Actuarial Science major Carlie Banchi '20, with minors in Spanish and Computer Science, recently won the Casualty Actuaries of the Mid-Atlantic Region (CAMAR) scholarship offered by the regional affiliate of the Casualty Actuarial Society. This semester, she voluntarily took an independent study and worked on a research project with Dr. Ned Wolff, professor of Computer Science and Mathematics. She presented their results to visiting Egyptian delegates. In addition to her independent study, Banchi also works as a math tutor, a resident assistant, an ambassador and is president of the Math & Actuarial Science Club. She studied abroad in Spain in the Fall 2018 semester and has secured an internship with Penn Mutual this summer.
Banchi previously sat down with AdvisorSmith writer Patrick Chen to discuss her experiences at Arcadia, and what made her interested in pursuing a career in actuarial science. A section of this Q&A is reproduced below. Read the full Q&A.
Q1. What influenced you to pursue an actuarial science program?
Being passionate about nature and especially the oceans, I spent most of my childhood planning to be a marine biologist, until one fateful day in high school biology class when I realized how much I detested dissections. I felt lost then, not sure what my backup plan would be, especially with college right around the corner.
It took a lot of reflection and discussion with my family to realize that I was also passionate about mathematics. I had always excelled in mathematics, but, for some reason, I never considered it more than a mandatory class that everyone else seemed to hate. In fact, I had never even taken the time to decide whether I liked it or not because I was so busy seeing it as “just another required class”. However, as I lost my interest in biology, I realized just how fascinating numbers were to me.
I started enjoying my math classes more and more through high school, but I didn’t discover actuarial science until I took economics. I distinctly recall a day where, during our discussion of marginal curves, I saw the two worlds of calculus and economics collide right in front of me. I realized in that moment, that I wanted to pursue a career that would combine math and business. I researched different career paths and stumbled upon actuarial science, thanks to a tip from my mom, whose college roommate was an actuary. While I remember heavily researching the field for weeks before deciding on it as my major, in retrospect, it feels like everything happened instantaneously and I’ve never regretted my decision.
Q2. What made you choose the actuarial science program at Arcadia University?
Having moved from just outside Philadelphia to Wisconsin right before high school, I looked in both areas for college. Since I had already decided to pursue actuarial science, I narrowed my search down to schools that offered Actuarial Science as a major. In Wisconsin, I looked at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and Carroll University, but I knew my heart was set on the East Coast. I looked at the University of Pennsylvania, Saint Joseph’s University, Temple University, and Arcadia University. Ultimately, it came down to Temple and Arcadia for me. Both had incredible actuarial science programs that I felt I would easily fit into and benefit from. Plus, both schools offered me similar scholarship amounts, allowing me to make a decision fully based on which school I felt more at home at. I actually toured both schools the same day and the moment I stepped onto Arcadia’s campus, I felt like I was at home. The intimate feel of the small campus drew me in. I felt like I would be a person here, not just a number. Plus, the flexibility of the program and the other opportunities offered by the school, like study abroad, helped me feel excited about my future, while remaining comfortable on campus, even though I knew I would be over 800 miles away from my family.
Q3. What has been your experience with the actuarial science program at Arcadia University? What do you like most about the program?
Arcadia’s actuarial science program has actually grown since I started here, expanding from preparing students for two exams to preparing students for four exams. The program is easy to follow, but also flexible for students, allowing them to swap their major if need be or even pick up an extra minor or two. However, the most impressive part of Arcadia’s actuarial science program cannot be quantified, as it is the faculty who have truly enhanced my experience. Arcadia’s faculty, specifically in the math and computer science department, have always been there to support me, both academically and personally, whether it’s helping me with independent research projects or connecting me to employers. Every year, Arcadia partners with West Chester University to host a career fair for actuarial science majors, and students have successfully earned internships or even full-time jobs from this career fair. We also have different ways of connecting students to local actuaries, through discussion panels or meetings with the Actuaries Club of Philadelphia. Overall, I am impressed with the program here and thankful I picked this school.
Q4. Tell us about your experience at Arcadia University in general.
Arcadia University has truly given me the full college experience. I’ve received a well-rounded education, thanks to helpful faculty, flexible class scheduling, and exposure to other fields and interests. Arcadia has also allowed me the opportunity to gain a global perspective with affordable, accessible study abroad programs. In my first year here, I took a class about Greek mythology and then my class traveled there for the week of spring break via Arcadia’s Preview program. In the fall semester of my junior year, I spent three months abroad in Granada, Spain, fulfilling my Spanish minor and of course having an incredible global experience. On campus, I contribute to the Arcadia community in various capacities, serving as a math tutor, a resident assistant, and an Arcadia Ambassador (a tour guide for incoming students). I am also president of the Math and Actuarial Science Club.
Q5. Have you secured any internships over the summer? What support did you get when applying for internships?
Arcadia’s career fair for actuarial science students has helped me tremendously, both with obtaining internships and interview practice in general. During my sophomore year, my professor, Irina Pogrebivsky, helped me secure an internship with the Society of Actuaries as an actuarial research assistant. For that internship, I worked in experience studies, manipulating excel sheets and helping write up reports for SOA. This fall, since I was studying abroad in Spain and unable to attend the actuarial career fair, my professors still helped connect me with the employers by passing out my resume and networking for me a bit. I ended up getting multiple phone interviews and, from them, an internship with Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company. I will work for them for ten weeks this summer and see where that potentially leads as I approach graduation.
Q6. Did you get any other special enriching experiences?
In general, Arcadia faculty are always helping connect me to special experiences. This spring, I actually took capstone, the senior thesis class, as a junior because I was interested in doing a statistical research project with Dr. Ned Wolff. I’ve had multiple opportunities to present this project, but the most rewarding was when I presented it to an Egyptian delegation visiting Arcadia to learn about our innovative teaching methods, especially in the STEM fields. Next semester, I will take capstone again, but with Irina Pogrebivsky, so that I can do an actuarial science thesis project.
Q7. What are your career goals?
In general, I am looking to work as an actuary for an insurance company; however, my options are open as to which field of insurance I would like to work in. This summer I am working for Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company, so I am looking to get a feel for life insurance. I am hoping this internship will help me decide which insurance path – life, property, or casualty – I would like to work in after I graduate. I am also looking to continue my actuarial exams. Currently, I have passed Exam FM and Exam P, and I am on track to prepare for STAM and SRM during my senior year, hopefully completing both by summer 2020. I am looking to obtain my ASA and FSA within the Society of Actuaries, so I will continue studying for exams after graduation. Further down the line, I would like to return to school as a college professor. The faculty at Arcadia have inspired me with their care for and attention to students, so I hope one day I can follow in their footsteps.