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12 Sep 2017

Palmerston North man Navin Patel has been awarded $5,000 towards his studies as recipient of the 2015 Cigna Actuarial Scholarship.

Cigna Life Insurance New Zealand has set up a scholarship to encourage potential students at Victoria University of Wellington to consider the actuarial profession as a career path. The scholarship provides $5,000 to go towards the successful candidate’s studies.

Nathan Thomas, Cigna New Zealand’s Head Actuary says that third year Actuarial Science student and former Palmerston North Boys High School Head Prefect, Navin Patel was selected as the scholarship’s first recipient due to his academic excellence and desire to learn. “Navin understood the level of effort and commitment involved in being an actuary. Both his general attitude and his approach to balancing studies with playing competitive cricket for the Manawatu Mens Representative District Team impressed the panel. Navin also has good communication skills which is a very valuable and often underestimated skill within the actuarial profession.”

Dr Peter Donelan, Head of the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Operations Research at Victoria University, says the scholarship is a welcome boost for both students and the School. “I am very grateful to Cigna for establishing this scholarship in support of our new Actuarial Science programme. Congratulations to Navin —he is an ideal student to be the first recipient of this scholarship. He has a passion for the actuarial profession evident from when he first applied to study at Victoria and an outstanding academic record. I look forward to seeing him flourish in his chosen vocation in the future.”

Navin, who also studies Mathematics as part of his double degree, says he is honoured to be selected as recipient for the award. “Actuarial Science has always been a passion of mine and explains my chosen path of study. This scholarship is a huge opportunity and stepping stone into applying my passion into the real world. To have the opportunity to talk to and visit the Cigna Actuarial team was a valuable experience. This scholarship fills me with the motivation and excitement to keep pursuing my Actuarial endeavours and provides me with more than enough financial assistance for my journey ahead.”

Victoria University is the first university in New Zealand to offer Actuarial Science as a major. Traditionally, gaining qualification as an actuary has been a long and arduous task. The new major aims to help students develop the skills and knowledge that will make access to the profession more straightforward and to highlight the career to students at a much earlier stage. Cigna New Zealand decided to set up the scholarship to provide university students with an extra incentive to pursue a career as an actuary.

“We were excited to partner with Victoria University to provide this scholarship when we heard about the new Actuarial Major”, says Nathan. “Very little is known about the actuarial profession and it can be difficult to recruit successful actuarial students with the right skill set and commitment.”

Actuaries most commonly work in the insurance and finance industries, but can also have successful careers in government, education, health and software development. “The career is very challenging but it can come with many rewards, including being employable across the globe, if you work hard and have the right attitude,” adds Nathan.

To find out more about Victoria University’s Actuarial Science programme visit: