Recent Graduates

Meet some of our majors from the Class of 2018.

Siyanna Ahmadu ’18, Washington D.C.

What was your motivation to major in economics?

One of the reasons why I chose economics is because I was interested in exploring the interplay between incentives and prices, as well as investments and trade. Given my own multicultural background, with lineages in Germany and Sierra Leone, I wanted learn more about key economic phenomena that can determine a country’s stability and prosperity.

Can you describe your working relationships with econ professors?

The econ professors at Oxy are honestly at the heart of what makes this major so worthwhile. They are so kind, approachable and eager to share their expertise. A class that has definitely stood out to me the most is my current 300-level econ course “Firm-level International Trade and Investment." For our final project, each student is given the opportunity to select an industry. I chose the cocoa industry because it covers key development issues of interest to me such as trade between West Africa, Europe and the U.S.; the impact of agribusiness on child labor in developing countries; and the role of the United Nations in sustainable development.

Have you taken part in any economics research opportunities at Oxy or elsewhere?

Yes, this semester I was given the opportunity to conduct research and create a literature review for Professor Ashenmiller regarding the effects that outdoor experiential learning can have on a child’s social and cognitive development.

What do you like most about studying economics?

I really enjoy the wide range of subject matter within the economics major. For example, I am currently enrolled in “Economics of Gender," “Firm-level International Trade and Investment" and “Economic Development." Each course enables me to look at various issues through the lens of economics.

What are your ambitions post-Oxy?

Post-Oxy, I aim to launch my career in the tech industry for an international company that values my diverse cultural heritage and my language skills in English and German.

Do you have any advice for a student considering majoring in economics?

Yes! I would highly recommend taking advantage of all the resources the economics department has to offer. With an economics major you can study abroad, participate in the UN Program and use the Bennett W. Schwartz Grant (granted by the economics department) to fund internships, independent studies, conferences and more!

Ieva Marcinkeviciute ’18, Gurnee, IL

What was your motivation to major in economics?

I had been exposed to introductory economic theory in my AP Microeconomics and Macroeconomics courses in high school. I didn’t have a good grasp on what a career in economics looked like and, therefore, I admit that I didn’t initially intend on declaring the major. During my first semester at Oxy, however, I fell in love with this way of thinking about the world when I participated in the California Environment Semester, a first-year cultural studies program in which I conducted biology, geology and economics-related fieldwork with my professors and peers in Yosemite, Death Valley and Point Lobos. Throughout my time at Oxy, I’ve witnessed each of my economics professors continuously use their expertise to bring about meaningful change for the L.A. community, country and world. I hope to do the same someday!

Can you describe your working relationships with econ professors?

I can honestly say that the greatest part of my Oxy experience has been getting to know my professors and having had the opportunity to learn about their passions. It is the countless hours that I have spent in each of their offices that have truly distinguished my time at Oxy from an experience I would have had at a larger university. In terms of classes, I really enjoyed Economic Development and International Economics, but there also wasn’t a single economics course that I regretted taking. I only wish that I could have taken a few more electives before graduating!

Have you taken part in any economics research opportunities at Oxy or elsewhere?

This semester I’ve had the unique opportunity to conduct my own independent research project as part of the Senior Research Seminar. While it has undoubtedly been one of the most challenging projects that I’ve undertaken in my undergraduate career, I firmly believe that the empirical research, statistical software and economics writing skills that I’ve developed while investigating the “trade-migration nexus" will be invaluable assets in the future. I’ve also learned about each of my peers’ interests in discussing their research projects.

What do you like most about studying economics?

I most enjoy the everyday connections and applications of what I’m learning. When I read news headlines about Brexit negotiations or newly imposed tariffs, I always look forward to discussing the economic implications underpinning these current events in my classes. Throughout the years, I’ve taken such a wide range of economics electives that have been offered by the department, each touching on different dimensions of the field. I think that this exposure has substantially contributed to my overall ability to engage in more nuanced conversations about the world, which is crucial in any career that one may choose to pursue.

What are your ambitions post-Oxy?

I think that the beauty of an economics degree, and an Oxy degree in general, is that here we develop skills and ways of thinking about the world that are applicable across so many different fields. In July, I will begin working for a medical software company. While this isn’t what I envisioned “a career in economics" looking like, I will definitely draw upon both the quantitative and qualitative skills that my professors have taught me on a daily basis. In the more distant future, I could see myself pursuing a graduate degree, further delving into some of my intellectual curiosities: economic development, international trade and macroeconomics.

Do you have any advice for a student considering majoring in economics?

