By Georgia Jackson, University Communications and Marketing
Since enrolling in the University of South Florida’s Baldwin Risk Partners School of Risk Management and Insurance in the Muma College of Business on the Sarasota-Manatee campus, Madison Siefert has built a community, homes and a bright future for herself and her classmates in the Delta Beta chapter of Gamma Iota Sigma, the professional fraternity she founded last year.
Unlike many in the field, Siefert has known since high school she wanted to study risk management and insurance. Her commitment and dedication to the program at USF and her desire to build a community post-pandemic allowed her to hit the ground running when she enrolled in the fall of 2020 and, soon after, say ‘yes’ when the school’s director suggested she found the fraternity, which is dedicated to strengthening the insurance industry’s student talent pipeline.
“I was like, ‘Absolutely. Sign me up right away,’” said Siefert, who also serves as the fraternity president and has made it her mission to connect members with opportunities in the industry.
For Siefert, entering the field of risk management and insurance is all about being part of the larger community. “Every time a disaster hits, you kind of want to be out there and you want to be helping,” said Siefert, who was inspired by her mother, a medical billing professional, to enter the field.
In February, Siefert organized a group of Gamma Iota Sigma members, university staff and industry partners — including two members of the school’s advisory board, Shepherd Insurance and Millennial Specialty Insurance — to help build news homes for Habitat for Humanity Sarasota.
“Madison’s leadership is second to none,” said Kristi Hoskinson, assistant vice president for strategy and campus initiatives on the Sarasota-Manatee campus and advisor to the fraternity. “We are more than a student organization; we are a community.”
The day the fraternity spent with Habitat for Humanity was a success, due in no small part to the contribution they made to the ongoing development of the 40-home Hammock Place community in Sarasota. For fellow volunteer and founding Gamma Iota Sigma member Clare Coffman, it also served as an introduction to Millennial Specialty Insurance, where, upon graduating from USF in May, she accepted a position as a claims analyst.
“The opportunities are endless,” Siefert said. “There’s this talent gap in the insurance industry, and there are so many job positions to fill. A lot of students who do an internship with an insurance agency … they’re really going to want to hold on to them and offer them a full-time job as soon as they graduate."
For example, founding Gamma Iota Sigma member Katherine Nishioka recently secured a position with Shepherd Insurance after interning with the firm.
Steven Miller, director of the Baldwin Risk Partners School of Risk Management and Insurance, considers the fraternity a key to helping USF build the school’s local and national brand. "We want our student organization to talk to students about these opportunities because a student referring another student is going to be much more powerful than anything I can communicate or another instructor can communicate to students.”
Siefert takes pride in the success her fellow Gamma Iota Sigma members — most of whom are in the process of interviewing, preparing for graduate school or taking on new responsibilities within the fraternity.
“It’s definitely doing what it’s supposed to do!” Siefert said of the fraternity. “Things are happening. It’s working!”
Things are happening for Siefert, too, who received the Women in Leadership and Philanthropy Elizabeth Kristin Endowed Scholarship and the Debra Franklin McGuire Scholarship.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Siefert, who lives with her parents in an effort to graduate debt-free. “We all just sat there in silence when I got the notification.”
Siefert will also begin an internship with Shepherd Insurance this summer.
“They really stood out to me,” said Siefert, who interviewed with “a bunch” of places and appreciates the company’s national presence, paid volunteer days and dedication to a compressed work week. “They definitely understand the importance of helping the community that you reside in.”
At Shepherd Insurance, Siefert will spend time with each employee. “There are so many different things that I could do,” she said. “I haven’t quite figured out where I best fit yet. So, this internship is really going to help with that.”
The Risk Management and Insurance program launched in 2017 on the Sarasota-Manatee campus to address the insurance industry’s talent gap, which is fueled by an aging workforce and lack of higher education programs. One of only two such programs offered by public universities in the state of Florida, it is designated as a “program of strategic emphasis” by the State University System’s Board of Governors. Following a $5.26 million gift last year from Baldwin Risk Partners, programming has expanded to the Tampa and St. Petersburg campuses. The school also was renamed after the Tampa-based firm.
According to Siefert, this is only the beginning.
To learn more about the Baldwin Risk Partners School of Risk Management and Insurance visit usf.edu/business/schools/risk-management-insurance.
Boundless Bulls is a collection of stories about what truly makes USF great — the people. It is a focus on our community footprint, our impact and the trajectory of where we can go together. To nominate a member of the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus community for Boundless Bulls, please fill out the submission form.