Chris Norby ’13

Current Job/Career:

I work as a Software Development Manager at a company called Ascend Learning. I lead a team of software developers who build a website used by nursing and medical schools around the country. On a day-to-day basis, I coach my team members, plan future projects, serve as a representative of the dev team to the rest of the company, and discuss how the team can operate more effectively/efficiently.

Degree’s Earned:

Mathematics major, Computer Science minor

Grad Year:


What inspired you to become a mathematics major?

I’ve always been drawn to the elegance of math. Because it came naturally to me in high school, I picked it as my major even though I didn’t know how to turn it into a career. Sophomore year at SJU I took my first computer science class and was hooked. It was a great way to apply the skills I’d built up as a math major.

How do you use the mathematics major in your current career?

Problem solving. As a math major I learned to take on a problem by looking at all the tools in your tool belt and deciding which is the best for the task at hand. That’s something I use every day. I’m convinced the problem solving skills learned with a math or computer science major can be applied to just about any career path.

As a math major I also learned the value of adding new tools to your belt. I started out as a software developer for the first 5 years of my career because I had the tools to complete that job upon graduation. But I was able to make a significant career change (entering management and leaving the world of coding) because I had a habit of learning new skills and leaning into the things that excited me, rather than just focusing on the skills needed for my current role. For example, I loved talking about how the team works rather than just what the team is working on. So I asked to be included in those discussions at work and read some articles/books about leadership. It made for a natural transition and advanced my career in a very exciting way.

What advice do you have for students considering a major in mathematics?

It’s ok to not know your career path when you pick a major. As long as you go through college with your eyes open for things that excite you, your path will become evident. Lean into those things at school – if it lights you up and makes your eyes shine and you want to tell your roommates about the cool thing you’re working on, pay attention to that. Read some unassigned sections of the book, go to office hours, look more things up online. If you get lost in that and neglect a class you don’t care much about, that’s ok. GPA doesn’t really matter in the ‘real world’ anyway.


Chris Norby ’13

Software Development Manager at Ascend Learning