For Rachel Legard, a mathematics and business double major who will graduate on Saturday, participation and involvement in student life and activities have always been a priority. Throughout her time at Oregon State, she has endeavored to put herself out there and seize every opportunity that came her way. In addition to being a Peer Advisor in the College’s Science Success Center and treasurer of her sorority, Chi Omega, she is heavily involved in multiple campus organizations such as the Relay for Life club and the Student Alumni Association.
Now, it seems her hard work and dedication have paid off. After graduating, Legard already has a job waiting for her as an analyst as part of Deloitte’s Human Capital Team, located in the heart of downtown Portland. With only slightly over a 4% acceptance rate by the company, this is a stellar achievement in many ways.
At Deloitte, Legard will be able to combine the skills she learned in both of her majors to improve the efficiency of governments and private sector businesses, while traveling on-site around the country.
“It was fun to see that they were really interested in mathematics majors. Even though I’m not going to be doing derivatives every day, I’m still going to use the problem-solving techniques I learned in my major.”
Starting out as a math major with an option in statistics, Legard realized early on that what truly drew her to the field was “seeing data turned into something useful and meaningful” — more than purely investigative mathematical research. With this in mind, she began to consider a future career within the business sector, inspiring her to add a second major in Innovation Management within the College of Business. Later on, she added two minors in statistics and Spanish, which allowed her to spend an exciting term learning the language and traveling around Chile.
Legard first heard about the job at Deloitte by looking at job openings on Handshake, an OSU career tool that helps connect students with off-campus job opportunities. She applied online and was able to interact with the company personally through a career fair and interview sessions held on campus.
“It was fun to see that they were really interested in mathematics majors. Even though I’m not going to be doing derivatives every day, I’m still going to use the problem-solving techniques I learned in my major,” explains Legard.
Legard intends to remain at Deloitte for the foreseeable future, eventually planning to pursue a master’s in business administration while working at the company. Her decision to choose Deloitte was driven by the fact that it is close to her hometown of McMinnville, Oregon, where her father runs their family pet food store and her mother is the principal of her childhood elementary school.
“I still see them all the time,” Legard laughs. Both her parents are OSU alumni and have remained a dedicated part of the university community after graduating with degrees in accounting (her dad) and mathematics (her mom). Legard has fond childhood memories of attending OSU college football games with her family, who hold season tickets to this day.
In other words, her decision to go to OSU four years ago was basically a no-brainer.
“What makes Rachel unique and wonderful are her energy and interest in getting other people excited about studying science and math.”
Although Legard played sports throughout high school, she decided not to continue her athletic career in college and focus on school. “Of course, I still managed to get myself way too involved,” she jokes.
“As a kid, I wanted to be a tour guide at OSU,” Legard laughs. “I just loved it so much.”
In fact, this childhood aspiration is partly what inspired her to apply to be a Peer Advisor two years ago. Now, in addition to giving tours to prospective students, she is able to help other undergraduates with mathematics-related questions and other circumstances that arise in academic life.
“You have to work harder, and make sure your voice is heard in group settings.”
“What makes Rachel unique and wonderful is her energy and interest in getting other people excited about studying science and math. But also, she just loves the Beavers. She’s not putting on a show — it’s literally who she is,” explains Gabrielle James, Science Success Center Coordinator.
As one of the few women in her cohort, Legard admits that she has experienced certain difficulties as a female student in the field of mathematics.
“You definitely aren’t in the majority, Legard laughs. “You have to work harder, and make sure your voice is heard in group settings. It was a challenge, and I’m grateful for that. I wanted to prove myself when I showed up to class, and it made me study harder.”
Originally from a small town with only one high school, Legard was used to living in a community where she had known everyone since kindergarten.
“When I first got here, I thought the campus was so beautiful. But it was enormous,” Legard recalls. “Some of the biggest obstacles I had to overcome were just forcing myself to be friendly, knocking on a neighbor’s door in the dorm and stuff.”
Being active in several student and campus organizations proved to be key in building friendships and expanding her range of knowledge. In some cases, this meant accepting leadership roles that she might not have felt fully ready for. Freshman year, for instance, she joined the Relay for Life club and was soon after recruited to be the assistant co-chair. Despite the steep learning curve, Legard came away knowing how to run meetings, along with other life skills.
“What surprised me most about OSU is how fast it feels like a small group — you get to know people so fast. I used to think there’s no way I’ll ever walk down the street and wave to people. And now walking around senior year, I never see anyone I don’t know.”