Erik Andersen always knew he was going to go to college. He just didn’t know where.
“I started aggressively applying for scholarships in high school. I looked at different schools,” he said. “Then I discovered the Networks and Gongaware programs and, after being interviewed, decided to go to ISU.”
Paige Williams also always knew she was going to go to college — and where.
“My parents met at Indiana State and are proud Sycamores,” she said. “I attended based on a few scholarships I received that made it more affordable to attend. And I decided that if I lived on campus, I’d be able to make it a college experience, even though I was still in Terre Haute close to my family.”
Now the two Indiana State graduates who participated in the prestigious Networks Professional Development Program work for All Risks Ltd. and have relocated to Denver to help open the new company office. Formed in 1964, All Risks is the nation’s largest independent wholesale insurance broker with more than 850 professionals in 30 locations.
“I love Denver because I’m here on the front end of something I think is really special. I can sit in the city and from one spot see 13 cranes at a time building skyscrapers in my backyard,” Williams said. “About 800 people are moving here a day, and the excitement of that, along with helping to build an office with a team I care about, is something I can’t pass up.”
Added Andersen, “Paige and I talk about it quite a bit. We were good friends in college, and it is ironic how our paths have come back together here. Indiana State gave both us of a very good foundation. People are amazed by the incredible opportunities ISU provided me.”
Born in Terre Haute, Williams’ childhood ambition was to become a famous gymnast like Olympian Kerri Strug or an actor/singer. “I wasn’t very good at any of those things,” she said. “Eventually, I decided I wanted to be in politics or law. When I got the Presidential and Networks scholarships, I decided on business and then insurance, because the contracts were pretty close to law.”
Working with people was her goal, Williams said. “I love people and I knew I could be successful at anything in business as long as I got to focus on people. The economic downturn was during my college career, and I knew ISU’s Insurance Program had a 90 to 100 percent placement rate for graduates.”
Graduating in 2010, Williams said she felt well prepared for her profession after participating in Networks. The four-year progressive experience prepares students to enter the workforce with the essential elements of knowledge, skills and experience for success already in place.
“I had three very well-respected internships during my college career and a mentor at a very large, nationally-recognized insurance agency,” she said. “I sat on the Insurance Advisory Council as a student and had some opportunities that allowed me to network and get far outside my comfort zone in dealing with more experienced insurance veterans.”
The internships and connections she made as a student at Indiana State were a valuable part of her education, Williams said. “I still use those internships and connections in trying to cultivate relationships as a producer and building rapport as a very young Senior Broker in the industry.”
Growing up in Crown Point, Andersen’s earliest ambition was to become a teacher. “I wanted to go into something that would help people. I found my way into insurance, where I am able to help people daily.”
Every summer, Andersen said his family would take “The Great American Road Trip.” That helped instill in him a love of travel and a yearning to meet new people and see new places. “We traveled all over the United States, mostly in national parks. We hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and had some really wonderful adventures.”
At Indiana State, Andersen expanded his travels to encompass the world, studying at American University in Rome for five months in 2007, visiting Lloyds of London in England in the summer of 2008, and traveling to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Switzerland on international business courses.
“Living in Italy is where I learned to really love to cook. I think I have always liked cooking, but being in Rome amplified it. My roommates and I had dinner together every night. I still cook every night.”
At Indiana State, Williams was a member of Chi Omega Sorority and studied abroad in Australia as part of Networks Financial Institute and Presidential Scholars. She also was a 500 Festival Princess, representing Indiana State and helped with other community service, mostly directed at Special Olympics.
“Most of my happiest memories stem around all the activities involved in Greek life,” she said. “Another thing about my time at Indiana State was that I never got lost. It was the perfect size for me to get involved in everything, and the more people I met and connected with, the more opportunities I had after college to continue meeting people who were involved in similar organizations.”
Along with getting an excellent education and unmatched professional development, Williams said she also made friendships that she continues to value. “I made some of my best lifelong friends at Indiana State and had opportunities I wouldn’t have found if I’d gone elsewhere,” she said. “I also had enough job experience in college to wind up with multiple job offers upon graduation, and the company I partnered with has created a life of opportunities and growth for my future.”
In his years on the Terre Haute campus, Andersen was a resident assistant and president of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. “That is something that is neat that ISU has all these opportunities and helps you find balance,” he said. “I think the key thing is at ISU the faculty and people want you to succeed, they want you to be involved.”
After graduating in 2009, Andersen took a job as an All Risks broker in Orlando. “I worked as a broker for four and a half years, then I was offered the opportunity to move to our headquarters just north of Baltimore. I moved there and took a position in operations.”
After three years, Andersen was offered an advancement in Denver in 2016 as a liaison between the All Risk sales force and operations division. “You can’t beat Colorado for the weather and the outdoors,” he said. “I love to go hiking with Benjie.”
A 9-year-old Jack Russell/Dachshund mix, Benjie was rescued by Andersen from an animal shelter in Florida. “He has so much personality and loves to go hiking,” Andersen said. “He is a really good dog and loves a good adventure. I brought him all the way from Florida to Colorado with me. He has taken road trips with me from the Florida Keys to Vermont and across Canada.”
When he started at Indiana State, Andersen said he “really didn’t know what my future was going to be like. I didn’t know I would be living in Denver. ISU was the perfect fit for me. I think maybe it was fate that I went to ISU. I couldn’t be happier.”
Likewise, Williams said she is grateful she chose State and has enjoyed her relocation opportunities with All Risk. “I relocated twice, right out of college to the Phoenix office and again to Denver five years into my career. When I moved to Phoenix, I moved in with my sorority sister from Indiana State, so I knew someone who was already familiar and successful in the area and a best friend. When I moved to Denver, I had my mentor from All Risks, and his wife, who are also best friends.”
Moving to a new office in a new state can be an adventure, Williams said. “If you look at relocation as an opportunity and know nothing is necessarily permanent, you can go wherever you want and you only live one life to do it, you can make it less daunting mentally,” she said.
“I knew my company hired me because they liked me as an individual and wanted me to be part of the team,” she said. “If I needed to be anywhere to be happy, they would’ve helped me get there. I wanted to do the same for them, be where they needed me to help them be successful.”