Simon Fraser University


Yi (Joyce) Zhang

Love of learning drives silver medallist

May 28, 2009

If Yi (Joyce) Zhang can manage risk the way she manages time she’ll be one crack actuary.

During her four years in SFU’s Faculty of Science, where she majored in the notoriously rigorous actuarial science program, Zhang maintained a near-perfect 4.22 cumulative grade-point average.

And the Governor General’s silver medallist achieved her impressive scholastic record while tutoring other students in statistics workshops and fulfilling her duties as a teaching assistant for two semesters.

She also wrote the first four Society of Actuaries professional exams in just over a year—a feat almost unheard of, according to her professors. What’s more, she was the first and only SFU student ever to complete the Fundamentals of Actuarial Practice Exam even before graduating.

Clearly, Zhang has bragging rights, but she’s no show-off: "I admit it takes quite a bit of time and energy to maintain a high CGPA, especially while doing the SOA exams," she says. "But you have to develop good study and work habits and be diligent."

Actually, there’s something pretty basic behind Zhang’s achievements: a love of learning. She counts among her favorite SFU memories the lectures and academic discussions with classmates.

She says she’ll also remember fondly her experiences as a TA: "I think teaching is also learning. The students often raised some difficult questions, which drove me to think deeper and really get to the roots of a question. I’m convinced this helped me get a better understanding of the whole science."

Armed with that understanding, Zhang says she wants to continue her studies at graduate school before heading into financial investment and risk management.

Wherever she ends up, you can bet she’ll squeeze as much learning out of her career as she did out of her studies. By Helena Bryan