Graduating in record time, Elyas Mercado will receive his bachelor’s degree in actuarial science this Saturday at UTSA’s commencement. Completing his UTSA course work in 2½ years, Mercado followed his passion for statistics and turned it into a successful college career.
Mercado credits an academic advisor during his freshman year with setting him down this path. At the time, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to major in, but was considering psychology and business. Learning about his love of mathematics and statistics, she recommended majoring in actuarial science—a major and career path that he didn’t even know existed.
“I took a high school course in statistics, and it was one of my favorites,” said Mercado, a graduate of O’Connor High School. “I enjoyed the formulas in math, but I also like pursuing things that are not always black and white like philosophy. Actuarial science allowed me to combine my passions and use decision making skills to solve problems.”
While at UTSA Mercado was a member of the Business Scholars Program (BSP), named a Distinguished Business Student and formed the first student chapter of the American Statistical Association in the state of Texas at UTSA. He was also a member of the Quidditch club.
“The Business Scholars Program was my first step in learning professional development,” said Mercado, who worked as a tutor at UTSA’s Quantitative (Q) Tutoring Lab. “I also am grateful for the support that I received from Ms. Rosa Garza-Girdy as part of the BSP program. She was always pushing me to put myself out there.”
Mercado initially intended to complete his degree in three years due to AP and dual credit that he had amassed during high school. But, he realized that by taking classes over the summer and fuller class loads, he could graduate in less time.
“I really enjoyed the work that I was doing, and I wanted to get into the actuarial field as soon as possible,” said Mercado.
Utilizing a networking connection that he made at a professional workshop, Mercado landed an interview at Travelers that resulted in two internship offers for both their winter and summer sessions.
Following his graduation, he will travel to Hartford, Connecticut, the insurance capital of the world. Based on his performance, he would then be eligible to enter their five-year actuary program.
“I’m honored and blessed to be a part of this organization,” he said. “I never dreamed that I’d be beginning my professional career at 20.”
Looking back at his college career, Mercado’s only regret is that he finished too quickly. “Don’t try to rush college,” he said. “It is a time to cherish. I’m grateful for all of my experiences at UTSA, and the support that I received from my professors and friends.”
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