SARASOTA -- Clare Coffman’s life-changing connection with an associate professor at the USF Muma College of Business has put her on a career path that combines her passions – investigating crime and insurance fraud.
A criminology major at the University of South Florida, Coffman aspires to one day work in the investigation unit of an insurance company to examine suspected fraud.
“I wish I hadn't waited until my senior year to get involved with the insurance industry,” she said. “It is a rewarding field that has more to offer than you could ever imagine.”
Still, her involvement came early enough to make a significant impact thanks to Steve Miller, director of the college’s Baldwin Risk Partners School of Risk Management and Insurance at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus. He exposed her to meaningful opportunities, including the professional fraternity Gamma Iota Sigma, geared toward students interested in careers in the risk management and insurance industry.
Last month, Coffman and a fellow USF student used the Spencer Educational Foundation scholarship to travel to Fort Worth, Texas, and participate in the Gamma Iota Sigma Regional Conference. During the conference, the pair officially chartered the group’s Delta Beta chapter at USF. The conference involved more than 20 insurance companies, giving Coffman the chance to network and learn directly from industry leaders.
Her favorite aspect of the event was the Alumni Speed Networking session, where students heard young professionals describe their experiences in the field. Hearing the positive experiences they shared only furthered Coffman’s confidence that she was on the right path.
“I’m excited to return after graduation to do my part in passing the torch to future generations the way Gamma Iota Sigma alumni are making an impact now,” said Coffman.
Coffman hopes to spread awareness of the important role the insurance industry plays during times of catastrophe like hurricanes. Insurance professionals are often the “second responders” after disaster strikes, playing a pivotal role in helping affected individuals rebuild and gain compensation for their losses.
Though she always thought she would attend college in her home state of Illinois, Coffman was intrigued by USF’s criminology program, ranked among the best nationwide. When she visited the Tampa campus, she immediately knew she’d found a special place.
“The first time I stepped onto the USF campus, I just got that feeling – the one that whispers, ‘This is where you belong,’” said Coffman.
As a senior in the program, Coffman relishes learning from such renowned leaders as Kathleen Heide, a prolific author and parricide expert who has appeared on national news media such as CNN, Good Morning America, and more.
Coffman is proud of her deep involvement with the university community. She has held various leadership positions at Kappa Delta Sorority over the past three years and belongs to Alpha Phi Sigma, the national criminal justice honor society at USF.
Now, she can add serving as a founding member of the Gamma Iota Sigma Delta Beta chapter to that list.
Coffman attributes Delta Beta chapter’s excellent start to Kristi Hoskinson, assistant vice president of strategy and campus initiatives for the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus. Hoskinson played a vital role in helping the students forge a connection with the group’s Grand Chapter and its powerful network.
“She enjoys working behind the curtains while we perform on stage,” Coffman said, sharing her deep appreciation of Hoskinson. “She rarely has downtime but always makes an effort to be there for us when we need her.”
Hoskinson regularly checks on the Delta Beta chapter’s progress and achievements and offers the founding team valuable advice and guidance.
“It is wonderful to see students like Clare taking an interest in the risk management and insurance industry,” said Hoskinson. “Clare has been so focused on what she wants to do and is taking the steps to follow her aspirations. I cannot wait to watch her succeed in her career and come back to USF to inspire our students to take interest in this field.”
Reflecting on her college career, Coffman said keeping an open mind helped her find a way to combine criminology and the insurance industry.
“If you keep yourself closed off in college or in life in general, you're going to miss out on a lot of great opportunities,” said Coffman.