Celebrating Black History Month with Fergie Galeromeloe

As we continue to mark Black History Month this February, we are joined in this episode by Fergie Galeromeloe, a student in actuarial science at the University of Toronto. Fergie shares with us his involvement with the International Association of Black Actuaries and how he contributes to the growth of Black youth.


Fievoli: Welcome to Seeing Beyond Risk, a podcast series from the Canadian Institute of Actuaries. I’m Chris Fievoli, Actuary, Communications and Public Affairs at the CIA.

This year, in recognition of Black History Month, we are speaking to members of the Canadian actuarial community to get their perspectives on this event and what it means to them. Today we are joined by Fergie Galeromeloe, who is currently studying actuarial science at the University of Toronto.

Thanks very much for joining us on the podcast today.

Galeromeloe: Thank you very much for having me today, Chris.

Fievoli: To start off, maybe tell us a bit about your background. I’m particularly interested in what prompted you to look at actuarial science and to come to Canada to study.

Galeromeloe: Yeah, it’s actually a funny answer. I think it was 2015. I was still in high school, and I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to study and what career I wanted to pursue. I was just in the dark with that until one day, my uncle approached me and he said, “Oh, why don’t you just pursue actuarial science since you love math and statistics?” And my first reaction was, What in the world is that?

So to learn about me – I was born and raised in in Botswana, in the capital city of Gaborone. After my uncle told me that, I went around my city of Gaborone and had interviews with a lot of actuaries just to ask them, “What is this field? What do you guys do on a daily basis? What do I have to do to get to where you are?” And just talk to them about the field, and that got me very interested.

And then a few years later, that’s when I applied to universities. And I wasn’t really sure which university had the best actuarial program, but I knew very well that I wanted to come to Canada. From my intuition, Canada was a very welcoming country. The people here were friendly, and I wanted to come to a place where everyone was welcoming and everyone was welcome to be, basically.

Fievoli: So now you’re at the University of Toronto, and I think you’re coming close to graduation. So, I just would like to know if you have any reflections on your time at the University of Toronto, and what are your career goals now in terms of what opportunities you want to pursue, what areas you’re interested in practising in and that sort of thing?

Galeromeloe: During my time at the University of Toronto, I’ve been studying for a bachelor’s degree in actuarial science and statistics, and it’s been a great four years. I’ve taken a lot of classes where I learned about the actuarial background and actuarial mathematics, which I find very fun to learn.

And towards the future, I very much intend to pursue my ACIA and FCIA designation, and I would very much love to work within the life insurance industry, but particularly within pension planning because I find pension mathematics quite fun. And that’s the industry I would very much love to pursue after graduation.

Fievoli: I want to talk a bit about the International Association of Black Actuaries (IABA), and maybe we can talk about some of your involvement and how they’ve helped you in your career development.

Galeromeloe: I actually discovered IABA at the beginning of 2020, because again, within my year, it was not very diversified in the sense that there were not a lot of Black people. And I remember in one of my classes, we had to attend one of the events to make it through the class.

And one of the events that was being held was an IABA meeting in one of the buildings downtown – I think it was the RBC building. And my first reaction to finding out about IABA was just a sense of joy, because now I knew that I had a place I could go to where I could meet actuaries who had the same lived experiences and whom I could relate with more.

So I went to the meeting. I met a lot of great actuaries and I took on a role as student liaison during my first year. But I didn’t do too much with the role because that was right before COVID hit, so because of COVID, not much was happening regarding meetings and events. And after that, I still decided to keep a close connection with IABA, and it has been great so far.

Fievoli: And off the top, I mentioned that we would be celebrating Black History Month, and I just want to talk about what’s the significance of this event to you, and how are you commemorating it this year?

Galeromeloe: For me, Black History Month is still a new concept because back in Botswana, I would say close to everyone does not celebrate Black History Month because we do not resonate with that legacy too much. So after moving to North America, I made sure to learn after celebrating my first Black History Month here.

I made sure to try to understand the history of Black people in North America, and what Black History Month is. Right now, I work as a youth engagement ambassador, where I mentor young Black men within Toronto. And that opportunity has led me to learn more about the lived experiences of Black Canadians and what their lives look like on a daily basis. Because, again, I couldn’t relate because I wasn’t born and raised here, and I’m very grateful for that opportunity.

And how I will be celebrating Black History Month is,other youth mentors and I, we will be conducting workshops where we will be learning about the history of hip-hop within North America, as we believe that hip-hop is a cultural background for Black people and it’s basically how the genre is used to learn about social justice through historic events and to challenge the status quo.

Fievoli: OK, fantastic. Well, thanks very much for coming on the podcast today and sharing your experiences.

Galeromeloe: Thank you very much for having me today, Chris.

Fievoli: If you enjoyed today’s conversation, we invite you to subscribe to our podcast series and catch up on prior episodes. And if you have ideas for a future episode or you’d like to contribute to our Seeing Beyond Risk blog, we would love to hear from you. Contact information can be found in the show description.

Until next time, I’m Chris Fievoli and thank you for tuning in to Seeing Beyond Risk.

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

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