Emilio Pantoja ’24 Earns Scholarship to Program Designed to Increase Diversity in Economics

Emilio Pantoja ’24

Claremont, Calif. (March 24, 2022)—Pitzer College sophomore Emilio Pantoja ’24 wants to understand how health and labor economics affect the most vulnerable populations in the US. Pantoja’s interest in the inequities in the economic system led him to apply for a scholarship to the American Economic Association Summer Program (AEASP), a prestigious program created for students who can demonstrate that they will help diversify the economics profession. 

“I became interested in applying to the AEASP after reading over the goals and values of the program as they greatly align with my own,” said Pantoja, who is a mathematical economics major and plans to pursue a PhD in economics after graduation. “The program strives to give voice to traditionally underrepresented backgrounds through both broadening participation and increasing diversity in the field of economics.”

The American Economic Association Summer Program is an intensive, two-month residential program hosted by Howard University’s Department of Economics in collaboration with the nonprofit research institute Women’s Institute for Science, Equity and Race. The US Federal Reserve Board serves as an economics faculty collaborator. As many as 20 percent of PhDs awarded to minorities in economics over the past 20 years are graduates of the program, according to the AEASP.

Each year, AEASP only admits 35-40 undergraduate students from all over the country. Pantoja recently found out that he is one of them. AEASP also awarded him a full scholarship.

Associate Professor of Economics Menna Bizuneh, who is Pantoja’s academic adviser, said admission to the AEA Summer Program is very competitive.

“And getting accepted with a full scholarship is an amazing accomplishment,” she said.

Pantoja took both Principles of Macroeconomics and Macroeconomic theory with Bizuneh, and later served as a tutor for Principles of Macroeconomics. Bizuneh, who has researched and written about the scarcity of underrepresented groups among economics majors, said that the field of economics is working to improve diversity in the discipline.

“Emilio’s acceptance into this program and his interest in getting a PhD in economics as a person of color is very critical, in my opinion,” she said.

Pantoja is looking forward to the summer program and to pursuing a goal he shares with the American Economic Association Summer Program: “generating scholarship in economics that is reflective of all communities.”

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