Established in 2012, an annual scholarship in honor of Trish Getty, founding Executive Director of AIRROC, is awarded to one exceptional undergraduate student studying insurance, risk management or actuarial science. After presenting the award to our newest recipient Lori-Ann Knight at the October 2022 AIRROC Conference, we wanted to catch up with a few prior recipients. Natalie Weedman, a member of the AIRROC NextGen Committee sat down with the 2017 Trish Getty Scholarship recipient Samantha String, to chat about the impact of the scholarship and where she is now.
Natalie: First of all, thank you for agreeing to this interview. We are excited to have you as the first guest in our “Where Are They Now” series.
Samantha: Thank you for having me. I am always happy to talk about the scholarship and the impact it had on my life.
Natalie: Thinking back to the Trish Getty Scholarship award you received, what kind of influence would you say it had on your education and your work experience so far?
Samantha: First, it really helped me focus on my studies. The AIRROC scholarship gave me freedom to navigate my college career in the way that I wanted without being as tied to finding a source of income to pay for tuition. While at Saint Joseph’s University I had a part time job, was part of the national insurance fraternity Gamma Iota Sigma, while also being an RA and a university tour guide. The scholarship enabled me not only to pay for tuition but also freed up some time to participate in internships and attend conferences and other industry activities, which ultimately helped me decide how I wanted to move forward in my career.
Natalie: On the topic of career, what has that looked like after university?
Samantha: After my undergrad I started off at Starr Insurance in Philadelphia as part of their risk management team. It was a great place to start my career and got into the nitty gritty of what is to underwrite large domestic accounts with client-facing experience. I then transitioned to a role at AIG where I am now a World Risk Senior Underwriter specializing in international middle market accounts. I continue to learn more every day and feel like there is a lot of growth within this area of the industry.
Natalie: Every year the current Trish Getty Scholarship award winner is invited to speak at the yearly AIRROC Conference. What did it mean for you to give your acceptance speech to a roomful of industry professionals?
Samantha: It was thrilling and also nerve-wracking. As an undergrad, it was the first official industry event I had ever attended. There was so much experience in that room. I loved the networking opportunities it provided. My parents were also able to attend so they saw me receive the award. As the first person in my family to be interested in insurance, it was wonderful to be able to introduce my parents to it.
Natalie: I do notice that insurance tends to run in families. As the first person in your family to choose a career in that industry, how was your interest first piqued in insurance?
Samantha: In high school I loved math and statistics so initially thought I wanted to be an actuary. However, I decided to pivot during my undergrad and double major in risk management and insurance. I still loved math but I also wanted to be client interfacing. Underwriting provides a great combination of both.
Natalie: When it comes to mentorship, have you had any good mentors, and would you be open to mentoring others yourself?
Samantha: I have had some great mentors over the years. My current mentor Chelsea Thorpe was someone I interned with previously at AIG and now she is actually my manager. She took me under her wing and taught me a lot not only about insurance and underwriting but also about being a working parent. She is very transparent about how she navigates her professional life as a mom, which is inspiring. As to being a mentor, I would love to coach someone else just starting out in his or her career.
Natalie: Last question: how do you think we can get more young people involved in the insurance industry?
Samantha: I think sometimes insurance is written off because it doesn’t sound very exciting. When someone asks me what I do for a living and I say insurance, generally the conversation ends there. I think we could do a better job about “selling” insurance as an industry that provides stability, flexibility and a fulfilling career path. As an adolescent when the 2008 financial crisis hit, I remember hearing about how many people flocked from financial institutions to the insurance industry because of the job capacity and stability there. I think we need to talk about it more. For those already in the industry and looking to grow I would say: get involved. Go to events, get uncomfortable if necessary and start talking to people. You really can’t go wrong as long as you engage and are willing to listen and learn.
Natalie: Any other closing thoughts?
Samantha: I want to say thank you so much to AIRROC. Even years after the fact, I really can’t emphasize how grateful I am for being selected and the opportunity it provided. It meant a lot to me and my family then, and it still means a lot now. Thank you!