Spring Newsletter, 2020
Brantley Risk & Insurance Center
Dear Brantley Center Community,

Before we share the accomplishments of our students, faculty, and staff over the past semester, we want to not only express our sadness and outrage regarding the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and a plethora of others but also to support calls for accountability and end to racial injustice. We remain committed to substantive changes to end systemic inequities and join our partners and colleagues across the Appalachian State campus to confront and denounce racism and actions that marginalize members of our Black community.

As such, we continue our efforts to dismantle educational disparities by supporting students from underserved and underrepresented populations in pursuing Risk Management and Insurance, Actuarial Science, and Employee Benefits degrees through financial support, mentoring, and professional development opportunities.


Brantley Center Faculty & Staff

You can learn more about the mission and programming of the Brantley Risk and Insurance Center and our students through the articles below, as well as by visiting our website, insurance.appstate.edu.
Inclusion Excellence
Led by Dr. Jamie Parson in collaboration with the Board of Advisors Recruitment and Diversity Committee, diversity and inclusion efforts remain on the forefront of Brantley Center programming.

To see the full report of the inclusion efforts for the 2020-2021 academic year, please see the Brantley Center website here to download the full report.
Student Book Club Organized to Empower and Inspire Students
Recruitment Dinner Connects Underclassmen to the Insurance Industry
Over the course of the Spring Semester, Dr. Jamie Parson led a group of students in reading and discussing "Expect to Win" by Carla Harris, Vice Chairman, Managing Director and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley. The program helped students better understand ways in which they can empower themselves and others in a corporate environment.
Organized by Walker College of Business Inclusive Excellence Chairperson, Dr. Jamie Parson, the Brantley Center sponsored a student recruitment dinner in Februray. to encourage students to consider Risk Management and Insurance (RMI) as a major at Appalachian, specifically those from underrepresented backgrounds.

Students enjoyed a networking meal and had the opportunity to interact with insurance industry professionals, insurance professors, and successful RMI upperclassmen. Many current RMI students credit this recruitment dinner as their "entry point" to the industry, and the Brantley Center is proud to be able to continue to offer this opportunity to high-achieving underclassmen.
Gilberto Ramirez-Hernandez Represents AppState at IIANC's Level Up Conference in New Orleans
Dr. Jamie Parson accompanied three students to the IIANC's Level Up Conference in New Orleans in January, which focused on increased innovation and sustainability through diversity and inclusion. Junior AppState RMI student Gilberto Ramirez-Hernandez was sponsored to attend the event as a guest speaker, pictured above on the far right above, in a panel hosted by Gamma Iota Sigma President and CEO Noelle Codispoti, far left.

Recent News & Updates
Four RMI Students Recognized as Outstanding Walker College of Business Graduates
Four Appalachian State University Risk Management & Insurance (RMI) graduating Seniors were recognized as part of the 2020 Walker College of Business Top 30 students. Lauren Coats (far left) was named the top senior within the Association of Student Entrepreneurs. Anna Otto (far right) earned the Top RMI Major award, while Devon Goolsby and Harrison Cameron (middle) shared the prestigious Pruett Award.

Brantley Golf Tournament Postponed Until June 2021
The Brantley Board Golf Committee made the challenging decision in March to postpone the annual Golf Tournament fundraiser until 2021.

The 2021 event will also take place at the Grandover in Greensboro, and is scheduled Tuesday, June 8, 2021. Registration will re-open in January 2021.

Spring Connect Cancelled, Fall Career Fair Confirmed Online
Due to COVID-19, the Spring Connect Career Fair that is co-hosted by the Brantley Center each semester was cancelled. The Brantley Center worked diligently to continue to connect students with employers during this time of change.

We are excited to announce that the Fall Business Connections event will be held virtually and include a week of networking and development events, including a virtual career fair on Friday, October 2nd. Registration will open in early July on Handshake.
Dr. Parson Hosts Brantley Community Hour
Employee Benefits Team Rolls Out Promotional Video
Coronavirus concerns led Appalachian State, along with the entire UNC system, to move courses online for the remainder of the spring semester.

