“Studying economics has given me the tools to answer questions about how things work and why.” —Uri Bonilla
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting senior Uriel “Uri” Bonilla, you may have noticed one thing: he asks a lot of good questions.
“Since I was young, I have always been curious about how things worked and why. This drove me to constantly ask my dad random questions like, Why can’t you just go to the bank and get more money? Or, Why do Legos cost more than Hot Wheels?” he explains.
These curiosities didn’t immediately signal to Uri that he should major in economics; after all, very few students know exactly what they want to study and why. But when he took an introductory economics course, things clicked.
“Studying economics has given me the tools to answer all those random thoughts that have been popping up in my head since I was a kid. It was truly the first time I was fully engaged in a subject,” Uri said.
While CSU doesn’t offer courses in the cost of Legos, per se, taking electives such as ECON 315 Money and Banking did give offer insights into pricing and investments—knowledge that led to an internship with BlueRoom Investing. Uri’s penchant for questions also impressed many of his professors and secured him a research internship with the Regional Economics Development Institute (REDI@CSU) under Professor Stephan Weiler.
“Uri demonstrates both an intellectual curiosity and a keen eye for fresh perspectives that are exceptionally insightful. He works independently, yet always seeks out answers to frontier questions. He also worked very well within the group consulting setting of my ECON 492 Seminar, where teams of students literally act as consultants for marginalized counties in Colorado,” said Weiler.
In recognition of his achievements, Uri was awarded both the Alok Mehta and Ed A. Hewett Memorial Scholarships by the Department of Economics in 2021. This past fall, he also was inducted into Omicron Delta Epsilon honor society. Additionally, Uri has been involved in the Economics Student Leadership Council (ESLC) and CSU’s chapter of Delta Sigma Pi.
Now a job offer as a Pricing Analyst at Frontier Airlines awaits Uri, who graduates this spring with a degree in economics and minors in statistics and Spanish. He will return to his hometown of Denver to work, with a goal of earning a master’s degree down the road.
“Uri is bright, creative, and energetic, which made for a particularly successful time at CSU. I know he will do exceptionally well in any future endeavor,” said Weiler.
In His Own Words
What inspired you to pursue a degree in economics?
When I arrived at CSU, I was indecisive about what I wanted to study. Then when I took my first economics class, it was truly the first time I was fully engaged in a subject; from there, I knew. Economics is such a useful subject that can be applied to to answer complex questions in almost any possible subject or scenario. Furthermore, the overlap between economics and other areas of study is limitless.
What are your most important experiences or accomplishments at CSU?
My two most important accomplishments at CSU have to be receiving scholarships from the economics department and my internship experiences. I felt very accomplished when I received notification that I was chosen to be the Ed. A. Hewett and Alok Mehta scholar. Secondly, the internship experiences I had helped give me a sense of the real world and guided me towards what I wanted to do post-graduation. In particular, the internship experience I had with REDI was very educational and fulfilling. I was able to apply both my statistics and economics understanding into real world projects, which helped me solidify what I learned in the classroom.
What advice would you give future economics majors?
Do not shy away from math! When I began my intermediate microeconomics and econometrics courses, I was intimidated by the difficulty of the math. As I progressed through the courses, I realized that math is a very important tool in economics, and it is also a very useful skill to have for grad school and the job market. When I realized how interesting and applicable math was in economics, I fell in love with it! I went on to complete a variety of math courses, including linear algebra and a math coding course. I suggest taking as many math, statistics, and programming courses as possible!
What are your 3 “must-take” economics courses?
ECON 436 Forecasting: Time-series analysis is very useful! This course is great especially if you liked and/or excelled in ECON 335 [Introduction to Econometrics]. What you learn in this course is very useful for analyzing stocks, housing prices, commodity prices, and even cryptocurrencies. The possibilities are endless! I highly recommend this course if you want to further your understanding of econometrics and if you like the more quantitative side of economics.
ECON 315 Money and Banking is a great course that condenses the basics of finance within the context of economics. This course gave me a solid foundation in the subject and with it, I was able to get an internship working for an investment firm.
ECON 235 Working With Data is by far the most useful course to take if you are planning on going into the corporate world. In this class, you will learn the ins and outs of Excel and how to effectively organize, analyze, and visualize data. I took this course early in my college career, and it helped me greatly in both my internships and my more quantitative courses.
What is your next step?
Following my graduation in May, I will begin working at Frontier Airlines in their Strategic Pricing division as an Analyst. I was drawn to this opportunity because of the wide applications of microeconomics, econometrics, game theory, and data analysis. My goal is to begin a master’s program in economics or data science by this time next year.