Convocation

High-achieving economics honours graduate strikes the perfect balance

June 23, 2021

Balancing academic commitments and extracurricular responsibilities is no small feat even for the brightest of students. But for Denise Abella, she has managed to strike the perfect balance to great success. This June, she crosses the virtual stage graduating from Simon Fraser University (SFU) with a bachelor's degree with honours majoring in economics. 

This past year has certainly been memorable for Abella—not only did she had to navigate the challenges of remote learning while maintaining a high CGPA, she also completed her honours thesis, and served as president of the Economics Student Society (ESS) organizing virtual events to bring together the student body. 

Volunteering with the ESS not only developed her interpersonal, leadership, and communication skills, it also expanded her connections which has been instrumental in helping her balance her commitments and well-being. Abella adds, "It is not the same as hanging out with friends in-person but having a support network and connecting with them online made all the difference during this stressful time."

When asked to describe her undergraduate experience, Abella says, "My SFU Economics experience challenged me and kept me on my toes but I’m grateful that I got to learn a lot. Not to be dramatic or anything but economics really changed the way I think about the world!"

Abella's passion for the field led her to join the honours program which allowed her to push her limits, and expand her understanding of economics in the real-world context. In her honours thesis, Abella examined the impact of the 1997 Quebec childcare subsidies on the incomes of mothers. Her research found that despite its goal of alleviating family poverty, the subsidies significantly increased the incomes of women in the middle and upper-end of the earnings distribution but not those in the lower end of the spectrum. 

"Writing my thesis was challenging as conducting original research was quite new to me," says Abella. "But since writing my thesis, I have gained a deeper appreciation for research and scholarship."

On her future plans, Abella hopes to pursue a graduate degree in economics exploring the issues of poverty and inequality, public policy, and labour outcomes of marginalized groups. She also has a clear vision of her long-term career goals which draws on her background in economics and desire to create a positive impact in the community.  

"I plan to work abroad someday as I've lived in Canada for most of my life," Abella adds, "I also hope to obtain a career that falls in line with my love of communicating with others, advocating for those less fortunate than me, and making meaningful decisions backed by data."

As Abella concludes her time at SFU and heads off to the next stage of her life, she has these parting words for her fellow peers, "Congratulations to the class of 2021! It’s been a difficult year and you should be proud of persisting through these tough times."

Favourite Course(s)

  • ECON 392 - Public Economics: Role of Government 
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