Alumni Spotlight: Nearly 20 percent of LAMMICO Employees Are UNO Graduates
When Angel Cannizzaro Hymel graduated the second time from the University of New Orleans, she knew she wanted to go into the insurance business. It was 1979 and she had just received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration after earning an associate's degree in office administration three years prior. Her favorite course as an undergraduate student had been a class called Principles of Insurance.
"Because of that course I decided when I left UNO that I wanted to go into the insurance field," said Hymel, whose office today is adorned with UNO memorabilia. "When I started at UNO, I was a first-generation college student. Neither of my parents had gone to college and I think that's representative," she said. "Many of us who got our bachelor's degrees in the 1970s, we went off and got jobs."
For the last 30-plus years, Hymel has worked for Louisiana Medical Mutual Insurance Company, commonly known by its acronym, LAMMICO. The agency is the top medical insurer in Louisiana. Owned and managed by physicians, the mutual insurance company provides medical malpractice insurance to nearly 60 percent of the healthcare providers in the state. As a senior field representative, Hymel helps healthcare providers who have had cases filed against them to process insurance claims.
Nearly 20 percent of LAMMICO's employees at the Metairie headquarters -- and nearly 15 percent of LAMMICO's employees overall -- count themselves as proud alumni of the University of New Orleans, said David L. Bowser, a UNO alumnus and LAMMICO spokesman.
Ninety-five people work at the organization's headquarters in Metairie, La., including 17 UNO graduates and a UNO MBA student slated to graduate in May 2014, he said. Five of nine members of the executive staff leading the organization -- or more than 50 percent -- are UNO graduates. In the claims department, three out of 10 staff are UNO alumni.
University graduates are found in the agency's administration, business development, claims, executive, finance, legal, risk management and underwriting departments.
Yet despite the eye-popping statistics, the agency does not formally recruit on campus.
"I don't think there's any formal plan going on right now," said Bowser. "It seems as though it's really just through word of mouth."
UNO's accounting program, UNO's education program and UNO sciences are unsurpassed in the state, he noted. Many of the city's movers and shakers are also UNO alumni.
Another factor: LAMMICO offers employees full tuition reimbursement and reimburses them for books and other fees related to continuing education.
Hymel has graduated from UNO three times. She earned an Associate's degree in Office Administration from UNO in 1976, then the B.S. degree in Business Administration in 1979. In 2012, she received a Master's degree in Healthcare Management from UNO.
Though she had been steadily employed by LAMMICO for 23 years at that point, she went back to school following Hurricane Katrina for several reasons, including the unclear job market and other variables, including a desire for progress, she said.
"After Hurricane Katrina, I had more of a desire and wanted to go back to school, I guess, to help UNO recover and to be part of the experience. I wanted to be part of the rebuilding process," said Hymel, who soon found herself at UNO working and studying in a living laboratory.
"It was a learning experience like no other, because of the things happening in the healthcare industry at that time: health care professionals widely dispersed, medical records destroyed, patients dispersed from their doctors...Hospitals had never evacuated before."
LAMMICO was the first business in Jefferson Parish and one of the first businesses in the greater New Orleans metropolitan area to re-open after Hurricane Katrina, said Bowser. The agency re-opened within six weeks after the storm. UNO did too.
"Every course I took greatly enriched my job. It enhanced my career," said Hymel, who described her healthcare management courses as "very meaningful, very pertinent" and noted upon graduation a newfound empathy for her clients.
Her UNO graduate studies in healthcare management "enhanced my understanding of the medical aspects of problems in the medical field, different things that doctors have with patient selection, problems with the billing cycle," she said. "I can understand and help others with problems that come up in their day-to-day work," Hymel said. "I have a good job. I love what I do."
Discovering so many UNO alumni in her place of work has been a treat, said Hymel.
"We have a loyalty to our company and we have a wonderful job that we enjoy doing every day and we look forward to coming to work," she said. "LAMMICO and UNO have some common threads, some parallels," she added.
"UNO has really done a great job of educating its students and we really did get an exemplary education."