Note from the Director

The Brantley Risk and Insurance Center has recently earned recertification as a 

Global Center of Insurance Excellence (GCIE). This is a certification program for universities with outstanding RMI programs as measured by the International Insurance Society. We have also recently been highlighted as a leader in Insurance Education along with several other prominent programs in an article by AM Best. Both of these recognitions are based on our academic curriculum, experiential learning opportunities and emphasis on the student development. Our promotion of soft skills in particular have received a lot of attention and positive feedback from recruiters and employers. As you can see in this newsletter, our faculty, staff and industry supporters invest a substantial amount of time helping students develop their soft skills. Equally as important, our strategic partners provide the financial resources to make it possible. We appreciate all those supporting the Brantley Center and our students.

Student Spotlight

We would like to introduce, David Cyubahiro a Sophmore, RMI student from Greensboro, NC. David was not sure what he wanted to do when he started at App State but quickly met members of Gamma Iota Sigma and got involved with the Brantley Center during his freshman year. This involvement led to a claims internship at Penn National, where David's work ethic and personality flourished. After completition of his first internship, David pursued internships to continue to build his resume. This upcoming summer, David has decided to intern with Amwins in New York City. We are excited to see David continue to grow during his time at App State!

Brantley Center Welcomes New Strategic Partners

The Brantley Center is excited to welcome two new Strategic Partners this semester. Builders and Sompo solidified an annual financial commitment to the Center’s operations. In addition to financial support, this is a committment to visit campus and provide students the opportunity to learn more about their companies, personal experiences in insurance, and advice as students pursue their career goals. Representatives from each of these companies were guest speakers for several classes this semester.

Brantley Center Designated with Global Centers of Insurance Excellence Certification

The Global Centers of Insurance Excellence (GCIE) certification program recognizes universities and colleges with outstanding Risk Management and Insurance programs. The aim of the program is to encourage universities to play an integral role in advancing insurance knowledge, to enhance insurance research and intellectual capital development, and to build connections between the insurance industry and top-tier academic programs and faculty.  The Brantley Center is proud to renew this certification and provide high-quality education and resources to RMI majors and minors, and students who are exploring insurance careers! A special thank you to our donors and strategic partners, we could not provide these opportunities to students without the funding provided!

Professional Development

Walker Spring Connect Was a Success

Our annual Walker College of Business spring career fair Walker Spring Connect saw a record number of students attend the spring fair at 820 attendees from across campus! The career fairs in the college of business are a result of a collaboration between Business Career Services and the Brantley Risk and Insurance Center. This collaboration led to a large outreach effort to both employers and students, which resulted in a smooth and fruitful career fair experience for all.

Registration for the Fall 2024 Walker Business Connections opens on June 3rd! Click the below button to register today! Click here for more registration information!

Register for the Fall 2024 Walker Business Connections!

GIS Career Fair Prep

Ahead of the career fair, GIS leaders put together a Career Fair Preparation Event which included stations for people to get a professional headshot taken, resume help, networking tips, and interview coaching. Students from many majors attended and asked great questions to set themselves up for success at Walker Spring Connect and beyond.

Selective Competition

Six Risk Management and Insurance students including, Katie Heeseman, Caroline Reeder, Molly Holcolme, Zeke Putnam, Nate Chapman, and David Cyubahiro, worked together to manage a virtual insurance agency in the Selective Collegiate Challenge, put on by Selective Insurance. App State and Brantley Center strategic partners, Bailey Siner from ECM solutions and Cameron Annas of Granite Insurance acted as mentors to the group. The group competed with six other teams from RMI programs across the country.

RIMS Challenge Team

A team of four Appalachian State University students advanced to compete in the semi-final round of the 2024 Spencer-RIMS Risk Challenge, an annual international case competition for the enterprise risk management field.

The students — Carolina Davidson, Tom Phillips, Caroline Reeder, and Ashley Weisser (captain) — presented at RiskWorld in San Diego, CA in May in competition with 7 other national and international universities.

Alcohol and Dining Etiquette

In early February, students attended a Dining and Alcohol Etiquette event, offering students a chance to refine soft skills while dining with potential employers. Alumni from Risk Placement Services, Inc. joined, enhancing the experience. Special thanks to Mike Mitchell, Teo Piper, and Harrison Cameron, TRS for their presence, making the evening truly memorable 

This event could not have been completed without the information provided by Amy Odom and Michael Odom of Business Career Services and Appstate catering for their invaluable contributions to this successful event.

Strategic Partners and Board Members Visit the Classroom

This semester, many Brantley Board Members and Strategic Partners visited campus to speak in classes and meet with students in the center. These opportunties provide students insight into the careers of individuals from various corners of the Risk Management and Insurance industry. Thank you to Gina Hardy, Allen Houck, Rick Pierce, Will Rodriquez, Todd Campbell, Aubie Knight, Mike Mitchell, Bob Eades, and Julie Tucker for coming in and meeting with RMI students!

Conferences and Off-Campus Travel Opportunities

IIANC Hard Market Symposium

Eight students traveled to Durham, NC to attend the Independent Insurance Agents of North Carolina, Inc. (IIANC) - Hard Market Symposium with David Marlett, PhD, CPCU. The symposium’s purpose was to inform the audience with important concepts to understand and navigate the hard market that the industry is currently in.

