GIS @ ASU News Archive 2017-2018

June 18, 2018
By Garrett Deimund and Hailey Walters

Maintaining a strong relationship with alumni is essential in strengthening the connection between students and professional industry. These relationships lead to internships and other valuable opportunities. During the week of June 10-16, the Gamma Iota Sigma Alumni Council hosted its inaugural “Alumni Week” to strengthen these relationships. Alumni chapters across the country hosted networking events for students, alumni, and insurance industry professionals.

The Scottsdale Alumni Council hosted a happy hour at Social Tap in downtown Scottsdale to celebrate the inaugural Alumni Week. The Arizona CPCU Chapter and Nationwide E&S/Specialty generously sponsored the networking event. Traci Smith of Markel Corporation, Zach Hutson of Nautilus Insurance, and Jelena Milovanovic of Arizona State University worked hard organizing the event and securing funding. The efforts of these individuals are deeply appreciated among students and alumni.

Scottsdale Alumni Council Celebrates Inaugural GIS Alumni Week at Social TapThe night was a huge success with over 40 attendees, including interns, GIS @ ASU members, and local industry representatives. Attendees spent more than two hours mingling over drinks and appetizers and getting to know new faces and out-of-town visitors. CPCU representative and long-time GIS @ ASU supporter, Lamont Boyd, was present to interact with students and alumni who frequent the organization’s luncheons. Steven Locke, GIS @ ASU alumnus, was also in attendance, exchanging stories with current students.

GIS @ ASU would like to thank Scottsdale Alumni Council and everyone who attended the first GIS Alumni Week happy hour for making it so successful. GIS @ ASU looks forward to more opportunities to network with the local insurance community, and eagerly awaits next year’s Alumni Week.

June 6, 2018
By Kinsey Turk

 Jeff Durham and Melissa Tomita  - CADS University liaisonsOn June 1, Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) members attended the Casualty Actuaries of the Desert States (CADS) Spring 2018 Meeting, held at Nautilus Insurance Group in Scottsdale, AZ. CADS is a professional organization committed to the support and continual education of actuaries throughout the states of Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico. Their meetings consist of engaging presentations that span a wide range of insurance topics. This event gave GIS @ ASU members an in-depth look into the professional lives of actuaries and the chance to expand their knowledge outside of the classroom.

The meeting was kicked off with an introduction from Ken Levine, CADS president and Nationwide E&S/Specialty vice president of finance. Levine welcomed everyone for attending, and provided brief biographies of the upcoming speakers. CADS places an emphasis on the validation of hard work, and takes time at the beginning of each meeting to acknowledge its members’ recent accomplishments. First, any member that recently became an associate or a fellow was asked to stand so the audience could congratulate them. Among those being recognized was GIS @ ASU’s alumnus, Jeff Durham, who just achieved his ACAS. Recognized next were those who had passed an actuarial exam since the last meeting, which included many GIS @ ASU members. Seeing the success of current members and their future accomplishments is incredibly rewarding.

Jennifer ZhangIn addition, two recent graduates of GIS @ ASU had the opportunity to present their senior theses. Jennifer Zhang presented her thesis on using generalized linear models to develop loss triangles in reserving. Using her model, loss triangles accounted for calendar year trends and analyzed how well current reserving practices are performing. Next, Bo Swoverland presented his thesis focused on modeling loss development factors for catastrophe claims. By using data on claims as recent as 2016 supplied by a local company, Swoverland created a linear model to predict claims within the first year of a catastrophe. Both graduates demonstrated the increasing development and growth in research that is taking place throughout the industry.

Several other presentations were given by CADS actuaries including chief actuary of Nationwide, Scott Roth, who discussed insuring Fannie Mae, and GIS @ ASU’s professor John Zicarelli, who discussed Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) Simulations – one of the top ten most influential algorithms of the past decades. The meeting also featured a presentation by Kim Jones, ASU professor and security manager, about how to manage a different type of risk: cyber security.

Altogether, the CADS Spring Meeting was a great opportunity for actuaries of all levels to join one another outside the work-setting and celebrate the profession. Everyone walked away with an increased appreciation for the industry and amplified knowledge. After all, as Ken Levine said, “We are all life-long learners.”

May 7, 2018
By Hailey Walters

GIS alumniAs the academic year winds down and students finish up their final exams, the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) is ending the year on a strong note. On April 20, GIS @ ASU hosted its end-of-the-year social to wrap up the 2017-2018 school year. The social was an amazing opportunity for the students to socialize and mingle in a stress-free, study-free environment.

Tom and Karen GarrityThe night would not have been possible without the Society of Actuaries (SOA), who sponsored the event, as well as Dr. John Zicarelli, who volunteered his home as the venue. GIS @ ASU would like to extend a huge thank you to both the SOA and Dr. Zicarelli. With their generosity and support, the chapter was able to host a social event for over 35 attendees from both GIS @ ASU and the local insurance community. Among the attendees were:

  • Tom Garrity (FSA) from Wakely Consulting Group
  • Karen Garrity from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona
  • Melissa Tomita (FCAS) from Nationwide

Several GIS @ ASU alumni attended as well, including Jeff Durham (Allstate), Steven Locke (Nautilus), Zach Broermann (UnitedHealth), Julie Tang (Optumas), and Alex Sabrowsky (Mercer).

The ASU students and faculty appreciate the local insurance community’s involvement in GIS club events. This year-end event was not only a great study break, but also a great time to network. GIS @ ASU respects the local professionals who took time to attend and interact with the students.

GIS officers and committee membersThe end-of-the-year social also served as a platform to announce next year’s incoming officers and committee members of the club. As the club bids farewell to Jennifer Zhang, Bo Swoverland, and Brendan Sturm as officers, it welcomes Hailey Walters (President), Leo Austin (Vice President), Emma Terry (Treasurer), and Ainsley Ramsay (Public Relations). The club also announced new committee members Garrett Deimund, Alex Kirvan, Alex Rabine, Maja Stefanovic, Brendan Sturm, and Kinsey Turk. Brendan Sturm graciously stepped down as an officer and will serve as a committee member and mentor to new officers.

GIS @ ASU also says goodbye to graduating seniors. We are excited to see the impact the graduates are going to have on the insurance world, and we wish them the best of luck.

GIS @ ASU is excited for the year ahead, and is especially grateful for everyone who made this night possible: the SOA, ASU faculty, local insurance companies, GIS alumni, and current club members. Together we are creating an environment that prepares students for success, and we look forward to working together next year.

April 30, 2018
By Bo Swoverland

Alex Rabine and Bo Swoverland volunteer at CPCU fundraiserGIS @ ASU members Alex Rabine and Bo Swoverland volunteered at the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) annual golf fundraiser on April 27. The fundraiser took place at Ocotillo Golf Club in Chandler, where insurance professionals from across the valley participated in various games of golf and challenges. The event was a great opportunity for the duo to network with various non-actuarial insurance professionals.

Rabine and Swoverland worked the “Vegas Hole” where golfers placed bets on whether the players in their group could land the ball within a 10-foot radius of the par 3 hole. None of the players landed the ball within the radius, so all of the money from the bets went towards the CPCU scholarship fund. The fundraiser brought hundreds of dollars to the fund which goes towards the CPCU scholarship that has been awarded to several GIS @ ASU members, including Bo Swoverland.

After the golfing concluded, everyone continued to mingle over a catered lunch. Members had a great time socializing after a long morning of golf. During lunch, raffle winners and putting contest winners were announced. The event was a great success for everyone involved, and GIS @ ASU is proud to have been able to assist the CPCU with the event.

April 23, 2018
By Hailey Walters

On April 18, dozens of officers and members of ASU clubs gathered at the Passing the Pitchfork leadership banquet. These clubs ranged from honors fraternities to dance groups to philanthropy clubs, each of which impacted ASU’s campus in numerous positive ways. The Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) officers and officer-elects attended this dinner to participate in the ceremony of transferring responsibility and opportunity.

As the spring semester comes to a close, GIS @ ASU is getting ready for a new year full of events, conferences, workshops, and competitions. This event was a perfect way for the chapter to bid a proper farewell to exiting officers Jennifer Zhang (President), Bo Swoverland (Vice President), and Brendan Sturm (Treasurer). Not only are Jennifer and Bo outgoing officers, but they are also outgoing students, as they will be graduating in May with their bachelor of science degrees in actuarial science. This dinner served as one of the last hoorahs for the seniors, as they finish up their academic careers and prepare to transition into working full-time.

When asked what he will miss most about being an officer of GIS @ ASU, Bo replied, “The camaraderie that the club provided me. I’m glad to have made so many connections and friendships with my fellow classmates that will last throughout my working career.”  

