Joanne Yaghdjian ’11 (MSRE)

MSRE Alumni, Sisters Give Back to the BMC and the Industry

Joanne Yaghdjian ’07 (MSRE)Mary Ann ’07 (MSRE) and Joanne ’11 (MSRE) Yaghdjian have more in common than most graduates from the University of San Diego’s Master of Science in Real Estate program. Not only are they sisters who share a common interest in real estate, but they also are best friends who both work at their family’s business and have recently begun a new professional endeavor together—a website for the San Diego commercial real estate community.

Born and raised in San Diego, the Yaghdjian sisters adopted an appreciation for real estate early on, as it is the family business they grew up with. From a young age, both women enjoyed visiting and helping their father, Alan, at the office of his business, International Investment Co., a commercial real estate investment firm in Rancho Bernardo.

Both of the sisters decided to go to college at University of Southern California: Mary Ann earned a degree in communication and a minor in business; Joanne earned a degree in business administration.

After working in Los Angeles and San Diego, Mary Ann decided to pursue her Master of Science in Real Estate degree through the Burnham-Moores Center.

“It was important for me to have a graduate degree, and after a few years in the industry, I wanted to have a further education in real estate and learn the parts of our industry that I did not have as much experience in,” said Mary Ann.

Joanne was attracted to USD’s MSRE program after witnessing Mary Ann’s experience in the program, meeting alums and attending Burnham-Moores Center events. Both sisters say their favorite part of the program was the professional and personal connections they made with their classmates. Both also say their degrees have opened many doors and opportunities for them.

Soon after graduating, Mary Ann was interested in giving back to the Center and her fellow alumni and joined the University of San Diego’s Real Estate Alumni Association board, eventually becoming chair for more than two years. She continues to serve on ULI’s Young Leader Board.

Since her first semester in the MSRE program, Joanne has been working on co-authoring an article with her classmate Matt Gevergiz for the publication Real Estate Investors, which is published by the Counselors of Real Estate. The article, “What Kind of Returns Can Be Expected on Trophy Deals?,” which was drafted under the guidance of Professor Norm Miller, is scheduled to be published in an upcoming edition of the publication.

“I thought it would be a good opportunity to have the chance to work with Dr. Miller on a side project outside of the classroom,” said Joanne, who serves on CCIM’s and NAIOP’s Developing Leader Boards. “And the idea of getting a piece of work published sounded very exciting!”

The sisters now work full-time at their family’s business, where Mary Ann is the manager of their family’s portfolio of commercial real estate properties, and Joanne is the asset manager of the Rancho Bernardo Courtyard Office Complex. They both love working together and having the opportunity to learn from their father every day.

The sisters are also keeping themselves busy with a new endeavor: Along with former Burnham-Moores Center student and alumni services manager Lauren Lukens, they have launched a website,, which stands for San Diego Commercial Real Estate Download. The website’s mission is to connect the San Diego commercial real estate community by providing the go-to, online, industry-driven resource that aggregates relevant news, job opportunities, academic developments and networking events.

The sisters plan to continue working with the family’s business while developing further traffic to their website, but also plan to obtain their broker licenses this year and become more involved with commercial brokerage. They also both plan on remaining very involved with the Center as alums by attending events and helping to recruit students to the MSRE program.

“I find myself talking about the BMC and spreading the word all the time,” says Mary Ann.

For Joanne: “My involvement with the Center will always be a priority to me.”