Faculty helped me focus on my passions, strengths

NAME: MIchael Zhang
HOMETOWN: Avondale, Arizona
MAJOR: Actuarial science, mathematics, physics

INVOLVEMENT ON CAMPUS: Kappa Mu Epsilon, Sigma Pi Sigma, Ritterchor, Math Lab Manager, ELITE, Resident Assistant

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE WARTBURG: I chose Wartburg for its small size and welcoming science faculty as they were always available to help me succeed.

HOW DID YOU DECIDE ON YOUR MAJOR: I was a pre-med physics major with a goal to help others in need with my abilities when I first came to Wartburg. Then I learned about the actuarial profession. Hearing about their role clicked with what my goals are,  as they help manage future risk and while indirect can make a huge difference.

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS AFTER GRADUATION: I plan to work as a full time property and casualty actuary at Allstate in Chandler, Arizona.

HOW DID WARTBURG PREPARE YOU FOR YOUR NEXT STEP: Wartburg prepared me by providing me with supporting faculty who were able to help me with exams, projects, internships, and the interview process.  

Michael Zhang

DID YOU COMPLETE ANY INTERNSHIPS: I did an REU in Texas where I did research on the mathematics of plant growth, where our group developed a model that simulated a plant’s growth from the seed to the end of the stem.

DID YOU DO ANY RESEARCH: I engaged in two types of research at Wartburg. The first was for actuarial science, where I explored the effects of unemployment insurance. The second one was for math, where I researched the mathematics of voting.

WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU NEVER IMAGINED YOU WOULD DO BEFORE COMING TO WARTBURG: When I first came to Wartburg, I never thought I would see myself in the mathematics department. I knew for a fact that I enjoyed doing math, but I thought it was a general necessity for medical physics. Changing my major was something I worried about, as I thought I wouldn’t be able to graduate in time and all that I did was wasted. However, after getting support from faculty and friends, they were able to push me forward and focus on my strengths and passions, which led me to be an actuary.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE WARTBURG MEMORY: My favorite memories at Wartburg were the general conversations I had with the faculty on the third floor of the Science Center daily. I remember days where I had a good laugh, stressed out about classes, and got advice about life and jobs. It may not seem like the most impressive memory, but I felt that it is important because I don’t think most colleges have that strong of a bond with their faculty.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT CAMPUS LIFE: What I like about campus life is that there is always something for everyone. Many departments host a variety of events, and I always enjoy going to them or participating in them. This can vary from going to concerts, to stage performances, to sports games, and board games.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR CURRENT STUDENTS: Don’t be afraid to explore different fields and try a variety of things each year. You never know what can pop up. Also, always reach out to faculty with opportunities and internships ahead of time because asking them last minute will not help you.

WHY WAS WARTBURG WORTH IT: I felt that Wartburg was worth it for the close connections you build with your peers and professors than most universities. When you’re in a bigger university, it is quite hard for faculty to help you succeed since there are so many students who want the same thing at the beginning of the school year. Wartburg saw me for who I am as an individual and various faculty were able to work with me to be successful when I put in the effort rather than treat me as a number.