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Recruiting minorities is scholarship goal

A $5,000 scholarship awarded this fall to actuarial science major Tiffany Daley, CLAS ’15, is the first in a commitment to UConn by the International Association of Black Actuaries (IABA).

The IABA wants to increase the number of black actuaries in a profession where they are underrepresented. “We feel that one way to do this is to increase the diversity in actuarial science programs,” says Kate Weaver, IABA executive director. “Scholarships are one method for ensuring this happens.”

Daley, the first recipient, is one of 250 undergraduates majoring in actuarial science, a program in the math department.

She had planned to be a math major when she applied to UConn, but after learning about actuarial science, she decided to combine her interests in math and business.

“I really like how actuarial science can be applied to real life,” she says. “I like the data analysis side of it, and I can help people make their insurance plans. Mathematical proofs were never my thing.”

Fewer than 10 of the 250 actuarial majors are black. In the actuarial profession, only 1.8 percent of actuaries are black and fewer than 2 percent are Hispanic, says James Trimble, director of the actuarial science program in CLAS and Daley’s adviser.

Trimble last year approached the IABA about starting a scholarship here. He is a member of the group’s advisory council.

The resulting scholarship is a four-year commitment from the IABA Foundation to offer one scholarship of up to $5,000 per year. The CLAS Dean’s Office is providing an additional $5,000 a year for a renewable UConn Actuarial Diversity Scholarship that will benefit black, Hispanic, or Native American students. The actuarial program will use both scholarships as recruiting tools.

Many actuarial majors enter the program from engineering or business, says Trimble. He is trying to recruit them earlier, at the high school stage, by letting Hartford-area high school students know about the career potential in the Hartford financial services industry. Last year, 31 out of about 48 seniors in actuarial sciences had jobs lined up by March.

“I wouldn’t have even known about the scholarship if it hadn’t been for Professor Trimble,” Daley says. “He got to know what kind of person I was and knew this would be a great opportunity.”

Daley, a Northborough, Mass., native, hopes to receive an internship at Travelers this summer. She would like to pass the first two of the approximately 10 professional actuarial examinations before leaving UConn, an opportunity she wouldn’t have had at other colleges, most of which don’t allow students to begin taking the exams while still in school.

UConn’s program, in which some students take as many as four exams before they graduate, last year won recognition from the Society of Actuaries as a Center of Actuarial Excellence.

Although she’s unsure yet of which actuarial path she’ll take, Daley says that the auto insurance industry seems the most interesting and makes the most sense to her.

But for now, she’s balancing her schoolwork and internship search with athletics: She’s a 200- and 400-meter sprinter on the UConn women’s track and field team. She keeps three calendars to make sure she stays on schedule, and she admits that many weeks she doesn’t sleep enough.

And although she loves the diversity and opportunities that UConn has afforded her, she has one complaint, which she says affects her running.

“It’s really windy here,” she laughs.

Learn more about majoring in actuarial science.

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