Like many actuaries of my generation, I did not learn about the actuarial profession as an undergraduate. It turns out, however, that my total experience at F&M proved to be perfect training for both graduate school and for a successful actuarial career.
As an undergraduate I was on a track for graduate school. Attaining a Ph.D. (in something!) was a goal of mine since I was a youngster. Besides 14 semesters of mathematics courses, I took full advantage of F&M’s liberal arts curriculum with courses in English, economics, government, history, science, religion and philosophy. I am proud of being inducted in the Social Science Honor Society (Pi Gamma Mu) as well as the Mathematics Honor Society (Pi Mu Epsilon).
I attained a Ph.D. in mathematics from Rutgers University in 1974. While teaching at the college level, I began auditing graduate courses in applied statistics and computer science. During this period I learned about the actuarial profession (from my wife), and it has proved to be a perfect melding of my talents and education. I became a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries in 1980,
Actuaries model the financial consequences of contingent events or of taking risk. While mathematics is the underpinning of actuarial science, an actuary needs to be well versed in modeling, economics, finance, investments, law, marketing, and underwriting. As in other professions, it is paramount to be able to communicate well both orally and in writing. I often say that it is relatively easy to determine the solution to a given problem. The harder part is convincing my fellow executives that it’s the best solution, and the hardest part is having it executed perfectly.
F&M gave me the background to succeed in business. The curriculum exposed me to the great ideas in a range of disciplines. Professors challenged us but were always there for us. Small classes encouraged thinking, writing, and speaking. Finally, F&M’s size allowed one to develop by simultaneously being able to participate in: sports, the College Reporter, fraternity, clubs, and the arts. One needs to be prepared to take different roads in life, and in the end, that is what we need from our college experience.