BOONE, N.C. — Actuaries provide the statistical probability of an event occurring, so when actuarial science major Malik Hargrave says not to take any opportunity for granted, it isn’t cliché advice — it’s calculated.
“What I would say if I could talk to myself four years ago: Don’t take any opportunity for granted,” said Hargrave, an Appalachian State University senior from Lexington who will graduate in December. “Every opportunity is given to you for a reason, and you should take it with full force.”
For Hargrave, actuarial science was foreign but numbers weren’t. He always had a love of numbers and saw working with them as something he could jump into immediately. It was at a career fair that someone suggested Hargrave look into being an actuary.
Diverse opportunities at Appalachian
One of the most beneficial experiences of his time in the actuarial science program in the Department of Mathematical Sciences, Hargrave said, has been his involvement with Gamma Iota Sigma. In this professional collegiate insurance organization, he was able to travel, gain exposure to industry practices and professionals, and help with career fairs.
Hargrave said Appalachian is a “very unique bubble” that provides opportunities that aren’t always afforded by other universities, such as small classes, majors with unique experiences and classes that are taught by professors as opposed to teaching assistants.
Hargrave is involved in leadership opportunities on campus. He is chair of the Chancellor’s Student Advisory Board for Diversity Recruitment and president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), the governing council serving the nine historically African-American fraternities and sororities — also known as the Divine Nine, seven of which are currently represented at Appalachian.
“Each of those roles is pretty different,” Hargrave explained. “Being chair is more of a business-type role in which I’ve been able to sit with administration and talk about how to better the experience of diverse students on campus. Being the president of the NPHC is more of a social leadership role.”
Hargrave has played a leading role in bringing the NPHC Plots and Garden project to campus, which will create a positive environment for NPHC organizations to unite in efforts to promote their fraternities and sororities while educating students about the history of these diverse organizations. Historically, these plots symbolically and physically represent each organization’s presence on a campus and give alumni and current members a location for reflection and celebration.
Navigating differing opinions en route to his dream career
As one of the 17 percent of nonwhite students at Appalachian, Hargrave said he has learned more about himself by “being in everyday activities with people who have varying opinions from me and who don’t look or think like me.” He added this might not have been the case had he gone to a school where opinions were more similar to his. “You have to learn how to listen to people’s viewpoints and then share your own, but do it in a respectful manner,” he said.
As Hargrave approaches the end of his time at Appalachian, he is looking into becoming a business analyst — his dream career. He is also considering financial advising or underwriting.
Whatever career path he chooses, he said the project management and problem-solving skills, and the knowledge in economics, finance and mathematics he has gained in actuarial science — along with the leadership opportunities he has participated in at Appalachian — are applicable to a wide range of business careers.
About the Department of Mathematical Sciences
The Department of Mathematical Sciences offers undergraduate degrees in actuarial science and mathematics, with concentrations in business, computation, life sciences, physical sciences, secondary teaching and statistics, plus a general, self-designed concentration. The department also offers the Master of Arts in mathematics, with concentrations in college teaching and secondary teaching. Learn more at https://mathsci.appstate.edu.
About the College of Arts and Sciences
The College of Arts and Sciences is home to 16 academic departments, one stand-alone academic program, two centers and one residential college. These units span the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences. The College of Arts and Sciences aims to develop a distinctive identity built upon our university's strengths, traditions and unique location. The college’s values lie not only in service to the university and local community, but through inspiring, training, educating and sustaining the development of its students as global citizens. There are approximately 6,100 student majors in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing Appalachian's general education curriculum, it is heavily involved in the education of all students at the university, including those pursuing majors in other colleges. Learn more at https://cas.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational 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 embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System, Appalachian enrolls about 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.