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When I was eight, as my father and I were walking down an ordinary street in Bangladesh, we passed several street vendors, all shoeless, dirty, and tattered. I halted. “Dad,” I whispered, tugging on his arm. “Do they earn enough to eat?”
My shock at such blatant disparity hadn’t dissipated by the time I’d enrolled in microeconomics junior year. Our class was engaged in a realistic game in which all 127 students managed simulated firms. Very quickly, I’d grown into the largest firm in the class. I’d become so profitable, in fact, that I had sufficient cash to purchase all of the input units for October. But what about others who have worked just as hard as I have? I wondered. If I prevented them from producing in October, many of their firms would be crippled, and some would go bankrupt. Sure, it was only a simulation, but it didn’t matter. I refused to corner the market. Instead, I continued to strategize other ways of doing business without harming other firms. To my amazement, by the end of that term, I’d not only made the most profit, but I’d also created a far more constructive environment for others. It was then that my passion for social welfare was solidified.
Today, I can’t think of a better place to study social welfare than Penn. I’m impressed with Penn’s commitment to both deepening intellectual understanding and utilizing knowledge to profoundly benefit others. I plan to major in mathematical economics, which will provide me the foundation I need to go on and create powerful change. I love that economics courses like Social Choice Theory emphasize that mathematics is the only language powerful enough to make deep progress in addressing social welfare issues. Also, knowing that I’d have the opportunity to study under professors like Dirk Krueger, who has done much research in this arena, shows me that I’d gain incredible knowledge through courses and interactions with my professors.
Penn’s One University policy would allow me to delve into my study of economics from multiple angles so that I can gain an in-depth understanding of economic social impact. It would be an amazing opportunity to take Wharton courses such as impact investing, or to study under accomplished professors like Jacob Gray, whose work underscores the resources provided to the Penn community for research. I could also take courses in Penn’s engineering school, allowing me to explore the NETS major, which analyzes real world issues with a quantitative mindset. Additionally, Penn’s foundational approaches would ensure that I obtain knowledge that will enhance my understanding of a wider range of social issues.
I also look forward to getting involved in The Institute for Economic Research and Penn’s Undergraduate Economics Society. Both would afford me opportunities to conduct research with professors such as George Mailath and Andrew Postlewaite. I greatly admire their joint paper on “Social Assets,” which brilliantly presents a model that takes into account not just economic factors, but social as well—something I know to be vitally important to the health of any economy and community. Through researching at Penn, I’d gain valuable insight into real social welfare issues that I wouldn’t attain through coursework alone.
Outside of classes, I’d love to take part in the winning tradition of Penn’s club soccer team, further pursue economics through the Turner Social Impact Society, and join Penn’s Undergraduate Math Society. I also plan to get involved in the local community. From educating low-income youth about personal finance in the Moneythink club to teaching 3rd and 4th graders in the Philly area to swim in Penn’s “We Can Swim!” program, I’d easily find ways to utilize my strengths to help others. I can’t think of a university I’d be prouder to call my alma mater, or a better place to continue bridging the social sciences and social responsibility.
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