Spotlighted Economics Student: Ananya Prakash '21
Ananya's thesis tests the causal effect of partisan affiliation and level of transparency from both the government and the media, within counties, on the percentage of inmates being released in County Jails from the very start of the pandemic.
Ananya Prakash ’21 was born in India and at a very young age moved to East Brunswick, NJ where she grew up. In high school Ananya took AP Macroeconomics and the course material deeply resonated with her interests in research and policy work. When looking at colleges a strong economics department was important to her, as was a small liberal arts school where she could have small class sizes and close interactions with professors. When she visited the campus she had an inviting and gratifying tour, delighted by the community feel and the welcoming student body.
In addition to Majoring in economics, Ananya will matriculate with a Minor in Computational Methods at Bryn Mawr College, and she’ll earn a Peace Justice and Human Rights Concentration at Haverford.
Economics Professor Shannon Mudd’s Impact Investing elective stands out as a particularly inspiring course. She was introduced to the methods of sustainable investing, and how to make a difference in those investments while practicing inclusivity and diversity.
Her interests in data science, computational methods and data analysis integrated well with Professor Anne Preston’s course, Introduction to Econometrics. This course afforded her the opportunity to learn evidence based analysis skills, regressions and statistics. Ananya continued an apprenticeship with Professor Preston this past summer as a Research Assistant on her Mexico Deportee Project, conducting data analysis using STATA, creating data sets, and writing literature reviews.
The previous summer she worked as a Civil Liberties Intern for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey helping attorneys with legal cases and policy analysis. She also spearheaded updating and modernizing the intake system, implementing a more computer based process. One of the highlights of the internship was her input in writing a brief with one of the attorneys.
The summer following her freshman year Ananya was a Youth Power Coordinator in Elizabeth, NJ for Make the Road NJ, an immigration rights advocacy group whose focus is community organizing, legal and support services and leadership development. As a Project Coordinator Ananya mentored youths in creating social justice campaigns. The campaigns included the Fight for 15, which promotes a clean $15-dollar minimum wage bill that includes teens, farmworkers and seasonal workers in New Jersey and a Student Success center campaign to assist low income high school students with college applications.
With the ongoing project as a Content Coordinator for UCLA COVID- 19 Behind Bars Data Project, Ananya is actively overseeing and advising volunteers as well as researching programmatic releases from prisons in response to Covid-19. She also performs outreach to various advocacy and activist groups that she suspected had pertinent data for jurisdictions on which we could not find reporting. Her curated data set informed the team’s policy recommendations to the new Los Angeles District Attorney.
In Ananya’s words, “the coronavirus posed an outsized danger to the more than two million people locked inside America’s prisons and jails. Jails and prisons are amplifiers for infectious diseases, emerging as hotbeds of COVID-19 due to their close living quarters, congregate settings and overcrowded conditions.” Her thesis “tests the causal effect of partisan affiliation as well as the level of transparency from the government and media within each county on the percentage of inmates being released in County Jails from the very start of the pandemic. [She] hope[s] to counter the invisibility of incarcerated people in the United States by making data about Covid-19 in facilities widely accessible and highlight the need for improved reporting and uniform regulation when it comes to the public health of the incarcerated population in the United States by federal, state, and local government agencies.”
In addition to her academics and work experiences, Ananya is Captain of the women’s tennis team, President of Womxn in Economics, Member of the Haverford Outskirts Acapella group, Event Coordinator and Treasurer of the South Asian Society and a member of the Athletes of Color Coalition.
Post-graduation, Ananya hopes to either obtain her Master’s in Public Policy and Data Science or work as a policy analyst at a think tank, federal agency, humanitarian aid or non-profit organization. She is committed to creating and educating the public on well thought out, transparent, and pragmatic immigration and anti-racist integration policies that will focus on advocating for the power of immigrants, persons of color, and working-class communities to achieve protection, dignity and respect.