Many of his peers agree that the best part of Gamma Iota Sigma is the community that the members have built together. GIS @ ASU is sad to see the current officers go, but excited for what the future holds for them, as well as for the incoming officers.

April 20, 2018
By Maja Stefanovic and Hailey Walters

GIS @ ASU students welcome visiting students to WISA symposiumOn April 6-7, 2018, the Wholesale and Specialty Insurance Association (WSIA) partnered with the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences (SoMSS) at ASU to host its first ever “Risky Business” symposium in Tempe, AZ. The WSIA is a professional organization that supports insurance professionals from about 800 companies that operate in the excess and surplus lines (E&S). While providing networking opportunities for its members is one of the association’s core goals, the WSIA also dedicates itself to supporting college students majoring in risk management and insurance by offering a variety of educational and outreach programs.

Throughout the year, the association hosts symposiums for students interested in the insurance industry. These symposiums generally give students the opportunity to attend everything from career fairs to networking events to educational sessions, thus helping students jump start their career in insurance. This year’s symposium was the organization’s first ever foray into the southwest, and the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) members had the chance to participate.

The weekend began on Friday, when students from all over the country traveled to the Hilton Garden Inn in Tempe, where the symposium was hosted. Assisted by officers from the GIS @ ASU chapter, these students checked in and attended a career fair. This three-hour event featured nine different companies that write E&S business, giving students the opportunity to meet industry representatives and learn about the many career options available to a student interested in insurance.

WISA SymposiumFollowing the career fair, students were invited to the first session of the symposium: “WSIA and You”, presented by WSIA President, Brian Van Cleave. Cleave provided a concise introduction to the WSIA and the unique benefit of working in excess and surplus lines. His presentation was a great introduction to Saturday’s educational sessions, and it had the added benefit of showcasing the resources that the WSIA makes available to students (like scholarships, internships, and various conferences).

That evening, students had the opportunity to continue their conversations at a networking event hosted at Top Golf in Scottsdale. Students had the opportunity to meet their peers from other universities as well as representatives from local companies while enjoying dinner and golf together.

WISA case studyThe symposium continued bright and early on Saturday morning with breakfast and an opening session held by Chris Behymer of Markel. Behymer gave a detailed explanation of “Surplus Lines Distributions Systems”, and offered advice in the form of “insurance truths”. To reinforce the concepts mentioned in his talk, various GIS alumni members then administered a case study that gave students the chance to build spaghetti-and-marshmallow structures, price policies for the structures, and underwrite the risks faced by the structures. The lecture and simulation gave students an introduction to the various careers available in insurance, from actuarial to underwriting to claims handling.

This knowledge was further reinforced by “Presidents’ Panel” that highlighted the experiences of Brian Gray of Markel, Tim Chaix of R.E. Chaix & Associates Insurance Brokers, Inc., and Brian Van Cleave of Euclid Architects & Engineers. Moderated by Traci Smith, a GIS alum, this panel gave students the chance to ask about everything from working in insurance to challenges in the insurance marketplace in the future.

Two sessions remained after lunch, and they had one thing in common; young professionals in the industry. Jeff Durham of Allstate, Samuel Cleveland of Nationwide, and Zachary Luety of GPW presented topics of their choice during the “Actuaries in Action” session. Learning about decision-making, catastrophes, and the benefits of programming is especially important for the up-and-coming students of this industry, because they need to keep up to date on trends and skills that will make them more attractive to future employers.

WISA Young Profesionals PanelThe last session was the “Young Professionals’ Panel”, featuring Traci Smith of Markel, Zach Hutson and Steven Locke of Nautilus Insurance Group, Jeff Durham of Allstate, and Kelsi Knoles of Nationwide E&S/Specialty. The panel was moderated by Ken Levine, the CFO of Nationwide E&S/Specialty, who was able to provide his own interesting insight and anecdotes. Similar to the previous panel, students could ask the panelists questions about their time in school, their studying processes, and their transition from college to working full-time. This advice is invaluable to students of all ages, but was especially applicable to upperclassmen seeking jobs in various E&S companies.

GIS @ ASU students at WISA symposiumThe WSIA succeeded in putting on a student-oriented symposium with interesting and relevant learning sessions, as well as great opportunities for students to make connections with one another. GIS @ ASU wants to give a huge thank you to all the individuals who made this event possible—the students can’t wait to attend next year’s Risky Business Symposium.

April 9, 2018
By Maja Stefanovic

Az Actuarial Club spring meetingOn March 28 Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) members attended the Arizona Actuarial Club’s spring meeting. The Arizona Actuarial Club is a professional organization comprised of members from local insurance and consulting companies who are dedicated to continuous learning and development. The club hosts informative presentations twice a year for members to broaden their knowledge, stay up to date with the insurance industry, and network with local actuarial professionals.

Daniel Bauer, an associate professor at the University of Alabama, was invited to present on capital allocation at the spring meeting. He teaches actuarial science, analytics, and quantitative finance classes. In addition, Bauer is the Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company Endowed Chair in Actuarial Science and Risk Management, where he leads the college’s actuarial science academic program.

Daniel Bauer presents at Az Actuarial Club spring meetingTo kick off the presentation, Bauer explained that capital allocation is the determination of the amount of a firm’s capital that will be assigned to each line of business. Since each line of business that is undertaken by a firm shares a different pool of risk, capital is allocated to maximize the firm’s profit. Although capital allocation is commonly used for the purposes of pricing and performance measurement by financial institutions, scholars have shared criticism about the coherent approaches for capital allocation and its necessity.

The argument is that risk measure is arbitrary and may not connect to the underlying economics of the business. However, through the discussion of risk measurement, calculation of risk-adjusted return ratios, and showing the differences in asset and liability risk, Bauer was able to prove that capital allocation can be and should be grounded in an economic context.

Overall, the presentation was highly informative and a valuable experience for all attendees. Members also had the added benefit of being able to build connections with local actuarial professionals that attended the meeting. GIS @ ASU members look forward to attending the Arizona Actuarial Club’s fall meeting.

April 7, 2018
By Garrett Deimund

Humana talks to GIS @ ASU students.On March 20, Humana representatives Michael Webb and Matt Coles visited the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU), traveling all the way from their company headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky. Humana currently offers an Early Career Development and Shadowing Experience for freshmen that gives them insight into various insurance careers. One of our own members, Ainsley Ramsey, participated in this development program and will be interning for Humana for this coming summer.

Although they were not looking to fill internship positions, they were able to provide GIS members with something just as valuable: advice on landing their dream job. Webb currently works as a consultant in the office of Humana’s chief actuary, leading recruitment and developing initiatives for their actuarial community. Through this role, Webb has developed three steps that he believes are instrumental in helping one land their dream job: building a personal brand, networking, and interviewing.

Learning how to market yourself and interact with future employers effectively are extremely valuable skills for all students to possess. By creating a unique resume and perfecting your “elevator speech”, you are able to better distinguish yourself from other candidates. This step is just as important as the interview itself, and often helps you land the interview in the first place. Webb touched on what you should do during an interview, such as maintain good body language and aski meaningful questions, as well as what you should avoid, such as looking at your watch and answering the interviewer’s question before they have finished speaking.

Webb concluded the presentation by introducing behavioral interview questions and explaining the STAR method. Most behavioral interview questions will begin by “tell me about a time when…” and will continue on to ask for a scenario in which the interviewee demonstrated some type of skill that the interviewer wants to hear about. The STAR method is a great approach to these questions, and Webb went over the method and immediately put it to the test.

The first step in answering these questions is explaining the “Situation” at hand. Next, students are advised to discuss the “Task” or “Action” that they personally took to accomplish their goal or overcome their hardship. Last, the response wraps up with the “Result”, where the students discuss the outcome of the entire situation and what they learned.

Webb decided to give the students more experience with this method and took volunteers from the audience to ask them a few sample questions, interview-style. After they answered the question, he provided suggestions on how they could improve their responses. The advice included how to choose scenarios that best fit the question, how to create concise conclusions that sum up the entire story, and how to effectively share the lesson learned.

This demonstration and overall presentation helped both the participants and other audience members feel better prepared for future interviews and become more familiar with potential interview questions. As acquiring an internship is invaluable experience for actuarial science students, GIS @ ASU would like to thank Humana for taking the time to come and present on this very important topic and giving its members the tools they need to succeed in the workforce.

April 2, 2018
By Bo Swoverland

Zhang, Swoverland and Milovanovic at Wexler Math Senior DinnerEvery year the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences hosts a dinner sponsored by Dr. Jonathan Wexler in honor of his father, Dr. Charles Wexler, who was the founding chairman of ASU’s mathematics department. The dinner was designed to support the top seniors studying in the school.

