Undergraduate Profiles

Abigail Biesman ’18

Abigail Biesman ’18

Hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, Abigail Biesman was initially undecided as to her Hopkins major: “I was attracted to the warm student body, the strong humanities and social science departments, and, as many classes are small, the opportunity to build relationships with my professors.” Abigail ended up double majoring in International Studies and Economics.  “Prior to attending Hopkins, I had very little exposure to economics, and actually only took it because it was a requirement for International Studies. After taking the introductory courses, I realized that economics could help me understand major crises and current issues. I wanted to learn more about decision-making and the allocation of resources to better inform my opinions on financial markets and public policy, and so I declared a double major.”

Abigail’s most memorable class?  “Sex, Drugs, and Dynamic Optimization: The Economics of Risky Behavior,” a behavioral economics class taught by Prof. Papageorge: “Professor Papageorge pushed us to use precise language and understand fundamental economic principles so that by the end of the semester we could read an economics article and critique the model and assumptions behind it. For our final paper, we each had to model a dynamic decision, and then propose policy solutions.”  Professor Papageorge also advised Abigail’s senior thesis on Women in Economics: “Female voices are important in economics both for policy decisions and gender equality, and there are steps that can be taken to make economics a more inviting field for women.”

Extra-curricular activities were an important part of Abigail’s Hopkins experience. She held positions of increasing responsibility as Staff Writer, News Editor, Chief Business Officer and Alumni Manager at the Newsletter, the campus paper. She joined the Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium staff sophomore year, and served as finance chair for the 2017 symposium. Hopkins Hillel was a home away from home during college.

Abigail interned at Citigroup in the summer after her junior year, where she learned how debt, equity, and foreign exchange markets operate, and precisely how these markets respond to economic events. After graduation, she will be working as an Investment Banking Analyst at Stifel in New York City.   But, says Abigail: “I am not sure what I ultimately want to pursue. I will see where my job takes me!”

What advice does Abigail have for potential Economics majors?

“I suggest taking a diverse set of economics courses so that you expose yourself to many areas of study.  Economics is not just a channel to Wall Street! There are many fields of study such as labor, behavioral, and health economics, to name a few. These disciplines are applicable to a variety of career paths such as consulting, academia, think-tanks, and more. So, you should still consider economics even if you are not interested in finance!”

We could not agree more, Abigail!

Taiwoadetayo “Blossom” Ogunyinka ‘19

Taiwoadetayo “Blossom” Ogunyinka ‘19

Blossom Ogunyinka, majoring in Economics and Public Health, and minoring in Entrepreneurship and Management, is Nigerian-American.

What type of economics courses appealed to Blossom?   The applied economics courses were the most fun, because I was able to see the real-world utility of economics as it pertained to human behavior, and its social implications.  And so, I fell in love with economics.”

Blossom seized the opportunity to study abroad in Tel Aviv, Israel for a coding fellowship where she learned many valuable skills that have proved helpful to her in both the academic and professional world.

Blossom is treasurer of the National Society of Black Engineers, and a member of SCNO – Students Consulting for Nonprofit Organizations.  She chills out as one of the first members of the JHU step team.

What about internships? These have included positions in finance (Aetna) and consulting (Accenture). But Blossom is not sure of her future path – maybe a master’s degree?  “I hope to potentially pursue a career in consulting. This is because consulting is so versatile and allows me to combine many interests at once.”

Good luck Blossom, in your future career! (p.s. thanks a bunch for your tech help in class).

Nakarit “Nak” Devahastin Suthapreda ‘18

Nakarit “Nak” Devahastin Suthapreda ‘18

Nak Suthapreda grew up in Bangkok, Thailand and moved to the United States at age 18 to pursue undergraduate studies.  He initially studied in Boston, but transferred to Hopkins at the beginning of his junior year because of the numerous macro/finance electives offered by the Hopkins Economics Department.  He ended up majoring in Economics and minoring in Financial Economics.

Why did Nak choose to major in Economics? “I studied Economics because of how essential it is in our everyday life. I am fascinated by the connectedness of markets and how policy decisions in the United States influence markets in other continents, and vice versa.”

