It took a tip in an English class about a medieval studies day trip to a New York City museum for Ronald Ziemba to determine that his future was in … actuarial science.
“I had never even heard of it before I came to Binghamton,” Ziemba said of the field that uses probability models to solve business problems involving risk or financial loss.
Ziemba was taking a freshman English class when Associate Professor Al Vos mentioned that seats were still available for a bus trip to the Cloisters museum. Ziemba decided to go and had a conversation on the bus with a classmate about what they were hoping to study at Binghamton University.
“She mentioned that she was interested in studying actuarial science,” Ziemba said. “I said ‘What’s that?’ She started explaining it and said it was a good field for someone who likes math. I was thinking of majoring in math or chemistry at the time.”
Ziemba became an actuarial science and economics double major. The 22-year-old senior’s work in and out of the classroom has earned him the 2011 Exemplary Student Award. As grand-prize winner, Ziemba will receive full tuition for one semester. He and the other finalists will be honored at Winter Madness in February.
“I was very excited,” he said about receiving the award. “It was nice to feel like I was being recognized for what I do on campus. I know there was a lot of stiff competition for the award, so I was flattered to be chosen. There were a lot of good candidates.”
Besides his success in the classroom, Ziemba said he has benefitted from nearly three years as a resident assistant. He works at Windham Hall in Mountainview College.
“It’s helped me gain more of an appreciation for the diverse student body we have on campus,” said Ziemba, who is from the Syracuse suburb of Cicero. “There’s a big mix of people in my building: a lot of international students and a lot of athletes, too. I’ve learned a lot about people from different places and backgrounds.”
The RA experience is “the epitome of transferrable skills,” he said, as he has learned useful skills for the future such as teamwork, communication and conflict mediation.
“As an RA, what Ron brings to Mountainview is a genuine commitment to the community around him,” said Greg Steele, assistant director of Mountainview. “He more than realizes the opportunities the job affords him, takes full advantage of them and works to ensure that Mountainview means as much to others as it means to him. Though he will deflect any or all plaudits directed his way, they are as earned as they are deserved.”
Ziemba also works as a transfer credit intern in Harpur Academic Advising as a three-time Faculty-Student Scholarship recipient. He is a Hinman College Student Fellow, has participated in the English Conversation Pairs Program and has taken three semesters of Arabic. Ziemba also recently finished his final shift working for Sodexo in Hinman Dining Hall.
When he’s not in class or working, Ziemba is able to find time to study for the numerous required actuarial exams. He has taken three, passed two and is awaiting the results of the third test. Off campus, Ziemba spent last summer as an intern for Buck Consultants, a pension-consulting firm in Secaucus, N.J.
Vos called his former Literacies of Power student “a scholar’s scholar” who is “dedicated, engaged, energetic, open, inquisitive and personable.” Ziemba’s ability to explore the resources of the University and community, such as buying season tickets to Anderson Center performances or attending Career Development Center programs as a freshman, has impressed Vos.
“Ron has a work ethic to match his intelligence,” Vos said. “He has a terrific future and I think he exemplifies what’s best in the students at Binghamton University.”
Ziemba hopes to get a job in the actuarial field when he graduates in May and believes that Binghamton University has been a great fit for his career preparation.
“I’ve liked the environment, the academics were rigorous and there were a lot of good people to meet,” he said. “That’s been re-enforced every semester. … I believe the harder you work, the luckier you get. Opportunities are there; you just have to find them.”