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Industrial engineering background leads to an MA in economics for grad student

November 01, 2019
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With a background in industrial engineering, Aida Kazemi did not begin her academic journey in the field of economics. But when she chanced upon an economics course during her engineering studies, she realized that economics was where her interests lay.

Originally from Iran, Kazemi graduated from Simon Fraser University (SFU) in 2019 with a master’s degree in economics.

“I had a desire to enrich my knowledge in economics,” says Kazemi. “It’s a field that, if you learn it well, can be applied to all aspects of your life to make well-informed decisions.”

Kazemi wanted to experience graduate-level studies at a reputable and top-ranked university, and set her sights on SFU as a highly ranked economics institution with competent faculty.

During her time at SFU, Kazemi served as a teaching assistant working with culturally-diverse students. She also volunteered with the Association of Professional Economists of British Columbia, British Columbia’s provincial chapter of the Canadian Association for Business Economics (CABE).

These experiences at SFU paved the way for Kazemi to get a co-op placement as a health economist at the Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences (CHÉOS), an organization of experienced health outcomes researchers based at St. Paul’s Hospital. This position bridged Kazemi into the health economics research field, opening doors for her into a new research area.  Kazemi decided to pursue research in health care and is now a research assistant at the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of British Columbia.

“My passion for doing research in the health care area helped me find my way in this field,” says Kazemi. “It got me to my current position.”

She gained some of her biggest takeaways during her co-op experience, where she developed her data and statistic analysis skills, learned new applied methodologies and worked with big data. She overcame challenges to find her future career path and felt excitement at the prospect of becoming an expert in this field.

What Kazemi will miss about her time at SFU is the library’s research common room, where she enjoyed studying and meeting graduate students from all fields of study and expand her network. She could spend more than 10 hours a day there without feeling bored. She had come to build a big circle of friends at SFU from all manner of backgrounds.

“The time I spent at SFU was precious and full of great times,” says Kazemi. “Every moment was filled with new experiences, learning new skills and expanding my network for my future career.

“It was like planting fruitful trees in my garden of life.”