Since 2002, the CAS Trust Scholarship has provided funds for students who are pursuing a career in actuarial science to further their interest in the P&C actuarial profession and to encourage the pursuit of the CAS designations. The CAS reached out to the following recipients to share the importance of the scholarship during their journeys to becoming actuaries.
Reward of giving back
Brett Jaros, FCAS
The CAS Trust Scholarship served as a great encouragement to keep up with the hard work Brett Jaros had already started in school. The funding cemented in his mind that the P&C pathway was the actuarial course for him.
He was fortunate to hear about actuarial science from a math teacher in high school, so he studied it for four years at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Jaros completed internships at State Farm, Zurich and CNA. He then worked for 12 years at CNA in a variety of roles, and now, most recently, has spent one year at Lexington/AIG.
For 12 years, Jaros has volunteered in the CAS. He has done everything from exam writing and grading to working with the CAS Trust Scholarship, where he has served nine years as a member and three years as chair, where he currently serves.
“It’s been a rewarding experience being able to give back to students in a way that I personally know can be very impactful,” Jaros said.
He encourages students who are thinking about the actuarial path to gain as many experiences as possible as early as possible. “This will make you a more well-rounded actuary but will also likely expose you to opportunities and roles that can bring great long-term success,” Jaros said.
Alexander Rosteck, FCAS, CPCU
For Alexander Rosteck, the CAS Trust Scholarship gave him the opportunity to take exams and get ahead while still in school, which was a big draw to the career. Receiving the scholarship reinforced to him that an independent group of professionals were interested in supporting and acknowledging his growth and development.
“I figured that one day, professional achievement would transcend scholastic achievement, and the scholarship did encourage me to take the professional educational process seriously and diligently,” Rosteck said.
Academics were a given in Rosteck’s family, and he appreciates how his parents made having a good K-12 educational experience a high priority in their own lives. For university, he wanted his coursework to align with and support his actuarial ambitions without being overly focused on exam prep, so he chose a bachelor’s degree in statistics with a minor in economics. But some of the courses he enjoyed the most at Rutgers and in study abroad were in history and socioeconomics. He doesn’t regret any of the computer science and programming knowledge he picked up in school either.
Rosteck worked for 10 years for the Fireman’s Fund. It offered the mid-sized company experience he was looking for with actuarial support, a diversity of lines of business and international connections.
“I stayed there for 10 years, making internal moves, while eventually building on the work I had done there to move on to a wider world beyond the corporate role,” Rosteck said. “Building relationships with the underwriting business partners I supported facilitated a move to Southern California, supporting that group, entertainment insurance, in a broader role. Even now I work with great people I met at my prior company, though my role now in alternative risk transfer is even more heavily weighted towards underwriting than towards the supporting pricing work.”
He enjoyed being part of the Student Central Summer Program the CAS held during the summer in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. While he is not formally a volunteer with the CAS, he tries to represent and broaden perception of the profession while outside of the actuarial world.
He encourages students who are thinking about the actuarial path to learn about the world, to pass their exams and contribute to their company always and all at the same time. He also wants them to remember that being an actuary is not a math job; it is a business job leveraging quantitative and modeling skills.
The chance to help
Jim Arns, ACAS
The CAS Trust Scholarship made Jim Arns more aware of the CAS and showed him that the CAS cares about education and not of growth of the profession.
Arns received his Bachelor of Science from the University of Iowa in actuarial science with a minor in business administration in 2010.
In May of 2008, he interned with Zurich North America within the corporate reserving department. Following his junior year, he was at Deloitte Consulting as a P&C intern for half the summer and a health intern for the other half. Upon graduation, he rejoined Deloitte as a P&C actuary. Over the past 12 years, he has progressed in his career and is currently a senior manager at Deloitte working toward becoming a principal (equivalent to a partner).
“I specialize in helping clients with reserving across all lines of business and enjoy solving my clients’ most challenging problems,” Arns said.
Arns is currently volunteering with the CAS in a joint committee of the International Association of Black Actuaries (IABA) and INROADS, a non-profit organization that creates pathways to careers for diverse high school and college students across the country. This coalition is working to attract young, empowered and ambitious people of color into the actuarial field. In addition, he recently presented at the IABA Annual Meeting.
“Volunteering is very important to the profession and where I have the opportunity, I help,” Arns said.
His message to students pursuing an actuarial path: “Don’t give up!”
“Working toward your credentials is not an easy process. Every actuary has a moment, or two or three, where giving up will cross their mind, but if you continue, the personal reward of getting your credentials is worth a thousand times more than every time you thought of giving up.”
