Economics and International Studies major
Bethany Patten wants to have a positive impact on people's lives and she figures that her undergraduate studies in economics will help her to do just that. Things really started to click for Bethany during a three-week University of Iowa course in Tamil Nadu, India. It was then that she realized that economics is present in everything. By applying economic principles, you may be able to have a positive impact on people’s lives.
During that winter course, she and other students were paired with Indian non-profits for three weeks. As she worked with the Life Education Center in southern India, she helped them prepare preliminary materials for grant applications.
She travels to northern India this fall for a full semester to work with the Pardada Pardadi Educational Society. This organization is devoted to furthering the education of girls in India. Her work will involve gathering demographic and completion data on the girls and developing a qualitative survey. This data will help the organization seek outside funding. She will then return to Iowa in the spring and write a thesis on the project.
"These types of experiences have been instrumental in my development," she explains. "I knew that I wanted to help people but I wasn't sure exactly how. I enjoy exploring an issue, gathering data, and then developing results that will, hopefully, have a positive impact in the future."
In addition to these trips, Bethany has looked for various opportunities to expand her perspective, whether it be experiential travel opportunities or research internships. She has worked closely with Iowa economics faculty on research projects and is hoping to explore a career in development economics. Since most graduate programs in public policy require a few years of work experience, she is considering joining Teach for America.
Bethany expects to graduate in May 2011 with a double major in economics and international studies and a minor in Spanish. Before that happens, however, she has a full year ahead of her. "Researching and volunteering abroad in the fall semester and writing a thesis in the spring semester will help me confirm my interests in research and field study.."
Bethany first enrolled at Iowa as an international studies major but her mom recommended that she take some classes that might provide mathematical skills that would apply in the workplace. "I remembered that I liked my economics AP classes in high school, so I thought I'd try that," she explains. "I started taking economics classes at Iowa and I've loved every minute of it!"