Emily Sayler ’22 had already been accepted at UMass Lowell as a transfer student in business when, during her final semester at Middlesex Community College, she took a class in microeconomics.

“It was phenomenal – I loved it,” says Sayler, a native of Georgetown, Texas, whose family moved to Massachusetts right after she graduated from high school. “Before that, I had been interested in economics, but maybe I was selling myself short; I thought it would be too difficult.”

The class was taught by Camelia Bouzerdan ’22, a Ph.D. candidate in global studies at UML, who encouraged Sayler to keep studying economics. 

Sayler switched majors before arriving on campus, but she still wasn’t sure what she could do – or wanted to do – with an economics degree. So early on, she went to a campus career fair for economics majors and applied for internships in different industries. 

“I wasn’t sure of my direction, so I decided I was going to try a bit of everything,” she says. 

She worked in market research at Nielsen IQ, which provides consumer research to businesses. She did a finance internship with investment management firm Loomis Sayles & Co. And she got an internship with international economic consulting firm Compass Lexecon, which led to a full-time job offer as an airline industry analyst after graduation.

Before applying for the internship at Compass Lexecon, Sayler asked a recruiter what she could do to make her application stand out. The recruiter advised Sayler to get as much research and economic data analysis experience as possible.

During her first semester at UML, Sayler had taken a class, Labor Economics, taught by the department chair, Prof. Monica Galizzi, that required her to complete three research projects. She went on to do research with Galizzi and Criminology Prof. April Pattavina the following summer on the economics of domestic violence.

As a senior, Sayler was accepted as an Emerging Scholar to do research on academic freedom in different countries around the world with Honors College Dean Jenifer Whitten-Woodring, a political scientist, and Education Prof. A.J. Angulo. Sayler co-authored a paper with the two professors and global studies Ph.D. student Emma Peterson, and Whitten-Woodring invited Sayler to the International Studies Association Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, to help present it.

Sayler says her research experiences gave her two “phenomenal” academic mentors, both women. That’s important, Sayler says, because she’s going into a field with very few women.

“Prof. Galizzi has brought me opportunity after opportunity and believed in me every step of the way. She’s just been my biggest supporter,” she says. “And Prof. Whitten-Woodring made graduate school seem realistic for me. I know that graduate school is somewhere in my future.”

At UMass Lowell, Sayler discovered that “one opportunity begets another.”

“Being able to talk about those Labor Economics research experiences led to the market research internship, which led to the economic consulting internship and the Emerging Scholarship,” she says. “You get to the point where professors will think about you for opportunities.”

She also joined a sorority with a strong service focus, Alpha Sigma Tau, and the Economics Society, serving as president in her senior year. 

“At UMass Lowell, I was able to find a home, find friends and get leadership experience,” she says. “I don’t think my experience is unique; I think those opportunities are there for anyone who seeks them out and is willing to work for them.”