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Home Lending Manager
Serena Oquin was born on Twentynine Palms, a military base in the desert of San Bernardino County, California. Her father, a Marine, taught her from an early age to strive for the best in herself and her team—a lesson that she channeled into her high school career, where she excelled at team sports and landed admission to Arizona State University.
But when Oquin got to college, her path—and her commitment to excellence—took a surprising turn. One day, she met a young man, Gabe, who asked her for directions to Memorial Union, a building on campus. Before long, they were married, and she faced a difficult choice: Stay in school or take a break to help Gabe build his legal career. She chose to make a sacrifice to their team: She left college to support her husband—and help build their life together—while he got a law degree. Now, a few years later, Oquin and her husband have two dogs (German short-haired pointers) and she's returned to school to pursue her own dream: A Bachelor of Science degree from Arizona State.
What does success look like to you?
My biggest fear in life is undeveloped potential. So, to me, success means being the best possible version of me in every facet of life and reaching the limits of possibilities as a wife, a family member, a student, a competitor, a citizen, and a professional. Also, for me, success means being able to help others reach their full potential. Maybe it was the result of being raised by a Marine, but the success of the team is the top priority, and that team can come in many different forms – a military unit, a business department, or a relationship like a marriage and family. We're all in this together.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
My husband. Without question. To be honest, when I first met my husband on the campus of Arizona State University, I wasn't in the best place in life. I was going to college, but I didn't really have a plan or vision for my future. I was working at a local movie theater in Phoenix. I was aimlessly going through life. But my husband – my boyfriend at the time – saw my potential. He believed in me and what I could do. He taught me how to believe in myself and to think bigger and broader in terms of what I could achieve in life.
What do you consider the most valuable piece of advice you've ever received and where did it come from?
Actually, the most valuable advice I've ever received came from a mentor at Chase. He said, “Think of your current situation in life like it's a lily pad where you shouldn't get too comfortable and are able to hop to new opportunities." This advice was great because it made me look at my professional growth as a trajectory full of “hops" that focused on moving forward and advancing my career within the company. Never get too comfortable or complacent.
What is the biggest obstacle you've overcome in life?
This is very personal because I haven't overcome it yet. But not having earned my degree is a huge obstacle. I suspended my education to get a full-time job to support my husband's education and career. Earning a BS in accounting and finance is extremely difficult while also working full time and having to attend to life's everyday responsibilities. This is my biggest obstacle, but this is a goal that I'm determined to achieve. I'm a competitive person, even with myself.
Work-from-home, go to the office or a mix of both?
I honestly miss going to the office. There are some advantages to working from home that I'm sure most of us are familiar with, but from a day-to-day perspective I really miss going into the office. I love being physically at work, and I think that is partly because Chase has a unique culture. I feel energized when I walk into the office and begin interacting with my coworkers. They inspire me to work harder for the team and for the people around me, especially my clients. Being in the office is more interpersonal, and I think those face-to-face discussions generate a greater sense of team chemistry and the feeling that we're all in this and working toward something together.