By Kasy Long
May 9, 2022
For recent Indiana State graduate Tammie Katin, ’22, earning her bachelor’s degree in insurance and risk management has been 40 years in the making. The California resident’s distance learning experience at Indiana State came into real-time focus when she visited Terre Haute for the first time this May to attend Spring Commencement.
While many high school seniors choose to attend college right away, that pathway wasn’t among Katin’s interests in the late 1970s. Instead, entering the workforce seemed a practical option. Two years later, she joined a friend in taking a number of night classes at a community college before working at a local television station.
Katin later joined Catalina Island Company, a property and resort operator on southern California’s picturesque Catalina Island. That’s where she has worked for the past 27 years, most recently as a senior analyst and insurance compliance officer. Katin was proud of her work and role within the company but knew something was missing.
A college degree.
“College never worked out for me [after graduating high school in 1979]. I never got around to it. School didn’t mean anything to me at that time,” Katin reflected.
However, in 2019, Katin decided the time was right and the Indiana State University Scott College of Business’ notable insurance and risk management program was the place to build on the associate degrees she had earned previously in social and behavioral sciences and business administration.
Indiana State is one of only 49 universities in North America to offer a bachelor’s degree in insurance and risk management. The University is one of four institutions across the United States to offer 11 or more undergraduate courses in those specialized areas. The program also offers affordable learning and flexible course offerings, and it can be earned entirely online.
Those aspects interested Katin, who works full time and lives in Avalon, California with her supportive husband, Joe.
Most importantly, her faculty advisor, Accounting, Finance, and Insurance and Risk Management Chairperson and Associate Professor Dr. Jin Park, and other department faculty were more than willing to help Katin achieve her college education goals.
“Tammie was great at planning and figuring out how to navigate her schedule with our flexible offerings,” said Dr. Park. As her advisor, he guided Katin through course scheduling and kept her focused on completing her degree in a timely manner.
Katin commented, “[Indiana State faculty] helped me feel like I wasn’t going through this program alone. I had plenty of help.”
Katin learned how to balance a busy work-life schedule in order to complete class assignments and other course requirements on time. She did not take more than three courses each academic term.
Along the way, she became more determined to reach her goal of earning a bachelor’s degree.
“It was better late than never,” Katin expressed.
She’s already reaping benefits from her Indiana State studies. Katin recently was promoted to Catalina Island Company’s director of risk management, and her expanded knowledge of insurance and risk management issues has given her more credibility with administrators and office co-workers. Katin is implementing more risk management practices within the company.
“Because of my education [at Indiana State], I was able to apply what I was learning into real-world experiences at my company,” Katin said.
Now, all that was left for Katin was to receive her diploma during Indiana State’s Spring 2022 Commencement on campus. The event was so important to her that she and her husband traveled from California to Terre Haute – by train to Chicago and then making the 3.5-hour drive to campus – to participate in the May 7 ceremony.
“We felt like we knew Tammie, but now this is a full-circle moment for everyone,” said Dr. William Warfel, professor of insurance and risk management.
“It seems like a once-in-a-lifetime experience for an extended learning student like Tammie to travel here [from California] to participate in Commencement,” Dr. Park added.
As for Katin, she said attending Commencement in person was the only option for her.
“Commencement ties up a lot of loose ends for me. I missed out on the opportunity to attend classes and to be with other students. Attending Commencement and finally meeting my professors and thanking them for their support was important to me,” she said.
She spent a couple of days making up for lost time. There was a long-anticipated campus tour, having a special lunch with influential faculty, and joining classmates for Commencement activities.
“I value my education now. I knew this degree would give me more credibility at my job. I wanted to celebrate this achievement in person,” Katin said. The Sycamore graduate also shared that she was excited to create her first LinkedIn profile, with her bachelor’s degree prominently featured in the education section.
“I’m no longer embarrassed by my resume. I have a bachelor’s degree,” she explained.
Katin had a lot to be proud of as a member of Indiana State’s Class of 2022. As she moved the tassel from the right to the left side of her mortarboard cap, confirming her achievement as a four-year college graduate, she knew this wasn’t the end of her journey. It was just the beginning of her next adventure – as a proud Sycamore.