Elena A. Szost graduated in 2016 with a double major in International Relations and Economics.
During my time at Grand Valley State University I was able to enjoy some incredible opportunities. From 2014-2015 I studied Japanese language, culture and economics in Hikone, Japan through the Japan Center for Michigan Universities (JCMU). While living in Japan, I interned with a non-profit organization called Be Wa, the goal of which is to emphasize the historical and cultural assets located in Shiga prefecture. I worked as a culture and travel correspondent publishing articles about local culture and lifestyles on Be Wa’s website. The time I spent in Japan studying through JCMU and working for Be Wa changed my perspective about the world and informs many of the choices I make today.
I also worked for Professor Polly Diven as a research assistant examining foreign relations between the United States and Sri Lanka. This endeavor involved utilizing databases, scholarly articles, and news resources to help construct a comprehensive timeline of foreign relations between the two states as well as quantitatively account for any variables that could impact said relations. As a student, the opportunity to work with someone I admire and respect on a research project was invaluable. It inspired me to pursue further research opportunities, provided the tools necessary to be successful on research projects, and encouraged me to work in international development. I consider this to be one of the most valuable experiences I have had at Grand Valley and encourage current and future students to seek out opportunities like this.
I was also given the opportunity to work with Professor Thomas Walker on an independent research project examining the economic implications of gender differences in employment in Japan, and with Professor Aaron Lowen on another research endeavor through the Seidman Economics Department. Currently I am working with Associate Dean Paul Isley on measuring the economic impact of the Grand Rapids campus of Grand Valley State University on surrounding businesses in the area through an economic impact survey. When I first started attending Grand Valley, I never would have imagined that I would have been capable of the things I have already accomplished and my current goal of pursuing a graduate degree in economic development. These experiences have empowered me to pursue my interest in research and provided me with the tools to be successful. I will always be grateful to the faculty at Grand Valley for their support and guidance. They helped me find my passion and then gave me all the tools I needed to pursue it through career counseling, research opportunities, and general support. I am proud to say I will be a Laker for a lifetime.
Since early 2017, I have working for Management Systems International, as an economic development consultant.