Economics and International Studies
Bethany Patten wanted to have a positive impact on people's lives and she figured that her undergraduate studies in economics would help her to do just that. Things clicked 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.
Later, she travled to northern India for a full semester, working with the Pardada Pardadi Educational Society. This organization is devoted to furthering the education of girls in India. Her work involved gathering demographic and completion data on the girls and developing a qualitative survey. This data will help the organization seek outside funding.
"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 looked for various opportunities to expand her perspective, whether it be experiential travel opportunities or research internships. She worked closely with Iowa economics faculty on research projects. Since most graduate programs in public policy require a few years of work experience, she is considering joining Teach for America.
Bethany graduated with a double major in economics and international studies and a minor in Spanish. She 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 loved every minute of it!"