Ghanaian grad springboards into actuarial field
Ama Ampadu-Kissi and her parents, Kwasi Ampadu-Kissi and Abena Bonsu, were all smiles before their meet and greet with President Larry Dietz.
Ama Ampadu-Kissi graduated this spring with an M.S. in mathematics – actuarial science. Although an impressive feat in and of itself, she didn’t stop there. She has also passed five preliminary actuarial exams and completed online study modules, two additional exams, and other necessary requirements to graduate as an Associate of the Society of Actuaries (ASA).
“Most students take several years after graduation to become a credentialed actuary,” said Krzysztof Ostaszewski, director of the actuarial program. “She did what takes most people five or six years to do in only two years—all while getting her master’s degree.”
Ampadu-Kissi is one of several recent grads to benefit from Illinois State’s ties with Ghana. She and other students receive funding from both the University’s Math Department and Katie School of Insurance and Risk Management, whose microinsurance project in Ghana is helping rural residents in the development of sustainable access to capital and reliable insurance. Facilitating Ghanaian residents’ education in the field of actuarial science is a crucial component of the project’s goals. Since 2012, eight of the University’s credentialed actuaries have come from Ghana.
A graduate assistantship and the program’s recognition as a Center of Actuarial Excellence by the Society of Actuaries (SOA) persuaded her to commit to Illinois State.
“We just think it’s phenomenal that she’s done this in two years coming here with zero exams,” Mathematics Department Professor and Chair George F. Seelinger said. “Ama is just a great example. The vast majority of students who graduate are not credentialed.”
In addition to recognition of Ampadu-Kissi and other students from Ghana as excellent students, Ostaszewski and Seelinger noted that students from Ghana maintain a close-knit sense of community. They reach out to fellow Ghanaian students while in the U.S. to support one another.
“We value that collaboration,” Seelinger said.
Ampadu-Kissi greatly valued her friends’ help throughout her time at Illinois State.
“The African students had an association, so we would get together for games and stuff like that,” she said. “That was important to me; it was really encouraging to know that we were all going for the same goal.”
She will start working for Prudential Financial in New Jersey starting in July. There, she will join two other Illinois State Graduates who are also from Ghana. Ampadu-Kissi has already registered for exams to become a chartered financial analyst and notes she will have more exams to take to become a fellow of the SOA.
Her goal is to retire at 40 and return to Ghana to help run the family business, a declaration that makes both of her parents beam.
“I’m glad she’s also thinking about where she comes from,” Kwasi Ampadu-Kissi said. “We’re very proud parents.”