This interruption was a challenge for many students, and an interruption to the communities fostered by the physical space in the Brantley Center. In response, Dr. Jamie Parson organized weekly virtual "community hours" to check in with one another, share wins and challenges, and continue to build the Brantley Community.
The burgeoning Employee Benefits minor recently produced a promotional video to continue to promote the program's offerings to potential student participants during remote learning periods. The video features program director Dr. Kevin Huff and employee benefits faculty Dr. Jamie Parson, as well as two students graduating from the minor this year.
Gamma Iota Sigma Rho Announces 2020-2021 Leadership
After a student-led application and voting process, the Appalachian State Gamma Iota Sigma Rho Chapter has announced its new class of student leaders.

Bailey Siner, pictured left above, has been appointed chapter President. Jason Garfinkle, right above, has accepted the role of Vice President. These leaders have shown significant leadership over the past several years, and are striving to continue to grow the national recognition of Appalachian State's Chapter.

Brantley Board of Advisors Gains Six New Members
In June, the Brantley Board had six outstanding new members officially join the Brantley Board of Advisors. The newest members represent a broad spectrum of the insurance industry by occupation, experience and geographical location. New members include Cameron Annas of Granite Insurance, Paige Bagwell of The Redwoods Group, Eric Black of Gallagher Benefits Services, Jonathan Dillon of Penn National Insurance, Keith Moore of CyberPolicy and CoverHound, and Jonathan Trevisan of McGriff Insurance.

Experiential Learning
International Markets Class Visits London on Spring Break
A group of thirteen students gained invaluable experience during the Brantley Center's recent trip to England. As a part of the FIN 4800 spring semester course, students spent their Spring Break in London to meet with global industry leaders, shadow brokers on the Lloyd's trading floor, and explore cultural heritage sites. 
"This trip tied together my entire undergrad education. It blended parts of almost every class I took and was the perfect experiential learning program...(Insurance) is a global industry and being able to relate with people from different cultures is so important."

- Anonymous Student Feedback
Second Cohort of Summit Certification Awardees Announced
Eight well-deserving students were recognized for their achievements in a virtual Summit Certification exit interview, led by Brantley Board Member Michael Mitchell of RPS Charlotte. To complete the certification, students must complete a minimum of eight requirements such as attending a networking event or conference, participating in Shadow Day or a paid internship, or participating in Gamma Iota Sigma community service.
Student Leaders Attend Gamma Iota Sigma Regional Conference
Four members of Appalachian’s Gamma Iota Sigma Rho Chapter along with Professors David Marlett and Lori Medders attended the Spring 2020 GIS Regional Conference in Atlanta, Georgia January 24-25. While at the GIS Regional Conference, students attended educational and professional development sessions conducted by industry professionals, along with the career fair.

L-R: Sara Hursa, Bailey Siner, Kyndavee Bichara, Jen Evans)
Atlanta RIMS Regional Conference
Dr. Karen Epermanis and Dr. Lori Medders accompanied five students to the RIMS conference in Atlanta. The group participated in educational sessions and networked with students from Georgia State University, the University of Georgia and risk management professionals from the Atlanta-area.

Health Benefits Conference in Clearwater, FL
In January, Dr. Jamie Parson accompanied two students to attend the Health Benefits Conference & Expo. The experience helped students better understand current issues in health benefits as well as provided a

“[This conference] gave me a chance to further explore the emerging issues that the employee benefits industry is facing today while providing context to the lessons I have been learning in my classes. It was exciting to see all the different companies striving to solve the problems that occur in the healthcare system.”
-Leigha Fisher, Student Attending HBCE Conference in Clearwater, FL
Academic & Industry Engagement
AppRISE Continues to Provide Students with Invaluable Reasearch Experience
This semester the AppRISE program, a faculty-student collaborative research group, made significant headway on numerous research projects, including those that serve the AppState campus.

The team, comprised of 12 students and Dr. Lori Medders, worked closely with Denise Godwin, Risk Manager of Appalachian State, on three projects, including an ongoing university property inventory for risk characteristics and business personal contents, beginning with Rankin-Science building (shown left).
This research helps students to gain important industry experiences and prepares them for a successful career in risk management.

Industry Perspectives Incorporated into Employee Benfeits Curriculum
Over the past semester, Dr. Kevin Huff has worked closely with several employee benefits corporations to obtain feedback and insight into the most valuable classroom and experiential learning topics for students pursunig the minor.

Feedback was obtained by utilizing a combination of surveys and follow-up conversations. These insights will be integrated into academic development to ensure students are obtaining the most industry-relevant education possible.