Paying It Forward

Paying it Forward

Life in the 1960s was very comfortable for teenager Irv Gamal, living in Downey with a successful businessman father and devoted mother. But that agreeable lifestyle quickly ended when his father was diagnosed with terminal cancer and had no health insurance.

“When Dad passed away at 55, after an 18-month battle, it pretty much left us broke,” Irv recalled. Yet that didn’t stop him from pursuing his education, first at Cerritos College and then at Cal State Long Beach.

As a student at CSULB, two other life-changing events occurred for Irv—a small financial aid loan and grant helped him stay in school and save the family home from foreclosure. Then, by chance, he attended a communication theory lecture by Professor Ellis Hayes which “opened my eyes to a new field of human behavior that fit like a glove,” Irv observed.

After acquiring his B.A. in social science in 1967, Irv completed his M.A. in speech communication in 1972 with the long-term goal of being a management consultant. To learn about different industries, he held a variety of nonprofit and corporate management positions before launching his first company in 1981 and a second in 1988.

Insight Systems Group, his second company, remains one of his many activities. Apart from this, he’s an adjunct leadership coach with the Center for Creative Leadership in La Jolla and teaches management classes at Saddleback College.

Likewise, he’s chair of CSULB’s Legacy Society. To become a member, he made a bequest to the university in his estate plan. His legacy will ultimately support communication studies scholarships. In the meantime, he’s additionally providing funds to help current students with their financial challenges.

“I think that everybody who earns a degree at Cal State Long Beach needs to consider paying it forward. By and large, they’ve been given a superb opportunity to fashion their knowledge into a prosperous, fulfilling career. Education is a gift and, even though you work hard for it, the benefits are life-long,” Irv said. “The Beach enabled me to have a 40-year career that I have truly loved.”

For more information about ways to support CSULB through gift planning, visit  or call 562.985.5122.

Download the Beach Magazine app to find exclusive digital content.

Return to Top of Page