Why do people make the choices they make? What influences someone to do one action as opposed to another? Questions like these and stories about people have always been interesting to senior undergraduate Honors student Carolyn Watson, who discovered economics as a middle schooler when her father gave her a copy of Freakonomics. Like many readers of the New York Times bestseller, Carolyn was immediately engrossed and eager to learn more. Going on to read the rest of the series, Carolyn found economics offered a lens through which she could study people, decision making, and ultimately try to explain why things happen.
Arriving on campus intending to pursue economics, Carolyn quickly became involved in Greek Life on campus where she has not only served her sorority as the Vice President of Finance, but has also worked with an LGBT+ group for members of Greek Life to create a space to recognize and gain more visibility for LGBT+ Greeks. Through these experiences, Carolyn has gained public speaking skills and a strong sense of leadership; noting how important it is for leaders to make tough decisions in order to stand up for what they believe in and doing what is right even if it is unpopular.
Carolyn also took advantage of opportunities presented by U-M to study abroad. After her sophomore year, she traveled to England and studied at the London School of Economics, taking courses in Development Economics and Global Politics in the Middle East. The prior Carolyn found particularly interesting; recalling its emphasis on behavioral economics aspects, she found she learned much about the discipline as well as London culture.
Her experiences in London and her time working in economics consulting over the past summer have led Carolyn to learn much about the world outside the classroom. Intending to attend graduate school, she has also become aware how important it is to consider how various courses and your education in general will translate into the working world. Of course, she also expresses how it is ok to try different things and figure out your own preferences and goals, as well as to accept that nothing has to be set in stone.
During her time at U-M, Carolyn has gained much from her major—especially in understanding the different career opportunities for someone in her field. She is most interested in the behavioral aspects of economics and hopes she can move towards a future where she is in a position to work publicly or privately in research about how humans think and make decisions in order to influence policy or create better government programs.