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The widest smile stretched across my face as I read the only two all-cap words spanning across a single email.
Overcome with pride and joy, an incredible
revelation hit me. Those words were stated in the context of winning the case
competition in the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) Student Central Summer Program, but they
had a greater meaning that went beyond a single competition. Those words were,
and still are, symbolic of what it means to make progressive strides in a
journey to become more diverse, equitable and inclusive. When we truly succeed
in that endeavor, everyone collectively wins.
So, what is the CAS Student Central Summer
As the COVID-19 pandemic challenged the world in unexpected ways, people
in the workforce experienced turbulent times. While many made the switch from
brick-and-mortar offices to working at home, those with minimal corporate
experience faced a great deal of uncertainty as employers shortened, or in less
favorable cases, cancelled their internship programs as a result of not being
equipped to adequately manage interns in a remote space. Unfortunately, this
situation also became a grim reality for candidates in the actuarial profession
without a full-time job.
In response to the emerging situation, the
CAS quickly entered the arena and launched its first remote-based, mentor-led
program for students to learn and obtain on-the-job actuarial experience. The
program, known as the CAS Student Central Summer Program, gained positive
traction in the summer of 2020 and came back again this year, opening its doors
to more than 150 students across the world, keen to know more about the
profession and the property/casualty insurance industry.
The CAS Student Central Summer Program offers
a robust introduction to the actuarial profession and career path to those who
may have limited access or exposure to insurance and actuarial topics. Student
participants may come from a university with or without an actuarial program,
or potentially identify as a career changer wanting to pursue the actuarial path.
Over the course of eight weeks, students learn about a variety of property and
casualty actuarial topics, ranging from pricing and reserving to predictive
modeling. Each topic is covered in the form of a module with assignments and
supplementary webinars, generally hosted live by actuaries, to further cement
learnings throughout the week.
As students advance through the educational components of the program,
they work with peers in small groups to discuss weekly assignments and learning
objectives. Mentors are assigned to each group and serve as additional
resources to students through the duration of the program.
As a mentor, I organized and facilitated virtual sessions with my group.
For students, this direct access to practicing actuaries via mentor assignments
is a critical piece to the program. Not only do mentors provide expertise on insurance
and actuarial topics, but they also give students the opportunity to learn
firsthand about the more intimate details of an actuary's job, which is invaluable
when evaluating career options. Similar to traditional internship formats,
students also work together to develop a solution to an insurance problem as
part of the program's case competition. In the final week of the program,
groups present their analysis and final recommendations to a panel of
actuaries, where the winning group receives a first-place prize of $1,000.
summer program is an immense effort put on by the CAS, but I believe it’s an
effort that will bear fruit for the actuarial profession by growing the CAS
membership in underrepresented communities. This forest of
untapped potential in the upcoming workforce is worthy of further exploration, and the
program can play a substantial role in bringing more diverse talent and a wider
array of unique experiences to the profession. In over a year, the program has
created a space of equal opportunity and has afforded students from various
backgrounds the chance to experience the profession in a meaningful and highly
Arthur Chan, founder and current DEI
strategist at Arthur Chan Consulting, said:
"Diversity is a
fact. Equity is a choice. Inclusion is an action. Belonging is an
This quote is synonymous with my experience as
a mentor in the CAS Student Central Summer Program. I had the privilege to
interact with students from different areas of the globe, stretching from Tel
Aviv, Israel, to more familiar cities such as Houston, Texas. From day one, the
level of diversity was apparent and hard to ignore. Further, the CAS made an intentional
choice to provide this platform and give students the resources needed to
succeed on an even playing field. The supporting cast of the CAS, including
program liaisons, webinar and topic presenters, mentors, and other staff
members, all joined forces to create an open and inclusive environment for participating
students. As I watched several groups present their final projects, I realized
this environment was key in generating an abundance of creativity and fresh
ideas during the case competition.
Belonging is an
My hope is that the students came away with some
sense of belonging to a profession that is actionable in diversity, equity and
inclusion efforts and strives to make positive, generational change for the
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