2020 Best & Brightest: Katherine Ross, St. John’s University (Tobin)

Katherine Ross

St. John’s University, Peter J. Tobin College of Business

“Two thumbs up kinda girl. Just look at my pictures!”

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve been playing violin for 15 years.

Hometown: Thomaston, CT

High School: Waterbury Arts Magnet School

Major: Quantitative Risk Management & Insurance

Minor: Business Analytics, Social Justice Theory

Favorite Business Course: Global Destination Course: (Re)Insurance Leaders in Markets & Society

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work, and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Ozanam Scholars Program at St. John’s University (2016-2020)
    • Weekly service at St. John’s Bread & Life – Project Identity – Brooklyn, NY (2017-2020)
    • Service and/or Research Trips
      • Germantown, Pennsylvania (2016)
      • San Juan, Puerto Rico (2017)
      • Limón, Ecuador (2019)
      • Pine Ridge, South Dakota (2019)
      • Accra, Ghana (2019)
    • Feast of Frédéric Ozanam Student Speaker on Academic Scholarship (2019)
  • Gamma Iota Sigma – The Insurance Industry’s Premier Collegiate Talent Pipeline (2016-2020)
    • St. John’s University, Alpha Iota Chapter
      • Director of Community Outreach (2018-2019)
      • President (2019-2020)
    • GammaSAID (Solutions for Authenticity, Inclusion, & Diversity)
      • Internal Research Chair (2018-2019)
      • Student Co-Chair (2019-2020)
    • Mercer University, Gamma Eta Chapter Chartering Keynote Speaker (2018)
  • John’s University
    • Student Ambassador (2017-2020)
    • Chamber Music Society
      • Vice President (2017-2018)
      • President (2018-2019)
    • Honors Program (2016-2020)
    • Dean’s List (2016-2017, 2017-2018, 2018-2019)
  • Dive In Festival – The Festival for Diversity & Inclusion in Insurance
    • NYC Co-Chair (2019)
  • Spencer Educational Foundation Scholar (2019)
  • Advancement of Professional Insurance Women (APIW) Scholarship Recipient (2019)
  • Anita Benedetti Student Involvement Program (ABSIP) Scholar (2020)

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • Swiss Re – Armonk, NY – Financial Risk Management Intern
  • Greater New York Mutual Insurance Companies – New York, NY – Loss Control Intern

Where will you be working after graduation? Post-graduation, I will be working at Swiss Re as an Associate within Strategic Partnerships Development – P&C Solutions and will be a member of the graduates@swissreprogramme.

What company do you admire most? I cannot say there is a company I admire more than Swiss Re. Within the re/insurance industries, they are a global leader. Within the company, they have a strong focus making the world more resilient. Swiss Re wants to see their employees, customers, communities, and the world around them be resilient and does what they can to help them to get there. They are constantly working on solutions to meet these goals and I cannot wait to be a part of that team and their impact.

What did you enjoy most about your business school? More than anything, I have enjoyed meeting other students within the Peter J. Tobin College of Business who have such unique and varied backgrounds, interests, and career goals. This holds especially true as a student within the Maurice R. Greenberg School of Risk Management, Insurance and Actuarial Science (SRM). SRM is a tight-knit community where your classmates essentially become your best friends. We travel to Manhattan and around the world together, creating lasting impacts within each other’s lives. I know this isn’t the case at other business schools, so I am proud to have this as part of my time at St. John’s, Tobin, and SRM.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? I would give two pieces of advice:

  1. Take a risk and study risk! The risk and insurance industry is one that is not only interesting (despite the stereotypes), but also one that is filled with any number of opportunities for incoming young professionals.
  2. Be sure to find something else that sparks your interest while in college. Throwing yourself into your major and career is great, but after 5 o’clock you’re going to need something else to do to reset and refresh yourself for the next day.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? The thing that surprised me most was the number of options I had in terms of a career after graduation, especially in the insurance industry. As a freshman, I thought there were only three career paths within this industry: actuary, underwriter, and broker. But, after interning and overall getting more involved, I learned there was so much more out there for me to try. The skills I have acquired with my business degree have allowed me to be able to choose from an endless list of careers and that are so exciting. If you had told me at 18 that I would be working in Solutions, I not only wouldn’t believe you but would have no idea what that is. Now, it’s where my career is starting and it will lead to a million different possibilities down the line.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? My proudest achievement is my independent research Capstone Project with the Ozanam Scholars Program conducted alongside my faculty mentor, Dr. William Chaplin. Since junior year, I have been researching adolescent suicide and fatal drug overdose in the United States, with focuses on mental health, substance abuse/addiction, and bullying. After a literature review and my own data collection, my Capstone Project, fightingforward.org, came to fruition in January 2019.

