Math Dean's Medalist to pursue career as an actuary

Emma Terry is graduating from the ASU School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences with a Bachelor of Science in actuarial science.


Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2019 commencement.

Emma Terry grew up in Eagleville, Pennsylvania, a small suburb of Philadelphia. In high school her statistics teacher recommended that she look into actuarial science as a major.

She chose to attend Arizona State University after a visit to Tempe during the month of February.

“The weather was 80 degrees and I fell in love with the campus,” said Terry. “Upon researching the new actuarial science program and the success it was having, I could not refuse!”

The School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences graduated its first student with a Bachelor of Science degree in actuarial science in August 2015. There are currently over 100 students enrolled in the undergraduate program, and the school recently launched a new master’s degree in actuarial science.

Terry serves as a senior adviser of Gamma Iota Sigma Kappa Chapter at ASU, an international professional society that encourages student interest in insurance, actuarial science and risk management professions. Last year as treasurer, she was invited to travel to the annual GIS International Conference in Chicago, and to participate in the chartering of a new GIS Chapter at University of Texas at Austin.

Terry was recently honored as a Dean’s Medalist for The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“Winning the Dean's Medal is an honor, and it humbles me to know that my hard work over the past four years is recognized and appreciated. I only hope to pass it forward in the industry, and help other students realize their goals and aspirations similar to how I found mine in the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences through pursuing actuarial science.”

Becoming a credentialed actuary requires students to pass a series of professional exams. While at ASU, Terry passed her probability and financial mathematics actuarial exams. She also gained insurance industry experience as an actuarial intern for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Nationwide E&S/Specialty Insurance and Allstate.

After graduation, Terry will be working as an actuarial analyst at Allstate in Chandler, where she will be pricing on the consumer household team. She plans to continue passing exams with the support of her company.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study actuarial science?

Answer: My "aha" moment was achieved after passing the introductory ACT 201 class and realizing that actuarial science is the exact type of math which I enjoy. Once I passed ACT 201, I gained momentum and passion towards my degree. 

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: At ASU, I learned how to manage my time in the most effective way due to taking multiple classes and working simultaneously. It made me realize how valuable time is, and how important it is to plan ahead!
Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: Dr. Jelena Milovanovic taught me the most while I was attending ASU. She teaches all of her students to be headstrong towards their goals and motivates them to be the best version of themselves.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: I would advise them to get as involved as possible, and take as many chances as you can. There are so many excellent clubs and programs to help connect with fellow students (and make) lifelong friendships. 

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: My favorite spot on campus was Freshii where my good friend Ainsley and I often met to grab food and cram for exams! 

Q: What do you think is most misunderstood about math by the general public?

A: Math is often perceived as being hard, but it's amazing to study something that engages your brain each and every day. Learning is a privilege, and math has a lot to offer us! 

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: If I had $40 million for one problem, I would donate this towards hunger and malnutrition in developing countries and work to ensure stability of food and water for the inhabitants of those countries.

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