Zachary Shelley ‘18

Hailing from Maryland, Zachary chose to study a Hopkins because: “ It came down to financial aid and general academic rigor. None of the other universities that I was admitted to offered as excellent an academic program or made it as affordable as Hopkins did.”

Zachary majored in Economics, and also took a substantial load of political science courses.

“Economics, and particularly microeconomics, were attractive to me because they provide a framework to understand behavior that is testable and can be used to study such a wide range of topics.”

Zachary particularly enjoyed Economics of Discrimination with Professor Morgan. “This provided an excellent introduction to using economics for analyzing social policy and was the course that sealed my plan to major only in economics instead of double-majoring with political science. Both of Professor Papageorge’s upper-level classes (Social Policy Implications of Behavioral Economics and Sex, Drugs and Dynamic Optimization) were excellent ways to interact with economics research and fostered the most engaging conversations I had in any course.”

Zachary spent a semester in DC through the Aitchison Fellowship, which engaged a cohort of students in a rigorous load of public policy courses and internships at the same time. That experience both working and learning in DC, along with the mentoring I received during that semester, was key to me finding the areas of public policy that I was most interested in.

Zachary pursued these interests by writing a thesis under Professor Papageorge on the impact of health shocks on drug use and participation in the market for sex work.  It had a big impact: “I was interested in a legal career when I came into Hopkins, but my experience with economic research has opened the potential for a career as an academic researcher. To explore these career paths, I will be working in Los Angeles as an economic analyst at a legal consulting firm.”

Advice for potential majors?

“The economics major is open-ended and there are a variety of interests you can pursue within the major. Whatever your initial interests are, you should strive to get into upper-level courses in that area and get engaged with those professors quickly. That’s how you can tell if you are actually interested in a subject area and also how you will open up opportunities for yourself. Make sure to put yourself out there and get engaged early! The Social Policy Minor, Aitchison Fellowship, and financial research with professors are a few of the great opportunities that abound if you seek them out.”