Jan 01

Alumni Spotlight: Joe Salz ’12


A Numbers Guy with a Heart for People

While at Holy Family, Joe Salz ’12 was an honor student, a member of the State title winning baseball team, a musician, a campus minister, and a teammate on the Math League team.  And he was just getting started! Read on to find out what Joe says led him to his current career and how participating in multiple activities helps him succeed even today.

Current Employer: Deloitte Consulting
College: University of St. Thomas
Major: Bachelor of Science at University of St. Thomas, major in Actuarial Science, minor in Mathematical Statistics, Associate of the Society of Actuaries (ASA), Member of the American Academy of Actuaries (MAAA)
Middle School: St. Joseph C-Stem School in Waconia

HF: How did you become interested in actuarial science? 
JS: I was a junior in high school and had an interest in math, but I was unsure about being an engineer. While deciding between a math-oriented career path and a people-oriented path (like business), I heard about actuarial science and how it combined both math and business. One of my friends (Steven Guillemette ’11) mentioned that his dad, Scott, was an actuary, and after meeting with him, I was sold.

HF: What do you consider to be your greatest personal and professional accomplishments?
JS: My greatest personal accomplishment was being asked to lead our Catholic Men’s Leadership group my senior year of college. It is humbling to know that other members of our group looked up to me and trusted me as a leader. 

Professionally, my greatest accomplishment is passing my first actuarial exam. I remember being intimidated by how difficult the exams were (pass rate of 40-50%, depending on the exam), so passing really instilled confidence in me to continue pursuing an actuarial career.

HF: What do you enjoy most about your current position?
JS: Employers value actuarial expertise and encourage their employees to progress through the actuarial exam process; at many companies, you are able to continue your education while on the job (not to mention incentives for passing exams as well!). As a recent college graduate, being able to learn on the job while simultaneously progressing in my career is what I enjoy most about my current career position.

HF: Did your experiences at Holy Family help you to overcome obstacles you’ve faced in college or now as an actuary?
JS: Balancing exam studies and a full-time job is definitely the most challenging part of my current position. As a consultant, working hours can vary widely in any given week, so adhering to a strict study schedule can be very difficult and requires solid time management skills.

I believe Holy Family prepared me for my current career because I was able to participate in many activities such as baseball and Jazz Band while also taking Advanced Placement courses. There were numerous times when these activities overlapped, and it required time management to stay on top of it all.

HF: STEAM careers sometimes incorporate one or more elements of science, engineering, technology, art, and math. Clearly your career involves math, but do you see elements of others in it?
JS: In almost every situation I experience at my job, we are required to combine math, science, technology, and – believe it or not – art into our projects and solutions for clients. A topical example is helping a state government find new ways to lower healthcare costs in its Medicare and Medicaid population. Clients rely on our creativity and technical expertise to come up with practical and effective answers to their problems.

HF: In what ways, if any, did a Holy Family course and/or teacher impact on your career choice?
JS: Mr. Kannel is one of the smartest teachers I’ve ever had, including collegiate professors. His love for math and ability to explain things clearly helped establish a solid foundation crucial to my understanding of advanced topics such as multi-variable calculus and probability.

Mrs. Livermore was my AP Calc teacher and taught me how to really learn the material. She gave homework assignments each week that weren’t graded, but instead were for us students to practice the material learned on our own. This in turn helped me develop the discipline to put in adequate study time despite not getting a grade, and was the basis for developing study plans for future actuarial exams.

As a high school student interested mostly in math, I never felt that English was a strength of mine; however, after having Mr. Unverzagt for Honors American Literature and AP English, I realized how fun writing can be, and saw how much better my persuasive papers became right before my eyes. Mr. Unverzagt was able to take something that was somewhat unknown to me and many other students and explain it in a process that was logical and easy to understand. Further, he knew how to challenge his students while keeping the class engaging and fun.

