Note from the Director


In this newsletter, we shine the spotlight on Brantley Risk & Insurance Center personnel updates, faculty and student accomplishments and our student group Gamma Iota Sigma. We also share numerous examples of student activities. We continue to support experiential learning and industry engagement through travel opportunities, conference attendance and hosting industry professionals on campus.

This fall, the Brantley Risk & Insurance Center welcomes Dillon Waschenbach to the team as he steps into the Associate Director Role. Wendy Deng has completed her first year and was the well deserved recipient of the 2023 Walker College of Business Outstanding Staff Award. ­­As Wendy completes her first year in the Brantley Center, she has to feel satisfied with the progress she has made in supporting the goals of the Center. First and foremost, she has been a strong advocate and supporter of the students. And she has done this in a number of ways. She has been heavily involved in the Gamma Iota Sigma program, by attending all of the programs, guest speakers etc. Students in this program travel extensively and she supports them administratively and by accompanying them on some of the trips. In addition, she is heavily involved in the Holland Fellows program, a premier endowed study abroad in Asia program for the Walker College of Business, which includes annual trips to the Far East, most recently Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. As a native of China, she obviously brings incredible knowledge to the program. The administrative support includes the logistics of the travel and travel reimbursement processes. In addition to all the above, she has filled much of the void that was created by the departure of the Associate Director of the Brantley Center.

Lastly, Austin Eggers recently earned Promotion and Tenure and was named the inaugural Wayne L. Sumner Insurance Distinguished Scholar. I greatly appreciate these and my other colleagues who invest so much time to help prepare our students for their upcoming careers.

You are invited to attend Walker Spring Connect on Tuesday, March 5th! 

During this event, Business Career Services and the Brantley Risk and Insurance Center will host employers to promote internship and job opportunities to talented undergraduate and graduate business students. Because of Spring Break, the event is held on a Tuesday this year with the VIP Networking Social immediately following the career fair.

Click Here to Register! 

Brantley Center Welcomes Dillon Waschenbach

The Brantley Risk & Insurance Center is excited to welcome Dillon Waschenbach to the Center as the new Associate Director. Dillon joins us from Business Career Services in the Walker College of Business. He brings with him a wealth of career services and student support experience having worked at Appalachian State for over 2 years. He will be an invaluable asset to the Brantley Center and its students. In his free time he enjoys hiking, running, and spending time with his friends and family.

Welcome, Dillon!

Brantley Center Staff Received Staff Excellence Award

Seven members of Appalachian State University’s faculty and staff have received Sywassink Awards for Excellence, recognizing their outstanding achievements and contributions within the Walker College of Business. 

Dr. Brandy Hadley received the award for teaching, Dr. David McEvoy was recognized for his research, and Dr. Tanga Mohr was honored for her service. Christy Cook received the Non-tenure Track Award, and Wendy Deng earned the Staff Excellence Award. The Spirit of Walker Awardees were Dr. Jeff Kaleta and Dr. Josh Silvey.

Eggers Named Sumner Insurance Distinguished Scholar

Austin Eggers, has been named the inaugural Wayne L. Sumner Insurance Distinguished Scholar.

The Wayne L. Sumner Professorship is the newest of 16 professorships in Walker College of Business – all helping App State recruit the best business faculty and students.

Named in honor of benefactors who have made a positive impact on the Walker College of Business, each professorship recognizes a faculty member who has demonstrated outstanding performance in instruction, scholarship and service, while serving as a positive role model for students. Read full article here.

Brantley Center Hosted 2nd Annual TopGolf Fundraising Event

The Brantley Risk & Insurance Center hosted its second annual fundraiser event at TopGolf in Charlotte, netting the non-profit organization over $55,000. The event helps the Brantley Risk and Insurance Center to put on professional development activities, professional travel, and to recruit and prepare the next generation of insurance leaders.

The event’s success is largely due to its sponsors. Amwins was the event’s peak sponsor and also contributed significantly to the logistics of the event. RT Specialty and Builders Mutual were the Gold level sponsors and Key Risk (a Berkley Company) sponsored the event at the Black level. Risk Placement Services, Inc. sponsored the Hole-in-One and a bay, and Congruity HRMarsh McLennanMcGriffPropel Insurance, and Zenith Insurance Company (United States) were all bay sponsors.

Thank you to the sponsors and participants for helping to make the event a success! 

