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Bermuda, an Island of Opportunity for IRM Students

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Over spring break, a group of insurance and risk management students made The University of Olivet history by being the first group of Comets to travel to Bermuda.

“I’ve been thinking about this Bermuda travel abroad trip for three years, talking about it for two years, and planning it for about a year. Not many people realize that the small island of Bermuda is one of the world’s largest insurance hubs,” said Michael Weglarz, CPCU, assistant professor of insurance and risk management. Professor Weglarz led a group of eight students to the island for six days.

“The Island of Bermuda houses over 1,376 insurance entities comprising over $295 billion with $1.4 trillion in assets. The Captive Insurance market is also one of the fastest-growing segments in the industry. So, I felt it was an excellent opportunity to put something together during our spring break so our students would be interested in participating, learning something unique, and more importantly, come away with a lifetime of memories. I definitely feel I hit a trifecta in accomplishing these goals,” Professor Weglarz continued.

While in Bermuda, it was arranged for the group to meet with multiple different industry professionals. Professor Weglarz said, “My goal was to open up another educational opportunity involving the Global Insurance Captive Markets for them to understand and explore. I guess to expand their horizons, pun intended!” The students met people from Bermuda Monetary Authority, Bermuda Brokers, and Bermuda Captive Network.

Senior and insurance and risk management major Mitchell Yarger said, “It was a great experience getting to meet with all of the industry professionals. The University of Olivet has gotten me plenty of exposure to these types of situations, so I never felt out of place. They were all very down-to-earth individuals and provided great insight about the captive and reinsurance markets of Bermuda.”

Not only were the students able to meet with these industry professionals, but they also made impactful connections with them. Senior and insurance and risk management major Rearden Biritz said, “We made the usual LinkedIn connections, everyone gave us their cards and phone numbers. The Bermuda Captive Network panel that we met with was very interested in setting up an internship program with Olivet where we would have students come stay on the island for the summer and learn about captives. In return, students from Bermuda would come to Michigan to get the opportunity to work for companies here as well.”

Professor Weglarz said, “I was impressed, but not surprised, by how well they handled themselves throughout our journey and how they interacted with industry professionals. Even the industry professionals we met commented several times how impressed they were with our students.”

While their trip was focused primarily on insurance, the group still devoted time to exploring the island and its culture. They visited places like Crystal Caves, the Dockyards Museum, Horseshoe Bay and much more. The group spent half a day on a pontoon boat stopping at inlets and smaller islands, snorkeling and viewing an old shipwreck.

Senior and insurance and risk management major Rachel Nelson said, “My favorite part of the trip was being able to spend time with fellow classmates while exploring the island in the Crystal Caves, Horseshoe Bay beach, and the dockyards, as well as learning with them by going to the meetings with industry professionals.”

The trip was everything Professor Weglarz hoped it would be for his students. He said, “They learned quite a bit. Navigating a foreign country and understanding different cultures while meeting with senior-level industry professionals will be embedded with them for the rest of their lives.”

Rearden said, “Getting to travel and see other places is one of my favorite things to do. I grew up in Charlotte, a relatively small town, so getting to go out and see other places and experience people’s lives and the vastly different cultures is something that I think is pivotal in growing up and becoming an adult. It teaches you so many things that you may not even recognize, but it inspires me to work hard so I am able to continue visiting new places and enjoying new experiences.”

Olivet offers these once-in-a-lifetime travel abroad experiences multiple times during the academic year. Mitchell said, “I would 100% recommend other students go on an Olivet trip. I learned so much about the industry, but also about my friends. This trip to Bermuda has given me memories that will last a lifetime. As Professor Wegz told us the whole trip, ‘We’re the first Olivetians to take this trip to Bermuda.’ My friends and I will always have that and won’t forget.” Mitchell added, “I can’t thank Professor Weglarz enough for making this trip a possibility. He put his blood, sweat, and tears into making this a fantastic opportunity for us, and I don’t want people to overlook that. Wegz rocks.”

Learn more about The University of Olivet by contacting the Office of Admission at 800-456-7189 or admissions@uolivet.edu

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