Student Voices: Junior Economics Major Strives for Balance in Her Academic, Professional, and Personal Life

Thursday, April 11, 2019
Abby Sparrow in cheerleading outfit

Abby Sparrow ’20 has always been a numbers person. “Math has been my strong suit in school since I was very young,” said Sparrow, who is now a double major in economics with a finance concentration and mathematics. “Finance is the perfect marriage of my interest in economic theory and my mathematical inclination, so I knew it would be the perfect career for me.” At this point in her Duke career, she studied away on the Duke in London Finance program and participated in the inaugural Student Advisory Committee for the Duke Financial Economics Center.

Sparrow was empowered from an early age to pursue her interests. She attended an all-female high school and didn’t give a second thought to how being a female might put her at a disadvantage. With finance being a traditionally male-dominated field, you might think she would be intimidated, but you’d be wrong. “I was taught and have always believed that being female is in fact an advantage in many ways as it relates to the industry. If anything, knowing that there is an underrepresentation of females in finance made it that much more attractive for me.” On a whim, she took an economics elective in high school and fell in love with the discipline. “I loved how I was able to apply data and theories to real-world situations that felt extremely relevant to everyday life.” 

Like a majority of Duke students, Sparrow is extremely driven and highly ambitious. Separate from her academic pursuits, she’s a member of Duke University Cheerleading and Vice President of her sorority (Alpha Delta Pi).  She strives to hold herself to the highest of standards, which means spending a lot of time and energy on her academic and professional pursuits. However, she tries to make time for self-care so that she can avoid the burnout that plagues Duke students. “Two things that are non-negotiable in my day are a workout and 30 minutes for myself before bed. Knowing these are non-negotiable makes me productive and efficient when I am doing schoolwork or working on job applications.”

Throughout her time at Duke and her involvement in the field of finance, Sparrow has learned a lot. Her advice to underclassmen that are interested in exploring finance? Read! “Subscribe to the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. There are so many different areas of finance and business out there, and reading is a great way to get exposure to them. It is so important to understand what is going on.”

The future looks bright for Sparrow. This summer she has an internship in sales and trading at Wells Fargo Securities in New York City. “I am so excited for the opportunity not only to explore a new city, but also to delve into an exciting, fast-paced industry and learn as much as I possibly can.”