GIS Leadership Summer Retreat

The GIS leadership team held a summer retreat at the Blue Ridge Mountain Club in mid August. The breathtaking surroundings, the insightful discussions led by David Marlett and Wendy Deng, and the generous sponsorship from Robb Williams, President and CEO at Founders Pro, all combined to create an unforgettable experience. One student noted, it is moments like these that remind us of the incredible support and opportunities within our Gamma Iota Sigma Rho Chapter. With renewed energy and knowledge, students eagerly anticipated the semester ahead, ready to embrace new challenges and continue the journey of growth and learning in the field of insurance and risk management.

GIS Rho Launches Semester with Successful Open House

The risk management and insurance professional fraternity at Appalachian State, Gamma Iota Sigma Rho Chapter, kicked off the semester with a bang in late August with their Open House event attracting over 130 students. The event introduced new students to the club and taught them about GIS’ networking, travel, social, volunteering, and professional development opportunities.

A student internship panel shared valuable insights about their internship experiences by answering questions regarding topics such as, how to secure an internship, how to find housing, the skills they developed, and the benefits of pursuing an internship experience.

GIS 53rd Annual International Conference

In late September, the Gamma Iota Sigma Rho Chapter attended the Annual International Conference in Baltimore! During the trip, students attended educational sessions and a career fair, where they networked with many insurance companies. Additionally, during the the annual awards dinner, the Rho Chapter was named an Excellent Chapter of Gamma Iota Sigma! Finally, Dr. Marlett spoke on a Faculty Panel among other faculty advisors to discuss the best practices in RMI program management. Thank you all for your support!

Walker Business Connections Career Week a Success

35 insurance organizations and 71 other companies gathered at Appalachian State in early October to recruit Appalachian's quality RMI and business students. The week's events included a VIP Networking Social, a traditional career fair, and formal interviews. The event was co-hosted by the Brantley Risk & Insurance Center and Business Career Services.

Brantley Center RMI Alumni Tailgate Event

In mid-September, Gamma Iota Sigma hosted an alumni tailgate with the Finance Student Association. There was an amazing turnout of students, faculty, and alumni! During the event, there was delicious food, great networking opportunities, and a lot of cheering for the App State football team. 

Brantley Leads Athlete Workshop on Financial Literacy

Finance professors presented to First Year Student Athletes on Financial Literacy Topics. Sabina Pandey, Ph.D, CFP® covered opening a bank account, starting to build a credit score, and thinking strategically about financing their education. David Marlett, PhD, CPCU then spoke on personal auto insurance, discussing how to get an auto quote and make sure they have appropriate coverage should an accident occur. Professor Austin Eggers also presented on legal issues college students can sometimes face. Read the article in full at

RMI Students earn 3rd Place in the International Competition

Three RMI students from Appalachian State University placed third in the 2023 Spencer-RIMS Risk Management Challenge, an 8-month-long, global competition to develop and present the most comprehensive Risk Management program based on a case study. 

Finance and Banking and Risk Management and Insurance Seniors Hannah Bagley and Marcella Gianni and Applied Data Analytics Senior Omar Gonzalez made up the App State Risk Challenge Team. 

The competition was held in conjunction with the Risk and Insurance Management Society Inc.’s Riskworld Conference and Spencer Educational Foundation Inc. reception on May 1. See the full article here.

Appalachian State Students Return to London and Bermuda

After a several-year hiatus due to COVID-19, Appalachian State insurance students were able to return to London and Bermuda with the International Insurance Markets course. Led by Dr. David Marlett and Professor Austin Eggers, and funded by the North Carolina Surplus Lines Association (NCSLA), students had the chance to visit Lloyd's and visit numerous insurance organizations like Acrisure, Gallagher, and Liberty Mutual Reinsurance.

In early May, another group of students have had the opportunity to see the reinsurance markets first-hand while visiting Bermuda, a trip sponsored by Acrisure and led by Dr. David Marlett. You can read the entire article here. 

RMI Students Received NCAMIC's Scholarship

Appalachian State students secured two of the NCAMIC's three $5,000 scholarships this year, a scholarship which supports accomplished upperclassmen students pursing a career in the insurance industry. Mark Pruitt, a current senior double majoring in Risk Management and Insurance and Finance, and Katie Heeseman, a Risk Management major with a minor in Finance, were selected for the honor.

