Spotlight on Social Sciences Alumni: Ashley Latimer

alatName: Ashley Latimer
UR Major: Economics
Other UR Majors/Minors: History (major) and Spanish (minor)
Additional Education: MA, International Development & Global Health
Current City, State of Residence: Washington, DC
Job Title: Program Officer, Child Health
Employer: PATH
Community activities: UR Women’s Basketball; St. Sebastian Society

How did you choose your major(s)?

I had no idea what I wanted to do after graduation; economics seemed to open more doors than anything else. I knew that economics would allow me to translate my education and experiences into many things, and that was empowering. I felt I had options, no matter what I decided to do after graduation.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I played basketball for U of R and I was fortunate enough to be part of the St. Sebastian Society as well.  The biggest thing for me was being a part of a team; so rarely can we be successful in isolation. Being on a team taught me to share the successes and the losses. You learn to work together, to win and lose together, and to really do your part for the universal goal. That has served me so well in my career.

What are some specific skills students should develop during an internship?

To be resourceful! No class is going to prepare you 100% for your next job. But what have you learned that can translate to your job at hand? How can you use what you know to ask relevant questions? And learn to ask questions – in meetings, of your cubicle neighbor, of anyone who has skills you want to gain.

What is your opinion regarding graduate school vs. working right after graduation?

I think working between graduation and graduate school is a must. I graduated thinking about law school, maybe an MBA. I worked and travelled for two years and realized I wasn’t passionate about either of those; I wanted something where I could travel, working in different countries and cultures. My first job helped me identify what I didn’t want to do. Sometimes the education outside the classroom is more insightful than expected; sometimes you have to learn what you don’t like before you learn what you do.

What early career advice can you give to current UR students studying economics?

Be open-minded. Economics opens a lot of doors – don’t be afraid to take one. You won’t land your dream job out of college; that’s okay. There will be plenty of time to learn, grown, change jobs, and figure out what you want. Use economics as a gateway to get where you want to go- the basics of economics apply virtually anywhere.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career? Where would you like to be in five years?

I am a program officer at a global health non-profit. The fact that billions of people in developing countries lack access to basic health care is something I am passionate about changing. Global health is fascinating to me, and I am enthused by the possibility we have to make real change in our lifetime. I’m not sure about five years – but I know I’ll still be working in global health!