You Can’t Take the University Out of the Student
Erich Brandt

You Can’t Take the University Out of the Student

Educational, Collaborative Activity with Illinois State University

Erich Brandt March 21, 2015 Posted in: Blog Posts, General
When I graduated from Illinois State University (ISU) in 1996, there wasn’t an Actuarial Science major, ISU’s Katie School of Insurance was five years old and the current location of the State Farm Hall of Business was a softball diamond. Now with an Actuarial Science major under the tutelage or Dr. Krzysztof Ostaszewski (Dr. Krys), ISU is recognized as a Center of Actuarial Excellence and has nationwide demand for its graduates. The Katie School of Insurance has been directed by Jim Jones since 2001, and supports 300 insurance majors and minors. Jim and Dr. Krys are constantly developing and nurturing partnerships between academia and business to increase student opportunities.

Few communities the size of Bloomington-Normal have the breadth of insurance experience that runs through every facet of this area. That being said, the actuarial profession, rooted with intensive professional examinations and rigorous mathematical education, remains somewhat ambiguous to the non-practitioners. I had to ask myself, “What can be done to help prospective actuarial science students experience the profession firsthand?”

Thus began the formation of a program called “Pinnacle U.” This program is designed to be “a grass-roots collaboration between Pinnacle and the students at Illinois State University.” This year, students from ISU will be paired up with a Pinnacle employee currently involved in taking the actuarial exams. Each team will prepare a 25 minute presentation on a topic of actuarial interest. A panel of local insurance professionals will then discuss the presentations and the topics to add insight, educate the participants, and encourage audience interaction.

I have enjoyed creating the Pinnacle U program and giving back to the university that helped me choose my career path. By providing practical experience in actuarial concepts, we are exposing college students with mathematical aptitude to insurance concepts beyond the numbers. These students will get to meet actuaries and other professionals, gain experience in public speaking, and gain mentorship moments from Pinnacle’s employees. The next Pinnacle U is slated for March 31, just around the corner, and I can’t wait.

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