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Formula for success

London Life scholarships and internships reward dedicated actuarial science students, giving them a leg-up in their future careers

by Keri Ferguson | August 11, 2015

Formula for success
London Life Director of Actuarial Marketing Services, Dominik Briault (left), is proud of his company’s support of promising actuarial science students like Neil Tai-Pow, BSc’15, Malcolm Nation and Moon Lee.

You only fail if you give up.

That’s the motto of Moon Lee, a mature student pursuing an honours specialization in actuarial science and the 2014-15 year two recipient of the London Life Actuarial Career Scholarship.

Moon came to Canada from Korea with her husband and two sons in 2010. In Korea, she earned a bachelor’s in engineering and a master’s in English translation and worked as a stock trader and a translator. However, once in Canada, she knew she’d need to go back to school to expand her opportunities and provide for her family.

“I was concerned about returning to school because it had been years since I was a student and English was my second language,” says Moon. “But I wanted to show my kids that if you never give up, you’re more likely to succeed.”

With that wish as her motivation, she earned a top GPA in her second year, and a London Life scholarship, worth $5,000 – a scholarship that could continue through her third and fourth year, for a total of $15,000.

“The scholarship rewarded my hard work and restored my confidence. It helped me embody my motto and be a role model for my family. It inspired my children to try to work as hard as I do.”

London Life’s most recent gift of $105,000 funds two- and three-year continuing scholarships for actuarial science students who demonstrate high academic standing and leadership skills. Recipients are required to maintain an 80 per cent average and participate in paid summer internships at London Life.

That practical experience is a key component to gaining an actuarial designation, explains year four scholarship recipient, Neil Tai-Pow, BSc’15, which is required to be considered a fully qualified actuary in Canada.

“My first summer term with London Life was my first work experience in a corporate setting,” Neil recalls. “I was able to apply the technical knowledge from my courses to real-world problems in the workplace. I also learned the importance of attention to detail and effective business communication.”

Year three recipient Malcolm Nation agrees.

“The internship has allowed me to become more proficient in database analysis and business intelligence programs. However, I think that the most valuable improvement for me is in my communication skills. While actuarial science is quite math-intensive, it is still very much a field that requires a good grasp of general business skills.”

In addition to academic merit, successful scholarship candidates must demonstrate leadership through extracurricular or volunteer activities.

“All of the London Life scholarship winners are first rate,” says Matt Davison, MSc’93, PhD’95, professor and department chair, Department of Statistical & Actuarial Sciences at Western and Canada Research Chair in Quantitative Finance. “The scholarships are a huge factor in the development of a successful actuarial career for top students like Neil, Moon and Malcolm. We’re grateful for the company’s support and recognition of excellence.”

The impact of these scholarships is two-fold, drawing a positive return on investment for London Life.

“To us it’s more than helping students with their actuarial education,” says Dominik Briault, Director, Actuarial Marketing Services, London Life. “We’re getting to know each other and, through scholarships, attracting them to develop their careers with us. London Life is proud of its close relationship with Western University because of the quality of the actuarial program and especially its students.”

Upon graduating from Western last spring, Neil secured full-time employment at London Life. “The internship allowed me to enter the industry and prove my skills on the job, rather than trying to stand out among thousands of nearly identical resumés.”

And without that work experience, Moon feels she would have a particularly challenging time seeking a job fresh out of school. “Since I did not have any previous Canadian work experience, I needed the internship desperately. Now that I’ve earned it, it is my responsibility to take advantage of it. It has broadened my horizon, and my family’s future.”

For more information about the Faculty of Science’s campaign priorities, please contact Paula Luchak, director of Alumni Relations and Development, Faculty of Science (519.661.2111, ext. 86642 or paula.luchak@uwo.ca).


This article appeared in the Summer 2015 edition of Impact Western
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