Photo courtesy of Wint Thu (C’19).
By Luke Gair
Before Wint Thu (C’19) set foot on the Domain, she met an admissions representative from the University in the fall of 2014. Although she considered several other schools during her application process, that single interaction drove her to realize that no other school could compete with the hopes she had for Sewanee.
In the end, it was the only institution she applied to. In her time here, she has refined her skills in studying economics, with a minor in mathematics.
It was first semester of her sophomore year when she considered studying economics as a major when she realized how “closely intertwined” it was with her interest in mathematical and statistical investigation. Thu acknowledged how studying economics in a liberal arts environment is extremely intersectional.
The complexities of freshman year often made acclimating to a completely new environment quite difficult for her, with the demanding social and academic aspects well-known to be a shock to most incoming freshmen. As an international student from Myanmar and one of the first Burmese students at the University, a liberal arts university in the the South posed considerable difficulties for Thu.
Noting that her first-year experience was “a juggle between balancing the newly introduced party culture,” she emphasized her own necessity to “break free” from it, also mentioning the unexpected “explicit racism” that came from some students.
“From that point on,” she continued, “things have been looking up,” thanks to several professors who have lifted her up along the way, including Dean of Global Education Scott Wilson and Dr. Aaron Elrod of the economics department, who assisted in supervising her research work.
Long term, she hopes to utilize this research experience to study environmental and resource economics, focusing on environmental problems in developing countries.
With an economic lense, Thu sees the science “as being applicational for data analysis and learning about pollution management, taxes, emissions trading markets, opportunity costs…” She emphasized how it provides the right tools to “incorporate theory to research and interpret data trends.”
Her minor in mathematics has propelled her into having a much better understanding of the “math heavy” economics courses, mentioning the statistical methods and algorithm analysis that play into her econometrics course.
When prompted as to where she hoped to see herself down the road, she voiced a hope to be passionately carrying out research, “getting fewer hours of sleep, but becoming more fulfilled.”