2019-20 Economics Newsletter

In This Issue:

New Things Going On With The Major

I hope your semester is off to a good start. For those students who are completing their last semester as a Business Economics or Economics major, congratulations! All that hard work is about to pay off. Please be sure to keep in touch and send me (or any of the Economics faculty) your new contact information. The Economics faculty always enjoys being updated on how their former students are doing and often we like to invite students back to speak about their experiences. For those students who are sticking around, scheduling for the fall semester is just around the corner. Please see me or your assigned economic adviser to ensure you are on track. In addition, for those considering the possibility of law school, Penn State Law has recently announced a new accelerated Bachelor’s/J.D. program that allows Penn State undergraduate students to apply to Penn State Law before their final year of undergraduate studies. This new program makes it possible to complete both degrees in a compressed time frame. Both the Business Economics and Economics degree are well suited for this new option. Please see me as soon as possible if you are interested.

Have a great semester!

Dr. Kerry Adzima, Discipline Lead, Economics

Faculty Spotlight

Dr. Valerica Vlad, Associate Teaching Professor, Economics

Val Vlad

Dr. “Val” Vlad teaches numerous ECON classes here at Penn State Behrend, such as Money and Banking, Business Forecasting Techniques, and Intermediate Macroeconomic Analysis.

Where is Economics heading next?

I think macroeconomics as a science has to follow three major directions: (1) to analyze (in more depth) the role of human behavior in explaining financial and economic fluctuations, (2) generate solutions on how to harmonize economic growth and the protection of environment, and (3) provide ideas to prevent the world getting into a new Cold-War situation.

What book should every economist read?

The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers by Robert Heilbroner. The book describes the fundamental developments of economic theory. It relates the evolution of economics to the social and political context, combined with the presentation of the personal lives of great economists. Focusing on the lives of great economists, many of them being very interesting individuals, the book has the merit of dispersing some of the stereotypes of economics as being dull and dry.

I also recommend The Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy by Daniel Yergin and Joseph Stanislaw, which focuses on the evolution of economics linked to the great events from the Great Depression to the financial contagion of the late 1990s.

What non-economic jobs have you held? What surprising skills were transferable to economics?

I used to be a computer programmer (my first job). I implemented an information system for a medium-sized company in Romania. For more than three years, I wrote computer code. It was a great opportunity to learn about business, economics, accounting, and HR applied to a medium-size company. Meanwhile, I realized that the firm I was working for (and to a large extent all the businesses in Romania) needed more than good IT systems. The so-called transition—from a command economy—needed in-depth and comprehensive understanding of the free-market economic system. I started searching for the best and fastest way to improve my own understanding. That is why I decided to get an economics degree from a U.S. university. For me, the decision to pursue economics had not been a pure “endogenous” one.

Alumni Spotlight

Denise Pekelnicky

Denise Pekelnicky ’01

Business Economics graduate

Denise Pekelnicky graduated in 2001 with a degree in Business Economics. She received her Juris Doctorate at Case Western Reserve University of Law in 2010 after working for several years at Erie Insurance Group as a product rating and analytics manager. Pekelnicky graduated at the top of her major and participated in the Society of Undergraduate Economists and Delta Sigma Pi.

What is one of the most interesting/unique aspects of your job?

One of the most interesting aspects of my job is that I am constantly learning new topics in the data environment while leading a team of sixteen employees. My job is something different every day, which truly makes it interesting.

What would you tell your college self if you could go back in time?

What I would tell my college self is to not sweat the small stuff and take time to enjoy friends and family at every opportunity. You can never get time back, and there is only so much available to you, but we never know the balance in our account.

Student Spotlights

Christopher Butler ’21

Christopher Butler

Business Economics and Finance

What is one of the most interesting/unique aspects of your internship?

At Northwestern Mutual, I help people realize their financial goals. Working as a financial representative intern, I sit down with people and have an honest discussion with them about where they are in their life financially and where they want to be in their life, as well as what I can do to get them there. It is really gratifying for both of us when they achieve their goals.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received at Behrend?

The best piece of advice was from Travis Yates, lecturer in economics. He said, “You need to know your stuff and your market. Become an expert in your field, because if you make yourself invaluable, there’s no replacing you.”

Why did you choose economics? What attracted you to it?

I came in as a Risk Management major ready to leave for University Park, but my second economics class, ECON 102 with Travis Yates turned the curve for me. The course helped me realize the potential of understanding what it can do in other aspects of my academic path, which is why I’m coupling it with a Finance major.

Seth Jordan

Seth Jordan ’23

Business Economics

What attracted you to Penn State Behrend?

I was interested in the Business Economics program, and out of all the schools I toured I liked Behrend’s campus the most.

If you knew you could not fail, what would you do?

I would pick up as many minors that relate to my major as I could.

Club Updates and More

Society for Undergraduate Economists (SUE) is the Black School of Business’ economics major-related organization for all interested students. During the fall semester, SUE worked on sponsorship, collaborations, and planning for the annual Spring Student Business Trip and has recently received funding through the Student Engagement Network. Some of the companies included on the trip are the Chicago Board of Options Trade; Magnan Family Wealth Management Group; Ernst & Young; Merkle; Edelman; Dunamis Partners; and Pepsi. In addition, SUE welcomed Patty Moroz, field director in the Economic and Market Analysis Division of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, in September. She presented a talk titled “What Can You Do with an Econ Degree?”

Ken Louie and Patty Moroz

From left, Dr. Ken Louie, associate professor of economics, and Patty Moroz, field director in the Economic and Market Analysis Division of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Lion Entertainment Board (LEB) and Delta Sigma Pi are co-sponsoring an event featuring renowned speaker, author, and mentor Adam Carroll, whose photo is featured below, on April 1 in 180 Burke. Economics and Business Economics majors or minors are encouraged to join Delta Sigma Pi through BehrendSync to receive club notifications. Meetings are every two weeks on Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m. in 104 Burke.

Adam Carroll