Elizabeth Richardson, Trinity Communications
Senior Raghav Rasal knew he was going to be an Economics major before he even came to Duke. With that knowledge he immediately immersed himself in the department as soon as he arrived in Durham.
“During my freshman Fall, I was part of the Modeling in Economic and Social Sciences Focus Cluster," said Rasal. The FOCUS program is for students in their first semester at Duke. Students apply and can choose from one of 18 clusters that cover a variety of topics. The goal of the program is to expose students to concepts from various fields, spanning the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. Through the semester, students have dinner seminars, meetings with faculty and guest speakers and share housing with other FOCUS students. "Being a part of the FOCUS program helped me gain a different perspective of Economics compared to the core courses that I ultimately enrolled in later,” he said.
Rasal decided to pursue the Finance concentration within the BS in Economics. “That was a great decision in hindsight,” he said, “since it gave me a strong understanding of Micro and Macroeconomics through the core courses, but I also got to experiment with different financial elective courses and discover what parts of Finance I enjoy the most.”
Rasal also worked as a teaching assistant for two courses within the department: Intro to Econometrics and Corporate Finance.
“Both classes were very different — the former was a core class and thus involved working with a very large group of students having experiences in teaching both a larger and smaller group,” he said “The latter was for a much smaller cohort, but both gave me great experiences in understanding how to conduct myself in front of others and organize effectively.”
A highlight of his time at Duke has been serving as the Co-President of the Economics Student Union (ESU) since he was a sophomore. He said that he’s enjoyed shaping ESU into a platform for everyone, from Economics majors to students who aren’t even studying the subject but want to learn more about it. “Seeing and helping this community grow has been a major aspect of my time at Duke,” said Rasal.
Even if incoming students don’t quite know what they’re going to do at Duke, Rasal has words of wisdom for them. “It’s important to think about the types of activities and courses you want to be a part of,” he said. “One way to do this is just to talk to current students or alumni, which was something that I did and really helped me get an expectation of what my first semester at Duke could look like.”
Rasal will be heading to Beijing, China for a year after graduation, to pursue a Master’s in Global Affairs from Tsinghua University through the Schwarzman Scholars program.