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Meet Cindy Ruvebana, a first-year student from Rwanda whose college search led her to IU Northwest


Fascination with numbers spurred her interest in actuarial science

Wednesday Oct 04, 2017


When Cindy Ruvebana was a high school sophomore, she asked her dad a rather complex question for a 15-year-old.

“Because of inflation,” she wondered, “what money is worth today is not the same as in the future. So how do you determine how much to save for retirement?”

In Rwanda, where the now 18-year-old Indiana University Northwest student was raised, there aren’t even professionals who work in that field. Enthralled with numbers, Ruvebana wanted to know what field she could study that would answer questions like these.

Ruvebana’s dad, an economist, began researching degree programs that might satisfy his daughter’s interests. Ruvebana and her two brothers were educated at an American high school in Kenya, Maxwell Adventist Academy, so attending college in the U.S. had always been in the plans.

His research pointed them toward actuarial science, a field that focuses on applying mathematical and statistical methods to assess risk in industries such as insurance and finance. The geographical region within the U.S. was not a factor during their search, and Ruvebana applied to the best actuarial science programs no matter their location. Schools in California and Florida were in the running, and even one in Canada, along with IU Northwest.

IU Northwest’s program stood out, Ruvebana said, largely because not only was it touted for its credentials, but it was one of the few programs that had actuarial science as its entire focus and not combined with another program. IU Northwest’s program sits on a Top 40 List of Actuarial Science programs in the U.S.

So Ruvebana applied and enrolled, without ever before visiting the U.S. The fact that there is no campus housing was a bit of a drawback, and almost a deal-breaker.

“We got to a point where we considered changing schools because we couldn’t find any accommodations,” Ruvebana said.

But Ruvebana’s mom, a real estate businesswoman who accompanied her daughter to Gary in order to help her find housing, caught a lucky break. During her visit, the pair attended church in Merrillville and the pastor there connected them with a woman who rented her a room. The pastor also helped secure a transportation arrangement.

So here she is, taking 14 credit hours: Calculus, English, History of Latinos and Microeconomics.

It’s only her first semester at IU Northwest, and in the U.S., and Ruvebana has already experienced what is often considered a hallmark of an IU Northwest education – personal attention from faculty members who care.

“So far in all my classes,” Ruvebana said, “I can tell that the professors are very available for you which is something you don’t freely hear about regarding other colleges.”

Ruvebana’s next goal is to explore a student life. She is eyeing up a chance at the volleyball team next year. 

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