Actuarial Expertise

University Liaison and Academics Guide Arizona State Student’s Honors Thesis

Zhihan Jennifer Zhang, a triple major student enrolled in Barrett, the Honors College at ASU, knew she wanted to do something related to actuarial science for her honors thesis. Often described as a “passion project,” the honors thesis is a requirement for every student at Barrett. Students can design, execute, analyze and present on any topic that interests them, and they can have guidance from a professor.

Zhang approached Dr. Jelena Milovanovic, who runs the actuarial program at ASU, to discuss possible options. In turn, Dr. Milovanovic connected Zhang with Melissa Tomita, FCAS, of Nationwide Insurance in Scottsdale, Arizona, who helped refine what the project would entail. Tomita’s CAS volunteerism has been dedicated to students. She has served as a CAS University Liaison since 2012 and currently serves as a director on the CAS Board.

Zhang submitted her plan for the project in a prospectus to the school, and she began researching the topic with Dr. Milovanovic, Tomita and ASU Professor Dr. John Zicarelli. Zhang’s work on the project lasted a little over a year and covers a reserving method that is on the CAS Exam Syllabus. She has presented her results to the thesis committee and submitted the paper to Barrett.

Editor’s Note: Although Zhang’s thesis has not been peer-reviewed by the CAS, Actuarial Review is publishing it here as one example of the many CAS outreach efforts to actuarial students. In the following pages is a slightly condensed version of Zhang’s thesis.