Two officers from the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) were invited to attend the March 22 dinner: Zhihan Jennifer Zhang and Bo Swoverland. GIS @ ASU director Dr. Jelena Milovanovic, the 2018 Charles Wexler Teaching Award recipient, and Zhang, the 2018 Charles Wexler Mathematics Prize winner, as well as Swoverland, represented the program and the chapter at the dinner.

This year, 18 seniors and seven faculty and staff members were invited to attend the dinner. The event began with hors d’oeuvres and refreshments, giving the participants a chance to meet and socialize with one another. A few group photos later, dinner was served. Throughout dinner, the students and faculty introduced themselves, talked about their favorite fields of mathematics, shared interesting stories, and enjoyed the delicious entrees served.

Students and faculty enjoying Wexler Math Senior DinnerWhen dessert was served, the students switched tables, which allowed them to meet other students and faculty and grow their network even further. Because the school covers so many different fields related to math and statistics, many of the participants met for the first time at the dinner. This did not stop them from socializing all throughout the night, however — everyone enjoyed the opportunity to hear about so many different experiences.

The dinner was a very valuable experience to those who attended. Students were able to grow their network with students and faculty with one common passion: mathematics. Bo, Jennifer, and Dr. Milovanovic are extremely thankful for being invited to the Jonathan D. and Helen Wexler Mathematical Sciences Senior Dinner, and enjoyed strengthening their relationships with math students and faculty. GIS @ ASU is excited for more of its members to participate in events like this one in the future!

March 30, 2018
By Maja Stefanovic

GIS @ ASU students and alumni enjoying Dbacks gameOn March 22, Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter (GIS @ ASU) members enjoyed their night watching the Arizona Diamondbacks take on the Chicago White Sox and networking with members of the Scottsdale Gamma Alumni Chapter. Although the outcome of the game was not favorable for Arizona baseball fans, with the Diamondbacks losing 3-1 to the White Sox, the event was still a great opportunity for members to escape the classroom and continue to build relationships with local GIS alumni.

The student-alumni events are an especially effective way to grow the students’ knowledge of the industry, since the GIS alumni have a wealth of experience and skills to share with them. At this event, GIS members got to interact with four local GIS alumni: Traci Smith from Markel, Zach Hutson from Nautilus Insurance, Laura Barron from All Risks, and Zach Broermann from United Healthcare.

“These events provide a way for us to give back to programs like Gamma Iota Sigma that were so vital to our success as students and young professionals,” shared Traci Smith. “Most young professionals are in a ‘mentee’ position of some sort, but a lot can be learned from being a mentor to someone else when you have been in their situation. It’s really rewarding to be an outside source for students as they prepare to graduate and start their own careers.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70% of jobs are found through some form of networking. GIS @ ASU members take full advantage of opportunities to establish connections and network with professionals. At the student-alumni social events, students interact, get to know one another, and gain professional advice. The club is excited about the next student-alumni event, which will take place during GIS alumni week from June 10-16.

March 28, 2018
By Christine Liu

Team - AverageDuring the weekend of March 23 through March 25, 2018, the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, in partnership with with the Arizona Chapter of the American Statistical Association, hosted the first ever DataFest at Arizona State University. The event is a nationally-coordinated annual data hackathon organized by the American Statistical Association (ASA) in which teams of two to five undergraduate students are given a rich, complex, real-world data set and a limited time frame in which they must work together to analyze and extract meaning and present their findings to a panel of judges.

Fifteen teams of students participated in this year’s DataFest at ASU. No information about the source or content of the data was made available to the teams until the start of the event at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, March 23. The event occurs across several universities nationwide over seven weeks from mid-March to early May, and participants at all locations agree not to disclose information about the company that provided the data or about the data they were given. The teams then have less than 48 hours to make ‘sense of the data’, run statistical analyses, and prepare a short presentation by 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 25. ASU faculty, graduate students, and industry professionals with expertise in statistical analysis were available as mentors throughout the event to provide guidance and support.

This year’s event featured a large data set provided by a well-known national technology firm. A representative from the company served on a judge’s panel that was composed of a mix of leaders in academia and industry. Each team’s final presentation had to be less than five minutes long and make use of no more than two slides. Winners were awarded in the categories of Best in Show, Best Visualization, Best Use of External Data, and Best Business Insight or Value. GIS @ ASU members Gabriel Clonts and Christine Liu, along with other members of “Team - Average” Mehdi Moustaoui and Alexandra Ryazanova, were awarded Best Visualization.

For many participants, the event presented an intense experience due to the pressure of the short amount of time in which they had to explore the data, design effective visualizations, and prepare a cohesive presentation. The students came away from the experience with invaluable insight into the process that professional statisticians and analysts go through in their jobs every day. They also had the added benefit of being able to increase their skill set in working with statistical software in a very short amount of time as well as the opportunity to expand their professional networks. GIS @ ASU looks to participate in events like DataFest in the future!

March 12, 2018
By Garrett Deimund

CAS Case Study competitionOn February 27, GIS @ ASU hosted its third annual CAS Case Study Competition providing actuarial science students the opportunity to work through real-life problems that actuaries face in the property and casualty insurance field. The CAS, in conjunction with ASU’s School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, established a prize pool of $2,500 for the winning team.
This year’s event tasked four groups of six students each with creating a warranty pricing plan for D-Mobile, a fictitious nationwide seller of cell phones. Students were to create a presentation for company executives that included calculating a proposed premium for the warranty and estimating company expenses, taking into account rating factors and attributes of the various phones that could potentially affect losses. The presentations also included additional considerations that the teams were encouraged to explore, such as adjusting the deductible, implementing a policy claim limit, and offering an additional loss and theft endorsement. The case study gave students insight into the complex process of calculating premiums, an essential aspect of the actuarial profession.

A panel of seven local property and casualty insurance professionals judged the case study: Becky Hoffmann, Mark Weihs, and Melissa Tomita from Nationwide E&S/Specialty, Lynn Gehant, Jeff Durham, and Nick Klinka from Allstate, and Nicole Perilstein from Nautilus Insurance. After each team’s presentations, the judges were given an opportunity to ask questions about the methodology and assumptions made in forming their pricing plan.

(pictured L-R) Students Zhihan Zhang, Leo Austin, Kinsey Turk, Ada Jamboretz, Alex Kirvan, and Armando Salinas of team Trend Setters are recognized as winners of this year’s CAS case study competition

The GIS @ ASU is proud to say that all teams put significant effort into both their calculations and presentation skills. All the judges were impressed at the complex solutions that students produced. In the end, they selected team “Trend Setters” as the winner due to the creativity and ingenuity involved in formulating their solution. After a successful turnout, the members of GIS are eagerly awaiting next year’s case study and are excited see what the CAS has in store.

March 7, 2018
By Hailey Walters

Brendan Sturm and Hailey Walters enjoy hors d’oeuvresThe Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU), and ASU’s School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, both place value in the exchange of knowledge and experiences, especially among students and faculty. Charles Wexler maintained that same value ever since he founded the Department of Mathematics in 1930. Wexler remained the sole math teacher at ASU for 11 years, and taught at ASU for 47 years, a record-breaking period of service for the university.

Dr. Jonathan Wexler, son of Charles Wexler, created a fund in his name and his mother's name, to honor his family's legacy in mathematics at Arizona State University by enhancing mathematics through social programs, such as the dinners, benefiting students and faculty in the school.

Every year, the school hosts the annual Wexler Mathematical Sciences Senior Dinner. This dinner is a fantastic way for seniors majoring in the school to spend an evening socializing with other students, as well as math and stats faculty. This year, thanks to the generosity of the Wexlers, the school was able to also host the Inaugural Mathematical Sciences Junior Dinner! Following in the footsteps of the senior dinner, this dinner allows for juniors to get to know each other and communicate with faculty that they may or may not have taken classes with.

Wexler Math Junior Dinner attendeesTwo members of GIS @ ASU, Brendan Sturm and Hailey Walters, were very pleased to have been invited to the first of many Wexler Math Junior Dinners. Since actuarial science students don’t take as many pure mathematics courses as other math majors, this event served as a great opportunity to mingle with students and professors they have not yet met.

The event kicked off at 5:30 pm, on Tuesday, February 20, with some hors d’oeuvres and refreshments in the University Club on the Tempe campus. After some brief discussions and several group photos, it was time for dinner! Faculty and professors were placed among several tables, and students were able to seat themselves among them, to ensure that every faculty member was surrounded by four students. Throughout dinner the students and faculty maintained upbeat and lighthearted conversations about their studies and future plans.

Wexler Math Junior Dinner attendees enjoying dinner at ASU University ClubWhen dessert came, the students up and switched seats so they could maximize their experience at this dinner and spend time talking to as many faculty members as possible. Rhonda Olson, manager of marketing and communication for the school, declared that there is no better time than right now to make connections with your peers, and these relationships will benefit you in plenty of ways in the future.

