Never Too Young for Economics

Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

The smell of delicious, warm, chocolatey cookies filled the car, and four pairs of hands rushed for the first of these decadent desserts. My family is usually not aggressive, but with cookies around, it’s each person for himself. This memorable childhood tradition left me with something beyond a satisfied stomach. Every time we went to a drive-thru for freshly baked cookies, my parents handed me the change to save in my piggy bank. As my coin collection grew heavier, I learned my first economic lesson: “It’s not about how much money you make, it’s how you save it.”

From a young age, my parents enforced the idea that money was earned. Growing up, I learned to decide between spending my $20-per-month allowance on a new trendy dress or on hot chocolate for my frequent study sessions at local coffee shops. Little did I know that with every decision, my 11-year-old self was computing the opportunity cost and comparative advantage of each choice.

In high school, after joining a business club called DECA and taking a marketing class, I learned about finance, marketing, and economics through creating several thirty page mock business plans that had in-depth research and expenditure spreadsheets, which helped me foster knowledge about the business world. Through an immense amount of perseverance, I won first place at the California DECA state competition. This year, I serve as the President of my school’s DECA club, which had the most qualifying members out of all other California DECA clubs to the International level competition. Through my involvement in DECA, I’ve learned to organize large-scale conferences, work in groups, behave professionally, and speak effectively in front of crowds.

However, in order to expand my knowledge in the economics of businesses more, this past summer, I seized the opportunity to study micro and macro-economics at a community college. Unlike many other subjects I had studied before, I could see how theories such as monetary and fiscal policy were applicable in my lifetime, such as during the 2007-2009 Great Recession. Also in summer, I applied this newfound knowledge from my economics classes to my marketing internship at a local start-up company called KidzToPros, which connects aspiring athletes to coaches. I vigorously researched, collected data, and organized outreach activities. At the start of my internship, in May, the company was just in San Francisco Bay Area, but by August we had expanded our outreach to eighteen major cities around the country, acquired over 19,000 new children participants, and got eight new company partnerships. I saw how similar marketing plans I wrote about in DECA were put into use into a real company and how successful they were.

Not many of my peers have had the opportunity of receiving an extensive background in a subject they love. More importantly, not many students are even given the opportunity to fall in love with economics in high school due to the lack of exposure. In order to expose less fortunate students to economics and make it more easily accessible to them, I initiated my own project. I contacted local family shelters and started an after-school mentoring program based in a family shelter at Richmond as well as at my local junior high school to introduce students to the business world and show them how learning about economics can start with a simple piggy bank. My hope for teaching the underprivileged about personal finance, smart saving, and entrepreneurship, is that at least some of them could begin taking steps towards breaking the poverty circle.

By teaching basic concepts to seventh and eighth graders, students were introduced to economics and business early on, unlike most students who only take Economics for one semester in senior year. Learning about economics both inside and outside of the classroom has allowed me to apply textbook learning to real life to see the unlimited ways economics can be applied in our world.

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