UConn’s student-athletes are often lauded for their on-field or on-court achievements, but there’s an equally important – often unseen – dimension to the student-athlete. UConn Today’s Student-Athlete Strong series highlights the academic prowess of selected high-achieving student-athletes and provides an inside look at their lives beyond their sport.
Julie Hu ’19 (CLAS)
Hometown and high school: Cary, North Carolina; Panther Creek High School
Sport: Women’s Swimming
Area of study: Mathematics-Actuarial Science-Finance, with a minor in Statistics
Anticipated graduation: May 2019
What attracted you to the Actuarial Science program at UConn?
In the actuarial community, UConn is known to have one of the strongest actuarial programs in the nation, as it is recognized by actuarial societies. Along with a strong course selection, it has well respected professors all at the top of their respective fields and great advisors with years of on the job experience.
How did you pick your major?
I have always loved math, however I did not want to study engineering, so I searched for another math-heavy major. My high school calculus teacher introduced me to the actuarial field, and the more exposure I got to it, the more interested I was. The finance major is a great addition, and is something I decided after starting school. It is closely related to actuarial science and will give me a different view of the field work I can do as an actuary.
What has been your favorite class so far at UConn and why?
One of my favorite classes is definitely MATH 3650 (Financial Mathematics) with Professor James Trimble. Trimble has been my favorite professor at UConn because he is able to explain complex topics in such a simple manner. Financial Mathematics is the first heavy finance-based class I took, and it opened my eyes to an interest in finance that I didn’t know I had.
The second [actuarial] exam I took, I took when the swim team was on a training trip in Puerto Rico. The day of my exam, I got up in the morning, took my exam, and was back in the pool for afternoon practice. — Julie Hu
As a student-athlete with a demanding schedule, how do you keep on track with your academics?
A busy schedule can be overwhelming, and at times it gets over my head. But I think the biggest thing I learned is to always prioritize my work, and make sure I know what needs to be done now and what can wait. By doing so, at a minimum the most important things will always get done.
What are you main strengths as a student? Is there anything you would like to improve on?
I think my biggest strength as a student is my drive to succeed. I set myself a high standard, so I always try to achieve more. However, I think I still need to work on limiting distractions and being more focused during class time. It can be easy to start thinking about other things when the professor is talking, thus limiting what I learn in class and forcing me to spend more time outside of class relearning the material.
I hear you did an internship at Cigna. What did you enjoy most about that experience?
Cigna was a great company to get some exposure to the actuarial field. I loved the working environment the company provided in its developmental programs. It made the transition from being a student to working a full-time job much easier. But what I enjoyed the most was the work I completed. I was tasked to construct a model that my manager still uses today to help with calculating the risk associated with holding derivatives. The fact that I was able to do meaningful work as an intern increased my confidence in my working ability, and that’s what I think I gained the most from the job.
What academic achievements are you most proud of?
I think passing my actuarial exams with a full course load and full training schedule has been my biggest accomplishment so far. In particular the second exam I took, I took when the swim team was on a training trip in Puerto Rico. The day of my exam, I got up in the morning, took my exam, and was back in the pool for afternoon practice. Altogether, I have passed the first three exams and I plan on sitting for the fourth one at the end of April.
What’s your fondest memory at UConn so far?
It would probably be the days before the conference championships last year, because everyone was so excited and hyped up for what turned out to be a great meet. But it was everyone’s enthusiasm and excitement before, and the team bonding at the pasta parties, that increased the excitement and made those days so great.
What does it mean to you to be a Husky?
Being a Husky means I have found a place to call home. But most importantly, it means I will always be a part of UConn’s history and I will always be honored to represent UConn, not just in the four years I am a student here, but forever.