Contreras Leaders in Risk Program welcomes inaugural class

March 15, 2022

Five students in Greehey School of Business benefit from the donation-funded program

by Nathaniel Miller  

Andrew Tague jokes he cannot stop attending schools named St. Mary’s.  

The St. Louis native attended St. Mary’s High School before coming to San Antonio to attend St. Mary’s University. The reason, he said, was to continue receiving an education rich in Marianist values.  

Austin Aguilar, Eric Drees, Sandrina Ramirez, Andrew Tague and Maroun Harb pose for a group photo as first class of the Contreras Leaders in Risk Management
From left, back row: Eric Drees, Austin Aguilar, Maroun Harb, Andrew Tague, David Sommer, Ph.D. Front row: Susan Gordan; Dean Rowena Ortiz-Walters, Ph.D; and Sandrina Ramirez

Now, the junior is pursuing an undergraduate degree in Finance and Risk Management, offered through the Greehey School of Business, with the hopes of having a career through which he can affect lives. Tague added there is a large need for employees in both finance and risk management.  

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 400,000 employees are expected to retire from the insurance industry within the next few years.  

“There’s a skill gap that needs to be filled, and I want to be one of those people who fills that gap,” Tague said.  

The Finance portion of the program focuses on developing the ability to analyze financial information and recommends sound financing and investment options. The Risk Management side helps students identify, analyze and manage risks faced by individuals and organizations. 

To get more experience in the field, Tague and four other students majoring in Finance and Risk Management are part of the inaugural group of the Contreras Leaders in Risk Program at St. Mary’s University. The other members of the inaugural group are Austin Aguilar, Eric Drees, Sandrina Ramirez and Maroun Harb. 

The program launched during the Spring 2022 semester. It was made possible through a $2 million gift by Thomas “Tom” Contreras (B.B.A. ’88) and Leticia “Leti” Contreras (B.A. ’89) in 2017. Tom Contreras has been president and CEO of Texas Security General Insurance Agency, Inc., since 2003, and Leti Contreras serves as its executive vice president. She also chairs the St. Mary’s University Board of Trustees.  

The gift also funded the Contreras Family Executive in Residence for Risk Management position, a position held by Susan Gordon since 2018. 

“It’s one thing to study in the classroom, but it’s another thing to hear about it firsthand from the people working day to day.”

Eric Drees, junior Finance and Risk Management major

The Contreras Leaders in Risk Program introduces students to various opportunities, such as attending national professional conferences, hosting events and meeting with the Contrerases once a year.  Students are also eligible for a $1,500 scholarship per semester for a maximum of four semesters.  

David Sommer, Ph.D., the Charles E. Cheever Chair of Risk Management and Professor of Finance at St. Mary’s, said students are required to apply each semester for the program, adding the hope for the program is to accept larger groups of students. 

To apply, students must major in Finance and Risk Management through the Greehey School of Business.  

“This program will allow us to go even further in advancing the Greehey School of Business,” Sommer said.  

Drees, a junior from Boerne, said the program has already made him think outside of his comfort zone and take on subjects he would not have on his own. For example, he researched the risks and insurability of companies with products that are subject to different laws in different states. 

The students in the program also team up with a mentor in the industry, and Drees said he has met with his mentor numerous times. Drees added he has met other professionals in the business, allowing him to hear firsthand what can happen in his chosen career path.  

“It’s one thing to study in the classroom, but it’s another thing to hear about it firsthand from the people working day to day,” Drees said.  

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