Alumni Profile: Thuy Minsberg, Bryn Mawr Class of 2006
Political Science Major (BMC), Economics and East Asian Studies Dual Minor
I originally came to Bryn Mawr with a science background, having won First Place in Earth and Space Science in the 2001 Intel Northwest Science Expo and Semi-Finalist in the 2002 Intel Science Talent Search. However, I knew very early on that my academic interest lied in the interplay between politics and economics and I would dedicate my undergraduate years to studying the economic development models of Asia's developed and transitional countries.
My interest in China dated back to my formative childhood in Hanoi, Vietnam, where I mulled over literature and military classics of ancient China. Despite two years of high school Japanese, I enrolled in the bi-co Chinese language program. I fell in love with the phonetic language as I watched my paternal grandfather, a self-trained Han-Nom scholar, practicing Chinese calligraphy. A 1996 family trip to several major China's cities sparked my curiosity about the gap in wealth and infrastructure development between China and my home country.
I found the bi-co Political Science, Economics, and EAS departments truly my intellectual homes. I took a variety of interdisciplinary courses on the region. My most favorites were Professor Smith's Methods and Approaches, UPenn Professor Amyx's Political Economy of East Asia, and Professor Jilani's China and India's Economic Development. During my junior semester abroad, I served as a policy intern for the Australian Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade, providing research and policy analysis to assist with their inquiry on the feasibility of an Australia-China Free Trade Agreement, while studying at the Australian National University College of Asia and the Pacific, the world's largest center of leading regional specialists. The internship helped me gain invaluable insights into the complexities of formulating a nation's foreign economic policies. I subsequently wrote my senior thesis on the emerging new East Asia's regulatory regionalism in monetary and financial cooperation since the 1997-1998 Asian Financial Crisis.
Besides rigorous academic training and challenging classroom debates, I was grateful for the guidance and support our bi-co faculty, especially Professor Smith, generously extended to me. The confidence he instilled in me encouraged me to take on stretch internship and learning endeavors beyond my comfort zone that allowed me to grow at a much faster pace than I might have.
Upon graduation, I furthered my undergraduate studies with first enrollment in an intensive Chinese language program at Peking University and then the Master of Science in Foreign Service program at Georgetown University. I continued the international and regional political economy track with a concentration in international finance and investment. I broadened my understanding of the impact of state monetary, fiscal, and trade policies on global trade and foreign direct investment with coursework on the international financial markets, international project finance, financial regulations and reforms, business-government relations, and selective training at Georgetown's business school and law center.
After four years working on the trading floor of a global bank in New York City, I moved on to pursue commercial real estate private equity on the advice of my Georgetown professor, a former senior international banker. I was hooked on the real estate investment business during my time on Wall Street and wanted to get more hands-on with the physical assets and combine my Asia knowledge to expand the international scope of my career.
Asia has been and will remain the growth engine of the global economy and international financial markets for decades to come. I would recommend our current students consider taking cross-disciplinary EAS classes because familiarity with the region's past and present would open up future career possibilities that they would not be able to imagine after they enter the professional world. I have the privilege of crossing paths with professionals who came from an East Asian Studies background and went on to achieve remarkable success in nonprofit, academia, government, the private sector, and entrepreneurship. If there are any regional or country-specific issues that capture your interest, you should develop a specialty and seek out practical experiences to apply that knowledge. Keep a humble spirit, step outside your comfort zone, and have fun exploring!