This dinner was very valuable to the students and faculty who attended and will continue to be a beneficial experience for future invitees. GIS @ ASU is excited to see its members building their relationships with other math students and cannot wait to participate in more events like this one!

February 27, 2018
By Maja Stefanovic

ASU Open Door geometry fun with balloonsEvery year, Arizona State University opens its doors to the local community during its Open Door event. This family-friendly event gives visitors the opportunity to experience ASU firsthand and take a peek into what happens inside the classrooms of the most innovative university in the nation. Children of all ages can let their imagination run wild while exploring laboratories, living collections, museums, and classrooms to participate in hands-on activities. The interactive hands-on activities offer a wide spectrum of sciences, technology, engineering, mathematics, humanities, and the arts.

ASU Open DoorThe School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences (SoMSS) is a major partner in the ASU Open Door. On February 24, Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter (GIS @ ASU) members gave back to the community by volunteering during the Open Door event. Each member that participated agrees that it is a tremendously rewarding endeavor to inspire the next generation of actuaries, statisticians, and mathematicians. Members set up hands-on activities and fun demonstrations that showcase talent and ingenuity of our SoMSS faculty and students. Children were able to broaden their mathematical knowledge by creating paper plate polyhedrons, gum drop and toothpick tetrahedrons, and geometrical shapes with balloons.

The members of GIS @ ASU value the opportunity to help children expand their educational experience. The club is very excited to continue furthering its connection with ASU and the community.

February 19, 2018
By Garrett Deimund

On February 15, the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences hosted its third annual Actuarial Science Career Day. These events are excellent ways for students to build connections with potential employers while also hearing worthwhile career advice from industry practitioners. This year’s career day, which gave actuarial science students the opportunity to network with actuaries and analysts from across the nation, boasted record attendance with representatives from 23 insurance and consulting companies totaling just under 60 professionals. New this year, the student audience consisted of a dozen actuarial science students from the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University. This is the first step in building a collaborative relationship amongst the Arizona universities and their respective actuarial science programs. The event consisted of two informative industry panels, one-on-one speed interviews, and open networking sessions between all students and companies.
ASU Actuarial Science Career Fair - alumni panelThe career day began with Al Boggess, director of the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, welcoming both the students and employers. Boggess then introduced the ASU Alumni panel, moderated by Jeff Durham, the first graduate from the actuarial science program at ASU. The panelists were recent actuarial science graduates and included Zach Broermann, Shea Ingram, Kelsi Knoles, Julie Tang, and Steven Locke. The panelists answered students’ questions spanning from how they became involved with actuarial science, to tips for applying to internships and full-time positions.

Following the panel, students spent the next hour networking and participating in prescheduled one-on-one speed interviews. Next up was the Senior Actuaries in Action panel, featuring six accomplished actuaries from distinct insurance and consulting firms. The panel was led by Ken Levine, former chief actuary and now CFO at Nationwide E&S/Specialty. Levine also teaches a seminar course at ASU titled Business Personations. Panelists shared insight about the work they do in their current roles, tips on how to best prepare for interviews, and how students can make themselves more marketable. The senior actuaries also offered their predictions for the future of the actuarial profession, as well as tips on being successful in a full-time analyst position. The career day ended with one final networking session, giving students another opportunity to interact with potential employers.

ASU Actuarial Science Career FairAlmost a dozen attending companies were looking to fill full-time or internship positions, giving actuarial science students of all levels the chance to gain valuable industry experience. Overall the event was a huge success, with students learning more about local and regional insurance and consulting companies, while simultaneously marketing themselves to these prospective future employers. The industry professionals also discovered more about the future actuarial science graduates, further cementing the relationship between the industry and the actuarial science program at ASU.

February 11, 2018
By Hailey Walters

Hearts and Scholars dinnerGenerosity and philanthropy make the world go ‘round, and the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) has been able to experience this firsthand, thanks to the amazing scholarship opportunities that are available to the students in the actuarial science program. This year, nine scholarships were designed and awarded to students who are pursuing an actuarial science degree at ASU! The donors range from companies in the industry, actuarial faculty, and even families who have a passion for seeing students thrive in this field. These scholarships enable students to focus on what’s really important: passing their classes, studying for and taking the actuarial exams, and getting involved in their local insurance community.

Not only do these scholarships provide financial aid, but they also provide students with unparalleled support and motivation; they get the feeling that someone is always in their corner, rooting for them to succeed. Fostering a connection between the donors and the recipients of these scholarships is extremely important and beneficial to both parties. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) recognizes the importance of these relationships and hosts an annual dinner to unite the donors and the recipients, and celebrate philanthropy altogether.

The recipients and donors from the actuarial scholarships awarded last year were invited to the CLAS’s Hearts and Scholars Scholarship Dinner on Thursday, February 8th. Students from many different areas of study were able to interact, talk to scholarship donors, and enjoy dinner together. The program began with an inspiring video about some of the things that students in ASU’s CLAS accomplish on a day-to-day basis, and also included several speeches from leaders in the college. The program then held an open forum in which students were invited to share their personal stories of how philanthropy has impacted their lives. Lastly, the program concluded with opportunities for pictures and more socializing.

Philanthropy has certainly had a positive impact on students in GIS @ ASU, and the club is honored to bridge the gap between its members and the financial and moral support that they need. GIS @ ASU is excited to watch more of its students receive scholarships and build long-lasting relationships!

Hearts and Scholars dinner

February 5, 2018
by Maja Stefanovic

On January 30th, the Society of Actuaries (SOA) paid the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) a visit. As a part of the SOA University Outreach program, SOA staff and local professional actuaries met with ASU faculty and students, providing them with information on the exam process, curriculum changes, and professional advice. The SOA strives in reaching out to aspiring students interested in the actuarial profession by visiting universities and colleges around the world.

The evening’s presentation was organized by SOA marketing project specialist, Brenda Sawyer, and academic administrator, Tiffany Tatsumi. The SOA University Outreach event also brought featured actuaries James Meulemans, Garry Smedinghoff, and Lauren Zhang, who were a part of the actuarial panel that shared their professional experience and offered advice to students.

The importance of interpersonal skills was greatly emphasized by the actuarial panel. Taking a public speaking class while in college was recommended to help students build their skills and prepare for their actuarial career. In addition, the panel stressed the development of data programming skills while in college. They noted that having these skills not only makes the transition to the actuarial workforce easier, but also helps set a candidate apart from others. Lastly, the panel advised the importance of passing actuarial exams while in college. The actuaries suggested prioritizing and managing time spent on studying for the exam while simulating exam conditions to best help prepare for the challenging exams.

Another important subject explored by SOA staff was the upcoming ASA curriculum changes. The SOA decided to revise the curriculum as part of its ongoing efforts to support and enhance the actuarial profession. In total, the number of components will increase from 10 (3 VEE subjects, 5 exams, FAP, and APC) to 12 components (3 VEE subjects, 6 exams, 1 proctored project, FAP, and APC). The major change is the addition of a new “Statistics for Risk Modeling” exam and “Predictive Analytics” project. Since the actuarial program at ASU focuses on corresponding ASU courses to the actuarial examinations, many students were wondering how the change will affect the actuarial program. To help prepare students for the “Statistics for Risk Modeling” exam, a course on business forecasting using statistical techniques was designed.  

Often the hardest part about starting a new career is making connections. To help students, the SOA provides resources online for students to connect with local actuaries and view job opportunities. “SOA Explorer” is an interactive tool that can be used to find SOA members, employers, universities/colleges, actuarial clubs, and jobs by geographic region. Through this tool, students can easily reach out and form connections with actuaries.

GIS @ ASU is committed to nurturing talents of future actuarial professionals and together, with the SOA, can work to increase the number of candidates interested in the actuarial career path.  Overall, the SOA University Outreach event was beneficial to students in all stages of their education. GIS @ ASU looks forward to having the SOA visit again in the future.

SOA Outreach

January 29, 2018
By Zhihan Jennifer Zhang

Mercer case study - judgesOn January 18, 2018, the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) worked together with Mercer to host the first ever Mercer case study competition. The competition grouped students of all grade levels into teams of five or six and challenged them to analyze one of the most significant public programs in America: Medicare.

Originally enacted in 1965, Medicare is a program designed specifically to help provide health care services to retirees over the age of 65. Though the goals of the program are clearly admirable, growing medical costs and an increasingly aging population in recent years has caused many to question the sustainability of the program. As a result, the goal of the case study was particularly relevant: each of the four teams was asked to evaluate the current trajectory of Medicare and propose reforms that could revamp the program.

“The case study was a great opportunity for us to work together as a team and try to tackle the very real-world problem of healthcare,” says Bo Swoverland, a senior in the actuarial science program. “We all learned a lot about Medicare through the experience.”

