This Future Actuary Is Ahead of Schedule

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

by Julia Snyder

Kristen Blackman ‘19 moves quickly, and in rare company.

Case in point: The Curtis E. Huntington Memorial Scholarship, a selective national merit-based award. In the 12 years of the Saint Joseph’s University actuarial science program’s history, only three students have been awarded it; Blackman is the third.

“Only 10 people win the award each year nationwide,” said Rommel Regis, Ph.D., director of the actuarial science program and Blackman’s advisor. “Only two people in the area were awarded this year — one student at Penn State and Kristen.”

A student must pass 10 exams to receive ASA and FSA credentials as an actuary. Blackman admits that she was intimidated initially by the amount of standardized testing. Thanks to her hard work and intelligence, she’s passed three already. 

“These exams aren’t just like another class,” said Blackman, of West Chester, Pennsylvania. “They’re 200 to 300 extra hours of studying. I started studying for the exam I just took in June, five days a week. Once the semester started, I began studying every day.” 

“Kristen holds the department record for passing her exams quickly,” said Regis. “She takes her exams in the middle of the semester while the prep courses are still ongoing, and has passed three of them and taken a fourth during the time that most students pass one or two. I wouldn’t be surprised if she got her credentials as quickly as possible.”

In addition to the Huntington Scholarship, Blackman is a Maguire RMI Scholar and was awarded the 2018-2019 CAMAR (Casualty Actuaries of the Mid-Atlantic Region) award as well. 

Beyond her studies, Blackman has been a member of the SJU dance team since her freshman year.

“I honestly say that without dance I wouldn’t even be able to have such a hard major.” Blackman said. “But the dance team is a huge commitment. We practice four days a week for four hours each day and then we have workouts on two days a week for an hour and a half. Then you have to sleep and do homework and also maybe have a social life.”

Blackman has a not-so-surprising explanation for her ability to do so much so well.

“I think time management is my saving grace,” said Blackman. “I seriously write a schedule for every day of my life. If I have dance for four hours a night and I need to get six hours of studying done before I go to practice, I know I have to be up at 8 a.m. to get everything done.”

According to Regis, the actuarial science program has benefited from Blackman’s organized input. 

“She’s taken the initiative to reorganize the Actuarial Science Club, and we’re trying to organize a peer mentoring system that Kristen has been a part of too,” said Regis. “We are really lucky as a program to attract such great students like Kristen, and we’re big on the idea of helping them succeed.” 

The hustle doesn’t stop in May for Blackman; she’s already accepted a full-time position with Aetna Inc. She’ll start after graduation. 

“We don’t have many students with Kristen’s kind of drive,” said Regis. “She’s really an exceptional student.”  

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