To begin the event, David Marlett, PhD, CPCU presented his expertise on the economic and climate factors driving this shift to a hard market. He focused his speech on the past and current situation, while offering valuable predictions for the market's future. The event consisted of other great industry professionals that spoke about the current hard market. Through the event, the students grasped new knowledge, proving that events like these are invaluable for their growth. We are so grateful that our students have opportunities to attend events as such.

GIS Regional Conference

In Mid-February, Wendy Deng and Dillon Waschenbach led 8 students from the Gamma Iota Sigma Rho Chapter attended the Annual Regional Conference in Atlanta! During the trip, students attended educational sessions and a career fair, where they networked with many insurance companies. Students were able to connect with their peers from other institutions to widen their network while learning of new events and projects they could bring back to their GIS Rho Chapter.

International Insurance Markets London Trip

Appalachian State insurance students visited London, as part of the International Insurance Markets course. Led by Dr. David Marlett, Professor Austin Eggers and Wendy Deng, the London trip took place over spring break. Funded by the North Carolina Surplus Lines Association (NCSLA), students were given the opportunity to visit Lloyd's of London and numerous other insurance organizations, including Acrisure, Amwins, Gallagher Bassett, as well as Markel and Miller. In addition to the business visits, students also had the opportunity to visit various London Landmarks.


Five Appalachian insurance students, led by Wendy Deng and Dillon Waschenbach, attended The Institutes 50th Annual Insurance Forum, or "I-Day" in Charlotte. Thanks to the support of the Charlotte CPCU Chapter, the students were able to learn about current topics from several engaging speakers while networking with area professionals and alumni, at the beautiful Myers Park Country Club.

David Marlett, PhD, CPCU provided updates about AppState's RMI Program and the Brantley Center, and thanked Charlotte CPCU Chapter for their continued support.

Women in Financial Services

Nine students from Appalachian State University's Walker College of Business, along with professors Dr. Brandy Hadley and Dr. Lori Medders, embarked on a transformative trip to New York City last semester as part of the Women in Financial Services Initiative (WiFSi). Highlights included a VIP visit to the New York Stock Exchange, engagement with climate finance and insurance events during Climate Week NYC, and visits to financial services firms. The trip provided unprecedented access to financial decision leaders and left participants inspired and equipped with actionable knowledge. The WiFSi Initiative, founded in 2017 and jointly funded by the Brantley Center and the Department of Finance, aims to raise awareness of opportunities for women in finance/banking and risk management/insurance while supporting financial literacy and confidence among women on campus and beyond.

Building Insurance Talent- New York City Trip

In mid-April, 11 up-and-coming RMI students traveled to New York City to meet with Strategic Partners and alums at Amwins, Acrisure, and Munich Re as well as experience cultural highlights such as seeing a broadway show, visiting the statue of liberty, and getting dinner in Chinatown. Thanks for generous donations from our donors, these students were exposed to the insurance industry and some of the different possibilities available to them as they explore their future careers.

Students Return to Bermuda as a part of International Insurance Course

11 students visited Bermuda with Dr. David Marlett in late May as a part of the International Insurance Course promoted by the Brantley Risk and Insurance Center. In Bermuda students were able to meet and network with strategic partners and board members such as Robb Williams of Founders Professional and Daniel Heinlein, to learn why Bermuda is involved with property reinsurance and retrocession. The students also visited Guy Carpenter, Ariel Re, Aeolus Capital Management, Vantage Risk, Acrisure Re, BMS Re, Ascot, Mosaic, and the US Consulate in Bermuda. We thank Founders Professional, Acrisure Re, and Appalachian Underwriters for funding this annual trip to Bermuda.

Gamma Iota Sigma Events

GIS Rho Springs Forward with Successful Open House

GIS kicked off the semester with a successful Spring open house! The event was a great opportunity for the students to network, get connected, and ask questions to industry professionals. First, the event consisted of a presentation about the GIS organization to engage the students. Next, Risk Placement Services, Inc. joined as our first guest speaker event of the semester. Thank you Mike MitchellJackson Stamey, and Teo Piper for the valuable insights including navigating life after college!

GIS Speaker Series

This semester, GIS brought in a handful of speakers to talk about their experiences in the Risk Management and Insurance industry. These speakers span the industry from Employee Benefits, Claims, Wholesale Brokerage, and Corporate Risk Management. Speakers included: Joe Harten & Cassidy Wygonik from Mercer, Jeff Vernor from Dimensional Fund Advisors, Brady Kelley from WSIA, Joe Picone from Willis Tower Watson, and Eric Black from McGriff.

GIS Gives Back

GIS was active in the Boone Community this semester through different volunteering experiences and resource raising drives. Students volunteered with F.A.R.M Cafe near campus to provide low-priced, fresh meals at no or low cost to community members. A diaper and wipes drive was also held in the Brantley Center to provide rosourses to the Children's Council of Watauga County. A group spent time at the High Country Food Hub, cleaning and preparing for food and material drop-offs/pick ups, to ensure a smooth process for community members visiting the Food Hub. Finally, they partnered with SweetFrog, a frozen yogurt store in Boone, to raise money for Oasis, Inc.