Each team was given a week to compile their recommendations into a 10-12 minute presentation. A panel of judges composed of senior leadership from Mercer judged the presentations based on clarity, thoroughness, and innovation, and further tested the teams by asking questions after each presentation.

Mercer case study - First place teamThe decision was not an easy one, but it came down to the unique and well-thought out reforms presented by the winning team. The six students — Brendan Sturm, Haley Schumann, Blake Marx, Demetri Broin, Haoran Liu, and Jasmine Riggs — all received $250 gift cards as a reward. Their mentor, Terry Fuller from Mercer, received a gift card as well.

“I had never thought about Medicare as a program before this case study competition,” confessed Brendan Sturm, one of the students on the winning team. “As a result, the Mercer case study competition was a great test of creativity and problem solving. I really enjoyed the experience and I look forward to participating again next year.”

The participating students all agree: the case study competition was an awesome experience, and GIS @ ASU hopes that Mercer will continue to host similar events in future years.

Mercer case study - photo montage

January 29, 2018
By Hailey Walters

resume workshopThe Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) is extremely eager to host the Actuarial Science Career Day on February 15, and has spent much of January preparing its students for the event. This week, GIS @ ASU wanted to focus on ensuring that students start out on the right foot with their potential employers. Resumes are often the very first link between candidates and employers. Therefore, the club decided to hold a resume workshop to help students refine their resumes.
Following a successful personal statement workshop, GIS @ ASU held a resume workshop on Tuesday, January 23. Students in many different stages of the program attended in preparation for the career day and brought rough drafts of their own resumes. The meeting began with a brief overview of the types of elements found in well-written resumes — specifically, what details to include, what diction to use, and what kind of information is relevant to employers.
After the brief introduction, it was time for students to receive all the peer feedback they could get on their resumes. Officers of the club and faculty members looked over countless resumes and made suggestions for each. Feedback ranged from formatting suggestions to constructive criticism on the content. Members of the club also looked at other members’ resumes to get a feel for what other students at similar levels included on their resumes.
The resume workshop provided a unique opportunity for members to get to know each other by examining and critiquing each other’s resumes. At the same time, every student became one step closer to leaving a lasting impression on companies at the career day. After two successful workshops this spring semester, there is no doubt that GIS @ ASU will continue to host these types of meetings for the betterment of its members

January 21, 2018
By Hailey Walters

Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa at ASU (GIS @ ASU) encourages its students to strive for success. While pursuing a degree as rigorous as actuarial science, GIS @ ASU wants to ensure that its students have all the resources they need in order to focus on their work and community involvement. Some of these critical resources are scholarships. This spring, ASU’s School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences is offering 14 undergraduate scholarships, including nine specifically designed for actuarial students.

The key to successfully obtaining a scholarship is crafting a unique personal statement, one that encapsulates your achievements, as well as your personality. GIS @ ASU’s Jennifer Zhang lead a personal statement workshop on January 16. Students in the actuarial science program were invited to create rough drafts of their personal statements to bring to the workshop and receive peer feedback.

Personal statement workshopZhang began the meeting with a brief overview of the scholarships that are available to the undergraduate students, and then transitioned into teaching the essential elements to include in a personal statement. The students had the opportunity to review and provide feedback on some examples of personal statements that were well-articulated and those that still needed a little work.

Zhang taught that personal statements should show who you are and set you apart from the crowd. She made certain to emphasize that it is important to be genuine. When applying for a job, resumes will show achievements, but personal statements will explain what you learned from them and how you plan on incorporating them in your life later on down the road. If written well, personal statements give potential employers the chance to really get to know their candidates.

The students who attended this event were able to more fully understand the fundamentals of writing a personal statement and walk away with some useful peer feedback. GIS @ ASU looks forward to hosting more insightful workshops like this in the future.

January 19, 2018
By Maja Stefanovic

Maja StefanovicGamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) member, Maja Stefanovic, was recently honored with the Elizabeth A. Kocur Memorial Scholarship through The Institutes Griffith Education Foundation. The Griffith Foundation provides scholarships to students studying insurance, risk management, and actuarial science across the country. The foundation strives to fill the need of preparing future professionals for the insurance industry by providing them with educational aid.

“I was very thrilled to learn that I was selected as a recipient of the Elizabeth A. Kocur Memorial Scholarship,” said Stefanovic. “I am grateful to find scholarship opportunities such as the ones The Institutes Griffith Insurance Education Foundation offers. It makes me feel that I am not alone in accomplishing my educational goals.”

GIS @ ASU is proud to have a member receive such a generous scholarship from The Institutes Griffith Insurance Education Foundation. Stefanovic also received the Arizona CPCU and Tom and Zona Lorig scholarships in the past year. As a junior, Stefanovic has passed two actuarial exams and will be starting her second actuarial internship this summer.

January 17, 2018
By Maja Stefanovic

Every month, the Arizona Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriters Society (CPCU) hosts a luncheon for a presentation on current insurance topics. Along with an intriguing presentation, the Chapter kicked off the year by recognizing the Arizona CPCU Scholarship recipients. Education is one of the core values of the organization, and Arizona’s CPCU chapter showed their support by generously offering five scholarships to students in fall 2017.

CPCU Scholarship winnersClub members Emily Stampfel, Maja Stefanovic, Bo Swoverland, Hailey Walters, and Zhihan Jennifer Zhang each received a $1,000 scholarship from the Society to recognize their commitment to the profession and help fund their educational needs. The CPCU Chapter members were pleased to see that the CPCU Scholarship fund is going out to aspiring students that will help lead the industry in the near future.

The CPCU Chapter focuses all their presentations on topics that will be interesting to vast employees of the insurance industry. For this year’s monthly luncheon, the Chapter has decided to center their presentations around a topic that personally affects insurance professionals and the industry: security.

The guest speaker for January’s luncheon was Gregg Stinemates, IT Architect and Leadership Development Associate for State Farm Insurance in Tempe, AZ. During his presentation, Stinemates shared how insurance professionals can protect themselves and their policy members from identity theft. Many make the mistake of using the same password for multiple accounts, which makes it easier for hackers to get ahold of account information. Stinemates recommended to take two pairs of words and then flip them to form a password. For example, one pair can be “orange slices” and a second pair “rubix cube”, to form a password “slices cube”. Creating complex passwords is one easy way to control your personal security.

It cannot be stressed enough how fortunate the Gamma Iota Sigma Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) is to have such tremendous support from the local CPCU Chapter. Through the generous scholarships that CPCU provides, students are pushed closer toward their academic and career goals.

December 1, 2017
By Maja Stefanovic

On November 17, Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU members attended the Casualty Actuaries of Desert States (CADS) fall meeting. CADS is a professional actuarial club comprised of property and casualty (P&C) actuaries in the desert states of Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico. The club meets twice a year for members to network, broaden their knowledge, and stay up to date with the industry. This year’s fall meeting was hosted at the University Club of Arizona State University.

Steven Armstrong, CAS vice president of admissions, kicked off the meeting by sharing an update from the CAS board. He noted that the CAS will be transitioning their exams to a computer-based environment, Technology-Based Examination (TBE). Beginning in spring 2018 with Exam 5, candidates will take their exams using Microsoft Excel. TBE will allow candidates to take remotely proctored exams on their own computers at a location most convenient (home, office, etc.) during a designated time window. Through TBE, the CAS hopes to make their exams more relevant to real-life actuarial applications.

CADS 2017 Meeting at ASUJustin Panther, senior manager for catastrophe modeling and analytics at Allstate Insurance Company, shared how catastrophe models are constructed. Panther also touched on emerging trends that could disrupt the catastrophe modeling industry. He defined “catastrophe” in the property insurance industry as a severe natural or man-made disaster with claims expected to reach at least $25 million. With an increase in the number of natural disasters occurring in 2017 as compared to prior years, Panther’s presentation on modeling catastrophes was extremely relevant. Climate change experts warn that rising sea levels will produce higher storm surges and more devastating floods in the future, which could further disrupt insurance companies’ catastrophe models.

A variety of breakthrough technologies are set to spur a fundamental transition in the insurance industry. Mark Farrell shared how wearable technology is affecting health insurers. Farrell is a senior lecturer and program director of actuarial science at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland. In addition, Farrell is a 2017-2018 Fulbright Scholar at Arizona State University. Through advancements in technology, there is increasing access to self-quantified behavior and biometric information about one’s personal health. For example, new biometric sensors and smartwatches can measure heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen, and glucose levels, while providing real-time data. This information has tremendous implications on health insurers with its ability to provide new ways to measure, control, and price risk. Wearable technology also gives insurers an opportunity to better engage with customers.

