By Tom Campbell
It’s early September, and for many that means back-to-school. It’s been a while since our household has felt the excitement of a new school year, but I remember my children sharing their experiences at school. I will get to relive this a bit because my niece and nephew, Mary and Alex (the two youngest in our family), are starting college. While I’m very proud of both of them, I’m very much looking forward to hearing about my nephew’s experiences—he will be majoring in actuarial science at Rochester Institute of Technology.
We always encouraged our children to get involved in extracurricular activities. Whether it was sports, orchestra, or clubs, it was part of their education. It was an opportunity to work as part of a team, and to combine individual talents with those of others to achieve mutual goals. These efforts were shared with the community, and it brought recognition to their school. They were able to use what they learned from these activities in their chosen careers. For example, one of my sons uses his musical talent initially developed by participating in a school activity to become an elementary school music teacher. One of his role models and mentors was his elementary school strings teacher.
As actuaries, one way to participate in professional extracurricular activities is to be an Academy volunteer. The Academy has over 1,200 members who participate in public policy and professionalism activities on a volunteer basis. As a longtime Academy volunteer, and as president of the Academy, I’m amazed by and grateful for everyone who gets involved. I look at the weekly publication of This Week and the monthly Actuarial Update, which are sent to every Academy member, and I am impressed by the quality of the content produced by our volunteers.
I’ll often think about the volunteers who took the time to share their talents and to work together to produce that paper, that report, or that event. I think about what path they may have taken to become a volunteer, and what their motivations are for volunteering. I don’t think anyone is motivated to volunteer by fame or fortune, but rather the desire to give back, to share talents, to network, to develop additional competencies, and to be part of a team—or rather a community.
We often think about the value of being an Academy member in terms of materials that the Academy produces for its members; you can go to the Academy website and find content that supports your area of practice, or that supports professionalism requirements. But I think it goes beyond that for Academy members who volunteer. When you volunteer to work on an Academy committee, you are contributing to producing that material that is available to all members. You can get involved and make a difference by being part of a team that provides actuarial input to objectively inform public policy, or that develops professional standards.
I remember a time early in my career being on an Academy work group. The group was developing a recommendation for an NAIC model regulation. During the discussion, I suggested a provision to add to that proposal. A colleague noted that what I had just said was being “recorded into history.” He was kidding, but the point stuck with me. I helped to make that document better (and that provision is still in that model regulation). I was part of a team and I combined my individual efforts with other actuaries in order to achieve a mutual goal that we shared with the public. And we brought recognition to the actuarial profession. I have to say, that’s pretty cool.
The Academy recently sent out its Annual Volunteer Survey. The deadline to respond to that survey has passed, but if you are interested in volunteering, you don’t have to wait until next year’s survey. You can start volunteering right away by going on the Academy’s website, clicking on the Volunteer quick link (on the right rail), and sending in your information. I assure you that I will be grateful for your volunteer efforts, and maybe someday I will read about something you are doing to make history.