Stella Zhang, COO of American Lending Center, Delivers Inspiring Commencement Speech to UCI Business School Graduates

IRVINE — Stella Zhang, COO of American Lending Center, delivered the commencement address Monday, June 17, for the Paul Merage School of Business masters graduates at the University of California, Irvine.

Zhang, is an alumna of the FEMBA program, receiving her degree in 2005. She urged the 2024 graduates to continue a life of learning as they go forward in the business world, while cultivating responsibility and gratitude – the guiding stars of her life.

“As business school graduates, you are poised to assume positions of leadership and influence,” Zhang said. “Remember that true leadership is not about power or prestige, but about service and stewardship. It’s about using your knowledge and skills to make a positive impact on the world and leaving a legacy of integrity, compassion, and excellence.”

Zhang was born in China and arrived in the United States in 1997 after finishing college and graduate school in China. She worked for a law firm for 14 years before leaving to help grow American Lending Center, and later cofounding Sunstone Management, Inc., where she remains a partner.

When ALC and Sunstone moved headquarters to Irvine, Zhang reconnected with the UCI business school, deciding to contribute to the annual Beall Center pitch competition.

“Her generous gift to the Beall Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship ensures that our New Venture Competition, now aptly named the Stella Zhang New Venture Competition, will continue to foster innovation and entrepreneurship for years to come,” the university’s introduction says. “Stella’s journey from China to the U.S. embodies the transformative power of education and the unyielding spirit of a determined dreamer.”

American Lending Center works with immigrants from China and elsewhere seeking residency in the United States, and Stella Zhang has said she is passionate about helping those people succeed.

“Never stop learning,” Zhang said in conclusion. “May you go forth with courage and responsibility in your minds, gratitude in your hearts, and a commitment to making the world a better place for generations to come.”  

There are nearly 600 MBA graduates from the UCI Paul Merage School of Business this year. For more information about the school, go to

About American Lending Center: A Financial Times (FT) America’s Fastest Growing Company   

American Lending Center (ALC) is a private nonbank lending institution and nationally recognized leader in small business lending.

In early 2024, ALC has fully financed senior loan products to 94 qualified EB-5 projects in 31 states, contributing to a combined construction and business expansion budget of over 1.2 billion dollars. ALC’s lending practice has successfully created more than 20,000 new jobs nationwide since 2009.

In 2022, ALC launched its new rural construction and development fund with capital available for the construction of fixed assets of all types in rural areas including manufacturing, energy, infrastructure, hospitality, specialty use, multi-use and other project types.  Follow American Lending Center on LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter.