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Tyronda Gibson '03 wanted help in making a career decision, so she explored the field of actuarial science by shadowing Gregory J. Sullivan '87, director of the actuarial unit at Hartford Life Insurance Company in Simsbury, Conn., through the alumni externship program.

“What I attempted to do was to have Tyronda spend one hour or so with different people to see what they were doing,” says Sullivan, who shared his expertise and experience in the pricing and financial management of the Hartford's stop-loss product. “I wanted her to see what we do on a day-to-day basis, everything from broad-based tasks to talking with investment people to looking at the overall corporate strategy.”

Sullivan said that Gibson seemed very interested in what was going on and had some good questions about what they did at Hartford Life Insurance Company. He says he takes part in the externship program because it is good to help students become aware of what's out there.

“There are only a handful of schools with actuarial science majors,” says Sullivan. “We recruit those people, of course, but I prefer people to have a liberal arts background. It's one thing to learn actuarial science but it helps to learn how to write and be broad-based. All the Lafayette students I have worked with have made a good showing.”

“Actuarial work deals with risk and helping a company curb losses,” says Gibson, a mathematics and economics major. “They model everything in a company so they can predict what will happen. At first, Gregory went over a problem that an actuary would solve, which was pretty straightforward. Then I was introduced to other people and they told me about the specific things they did.”

Gibson said that she was surprised to find out that a lot of the work, such as pricing certain insurance policies, was computer science work. She discovered that actuarial work deals with a lot of math and that her preference now is for a career in business where she can interact more with people.

Gibson is an America Reads tutor and co-president of the Chance floor, a residence floor dedicated to bringing awareness to race relations. She's a member of Association of Black Collegians, Association for Lafayette Women, Society of Minority Scientists and Engineers, and NIA, a women's organization celebrating ethnicity, gender, and sisterhood.

Categorized in: Alumni Profiles