I think the best advice that I ever received was: don’t be afraid to struggle and step outside of your comfort zone, but also ask for help when you need it. Some of the most difficult classes that I’ve taken at Oxy (and in this department) have also been the courses that I now look back on and really appreciate. I would also strongly recommend making use of all of the wonderful resources that students have here at Oxy: apply to the Blyth Fund or the Occidental Consulting Group, ask your professors about research opportunities, take the Senior Research Seminar, go to office hours and study with your peers as much as you can. Not only does the economics department stand out with respect to phenomenal professors, but I’ve also learned so much from my fellow econ majors throughout the years. Good luck!

Andrea Tuemmler ’18, Orinda, CA

What was your motivation to major in economics?

I became interested in economics when I took a 101 class for my DWA (Diplomacy and World Affairs) major. I loved how concrete econ was, and how it gives us tools to answer policy questions that political theory cannot always solve on its own. I find that the two majors complement one another well, and having a quantitative background to supplement and support how I interact with policy-making has been really helpful in allowing me to approach problems and research questions in both majors. I love how practical econ is at approaching theory, especially in comparison to many other social sciences.

Can you describe your working relationships with econ professors?

I've had really wonderful experiences with a lot of the econ faculty. Professor Jalil inspired me to pursue econ in the first place during Econ 101, and he's been really helpful in advising me throughout the major. I also worked for Professor Chiou as a research assistant and grader, and she has been great at pushing me in a more professional sense as well as academically. After three semesters of classes with Professor Mora, I also feel very supported by him not just in econ but also through office-hour discussions about international policy. Most recently, in my honors research seminar, both Professor Lehr and Professor Wandschneider did so much to help me with my project outside of class/office hours. The project itself has taught me so much about approaching econometric problems and doing econ work independently.

Have you taken part in any economics research opportunities at Oxy or elsewhere?

I worked as a research assistant for Professor Chiou, helping collect data on internet search traffic. I've also been pursuing my own project this semester for the honors research seminar. I'm looking at the relationship between economic growth and democracy, arguing that it is inequality, rather than pure economic growth, that drives countries towards better governance. I find that econ has been helpful in other research endeavors as well. I spent last summer in Colombia doing research on the peace process with the FARC for my DWA thesis, and I found that the major source of conflict within the recent peace accord is whether neoliberal or redistributive economic policies should be implemented, especially in rural areas; essentially, how can economics solve the root causes of conflict. I was better able to understand these dynamics because of classes such as “International Economics" and “Economic Development."

What are your ambitions post-Oxy?

Next year I will be pursuing a master’s in international relations at the London School of Economics. After that, I hope to work in international policy and foreign affairs, ideally with an emphasis on conflict- and post-conflict reconstruction.

Do you have any advice for a student considering majoring in economics?

Take advantage of how small Oxy is and get to know the faculty! They will support you if you reach out and make an effort to create a relationship. Also, get through the basic econ requirements as quickly as possible so you're more qualified to do research and take higher-level electives as soon as possible, since those are some of the most rewarding parts of the major!

Yiyun (Eva) Wang ’18, Shanghai, China

What was your motivation to major in economics?

I started studying economics with some vague idea that it is about recession, currency and prices. But surprisingly, as I took more classes, economics turned out to be more than that. It analyzes all sorts of human and organizational behavior, from micro to macro level.

Can you describe your working relationships with econ professors?

A privilege that econ students have is that our professors take teaching extremely seriously. I’ve worked closely with a few professors in the department, and according to my own experience and observations, they really put a lot of thought in refining their ways of delivering the knowledge. They work hard on their side to make things easier and smoother on our side, without lowering the standard they hope for us to achieve. This emphasis on teaching makes the department stand out from others.

Have you taken part in any economics research opportunities at Oxy or elsewhere?

I did two economics research projects through the Undergraduate Research Center in my sophomore and junior year with Professor Ngo and Professor Lehr, and an honors thesis my senior year. I examined efficiency level of Ghanaian health facilities, studied smoking behavior, and examined relationship between crime and guns. My growth along the way was tremendous. Both Professor Ngo and Professor Lehr provided excellent insights and guidance, and made huge impact on my life. Those experience added a lot value for me as a researcher and job-seeker.

What do you like most about studying economics?

For me, what’s cool about economics is that it really isn’t just a study about money or efficiency. Economics uses econometrics to study all sorts of human behavior and interaction, topics ranging from sociology, psychology, politics, finance, etc. As a curious person in nature, nothing is better than offering me a tool and telling me ‘go and use this to find out what you want to know about the world.’

What are your ambitions post-Oxy?  

I will be working as a research analyst in the New York City office of NERA Economic Consulting after graduation. I am planning to pursue a Ph.D. in economics after that.

 

Economics Alumni profiles are also featured on the Careers page.