“I like how economics relates math to real-world situations.” —Arisa Thongngam
Many students hear the word “economics” and think “math.” For Arisa Thongngam, that was part of the appeal.
Arisa, an international student from Thailand, enjoys making sense of the world through graphs and models. Combining a major in economics with minors in both math and statistics, Arisa developed strengths in not only data management and data analysis, but also real-world problem-solving, critical thinking, and teamwork.
“Arisa was a student in my [ECON 372] History of Economic Thought class. With COVID-19, the class was online via Zoom. Arisa stood out in that class for her engagement, her insights, her contributions to a group project and her presence in class and willingness to speak up. She was one of the very best students in that class,” said Professor Alexandra Bernasek.
Arisa’s academic prowess and drive to achieve helped her secure a competitive research internship with Bernasek in her senior year.
“When I had the opportunity to hire an undergraduate research intern and Arisa applied, I did not hesitate to take her on. Arisa held her own and became a vital member of the research team working on the impacts of WASH [Water and Sanitation Hygiene] on women’s empowerment in Haiti. She worked on all aspects of the research: literature review, cleaning the data set, and econometric analysis. She is an exemplary student, and I have no doubt she has a bright future!” said Bernasek.
Beyond her success in the classroom, Arisa has stood out as a leader among her peers: she is currently serving as the Co-President of the Economics Student Leadership Council (ESLC) and has also been President of the Thai Student Association in her time at CSU.
In recognition of her academic strengths and leadership within the major, Arisa was chosen by faculty as the Outstanding Economics Major for 2021-22. When she graduates this spring, she has plans to pursue a master’s degree in economics.
In Her Own Words
What inspired you to pursue a degree in economics?
I took an economic class in my high school and fell in love with economics. Economics illustrates the change in behaviors with simple graphs by implementing assumptions. I also like mathematics, and I like how economics relates math to real-world situations.
What are your most important experiences or accomplishments at CSU?
I consider surviving through each semester while making friends, getting to know many faculties, while maintaining good grades the most important experience here at CSU. There were some challenges I encountered. The COVID-19 prevents people from socializing, and I was one of those people who were staying at home and taking classes online. It was difficult to change the way you perceive information and connect with people. Adjusting to life with COVID is very tough. However, I got through it.
What advice would you give future economics majors?
Take a bunch of math courses just in case you want go to graduate school later, and do an internship at least once before graduating.
What are your 3 “must-take” economics courses?
ECON 372 History of Economic Institutions and Thought: In addition to the mainstream economics, this course broadened my knowledge about heterodox economics.
ECON 435 Intermediate Econometrics: This course helped improve my econometric skills tremendously. It allows me to understand what was going on when I was doing a research internship where I worked with graduate students and a professor.
ECON 436 Economic Forecasting: This course focuses on forecasting time series datasets. I have learned three different methods to forecast the data: univariate analysis, vector auto regression (VAR), and vector error correction model (VECM).
What is your next step?
After spending time on schooling for many years, I decided to do more of that (LOL). I will be pursuing a master’s degree in, of course, economics.