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My name is Emma Shepard, and I am a senior at Waukee High School. Over the past two years, I have had the opportunity to enroll in two APEX courses. I chose Exploration of Health Sciences & Medicine and Foundations of Insurance & Actuarial Science. While these classes seem entirely unrelated to one another, each of them aligned with my interest in either science or math. Through both courses, I was able to discover more about the respective professional fields and about myself.

As a junior, I decided to take APEX’s Exploration of Health Sciences & Medicine due to my interest in science, desire to help others, and background as an athlete. This allowed me the opportunity to visit multiple medical schools and gain insight into the field through many interviews, shadows, and real-life simulations. Additionally, I worked on projects for the Drake Harkin Institute and AEA Learning Online regarding public health and pharmaceutical careers. Not only did these projects provide me with knowledge about health sciences, but they also provided me with great professional communication and leadership skills. I also learned that while I was interested in the medical field, it may not be the true career fit for me.

For this reason, I decided to enroll in APEX’s Foundations of Insurance & Actuarial Science in my senior year to pursue my strong interest in math. One highlight of being on this team was the opportunity to visit Holmes Murphy & Associates twice each week. This provided great exposure to working in a professional setting and frequently interacting with individuals in the insurance industry.

Another highlight of this course was competing in the Actuarial Foundation’s Modeling the Future Challenge. This nationwide competition allowed our team to apply math and actuarial concepts to relevant issues today, such as the impact of climate volatility on the insurance industry. Our team made it to the final round of the competition, which would have included presenting our project to a panel of judges in Chicago this past month. Due to COVID-19, this symposium was held virtually instead. Overall, the FIAS course at APEX taught me a tremendous amount about investments and insurance, where I had relatively little knowledge beforehand.

Each APEX course provided me with insights into potential career paths, which helped define my future plans. While I did not choose to study health or actuarial sciences like I had once planned, I will be studying environmental engineering, which combines my strengths in both math and science with my longtime interest in sustainability. Although this is not explicitly related to the content of my APEX courses, such courses gave me an understanding of real-world careers that I would not have been able to find anywhere else. APEX is an unparalleled opportunity for industry experience, professional growth, and self-discovery.