Spring 2023 Newsletter

Note from the Director


This spring we made major strides in student engagement through both on-campus seminars and speakers and off-campus travel. We are especially pleased with the increased number of student-athletes in our program. 

Our recruiters and Brantley Board Members have shared their desire to hire student-athletes because they’re disciplined, competitive, and have good time management skills. The Brantley Center has put forward a multi-year effort to attract and retain student-athletes in the insurance program and we highlight this in this newsletter.

We have partnered with athletic academic advising to do workshops on financial literacy for incoming student-athletes, connected student-athletes from diverse backgrounds with scholarships like the Blue Cross Blue Shield Future Leaders scholarship and the Markel Specialty scholarship, and developed and funded a flexible, on-campus internship program that helps student-athletes earn internship experience despite their busy schedule.

I hope you enjoy an in-depth look at our Center's updates and events in the below newsletter. We are proud of our faculty, staff, and student accomplishments and enjoy sharing them here.


David Marlett

Managing Director, Brantley Risk & Insurance Center

Student-Athlete Highlights

AppRIMI Internship a Fit for Athlete

In the spring of 2022, Appalachian State insurance major Summer Schloss was trying to find a way to balance a junior summer internship experience with her demanding summer training schedule as a member of the women's basketball team.

The Brantley Risk & Insurance Center connected her with the AppRIMI internship which allowed her to work flexible hours alongside the Appalachian State risk manager, Boris Salvador Maldonado. Schloss was also awarded the Markel Specialty Scholarship this summer which further helped to support her summer living expenses.

Read more about the origin of the AppRIMI internship here and about Schloss' experience with the Markel Specialty Scholarship here.

Marlett Featured in Article on Talent Recruitment and Student-Athletes

Dr. David Marlett was featured in a March article by Risk & Insurance which focused on the need for recruiting high-caliber talent into the insurance industry.

One highlighted topic was the importance of recruiting more student-athletes into the insurance field. The article covered Marlett’s leadership around athlete recruitment efforts including the Brantley Center’s partnership with the athletic department to better engage and meet the needs of athletes and promoting scholarships to support athletes including Markel’s Specialty Scholarship available to diverse rising seniors and the Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Future Leaders Scholarship available to students enrolling in the introductory insurance course.

You can read the original article in its entirety here.

(L-R) Dr. David Marlett, Brooke Gruber, Tanner Grail, Professor Austin Eggers, Jon Jon Millner, Will Formato, Jackson Stamey, Dr. Lori Medders, Omar Gonzalez

Eggers & Medders Recognized at Wrestling Faculty Night

Two risk management and insurance professors, Dr. Lori Medders and Professor Austin Eggers, were recognized during the App vs. Duke wrestling match as part of “Professors Day.” The event gave each student wrestler an opportunity to recognize a professor that has had the most meaningful impact on their learning. Dr. Medders was selected by Jon Jon Milner and Will Formato and Professor Eggers was selected by Chad Bellis.

The GIS student group also attended the meet to cheer on the Mountaineers to their victory. You can see the full story here.

Brantley Board Member Tony Harris Recognized for Family Legacy

Tony Harris, '93 AppState insurance graduate and former Mountaineer football player, was recognized in a February Appalachian Today article highlighting his and his children's impressive academic and athletic careers at App. Harris, a Brantley Board member, is the current Associate Vice President of Risk, Safety and Security at Central Piedmont Community College. One of Harris' daughters is a '16 Psychology graduate and he has two children who are currently student-athletes at App. His son, Tony Jr., is a current RMI major, a Flemming Scholar, and on the Appalachian football team.

Harris is joined by several other Brantley Board Members who were also student-athletes while on Appalachian's campus. Mike Mitchell, Chair of the Brantley Skills Committee and Area President at RPS Charlotte, was on the Cross-Country and Track Teams while Ray Tedder, McGriff Senior Vice-President, also played football at Appalachian. For the full article on the Harris family, see here.

Tony Harris II, center, with his father, Tony Harris Sr. ’92, left, and his grandmother, Wanda Sinclair.