Fighting Forward is a website written specifically for adolescents on these topics and includes information such as different coping strategies and how to have difficult conversations with parents. The goal is to bring this information to a level that adolescents not only understand but can also easily bring into their lives, whether it be for them or for someone they know in order to prevent one of these tragedies from occurring. This is a topic that is very close to my heart and has impacted many of my peers and loved ones in a number of different ways. Seeing everything come together in my last semester is not only rewarding but more than I ever expected to do coming into college. I am already seeing the positive impact this website is having on my communities and I couldn’t imagine a single thing I would be more proud of.

Which classmate do you most admire? The classmate and friend I most admire would be Jennie Lynn Martino (SRM Class of 2019). While she may not be my classmate this year, she has easily been one of the most inspirational people I have met and is someone I have looked up to for a long time. In her time at St. John’s, she dedicated herself to her classwork, friendships, service work, and our Gamma Iota Sigma chapter as my Presidential predecessor. After being what many of her friends would consider a star among students going into the insurance industry, she decided to do a complete 180 and move across the country to San Francisco to participate in a year of service. While this has not been an easy year for her by any means, she has kept fighting through to find her passion in life. Jennie Lynn not only follows her heart but puts her heart into everything she does. There is not a moment where I doubt that she is living up to her potential and I wish her nothing but the best no matter how much I miss having her around.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? Family aside, the one person I’d like to thank is Carline Bennett, Director of the Ozanam Scholars Program at St. John’s University. Coming into this program as a freshman, I was adamant that there was no possible way to connect social justice and insurance or business. But, she always reminded me not to completely dismiss the idea because there probably is a way and I just haven’t found it.

Fast forward four years later and she was absolutely right. My work with diversity and inclusion in the industry aside, she encouraged me to bring it into my service work. Specifically, on our trip to Ghana, I worked with the NGO, Toku Foundation to create risk management evaluations and tools for their organization. This is a portion of my education I never expected to have and she pushed me to go at it full-force. On top of all this, Carline has been one – if not my biggest – supporter when it comes to internships, job hunts, classes, conferences, scholarships, my research, and really anything I come into her office with unannounced. She was one of the first friendly faces I saw when moving into my dorm room. I know she will be one of the last wishing me the best as I cross that graduation stage. Carline has, without a doubt, played a huge part in making me the woman I am today and I could not be more grateful to have her in my life as both a mentor and a friend.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  1. Publish my research on adolescent suicide and fatal drug overdose.
  2. Live and work abroad sometime in my career.

What are your hobbies? I love to travel and experience new cultures, collect art from around the world, play violin, play Monopoly, listen to live music, and explore NYC!

What made Katherine such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“Katherine Ross epitomizes the very best in traits that characterize Tobin College students: intelligence, diligence, generosity, compassion, and humility. Academically, she is a very high achiever. She puts forth her best effort in her coursework and scores at the top of her classes consistently. Outside the classroom, she is an accomplished musician and campus leader. She is devoted to making a positive impact on the world by working for the greater good through service to those in need. Her genuinely caring for others around her, while striving to develop her own considerable talents, has had a very positive influence on her classmates.

Katherine could count leading her business fraternity to be recognized as the top chapter in the country, being selected as the president of St. John’s Chamber Music Society, or her outstanding scholastic achievement as her greatest accomplishment as a Tobin student. I feel that the tone she sets for others in living life for the greater good is what makes her an invaluable addition to St. John’s University’s Tobin Class of 2020.”

Mark J. Browne, PhD
Robert Clements Distinguished Chair in Risk Management and Insurance
Chair of the Faculty of Risk Management, Insurance and Actuarial Science
School of Risk Management


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