Senior actuarial science major Kelsie Klingenberg received the highest honor an Illinois State undergraduate student can receive when she was designated a Bone Scholar earlier this year.

Bone Scholars are students who combine excellent academic achievement with campus and community engagement and, once designated, receive a scholarship and commemorative medallion, and have their names engraved on a metal plaque displayed permanently in the Bone Student Center. Scholars are also formally recognized at a luncheon and at commencement. 

In addition to her scholarship, medallion, and name engraved on a plaque, becoming a Bone Scholar gave Klingenberg a moment to reflect on her time as an actuarial student at the University, a rare occasion for an individual within a field reliant on looking to the future.  

After receiving one of two nominations from the Department of Mathematics, Klingenberg compiled an almost 20-page portfolio detailing the depth and breadth of her involvement at the University, from her time as an ambassador for the University’s Honors Program to her volunteer experiences through Alternative Breaks. After the reflection process, Klingenberg came to realize the true scope of the actuarial program’s influence on her college experience. 

Klingenberg remembers it was an actuarial student who gave her the first sense of a community at Illinois State. When she visited the University on an interview day for a scholarship, the student approached her and struck up a conversation, which had a lasting impact on Klingenberg’s perception of Illinois State. 

“The actuarial science student that came up to me made me feel like I could have a community within the University,” Klingenberg said. “It impacted me from the very beginning.”

“The actuarial science student that came up to me made me feel like I could have a community within the University. It impacted me from the very beginning.”—Kelsie Klingenberg

Once attending Illinois State, Klingenberg found her community within the rest of the actuarial program. The support given to Klingenberg by faculty and students was an invaluable factor to her success and Bone Scholar designation. She’s grateful to have had the opportunity to work and study within a cohort of like-minded, driven individuals. 

“The actuarial program here is active and inspiring,” Klingenberg said. “It’s a program where everyone is tightly knit, where students are driven and motivate one another to achieve great things. It feels like home.”

Klingenberg believes being a Bone Scholar means representing the spirit of the University and exhibiting the definition of what it means to be a Redbird. For her, that means encompassing the Illinois State community, whether it be through occupying leadership roles, taking on volunteer opportunities, or participating in extracurricular activities. 

Klingenberg’s passion for leadership and community engagement is heavily inspired by faculty such as Director of the Actuarial Program Krzysztof Ostaszewski, and Illinois State University President Emeritus Al Bowman, with whom she took a seminar class on leadership and development. 

“Seeing the passion that Dr. Bowman has towards having an impact on students that come to Illinois State is something that’s driven me to be passionate about what I want to do,” Klingenberg said. “I’ve gotten the opportunity to take courses with teachers who are really inspired by what they do.” 

After receiving the Bone Scholar designation, Klingenberg looks once again to the future, where she’ll be working as an actuary for Reinsurance Group of America in St. Louis, a company she has interned with while a student. 

“All of the skills I’ve learned in college will transfer to my future career,” Klingenberg said. “I owe so much to my family, friends, Dr. Krzys, the actuarial department, and my support system throughout Illinois State for all they’ve done for me.”