Student-Athlete Highlight:

Brooke Gruber

Brooke Gruber is a junior risk management and insurance (RMI) student at Appalachian State and Vice-President of the Rho Chapter of Gamma Iota Sigma (GIS). Gruber chose the major because "it's an outstanding program with a large array of opportunities in an industry that is evolving and growing."

Gruber balances her demanding course schedule and role within GIS with her membership on the Women's Tennis Team. Gruber began playing tennis after learning to play on the Wii, which led her to begin watching tennis on tv and playing for fun. Gruber loves the mental aspect of the game: "It's a very independent sport," says Gruber, "so you have to constantly be mentally aware and strong." Gruber interned last summer with ECM Solutions and plans to study abroad in Spain this summer. Gruber feels that being a student-athlete will help her in her career by providing her with a unique toolkit that expands her qualities for future employers.

Student-Athlete Highlight: Isabella Warner

Isabella Warner is a senior risk management and insurance and international business double major graduating this May. Following graduation, she is slated to work at ECM Solutions as a Client Associate in their Business Risk division in Charlotte, NC.

While at Appalachian, Isabella balanced her demanding academic schedule with several other roles including Co-Director Events for GIS, midfielder on the Women's Lacrosse Team, and the Lacrosse Social Chair.

Balancing her various responsibilities has been a challenge but Isabella feels that her role as a student-athlete has greatly enriched her college experience. Her teammates on the Lacrosse team are a major support network for her and are "like family." She also feels that the skills she developed on the fieldlike hard work, teamwork, adaptability, goal-setting, and humilitywill help her build strong professional relationships and set her up for a successful insurance career.

Millner Embodies Excellence On and Off the Mat

Dubbed "King of Holmes" by the Watauga Democrat, Appalachian State RMI senior Jon Jon Millner secured the SoCon Conference title for his weight class, his fourth straight conference title at Holmes Center. This accomplishment seals a 41-0 career record, the highest undefeated win total in the league's modern history. Millner will continue on to compete in the NCAA Championships

In addition to his athletic success, Millner is also academically involved. Millner is part of the Appalacahian State RIMS Challenge Team led by Dr. Lori Medders. The team has been selected in the Top 8 and will move on to compete for the RIMS title in Atlanta in early May. To read the original article, see the Watauga Democrat articles here

Student Group Cheers on Schloss on Senior Night

Students from GIS Rho came together to celebrate Summer Schloss, RMI senior and Center on the AppState Women's Basketball Team, during "Senior Night" on Friday. The Mountaineers took home a win with a final score of 77-63. See the full article here.

Marlett Selected as the AppState Sun Belt Faculty Member of the Year Nominee

Dr. David Marlett recently accepted his award as the Sun Belt Conference’s Appalachian State Nominee for Faculty Member of the Year. The annual award recognizes a faculty member from each Sun Belt institution who has a passion for teaching, engaging, and inspiring students while also regularly supporting and displaying enthusiasm for student-athletes and the athletics department.

Dr. Marlett, along with RMI Professor Austin Eggers, is also a long-time member of the Appalachian Athletic Council. See the full article here.

Brantley Leads Athlete Workshop on Financial Literacy

Faculty and staff from the Brantley Center met with incoming student-athletes to discuss financial literacy topics. Professor Kevin Huff, Professor Austin Eggers, Lacy Chesnutt and Dr. David Marlett shared their views on budgeting, credit use, auto and homeowners insurance, liability risks, and career planning. Student-athlete and RMI major Summer Schloss provided guidance and offered advice to the incoming first-year students as well.

BCBS Supports Future Leaders Scholarship

The Brantley Center is excited about the opportunity to partner with Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina (BCBSNC) to launch a new "Future Leaders" Scholarship which supports diverse students and student-athletes to enroll in FIN 3100, the Principles of Risk Management & Insurance Course. Brantley Center faculty and staff have partnered with Athletics Advising to promote this opportunity to encourage more student-athletes to "give insurance a look."

Industry Engagement & Travel

(T-B, L-R) Tanner Grail, Katie Heeseman, Sienna Sigmon, Allie Suddreth, Carolina Reeder, Ford Brictson

Appalachian Hopes to Defend Selective Agency Competition Title

This semester, six Appalachian State insurance students will compete in the Selective Agency Competition in hopes of defending their first-place title earned during the 2022 competition. This annual contest provides the opportunity for teams of students to gain valuable insurance career-building experience as well as opportunities to receive mentorship from industry experts. The team is being mentored by Bailey Siner of ECM Solutions in Charlotte and Cameron Annas of Granite Insurance in Granite Falls. 

