Tell us a little about yourself. My name is Caitlin Gervich, and I’m a senior graduating in May 2018 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Actuarial Science and a minor in Spanish and a minor in Risk Management and Insurance. As a freshman, I was a tentative math major and assumed my degree plans would probably change. However, as time progressed, I realized how much I loved the exactness of math and how there was always ONE right answer; there was never need for debate. I eventually changed to Actuarial Science towards the end of my junior year after taking a statistics course that I found fascinating.
What are some tips you would share with freshmen, sophomores and juniors to help them prepare for their senior year in college? For freshmen, my biggest tip would be to try anything and everything. If an event or organization sounds even remotely sounds intriguing to you, check it out. If you hate it, you only wasted a little bit of your time; if you love it, then it was worth it. That one group or club or experience could potentially shape your next four years. Also, while change can be terrifying, don’t be afraid of it and don’t let it hinder you. College is all about change—changing where you live, changing your routine, changing your views and opinions. It’s a time to, as cliché as it sounds, find who you are and figure out what’s important to you, so embrace change.
For sophomores, I would recommend taking the groups or clubs that you joined and diving in—get more involved, run for executive positions, join committees. Follow your passions. Don’t become complacent. With that being said, keeping school and good grades as a top priority is the most important thing, since the primary purpose of going to college is getting a degree and succeeding academically. Effective time management will be your saving grace as classes get harder and more specific to your degree.
Last, for juniors, the best way to prepare for senior year is to keep your eye on the prize. It’s important to focus more on grades and academics this year, especially for those applying for graduate school or specialty programs post-graduation. Stay on top of homework and tests while also balancing involvement in other activities on campus. I also highly recommend looking for internships, either in the summer or during the year, to further your knowledge and marketability. I started an actuarial internship with an insurance company here in Springfield halfway through my junior year, and through this experience, I have learned about the insurance industry, how it works, and where my future career fits in to all of this. Without this opportunity, I wouldn’t be nearly as experienced or prepared for the “real world.” Ultimately, your main goal as a junior is to make sure everything is in place for senior year, so the last year isn’t overwhelmingly stressful.
What organizations are you involved in and why do you think involvement on campus is important? During my freshman year, I became a member of social sorority Alpha Chi Omega, an honors fraternity called Phi Sigma Upsilon, and was a participant in the Emerging Leaders program. Each of these helped me develop my confidence in myself. The experiences within these organizations enabled me to become a leader within my social sorority. I served as Vice President of New Member Education and also served on the executive board sophomore and junior year, which taught me about collaboration and teamwork. It also showed me the importance of knowing my own strengths and weaknesses in order to best serve others; I learned how to respect the strengths and different leadership styles of others to help them become the best they can be. My early involvement in Emerging Leaders as a freshman led me to apply for and be selected as an Emerging Leaders facilitator during the Spring of 2017. Being able to guide younger members throughout our campus and their freshmen/ sophomore years, whether through my role as VP of New Member Education or Emerging Leaders Facilitator, was one of the most rewarding experiences. Loving Missouri State isn’t a hard task, and getting to share that with younger classes and show them why this place is so great is a feeling unlike any else.
What is your favorite Missouri State tradition? Why? My favorite Missouri State tradition would have to be Fountain Day. It wasn’t started until my sophomore year, but it has been my favorite ever since. Each year, the beautiful fountain that sits between the Meyer Library and Temple Hall graces Missouri State students with beautiful streams of crystal blue water shooting up and out around its basin. Unfortunately, during the colder months, the fountain gets shut off and drained to prevent freezing. However, just as bears hibernate in the winter, the fountain is turned back on during the spring semester once the weather starts to heat up, and as a result, Missouri State Traditions Council throws a fountain party. There are snacks, complimentary of the dining hall staff, and different activities; there’s a place where people can bottle their own fountain water and take it home with them. It may seem silly, but having a whole celebration in order to commemorate the return of the fountain is something I’ve loved about Missouri State because life is all about celebrating the little things and making the most out of every situation. What better way to do that than throwing a party for a fountain?
What are some lessons you have learned from your first day at Missouri State until now? Many times, in life, as unfortunate as it is for us, things don’t always go our way. Whether it’s a test we studied hours for, or an interview that may not have gone well, it’s important to keep moving along and not let those experiences discourage you or hinder you from taking advantage of other future opportunities. I interviewed for many positions and organizations on campus throughout my four years. Some of them, I was chosen and became a part of, where I plunged myself in and got involved. Others, I was rejected from and while the pain and embarrassment of those rejections was not pleasant, they each taught me something different. I took those interactions, analyzed where I went wrong, and worked on fixing those for the next interview or opportunity that may come my way. There were other times where I really wasn’t sure what went wrong, but even those taught me that life doesn’t always go your way, and that’s okay, too. I still didn’t let those discourage me, but rather, I let them empower me to come back with a new attitude of vigor and perseverance for the next time. At the heart of it all, failures and rejections shouldn’t be viewed as these awful, detrimental, progress-stopping experiences, but rather, important learning and self-developing opportunities to make yourself the best that you can be for the future.
What are your plans after graduation? The thought of post-graduation is as equally exciting as it is terrifying. For the past sixteen years of my life, all I’ve known is going to class, and getting an education. In a few months, though, that all changes—no more walking to class; no more homework; no more staying up late in the library on a Tuesday; no more living three minutes away from my friends. While that makes me entirely apprehensive to graduate, it’s also exciting getting to begin this new chapter of adulthood and find my passion and place in the “real world.” If it weren’t for Missouri State, I wouldn’t feel nearly as equipped or ready to pursue a major and career that I love. Even though leaving my friends and my comfort zone is scary, what lies ahead makes it all worthwhile.
What’s the most recent movie you have seen? Would you recommend it? Why or Why not? I recently saw The Big Sick, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hadn’t seen any previews for it, so I had no idea what to expect going in. It’s kind of a rom-com, but unlike any one I had seen before. I loved how realistic it was; the relationship between the two main characters wasn’t perfect or like a fairytale, and neither was the ending. However, real life isn’t that way either, so I was glad they accurately captured that. I would definitely recommend this movie: I laughed, I cried, and I found myself thinking about it even several days after seeing it.
If you could pinpoint one experience at Missouri State that will always stay with you, what would that be and why? Being an Emerging Leaders Facilitator during the spring of my junior year is an experience I will never forget. The program is designed to help younger students recognize their own strengths and weaknesses, educate them on diversity and inclusion, discuss morals and ethics, and finally empower them to take what they’ve learned onto campus and through the rest of their lives. This is achieved through the use of various activities, games, discussions and a weekend-long retreat off campus. While we may have only gotten to spend five weeks with the two separate groups of participants, it was neat getting to watch them all grow and evolve into stronger leaders and see how their views might’ve changed or their minds might’ve been opened based on the different discussions; they were exposed to other students of different backgrounds who had different opinions, and they were able to actively participate in rigorous and sometimes tough conversations. However, it’s those tough and awkward discussions that spark real change and help widen a person’s understanding of the world, which is crucial for college students, especially in the early years. Overall, it was rewarding getting to give back to the emerging leaders program that did so much for me as a freshman. I’ve already seen some of the Emerging Leaders graduates from last year take on different leadership roles within their organizations, and I cannot wait to see all of the incredible things each of them will accomplish.