As a math and economics major at Saint Mary’s College, Ashley Oberst ’07 learned to solve tough problems. Just months after graduation, she put those skills to work in an industry that needs them—at Countrywide Financial Corporation, the nation’s largest mortgage lender.
Oberst was one of just 40 graduating seniors to be chosen from a nationwide pool of 2,000 applicants for Countrywide’s associate development program. The program provides training in all aspects of the mortgage industry—everything from sales to risk management.
The soft-spoken Saint Mary’s grad originally planned to volunteer abroad after college. As a student she felt called to service and was active in campus ministry, student clubs, and scholarship fundraising efforts. Those experiences gave Oberst an edge when she interviewed with Countrywide, she says: “They told me that people skills were really important.”
Research opportunities also helped to prepare Oberst for her job. Junior year, she landed a grant from the Center for Women’s InterCultural Leadership to do a summer internship with Mexico’s Federal Competition Commission, gaining real-world exposure to international business trends. Back in South Bend during senior year, she researched the economic impact of a local performing arts center and presented results at a press conference with the mayor. Her senior comprehensive project in mathematics focused on decision-making and risk, two phenomena anyone in the mortgage industry should know about.
“What I’m doing now is all new, but it has a basis in math and economics,” says Oberst. “Math is a lot of problem-solving and logic, which is useful. And I used to think economics was just theory, but it’s not—you can see the laws of supply and demand at play in the industry.”
Reflecting on her education, Oberst says, “Saint Mary’s really taught me how to learn, not just what to learn. My classes made me think about the wider impact of decisions and how they affect society. All my college experiences prepared me for what I’m doing now, because they pushed me out of my comfort zone, in a good way. Saint Mary’s does that—it pushes you past your boundaries.”