Carl H. Lindner College of BusinessCarl H. Lindner College of BusinessUniversity of Cincinnati

Carl H. Lindner College of Business

A Rewarding Investment

Economics student transforms from an undecided freshman to a star scholar.

As a first generation student from a small town, Nathaniel Prusinski wanted to experience college in an urban center with plenty of opportunities. He found exactly what he was looking for at the University of Cincinnati.

Like many freshmen completing liberal arts requirements, Prusinski signed up for an introduction to economics course during his first quarter at UC. Unexpectedly, he found his passion.

Not only did Prusinski earn the highest grade in a 200-person class, but he also made a meaningful connection with Sourushe Zandvakilli, economics professor and department head. “Professor Zandvakilli took me under his wing and encouraged me to pursue economics,” says Prusinski. “He illustrated how economics is more than just theories and how it has real-world application to important business issues.”

After his star performance in his introductory economics course, Prusinski declared a major in the economics ACCEND program, which combines the bachelor's and master's degree curriculum in just five years, along with a minor in mathematics. “The job market is tough,” says Prusinski. “Finishing my master's degree in a condensed amount of time will give me an edge over other job seekers. Plus, the advanced curriculum will prepare me with an in-depth understanding that a bachelor's degree graduate might not have.”

The concentrated ACCEND curriculum is challenging, but Prusinski has excelled—he was the first freshman ever to receive the Hewett-Kautz Fellowship, a prestigious academic scholarship typically reserved for juniors and seniors. A three-time recipient of the fellowship, Prusinski, currently a senior, is grateful for the financial support and encouragement he has received from the tight-knit economics department.

“Receiving the Kautz Fellowship for my achievement in economics was the encouragement and affirmation I needed to continue striving for success at UC,” Prusinski says. “From childhood, my Dad has inspired me to find something I love and work hard. So, when I received the fellowship, it confirmed that hard work really does pay off.”

His achievement extends beyond academics. As an officer for the undergraduate Economics Society, a tutor for mid-level courses, and a two-time teaching assistant, Prusinski's out-of-the-classroom experiences have developed his leadership skills and a well-connected network in the economics sector.

Hoping to expand that network, Prusinski plans to intern at dunnhumbyUSA as a data analyst in summer 2011. “Working at a marketing services firm aligns perfectly with my goal of becoming a consultant in the area of consumer goods,” says Prusinski. “In the future, I'm thinking about pursuing a PhD in economics, but I want to gain professional experience before coming back to school.”

Reflecting on his time at UC, Prusinski adds, “Coming in as an undecided student, I wanted to attend a university where I would have a lot of options. My experience at UC gave me just that.  It expanded my perspective, helped me to mature, and allowed me to develop an expertise in economics.”