Niko Stilianoudakis always knew economics was the right program for him. Now a senior honors student in the John Chambers College of Business and Economics who is also double-majoring in mathematics, he is building his portfolio quickly.
Last year, Niko was hand-picked to study in the first-ever Applied Regional Economics Research class, an advanced undergraduate class where students were selected prior to the Spring 2018 semester to research assigned regions, compile data and present a statistical analysis to business leaders in their respective regions. Their research involved economic forecasting for various areas of West Virginia and are part of official statewide data compiled by the WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research. Because of that success, Niko is now a BBER Witt Scholar, doing research for the entity that is at the heart of economic forecasting and studies for the state of West Virginia.
“I’m currently working to develop a model that helps predict population estimates in West Virginia,” he said. “That opportunity came right out of the great experience I had in the regional economics class.”
During his time at the Chambers College, Niko’s experiences include being president of the Consulting Club, where he worked on three major projects: the development of Mylan Park, future plans for the Morgantown Museum, and the restructuring and marketing of WVU Health Sciences.
Fast forward to now. Niko is working on his economics capstone project of explaining the state of Ohio’s vote to increase the minimum wage in 2006. “I’m trying to explain why counties in Ohio voted for that minimum wage increase,” he said, “because it doesn’t happen too often that an individual state will vote to bump up the minimum wage.”
He is also taking a Ph.D.-level economics course, which is a huge privilege for an undergraduate student. “The class is only offered to Ph.D. students, and I’m the only person in the class who isn’t a Ph.D. candidate,” Niko said. “I had to get special approval to be in the class, and it’s been an incredible experience.”
Before graduating, Niko wants to research interest rate changes and how they affect life insurance risk and bond prices, creating an economic model for his capstone project. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Economics and wants to then find a job in government or academia to continue to give back.
Through assertiveness and hard work, he said he has definitely benefitted from involvement in unique projects and distinctive opportunities at the Chambers College. “You need to be in touch with faculty about opportunities that are above and beyond classwork, and faculty are happy to help. And try to look a semester or two ahead to see what you want to get done,” Niko said. “If you work hard, these opportunities are right there.”