Alumni Stories


Hannah Asgharifard ‘16

Hannah Asgharifard ‘16

1. What have you been doing since you graduated from Valparaiso University?

While at Valpo, I double majored in economics and mathematics with a minor in statistics. Since graduating from Valpo in 2016, I got a M.S. in biostatistics from Indiana University. After receiving my master’s degree, I moved to Metro Detroit to start my career in the health insurance industry. In April 2021, I started a remote position at BCBS of MN as senior risk adjustment analyst.

2. How has your experience in the Economics department at Valparaiso University helped you to navigate your post-graduation academic or professional career?

My experience with the economics department has helped me navigate to my professional career. Throughout the job search process, I found jobs that utilized my biostatistics but also economics degrees and utilized SAS.

3. What Econ courses that you took as an undergrad were/are valuable during your time at VU and beyond?

The courses that I took in the economics department taught me how to look at the world with an analytical mind.

-Econometrics was the first course I took that sparked my interest in what statistics can do and it really catapulted me into finding my niche. 

-Economics of Race and Gender has helped me throughout my career to understand the fundamentals of disparities and the Social Determinants of Health.

-Applied Data Science is the course that prepared me most for what working in analytics looks like daily.

4. What advice do you have for current students aiming to follow in your professional path?

Take all the programming classes that are available, I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to take a multitude of SAS classes while at Valpo. The skills I learned while at Valpo I have used every day throughout furthering my education and my career thus far.

Cameron Banga

Cameron Banga ‘10

1. What have you been doing since you graduated from Valparaiso University?

Shortly after graduation, I started my own company developing mobile applications for the iPhone and Android. I did this for about 7 years, working on approximately 150 different mobile applications for a variety of industries and companies. During that time, I also was able to write two books on mobile application user interface and user interaction design. In 2017, I took a job with a local Valparaiso company working on the modernization of industrial equipment and we were soon after acquired by Continental AG. Currently, I serve as head of software engineering for the Industrial Fluid Solutions business unit, for Continental’s industrial division:

2. How has your experience in the Economics department at Valparaiso University helped you to navigate your post-graduation academic or professional career?

Having a background in economics was very useful in starting my own business, but my education from Valpo has maybe been the most useful over the past 18 months as our team works through the challenges presented by COVID-19. In addition to managing our software engineering team, I also work with our team locally to source components used in our industrial hose crimpers. Over the past months, sourcing the computers, tablets, integrated circuits, metals, and other hardware components for our machine has been very difficult as the entire globe struggles through shocks to the supply chain. I’ve found it extremely helpful to have a background in economics, allowing me to have a good understanding of market reports, forecast outlooks, and various news reports on the state of the global economy. It’s helped me to better understand the issues we are facing, and then make better decisions on how to best position our team and avoid product shortages.

3. What Economics courses that you took as an undergrad were/are valuable during your time at VU and beyond?

Working for a large global company, I’ve been fortunate in that I have had a chance to travel and work directly with colleagues in Germany, and also collaborate digitally with teammates in Canada, Mexico, England, France, China, Brazil, and many other countries. International Economics was great preparation for working with a global company, as it gave me a basis to better understand the international world economy. 

4. What advice do you have for current students aiming to follow in your professional path?

My personal path probably diverged a bit from what most Valpo Econ students plan on when they start their path toward their degree. But I think my best advice would be to just remain open to opportunities, and be sure to look for opportunities that truly pique your interest and make you happy. Economics is a broad field and very applicable to a wide range of career paths. If possible, try to find a diverse range of jobs or internships during college so that you can get a better grasp on the types of jobs that you really enjoy. 

 Robert Schmidt

Robert Schmidt ’06

Robert Schmidt ’06 has been sharing his economic savvy with principles of economics students for the past two summers. Professor Schmidt says the best memories have to be the first time the class or an individual grasps an economic concept. “There’s nothing quite like knowing you’ve shown someone a new idea or way of thinking that they can use for the rest of their life,” Professor Schmidt says. “The economic way of thinking doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but seeing the class understand a new thought process is quite memorable. The biggest difficulty lies in the bridge between my understanding of economics and the students’ view of economic issues. I’ve spent years formulating my way of thinking and some things come naturally to me. Trying to place myself in their shoes to make sure they understand economics can be challenging, but rather enjoyable.” Professor Schmidt has also learned how difficult teaching can be. “I’ve given plenty of lengthy presentations and answered questions from professionals and academics, but the inquisitive (and sometimes wandering) mind of a student really does keep me on my toes,” he says. Professor Schmidt says that teaching at Valpo has increased his belief in the importance of economics in higher education. “Understanding economic concepts is critical for anyone, especially those working in government, business, and education. “Again, the most enjoyable moments are those when either an individual or a whole class snaps into understanding a complex idea.”



Li Shen ’18

I have gained valuable experience and knowledge from the IEF program. By taking economics and econometrics courses, I have improved my ability to analyze current issues, especially economic issues. The IEF program prepares you well for your career. You not only take courses in economics, but also take courses in financial analysis and time series analysis. Meanwhile, professors motivate you to do research, which gives you a strong academic background for further academic achievement.


Vashil Fernandez ’16

I graduated from Valparaiso University with a Bachelors and two Masters degrees, the second being International Economics and Finance (IEF). The various courses in the IEF program, covering economics, statistics and finance, among others, has helped me to become more aware of economic issues across the world. The IEF program also helped me to develop ideas to help my home country (Jamaica) to continue on a sustainable growth path.