“Fresno State is an important part of our community; it’s where our future community leaders are being formed.” Kim Ruiz Beck knew taking her family’s third-generation business to the next level meant she'd need a college degree. Fresno State gave her both the skills and confidence to expand the multimillion-dollar company. Page ContentAs a child, Kim Ruiz Beck spent nearly every day after school at her family's Tulare, California, food manufacturing company, Ruiz Foods. Her duties were miniscule, pretty much anything to keep an antsy 6-year-old preoccupied while the adults worked. As she grew up, her jobs intensified: filing paperwork, completing payroll and packaging burritos. Her father and grandfather co-founded Ruiz Foods in 1964. To Ruiz Beck, they were entrepreneurial masterminds who, with $400, a freezer and a stove built from junkyard scraps, created what has become a multi-million dollar business. But Ruiz Beck recognized times were changing, the company had evolved and, if she was to take charge, she needed to prepare for the challenges that lay ahead. The way to do this, Ruiz Beck decided, was with higher education. The Transformational Power of a College DegreeWhen she graduated from California State University, Fresno in 1988 with a bachelor's in business administration – marketing, Ruiz Beck became the first in her family to earn a college degree, forever transforming the way future generations manage the nearly 55-year-old establishment. "As the company got bigger and we started having more success, there was a need for more procedures, more formality," Ruiz Beck explains about her decision to pursue a degree. "I loved Fresno State because it allowed me to focus on learning and getting everything that I could out of my classes while working." Today, Ruiz Foods is the leading frozen Mexican food manufacturer in the U.S. The company distributes their El Monterey® and Tornados® brands nationally from manufacturing facilities in California, Texas and South Carolina. They have expanded to nearly 4,000 employees, demonstrating exponential growth from the 500 employees the company employed at the time of Ruiz Beck's graduation from Fresno State. She now serves as chairman of the company, having previously been interim CEO and president."Growing up, I remember being so proud and wanting to be a part of the family business," she says. "Going to Fresno State really affirmed for me that I could contribute to and be an important part of my family business."