RG Scholarships

Insurance scholarships can turn dreams into reality

Awards worth hundreds of thousands of dollars up for grabs each year
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As a thriving insurance and reinsurance hub, Bermuda offers opportunities galore to budding accountants, actuaries, brokers, underwriters and many more aspiring finance professionals. Yet a career in the prosperous industry can seem like a tall order when you’re fresh out of high school, trying to figure out how to make the right connections and adding up the costs of further education.

For many young people, an insurance scholarship is the ticket that can turn the dream into a reality. The Bermuda Foundation for Insurance Studies (BFIS) awarded $210,000 in scholarships to 14 new scholars last year and has handed out more than $8 million in total since it was founded in 1996.

Meanwhile, the Association of Bermuda International Companies (ABIC) Education Awards presented 22 students a total of $630,000 in 2023, taking its tally to more than $6 million in the past decade.

Bermudian recipients of last year’s awards are currently studying insurance-related subjects at a host of universities across the US, Canada and the UK.

Financial support, of course, is the first reason many students apply for a scholarship. Bonnie Exell of BFIS, said: “Many scholarships have swung in the past 25 years from being strictly merit-based to mostly based on financial need. We want to be sure that this is an opportunity to give a chance to people that otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford a university education.

“University education is getting much more expensive and there are some terrific and brilliant young people out there who, without funding, could never afford the opportunity. It would be such a shame if they couldn’t go.”

Michelle Seymour-Smith

Michelle Seymour-Smith, who chairs scholarship interviews at ABIC, said: “It always impresses me when students talk about what the scholarship would mean to them. It really is the difference between whether they go to school or not. When you have access to education then you have access to change your economic prospects through life. These are people who need opportunities. We are trying to grow Bermudian talent and we are also trying to reach that portion of the population that might not otherwise have that opportunity to access.”

But, the scholarship doesn’t begin and end with financial aid.

Ms Exell said: “It really does take students from start to finish. The funding is welcome and helpful, but all the support that we offer makes the likelihood that our scholars are successful that much greater. We have a success rate north of 98 percent in terms of getting our scholars from students to employees. And the opportunities that they have are tremendous.”

BFIS also provides access to mentoring which is vital in the student’s development. “It gives students somebody to encourage them, somebody to advise them, somebody to check in with and ask questions about next steps or advice about internship opportunities,” Ms Exell said. A spokeswoman added: “Especially in Bermuda, many of these young people don’t have family members in the industry that can guide them, so we have committees that will do that.”

It’s a similar story with ABIC scholarships. Ms Seymour-Smith said: “It’s not just about giving you a cheque. We are also giving you access to a network. Every successful scholarship recipient is paired with a mentor in the industry; many of our membership companies provide internship opportunities. We are going to guide you as you come back to the island and give you the best chance of success. There are all these subtle things we can help you with, such as how you act in the job and how you overcome hurdles you might face.”

Insurance-related scholarship opportunities are wider now than ever before. Ms Seymour-Smith said: “There are so many pathways into a career in international business. We have scholars that go into cybersecurity, project managers, study economics, HR, aerospace engineers and many more. This is where the opportunities are if you want to come back to Bermuda and have a really good, interesting, well-paid job. This industry is where you have the potential for economic momentum and economic growth. We are investing in Bermuda. We really care about developing Bermudian talent. Hopefully, young people will see that as an opportunity.”

BFIS, meanwhile, offers scholarships to people studying accounting, actuarial science, business, economics, finance, insurance and risk management, maths, information technology, engineering, environmental sciences and legal studies.

Bonnie Exell

Ms Exell said: “A lot of people see insurance and their eyes glaze over, but in reality it’s exciting and interesting. Their areas of interest can be matched. Artwork has to be insured, famous pop stars have their voices insured. There’s a lot of need for people who are passionate about the environment to work in the industry so that your skills can be matched to that.”

A BFIS spokeswoman added: “There are so many careers within the industry. You’re dealing with clients. You might be a broker so you’re the connector between the client and their needs. You might be the underwriter, or the actuary or number cruncher or HR manager.”

Scholarships offered by BFIS include up to ten undergraduate scholarships, ranging from $5,000 to $25,000, usually for up to two years; Bermuda College, Georgia State University and Mount Saint Vincent University, worth up to $10,000 a year for up to two years; Bermuda College associate degree scholarships, worth up to $5,000 a year for up to two years, open to students entering their freshman or sophomore years.

ABIC’s programme provides scholarships to Bermudian students pursuing higher edication at accredited four-year colleges and universities. The undergraduate award is $15,000 per year for two years; the postgraduate is $20,000 for one year.

Ms Seymour-Smith said: “I would encourage students that even if you’re not sure whether your field of interest is relevant, you should apply anyway. We are more than happy to meet with students and advise which field you could study in, and how that can be leveraged into international business.”

To apply for BFIS or ABIC scholarships, visit bermudascholarships.com.

For more information about BFIS or ABIC visit www.bfis.bm or www.abic.bm

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