Michael Barr (Class of 2022)

photo of Michael Barr

  • Honors sophomore majoring in Quantitative Economics and Diplomacy & Global Politics
  • From Montgomery, AL
  • Studied abroad at the Miami University John E. Dolibois European Center in Luxembourg (Spring 2020)
  • CAS Ambassador; 2021 Undergraduate Summer Scholar; Prodesse Scholar
  • Virtual intern at Second Time Founders in San Francisco, CA; resident assistant in the Honors LLC for the Office of Residence Life
"My main piece of advice is broad and can sometimes lead people into bad situations, but I suggest that you follow your gut. If you think something isn't for you, think about it and don't dismiss that thought. If you think that a certain environment is making you feel uncomfortable, then maybe that just isn't for you. But on the other hand, you have four years as an undergrad to try new things—so do it!."

Why Miami?

"I applied to 18 schools, and I always tell people that I chose Miami because of money and opportunity. I was given good scholarships, and Miami's alumni base is global and active. Before coming to Miami, I never left the country and spent most of my life in Alabama. I was enamored by the love and support of the Miami family, feeling it could get me where I wanted to go.

"After coming to Miami, I realized that you get out what you put in, but you’re not alone. There are so many people here who can offer you one-on-one resources that you can't get at a larger school. Miami is small enough where you can have personal interactions with full tenured professors, but large enough that you don’t see the same five people every day.

"At any school, there are bumps in the road. But at Miami, I’ve found my tribe. I’m not sure that would have happened at a smaller school, and I’m not sure I would have felt personally cared for at a larger school."

Best Miami Experiences

Michael (Front) in the Black Forrest of Germany with
Dr. Roxanne Ornelas' Women, Gender, and the Environment class. 

"I studied abroad in Luxembourg at the Miami University John E. Dolibois European Center (MUDEC) campus in spring 2020. I loved my host mom, who I spoke German with every day at breakfast, and a local trans-rights activist, who I still keep in touch with. This experience is what made me change my major to diplomacy & global politics, whose focus on language and bridging across differences spoke to me. 

"One of the Miami professors at MUDEC, Stephanie Shaheen, works at the U.S. embassy in Luxembourg’s public affairs office; I was able to connect with her and work as an intern in her office. Because of Miami’s unique connection to the U.S. embassy in Luxembourg, I worked one-on-one with foreign service officers. I loved the internship, but because of COVID-19, it got cut short; I didn’t even get to meet the ambassador. But I still performed research that published a list of 82 U.S. memorials for the first time ever online. 

"I'm currently working as an intern at Second Time Founders (2TF), a startup in San Francisco, California. I got involved with 2TF specifically because I'm a CAS Miami student and a Law and Public Policy (LPP) Scholar (now part of the Prodesse Scholars Program). I now oversee the project management for our marketing team. I work directly with 38 multiple time founders and venture capitalists in Silicon Valley and around the world. I manage interns across four different continents and 10 different time zones!"

Miami and the Liberal Arts
barr

Michael serving hot dogs at a Student Faculty Council
event at the MUDEC Chateauin Luxembourg

"I came to Miami as a political science major, but incidentally, I also love math. Naturally, I added a major in quantitative economics -- makes sense, right? 

"Quantitative economics requires thinking about how the big picture impacts people's everyday lives. I feel like many politicians and policymakers don't understand economics, how to think about problems logically, and how they actually affect people outside of their theoretical machinations. I want to change that. I want to understand our economic systems so I can change them practically to achieve an even more egalitarian society. 

"I dislike the idea of economics as a method of simply generating revenue. Instead, I like it as a study of markets and a study of human interactions in the marketplace. I’m interested in using economic models and data to make the system more fair. It’s not just to generate profits, but also to use those models to promote equity and fairness."

Using Economics and Diplomacy to Positively Impact People

Michael with other MUDEC students at a Student Faculty Council
Valentine's Day Event at the MUDEC Chateau in Luxembourg

"Economics is based on assumptions about why people make the decisions they make. But how can I use these assumptions to influence behavior? How can I influence the decisions people make through diplomatic action, whether it be treaties or agreements? How do changes in trade affect behavior? How can I make agreements with people that influence their behavior to make the world better and advance my own aspirations?

"Within economics, the people who are in highest demand are those who can crunch large data sets and communicate results creatively. This is where my major in diplomacy & global politics comes in. It provides the soft skills in communication, diplomatic relations, and developing a cohesive world view. Quantitative economics allows me to pragmatically apply my worldview through application of data analytics and economic intuition. Programming is great, but what can we do with that? Paired with diplomacy, how does it impact people's lives?

"I'm currently working with professor Charles Moul, director of graduate studies for the Department of Economics. We’re creating a proposal for my research this summer through the Undergraduate Summer Scholars Program. A lot of my past experiences have been very soft skills-based, but this experience in particular will allow me to develop programming and data analytics skills. I am hoping to analyze how hyper-localized COVID-19 data affects consumer decisions, specifically in the market for ‘for-hire vehicles’ like taxis, Ubers, and Lyfts. 

"I first met Dr. Moul in my intro to economics class, after which we stayed in touch. Later, he personally reached out to me, asking if I wanted to do research over this summer. That's something you get at Miami: personal mentorship. I don’t feel this always happens so easily at other universities, where a full tenured professor will work with a sophomore undergrad on a proposal and project. Dr. Moul truly embodies the phrase ‘Love and Honor.’ I’m looking forward to making full use of the opportunities that he has guided me towards!"

Advice to Students

"My main piece of advice is broad and can sometimes lead people into bad situations, but I suggest that you follow your gut. If you think something isn't for you, think about it and don't dismiss that thought. If you think that a certain environment is making you feel uncomfortable, then maybe that just isn't for you. But on the other hand, you have four years as an undergrad to try new things—so do it!

"For example, I’ve tried stand-up comedy with Not Very Funny, a student organization at Miami. I don't know if I'm good at it, but I’ve also hosted a radio show on Redhawk Radio. And, of course, I studied abroad. I’m interested in trying everything. Well, maybe not everything -- not sure the squirrel watching club is my speed. Regardless, if you need help, ask for it. If you’re unsatisfied, say something or get out."

[March 2021]