HF: What advice would you give to younger alumni or current Holy Family students who aspire to follow a similar career path?
JS: The actuarial field is getting more and more competitive, and we see students continue to attack exams earlier and earlier when we attend job fairs. If you are a high school student interested in actuarial science, take advantage of the math classes that Holy Family offers to help put you in the best position for progressing through college.

HF: What do you enjoy doing with your free time?
JS: I spend my free time playing in a band with some friends from college (including Danny Gilles ’13 and Dan Klauer ‘10). In fact, not all actuaries are nerds – my boss and I hosted a “Battle of the Bands” between his band and my band this past summer. It was awesome!

I also teach confirmation at Our Lady of Grace in Edina once a week, where I lead a group of 7th graders. It is a great chance to practice my faith while being immersed in the real world.

HF: What would you say to a student considering Holy Family?
JS: Holy Family gives students the opportunity to both refine their current interests, and to explore new ones. If you enjoy playing sports but want to try out a music class, go for it! Holy Family’s class sizes give access to not only a wide breadth of activities, but also to a faculty that is there to help you. I owe a lot to my teachers and coaches at Holy Family, who helped shape me into who I am today.


Jan 01

Excitement builds for one-act production, “You’re Driving Me Crazy”


On Thursday, January 26, at 7 pm, Holy Family’s one-act play, “You’re Driving Me Crazy,” will be presented in the Holy Family Performance Center. The performance is the culmination of months of rehearsals and preparations. This play is the first play presented to an audience in the new performance space and boasts one of the largest casts and crews in recent Holy Family history.

“You’re Driving Me Crazy” is a comedy about teenagers who are learning how to drive. It has four scenes, each with its unique storyline and point of view. Some scenes are from the perspective of the teens, parents, and even the driving instructor.

When asked, Ms. Olson, director and head of Holy Family’s theater program, explained her decision to select this play: “I chose the show because I thought both students and adults would relate to it. It moves quickly, which is essential for mini-shows, and it is funny. I think everyone who comes to see it will leave laughing!”

The students who auditioned for the play are embracing the amount of dedication that has to go into the performance and are now beginning to feel the pressure as the date draws nearer.

“I auditioned for the play because it was something different from what I’m used to doing. I’m forcing myself to step out of my comfort zone.” says junior Ronnie Deckard, “I’m very nervous because I play the Grandma. I only have nine lines, most of them are “what,” and I’m probably still going to mess up.”

While several students decided to audition for an acting part in the play, many showed interest in building and painting sets and running sound and lighting as well. Junior Nora Erdman volunteered to help with painting and gave an idea regarding what it will look like: “Since it is a one-act play, we aren’t planning on creating a huge set; it’s mostly a few boxes that we have to paint. We are also planning on making a makeshift car that the actors will sit in during each scene.”

This play will also be performed as a Holy Family’s submission to the Minnesota State High School League One-Act Competition, too. Ms. Olson was able to elaborate on what the competition entails: “The MSHSL One-Act Competition is an event held in the winter every year. All shows are meticulously timed and must be under thirty-five minutes. If your performance goes even one second over, it is disqualified! There can only be twenty students involved in the traveling production, including both actors and tech crew. Your set must be able to be transported to different locations and must deconstruct to fit within a 10’x10’x10’ cubic space. You have ten minutes to construct your set on the host school’s stage before performing, including any technical elements such as lighting and sound. Schools then perform their show for judges and receive feedback and an overall score.”

Nora Erdman also had this to add: “I think that the theater program is becoming a lot more recognized and will continue to grow. With all of the new equipment and resources, there are multiple opportunities for people, which is great! I think more people will get involved because of all the possible roles, and the fact that it is fun to do.”

Preparations will continue over the coming weeks. The public is invited to attend the January 26 performance. Students in grades 5-8 are invited to join the cast and crew for a post-performance reception and closer look at this play’s set and production. RSVP for the reception at http://myschool.hfchs.org/performancersvp.php


Following the MSHSL competition, the theater department will start preparations for the HF’s spring musical production.

Excerpt of orginal HF Phoenix article by Mallory Lindahl ’17