GPA in his triple major of Bachelor’s Degrees in Finance, Accountancy, and Business Administration. In addition, he has continuously contributed to giving back to the CSUN campus through his role as President of their Business Honors Association.
Bustos spent his entire childhood in Burbank and played baseball throughout his early years, including participating in Burbank Little League and his John Burroughs High School baseball team. The opportunity to be coached by Burroughs baseball coach, Craig Sherwood, helped Bustos gain an integrity that became essential in his character development.
“Through [Sherwood’s] mentorship, through his guidance, through all the life lessons and values that he instilled in us as players when he was our coach, I think that all those things put me on the right track,” Bustos said.
As a son of a longtime LAPD detective, Bustos originally pondered a career in law enforcement when thinking of what his professional ambitions may be. His first collegiate goal, however, became to continue on with developing his baseball abilities and transition to playing at a Division I program.
Bustos had a talent in the sport and earned a ranking as the #1 high school pitcher in Central and Southern California in Division II by earned run average, but knew he needed to improve his pitching speed to make it to Division I athletics. He initially began by attending Glendale Community College when he suffered a foot fracture during his freshman year which prevented him from moving forward with his baseball career. Although the injury appeared as a hindrance for Bustos, it ultimately led him to a positive transfer of attention towards his forward-looking objectives.
“At that point, it seemed kind of overnight I really had to shift my focus,” Bustos said of the end of his path in sports. “[It went] from playing at a Division I school and continuing with a baseball game to, okay, so what do my long-term career aspirations look like? What do I really want to do career-wise?”
An interest in business studies ensued while at GCC when an accounting professor nudged Bustos in this direction. She explained the flexibility of a business degree to him, which was a fitting recommendation as Bustos was then-undecided on what area he’d end up focusing his studies on.
“I think that the optionality of business was what really attracted me to it, because when I was 18 [or] 19 years old, I didn’t really have a strong sense of what I wanted to do career-wise,” Bustos said. “Business provided a solid foundation and just a great way to explore different possibilities post-graduation.”
CSUN was the next place of study for Bustos, who spent time meticulously calculating his best move in preparation for the business world. His sister had attended CSUN and earned a degree in communications a few years prior, and favorable feedback on the school’s Business Honors Program sealed the deal on his decision to attend. While studying at Northridge, Bustos became involved with this program, which is organized under the university’s David Nazarian College of Business and Economics. It houses members from the top 2% of CSUN business students and helps introduce them to career professionals and fellow students who hold similar academic principles and postgraduate outlooks.
“[The Business Honors Program] really helped me meet great mentors,” Bustos said “You get connected with the alumni. You work with like-minded students that really care about doing well academically and doing well in their careers.”
Bustos stepped into a leadership role when he took on the position of President of the Business Honors Association, an affiliate of the BHP, in 2018, which he held up until his December 2020 graduation. While under Bustos’ direction, the Business Honors Association increased membership numbers by over 40% and held technical skill set workshops and visits from distinguished alumni, who were able to offer sage advice to the current student body.
“My goal as president was to number one, get students as involved as possible, because studies have shown the more students are involved in clubs and on campus, the greater likelihood they are to graduate,” Bustos said. “And if I was able to get more students involved and provide internships and job opportunities to them, I think that would be the best way to make an impact….But the main goal was to be able to give back to CSUN, [a place] that has provided me [with] such great opportunities.”
Bustos’ Wolfson Award recognition is a rarity, as it is only presented to one CSUN student from each graduating class. This also marks the first time a student from the university’s Nazarian College has been selected for the award since 2006, making it an even more impactful achievement. Although very grateful for the award bestowment, Bustos’ benevolent attitude has overridden any enduring focus on personal gain to be garnered from this accolade.
“When I first found out that I was selected for the award,…it was incredibly humbling,” Bustos said. “But…my first thought was, ‘Okay, now that I have this award, how can I give back?’”
Bustos’ methods of repaying his university have already begun through his position at Oceanview Capital Partners, Inc., a healthcare-oriented private equity and advisory firm headquartered in Glendale, CA. Here, he has worked as an associate since 2019 and taken on duties relating to financial analysis and recruiting. Whereas upon his arrival the firm primarily recruited from top Ivy League schools, Bustos’ input and hard work has resulted in recruitment expansion to include a welcoming of CSUN students for work opportunities.
“Through my advocating for CSUN, we’ve opened up recruiting to CSUN students,” Bustos said. “When I was an intern [at Oceanview] I started to do everything that I could to perform well and show…that CSUN is strong [and] our business curriculum is strong. Now that I’ve graduated and I’m on the other side, I’m looking to give as many opportunities as possible, whether that’s internships or full-time opportunities, to our students.”
Within Oceanview Capital Partners, Bustos hopes to seek more growth as he receives valuable mentorship from the firm’s founder, Armen Vartanian, whom Bustos says has passed along beneficial lessons he’ll take with him for the entirety of his career journey. In the future, he plans to attend a graduate dual-degree program, where he can earn his Master of Business Administration, as well as a JD law degree. Bustos has formulated this plan with the ultimate goal of becoming the Chief Financial Officer of a pharmaceutical company specializing in rare diseases.
“Given that Oceanview is a healthcare-focused firm, I’m really starting to learn a lot about the healthcare field,” Bustos said. “And through Armen’s mentorship, he’s provided me with great guidance that I hope to use later on in my career.”
The tremendous success Bustos has seen at CSUN, most recently in his Wolfson Award win, came from intense effort and dedication rather than reliance on a natural academic aptitude. He spent countless late-night hours at CSUN’s Oviatt Library and set aside a large amount of off-campus time for studying and perfecting his course work. He plans to maintain this approach in his professional endeavors while serving CSUN as a proud alumnus. If Bustos has drawn a strong conclusion from his many triumphs, it’s that prosperity is largely a result of persistent commitment to one’s pursuits.
“Some people can be talented, sometimes things may come a little bit more naturally to others,” Bustos said. “But at the end of the day, it’s [about] the work ethic, it’s the grit…I learned that very early on, that in order to have success, it doesn’t come naturally, it comes through your own hard work.”