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Empowering Tomorrow’s Actuarial Leaders: A STEM Star Scholar’s Journey

Empowering Tomorrow’s Actuarial Leaders: A STEM Star Scholar’s Journey

The Actuarial Foundation has taken a strong and visible stance on increasing diversity in the actuarial field through the STEM Stars Actuarial Scholars Program. Each year, the Foundation selects a cohort of 20 bright and motivated high school seniors, providing them with a generous scholarship and comprehensive support to pursue a career in actuarial science through our STEM Stars Actuarial Scholars Program. As we embark on another year of this transformative program, it is our privilege to share with you a firsthand account from one of the Stars.

Dear Readers,

My name is Brendan O’Connell, and I am honored to share my journey as a beneficiary of The Actuarial Foundation’s STEM Stars program. This new and innovative program has provided me with a substantial scholarship and offered invaluable support, guidance, and opportunities that are shaping my education.

Since I was a kid, I’ve had a deep understanding and passion for math. This opens the door to a lot of potential careers, but ever since my eighth-grade teacher taught us about actuarial science, this is what I’ve wanted to do. The path to a career in actuarial science is challenging, demanding academic excellence. But as a STEM Star, I have been granted the means and resources to realize this dream.

But even more valuable than the financial support has been the mentorship. I’ve had the privilege of being mentored by professionals in the field who have shared their wisdom. This guidance has not only enriched my knowledge but has also provided me with a practical understanding of the industry.

The STEM Stars program’s emphasis on professional development has been a key factor in my growth. Workshops and training sessions have equipped me with essential skills critical for success in college and beyond.

In addition, The Actuarial Foundation has fostered a sense of belonging among the Scholars. The network of students has been a source of motivation and encouragement. It is heartening to know that we are part of a community that believes in our potential and is invested in our success.

Recently, our cohort had our first in-person meeting, which was a ton of fun. I learned valuable information and got to talk to some amazing people about the actuarial profession. Also, I got to meet one of my mentors who works in the Chicago area, which was really important to me. We spent a lot of time with our cohort of students. I feel that this face-to-face meeting was important because it allowed us to truly connect, which is something that is hard to do over Zoom. It was such a fun experience exploring Chicago with my peers and getting to know them better.

As I reflect on my journey thus far, I am filled with gratitude for the opportunities I’ve had. I know a lot of volunteers, donors, and company supporters make this program possible. All this support motivates me to give back to my communities when I start my career. This program has not only paved the way for my academic and professional pursuits, but has also instilled in me a sense of responsibility to give back and empower future generations of actuarial aspirants.

This program isn’t just a scholarship: It’s a transformative experience that has empowered me and many others to confidently pursue our dreams.


Brendan O’Connell

What STEM Stars offers:              

  • A $20,000 scholarship ($5,000 annually for four years)
  • Mentoring from professional actuaries
  • Exposure to internships
  • Professional development opportunities

To learn more, visit https://actuarialfoundation.org/scholarships/stem-stars/

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