NU junior Allyssa Wadsworth presented a research paper at the SEA conference in New Orleans with Dr. Jay Walker, assistant professor of economics.

Niagara University’s College of Business Administration has a history of encouraging students to think beyond writing a paper for a class and, instead, with faculty collaboration, turn an idea for a paper into a conference worthy presentation.

Allyssa Wadsworth, a junior working towards a double degree in economics and mathematics, and Dr. Jay Walker, assistant professor of economics, attended the 85th Annual Conference of the Southern Economic Association in New Orleans, La., in November. Wadsworth presented their paper, “Religiosity and the Impact of Religious Secondary Schooling,” as part of Session 3.A.34 on culture and income.

This paper grew directly from a class project in Dr. Walker’s spring 2015 econometrics course. The course focuses on preparing students for empirical work, such as data analysis, regression analysis and forecasting. Dr. Walker explains that the course is a great help to increasing students’ abilities to conduct this type of analytical research. Dr. Walker advised, “Last spring, the College of Business offered econometrics for the first time on the undergraduate level. I feel that this project and Allyssa’s ability to prepare and present a paper at a professional academic conference was a direct result of that course.”

While in New Orleans, Wadsworth and Dr. Walker met with Candace (Miller) Jens, ’08, who is now an assistant professor of finance at Tulane University. She gave them a tour of campus and showed them around Tulane and the surrounding neighborhood.

“Attending the SEA conference was a very valuable experience for me, it allowed me to network with both a graduate from Niagara and a multitude of other professors,” Wadsworth said. “Being able to talk with the professors about graduate school and teaching gave me a better sense about future expectations. I enjoyed meeting Candace, touring Tulane’s campus and visiting iconic New Orleans locations.”

Dr. Walker complimented Wadsworth for her diligence, stating, “Allyssa invested herself in the project and I am very proud of her effort. I look forward to the next stage of the process, taking the comments and feedback received at the conference and readying the paper for submission to an academic journal.”

In addition to her presentation, Wadsworth also met numerous professors from across the country. Wadsworth is interested in attending graduate school to pursue an advanced degree in economics, making this a great opportunity for her to ask for advice regarding what to look for in possible schools. To assist with networking, they also attended a reception presented by the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans at Tulane University at Café Giovanni in the French Quarter.

Opportunities like this would not be possible without the financial support and the backing of the college. Dr. Walker commented, “I’d like to thank both Dean Shawn Daly and Dr. Dan Tompkins, chair of the department of economics and finance, for their support in allowing Allyssa to attend the conference. Undergraduate research is an experience that a school our size uses  to differentiate itself. Offering courses like econometrics, along with the initiation of our new bachelor of arts degree in economics, signals a continued commitment to engaging in research with undergraduates.”

Wadsworth also offered her thanks: “I would like to thank Dean Daly and Dr. Tompkins for making this experience possible, and also to Dr. Principe and Dr. Rensel for their feedback and tips for presenting.  It has been a great pleasure working with Dr. Walker on the paper and we have plans to continue the progress on it.”

The culmination of almost a year’s effort, from transitioning the study from a class project into an academic paper, Wadsworth acknowledged, “The best lesson that I learned from attending the conference is to stay confident in both myself and the work that is being done.  With my new found confidence, I was able to present with ease in front of a crowd of academics.”

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