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Profile: Sydney Keenan

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Krannert alumna Sydney Keenan is an individual on a mission who has forged her own path.

The Boulder, CO, native has no fellow Purdue alumni in her family. She has no family in Indiana. There were no economists in her circle.

Today, Keenan is a double Boiler, a Master of Science in Economics graduate, and a research assistant at the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, DC.

She’s a “black and white math person” whose world opened up in an economics class her senior year of high school.

“There’s a huge psychological component to economics, and a huge mathematical component to economics. It’s a perfect combination,” she says. “No one in my family is an economist. I didn’t really know any other economists. But I loved the material.”

Keenan wasn’t set on a major when she came to Purdue as an undergraduate, drawn to the university’s renowned Exploratory Studies program.

Her rigorous education at Fairview High School in Boulder gave her confidence to be patient, enroll in a variety of courses, and figure out what she wanted to study. At the end of her freshman year at Purdue, she transferred into Krannert as an economics student.

One great motivator was the Honors College version of Econ 251, taught by clinical associate professor of economics Kelly Blanchard. The class was fun, interactive, and gave Keenan a “first little taste of what it would be like to be a researcher.”

"I was able to choose courses that were interesting to me. I could tailor my education to what I'm interested in."

Keenan finished her undergraduate career at Purdue with a double major in Applied Mathematics and Economics, a minor in Spanish, and a concentration in International Business.

She took advantage of so much while at Krannert, including Honors College courses; a Study Abroad trip to Spain; and three internships. The first was with Aramark Sports & Entertainment. The second was in DC, in the Library of Congress’ Congressional Research Service’s tax section. The third was remote, for the Federal Reserve Board, where she’s now employed.

Further proof Keenan is not one to sit still: She played trombone as a member of the Purdue Jazz Band; participated in service projects as Vice President of Rotaract; was a Women in Science Program mentor; played intramural soccer; and was Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the Purdue Foundation Student Board, among many more activities.

So, she says, “I wasn’t quite ready to leave Purdue.”

Drawn by the flexibility of the curriculum, the affordability, and the professors, Keenan applied to the Online MS Economics program as a 4+1.

“I was able to choose courses that were interesting to me. I could tailor my education to what I’m interested in.”

Keenan says she was aware the Online MS Economics program was ranked #2 in the nation.

“That was a cherry on top. It validated my feelings about not wanting to look anywhere else.”

 

 

Her program prepared her for her career in specific ways, including teaching her many programming languages, from Python to MATLAB. She is thankful to have taken associate professor of economics Kevin Mumford’s Econometrics 1 & 3 courses, which gave her a strong foundation in Stata.

The Federal Reserve Board doesn’t use just one language, she notes. “Each economist uses what they like to use.”

In her master’s program Keenan learned not only how to collaborate with fellow students, alumni, and guest speakers from around the U.S. and the world, but how to do so effectively in an online environment. As a research assistant in DC, she will work online with reserve boards across the country, collecting and analyzing data on financial and monetary markets.

For all its difficult math courses and focus on data programming languages, Keenan’s master’s program also allowed her to focus on public policies and how economics can improve lives.

Keenan’s mission, to give back, was imprinted on her long ago. Her parents work at a community health center in Colorado that serves families who are struggling financially.

“Throughout my life I’ve set a goal of helping others,” she says. The world of economics is a flexible one, she notes.

“There are many ways I can make the world a better place.”