Meet Ione Allen (Hoy) (’23), Concordia’s first actuarial science student to pass four preliminary exams as a student.

Editor’s note: This is one in a series of stories highlighting a few of Concordia’s uncommon May 2023 graduates. Faculty and staff submit candidates for consideration. Stories are posted in the days leading up to commencement. View more uncommon graduates here

When high school student Ione Allen (Hoy) began her college search, she developed a highly particular punch list of college criteria that very few universities could deliver. She was looking for a Christian university close to her home in Lombard, Illinois, that offered a strong actuarial science program and provided orchestral music opportunities. She looked no further than Concordia University Wisconsin.

Ione will be among the 307 undergraduates at Concordia’s commencement celebration on Saturday, May 13, 2023. After graduation, she will step into her role as an actuarial assistant at the home office of Principal Financial Group in Des Moines, IA.

Fulfilling her higher calling

Ione has a proclivity to achieve. She recognized her gifts in math and in music at a young age and felt called to use them in service to God. When she was exposed to economic concepts in high school, she researched career options where math and economics intersect and discovered actuarial science.

“I get asked all the time what an actuary is,” says Ione. “I try to explain that actuaries use math and models to mitigate or assess risk in different situations.” She acknowledges that her explanation might contribute to the field’s mystique.

“Ione is one of the most accomplished students to ever go through our Actuarial Science program.”

Professor Tim Scheppa, Director of Concordia’s Actuarial Science

According to the Society of Actuaries, it takes a combination of strong analytical skills, business knowledge, and an understanding of human behavior to become an actuary. The SOA identifies three main areas of expertise: 

  • Evaluating the likelihood of future events
  • Reduce the likelihood of undesirable events 
  • When undesirable events occur, decrease the impact

What most people seem to recognize is that actuarial science is difficult, and the road to becoming an actual actuary extends far beyond the university. There is a notoriously menacing series of preliminary exams that actuaries must pass in order to earn the title. Nationwide, most students aim to pass two while they’re still in school. The average pass rate for actuarial exams is estimated at 40 to 45 percent.

Ione has already passed four of them, the most any student has ever passed while attending Concordia. This feat sets her apart in her goal of becoming a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries.

According to Professor Tim Scheppa, PhD., Director of Concordia’s Actuarial Science, “Ione is one of the most accomplished students to ever go through our Actuarial Science program.”

Ione was recently named the 2023 William Ellis Business Student of the Year, the highest honor a student within the Batterman School of Business can earn. She will be recognized at an awards ceremony this evening.

Despite her rigorous program, Ione took advantage of Concordia’s rich campus culture and the many opportunities to get involved and meet new people. She performed in the orchestra all four years, led the student chapter of the Actuarial Club, was active in campus ministry, and worked two different campus jobs that sharpened her skills for success in her field.

She served as a peer math tutor and was stationed at the help desk in the library, and she was selected to serve as a research assistant, where she contributed to data integrity in numerous important faculty research projects.

Sharing her journey

Ione also married her high school sweetheart and fellow Concordian Thomas Allen in December of 2022.

The newlyweds are set to leave for Des Moines in time for her June 20 start date at Principal Financial. Tommy already landed a teaching job in the community where the two of them recently purchased their home. The couple is actively searching for their new church in the meantime.

Ione is grateful for all the opportunities Concordia provided. She plans to give back one day and knows exactly where she’ll focus her support. She would like to create a fund to subsidize the cost of the actuarial exams and the subsequent study material because she wants to remove all the barriers that could be preventing others from taking and passing these exams as students. 

She notes, “While I’m the first to pass all four, I certainly don’t want to be the last. Hopefully, I helped make the program stronger and the path a little easier for more students to consider this career.”

Want in?

Actuaries are among the top-ranked careers in business, according to U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics cites an 18 percent projected job growth for the field through 2024. To learn more about the wide variety of bachelor’s and post-graduate degree opportunities, click the link below.