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Big Potential: Julia Menez

Oct 3 2011 8:00 AM
Julia Promo
The UNL Actuarial Science program and the Jeffrey S. Raikes School of Computer Science and Management have both been recognized for outstanding student achievement. Senior Julia Menez is currently taking advantage of both areas of excellence by majoring in actuarial science while simultaneously participating in the Raikes School curriculum.

Menez, who is from Blue Springs, MO, in the Kansas City area, came to UNL because she wanted to enroll in an elite actuarial science program in the Midwest. She discovered the Raikes School when researching scholarship opportunities.

“At first I wasn’t that interested in computer science,” Menez said, “but as I learned more about it, it seemed like a really good program. The technical skills that I would pick up from being in an integrated program with computer science and business would be really helpful in the actuarial field.”

Menez received a Kauffman housing scholarship and her textbooks were also paid for by being part of the honors program. Once she began taking courses at Raikes, Menez began to see the importance of developing the analytical skills needed to excel in computer science and actuarial science classes.

“Even if I don’t ever use the programming languages that I learned here, I’ll be better preparerd for the work force in being able to pick up how certain systems run and how technologies are used. I had an internship after my sophomore year at Mutual of Omaha where I had to learn to write macros and I had never done that before in Microsoft Excel --having the programming background helped me pick that up really fast.”

Menez had another internship this past summer at the Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance facility just outside of Chicago. The contrast between the two internships gave her a firsthand look at what it would be like to work in a property and casualty company compared to a typical life or health insurance firm. Menez has already passed two of the exams she needs to achieve the professional actuarial designation and she plans on taking more later this year.

Warren Luckner, the David P. Hayes Memorial Chair in Actuarial Science, has seen Menez excel, both in the classroom and in her extracurricular activities.

"Julia’s academic performance has been outstanding,” Luckner said. “Her achievements are particularly notable because of her participation in the challenging Jeffrey S. Raikes School of Computer Science and Management, as well as an actuarial science major. As President of the Actuarial Science Club, Julia not only led the club’s effort to obtain a grant from CBA's Student Advisory Board to send two actuarial students to this year’s Society of Actuaries Annual meeting in Chicago and the organization of the club's joint meeting with the Drake University Actuarial Student Society, but she also was a member of the club’s Relay for Life and Big Event teams."

Menez’s academic success recently led to her being awarded the John Culver Wooddy Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded to students studying actuarial science based on leadership potential through extracurricular activities. In addition to her activities in actuarial science, Menez is the secretary for the Kauffman Residents Association at the Raikes School which is the student’s dorm government where they organize social and educational events for students living in the Raikes School’s Kauffman Center.

Menez, like all Raikes School students, is participating in the Design Studio project, which lets students work on real world software development problems with clients from corporations throughout the world.

“Last year I was on the Microsoft project and we built an application that does cross sales analysis much like on Amazon.com,” Menez said. “It shows sales managers that customers who purchased item A also typically buy items B, C or D. That helps them determine what items they should put together in a retail store.”

The Microsoft Design Studio project, she also worked on a project that examined the dynamics of adjusting worker salaries or other variables to examine what impact those decisions would have on a firm’s total profits. “If somebody is looking to go into actuarial science they should definitely consider being part of the Raikes School,” Menez said. “In actuarial science you may need to analyze why certain trends happen in pricing, why mortality has gone up or down, or why a lot of claims happened in a certain area. The computer science and analytical skills developed through the Raikes School are invaluable, and when combined with Design Studio, dealing with real world clients and learning to work on a team – the Raikes School experience is priceless for going into any field.”