As a student, demonstrating professionalism can benefit your reputation, moral, and success. The same is true for professionals with many years of experience in the workplace. Continuing professional development is important because it ensures that you continue to be competent in your profession. Ester Becker found the perfect way to end the meeting: professionalism skits! This interactive session covered several topics including reviews of the code of conduct and actuarial standards of practice. The skits gave the attendees a chance to discuss actuarial professionalism.

Overall, the CADS meeting was highly informative with a wide variety of interesting topics. In addition to exposure to various topics in the P&C insurance world, students were also able to network with industry professionals during the breaks.

December 1, 2017
By Hailey Walters
The Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) is dedicated to preparing its members for success. The chapter also takes pride in establishing and maintaining its relationships with past GIS members. GIS @ ASU provides its students with opportunities to network with young professionals in the valley through student-alumni events. These events are incredibly beneficial to both parties, allowing them to share their experiences with one another.

On November 14, four GIS alumni conducted an underwriting case study. This case study was designed to show the process through which underwriters determine whether or not they will insure a risk using real-world examples. The alumni used their work experience in underwriting and pricing wholesale insurance policies to create three real-world scenarios for the students to underwrite in the case study.

(L-R) Steven Locke, Traci Smith, Zach Hutson, and Jeff Durham

For the case study, students were broken up into six groups and each given an insurance application from a risky business operation. In the real-world, underwriters are not always given complete information about a risk. Therefore, the application forms given to students weren’t fully completed, requiring students to determine if they had all of the necessary information to insure the risk. The three business applications were from a marijuana delivery service, a strip club, and an at-home daycare. First, the students identified all of the exposures that their business could face. Due to the uniqueness of these risks, students had to collaborate to come up with relevant exposures. After each group came up with a list of exposures, they were given additional information to help them determine whether or not they would insure the business. Then, they decided between one of three scenarios regarding insuring the business. Each group could choose to insure, not insure, or potentially insure, contingent upon the release of more information and the following of several conditions outlined in the policy. Upon their decision, each group had two representatives share their results with everybody from the meeting.

This case study gave students an idea of the thought process of an underwriter and the potential problems they face every day. In addition, this case study allowed the students to create and build relationships with the GIS alumni. GIS @ ASU thanks alumni Zach, Traci, Steven, and Jeff for being active in their insurance community and putting together this case study. The club is very excited to participate in future case studies.

GIS @ ASU alumni conduct an underwriting case study

November 20, 2017
By Maja Stefanovic

Math Swami at ASU homecoming block partyEvery year, ASU continues a time-honored tradition: the university hosts a week of festivities to celebrate homecoming. One of the highlights of this week is the homecoming block party, an event that garners much attention from the ASU community. On October 28, members of the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter, along with other school clubs, volunteered their time to represent the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences at the homecoming block party. The event brought together students, families, and alumni, which made it the perfect time for club members to connect with the larger ASU community.

GIS at homecoming block partyGamma Iota Sigma members were able to help in two ways: they helped pass out “math-on-a-stick” lollipops that taught fun math facts, and a GIS club member played the role of “math swami," correctly guessing which number visitors were thinking of by "reading their minds." These gestures may seem small, but they served as great opportunities for ASU’s current students to interact with alumni and other community members. The actuarial science program at ASU has benefited from tremendous community support in the past, and students enjoyed the chance to give back. Gamma Iota Sigma’s Kappa Chapter at ASU looks forward to participating in many more events like this in the future!

November 16, 2017
By Hailey Walters

A career in actuarial science is not just contingent on successful passage of exams; becoming a part of a supportive professional organization is just as crucial. For actuaries in the property and casualty (P&C) industry, this organization is the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS), founded in 1914 to support actuaries and actuarial students in education, credentialing, and research. The CAS has only grown since its establishment, and today serves over 8,000 members all over the world.

CAS Annual meeting in Anaheim - DisneylandEvery year, the CAS hosts an annual meeting and provides its members with unlimited opportunities for learning, networking, and professional growth. This year’s meeting was held November 6-8 in Anaheim, California, and students from the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) were invited to attend the Student Program. Faculty members Dr. Jelena Milovanovic and Dr. John Zicarelli accompanied the students, participating in various networking events and educational sessions over the three days.

The CAS Student Program is unique in that it is designed for college students interested in becoming a P&C actuary. Students began the day with an introduction to the P&C insurance industry and the actuarial profession, where they learned about both the traditional and unconventional roles played by actuaries of all kinds. Over the course of a day, the students also had the chance to meet and network with various mentors, credentialed actuaries who volunteered to tell of their experience. A well-organized “speed networking” session gave students the chance to interact with many different professionals working in a variety of fields, from insurance to consulting. Hearing the different perspectives was invaluable, as it highlighted the various career paths that are available.

CAS Annual meeting in AnaheimThree GIS @ ASU students also had the privilege of presenting during the morning session of the student program. Brendan Sturm, Robert (Bo) Swoverland, and Zhihan (Jennifer) Zhang began their presentation by playing an insurance simulation involving marshmallow-and-spaghetti structures, which they put through hazards like an earthquake and a hurricane. This was designed to simulate a rate indication—the students were split into teams, and each team’s building symbolized one year of experience for a hypothetical company. Based on the value of the structures (i.e. the number of spaghetti sticks and marshmallows used) and the property damage, the presenters calculated the rate change that would be appropriate for the company.

CAS Annual meeting in Anaheim - student presentationAlthough the simulation used manually-selected dummy data, the process of working through a rate indication is one that all three presenters went through at various internships. This served as the foundation for the latter half of the session, which was designed to be a Q&A panel. Brendan, Bo, and Jennifer shared their experiences in health, life, and P&C internships with the students, answering everything from “How do you find an internship” to “What was the most interesting project you worked on.” The interactive setting gave the attending students a chance to ask questions to other students directly, which helped to engage and excite the crowd.

The Student Program was an incredible experience for all of the students who had the pleasure of attending. The students had access to exclusive facetime with the industry’s actuaries and got to ask an abundance of questions in a supportive environment. GIS @ ASU’s members enjoyed the entire experience and is eagerly awaiting next year’s meeting!

October 30, 2017
By Maja Stefanovic

Professor Paul McNicholasOn October 18, Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) members attended the Arizona Actuarial Club’s fall meeting. The Arizona Actuarial Club is a professional organization whose members come from various local insurance and consulting companies. The club is a valuable resource that helps grow the actuarial profession by offering local continuing education and networking opportunities. For this year’s fall meeting, professor Paul McNicholas from McMaster University in Canada visited Arizona to educate local industry professionals on cluster-weighted models and machine learning for insurance data.

As a Professor and Canada Research Chair in Computational Statistics in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at McMaster University, McNicholas is involved in conducting research that focuses on computational statistics. Although Dr. McNicholas’ research focuses on the statistics behind clustering and classification, including cluster-weighted models, and not insurance specifically, his findings can be applied to various insurance concepts.

McNicholas started off his presentation by first explaining the definition of a cluster in his own words: “a cluster is a unimodal component within an appropriate finite mixture model,” where an appropriate mixture model is one with components that have the necessary parameterization to fit the data. For example, if the data contains skewed clusters, then the mixture model should have components that parameterize skewness. These models also can be used to deal with missing or censored information, which is a problem often faced by actuaries working with insufficient or incomplete data.

The potential of cluster weighted models for insurance data was illustrated using various data sets, showing a practical application of the theoretical ideas. This research was carried out with Dr. Petar Jevtic and graduate students from McMaster university. Dr. Jevtic recently joined ASU’s School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences as an assistant professor specializing in both actuarial science and mathematical finance.

October 25, 2017
By Hailey Walters

Every year, the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) hosts the Week of Giving, an eight-day volunteering initiative that encourages the insurance industry to give back to their communities. On Saturday, October 21st, the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS @ ASU) participated in the IICF’s Week of Giving by volunteering at St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance in Phoenix for the third year in a row.

This year, 15 students from the club went to one of St. Mary’s distribution centers to help pack emergency food boxes for those in need. St. Mary’s Food Bank donates 40,000 of these emergency food boxes every month to various individuals or families who need the extra support. The students had the opportunity to interact with other local volunteers and work quickly and efficiently to get their tasks done. After passing through the assembly line, the emergency food boxes were organized onto palettes and sent to distribution centers around the valley.

Each member who participated agrees that helping those less fortunate is an incredibly rewarding experience. GIS @ ASU enjoys giving back to the community and is proud to have made a difference in many different lives in Phoenix, and the club is excited to continue contributing to local volunteering efforts.

October 23, 2017
By Hailey Walters

On Tuesday, October 17th, for the second year in a row, Nationwide E&S/Specialty hosted one of Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU’s (GIS @ ASU) club meetings. The representatives from the company prepared a fun night of insurance-related activities and games. The event was a great chance for students to take a break from studying for exams, and the event was well-attended by actuarial science and risk management students alike.

