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Argo Group and Spencer Award Diversity Scholarship

Actuarial science student Maya Ramahi is the first recipient of the Argo Group Diversity Scholarship.

Maya Ramahi headshot

Argo Group and the Spencer Educational Foundation recently announced Maya Ramahi as the first recipient of the Argo Group Diversity Scholarship.

The scholarship is a $10,000, merit-based two-year scholarship for University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) students seeking a career in insurance and risk management whose ethnic or racial identity is traditionally underrepresented in the industry.

It was created in 2020 as a partnership between Argo Group and the Spencer Educational Foundation, the most prominent provider of scholarships and grants for students of risk management and insurance. Since it was established in 1979, Spencer has awarded over $8 million in scholarships and $5 million in grants.

“We couldn’t ask for a better partner than Spencer in this effort to promote diversity in insurance,” said Susan Comparato, Senior Vice President, U.S. Insurance and Executive Sponsor of Argo’s Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Committee. “We’re excited to see the scholarship benefit someone with such a promising future in our industry and hope to see the program expand to reach many more students in the future.”

Meet Maya Ramahi

Ramahi was born in the U.S., and her family is from Palestine. She grew up in Texas before her father’s job moved them to Saudi Arabia, where she lived for 12 years.

She returned to the U.S. to attend UIUC, where’s she’s now a sophomore pursuing a bachelor’s degree in actuarial science with minors in applied statistics and astronomy.

“In high school I really enjoyed math and analytical studies, so I wanted to find an application for that,” Ramahi said. “My dad suggested actuarial science, which was an interesting melding of his financial interests and my interest in math.”

She chose UIUC specifically for its renowned actuarial science program and has been an excellent student, having made the dean’s list two years in a row and maintained a 4.0 GPA.

Seeking experience outside of class

On top of her studies, Ramahi spent last summer as an assistant for an introductory Arabic class and is now a course assistant in the computer science department.

Most recently, she’s joined a team of researchers who are establishing a framework of decentralized insurance practices, including takaful (a risk-sharing system that’s compliant with Islamic law), mutual aid and peer-to-peer insurance models.

It may seem like Ramahi had her whole path mapped out beforehand, but she says she felt lost when she started college and credits the university’s support system for helping guide her toward these opportunities.

“The support system at UIUC made me feel comfortable and made me want to pursue actuarial science even more,” Ramahi said. “Wherever I look, there are more opportunities. I feel like I’m really well supported.”

Part of that system includes the AXIS Risk Management Academy, in which Ramahi participated for a semester. There she met Lynne McChristian, Director, Office of Risk Management & Insurance Research, and Senior Instructor, Finance Department, at UIUC. McChristian worked with Spencer and Argo to promote the scholarship among students, and that’s how Ramahi learned of it.

Eager to start an insurance career

“My goal is to be an actuarial analyst,” Ramahi said. “But right now I just want to break into the industry and find out what it’s like for myself, instead of what people are telling me.”

She’ll get an early chance to do that this summer, as the scholarship also includes an opportunity to intern at Argo Group. She looks forward to seeing how concepts she’s studied come up through the work.

“Seeing all the content on the syllabus is different from what’s actually happening in practice,” Ramahi said. “I’m really excited to see how that applies in the work that actuaries do day to day.”

Learn more about Argo’s commitment to diversity in insurance by exploring the 2021 ESG Report.

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