Elizabeth Deyo is a senior at Siena College in Loudonville, New York, where she is majoring in Actuarial Science with a minor in Math. Elizabeth will be joining Deloitte as a Human Capital Consulting Analyst after graduation this July. We spoke with Elizabeth in January 2020.
Tell us one thing about you that’s not on your resume.
I’m really into fitness and physical health. I’ve always been into taking different workout classes, like yoga classes or HIIT classes. I’m also one of those really weird people who enjoy running. A personal goal of mine in the next few years is to try to run a marathon—maybe go somewhere abroad and try to run a marathon somewhere different.
What has your experience at Siena College been like?
I’ve really liked coming to Siena College. Siena is a little farther upstate, so it’s probably two-and-a-half hours away from the city, but it’s also really close to the Adirondacks area. I think Siena is in a really good location because you can get a little bit of city life if you want to, but you can also get a little bit more outdoorsy if you’re into that kind of thing.
I often get asked if I could do college over again if I would choose Siena, and I always say yes. It’s been a really great experience for me.
I’ve had so many great teachers at Siena over the last four years, and I’ve also had a lot of different experiences inside and outside of the classroom. I think going to a small college was a great choice for me. It’s been a great experience getting to know teachers on a more personal level, and the people that I’ve met here have been really great. Graduation is just around the corner, and it’s very bittersweet. I often get asked if I could do college over again if I would choose Siena, and I always say yes. It’s been a really great experience for me.
What other schools were you considering, and why did you choose Siena?
I applied mostly to SUNY colleges, and I was looking mainly at SUNY Geneseo and SUNY Oneonta. They’re great schools and also financially beneficial. I was also looking a little bit at some colleges out in Boston. With Siena, my mom actually went to Siena College, and she was kind of pushing me to take a tour here. During my junior year of high school, I took my first tour at Siena and ended up really loving it. I visited on College Decision Day, so the admissions atmosphere was extremely uplifting that day. I could tell Siena was a place where I would feel welcomed. I had the opportunity to speak with an admissions counselor who answered any and all of my questions. In all, my initial experience with Siena was much more personal than other schools, and that stood out to me most.
Siena is a small school, and I knew that’s what I really wanted at the end of the day. I also liked the overall feel of the campus and where it was—I’m actually local to the area, so that was a big deal for me. I could live on campus but be close to home at the same time.
What influenced you to pursue actuarial science?
I had no idea what actuarial science was before coming to Siena. When I applied, I actually applied and was accepted as an engineering major. I took my first real, college-level physics class, and I quickly learned that it just wasn’t for me.
I sort of stumbled across actuarial science when I was researching other science majors Siena had to offer. I’ve always been into math and stats classes, and it was the first thing that popped up on the major page because “actuarial science” — “A” at the top. Because I had never heard of it before, I started to do my research. I looked more into what kind of jobs the field had to offer and how the exam process worked. I ended up reaching out to Dr. John O’Neill, the director of the actuarial program at Siena, and he convinced me to give it a try and sparked my interest in the program.
What I really liked about actuarial science was the different combinations of classes I would be able to take. Not only am I taking lots of the math and stats classes I have been interested in, but I’m also putting myself in a position to take courses like programming classes and different business classes. I think it was a good way to become more well-rounded.
Why should other students consider a focus in actuarial science?
I think because actuarial science is such a unique major, people should really give it a try, even if you have a little bit of that math anxiety. People assume that it’s this strenuous math, and although that is part of it, you do get experience with so many different subjects. You have to have that strong basis in math, but actuarial science is such a powerful subject. It involves statistics, finance, economics, as well as accounting. Once you learn the basics, everything builds off that. I believe it’s a really well-rounded program, and it’s a powerful major that’ll open up so many doors for students.
What has been your experience with the actuarial science program at your school?
I’ve had a great experience with the actuarial science program at Siena. I definitely had to study a lot and work hard for some of the more advanced classes, but I think that inevitably helped me grow as a student. The program itself is set up for you to succeed. All the teachers want you to do well. They make themselves available for extra help and point students in the direction of tutors when needed. They know that you’re working hard toward your Society of Actuaries exams and also doing well in college in general.