You can read the full article, including student biographies, here.

Alcohol and Meal Etiquette Workshop Returns for RMI Students

Forty Appalachian State insurance students attended a Meal & Alcohol Etiquette dinner in February. The event was hosted by the Brantley Risk & Insurance Center to assist students in growing their skill set in this area to help students feel more comfortable at formal professional dinners as well as industry networking events where alcohol is served. 

The event had three components: 1) Dining Etiquette, which was facilitated by Amy Odom, Executive Director of Business Career Services 2) Alcohol Etiquette, facilitated by Michael Odom, former AppState employee with numerous years' of experience in the food and wine industry, and 3) Industry Overview and Q&A with Michael Mitchell and Harrison Cameron of Risk Placement Services. Read the full article here.

Brantley Center Welcomes Two New Strategic Partners

The Brantley Center was excited to welcome two new Strategic Partners this spring. The North Carolina Rate Bureau solidified a three-year annual financial commitment to the Center’s operations. This financial support is in addition to the ongoing on-campus support and partnership with the Center it has developed over the past few years: COO Jarred Chappell has supplemented several academic classes and attended its bi-annual career fairs over the past few years, onboarding several interns as a result.

The Center has also expanded its partnership with Acrisure’s Wholesale Group, including Founders Professional & Appalachian Underwriters, along with Acrisure Re. These groups are part of Acrisure, which is the fifth-largest insurance broker in the world. The group will sponsor the Center's '23 Bermuda study abroad trip, a vital capstone experiential learning opportunity. This commitment builds on the organizations' prior support of the Brantley Center; Founders Professional joined as a Brantley Strategic Partner in the 2022 calendar year, the same year President and CEO Robb Williams joined the Brantley Board of Advisors, and each organization has hired several interns and full-time employees from Appalachian in the past year.

You can read the full article on the NC Rate Bureau here and on Acrisure here.

First Golf Tutorial a Swingin' Success

A group of 20 studying RMI was able to learn a new skill during a tutorial hosted by the Brantley Risk & Insurance Center - golf! Students spent the evening learning skills in swinging, putting, chipping, and golf etiquette. The group was able to take advantage of the excellent “swing room” facilities of the AppState Golf program on campus.

The purpose of the event was to give students exposure to the game and the opportunity to build basic skills in golf. We hope these newfound skills will allow students the chance to take advantage of future networking and business opportunities, or even find a newfound passion for the game. The sessions were taught by AppState Golf Coach Alan Cress, Finance Professor Harry Davis, Finance Professor Justin Cox, and AppState RMI alumnus Casey Sutton of Principal Financial Group. You can read the full article here.

Spring Connect Career Week a Success

Thirty-three insurance organizations and seventy other companies gathered at Appalachian State in early March to recruit Appalachian's quality RMI and business students. The week's events included a VIP Networking Social, a traditional career fair, and formal interviews. The event was co-hosted by the Brantley Risk & Insurance Center and Business Career Services.

GIS Rho Launches Semester with Successful Open House

The risk management and insurance professional fraternity at Appalachian State, Gamma Iota Sigma Rho, kicked off the semester with a bang in early February with their Open House event attracting over 100 students. The event introduces new students to the club and teaches them about GIS’ networking, travel, social, volunteering, and professional development opportunities.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina’s Nelson Russ also spoke during the event to kick off the GIS Speaker Series events for the semester. Russ focused his presentation on internship application readiness while also helping students to understand the basics of the health insurance industry. See the full article here.

Sigmon Shines at Spring Dance Ensemble

Sienna Sigmon, a senior RMI major, excelled in her final major performance of her college career this week at the Spring Appalachian Dance Ensemble (or "SADE"). Eight of Sienna's fellow students and three Brantley faculty and staff were able to attend Sienna's outstanding performance. 

