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Student Awards

The Katie School of Insurance and Risk Management attracts some of the best and brightest students from around the country. Throughout their terms at Illinois State University and within the Katie School of Insurance, these students are often recognized for their outstanding achievements. Many former students attribute the Katie School with a major role in their successes by providing students with opportunities to build their professional skills, leadership experience, and exposure within the industry.

2020-2021 Students Achieving Excellence

  • Justin Garber

    Justin Garber

    Justin Garber is a senior Actuarial Science major graduating in December 2020. He has been an active member of Gamma Iota Sigma and is currently serving as President of the Actuarial Club which is a club under the Gamma Iota Sigma umbrella. His leadership skills are abundant on campus by being an Actuarial Club officer for three years, a Small Group Leader of Encounter, Founder and Officer of the ISU Math Tutoring Club and Founder and President of Venturing Crew.

    His strong academic abilities have propelled him through four actuarial exams, and he compliments this with four different internships he has experienced over the last four summers. He added the Hong Kong University Exchange Student opportunity to his resume in the Spring of 2019 as he continues to look for new challenges.

    Justin has been rewarded by being selected as a 2020 Spencer Educational Foundation Scholar, an ISU Presidential Scholars, an ISU Actuarial Scholar, and recipient of the CAS Trust Scholarship. He also received his Eagle Scout achievement, and in his free time, he enjoys running in marathons.

  • Nicole Grendzinski

    Nicole Grendzinski

    Nicole Grendzinski is a senior Risk Management & Insurance/Finance double major graduating in May 2021. She is Vice President of Student Affairs for the Alpha Kappa Chapter of Gamma Iota Sigma after previously serving as the Director of Publicity in her junior year.

    Her campus involvement includes Pledging Member/Secretary for Alpha Kappa Psi plus on the Marketing Committee for the business fraternity and also being a mentor for Business Week. She was selected to attend the 2019 CPCU Society Annual Meeting in New Orleans, and she was a Student Engagement Program Participant. She enjoys community service activities with the Midwest Food Bank.

    Nicole was to have interned in the Zurich, Switzerland insurance market during the summer of 2020 through the Katie School International Internship Program and then participate in the WSIA Summer Internship Program upon her return. Unfortunately, both opportunities were cancelled due to the pandemic. She had the opportunity to intern with Sompo International the previous summer in the Inland Marine unit.

    For her academic achievements and her campus engagement, Nicole was awarded the WSIA Scholarship.

  • Brendan Leibforth

    Brendan Leibforth

    Brendan is a senior Risk Management & Insurance/Finance double major graduating in May 2021. An active member of Gamma Iota Sigma, Brendan joined the fraternity during the fall semester of his sophomore year, advancing to the role of President during his senior year. He was challenged with the year of the pandemic, but he led admirably with over 40 events completed for the fall 2020 semester. There was a great assortment of offerings to Gamma members including chapter meetings, workshops, speakers, community service events, industry panels, social activities, virtual conferences and career fairs, and professional development opportunities.

    Throughout his collegiate career, Brendan has strived for real world experience to supplement his education. He has participated in numerous industry conferences including WSIA Extreme Risk takers Symposium, Chicagoland Risk Forum, National Risk Retention Association National Conference, WSIA Troy Symposium, Gamma Iota Sigma Regional Conference, and Vermont Captives Insurance Association Conference.

    He was one of two students selected for the Katie School International Internship Program for the summer of 2020 that would have immersed him into the Lloyd's market in London for four weeks. He was also chosen for the Great American Insurance Internship that he would have completed when he returned from London, but COVID-19 derailed both of these opportunities. With his perseverance, he worked with the Microinsurance Network as a Sustainable Insurance Intern, and he researched sustainability in the insurance market and presented his findings to a global audience.

    Brendan enjoys giving back through the numerous volunteering activities that Gamma has, and he has also served as Trip Leader for Alternative Spring Break in both Memphis, TN for Mississippi River cleanup and at a homeless shelter in Salina, KS. In addition to Gamma, he is active on campus in the Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society and the ISU Honors Program.

    For his strong leadership, excellent academics, industry engagement and community service, he was recognized as a 2020 Spencer Educational Foundation Scholar.

  • Katelynn Pankhurst

    Katelynn Pankhurst

    Katelynn Pankhurst is a senior Risk Management & Insurance/Finance double major graduating in May 2021. She has been actively involved on campus in leadership roles since her freshman year and heavily involved with the Katie School of Insurance and Gamma Iota Sigma. Katelynn is presently serving as the Vice President of Internal Affairs for Gamma after holding the office of Director of Publicity her junior year. She has been an extremely active member serving as moderator for the D&I panel for the inaugural Power of An Inclusive Workforce dinner held in March 2020. Additionally, she has held officer positions in Alpha Kappa Psi as Risk Management Chair and Fundraising Chair plus being a mentor for Business Week.

    She has pursued industry experience with an internship at COUNTRY Financial and a virtual corporate brokerage internship at CRC Group. During the summer of 2020, she had planned to be in London for four weeks job shadowing in the Lloyd's market through the Katie School International Internship Program followed by the WSIA Summer Internship back in the States upon her return. Unfortunately, both were cancelled due to COVID-19.

    Her talents have been recognized by being a Top 5 Spencer Scholar and recipient of the APIW/Lana James Memorial Scholarship, the WSIA Scholarship, The Council Foundation Scholarship and the NAMIC Scholarship. She was selected as Outstanding Junior in Insurance and also as a RIMS Anita Benedetti Student Involvement Program Scholar.