A Passion in Psychology and Economics – Bryan Wu, Class of 2012

       After Bryan Wu, Class of 2012 Alumni, graduated from Garden Grove High School, he continued to expand his education at UC Berkeley for the next four years. He helped to improve the community by joining service organizations such as Circle K International, one of the largest collegiate community service organizationsThe reason he enrolled at UC Berkeley was because of its status as the number one public university in the world, and the fact that he wanted to move away from the OC lifestyle and develop independence. When he was still in high school, he was interested in studying mental health and therapy, but Wu found his future career through research and instead majored in Psychology and Economics.                                 

       As of right now, Wu is currently working as a research assistant for the Kaiser Family Foundation, nonpartisan healthy policy nonprofit organization in Menlo Park California. “For my work, I do survey research and polling on the public’s attitudes toward health issues in the U.S. such as health care costs and the affordable care act. In terms of hobbies, I like to spend my time cooking, running, watching movies, as well as hiking. I think in the future I want to go back to grad school. My original goal was to enter into a PhD program that revolves around behavioral economics. But right now I’ve put that on hold because I’m not really sure if that’s what I want. I have a whole bunch of other interests that I may want to pursue, such as finding a way to monetize my love for cooking, like starting a cookbook, and a business.” His motivation to put forth his greatest effort is knowing that if I don’t try my hardest at whatever I set my sights on, then there’s really no point in trying at all. Wu expresses, “I’d rather remember myself for giving something my all rather than doing si half heartedly.” 

      Wu’s majors have had a significant impact on his way of thought. He emphasizes, “I believe both majors are more interconnected than a lot of people realize. Each discipline has a huge concentration on behavioral analysis — understanding why we make the choices that we do. I find that psychology can be more research focused when it comes to explaining behavior, and in economics, people use that behavioral research to generate policy decisions and/or conduct more research into how we can wire people to make better choices that will affect them financially.” Looking back at his younger days, he wouldn’t have pictured himself being where he is today, but he encourages others to be passionate in their aspirations and to see where it takes them.

What are your recommendations/tips for students currently in high school if they wanted to major in the fields of psychology and economics? What would they need to acquire?

  • People who do well as a psychology major really have a strong interest in understanding behavior in other people. A lot of people have it as their primary major if they want to go in a field related to mental health, such as doing social work, conducting research in the future, doing talk therapy, working with individuals with special needs, etc. Other people have it as a secondary major (or even a minor) if they are just interested in learning more on the subject or if they are going into a field that benefits with a psychology background, such education, business, or any other job that requires you to learn how to work with others.
  • For economics, it’s a great interdisciplinary major that will help you if you want to go into a career doing policy, consulting, finance, investment, and even law. If you can apply economics in your everyday life, you’ll understand why people are incentivized to do certain things, and this is helpful when you want to change the world.