The SADE Spring showcase features the best of the best of Appalachian performers. Sienna auditioned for her role in the piece "Stress Reaction" and was one of the few selected to perform in the prestigious show. Read the full story here.

Appalachian State Students Return to London and Bermuda

After a several-year hiatus due to COVID-19, Appalachian State insurance students are finally able to return to traveling to London and Bermuda with the International Insurance Markets course. Led by Dr. David Marlett and Professor Austin Eggers, the London trip took place over spring break. Funded by the North Carolina Surplus Lines Association (NCSLA), students have had the chance to visit Lloyd's and visit numerous insurance organizations like Acrisure, Gallagher, and Liberty Mutual Reinsurance.

In early May, another group of students will have the opportunity to see the reinsurance markets first-hand while visiting Bermuda, a trip sponsored by Acrisure. You can see the full article here.

Eggers Travels with Three Students to IIANC Tech Summit

Professor Austin Eggers and three insurance students traveled to Durham in early February to attend the IIANC's TechSummit. The conference was a place for independent agents to gather and learn to utilize tech tools to run their agencies more efficiently, better service and retain existing clients, and attract new business. The group's attendance was made possible by the IIANC and will help students prepare for careers in the independent insurance industry.

Ari Moulopoulos with Alive Risk

GIS Spring Speaker Series a Success

GIS has had three industry speakers on campus so far this semester as part of their GIS Speaker Series and plans to bring three more before May. The series brings industry professionals onto campus to discuss a range of topics related to the insurance industry. Speakers include Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina, Markel, Lockton, and more.

Future Appalachian Leaders Attend the GIS Regional Conference in Fort Worth

Four Appalachian State RMI students had the opportunity to attend a fully-funded trip to the GIS Regional Conference held in Forth Worth, Texas in February. This educational conference included a career fair, networking and educational sessions, and allowed students to expand their industry knowledge and connect with industry professionals, career opportunities, and resources. Further, this annual conference allows the Appalachian State Gamma Iota Sigma Rho chapter to invest in underclassmen interested in GIS leadership opportunities. See the full article here.

(L-R) David Cyubahiro, Caroline Reeder, Molly Holcombe, Tanner Grail

Grail and Sigmon Selected for Graduation Recognition

Tannner Grail (above, left) and Sienna Sigmon (above, right) have been recognized for top awards bestowed to graduating RMI seniors. Grail was awarded the Gamma Iota Sigma Pruett Award for Outstanding RMI Graduate. Tanner served as President of the GIS-Rho Chapter for the 2022-2023 year, leading his peers to significant accomplishments in community service, student outreach, and professional development. Grail will be joining Markel as an Underwriting Trainee in Richmond upon Graduation.

Sienna was selected as the Top RMI student in the major. In addition to this significant academic achievement, Sigmon has also served as the Co-VP of events in Gamma Iota Sigma-Rho. Sigmon will be joining Granite Insurance in Granite Falls, NC upon graduation.

Congratulations to these two outstanding seniors.

Brantley Board Visits Campus

The Brantley Risk and Insurance Board of Advisors met in person in the Walker College of Business in early February. This bi-annual in-person meeting is an important time for Board members and Brantley Center faculty and staff to exchange ideas and provide updates.

The Board members also had time to interact with current risk management and insurance students over breakfast on Friday. Presentations were provided by Gamma Iota Sigma leadership, Tanner Grail and Brooke Gruber, and by AppRIMI intern Omar Gonzalez. See the full article here.

Students Present on E&S at NCSLA Convention

Twelve Appalachian State RMI students attended the North Carolina Surplus Lines Association's Annual Convention scheduled in late March. The convention was held at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro and a subsect of Appalachian students prepared a presentation on a topic of their choice. The group presented on "Competition for Young Talent in Excess and Surplus Lines and Marketing the Industry."

Brantley Center Celebrates Ahead of Chesnutt's Maternity Leave

Faculty, students, and staff gathered in the Brantley Center to celebrate the upcoming maternity leave of Lacy Chesnutt, the Brantley Center's Associate Director. Chesnutt is expecting her first child, a little girl, in April. Managing Director Dr. David Marlett and Program Specialist Wendy Deng will help fulfill her duties until her return in late July

Thank you to our '22-'23 Strategic Partners!