Gained a valuable career mentor
Jake Akstins, ACAS
When Jake Akstins was in college, he always worked two or three jobs at a time, about 30-40 hours per week. These jobs were in addition to being a full-time student and studying for actuarial exams. Winning the scholarship allowed him to work only one job about 20 hours per week, which gave him time to focus more on his studies. More importantly, it allowed him to enjoy his senior year with friends.
“During my senior year, I spent time volunteering and finding passion projects outside of actuarial ones,” said Akstins. “[This] helped me in ‘adulting’ once I graduated from school.”
“At one of the CAS Annual Meetings, I was able to network with CAS staff and members, and one became a monumental career mentor to me. Paying for school and exams, along with the moving costs of transitioning into the full-time workplace, was incredibly expensive; the scholarship was a game changer.”
Akstins attended and graduated from the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy for high school, a public residential boarding school that was critical in changing his educational trajectory for the better. The courses were extremely challenging and required immense creativity to approach the unique problems given to the students to solve. He attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he majored in actuarial science and minored in business. He is currently completing a certificate program with Cornell University on diversity and inclusion for human resources.
During his last two summers before graduation, he interned at CNA Insurance. His first internship was in commercial pricing, focusing on workers’ compensation, and his second was in specialty pricing, focusing on management liability.
“When I was invited to join their full-time rotational program, it was an easy ‘yes’ from me. I spent a year and a half in commercial lines reserving; here, I completed quarterly reserve reviews and also helped onboard a new reserving technology within the department,” Akstins said.
His next rotation was in health care pricing, where he gained a passion for working with the business.
“I loved working with underwriters on rate change questions and pricing large accounts. I loved my actuarial roles at CNA, but their nonactuarial leadership development opportunities were even greater. I had the opportunity to serve as the organization’s Global Pride Employee Research Group (ERG) Co-Chair and serve on Diversity & Inclusion and Recruiting committees, which helped me network across the company and build on my passion for working with people from different backgrounds.”
After three years at CNA, he decided to try a new company and served in the excess and surplus and specialty pricing team at Nationwide, focusing on large general liability and umbrella accounts.
“I learned so much at Nationwide from some phenomenal actuaries and underwriters. I also helped start a Virtual Pride ERG,” Akstins said.
In early 2022, he embarked on a new journey and moved to Austin, Texas, to become Visa’s first manager of inclusion & diversity analytics.
“The role felt like it was made for me, as it brings together my passion and experience with DE&I and my background as a credentialed actuary,” said Akstins. “In typical Jake fashion, I also recently became co-chair of Visa’s Austin Pride employee resource group. I’m excited to see how the Inclusion and Diversity and People Analytics teams will continue to grow and prosper at Visa and other organizations, as there is so much power in using analytics to tell stories of all kinds of trends,” he said.
Akstins co-founded and served as the president of the Sexuality and Gender Alliance of Actuaries (SAGAA), a non-profit organization that advocates for LGBTQ+ inclusion in the actuarial profession. SAGAA partners heavily with the CAS. He is also a member of the CAS Diversity Impact Group.
He wants students considering an actuarial path to understand that getting through the exam process is difficult. “If you feel you are struggling, or it is taking you longer than others, it is OK for you to face some struggles along the way,” Akstins said. “I failed one of my early exams three times and learned so much about how I can best learn because of my failures. Take time for yourself: find a hobby, go to the gym and have fun! The actuarial profession is an amazing career, but it is important to take time for yourself and have an identity outside of work.”
CAS meeting was pivotal to career
Catherine Erdelyi, FCAS
The CAS Trust Scholarship brought Catherine Erdelyi down an avenue that she knew little about at the time.
“I attended a university without an actuarial science major and was taking exams independently, so the scholarship was a great financial help for exam costs and study materials that my parents and actuarial club were otherwise providing,” said Erdelyi.
“More importantly, attending the CAS Annual Meeting to receive the scholarship and getting to sit in on some of the sessions was an immeasurable experience at such a pivotal point of deciding my career,” she said. “It really pulled me into the CAS community and gave me a glimpse of what my future could be, thus motivating me to continue with exams and inspiring me to pursue my career as an actuary.”
She attended Northeastern University and graduated in 2016 with a dual major in mathematics and business administration with a finance concentration. When she graduated, she had passed exams P/1 and FM/2. She then attained her ACAS in 2019 and her FCAS in 2021.
