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Bits and Pieces

Bits and Pieces

Mother, Daughter Cross FSA Finish Line Together

By Sam Phillips

It wasn't a race or a friendly competition. It was just simply timing that played a role when Jeanette Wagner and her daughter Adrienne Wagner received their FSA diplomas on Feb. 29, 2008.

Jeanette started taking her exams when her daughters Adrienne and Katie were young.

"It was tough, but I'd study during their soccer games and late at night when everyone else was asleep," said Jeanette. "I'd just steal time whenever I could."

With a couple of exams under her belt, Jeanette landed a temporary job in the benefit calculations department with Watson Wyatt. Two months later, she was offered a full-time position in the retirement practice area of the company.

She continued to take the exams and received her ASA designation in 1995 and her EA in 1999. Adrienne was in her first year at the University of Texas at Austin and was interested in math. Jeanette suggested Adrienne take her first actuarial exam–a move she thought would help her daughter land a good summer internship position. Mom was right! Adrienne interned for AIG that summer and for Hewitt Associates the next.

Adrienne kept passing exams, which motivated Jeanette to pick up where she left off.

"Hey, you're going to catch up with me," Jeanette said to Adrienne. "Maybe I should start taking exams again."

"Well, I'm not waiting for you!" announced Adrienne.

Was it embarrassing for Adrienne to have her mom in the same exam rooms at times?

"I tried to sit as far away from her as possible," said Adrienne. "Mom sat in the very back of the room on the left and I sat in the very front on the right. We just wanted to keep a respectable distance between us."

That's not to suggest they were adversaries–quite the contrary (although they do work for competitors–Adrienne is still on board at Hewitt Associates and Jeanette is employed at Towers Perrin). It's more of a mutual admiration society.

"I have a great deal of respect for my mom for being able to accomplish what she did while raising two daughters. It had to be tough," said Adrienne.

"My daughter is very determined," said Jeanette. "Coming out of college, starting a career and taking exams–that's a lot to take on all at once. But she did it and I'm very proud of her!"

Sam Phillips is staff editor at the Society of Actuaries.