Still, Nak’s most memorable class was a labor economics course, Economics of Discrimination taught by Professor Morgan. “The structure and content of the course were unique. We were asked to read research papers and write short responses summarizing and analyzing the points in each paper. We exchanged ideas with about the research with our classmates. Given the diverse backgrounds of students at Hopkins we were able to hear contrasting views.”

Nak wrote his Senior Honors Thesis on Thailand’s Optimal Investment Portfolio with Professor Greg Duffee.  The topic was inspired by his internship at the Bank of Thailand. “The Senior Honors Thesis was a challenging, yet rewarding journey. It was challenging because of the freedom in conducting our investigation. However, Professor Duffee was integral in guiding me through my exploration. I was able to apply the theories I learned from my courses at Hopkins to assist Bank of Thailand in forming monetary and capital outflow policies for Thailand.”

Outside the classroom, Nak introduced the Global Economic Awareness (GEA) Profit, a Boston based non-profit to Hopkins students. “We recruited JHU Economics students to become GEA Leaders and lead Economics workshops taught to students in developing countries to foster economic literacy worldwide. So far there have been nine GEA Workshops hosted worldwide since 2016.”

After graduation, Nak will be going to graduate school to complete an MSc degree in Data Science at Brown University.  He plans initially to work in the United States as an Economist/Data Scientist but will ultimately move back home to Thailand. “I want to use my knowledge and experience to help underserved communities in Thailand and provide them with the necessary means, education, and opportunity for them and their families to have a fighting chance in our society. “

Final thoughts?

“Thank you to Professor Greg Duffee for guiding me through my Senior Honors Thesis. Thank you to Professor Barbara Morgan for enlightening me about the presence of discrimination in our society. And thank you to Professor John Driscoll, Professor Yuya Takahashi, and Professor Bruce Hamilton for making my journey at Hopkins a challenging, yet fulfilling one.”

Nak, it has been a pleasure to get to know you, keep in touch.

Gabriel Kabarriti ‘18

Gabriel Kabarriti ‘18

Gabriel Kabarriti selected to study at Johns Hopkins because of its reputation as a leading medical research institute. “After being accepted, I quickly filled my schedule to include classes that would allow me to excel in research by learning the basics such as biology and chemistry. I also filled my schedule with classes, such as economics, that would expand my knowledge and worldviews.”

Gabriel enjoyed introductory macroeconomics with Professor Robert Barbera and his discussions about the role of the Federal Reserve. Barbera emphasized decision-making:  “I was so intrigued by this concept that I continued to study economics and learn more about how people make decisions, as well as how these decisions related to medicine.”

Later, Gabriel conducted economic research with Dr. Antonio Trujillo at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. “We investigated how mergers in the pharmaceutical industry have affected prices that patient’s face at the counter, to help form policies that would ensure that patients are treated fairly. All in all, majoring in economics was the best decision I have made since coming to Hopkins, as it allowed me to gain additional insight to the world as well as pursue medicine.”

At Hopkins, Gabriel was involved in many extra-curricular activities ranging from Tamid, which teaches student about the Israeli and American economies, to volunteering in Thread, a local non-profit that fosters academic advancement for underperforming students, to running events like Arts For Hearts. The list goes on “Hopkins truly allowed me to join many clubs and thereby expand my interests.”

Do you have any advice for potential Economics majors?

“My advice to potential economics major would be take a class in economics just to see what it is like because I did not believe I would major in economics before coming to Hopkins. If you find it interesting, pursue the major and enjoy it; you never know where it may lead you.”

After graduation, Gabriel will be working at Johns Hopkins Hospital as a program coordinator, using “analytical methods I gained from my economics major to increase the efficiency of hospital programs.”  That sounds like a great goal, Gabriel!

Zachary Shelley ‘18

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.”

Samuel Jackson ‘18

Samuel Jackson ‘18

Sam Jackson was born in San Diego, grew up in Dallas and decided to enroll in college at Hopkins because of its “diversity of thought, and flexibility of academic studies, as well as prestige.”

Sam loved economics ever since his first economics course in high school. “It teaches you a different way of thinking and, when combined with another discipline like international studies, it becomes an extremely powerful tool with which you can view the world. “

An all-time favorite course was Bob Barbera’s Macroeconomic Forecasting class: “It’s extremely current and puts you in the shoes of the world’s most important economic policy makers. Sasaki’s Big Data, Karni’s Information and Uncertainty, Papageorge’s Sex and Drugs and Dasgupta’s Rich Countries Poor Countries classes are all highlights as well.”  Overall: “Economics teaches you a new way to view and analyze the world, using powerful tools like econometrics and game theory.”