Siena is a smaller college—I think my entire graduating class is about 600 students—and I can probably name everyone that’s an actuarial science major on both my hands. It’s probably ten kids in our class year. I think the younger classes are a little larger just because the program is up and coming. But it is definitely nice to be in a smaller program. I know everyone on a really personal level. This helps when it comes to working in groups on assignments and forming study sessions.
We all work so hard together, and on every project and every homework assignment, we meet up and work together as frequently as possible. Our teachers really encourage us to use that collective brain power to work on the classes that we take together.
In the program, we start off with just taking the lower-level calculus classes. We have the probability for statistics course, which is for Exam P, and we also offer a preparation class for Financial Mathematics. We also have our VEEs here. It’s a small program, but it’s really a good one.
We also have an Actuarial Science Club, which is relatively new. It started within the last few years, and though it’s still new to Siena, it’s getting built up and growing.
What is your favorite class so far and why?
For actuarial specifically, my probability for statistics class was my favorite class because I think it was a really good class to prep for my first exam. That was the first one that I took, and I think that the material is just super interesting. I liked learning all the different distributions and the way we applied calculus in more practical concepts. The other class that I really enjoyed was my capstone class. For actuarial science, you take a course called Econometrics, and that’s a culmination of everything that you’ve learned over the last four years, and you get to apply it all to a final project.
What has been most challenging about studying actuarial science? Is there anything you wish you would have known ahead of time?
I think that students, in general, already have so much going on with classes and extracurricular activities. With actuarial science, on top of classes, you’re also studying to take your actuarial exams outside of school. I think that’s something that I personally was prepared for, but I don’t think you can ever be told enough that you really need to be working towards those exams, and it does take a lot of time to study for them. Dr. O’Neill always tells us “You can’t just know the material. You need to know it, cold.” I think everyone needs to know ahead of time before going in that these exams are pretty rigorous, and these classes do prepare you for them, but you really have to be committed to putting in the time to study the process.
Have you had any insurance-related internships? If so, how was your experience?
During my sophomore year, I interned at a smaller insurance company called American National. I worked with a property and casualty pricing team and got to learn what that was all about. I really enjoyed that. I think the property and casualty side is interesting, especially with all the advances in technology.
I interned this past summer at Deloitte Consulting, and I ended up working on a health care project, and I found out that that was my passion. I think that P&C and health care go really well together, but personally I really liked the project that I worked on at Deloitte. With Deloitte, I ended up working with actuaries on a Medicaid project, which I thought was really interesting because it’s in the news every day.
What are your future aspirations or career plans?
I’ve accepted a full-time position with Deloitte, and I’m starting this July. I got offered a full-time position after my internship, so that’s where I’m going to start off for the foreseeable future. Deloitte is a really great company, and I enjoyed my time there a lot. The team was awesome. I think there are so many great experiences in Deloitte, and you can go anywhere in the country or anywhere in the world, working on so many different projects. For now, that’s definitely where I see myself long term, and I can work on getting my actuarial exams passed while I’m there as well.
Another thing that I’ve always thought of is, when I get older, possibly becoming a teacher and going back to school, maybe getting my PhD in statistics and coming back and doing what my own advisor does with the actuarial science students. I think that would be a really cool experience to have. At Siena, I have had great experiences with educators. It has motivated me in a way to want to do the same for future generations.
What are the latest developments or trends in insurance?
Something that I’ve just started trying to become more knowledgeable about, especially with the political season that we’re getting into, is health care in general because I feel like it’s going to be changing so much over the next few years. It’s been interesting trying to keep up with the single-payer plan and Medicaid for all, and trying to see how the whole idea of pricing insurance and how it’s distributed is going to change over the next few years.
Do you have any favorite books, websites, or media that you would recommend for someone interested in insurance?
One thing that I have been told by many different people through internships and also by my professors is to read The Wall Street Journal. There’s nothing more powerful than just having more knowledge about the world itself. Especially if you’re interested in insurance, there are always new technological developments that are happening. But just being more aware of what’s going on in the world can help you more in life, and I think that this helps you become more well-rounded. I’ve had so many different professors just say, “Every day, you should be reading The Wall Street Journal,” and I think it really has been beneficial to me, trying as much as possible to get into those kinds of articles.
» If you liked Elizabeth’s interview, check out our other actuarial science student interviews.