An Interview with Sam Ressin, Class of 2020

Sam Ressin


Why did you choose to study economics?

I chose to study economics because I wanted to understand how our economic system works -- and how various political actors seek to influence the economic system to secure benefits and advantages. 

What was the biggest revelation for you studying economics?

My biggest revelation was that so many of the models taught in my economics classes are wrong. Conclusions that markets will always produce an efficient quantity of goods, government regulation often results in more harm than good, and market actors will always act rationally and in their self-interest cannot be reconciled with a world where markets fail and fail often. The real world simply does not operate in the way that our supply and demand models say they should. 

How do you look forward to applying your economics coursework in your future endeavors?

The most useful economics class I took was Game Theory because it taught me that economic actors decide their dominant strategy -- that is, the set of actions that maximize their rewards, profits, or other criteria such that they will not want to deviate -- based on the actions of other parties. So, actors choose their strategy based on how they think other actors are going to respond. As someone who wants to eventually work in government and craft policies to decarbonize the economy, I will need to think how producers of dominant forms of energy are going to respond to forces such as falling prices of clean energy, growing pressure for action on climate change, and rising concerns over preserving shareholder value, and act accordingly as I create policies.

What are your immediate plans, and where do you see yourself in 10 years?

My immediate plan was to study Portuguese in Brazil on a Boren Scholarship, but that has been put on hold due to the coronavirus. My new immediate plan is to secure an internship in energy and environmental data and policy analysis until my Boren program starts in January 2021. In 10 years I see myself either working for a governor as a climate policy adviser or serving as a Foreign Affairs Officer in the Bureau of Oceans, International Environmental and Scientific Affairs of the US Department of State, assisting with international climate change negotiations. 

What is your fondest Pitt memory?

 Wow, it's really tough to choose one memory -- I'm lucky to have so many positive ones. Lately, I've been thinking about how during concerts of the Pitt Men's Glee Club (in which I sang bass), there was always a quick moment after every song but before the applause where the sound rang in the air, and it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Those were the moments where the music was made, and I'll be forever grateful to have been a part of such a stellar ensemble.