As of Fall 2016, the PhD Excellence Initiative, with generous support from the Sloan Foundation, is pleased to welcome its third research fellow, Brandy Edmondson. Brandy joins the Initiative from Spelman College, where she graduated in May 2016 with a B.A. in Economics. As an undergraduate, Brandy spent time as a research assistant, mentor, and peer tutor in economics. She also served as president of Spelman’s chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority. Brandy has held internships with The City of Atlanta, The Coca-Cola Company, General Electric, the Spelman Endowment Office, and Columbia Business School. She is an active member of Omicron Delta Epsilon International Honors Society in Economics and Phi Beta Kappa Society.

Q & A with Brandy Edmondson

My interest in economics was largely inspired by my constant questioning of the world, from a young age. I soon realized that many phenomena I had trouble understanding could be explained by economics. Seemingly simple questions like, “Why couldn’t my uncle find a job?” or “Why are there no grocery stores in some communities?” or “Why can some people with jobs still not pay their bills?” inspired me to want to help disadvantaged people improve their quality of life.

I chose to join the Ph.D. Excellence Initiative because I want to be a knowledge producer and a difference maker for disadvantaged communities, and I believe that economic research is the key to helping those in need. The Ph.D. Excellence Initiative will assist me to become a more experienced and well-rounded researcher. Specifically, I am excited to improve my math and computer programming skills while applying them to the research I am completing. I am certain that at the completion of my time in the program, I will have the skills needed to fulfill my dreams of earning a Ph.D. in Economics and using my research to help others.

During my sophomore year of college, I began to better understand a key event from my childhood. At a young age, I watched an adult family member attempt to complete a pre-test for a wire manufacturing company. I learned that he could not read or do addition or subtraction. Consequently, he was not selected for the job. I remember wondering, How could he possibly not know the answers to what seemed to be fairly simple math questions? How could he not read the directions? Through my coursework at Spelman I learned about pre-labor market discrimination factors that affect one’s ability to obtain a job. I also learned that through economic research, I could have a positive effect on society and help people like my family member find work and improve their living standards.
William (Sandy) Darity’s studies regarding colorism provided the main inspiration for my senior thesis, which looks into how African American women of different skin tones fare in the labor market. His economic analyses of the tough topic of colorism in the Black community sheds light on how discrimination by race and color can cause various social, political, and economic outcomes — many that I had not previously considered.
If I were stranded on a desert island, the books I’d want to have on hand are…

I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai, with Christina Lamb

Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America by Melissa Harris-Perry

1984 by George Orwell

Create your own definition of success and pivot and adjust your goals along the journey as needed. Most importantly, celebrate every victory, no matter how small!


Quoted & Quotable

“A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.”

-David Brinkley

Brandy Recommends: Traveling

While in the Dominican Republic I had the opportunity to experience firsthand a cultural climate much different than that of the United States. I found that for my host family, happiness and family were much more important than personal gain. My time in the Dominican Republic made me rethink my way of life and venture to stress less and enjoy life with those I care for.

About the Ph.D. Excellence Initiative

In 2014, the Ph.D. Excellence Initiative welcomed its first participants under the generous funding of the Sloan Foundation. In July 2014, the first Ph.D. Excellence Summer Workshop united the wider Peer Network and provided a forum for sharing research, methodology, and support. Interested in Applying to the Initiative? Go to Application Info (PDF). For updates, follow @PeterBlairHenry and #PhDExcellence