Sam continued his shared interests with Professor Barbara by writing a senior thesis on “The Changing Economics of Non-Renewable Resources and Demand Expectations.” “This was  an amazing experience that  gave me the opportunity to explore a new subject and engage in building my own economic forecast which I then had to defend and enhance over a period of months.“

Sam studied abroad in Hangzhou, China, just two hours out of Shanghai, in a language-intensive program focusing on the developing financial markets of East Asia. He spent each summer of his college career doing an internship, first with a wealth manager from his home town, then in Private Equity with The Blackstone Group and Data Science with Bloomberg LP in NYC.

After graduation, Sam will be working as a consultant for McKinsey & Co.

Sam, do you have any advice for potential Economics majors?

“When you have a lecture… go to it. When you have office hours… go to them. The entry level professors are extremely interesting and knowledgeable. It is much easier to learn from them rather than a textbook especially in the early years and they have the added benefit of being super helpful”

Wen Wen Teh ‘18

Wen Wen Teh ‘18

Wen Wen was born and raised in a suburb of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and chose to study at Hopkins because she was originally interested in Neuroscience.  She then added the Economics major, attracted to the idea that the discipline provides a good framework for studying human behavior and decision-making.  Wen Wen particularly enjoyed Economics of Health taught by Dr. Bishai. “The class had a good blend of theory and application and provided me insight into the economics perspective of the healthcare system. I grew to appreciate how widely applicable the skills and theories of economics are.”

Wen Wen was co-president of the Chinese Students Association as well as secretary of Omega Psi, the Cognitive Science Undergraduate Society. She was involved in the International Student Ambassador Program, and also volunteered as part of the Refugee Action Project and with Charm City Care Connection.

Wen Wen pursued a range of internships, including working with the International Rescue Committee to provide assistance to refugees and asylees in identifying and meeting their employment needs.  In summer of her junior year, she worked with a professor from the Bloomberg School of Public Health and assisted with projects in Vietnam that focused on the psychological impact of injuries.  This was followed up by an internship at a public policy think tank in Malaysia where she witnessed first hand the election resulting in a change in government for the first time in 60 years. Says Wen Wen: “It was really exciting to think that the work I do can impact policy decisions in this historic time.”

Wen Wen is currently pursuing an MA in International and Development Economics at Yale University. Ultimately, she hopes to pursue a career in international development, with a specific focus on health issues. “I believe that there is much potential in developing economies and I would like to contribute, be it in my home country of Malaysia or any other developing nation. “

Do you have any advice for potential Economics majors?

“Take the relevant math classes sooner rather than later.” Sage advice, Wen Wen.

Ryan Kellner ‘18

Ryan Kellner ‘18

A family friend suggested Ryan Kellner look into Johns Hopkins. He did, and found “a unique space where I could carve out my own niche in studying both law and economics. It was the only school I found that allowed me almost total academic freedom. My curriculum over my four years reflected that flexibility. I took classes in everything from political science, to philosophy, to computer science, to, of course, economics.”

Ryan majored in Economics, and, unusually perhaps, did not pursue other majors or minors because he wanted to be able to choose a range of courses across the university.  “I had a sense that I wanted to attend law school coming into Hopkins, but I wanted to diversify. The Economics Department provided the opportunity to attack typical legal problems, like crime and antitrust issues, through a new set of tools.  The upper level classes had incredibly small class sizes, which led to great discussion and strong relationships with my professors. My senior year classes were some of my favorites for these reasons.”

Outside of class, Ryan captained one of Hopkins’ Mock Trial Teams, led a group of tutors in Hopkins’ Jail Tutorial Project, and served as a research assistant at the Poverty and Inequality Research Lab.

Ryan worked in several legal internships, but found that he often drew on his economic toolkit.  He is currently working for the District Attorney’s Office in Manhattan as a paralegal, hoping this opportunity will help him decide if law schools is the right choice. “The Economics Department instilled in me a love for antitrust issues (particularly Professor Hamilton’s Economics of Antitrust course), and practicing antitrust law would be a great way to satisfy my legal and economic interests.”

