Fall 2023 Scholarship Winner: Mary Sullivan

The BondExchange Scholarship is an essay contest that seeks to help currently enrolled college students and high school seniors pay for their education by awarding one student per semester $1,000 in financial assistance. The Fall 2023 BondExchange Scholarship recipient is Mary Sullivan, a student at Arizona State University studying public policy and public service.

Mary Sullivan

When asked why obtaining a college degree is important to her, Mary said:

“Pursuing a college degree signifies a crucial chapter in my life’s journey. It is not merely about securing academic credentials, but also about immersing myself in an environment that stimulates growth, promotes collaboration, and fosters real-world experience. It provides a platform to gain hands-on experience and skills relevant to my chosen field and lays the foundation for my future, serving as a launchpad to a career where I can effect change and work towards creating safer, more equitable communities.”

Check out Mary’s essay below:


How can insurance agents leverage technology to elevate their agency’s success?


To surf is to feel. That’s what I told myself the first time I attempted to navigate the tumultuous waves of the World Wide Web. Much like my life, I found myself being thrown into new territories, vast spaces where I was just a small dot on a limitless canvas. Moving across continents, transitioning through different cultures, dealing with unexpected deportations, all while striving to maintain a semblance of normalcy, I felt myself riding the currents of the virtual ocean, maneuvering through the ever-changing landscape of technology.

The question isn’t whether technology can help insurance agents elevate their agency’s success; the question is, how can they avoid the undercurrents and instead ride the waves to prosperity?

I’ve had my fair share of battling the odds. Just a few years ago, my family was deported from Russia. We found ourselves in the alien lands of Clovis, New Mexico, adapting, surviving, and eventually, thriving. And it was there, amid dust-filled memories and new beginnings, that I stumbled upon the potential of technology.

Just as our missionary life taught me the language of empathy and resilience, technology unfolded a new vocabulary before me. Algorithms, data analytics, blockchain, and AI became my new lexicons. And much like how I went from being a RAT to an Executive Officer at New Mexico Military Institute, I began to understand how these seemingly complex terms could be navigated to one’s advantage.

Insurance agents, I believe, should approach technology like a surfer approaches a wave: with respect, caution, but also excitement and ambition.

Firstly, data is the compass that guides the surfer. Through predictive analytics, agents can identify market trends, evaluate risks, and tailor their products to the needs of their customers. As an avid swimmer and a member of my school’s swim team, I understand the importance of evaluating and adapting to currents. Insurance agents, too, can optimize their policies and underwriting processes by understanding the data-driven currents of the market.

Secondly, leveraging AI for customer service can vastly improve an agency’s efficiency and responsiveness. In my leadership roles at NMMI, I learned that effective communication is key to success. For insurance agencies, AI chatbots can provide instant assistance to customers, handle claims more efficiently, and thus help retain existing clients while attracting new ones.

Lastly, the use of blockchain can bring unprecedented transparency and security to the insurance process. Just as my journey through life has taught me the value of honesty and integrity, blockchain technology can foster trust between the agent and the client, thus enhancing the reputation and success of the agency.

Insurance agencies can become the surfers of the digital wave, harnessing technology’s potential to guide them towards success. Just like I did amidst the strange twists and turns of my life, embracing every change, every new language, and every unforeseen circumstance as an opportunity for growth. And it is this approach – the mindset of a surfer, a digital nomad, an individual who has found his footing in every corner of the world – that will make all the difference. Because, to surf is to feel – the rhythm of the waves, the thrill of the ride, and the triumph of navigating to success.