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“I’m very thankful I had the opportunity to learn about financial economics during my undergraduate career,” says CPU student Nicole Ablondi, right, with Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro.

“I’m very thankful I had the opportunity to learn about financial economics during my undergraduate career,” says CPU student Nicole Ablondi, right, with Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro.

An undergraduate advantage

Through a Kellogg certificate program, Northwestern juniors and seniors gain the analytical skills they will need to make strategic business decisions

By Shannon Sweetnam

11/29/2010 - Kellogg is recognized the world over as one of the leading graduate schools for the study of management.

But many don’t know about the school’s Certificate Program for Undergraduates (CPU), which allows a select group of Northwestern upperclassmen to earn certificates in financial economics and managerial analytics.

Northwestern senior Nicole Ablondi is one such student, and she was happy to speak about the value of her experience alongside Northwestern University president Morton Schapiro at a recent Northwestern University event for donors and alumni in San Francisco.

“I’m very thankful I had the opportunity to learn about financial economics during my undergraduate career,” Ablondi said. “The CPU program provides a nice overview of finance that prepares you for a lot of different careers in finance and consulting. I feel very lucky to have been a part of it.”

The program has been highly relevant for Ablondi. The skills she gained through the business courses, particularly the fixed-income course, came in handy during her internship at New York-based asset management firm BlackRock. Ablondi plans to work for the firm as an analyst after graduation.

Founded in 2007, the Northwestern certificate program is a specialized and highly selective course load that prepares students for analytical roles at various types of organizations. To be accepted, students must have completed several prerequisite upper-level undergraduate courses in math, probability, statistics and economics.

The classes, taught by Kellogg School faculty, focus on building skills within the framework of a business environment and developing the analytical tools and models needed to make business decisions. The selective program accepts about 50 students annually for each certificate track.

Heavily involved in Model United Nations and business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi, Ablondi is a double major in math and economics. She is one of several students who spoke at Northwestern Donor Circle events across the nation.

The events help keep alumni, donors and friends informed of the university’s challenges and successes and its path into the future. Ablondi was chosen as a student speaker based on her academic success, involvement in the community and faculty recommendations.

“Northwestern is a great place for undergraduates,” Ablondi said. “The university focuses a lot on the undergraduate experience, and studying here has given me opportunities I never imagined, both educationally and for individual growth.”

The chance to study at Kellogg, Ablondi adds, was a core part of that.