Industry the December 2020 issue

Council Foundation Scholar Stories

For these Council Foundation scholars, the kept promise of an internship made all the difference.
By Brianne Spellane Posted on November 30, 2020

Meet some of the 2020 Council Foundation scholarship recipients.

Read our full feature, When One Door Closes…

Click here for a complete list of the 2020 Council Foundation Scholars

Learn more about The Council Foundation Scholarship Program at

Yasmeen Zoheir
Senior, Temple University
Johnson Kendall & Johnson

I am a first-generation American student, my parents emigrating from Egypt. In high school, I was unsure about my career path. I assumed law or fashion but certainly not insurance. Fast-forward to my sophomore year at Temple University, where I had to take a required introductory risk-management class. The industry was entirely new to me, but with every test and every class, I began to love the subject. By the end of the course, I proudly declared RMI as my major.

My decision to major in RMI is rooted in the critical thinking that the industry presents. I enjoyed the employee benefits track, wanting to help people, which is something I have always considered a goal. While benefits may not necessarily be philanthropic, it affects and enriches the everyday lives of people.

The Council Foundation Scholarship will help me pursue my RMI studies and further my professional development in the industry, and I am so grateful to be a recipient.
Yasmeen Zoheir, Temple University

Enrolling in the RMI program also exposed me to Gamma Iota Sigma, which has started my journey in the industry, enhancing my professional development and aiding my navigation through the industry. I began to attend regular GIS meetings, workshops and receptions. Although meeting the GIS requirements has been challenging, it has been an amazing opportunity. The RMI program and GIS have helped me become more involved in not only my education but also my chosen field. As a result, I am constantly pursuing new goals, such as passing professional examinations like GBA 1 and 2, as I work toward my CEBS designation. Another goal is becoming a peer teacher for Managing Human Capital Risk, an upper level RMI course. GIS’s internship reception also helped me obtain a summer 2020 internship with Johnson Kendall & Johnson, which is where I came to be nominated and receive a Council Foundation Scholarship.

Natalie Kojababian
Senior, University of Southern California
AmWINS Group

After beginning my studies at the University of Southern California, I immediately joined the new risk-management program, which was being spearheaded at the time by rising seniors who were passionate about the industry. I had worked in the insurance industry shortly after high school graduation and knew this was an industry I wanted to pursue for the long run. Last year I joined a group of fellow students from USC’s Risk Management Society and chartered a new Gamma Iota Sigma chapter at USC, where I became the chapter’s diversity and inclusion officer.

The Council Foundation Scholarship should encourage students in the future to take this experience seriously and construct the most positive change they can into their schools and firms.
Natalie Kojababian, University of Southern California

Before starting my position this fall, I was hired by AmWINS as a summer intern, where I gained experience in underwriting and brokerage and also spent valuable time with the firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Council. Since I had interned for AmWINS during the summer of 2019, I had some experience with commercial lines and was familiar with the company culture. This year I spent a lot of time focusing on diversity and inclusion and quickly realized there are many opportunities for the insurance industry to create more inclusive, diverse and enjoyable environments for their employees. I truly believe diversifying any business or industry will only make an entity stronger and more successful over time. As racial, social and religious inequities have been highlighted recently around the world, I think it is imperative the insurance industry leads by example and propels change and ensures these DE&I changes are maintained going forward.

Shawn Hakimi
Senior, Florida State University
Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners

At a young age, I worked alongside my father in managing multiple real estate properties throughout Tampa, Florida. I witnessed him face many challenges, including the 2008 market crash that led to a time of great uncertainty and panic. The difficulties that these unforeseen events caused him and many others led me to develop a strong passion for mitigating risks within the business world. When I began at Florida State, I knew that I wanted to devote my time to furthering my understanding of risk management’s role in the financial services industry.

The Council Foundation Scholarship not only assisted me in funding my education but it encouraged me to continue expanding my knowledge and experiences to help organizations find innovative solutions that can manage risks more efficiently.
Shawn Hakimi, Florida State University

I believe that proper risk management involves being able to weigh the costs and benefits of internal decisions to produce an optimal level of risk that can further increase the value of a firm and maximize shareholders’ wealth. My professional interests solely revolve around harmonizing these principles of finance and risk management to better equip the financial services industry for the ever-changing technologies of the future. We are at a time where evolutions within technology are being created constantly. Organizations that can aim to transform their risk programs routinely to match the capabilities of these advanced technologies will have a substantial competitive advantage.

Rahul Sharma
Junior, University of Massachusetts
Borislow Insurance

I was born in India and immigrated to Canada at a young age. My parents instilled in me the values of hard work and determination and to welcome new and unique experiences. When my family and I left Canada for the United States in search of the American dream, I was exposed to new people, perspectives and experiences. As tough as picking up and moving was, I realize it shaped me into who I am today.

As time went on, my upbringing really influenced the field I wanted to work in. I was often mesmerized by how society was so accepting of immigrants by introducing their culture and helping us find our footing. This value of helping others pushed me toward considering a career in healthcare. I settled on pursuing my bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering at UMass because I wanted to play a direct role in making crucial equipment for our doctors and hospitals. I knew by going down this path I would be able to work on giving back to a community that gave my family and me so much.

The collection of all the experiences, from my internship and the scholarship, has shown me the great potential of joining this industry. The ability for me to incorporate my aspirations to serve the community in my future career is what makes the insurance benefits sector so special.
Rahul Sharma, University of Massachusetts

Although my field of study is engineering, I had an amazing opportunity to intern at Borislow Insurance. I took this chance wanting to expand my knowledge of the insurance industry and gain experience through working in a professional environment. I soon gained an affinity for this industry because it was all about helping people and their businesses succeed. My fellow interns and I attended weekly webinars to learn about different aspects of the insurance industry. My biggest takeaway was Borislow’s innovative program called Captivated Health. It is designed to help clients engage in healthcare consumerism and emphasizes the importance of personal health and well-being. Furthermore, we participated in giving back to the community by supplying back-to-school backpacks for the local YWCA. This internship encompassed all the values I aspire to work toward in my career.

Brianne Spellane Director of Membership, The Council Read More

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