Their Story – Jennifer Carrick
This is the fourth installment in a series of articles featuring the Board of Directors of College Success Arizona.
College Success Arizona is a 501(c)3 educational foundation founded in 2005, to increase the number of bachelor’s degree holders in the state of Arizona by providing scholarships and College Success Services to high potential, low-income students. The vision of College Success Arizona is to create an educated workforce ready to take Arizona into the future.
These articles are designed to give a more personal insight into each of our Board Members, to give them the opportunity to share why they care so deeply about Arizona, college attainment, and the mission of College Success Arizona.
1. Please tell us a little about your background
“I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Actuarial Science from Drake University. I have been with CopperPoint for over five years now and here I hold the position of Vice President, Chief Actuary & Chief Risk Officer. Being an actuary is a good job to have, once you pass all the exams. It’s consistently ranked as one of the top jobs to have and I can agree with that.”
Prior to joining CopperPoint, Jennifer was with IIC, LLC – an actuarial consulting firm in Atlanta. Her clients included insurance companies, self-insureds, self-insurance funds and government entities. She has also held actuarial positions with Bankers Insurance Company, ACE USA, American Association of Insurance Services, and Hawkeye-Security Insurance Company. Her experience includes loss reserve analysis, pricing and product development and she has worked with several lines of business.
Copperpoint was formerly known as SCF Arizona, providing workers compensation coverage to businesses and organizations throughout the state of Arizona.
2. What does your organization do?
“CopperPoint Mutual Insurance Company is the largest workers compensation insurance provider in Arizona.”
As a leading advocate of workplace safety, CopperPoint is proactive in building a culture of safety throughout Arizona and in keeping the state’s workers compensation insurance rates among the lowest in the nation. CopperPoint, based in Phoenix, has a statewide presence, including an office in Tucson.
3. How did you come to be associated with College Success Arizona?
“My first exposure to College Success Arizona was back in 2013 when I attended the Leaders and Legends luncheon and that was when our President and CEO Donald A. Smith was the honoree. Then last year as College Success Arizona and CopperPoint wanted to maintain and expand the relationship between the two companies, they asked me if I would be interested in joining their board of directors. I always remember that luncheon because one of their students, Nayeli, spoke and she was just really accomplished and driven so that really peaked my interest in what College Success Arizona was doing.”
4. What is your vision for the Arizona of the future?
“I think everybody should feel like they have the opportunity for higher education, if they make that choice. It’s really important for there to be more funding not only for higher education but also in K-12 just to get more people interested and exposed to the benefits higher education provides.
I know one of the areas College Success Arizona works on with their partners is educating guidance counselors. My mother was a guidance counselor and it was my own guidance counselor in school who got me interested in the actuarial field so even something as seemingly small as that can be very important in shaping someone’s future. One thing that really struck me when I came to Arizona was the clear distinction of high and low income in neighborhoods and I think education is the biggest driver in that.”
5. Why do you feel increasing Arizona’s College Attainment Rates is so important?
“Well there’s the obvious of how it is a positive impact on the economy, it generates more tax revenue and raises the income and spending. But also if we have higher college attainment in Arizona, it keeps those high level jobs here.
It also attracts more business to the state if they know that they have a well-educated employee pool to draw from. And once you get that first person through college, it’s such a driver for future generations.
When I grew up, both of my parents were college graduates so it was engrained and expected that we would graduate. You don’t see that in a lot of the families today; I was lucky.”
6. What other projects, activities, groups, are you involved in?
“I am a Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) and a member of the American Academy of Actuaries. I am also a member of the CAS’s regional affiliate, Casualty Actuaries of the Desert States. I served on the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) Actuarial Committee from November 2010 to May 2012 and continue to attend meetings. I try to be supportive of aspiring actuaries and have met with or had conversations with several students. Two of our three dogs are from a local rescue, MinPinHaven, and we continue to support that organization.”
7. What is your organization involved in?
“One of the things that impressed me about CopperPoint when I interviewed for this job was just how involved they are in the local community. They are involved in so many charitable and non-profit organizations. For example, we have an annual “Pack to School” where we choose an elementary school and provide backpacks full of supplies. We are also a part of United Way and have Big Brothers and Big Sisters that go to schools and have lunch with the kids once a week.
We’re just a part of so many organizations that support our community.”
8. If you had one message for a student just beginning their college career, what would that be?
“College is a time when you’re supposed to have fun; just not too much fun.
I think you just need to try to be well-rounded, whether that means taking classes outside your area of study or being involved in extra-curricular activities and getting internships. All of these are very helpful in preparing for graduation and the future.”
Elizabeth Parra Valenzuela is a Communication and Engagement Intern and attends the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.