Students & Campus
01 July 2021

Robert A. Peterson Scholar Weighs the Opportunity Cost of Studying Economics at the Institute

Shaina Hasan, from Patna, India, is the first recipient of the Robert A. Peterson Scholarship, which is a full scholarship funded by the Global Communications Development Network (GCDN) to commemorate the legacy of Bob Peterson, a leading figure in communications and public relations.  

“Coming from a family of overachievers, academics were a top priority in my family”, recounts Shaina, who was always encouraged to be independent and pursue her dreams. After completing her Bachelor’s in Economics from Mumbai, she decided to step off the beaten path, obtaining a degree in Media and Communications from Symbiosis Institute, Pune. She then began work in the private sector. 

“That was a learning experience and taught me valuable skills in stakeholder management and multitasking, but I realised that I had to move on to another calling”, Shaina recalls. 

She decided to pursue development studies at the London School of Economics, completing her degree with a distinction. She then began working with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP). 

On her decision to come to the Graduate Institute to pursue a Master in International Economics, she said, “I am always looking for new opportunities, to learn new skills and broaden my horizon and I wanted to pursue an academically rigorous course in economics to improve my econometric modelling skills. A French intern in UN ESCAP mentioned the Graduate Institute to me, so I looked up the courses. The small cohort for the economics programme along with well-known professors made it an ideal fit for me. Additionally, the Institute’s location in International Geneva, was an added bonus”.

After having applied and been accepted to the Institute, twice, Shaina was unable to secure funds to study in Geneva. On her third try, she was awarded the prestigious Robert. A. Peterson scholarship. 

“The scholarship made it possible for me to move to Geneva and pursue my goals of training as an economist. I can’t thank Mr. Jonathan Buck – GCDN’s CEO –  enough for not only being a mentor but also a constant help and support to me during the past year. While the learning curve in the economics programme was steep, and the opportunity cost of leaving a lucrative career was high, the benefits have been great”.

Shaina is currently finishing her Master’s in International Economics and writing her thesis, under the guidance of Professor Cédric Tille, on the role of macroprudential policies in preventing systemic risk. She wants to use the skills that she has gained to work either in the private sector or in an organisation at the intersection of public-private partnerships. 

She also hopes to pursue her PhD International Economics at the Graduate Institute, which she hopes to begin next year, depending on her finances. 

“As most of us know, women are underrepresented in the field of economics (only 20% of macroeconomists are women)”, explains Shaina. “I hope my journey will encourage others to break the gender stereotypes and pursue similar career paths”.