Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Ashby Business Scholars Program Provides Business Education and Networking Opportunities, Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Tanya Rosen-Jones Photography
The 2023-2024 Ashby Business Scholars

This year, the Ashby Business Scholars program, which aims to provide a pathway for Oberlin students into the world of business, is celebrating its 20th anniversary. 

The program was founded in 2003 by a group of Oberlin students. Since then, it has grown into a philanthropically supported annual venture in which 10-12 students are selected through a competitive application and interview process. 

During the fall semester, Ashby Business Scholars take a Business and Finance course that introduces them to a wide range of topics in business, finance, and economics, including financial modeling and accounting. Then, the Scholars reconvene over Winter Term and travel to several cities to network with prominent financial institutions including both big banks and smaller investment firms. In 2022, the scholars visited Cleveland, New York, and Boston. During these trips, they had the opportunity to network with a variety of Oberlin alumni. 

Assistant Director for the Business, Consulting, and Finance Career Community Yoshiko Tsompanos coordinates the Ashby Business Scholars program.

“The scholars leverage their liberal arts skills such as communication, identifying and solving problems, and assuming responsibility independently when visiting significant alumni-sponsored companies,” Tsompanos wrote in an email to the Review.

College third-year Bridget Adu-Dapaah, who took part in the program in 2022, said the trips were extremely helpful in building a community of resources in business careers beyond Oberlin.

“I still talk to some of the people that I met [on the trips],” Adu-Dapaah said. “I’ve connected with them on LinkedIn, so they’re up to date with the things that I do as well. I also feel like I gained a lot of social skills, too.”

The program is supported by a coalition of Oberlin alumni in the business industry including Jonah Berman, OC ’03, the site program manager for Google Cambridge; William Hirshorn, OC ’87,  a managing director for Morgan Stanley; and Béla Szigethy and Stewart Kohl, both OC ’77, co-managers of the Riverside Company.

“These are Oberlin alumni, and [as] Oberlin alumni, they’ve walked on the same path as us,” Adu-Dapaah said. “They’re able to give you more tailored advice than someone who’s from a different school who hasn’t experienced Oberlin and what Oberlin has to offer.” 

Amar Rajani-Bangser, a fourth-year who took part in the program in 2022, said the traveling part of the program had helped him meet a lot of people and make a lot of connections he wouldn’t have ever had the opportunity to make otherwise. He thinks the program has given him a leg up in his career after leaving Oberlin.

“I met people in all parts of the financial world,” Rajani-Bangser said. 

Tsompanos hopes the program will be an asset for Oberlin over other liberal arts colleges with more limited opportunities for economics programs. 

“I envision the program to provoke students and/or parents to select Oberlin College over other institutions in hopes of becoming an Ashby Business Scholar for the apparent business exposure and what it symbolizes as a whole, the lifelong connections made, and the ethical responsibility to each other,” Tsompanos wrote. 

Adu-Dapaah said that, while the Ashby Business Scholars program is in part important as a resource for students with a Business Integrative Concentration, and those majoring in Economics and planning to go into the finance realm after graduation, she also suggests any interested students learn more about finance because a financial education can add a new dimension to other fields. 

“[An education in economics and finance] allows people to have another perspective,” Adu-Dapaah said. “Realistically you need business and finance in every industry — if you’re going into the arts, anything — because that’s what runs the companies.”

Rajani-Bangser also suggested students explore business regardless of their major or career plans.

“People have this impression that business is all ‘finance bros,’ but it’s important in every industry, to every career, and ultimately to every type of person,” Rajani-Bangser said.

Tsompanos hopes the program will continue to serve interested Oberlin students well into the future.

“10 or 20 years from now, the 2023–24 ABS will look back well into their earning years at this celebratory milestone with pride and appreciation, and in faith, continue the cycle of supporting our Obies, our community,” Tsompanos wrote.

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