Katie had this to say about her experience "While being the at NCAMIC I was able to sit in on round table discussions and numerous speakers talking about changes in the industry and the ways insurance companies can work better with those in their communities. This was a very educational experience that widened my understanding about the mutual insurance company side of the industry while also allowing me to network with all those that were able to make it to the conference."

The two recipients thank the NCAMIC whole-heartedly for the financial support provided to them as they work to complete their senior years, as well as the opportunity to attend their Annual Conference.

IIANC Young Agents Conference

Dr. David Marlett brought a group of 4 students to Raleigh, NC to the Independent Insurance Agents of North Carolina (IIANC) conference. This conference provided students an opportunities to hear from recently graduated agents from around North Carolina. This networking opportunity helped these students start to narrow down their interests in the insurance industry, network with professionals, and get advice from professionals who were in their shoes recently.

WSIA Extreme Risk Takers Symposium

The Brantley Risk and Insurance sent 8 students to the Wholesale & Specialty Insurance Association's (WSIA) Extreme Risk Takers Symposium in Atlanta. Led by Dr. David Marlett, these students attended presentations on brokerage and underwriting, held roundtable discussions with fellow students and professionals, and engaged with hiring organizations through a career fair held during the conference.

Could Climate Change Break Home Insurance?

Dr. David Marlett participated in the podcast from the Council on Foreign Relations with Nancy Watkins and Gabrielle Sierra.

As climate disasters become more frequent, can home insurance hold up? On this episode of the Why It Matters podcast, host Gabrielle Sierra talks to experts about the risk of a climate change -fueled collapse of U.S. home insurance.

You can listen to the podcast in its entirety here.

Eggers Travels with RMI students to IIANC Tech Summit

Professor Austin Eggers and four insurance students traveled to Winston-Salem in late September to attend the IIANC's Annual TechSummit. The conference was a place for independent agents to gather and learn to utilize tech tools to run their agencies more efficiently, better service and retain existing clients, and attract new business. The group's attendance was made possible by the IIANC and will help students prepare for careers in the independent insurance industry.

Student Group at Carolina RIMS Conference

Students Austin Gifford, Omar Gonzalez, Cooper Marx and Tom Phillips represented the RMI program at the Southeast Regional RIMS Conference in Myrtle Beach, SC September 27-29, accompanied by Dr. Lori Medders. The students participated actively in the two-day meeting, introducing all of the conference speakers and assisting the Western Carolina RIMS Chapter members (this year's conference hosts) at the start and end of the event. The conference theme -- May the Odds be ever in Your Favor -- was apparent in session after session as speakers weighed in on trends of increasing risk, yet also increasing opportunities for effective risk management.

RMI Students Received NCPRIMA Scholarship

6 students from Appalachian State University, East Carolina University and UNC-Charlotte attended NCPRIMA (NC Public Risk) conference among 260+ insurance professionals from the public sectors attending.

Congratulations to Hailey MyersCarly Ohmer from Appalachian State University and other scholarship recipients from East Carolina University and UNC-Charlotte to receive the NCPRIMA scholarship.

Reflecting on an Inspiring CPCU "I-Day" 2023

A big shoutout to The Institutes CPCU Society (Charlotte Chapter) for hosting a fantastic I-Day event on September 6th, attended by 10 of our outstanding students accompanied by our faculty Sabina Pandey, Ph.D, CFP®. We're grateful for the invaluable insights, knowledge, and networking opportunities provided. Your dedication to fostering growth in the insurance community is truly commendable..

Student Group at Railroad Insurance Conference

In September, four RMI students attended the Railroad Insurance Management Association (RIMA) Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, accompanied by Dr. Jamie Parson. They attended several panels discussing the importance of insuring railroads and how difficult it is to do so. They also met with insurance carriers, brokers, and different railroad companies who attended the conference. Thank you RIMA for inviting our students to this year's conference.

RMI Student Received CIAB Scholarship

Hrisha (Aanshi) Bhatty, a junior studying risk management and insurance, and the Co-VP of membership for Gamma Iota Sigma (Rho), has distinguished herself in the insurance industry. What makes Hrisha's story more remarkable is her recent recognition as one of the 75 college students chosen to receive a scholarship from The Council Foundation. The Foundation announced that it is awarding $380,000 in academic scholarships to students like Hrisha who are passionate about pursuing careers in insurance brokerage. Each recipient, including Hrisha, will receive $5,000 toward their college education. This scholarship not only validates her hard work but also highlights her dedication to the industry's future.

