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LAS offers new actuarial science course

Author: Lona

Last spring, Hien Nguyen launched a new course to help prepare students to become an actuary, one of the hottest jobs of the past few years. The course, housed in the Department of Mathematics, covers the mathematical underpinning of finance, such as the present value of annuities, stocks, and bonds. The material reflects 65 to 80 percent of the Financial Mathematics (FM) exam.

Students learn about finances, beyond putting numbers in a calculator and engaging in more complicated problems.

Nguyen, an assistant professor of mathematics, developed the course content and Adrian Jenkins, a lecturer in mathematics, taught the course. Eleven students enrolled, excited that a course like this was being offered. The course is valuable for students who want to become an actuary, or just become more knowledgeable about loans and finance.

LAS faculty are working with Iowa State’s College of Business to open access to select 300-level courses previously available only to business and finance majors. Ideas for a complete actuarial program within the next three to four years are under discussion.

“There’s a lot of interest,” Nguyen said. “Every year people from Nationwide come [to campus] and talk about [becoming an actuary]. It is consistently in the top professions.”

In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks actuary as the ninth best job in business.

Students started a new Actuary Club that began meeting in the spring. Nguyen is one of two faculty advisors for the club and said it is a great place for speakers to share information about their profession. The new club has about ten enthusiastic students who attend regularly. Students organize talks, meet people from the industry, and help each other with their four-year plans, including summer slots for taking the FM exam, to prepare for their future careers as actuaries.

Aimee Rodin (mathematics, ’19) is one of the club members. During her first year of college, Rodin secured an internship with her dream company, Nationwide Insurance, in the underwriting department. Getting any position at Nationwide in underwriting is rare for students who have completed only one year of college.

Rodin had support from her instructors and Dawn Walker, an academic advisor for math.

“I love Dawn, she’s like my cheerleader,” Rodin said. She is thankful for the push and encouragement that Walker has already provided for her.

Rodin is majoring in math with an emphasis on actuarial science and minoring in economics. She chose math over the business route because she liked the problem solving aspect of math, and knows it will make her more employable in the future. She plans to take the actuarial science course as an upperclassman. This course, as well as the Actuarial Science Club, can benefit students who want a math major with a little more application.

by Selia Buss