Headline: Student athlete finds success off the field in his actuarial quest.
Subhead: Flexible professors make a fan out of Brennan DiChiara
Being a student of the sciences is not easy. Just ask any graduate that spent a bulk of their time in the Beaver Science Building while a student at Southern Nazarene University and they will quickly inform you on just how difficult the educational demands are. For student athletes like Brennan DiChiara, it’s even more difficult as a result of the rigorous schedule athletes must endure.
Brennan, Class of 2014, has played wide receiver for the Crimson Storm football team during his time at SNU, while pursuing a degree in mathematics. He said the biggest challenge being a student athlete is finding time to study and complete assignments while balancing practice four days a week. Furthermore, that balancing act is heightened when he travels with the team to away games.
“It can be hard to balance especially when we have road games,” said Brennan. “When you can’t be here on campus for the weekend, it’s hard to get caught up on homework.”
One of the many things Brennan admires about his time at SNU is the tremendous support he received from his professors and their willingness to work around his demanding football schedule.
“One of the things I loved about being here is how willing the teachers are to work with you,” he explained. “They’ve been 100 percent supportive and even come to the games to cheer for me. If they see you’re trying, they are there to help in any way they can.”
Brennan is also grateful for the ways his professors have been flexible in helping him move forward in achieving his career goals. He explained that his goal upon graduating in December of this year is to start a career as an actuary. Since he was a junior in high school and took an AP statistics course, Brennan has set his sights set on a career as an actuary either with a consulting firm or and insurance company. He originally thought such a career could be challenging to achieve since SNU didn’t have a dedicated actuarial program.
Upon visiting SNU for the first time, Brennan recalled how his concerns were quickly calmed after talking it over with some of his future math professors.
“SNU immediately felt like home to me and I felt like the professors could work with me,” explained Brennan. “The professors have been very supportive of my goals and very willing to work with me."
One professor in particular that Brennan described as being instrumental in helping him achieve his educational goals to become an actuary was Dr. Nick Zoller. Last semester, Dr. Zoller went the extra mile of approving an independent study course just for Brennan that would enable him prepare for one of his actuarial exams.
More importantly, Brennan said that he is grateful for the spiritual leadership Dr. Zoller exhibited both in and out of the classroom.
“He starts out every class with a devotional and before we take a test, he’ll pray for us that we not only do well, but also prays that he will be fair in grading the test,” added Brennen. “He’s been super helpful throughout my whole time here.”
Dr. Zoller also helped Brennan gain his first internship during the fall semester of his sophomore year with American Fidelity Insurance. Brennan said the internship was a key moment in his college career that has since opened many doors for him.
“The summer after my sophomore year, I did an internship with a consulting group called Towers Watson in Houston, which was a great experience, and last summer I interned with Pacific Life Insurance Company in Newport Beach, California,” said Brennan. “These internships have really helped get a taste of the actuary world and they would have never happened without my initial internship that Dr. Zoller helped me get with American Fidelity.”
Brennan is also grateful for the numerous alumni and donors that have supported his education through various scholarships. Their act of giving has opened up his heart with a desire to give back in the future to a math and science department that means so much to him. He said that giving to the science department, and in particular the Campaign For The Sciences, is not wasted money.
“It’s inspired me to give myself,” he said. “I’ve been able to benefit from people giving back to SNU and that’s something I want to do because of how much I’ve appreciated it. I don’t anyone to not be able to go to school because of finances.”
As Brennan finishes out his final weeks at Southern Nazarene University, he said he will miss the strong relationships he has formed with his fellow students. Because he knew what he wanted to do as a career in high school, Brennan admitted he came with an attitude of wanting to be done with college as soon as possible so he could start his career. That attitude quickly evaporated due to the lifelong friendships Brennan has formed and will miss as moves into his next stage of life.