Hrisha's future is undoubtedly bright, and we wish her continued success in her insurance journey. Read full article here.

Congratulations, Hrisha!

Brantley Center Welcomes New Strategic Partner

The Brantley Center was excited to welcome an new Strategic Partners this summer. Towne Insurance solidified a three-year annual financial commitment to the Center’s operations. This financial support is in addition to the ongoing on-campus support and partnership with the Center it has developed over the past few years: President Jim Clement has supplemented several academic classes and attended its bi-annual career fairs over the past few years, onboarding several interns as a result.

GIS Guest Speaker Series

The GIS Guest Speaker Series is meant to expose students to a variety of insurance topics and offer them the opportunity to see different career paths while networking with industry professionals. Speakers this fall include:

  • 3 App State alums from Amwins
  • Board member Paige Bagwell, President & COO at Redwoods Group
  • App Alum, Renee Polk, EVP and Founding Principal at Newfront

RMI Senior Send-Off - May 2023

Over 100 students and family members attended the RMI Senior Send-off event to celebrate students success. Congratulations RMI graduates. We are so proud of you!

Networking Social at Founders Pro

Thank you Founders Professional for hosting GIS at their new office in Boone! The GIS students and faculty had a great time meeting the Founders team! Everyone cannot wait to see what the future holds at the new office!

GIS Students at Granite Insurance

GIS students had the pleasure of attending the Granite Social hosted by Granite Insurance, it was an incredible experience! The highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the invaluable industry insights students gained. From discussions on emerging trends to the challenges the insurance industry faces, it was a truly eye-opening experience for our students. Learning from the seasoned professionals at Granite Insurance was an exceptional opportunity for our budding talents.

But it wasn't all business – students also had a ton of fun! Building meaningful connections with the fantastic individuals at Granite while enjoying some great food and entertainment made for a memorable evening. 

GIS Street Clean-Up

GIS organized a street clean-up event on Wednesday night.  Street clean-up events not only improve the local environment but also teach valuable life skills, promote community bonding, and demonstrate the positive influence of young people in their communities. Well done students, we are so proud of you!

WSIA Conference and Internship Recipients

Each year, the Wholesale and Specialty Insurance Association (WSIA) hosts an internship program where students get to experience 2 different organizations over the course of their 8 week internship. This highly regarded internship program selects 25 students out of the hundreds that apply. This year, the Risk Management and Insurance program in the Walker College of Business is proud to announce that 2 of our students were selected to participate! Adrian Everett and Zack Middleton are looking forward to their internship experience with WSIA and thank them for the opportunity for a hands-on learning experience this summer. The Brantley Risk and Insurance Center is proud of these students and look forward to watching their career blossom this summer!

CPCU NextGen Scholarship Recipient

The CPCU NextGen Scholarship is a $5000 scholarship awarded each year to high achieving sophomore and junior level students studying Risk Management and Insurance. Amani Stanley, a Junior Risk Management and Insurance student was one of 25 students nationally to receive this illustrious scholarship. Amani previously completed an internship with the Brantley Risk and Insurance Center where she collaborated with the University Risk Manager, Senior Leaders, and the General Council to create a business continuity plan and hazard mitigation. We congratulate Amani on this great accomplishment!

Brantley Brunches

This past semester several companies hosted a Brantley Brunch, where they provided breakfast foods and coffee to students while providing information about the jobs and internships they host. Experiences like these provide students a more stress-free networking experience and helps employers see a different group of students they might have missed in other settings. This semester, we hosted Granite Insurance, NC Rate Bureau, and AmWins. Thank you for your support in these events!

Joe Hutelmyer Steps into the Classroom

Joe Hutelmyer has been a part of the Brantley Risk and Insurance Center since its inception in 1988 and spent over 10 years on the Insurance Advisory Board. This semester, Joe stepped into a teaching role, which he felt was a natural transition after running his own organization and most recently, managing an educational foundation. Teaching gives him an opportunity to give back to the insurance industry by providing important skills to the up-and-coming generation of professionals. In speaking with Joe about his experience, he said he favorite part about teaching was getting to know the students, providing career advice, and sharing his personal experiences to aid students in the career development process. He said his biggest learning curve was scaffolding the information he would normally relay to insurance professionals, to college-level students who are developing their base knowledge of the topics discussed in his Insurance Operations course. We thank Joe for his work in the classroom and cannot wait to see what he does in future classes!