Louis Palacios Jr. ('09) | Math/Actuarial Science
When Louis Palacios Jr. decided he wanted to become an actuary, he knew there were only two schools in Texas with accredited actuarial science programs. ACU was one, and its program at that time was "fledgling," says Palacios. Palacios decided to take a chance on ACU's program.
A good decision
Five years later, that decision has proven to be a good one. With help from two classes in the ACU program, Palacios passed his entrance exams while still in college and landed a job with Towers Watson, a highly acclaimed global consulting firm that analyzes risk management and helps improves its clients’ human resource departments.
For Palacios, the job is a perfect fit. "It's a nice thing to have an established firm that gives you as many opportunities as you want to succeed," he says. "There are always opportunities to rise through the ranks."
Palacios is an actuarial analyst, which involves reconciling data, running software and working with the actual numbers given by clients. In a year or so, he hopes to rise to the next level - checking the work of other analysts. In order to rise to this position, he says, performance evaluations and credentials are important.
Fortunately, he's had plenty of experience becoming familiar with challenging material and presenting his findings to his peers. In his senior seminar for ACU's Math Department, he studied the underlying principles of a pricing model for six weeks, then taught a peer group what he'd learned. That level of preparation readied him for the challenges inherent in a corporate position. 'I was definitely well prepared," he says.
Perhaps it's no coincidence that his favorite class in the math department was Analysis II, which involved group theory, number theory and the underlying principles of calculus. The class demands not only complex reasoning skills, but also a willingness to be intellectually flexible as new ideas are presented and examined.
"It presents a new way of thinking about problems," Palacios says. "It helps you find the buildings blocks of how to get the answers."
His educational experience gave him a level of comfort that has proven useful as he compiles data from clients' fiscal years in order to set up pension plans and work out assumptions for future pension programs. For Palacios, the job is never boring.
"It's always nice to be challenged in new ways," he says.
Actuarial science wasn't the only thing he learned at ACU, however. Palacios found that friendships with his professors and a strong Christian work ethic have been huge factors in his current success.
"Having that sort of moral and ethical background is very important in this field," he says. "The professors try to help you integrate your faith. They want to get to know their students and give them a chance to succeed."
When Palacios thinks about his long-term future, he hopes to rise in the company to a senior consulting position. He also dreams of someday teaching actuarial science to aspiring students. But no matter what his career may hold, he knows that most of all, he wants to give back some of the gifts that have been given to him.
"I would really love to help actuarial students learn about the science," he says. "I want to bring them along the way I was brought along."
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