MTSU student coaching center, risk management orga...

MTSU student coaching center, risk management organization host Oct. 19 panel for students

Middle Tennessee State University’s Center for Student Coaching and Success is partnering with the Jones College of Business and the Nashville chapter of Young Risk Professionals to host an Oct. 19 luncheon panel of working professionals to share their insights and experiences with MTSU students throughout the campus and in the Department of Economics and Finance’s Risk Management and Insurance program.

And with support from national risk management solutions company CorVel, the event will also feature the awarding of five $1,000 scholarships through the center to qualifying students in attendance who apply that includes post-event group leadership coaching sessions. 

Titled “How to Manage Your Risk Career,” the event will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, in Room 1108 of the Miller Education Center, 503 E. Bell St. in Murfreesboro. Registration is required, and students may register using the QR code on the digital flyer posted at the bottom of this story or email

Dr. Colby Jubenville
Dr. Colby Jubenville

“The goal here is to meaningfully connect industry with students at the university,” said professor Colby Jubenville, director of the center housed within the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences. “The intent is to create personal relationships that lead to different kinds of opportunities for the industry and students.”

Jubenville, who will facilitate the post-event coaching sessions, said he connected with YRP after being asked to speak at one of its events last year and was impressed with the group’s efforts toward professional development within the risk management industry in light of MTSU’s highly regarded risk management program.

logo for College of Behavioral and Health Sciences at MTSU

“We want MTSU’s student body to think of risk management as a viable career opportunity, and not just those students in the risk management program, but those outside of it as well,” said YRP Nashville’s director of professional development and Safety National insurance professional Vik Ramaswamy. “We desperately need new talent. We have a lot of people retiring every year, and it’s a great field to get into with a ton of opportunities to move up quickly and make a great living.”

Dr. David Wood, Economics and Finance Professor Martin Chair of Insurance Chairholder
Dr. David Wood

Panel moderator Dave Wood, Jones College risk management professor and holder of the Tommy T. Martin Chair of Insurance, said he also has been impressed with YRP Nashville and the national organization and encourages his students to connect with YRP as they begin mapping out their professional career paths after graduation.

Doing events like the Oct. 19 panel, which includes a Q&A as well as roundtable networking with YRP board members, including MTSU alumni, gives students an opportunity to hear directly from young working professionals not much older than themselves about what it takes to be successful in their industry as well as how they’ve overcome challenges, mistakes and obstacles along the way.

“And while we’ve done panels before, what is new and really exciting to me is the interdisciplinary nature of what we’re trying to do here,” Wood said. “We have two different colleges joining forces … and I think that’s something we need to do a whole lot more of. … I think that’s what higher education can bring, and it’s absolutely worth the investment.”

Panelists include: MTSU alumna Rachael Casillas, director of risk management, Thompson Machinery Commerce Corp.; MTSU alumni Andrew Coleman, branch manager, CNA; Andrew Siegenthaler, agency success manager, Openly; Cody Simon, Southeast regional select practice leader, USI Insurance Services; and Will Warren, vice president, AmWins Wholesale.

Among the topics of discussion include “Navigating Career Potholes: Reflecting on Risks of Your Career Journey;” “The Crossroads of Choices: Recounting Your Toughest Career Decision;” “Learning from the Newbies: Observing Common Mistakes Among Fresh Hires;” and “Tomorrow’s Leaders: Essential Topics for Career Success.”

Jubenville said the purpose of the panel is to help students better understand the meaning of the term “gainful employment.”

“Gainful employment is where you find meaning and purpose and contribution through the work that you do,” Jubenville said. “The focus is to get students to see, ‘Here is a pathway to connect to gainful employment, and by the way, we’re going to tell you that truth about what that looks like, because it’s messy. We’re going to unpack that.”

The panel has also been designated as an official event of the Ignite Career Program, which is a professional development program within the Jones College and coordinated through the Department of Management designed to increase awareness of career preparation issues, develop knowledge and skills to navigate the process of landing a professional entry level job and instill confidence to compete for jobs in a student’s chosen field.

The program, which began in 2014, has had 1,290 students who have participated in at least one Ignite event with almost 260 students currently enrolled.

Brad Tammen, director of strategic and corporate initiatives, MTSU Development Office
Brad Tammen

Brad Tammen, director of strategic partnerships and corporate engagements in the MTSU Development Office, said such events reinforce the university’s mission of preparing graduates for successful careers by forging mutually beneficial relationships with business and industry. In his role, he continues “to be impressed with the amount of industry professionals I interact with who have come through MTSU programs.”

“Bringing these risk management executives to share about their real-life experiences and pathways to success in their careers is so important so that students can figure out what’s best for their careers,” he said.

Dr. Joshua Aaron, assistant professor, Department of Management; holder, Pam Wright Chair of Entrepreneurship
Dr. Joshua Aaron

Joshua Aaron, holder of the Pam Wright Chair of Entrepreneurship, said the event resonates with him because risk management is an industry that draws professionals who “almost by definition are going to be entrepreneurs. They are going to be business owners; they are going to be dealing with the same set of small business challenges that anybody would be regardless of the field they’ve chosen.”

Wood agrees, adding that “that are so many opportunities for entrepreneurship or entrepreneurial activities within the risk profession, whether it be owning your own agency to creating a consulting firm … there are so much of these opportunities if you develop that expertise.”

Like Ramaswamy, Jason Wheeler, vice president for national sales and account management for CorVel Corp., points to the wealth of opportunities for MTSU students in the risk management space and his company’s scholarship report was made in support of that. CorVel is a national provider of risk management solutions for workers’ compensation, auto, health and disability management industries.

“Over the next 10 to 15 years, it is expected than 400,000 people will retire from the insurance industry,” Wheeler said. “As a company, we realize the importance of investing in career opportunities that potentially exist for CorVel and the industry. Recently, we graduated our inaugural class of CorVel University, which is a recruitment, retention and growth program to establish a pipeline of claims professionals into our organization. Our commitment to MTSU extends that pipeline directly to the next generation of employees.

“I am involved with the Nashville chapter of the Young Risk Professionals and have the opportunity to interact with MTSU risk management students and the Center for Student Coaching and Success. I continue to be impressed with the vision and the impact they deliver.”

For more information about the panel, contact the Center for Coaching and Student Success at 615-494-8746.

— Jimmy Hart (

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