Yi Ma, an international student from China, started her first year at Northeastern University in the General Studies Program before declaring a major in economics and a minor in mathematics.
Here is Yi’s Northeastern story…
Before entering college, Yi was undecided about what to study but knew she wanted to study something centered in humanities. Yi sought a major that provided new ways to understand a complex world. She declared a major in economics in her second year at Northeastern after she discovered the field’s multidisciplinarity and its ability to provide a broad understanding of how society works.
Over the years, Yi’s decision has been reinforced by the skills she has acquired through her economic classes and co-op positions. She’s learned how to objectively look at a problem and apply different analytic methods to come up with solutions.
ECON 1115 “Principles of Macroeconomics”
Yi’s first economics class was “Principles of Macroeconomics” with Professor Bill Dickens. At first Yi found the course to be daunting but an open-ended assignment on the possible consequences of the fiscal cliff and its effects on the economy transformed how Yi felt both about the class and economics.
“During this assignment, Professor Dickens challenged our independent thinking. In order to complete this assignment, I was ‘forced’ to look into this issue and form my own opinion. During this process, I learned that one has to understand the issue completely in order to form an opinion so I did an extensive research on the issue and got a better understanding of the topic. It clicked suddenly. I found that there was a theory called ‘crowding-out’ effect from increasing government spending and that applies to this situation. That was the first time I actually started to see the importance of theory.”
Yi participated in two cooperative education opportunities.
For Yi’s first co-op position, she worked as a data analyst in the Boston office of Millward Brown Digital, a marketing research company. It was there where she was able to enhance her analytic skills.
For her second co-op, Yi worked in New York City at Guy Carpenter, a reinsurance broker, as a catastrophe modeling assistant where her responsibilities included conducting data mining, performing data analysis, and using internal software programs to calculate estimate losses that could be sustained due to a catastrophic event. In that position, Yi learned data usage in the context of reinsurance.
“Both experiences showed me the value of data as a tool to better understand the world and drove my determination to dig more into the field of economics.”
In her sophomore year, Yi became an economics tutor to help students struggling in their classes.
As an economics peer tutor in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, Yi gives advice and guidance to first-year students transitioning into college life.
Yi studied abroad in her junior year at the London School of Economics where she thoroughly enjoyed the numerous academic activities including lectures, workshops, and author talks.
One of the most memorable lectures was on “Macroeconomics” with Lord Meghnad Desai. Lord Desai is a British economist and a parliamentarian sitting in the House of Lords and is Professor Emeritus of Economics at the London School for Economics. In this lecture, Professor Desai offered an explanation of why economists failed to predict the financial crisis with a history of economic thoughts.
“I was lucky to get a chance to study abroad at the London School of Economics. It has become one of the the best moments of my college career.”
Yi will be graduating in the Spring of 2017 with a BS in economics and a minor in mathematics. She is looking for a research related internship and applying to PhD programs in economics.
Yi’s path included two data analysis co-op positions in Boston and New York, a study abroad program at the London School of Economics, and other opportunities that developed her passion for economic thought and analysis. More importantly, Yi credits her economic studies with her transformation into an independent thinker.
“I used this economic mindset to account for different factors that could contribute to a certain phenomenon and have started to develop my own opinions on social issues such as income inequality, minimum wage, and welfare.”
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