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The Blue & Gray Press | December 12, 2018

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Students represent UMW at economics conference


Economics students from the University of Mary Washington presented their work in front of economics professionals at the Annual Conference of the Eastern Economic Association in Boston, Mass.

The conference was organized in part by UMW economics professor Steven Greenlaw. This opportunity is given to around 80 students from the U.S. each year, but the university’s level of involvement stands out from the rest, according to Greenlaw.

“Mary Washington is among a relatively small selection of schools nationwide that provide this kind of opportunity to their students,” said Greenlaw.

This year’s students from UMW included were Patrick Marek, Christopher Rieve, Taylor Knight, Sarah Dengler and Luke Mendelsohn. UMW Undergraduate Research Grants funded their research to construct a hypothesis and write an extensive paper on their findings. They presented 15 minute presentations to several well-known economists at the conference.

Knight, a junior economics major, studied environmental effects, such as unemployment and income on high school graduation rates.

Knight expressed the difficult yet rewarding aspects involved with the project.

“I would say patience is the biggest thing. I know for me, there were times where I literally broke down and cried, because it was so challenging,” said Knight. “But in the end, you just have to pull yourself together and know that you’re doing something good.”

Rieve, a senior math and economics double major, studied the effects of welfare spending and how it impacts violent crime. She found that increased welfare spending can be a crime deterrent.

“It was a blast. The conference was a lot of fun,” said Rieve. “They gave me a lot of good feedback, and I was able to discuss it and answer questions on it.”

Participating in the conference is known to help economics students figure out if they are truly interested in the field.

“For most students this is a really profound experience,” said Greenlaw. “For some students they say, ‘It was a cool experience, I’m glad I did it, but it’s not something I want to do professionally.”

The students also have the opportunity to share their findings with faculty and students on the Research and Creativity Day on campus on Friday, April 26 in Woodard Hall.