As a part of modeling and advanced analytics teams, she focused on a lot of personal development learning R, Python and GitHub, alongside a variety of modeling techniques and agile project management frameworks. On her co-op at AIR Worldwide (now Verisk), she also attained their Certified Extreme Event Modeler certification, formerly known as their Certified Catastrophe Modeler certification.
During college, she completed several internships and co-op experiences at Liberty Mutual, The Hartford, AIR Worldwide, John Hancock and Taprogge. Two were actuarial roles, two were catastrophe modeling roles and one was international accounting.
“I ultimately decided to pursue an actuarial career with the CAS and accepted a position at Liberty Mutual in Boston,” Erdelyi said. “I completed three rotations through their actuarial development program across workers’ compensation reserving, farm insurance product design and pricing and personal lines modeling and analytics teams.”
Since graduating from the rotational program, she has been with a commercial lines modeling and analytics team as a director of data science product management.
“I strongly believe that my actuarial skillset and understanding of the full insurance value chain supports my team to successfully build and implement advanced analytical capabilities across the organization,” Erdelyi said.
Erdelyi began volunteering this year and was a part of the CAS Trust Scholarship Committee to award the latest round of scholarships. As someone who benefited from this generous award, she is excited to pay it forward and get to know more about the next generation of actuaries.
For those pursuing an actuarial path, she recommends finding the balance between saying “yes” to new opportunities to grow outside of your comfort zone and protecting your study time to learn the fundamentals and pass exams successfully.
An honor to receive it
Jason Rohlfs, FCAS, CPCU
The CAS Trust Scholarship was a confidence booster for Jason Rohlfs to continue down the path of the actuarial profession and achieve his designation.
“It was an honor to receive it and to list it on a resume when seeking internships and full-time employment,” Rohlfs said. “The financial support is obviously a huge help when trying to cover all the expenses of college. I’ve been so excited to see how much the scholarship program has grown in both number and amount since I received it in 2010. It’s a wonderful way to recognize and support actuarial students.”
Rohlfs received a bachelor’s degree in actuarial science from Illinois State University (ISU).
“The CAS Trust Scholarship was only possible through the education, resources and opportunities that Dr. Krzysztof Ostaszewski and the rest of the actuarial faculty at ISU provided me,” Rohlfs said. “I’ve always viewed the scholarship as also recognizing the university in that sense, so I was proud that it highlighted the ISU actuarial program.”
He started his career with an internship at Pinnacle Actuarial Resources, which, for Rohlfs, was a great learning experience and opportunity to see the consulting world. He then had another productive internship with State Farm and has continued there since. Most of his experience has been in personal automobile pricing as an actuarial analyst and then a pricing manager. He currently has pricing manager responsibilities but also splits his time as an implementation manager representing the actuarial function on enterprise projects to implement new rating enhancements.
“This dual role provides a great opportunity for what I enjoy most in my work — collaborating with other functional areas to determine strategy, execute initiatives and achieve company goals,” Rohlfs said.
Rohlfs offers this advice to students considering a career as an actuary: “First, take full advantage of the resources and opportunities made available to you, and learn as much as you can before graduating and embarking on full-time employment. Join the actuarial club or other organizations. Network with past graduates who are in the field as well as other actuaries. Seek internships to explore different paths in the actuarial profession.
“Second, and it almost goes without saying, study hard for actuarial exams and chip away at them as quickly as you can. There are no shortcuts. Simply set aside the time to get high quantity and high quality of study hours. It’s so much better to ‘overstudy’ (if there is such a thing) and pass, rather than failing an exam due to lack of preparation and having to continue studying to retake it.”
Danielle Creem, FCAS
Receiving the CAS Trust Scholarship helped Danielle Creem network with other successful actuaries who gave her sound advice on how to navigate passing exams while working and finishing college. “By receiving this scholarship, I also gained confidence in my ability to complete my designation, since it proved to me that the CAS had that confidence in me already,” Creem said.
During college, after receiving the scholarship, she had two internships in the field of actuarial science: one at a small investment company and another at a large consulting firm. Upon graduation in 2012, she began working at Deloitte Consulting where she supported several different clients on a wide variety of actuarial needs. Her main focus was reserving for self-insured companies, as well as supporting the preparation of statements of actuarial opinion. During her tenure at Deloitte, she obtained her ACAS designation from the CAS.
“Starting my career at Deloitte Consulting was the best career decision I’ve made thus far. Their onboarding for campus hires is second-to-none, which is tremendously helpful during the transition from college to working full-time ‘in the real world’,” Creem said.
