Forbes 30 under 30 alumni
Makenzie De Armas ’20, Ben Gallagher ‘17 and Leah Thomas ’17 were named in the 2024 Forbes 30 Under 30 list, applauded for their remarkable accomplishments.

Chapman University Alumni Shine on the 2024 Forbes 30 Under 30 List Ben Gallagher ‘17, Makenzie De Armas ’20, Sabina Kashi ’16, Leah Thomas ’17 and Jason Pan ’18 were celebrated for their influential roles in various industries.

Continuing the tradition of Panther excellence, five Chapman University alumni made the 2024 Forbes 30 Under 30 list, highlighting a legacy of achievement across industries that showcases the exceptional talent cultivated within the university’s community.

“It’s a rewarding feeling after spending the early years of my career pulling late nights, early mornings, weekend and holiday shifts,” said Ben Gallagher ‘17 about the recognition. “To have something tangible to point to and say ‘that grind was all worth it’ is special.”

Chapman University spoke to the alumni about their experiences at Chapman and of advice they would give to current students.

Ben Gallagher ‘17
Co-founder, Cheat Code Agency

Gallagher, who majored in public relations and advertising and minored in graphic design, leads Cheat Code Agency, where he creates social media campaigns and content projected to earn $2.75 million in 2023 from white-label content agreements, consulting and production retainers, and sales commissions from best-performing campaigns.

“Chapman was epic,” said Gallagher. “It’s such a creative environment and you get to meet many unique people chasing their dreams. After my four years, I felt extremely socially prepared for any professional setting.”

When asked what advice he would give to Chapman students looking to get into the same field, Gallagher said:

  • Pay for a resume template and spend some time making your resume look good visually. The presentation of your experience will automatically out-compete 95% of everyone else.
  • Build a social media page as a hobby or portfolio. If it’s clear you can make great content and understand video, design and strategy, you’re going to get jobs.
  • Have fun; college is awesome. As long as you get some work experience in your four years, there’s nothing to worry about. You’ll figure it out.

Makenzie De Armas ’20
Game Designer for Dungeons and Dragons

De Armas majored in creative writing and minored in computer science. Since her beginnings in the role-playing game scene in 2019, De Armas has published multiple best-selling titles on Dungeon Masters Guild.

“It still feels incredibly surreal to be recognized as a Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree for 2024,” said De Armas. “I’m amazed by the many incredible folks I’m listed alongside. It’s truly rewarding to know that the work I’ve been doing is impactful to so many individuals.”

In addition to her game design work, De Armas also serves as the Education and Advocacy Lead for the Disability Community of Wizards.

“My experience at Chapman taught me to take risks and put myself out there,” said De Armas. “For too long, I was stuck waiting for opportunities to come to me, rather than seeking them out myself. I was so fortunate to have mentors and professors who allowed and encouraged me to pursue my ideas, even when they went against the grain of what was considered “typical” for the genre or field.”

When asked to impart her advice to Chapman students looking to work in the same field, De Armas said “Just go forth and make stuff! One of the things that held me back early in my college years was my fear of the things I create not being ‘good enough’ for other people to see. Eventually, I realized that I couldn’t keep waiting; I needed to be brave, put myself out there and make my own opportunities.”

Sabina Kashi ’16
Comedy Talent Agent, Creative Artists Agency

Kashi majored in television and broadcast journalism and minored in public relations. Kashi is now a comedy talent agent at Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and is dedicated to discovering and championing comedians whose perspectives are often overlooked. Her journey began in 2015 at Comedy Central before transitioning to CAA in 2016. Among her esteemed clientele are Justin Tan and Brittani Nichols, writers for “Abbott Elementary,” Asha Ward from “Saturday Night Live” and Wally Baram, a writer for “What We Do In The Shadows.”

Leah Thomas ’17
Co-founder, Intersectional Environmentalist

Thomas majored in environmental science and policy. Thomas is at the forefront of climate justice activism with her creation, Intersectional Environmentalist (IE). As a 501(c)(3) collective, IE reaches more than 500,000 followers online and consults for major corporations such as Nike and Walmart. Thomas coined the term “intersectional environmentalism” in 2020 during her time at Patagonia, with Kiana Kazemi joining as co-founder. Her book, “The Intersectional Environmentalist,” published in March 2022, gained recognition, including selection for UCLA’s first-year common experience program. IE has received $1.8 million in donations and grants, fueling Thomas’s mission for environmental justice. 

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Jason Pan ’18
Creative Executive at Netflix on the Spectacle Original Series Content Team

Pan majored in business administration and minored in computer science. Pan embraces his role in championing Asian American Pacific Islander storytellers. Throughout his tenure spanning four years, Pan has been instrumental in various projects, notably including “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” “Umbrella Academy” and “Sweet Tooth.” Prior to his role at Netflix, Pan held positions at William Morris Endeavor and Amazon Studios.

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