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Emma KurtzFreilich ’21

Emma KurtzFreilich ’21

Emma KurtzFreilich chose to study at Johns Hopkins because of its culture and emphasis on research. “I knew that Johns Hopkins attracts hard-working students who are driven and genuinely invested in their fields of study. Combined with the many opportunities to conduct research, this made Johns Hopkins the perfect choice for me.”

Emma double-majored in economics and international studies with a minor in mathematics.

“After taking an economics class in high school, I realized that economics combined all of the parts of my favorite subjects into one. I loved being able to apply analytical methods to policy issues. Subsequently, at the college level, economics gave me the methodological tools to approach the real world through a critical lens. I learned to look for alternative explanations, examine underlying assumptions and how to conduct statistical inference.”

Emma spent a year abroad at Sciences Po in Paris. “It was an incredible experience to live abroad, experience a new educational system, and immerse myself in another language. I also had the opportunity to study subjects that are given less attention in American universities.”

Outside of the classroom, Emma was president of Hopkins Students Against Homelessness, a co-founder of the popular Economic Policy Issues Colloquium, and a PILOT (Peer-Led Team Learning) Leader for Economics, where she realized a passion for teaching as well as research.   

On the research side, as a recipient of the Provost’s Undergraduate Research Award and advised by Professors Jeanne and Dasgupta, Emma analyzed the viability of a single currency for West Africa. As research assistant to Professor M. Khan at the 21st Century Cities Initiative, she worked on a range of projects, including climate change, urbanization, and conflict in sub-Saharan Africa.

Finally, Emma completed a senior thesis entitled “The Economic Value of a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Designation,” under the guidance of Professors Morgan, Campante and Dore. Emma assembled a unique dataset on over 100 developing countries to assess the developmental impact of investing in culture. “It was a great experience that gave me the opportunity to apply the skills I learned in class to a topic I was drawn to. Ultimately, it helped me grow tremendously as a researcher.”

In the fall, Emma will be pursuing a master’s degree in economics at the University of Chicago, as a prelude to studying development economics at the doctoral level. 

She leaves us with some final thoughts on economics and the department. “My advice for every economics major is to get to know your professors as much as possible. They are an incredible sources of support and mentorship. I would also advise any economics majors to pursue research topics they are excited about. Even if a research project does not work out, the process itself will help you grow as an economic thinker and researcher.”