In March 2018, she left Deloitte to work for AXA XL, previously XL Catlin, as the reserving actuary for professional (E&O and architects and engineers) and cyber products. She also supported primary casualty (XS workers’ compensation, general liability and commercial auto liability) reserving during her last year at AXA XL. She very recently began working at AIG as the senior lead actuary of professional and cyber.
She previously volunteered as a member of the Syllabus and Examination Working Group and plans to continue to volunteer in this capacity and others in 2023.
For students contemplating an actuarial career path, she advises taking actuarial exams while working at a consulting firm, as it is the fastest way to obtain a broad depth of experience across many different actuarial projects without having to be in a strict rotation program.
“My best study advice would be to find two or three friends or colleagues with whom you can study regularly,” Creem said. “This support network does not need to be other actuaries but can be anyone pursuing higher ed after college (law students, doctors, accountants, etc.) who is studying on the weekends and on weeknights after work just like you. It might take you a decade or more to complete your Fellowship, and that is quite a long time to spend in an isolated environment without a support group of like-minded students to study with.”
Gratitude for those who believed in her
Lily Cook, ACAS
The CAS Trust Scholarship helped Lily Cook financially in her last year of college. Each dollar meant fewer hours lifeguarding at the YMCA. It also introduced her to the P&C actuarial community.
“It was a great feeling to know others were invested in my career and believed in my future. I hope to pay it forward by passing that feeling to future students,” Cook said.
Cook attended the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire where she majored in actuarial science. The program provided her with lifelong friends and mentors that she keeps in touch with today. She was introduced to the actuarial career through summer internships in college. One internship led to a full-time job at CUNA Mutual Group, where she gained experience in pricing and reserving. She gravitated towards the reserving side and focused on personal auto and homeowners reserving.
“This January I made a change into asbestos, pollution and health hazard reserving work at Enstar. It’s been a wonderful learning experience and a great opportunity to try out a completely different side of P&C reserving,” Cook said.
Last summer Cook was a mentor for the CAS Student Central Summer Program. “This was a great way to meet students interested in the career and to help them pursue their goals,” Cook said. She warns students pursuing the actuarial path that during the exam journey it’s easy to compare your progress to others. “Be cognizant of this and remember to be proud of each accomplishment along the way. You do not have to be finished with exams or in a dream job to celebrate your hard work,” Cook said.
Repayment in kind
Kinsey Turk, Future Fellow
The CAS Trust Scholarship provided Kinsey Turk with the financial support to be able to graduate college with four exams under her belt, far exceeding her expectations for herself. By receiving the scholarship, she was also able to attend the 2021 CAS Annual Meeting in San Diego.
“There I had the amazing opportunity to expand my actuarial knowledge through educational sessions, form lasting connections with actuaries across the nation and learn about the different diversity and inclusion organizations the CAS partners with,” Turk said.
Turk studied at Arizona State University, where she graduated with her bachelor’s and master’s in actuarial science. August 2022 marked her one-year anniversary of working full-time with Allstate.
“Reflecting on where I started to where I am now, I am amazed by the growth I have shown and eagerly await what another year of learning will bring me,” said Turk.
Turk recently volunteered as a mentor for the CAS Student Central Summer Program, where she met with a group of students weekly to discuss what they had been learning, provide insight on the actuarial career and answer any questions they had. “I received so much support when I was a student from the CAS, so it was great to pay it forward to future generations,” Turk said.
She wants students considering an actuarial path to understand that almost everyone has failed an exam at some point in their actuarial career, and they will likely be no different.
“Failing an exam is not the end of the world, even if it feels like it is at the time,” Turk said. “What is most important is knowing how to pick yourself back up again and not allowing failure to stop you from pursuing this field. I speak from personal experience, having failed my first-ever exam only to pass one a month later.”
Happy to have this career
Chloe Marshinski, FCAS
Chloe Marshinski appreciated the financial support the CAS helped provide during college — especially the chance to attend a CAS Annual Meeting. “The meeting got me really excited about joining the profession and was a great way for me to network with other actuaries so early on in my career,” Marshinski said. Marshinski received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a double major in actuarial science and statistics. She also minored in Spanish and studied abroad in Costa Rica for a semester.
After interning at CNA for two summers, Marshinski has worked at CNA for the past five years. “My current role is in health care pricing, and previously I’ve held roles in reserving analytics and small business pricing,” Marshinski said.
Marshinski has also volunteered with the CAS with various activities related to Admissions.
Her advice for rising actuaries is to take advantage of any opportunities to hear from full-time actuaries about their experiences — whether it’s attending job shadow events, presentations or finding a mentor. “There are a lot of different paths you can take as an actuary, and it’s hard to know which path you would like best based on school alone,” she said.