MTSU graduate students Yiting Dong of Hangzhou, China, and Shannon Ghee of Eagleville, Tennessee, are part of the transformation of the university’s growing actuarial sciences programs that now number more than 125 combined undergraduate and graduate students.
The program dipped to a third of its current size 10 to 15 years ago, said Dr. Don Hong, who’s witnessed the enrollment triple with a burst of students drawn to Middle Tennessee in part due to the partnerships MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee has developed with his Chinese counterparts across the Pacific.
Eleven actuarial science students — more than half of the group — were part of the Aug. 9 Master of Science in Professional Science internship presentations in the Science Building.
Nineteen MTSU grad students in the fields of biotechnology, geosciences, health care informatics and actuarial science served internships this spring and summer. They worked for companies like Hospital Corporation of America and Atmos Energy, at MTSU and the Tennessee Department of Health and at Chinese businesses.
Actuarial science trains students to apply mathematical skills and statistical techniques to manage risks and solve problems in insurance and pension programs. MTSU, through its College of Basic and Applied Sciences, is the only Tennessee university offering actuarial science coursework for both undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Hong presented Dong with the “Outstanding Actuarial Alumni Award” for passing all the exam requirements to achieve the Associate of the Society of Actuaries, or ASA, designation as well as working an exemplary three years of studies at MTSU.
“She’s very special,” he said of Dong, 24, who served her internship with Sinokorea Life Insurance Co. Ltd., in Zhejiang, China, and who gives Hong full credit for her student success at MTSU. She had five other offers alongside the Sinkorea bid.
“Dr. Hong helped me get a scholarship that only two people in the country receive, and he helped plan my career before I graduate,” Dong said.
MSPS is a groundbreaking two-year master’s degree program that combines business with science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, curricula to produce in-demand, working graduates.
They become alumni Saturday, Aug. 11, following the summer 2018 commencement ceremony in Murphy Center. Many of this summer’s interns stayed full-time with the company where they interned or have already found other employment.
The actuarial science master of science in professional science is a relatively new concentration.
MTSU’s actuarial science “is a unique program in Tennessee for sure,” Hong explained. “There are only 65 or 70 schools in the world with both undergraduate and graduate programs in actuarial science on the list of the Society of Actuaries, and we’re one of them.”
He added that graduates from the University of California-Berkeley, UCLA, Dartmouth, Notre Dame and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville recently have attended MTSU’s graduate school.
Ghee, 26, who earned his bachelor’s at MTSU, served his internship with DXC Technology in Nashville and credits Hong for “doing a good job with students. He (Hong) even has a resume book he sends out to companies to help students get jobs, and he keeps up with alumni.”
In addition to Dong and Ghee, other presenters, their field of study and where they served internships included:
• Alexander Griffin Boehm, actuarial science, Acuff & Associates, Brentwood, Tennessee.
• Li Kang, actuarial Science, Sunshine Insurance Group, Beijing, China.
• Hongli Li, actuarial science, China Pacific Insurance Company, Shanghai, China.
• Ning Tu, actuarial science, New China Life Insurance Company of China, Beijing, China.
• Shang Wang, actuarial science, Music City Insurance & Finance, Nashville.
• Kristin Elizabeth Wood, actuarial science, Granite Retirement, Dickson, Tennessee.
• Zhixin Zhang, actuarial science, actuarial science, People’s Insurance Company of China, Zhejiang Province, China.
• Hanyuan Zhu, actuarial science, China Life Insurance, Zhejiang Province, China.
• Adejumoke Mary Adeniran, biotechnology, MTSU.
• Justin Ray Bailey, geosciences, Atmos Energy Corporation, Franklin, Tennessee.
• Wesley Scott Porter, geosciences, Greater Nashville Regional Council, Nashville.
• Tyler Griffin Smith, geosciences, Civil & Environmental Consultants Inc., Franklin.
• Chelsea Marie Tabor, geosciences, Rutherford County GIS Department, Murfreesboro.
• Dibyendu Dutta, health care informatics, MTSU.
• Leslye Grace Jackson, health care informatics, Hospital Corporation of America, Nashville.
• John Charles Maxwell, Tennessee Department of Health, Nashville.