Why did you decide to become an academic?
I just really love school! I’ve always enjoyed learning and teaching, especially mathematics. I gravitated toward economics because I had amazing teachers and professors. I found out that a big part of economics was straight-forward reasoning and stories set to mathematics. I took multiple economics courses with an especially influential professor, Dr. Victor Claar. Since I was the first person in my family to attend college, I certainly didn’t know anything about graduate school and thought that continuing my education after earning a four-year degree would require taking out massive student loans. I assumed graduate school was just financially out of reach. Dr. Claar talked to me about fellowships and assistantships and taught me how to apply to graduate schools and what a PhD program was like. I couldn’t believe that someone would pay me to go to school. Here I am almost twenty years later, still getting paid to go to school! It’s amazing.
What do you find most fulfilling about your job?
Encouraging and helping students grow and develop during their time at FSU. I like to let students know on the first day of class that I’m a teaching professor. I don’t have a job without them. I let them know that they can talk to me about life after graduation. I’ve had a lot of Zoom calls about graduate school and career choices this past year and a half. It’s extremely fulfilling to nudge someone into a PhD program or to encourage a student to accept a challenging position at a consulting firm. I wouldn’t be here if my professors didn’t have open door policies and make themselves available to me. I hope I can serve my students in the same way.
What are you working on or teaching right now that has your excited professionally?
I’ll be teaching Economics of Health this fall for the first time since the spring of 2020. I taught macroeconomics through the 2007-2008 financial crisis. Students were extremely engaged because they saw how much macroeconomic policy mattered and influenced their lives. Today, we can think about the lessons we’ve learned from the Covid-19 pandemic. We can talk about the FDA’s vaccine approval process, unintended consequences of an economic shut down, and the difficulties of quantifying health externalities. I’m looking forward to challenging students to think through difficult questions like, “What’s the best way to allocate scarce resources like ventilators?” I’m looking forward to the challenge of incorporating what we’ve learned from the pandemic into my course.
Source for featured image: https://coss.fsu.edu/economics/faculty/auto-draft-14/