Hi everyone! My name is Juliet Flynn and I am an incoming senior at Pitt studying mathematics and economics. This summer did not go entirely as expected, as I am sure many of you can relate to, which explains why I am a bit late to begin blogging. Originally, I had planned to intern at the Treasury in Washington D.C. this summer. Although my internship was cancelled, I am extremely grateful to conduct an independent research project this summer, supported by the G. Alec Stewart Endowed Student Research Award. This year has taught me the importance of adaptability and resilience, and although I was disappointed to lose my opportunity to work in D.C., I am eager to learn and grow through this new opportunity.
This past school year, I had the incredible chance to study abroad at the London School of Economics. This was the first time Pitt sent students to this prestigious university, and it was an honor to experience a new culture and learn from pioneering professors in my field. I took classes that are not typically offered to undergraduates, like the Internationalization of Economic Growth, Philosophy of Economics and Economics in Public Policy. These classes were engaging and fascinating. I particularly enjoyed my Economics in Public Policy course, which inspired me to strive to work in economic policy after graduation. Although I enjoyed my study abroad experience, I miss Pitt and I am extremely excited to return for my final year.
Aside from math and economics, education is something that I have always been very passionate about. This probably stems from my dad, who is a high school math teacher. My dad teaches at the Philadelphia School District to students with fewer resources and funding than the school district I grew up attending. My dad is a major inspiration for me, as I have witnessed his impact on his students first-hand. He motivates them to attend college, helps them pass their SAT’s, or more recently, helps them access WiFi at home, so they can engage in virtual learning. Since coming home from London, and witnessing my dad begin teaching remotely, I have been especially reminded of the stark differences in educational access among students of different socioeconomic backgrounds. The switch to remote-learning has been difficult for my dad’s students, who often lack computers, WiFi, quiet spaces to work at home, and support from family members. This observation inspires my research project for this summer. This summer, I will look into how the coronavirus crisis and switch to remote learning may end up worsening existing educational inequality, putting lower-income students at an even greater disadvantage compared to their peers, with a focus on the Philadelphia area.
I am extremely excited for this project, and I am grateful to work alongside Brett Say, the Director of Research and Creative Programs at Pitt, who will advise me through this process. I am hopeful this research will help me learn more about educational inequality in our current world circumstances, and inspire others to do the same.