When May 2023 graduate Anna Hylen arrived at the University of Louisville, she was focused on earning a degree in social work.
However, she realized an even more powerful avenue for helping to build an equitable society – after one specific course.
“I thought, ‘There has to be a way to tackle these social problems at their roots,’ and when I took macroeconomics, that was something that I saw the potential for. Economists, and the research they contribute to, create solutions for social problems by getting to the root of what the problems are, [and] how [those solutions] can be used to create a more equitable society.”
Hylen was named the economics department’s Outstanding Graduate and was a student speaker at the May 2023 commencement ceremony.
Along with her first economics professor, John P. Nelson, who was the driving force behind her decision to switch her major from social work to economics, she also credited Beth Munnich with inspiring her future work.
With a growing desire to aid others through economics, as Hylen progressed through her program, she chose to pursue an internship to learn how she could better the lives of others through her chosen career field.
“I had an internship with a local impact investing firm called Access Ventures, and I worked under part of their [business] called Render Capital, [which creates] seed funding for local startups that are socially oriented.” That experience brought together her passion for social work and economics in a powerful way. “This is why I wanted to become an economist,” she explained. “I didn’t even know that was an avenue – impact investing, essentially, but I think that was a dream realized for me, and I took a lot away from that internship.”
Dedicated to continuing to learn after graduation, Hylen plans to spend a year in Morocco pursuing another passion: learning Arabic and immersing herself in another culture.
“I think that my perspective on life has been heavily influenced, and my understanding of economics has been heavily influenced by living in the United States, where…liberalism is the norm for our economy. I would like to see what it’s like in other economies, and so that ties in both my passion for languages and my interest in economics and how it influences us at a personal level.”
By Erica Hulse, College of Business