Interview with Leah Torrison, Drake University


As part of DugDug’s Future of Actuarial Science series, we will be interviewing students from top actuary programs across the nation to learn more about their experiences and paths towards a career as an actuary.

Leah Torrison is a senior Actuarial Science and Finance major at Drake University. We recently sat down and talked to her about her experience at Drake and why actuarial science has been such a good fit.

What influenced you to pursue being an actuary?

I originally was looking at colleges with strong business programs thinking I would pursue a finance or accounting degree. My AP calculus teacher told me I should do something with math as to “not waste my talent.” I was already looking at Drake which had an actuarial science program. I later met some actuaries at friends’ graduation parties and spoke with them about their experience. The field mixes my love of finance, mathematics, and economics. In addition, I enjoy the challenges it brings me.

Why should other students consider a focus in Actuary Science?

Actuarial skills are in high demand. News organizations such as CNN, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and many others have recently reported that being an actuary is a top job. In addition, according to CNN Money there is no unemployment in the field. However, one of the greatest benefits is the variety of work actuaries do in many fields.

What has been your experience with Actuarial Science at Drake University?

Drake’s actuarial science program is special because it is a community. We all work together and help each other to achieve our dreams. Our classmates have a great bond and often help each other out by giving advice on how to prepare for professional exams and job interviews. Drake prepares its students for the first five preliminary actuarial exams and many students have one exam completed after his or her freshmen year.

Have you participated in any internships, and if so, how many and how were they?

I have participated in four internships during my college career. I had an internship the summer after my sophomore year, another one the summer after my junior year, and two internships during the school year. Actuarial interns do professional-level work, which adds to their value. Internships are a wonderful opportunity to gain actuarial skills and determine what industry you enjoy the most. In addition, actuarial interns are compensated very well and are given a lot of opportunities to network.

Please share an interesting or little-known fact you’ve learned about the world of actuaries:

There are over 20,000 actuaries in North America; however, it feels like a small world. Through conferences, internships, and other networking opportunities, everyone seems to be connected.

What are the latest developments or trends in Actuary Science?

An increased focus in risk management is a trend. The Society of Actuaries (SOA) has a fairly new designation called the Chartered Enterprise Risk Analyst (CERA). Since the financial crisis, there has been a heightened focus on risk not only on what we can lose from risk but also what there is to gain.

What are your future aspirations and career plans?

Upon graduation I will start working for Aon Hewitt as a Retirement Actuarial Associate. I hope to develop into a top consultant for the firm and help others reach their actuarial goals. I plan to stay involved in Drake’s actuarial program and give support so it can continue to be a top program in the United States.

Anything else you’d like to share?

High school students with a strong aptitude for math who are looking for a challenging, rewarding career should consider colleges such as Drake that have excellent programs in this field.