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Valerie Scimeca, '20

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This story is part of the Why Econ? series. Our affiliated students and faculty share why econ matters to them, their work, and our world.

Why Econ: Valerie Scimeca, '20

Valerie Scimeca’s first lesson about an economy came in the third grade.

But it wasn’t a teacher’s assignment that made much of an impression. Rather, it was the struggles she saw her father having with his real estate development business. The year was 2007, and the Great Recession was just hitting.

“Economics wasn’t this distant idea from my third-grade report, it was very real,” she says.

Today, Scimeca’s view of economics — what she considers the science of decisions — is far more sophisticated. When she took Econ 1 during her first year at Stanford in 2016, she immediately knew economics would be her major.

The Illinois native — the first in her family to go to college — had been initially considering going into computer science. But the introductory econ course won her over. The concepts of the discipline resonated with her, everywhere in life.

“They say I could have already gotten an entry-level job at Google after I finished CS106B, but it was the ideas of econ that kept rattling around in my mind — probably because the things I was learning were providing explanations for the world,” she says.

Scimeca also found it rewarding to work as an undergraduate research assistant at SIEPR. The experience exposed her to empirical research on life expectancy rates, and health and labor gaps.

“There are real people at the end of that data,” she says.

Scimeca, who received a master’s in Management Science and Engineering and is pursuing a career in finance, says her studies in economics have equipped her with a problem-solving foundation.

“I'll probably never need to draw a supply-and-demand graph in 20 years, but it's that framework that lets you think about the world in a different way, in a deeper way,” she says.

“I’m recommending econ to everybody. You can find the things in econ that click with you because you could use it for everything, and you can supplement anything you study with econ. It’s very versatile.”

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