Karen Epermanis — or, as her students call her, Dr. E — was nervous when she watched four mentees field questions from risk management professionals at the national Spencer Risk Management Challenge in spring 2015. It was the culmination of a semester’s worth of research. Their assigned task: Analyze company risks and make recommendations for The Walt Disney Corporation.
Epermanis, director of Appalachian State University's Brantley Risk and Insurance Center, was impressed with her students’ knowledge and professionalism. “I could not have done that as an undergraduate,” she said. “I would have fainted up there!”
Epermanis might feel she was a timid undergraduate, but she went on to spend over a decade working for Fortune 500 companies before returning to academia. She made the transition, in part, because she was bored and needed a challenge. But, mostly, she just wanted to help the next generation succeed. “Insurance,” she says, “isn’t going away. And there’s risk in everything we do.”
Looking at the numbers, it’s clear that – for a student who wants a post-graduate job – the field is a pretty safe bet.
Under Epermanis’ leadership, the Brantley Center has a 95 percent job placement. “I love working with students and watching them find the path that’s right for them. Then, I get to help them explore it,” she said.
All four of the students who ultimately won the national Risk Management Challenge found jobs within three months of graduating. Epermanis keeps track of their progress. Her ongoing mentorship brings, for students, the peace of mind that insurance potentially brings a policy holder. And, in return, students keep things interesting.
“The program keeps growing. We keep adding new dimensions. Appalachian gives us the opportunity to create new avenues and be challenged,” she said. “There’s really no way to get bored here.”
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About the Walker College of Business
The Walker College of Business at Appalachian State University delivers transformational educational experiences that prepare and inspire students to be ethical, innovative and engaged business leaders who positively impact our community, both locally and globally. The college places emphasis on international experiences, sustainable business practices, entrepreneurial programs and real-world applications with industry. Enrolling approximately 3,000 undergraduates in 10 majors and 175 graduate students in three master's programs, the Walker College is accredited by AACSB International – the premier global accrediting body for schools of business. Learn more at https://business.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the Southeast, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls nearly 21,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.