Solving puzzles is a passion for Jade Russell. So when it was time for her to select a major for college she was looking for options that would allow her to follow this pursuit. Researching careers online, she stumbled onto the field of actuarial science. Not sure where this path would take her, she enrolled in the UTSA Carlos Alvarez College of Business. Now, four years later, she’ll graduate this month with a B.B.A. in Actuarial Science.
A first-generation college student, Russell has secured a full-time job working with insurance giant AIG in Dallas as a claims handler.
“Actuarial science is like solving little puzzles,” said Russell, who is a Houston native. “I’ve always liked math because it has an absolute answer. At UTSA I’ve been able to explore statistics and applied programming so I can understand the ‘why’ behind those answers.”
Part of the first cohort of the Business Honors Program, she valued the support that she received from the program.
“What I liked most about the program were the honors classes,” said Russell, who is graduating with honors and as a Distinguished Business Student. “They were smaller, more focused, and my classmates were amazing. I attended many events and learned so much from those around me.”
Prior to the pandemic she was an officer with the student organization PAWS, Protector of Animals Welfare and Safety. They volunteered at animal sanctuaries and helped with fundraising. She also studied abroad in Costa Rica for three months in 2019 while attending Veritas Universidad through an independent organization.
“I was immersed in the culture, participated in ecological classes and had a unique and special experience,” said Russell, who is bilingual. “I learned a lot about myself. I know that if I want to achieve something, I’m capable of doing that on my own.”
Like the rest of the world she was hampered by the pandemic as it interrupted her studies. She extended her graduation date by a semester so she could complete an internship and spend her last semester on campus.
“I hated the online learning,” she said. “It was especially hard with my major. I missed the human interaction.”
Reflecting on her time at UTSA, Russell said she’ll miss most UTSA’s beautiful campus, the compassion she felt from her professors and San Antonio’s diversity. “It feels weird leaving campus, but all good things must come to an end. I am not a perfect student and have made many mistakes in my classes, but I’m almost to the finish line.”
Walking the stage at the Alamodome, her friends and family will be cheering her on and celebrating her accomplishments. Before she begins working next summer she plans to study for her actuarial exams, visit her twin sister who is studying abroad in Ecuador and catch up on some reading.
“The community of support you create while on campus can be the difference between feeling successful and confident to feeling alone and doubtful,” said Russell. “I am grateful for all my friends, fellow students and UTSA faculty and staff who have helped create an environment that is welcoming to success.”