Belonging is an Outcome
Dalesa Bady

Belonging is an Outcome

The CAS Student Central Summer Program

Dalesa Bady September 01, 2021 Posted in: Blog Posts, Blog, General


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 Program?

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.

The 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 tangible way. 

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 outcome."

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 outcome.

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 future.

Dalesa Bady is a consulting actuary with Pinnacle Actuarial Resources working from Dallas, Texas. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Texas at Austin. Dalesa has experience in assignments involving personal lines ratemaking, predictive analytics, loss reserving, captive feasibility and funding studies, and loss cost projections. She is an Associate of the Casualty Actuarial Society and a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries.

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