The night began with a brief networking period, giving students the opportunity to socialize with both Nationwide’s representatives and other students in the programs. Nationwide currently has internships available for the spring and summer of 2018, so this networking session provided the representatives with the opportunity to meet and interact with potential interns. Shortly after networking, the students were split into groups of four and sent into one of three classrooms, each corresponding to a different game that Nationwide created.

About half of the teams began by playing “Towers of Insurance,” which simulated the pricing process. At the beginning, each group’s objective was to create the tallest and strongest structure they could using various objects: graham crackers, uncooked spaghetti, marshmallows, and paperclips. Once finished, each structure was priced based on the materials used and then inspected closely by other groups. Upon inspection, each group then acted as an insurance company and determined what they would charge to insure each structure. The lowest price for each structure was the policy purchased, and some groups ended up insuring more structures than others. The structures were then subjected to a series of perils: earthquake, hail, flood, and wind. Once the disasters were over, the insurance companies had to pay for the losses. The group with the highest net income in the end won the game!

Every group also played Nationwide’s version of “Pictionary” and “Insurance Against Humanity.” In Pictionary, the students took turns drawing items from a list of things most likely to be insured by an excess and surplus lines insurance company, and the members of their team had to guess each item being drawn. This activity introduced students to the myriad of programs offered by companies like Nationwide. Insurance Against Humanity was an enjoyable fill-in-the-blank card game in which the students chose from an assortment of terms to fill the blank of an insurance or Nationwide-related sentence. Each round’s winner was chosen by a different player who judged based on humor, wit, or logic.

Once all of the games had been played, scores were added up to determine which team had the highest score overall. The winning team consisted of Kinsey Turk, Katie Fricker, Robert (Bo) Swoverland, and Ainsley Ramsay (not pictured).

GIS @ ASU had an amazing time with Nationwide and the students enjoyed getting to know the representatives and other members throughout these games. The club is eagerly awaiting the next Nationwide visit!

October 4, 2017
By Maja Stefanovic

On September 28-30, 2017, the Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter (GIS @ ASU) traveled to Dallas, Texas for Gamma Iota Sigma’s 46th Annual International Conference. The chapter sent officers Garrett Deimund, Maja Stefanovic, Brendan Sturm, Bo Swoverland, Hailey Walters, and Jennifer Zhang as well as Dr. Jelena Milovanovic and Dr. John Zicarelli to the event, which featured educational seminars taught by industry professionals from across the country. The GIS International Conference is the premier event for students interested in the insurance industry, and the opportunity gave students the chance to develop professionally, expand their knowledge, and continue to build strong relationships with the industry.

The conference opened with several educational sessions, professional development trainings, and inclusion seminars featuring industry professionals in all areas of insurance, as well as a career fair attended by over 60 companies. Students were able to choose between sessions from data visualization to basic risk management to interview skills to reinsurance, making it possible for each student to have a diverse but well-rounded experience. Although the conference was mostly directed toward students, faculty also had the chance to attend several round-table discussions, sharing ideas with one another to further improve their own programs and chapters.

GIS @ ASU wins national awardThe sessions were interspersed with visits to the career fair, various networking opportunities, and speeches from keynote speakers that provided helpful and inspirational advice to the attendees. One evening also featured an awards ceremony, in which GIS @ ASU was presented with its first ever chapter award. This award honored the Kappa chapter’s commitment to community service and building alumni relations, thus recognizing the hard work and effort put in by last year’s officers, faculty, student members, and GIS alumni. Being recognized for the work in front of 69 chapters from across the country was extraordinary, and the chapter will continue to work hard to excel during this school year as well.

GIS @ ASU members at national conferenceFinally, after all the sessions were over, students were still able to mingle with GIS members from different schools and chapters at a reception hosted in the Dallas Cowboys AT&T Stadium. Select individuals had the opportunity to tour the NFL stadium, viewing the different amenities as well as behind-the-scenes areas and the field itself. The event was a great way to close the weekend, as it allowed students to relax and continue to build relationships between chapters.

Overall, the GIS International Conference was a great opportunity for ASU students to meet their fellow risk management and actuarial science majors from across the country as well as representatives from various out-of-state companies. GIS @ ASU will definitely use this experience to continue to grow as a chapter and as a program, and the officers look forward to attending this conference in the future.

October 2, 2017
By Hailey Walters

The Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU (GIS at ASU) takes pride in the professional preparation and development of its students. The chapter is committed to ensuring that our students stand out among candidates for internships and full time positions, and, as a result, hosts a number of professional development opportunities for our students. On Tuesday, September 26th, GIS at ASU hosted its third annual mock interview night on campus to prepare students for a crucial step in the job application process: the interview.

The chapter invited 24 industry professionals from all over the valley to participate in this year’s event. After a brief networking period with refreshments sponsored by ASU’s School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, each of the professionals was paired with two students (out of the 31 who attended) for a 30-minute mock interview and a 10-minute feedback session. Although interview questions were provided, many groups found it helpful to deviate from the guidelines to ask general questions that could pop up in future situations. We were fortunate to welcome professionals from the following 10 diverse companies in the valley:

  • mock interview nightActuarial Strategies and Tactics
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona
  • Bob Bessen Consulting
  • GPW and Associates
  • Mercer
  • Nationwide E&S/Specialty
  • Nautilus Insurance Group
  • Oxford Life
  • Risk Placement Services (RPS)
  • UnitedHealthcare Group

Mock interviews are a great way to better familiarize students with the interview experience, as well as introduce the industry professionals to potential hires. Students and industry participants alike have enjoyed the event in the past, and this year was no different—our chapter was able to showcase its newest and brightest talent to the industry.

These mock interviews are invaluable in helping GIS students get one step closer to landing their dream job and assisting industry members in identifying key students to recruit. We appreciate the industry’s incredible support and dedication to helping these promising students succeed, and we’re excited to continue this event in the future!

mock interview night guests

Lamont Boyd of FICO, left, and Melissa Tomita of Nationwide E&S/Specialty

September 29, 2017
By Brendan Sturm and Bo Swoverland

Every month, the Arizona chapter of the CPCU Society hosts a luncheon, which serves as an opportunity for members to mingle with one another as well as learn from a keynote speaker. Arizona State University’s Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa (GIS @ ASU) students interested in the insurance world are invited to attend, as the meetings afford an opportunity to network with industry members. Brendan Sturm and Bo Swoverland as well as Dr. Jelena Milovanovic represented GIS at ASU at this month’s meeting.

The September luncheon featured Tiffaney Isaacson, the program coordinator of the water safety program at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, who spoke about the dangers of early children drownings. Although Arizona is primarily a desert state, it ranks 49th out of 50 states for childhood deaths by drowning, making childhood drownings a crucial issue tackled by the Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

The hospital has championed various initiatives designed to educate parents on potential prevention methods. The initiative stresses using a positive message to encourage rather than condemn, offering solutions like “supervision shifts” that parents can easily implement. The program also promotes the use of life jackets and other supports that can ensure the safety of a child.

The luncheon concluded with the CPCU chapter’s donation of $1,500 to the GIS @ ASU chapter. The CPCU has been a strong supporter of GIS @ ASU since its reactivation, contributing to a successful program. The GIS @ ASU chapter thanks them for this generous donation, and looks forward to continuing to build a strong relationship with the CPCU in the future.

CPCU Sept meeting

(L to R) Brad Magick (Arizona CPCU Society Treasurer), Jelena Milovanovic, Brendan Sturm, and Bo Swoverland

September 21, 2017
By Maja Stefanovic and Zhihan Jennifer Zhang

Mercer Race jenga challengeOn September 12, 2017, Mercer came to the GIS Kappa chapter at ASU, bringing not only information about the opportunities available at the company but also a fun activity for students – THE MERCER RACE!

Eight Mercer representatives kicked off the event by introducing the company and announcing the opening of several internship and full-time positions in Phoenix to approximately 40 GIS @ ASU chapter members. Amongst the Mercer representatives were several former ASU graduates, including Chris Dunker and Shea Ingram. Dunker’s internship at Mercer turned into a career half a decade ago, and for the last couple of years he has been coordinating the internship program at Mercer. Ingram is one of the former graduates of ASU’s actuarial science program, and his support for the program (as shown by his attendance at our events) is invaluable.

Mercer Race selfie challengeThe Mercer representations opened the meeting by briefly introducing the company to our students. Although Mercer overall encompasses several lines of business, including health, wealth , and career strategy, the Phoenix office specifically operates within the government human services consulting sector, which works primarily on Medicaid programs. Mercer is also the world’s largest human resources consulting firm with more than 20,500 employees and operations in 130 countries around the world, making Mercer attractive to a wide variety of ASU students.

