Name: Brandon Newberg
Major and current year at UCI: senior, quantitative economics and business administration
Award: School of Social Sciences Outstanding Honors Thesis Award
Hometown: Encino, CA (“the valley”)
Best UCI memory: Moving into Middle Earth housing freshman year.


What honors are you most proud of thus far in your education?

One major milestone in my life was when I received the President’s Education Award for Outstanding Academic Excellence when I graduated high school. This award demonstrated that my hard work and dedication to school paid off as well as serving as a motivating factor for me to continue this work ethic through college. Another major milestone occurred at the end of my junior year of college when I was selected into the Honors Economics Program at UCI. The ability to write an honor thesis meant that I could produce original work that could be published in academic journals and presented at research conferences. My area of study focuses on credit risk analysis such as how a bank assesses the credit worthiness for commercial loan applicants and how a bank makes a subjective assessment of a firm’s management quality which can affect their loan terms.

Why was UCI your #1 school?

When I was applying for college, I was undecided on my career path. Thus, I applied to colleges as “undeclared social sciences.” I chose UCI because it offered quantitative focused majors within the School of Social Sciences that interested me as well as its growing national reputation and a beautiful campus environment to pursue my studies.

What about quantitative economics interests you?

After taking an econometrics class in my junior year taught by Matthew Harding, I approached him about conducting economic research. In his Deep Data Lab, Harding partnered with industry to employ econometric models and applied machine learning. Having spent 2 years as a member of the research lab, I received the opportunity to work on a variety of real-world projects such as predicting poverty in Mexico and commercial credit risk estimation which blended the statistical modeling I learned in the classroom with a practical application.

What are your plans following graduation?

Upon finishing my degree this June, my plan is to work for a year in the banking industry to apply my knowledge of machine learning. Following a year of industry experience, I will then pursue a doctoral degree in econometrics to further my knowledge in machine learning and statistical methods.

What would you consider your biggest accomplishment at UCI?

My biggest accomplishment at UCI has been writing my senior thesis. Having spent roughly six months on the project coupled with the rigor of econometric modeling techniques, this one of the toughest projects I have ever undertaken. Additionally, interacting with representatives of the bank that supplied the data to develop a solution to their problem that has the potential for application in their business was an amazing experience.

Outside of academics, what activities were you involved in as an Anteater?

Two very important organizations I joined at UCI were the Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) Fraternity and Hillel. I joined AEPi my first quarter of my freshman year of college and it could not have been a better decision. Beyond the social aspect of getting to meet new people on campus and making new friends in an environment I knew practically no one, I learned valuable skills that would help me throughout college. I learned time management, balancing school with extra-curricular activities, and how to get involved on my campus by receiving insight from fellow members who were extremely active on my campus. 

The second organization that I have been involved with throughout college was Hillel. I have had the pleasure of serving as an Engagement Intern on the Hillel Executive Board for the past three years at UCI. Through my involvement, I expanded my network of friends and developed my professional skills as well as planned large scale student outreach events.

Who in your life has played a part in where you are today?

My grandfather has played a very important role throughout my life. For more than 50 years, he worked as an electrical engineer designing radar systems and producing dozens of patents. I grew up watching VHS tapes of his lunchtime presentations on his various inventions. It was these experiences and talking to him about how much he enjoyed his work that encouraged me to pursue a field that I would be passionate about as much as he was. With his motivation and financial support, he has helped make my dreams a reality.

My mother’s passion has been to be an entrepreneur in the garment industry, while my father utilized two graduate degrees to pursue management positions in operations research and strategic planning. Their roles in business and commitment to education inspired me to pursue my dual degrees in business administration and quantitative economics.


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