Undergraduate Student Spotlights

Arden He

Hometown: Stevens Point, WI

Year in School: Junior

Interests/Hobbies: Poetry, critical theory, cooking, thrifting

Employment/Involvements/Activities: Kaufman Lab/Farm 2 Facts, Lead @ Econ, WIDE

Where is your favorite place on campus to eat and your favorite food?

I love Estacion Inka, which is a Peruvian restaurant on University. Plantains are among my favorite foods and they’re super affordable, so I would definitely recommend it to all students!

What has been your favorite Econ course?

My favorite course has definitely been the independent study I’m in right now. I’m doing a joint thesis with Jesse Gregory from the econ department, as well as Alfonso Morales from the urban planning department. I’m writing about racial inequities in Chicago public housing in the 1950s-60s, and the political machinations that contributed to it. It’s been very fun and fulfilling being able to work both my econometric and historiographic skills, and to contribute something novel to historic data that not many economists have looked at.

If you have any other majors or certificates in addition to Econ, how did you decide to add Econ or add the other major/cert?

I’m also majoring in math and data science, and I have a certificate in computer science. I find that these are all really natural additions to the econ major if you’re going to grad school, since economics has developed from its more philosophical origins to be the most quantitative social science. I actually had a hard time choosing just these three majors—at various points in my undergraduate career I’ve wanted to also major in cartography, classics, and finance.

Where did you intern/research, and did you have a good experience? Why or why not?

I conduct research at Kaufman lab, where we do basic research on farmers markets and local food systems, and also help food organizations implement and evaluate community programs. I’m really grateful for this experience because I’ve been able to get experience in both quantitative and qualitative research, as well as co-author a few publications. It’s also really gratifying to do research with tangible social impact.

Do you know what you want to do after graduation? If yes, what? If not, what advice would you give to another student who may not know either?

I want to pursue mixed-method economic research which will likely focus on housing and inequity. This probably means a mix of graduate school and working at think tanks before I decide what avenue is best to pursue this kind of research. Quantitative and qualitative approaches often have mutually exclusive goals & epistemologies, so I’ve accepted that my desire for mixed-method research is rare among econ faculty, and that my path might be a little untraditional.