What advice does Ryan have for potential economics majors?

“Study hard and meet with professors often.   Study math and make sure you can write well. All of these skills will be important moving forward.”

Peter Durham ‘18

Peter Durham ‘18

Peter grew up in Western Maryland and chose to attend Johns Hopkins both because of the location and because of the emphasis on academic research. He completed a double major in Economics and German.  “Economics is a widely applicable subject that can be useful in many different fields. As someone who entered Hopkins undecided, Economics was a good fit and helped me find direction throughout my college career.”

Peter’s favorite aspects of economics classes were the small sizes in the upper-level courses as well the wide variety of options available. From majoring in Economics, Peter learned:  “how to approach problems critically, especially when trying to rationalize behavior. I also developed skills in quantitative analytics as well as modeling.”

In his junior summer and senior year, Peter worked as a research assistant for the Poverty Inequality Research Lab where he conducted quantitative research on public housing programs.   This led to a senior thesis, advised by Professor Nick Papageorge, faculty in the Economics Department, and Phil Garboden, graduate student in the Sociology Department, investigating the impact of increasing fair market rates on the segregation levels of section 8 voucher holders. “Writing the thesis provided me with the invaluable experience of conducting independent research and helped me integrate economic concepts and skills that I learned in my economics classes.”

During his time at Hopkins, Peter also enjoyed serving on the executive board of Alpha Kappa Psi, a co-ed business fraternity and working as an analyst for Students Consulting for Non-profit Organizations. He was treasurer of the Medical Translation and Interpretation Initiative, whose mission is to improve the means of communication between patients and health -care providers.

After graduation, Peter will be working as an analyst for Merkle, creating digital marketing solutions to aid clients. “My work with Merkle will combine my interests in quantitative analysis with marketing and business. Ultimately, I hope to pursue a career in either advanced analytics or to transition into management positions where I would lead teams through rapidly changing business environments.

Advice for potential Economics majors? “Push yourself out of your comfort zone and try courses across the wide range offered by the Economics department. Don’t specialize before you’re certain you’ve found the field/discipline for you.”

Peter, we couldn’t agree more!

Molly Elder ‘18

Molly Elder ‘18

Molly hails from Seattle, Washington. A big part of her decision to attend Hopkins was that she wanted to double major, and knew it would be possible at Hopkins. “I’m very glad to have had the opportunity, since I found that economics and philosophy pair very well with each other.”  Along the way, Molly picked up a math minor as well.

Molly, why did you choose Economics? “I took AP Micro in high school and it just clicked with me. I’ve known since tenth grade that econ was what I wanted to do.”

Molly particularly enjoyed the Economics of Fixed Income Instruments because it was the first economics course to make full use of her math training. “It was challenging, but also immensely satisfying to be able to apply all the pure math courses I’ve taken to my deeper interest, economics. There were only five students in the class, and I found that my success in this challenging course was contingent on working with and learning from my fellow students. Each of us had different strengths, and most of the problem sets couldn’t be solved correctly without contributions from all of us.  I really enjoyed this collaborative atmosphere, in which I could learn from other students as well as from my professor.”

Molly also threw herself into extra-curricular activities, playing rugby freshman and sophomore years, and taking active roles both in the Sexual Assault Resource Unit, and Refuel Our Future, the campaign to get Hopkins to divest from fossil fuels. She was also a PILOT leader for the introductory economics classes for several years, and was Teaching Assistant for a class in probability and statistics in her final semester.

Interning at a financial technology startup, Molly got to wear a lot of different hats. “I even got to help model possible pricing schemes. I also did a research internship with Friends of the Earth, focusing on the palm oil industry.”

Molly is currently in a PhD program at Tufts, studying Economics and Public Policy with a focus on environmental economics.  “I was pretty outdoorsy growing up, and that has translated into a strong sense of duty to do my small part for the planet. I look forward to building on all the skills and knowledge in economics, philosophy, and math that I have developed at Hopkins in my graduate work.”  Ultimately, Molly hopes to work in the field of environmental policy, using the skill set of a trained economist to positively impact the environment and on those impacted by environmental degradation.

Molly what is your advice for Economics majors?

“Go to office hours! Your TAs want to help, and working with the other students in attendance is also extremely valuable. Also, if you get a chance, take an ethics class. You’ll find it’s very relevant.”