Mercer Race clueAfter the brief introduction of the company, The Mercer Race was on! Students were split into six different teams to compete in three challenges: mini-golf course, a selfie-stick exercise, and a Jenga. These challenges not only helped students get to know each other better, but also gave the company a chance to observe potential candidates in team-building settings. The event ended with dinner and networking at Postino’s, giving students an opportunity to network with Mercer employees.

Mercer Race putting challengeASU’s actuarial science program is fortunate to have Mercer’s support, as they are one of the biggest health consulting companies in the valley. After a successful Mercer’s campus visit, it is now up to the ASU students to impress Mercer recruiters at the first round interviews on campus on October 13. We hope that many our students will be accepted for Mercer’s summer 2018 internship positions, and we look forward to building our relationship with the company in the future.

September 11, 2017
By Zhihan Jennifer Zhang

Allstate hosts first GIS@ASU meeting of the yearTo kick off the new school year, Gamma Iota Sigma’s Kappa chapter at ASU invited Allstate to host its first meeting on Tuesday, August 29. Almost 70 students attended, setting the record for the biggest GIS @ ASU meeting and reflecting the value of ASU’s burgeoning actuarial science program. This first meeting gave new members the opportunity to meet not only the officers of the club but also alumni and representatives from Allstate, the largest publicly-held property and casualty insurer in the US.

The evening’s activities were organized by Allstate’s Actuarial Talent Director Lynn Gehant and Senior Actuarial Assistant Katie Urso. After giving students an overview of Allstate’s actuarial program, Gehant and Urso set up a simulation to teach students basic insurance concepts like loss exposure, premiums, claims, deductibles, adverse selection, and underwriting techniques.

GIS@ASU students throw tennis balls into trash can as they learn about probability.About a third of the students were sorted into four different “insurance companies” with the rest of the students acting as “consumers” who could buy policies from any company. These consumers “modeled” the probability of an auto accident by throwing tennis balls into a trash can, where a miss indicated a loss. The insurance companies observed this process and tried to set premiums to maximize their profit, paying back their insureds for any losses experienced. This simulation taught actuarial concepts in a very practical setting, and new members especially learned a lot from the experience.

ASU students were not the only ones participating in the event; GIS alumni Jeff Durham, Stephen Evilsizor, and Steven Locke also came to add their insight and mentor new students. Giving students the opportunity the engage with alumni is extremely important because alumni members can relate most closely with current students. Their advice and mentoring is invaluable, and the chapter is thankful that these former students were willing to take the time to meet the program’s newest freshmen class.

GIS@ASU students learn about insurance from Allstate representatives.Of course, networking with Allstate’s representatives was highlight of the evening. Allstate is not only currently looking for its next cohort of summer interns but also hiring for their new location in Mesa, AZ. This experience gave prospective applicants a chance to ask questions about their program and simultaneously showcased ASU’s talented students to the company. GIS@ASU is very excited for Allstate’s expansion to Arizona, and we look forward to further building our relationship with the company!

September 8, 2017
By Hailey Walters and Maja Stefanovic

Every year, the GIS Grand Chapter hosts the Gamma Iota Sigma Leadership Symposium to kick off the school year, gathering presidents from every chapter to discuss leadership and organization strategies. Zhihan Jennifer Zhang represented the Kappa chapter at the this year’s event held August 25-27 in Columbus, Ohio.

The symposium serves as an opportunity for officers of each chapter to share their ideas and develop leadership skills in a peer-to-peer setting. Because each chapter is so different, officers have the opportunity to learn from each other and discuss potential ideas to better their own communities. The goal is to relate ideas and techniques that could be applied to every chapter, whether large or small, new or well-established.

For example, one of the vital components of GIS leadership is recruiting and managing new members. Students at the symposium brainstormed new ways to promote GIS and attract new members to events. Not only did they come up with ways to entice potential members, they also planned ways to retain the attention of their current members by making the regular meetings interesting and exciting.

Another important topic discussed was how each chapter can engage the community around them. As officers, these students are often the face of GIS that their local community sees. It is important that the club communicates with alumni and the insurance industry.

The leadership symposium is a wonderful opportunity for young leaders to socialize and network with each other, all while putting their heads together to come up with ways to flourish their own chapters and communities. We hope that Jennifer can share her insight and introduce new ideas for our campus chapter as well!

GIS National Conference

August 25, 2017
By Hailey Walters

Zhihan Jennifer ZhangThe Curtis E. Huntington Memorial Scholarship was founded in honor of Curtis E. Huntington, FSA, MAAA, FCA, MSPA, the former head of University of Michigan’s Actuarial Department. Huntington spent over 30 years diligently ensuring that his students got the financial aid that they deserved. This scholarship was designed to honor his dedication to his students as well as his commitment to the actuarial profession. The intention of this scholarship is to award undergraduate actuarial science students the financial aid needed to help them succeed.

Every year, each university can nominate one student for the Curtis E. Huntington Memorial Scholarship. Like all other prestigious and competitive scholarships, being considered a nominee is no easy feat. The candidate must demonstrate involvement in extracurricular activities and also establish their potential by completing actuarial exams. This year, ASU actuarial science student Zhihan Jennifer Zhang was awarded the Curtis E. Huntington scholarship due to her outstanding performance both inside and outside of school.

GIS @ ASU is proud to have a member receive such a generous scholarship from the Actuarial Foundation. We are also proud of Jennifer for all of her accomplishments this year. In addition to being awarded the Curtis E. Huntington scholarship, she has been awarded both the Arizona CPCU Scholarship and the Nationwide E&S/Specialty Actuarial Scholarship, and she also won the AAMGA White Paper Competition. Keep up the good work, Jennifer!

August 23, 2017
By Hailey Walters

The American Association of Managing General Agents (AAMGA) is a trade association for insurance professionals that deal in wholesale and excess and surplus lines. The organization is devoted to helping its members improve and succeed in the insurance industry, offering educational conferences to further the knowledge and expertise of its members.

The AAMGA hosts a University West Conference every year to teach classes to industry professionals as well as university students. This year’s conference took place from August 16 to 18, 2017, in Scottsdale, Arizona. The conference was packed full of learning and networking opportunities, and members of GIS @ ASU had the pleasure of attending.

On Wednesday night, GIS @ ASU members attended the welcome reception and were able to socialize with other guests from numerous different companies and schools. This opportunity allowed students to learn about working in the field of property and casualty insurance by directly interacting with industry members.

Over the next two days, conference attendees visited a number of sessions taught by knowledgeable and experienced insurance professionals. On Friday morning, the students attended a session dedicated to property underwriting, and another session in the afternoon about insurance business income. Both sessions were taught by Kathy Suhm, the vice president of underwriting training and development at Nautilus Insurance Group.

The AAMGA University Conference provides valuable learning experiences that help prepare the students for future internship or full-time jobs. The past University West conferences that GIS @ ASU attended had been very enjoyable and enlightening, and this one was no different. The Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU looks forward to attending next year’s event!

L-R: Alex Rabine, Ricky Pham, Garrett Deimund, Kathy Suhm, Maja Stefanovic, Brendan Sturm, Hailey Walters, Bo Swoverland, Zhihan Jennifer Zhang

August 18, 2017
By Zhihan Jennifer Zhang

ASU actuarial science students and professors attend ARC in AtlantaAlthough Arizona State University’s (ASU) actuarial science program places great emphasis on teaching students how to become successful actuaries in a corporate setting, the program does not hesitate to promote individual research projects. Recently, the school sent two undergraduate students to the 52nd annual Actuarial Research Conference (ARC) in Atlanta, Georgia to present their Barrett thesis projects. The conference was a great opportunity for students to network with professionals from both the industry and academia as well as practice presenting research findings in front of an audience.

On the first day of the conference, Zhihan Jennifer Zhang, a senior in the actuarial science program, presented her research on loss reserving. The project was designed to be a real-world implementation of a 1999 article. Though the thesis project is still in-progress, the audience got a preview of preliminary result as well as some ideas for how the research could be applied in their own companies.

Julie Tang, a recent graduate from ASU, also presented her honors thesis project on continuing care retirement communities. The audience was impressed by the scope of the project, and, as the topic is less well-known, they were exposed to an interesting application of actuarial research.

Jelena Milovanovic presents at ARC in AtlantaASU actuarial science coordinator Jelena Milovanovic presented in a session as well, working in conjunction with the Casualty Actuary Society to introduce ways in which degree programs can incorporate case studies into their curriculum. The presentation gave the professors in attendance a chance to discuss and coordinate potential future projects.

The students and professors also had the chance to attend various sessions. Several cutting-edge researchers presented their findings, and the conference attendees had the opportunity to follow up with these presenters.

The conference was a good learning experience for everyone who attended. ASU’s actuarial science program looks forward to sending more students to present their findings at the conference in the future.