Hafez Karimi, Cal State Fullerton M.A. in economics grad

Hafez Karimi

The study of economics is more than graphs and equations. It is among the majors demanding the highest pay and can make a difference in the lives of the less privileged around the world.

Cal State Fullerton M.A. in economics student Hafez Karimi ’20 is among the Titans who have found meaning in the economics field. The vice president of the CSUF Economics Association is also a speaker for Up to Us, a millennial-focused advocacy and awareness group centered on the U.S. national debt and other economic issues, and provides mentoring for Orange County homeless at H.I.S. House in Placentia.

“Economics is useful in almost any field you go into, from the private sector to public sector,” says Karimi. “The major helps you think critically and mathematically, and helps with writing well. It has aided me in every aspect of my life, from working in homeless shelters teaching market research to helping felons start their own businesses and putting presentations together on fiscal and monetary policy in the United States.”

An Economics Grad Student’s Journey

Karimi earned his associate degree in music from Fullerton College before transferring to Cal State Fullerton in 2016 to pursue a business degree.

He met Economics Professor Denise Stanley, an expert in economic development, managerial economics and applied microeconomics, at the university’s Mihaylo College of Business and Economics.

Learning of Karimi’s interest in politics and taxes, evidenced by his involvement in numerous political campaigns, Stanley introduced him to Up to Us, which she had recently been informed of by email.

After he gained experience as a student leader in the Economics Association, Stanley again introduced Karimi to an opportunity, this time at H.I.S. House through Mihaylo College’s Center for Economic Education. It was a cause close to Karimi’s heart, as he had been supported through homeless shelters as a 14-year-old, when his family fell upon financial hard times.

“Being in those circles and understanding how hard it is, I just wanted to give back,” says Karimi, who devoted extra time beyond the internship experience to provide individualized mentoring and support for the shelter’s residents.

For his commitment to improving the financial prospects of the local homeless population through the power of economic education, Karimi was honored with Cal State Fullerton’s 2019 Community Engagement Award, which recognizes members of the campus community for outstanding service to Orange County.

“It was empowering and opened many doors,” Karimi says of receiving the accolade. “I ended up working as a speaker for a national debt organization and traveling across America, giving speeches on fiscal policy and policy evaluation which is deeply rooted in macroeconomics and econometrics.”

Looking Ahead to Law School – and Beyond

After earning his bachelor’s degree in economics from Cal State Fullerton in 2018, Karimi supported his current graduate program through the Michael Reagan Scholarship he received for helping the Center for Economic Education demonstrate how economics students can provide effective workforce development skills at homeless shelters. This initiative of the center arose from Wells Fargo’s support of the center’s programs to alleviate homelessness in Orange County.

“It puts everything I learned in the undergrad program into practice,” he says of his current studies. “I’m learning how to do empirical research, data gathering and analysis. The core classes opened my eyes to the many concepts and models that help explain very complicated ideas in a direct way. This is one of the most useful skills to have as an economist – simplifying complicated topics for people who wouldn’t normally understand the material so that they can comprehend and use the information.”

After earning his master’s degree in 2020, Karimi plans to pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and attend an East Coast Ivy League law school, synthesizing his interests in justice and economics.

“Through studying economics, I have recognized we have a very broken criminal justice and tax system, and I hope to gain experience in the field of law in order to understand the details of the problems in the state and federal constitutions and argue cases to overturn bad precedents set by the legislators, such as the sentencing of crack users vs. cocaine addicts.”

The mission-driven Titan has even higher aspirations in store to effect change. “If it becomes clear to me that I do not have the power to change the unjust policies from the legal perspective, I hope to run for the U.S. House of Representatives one day and put all my education and experience into passing meaningful legislation that will make my community a safer and more productive place to live,” he says.

In the meantime, when not studying or engaging with the community, Karimi plays in a 14-piece funk band that covers a wide range of popular music, including Michael Jackson, Bruno Mars, Earth Wind and Fire, James Brown, and Stevie Wonder. He also enjoys playing soccer, tennis and camping, and cooking and eating his favorite Persian cuisine.

For More on Economics

Cal State Fullerton’s Department of Economics sponsors undergraduate and graduate programs taught by expert research and teaching faculty who examine the latest trends impacting both macroeconomics and microeconomics.

Read more of our articles on economics and its applications.