Victoria Perez, PhD, SUMR '07

Vicky Perez

Victoria Perez, PhD, SUMR '07

Looking back from her current position as an Assistant Professor of Public Health and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, former 2007 SUMR Scholar Victoria Perez credits her SUMR experience with shaping that successful career path. 

"SUMR was a pretty life-changing thing for me because before going into it, I didn't really understand what the opportunities were," said Perez, who was the first person in her family to attend college. "Coming in, I was lost in not knowing about how grad school worked or what tenure was and those kinds of things. I was so lucky to have mentors who were willing to walk me through the steps and build my confidence so that I realized that I really could do this."

"I remember the SUMR seminars with top faculty members like Mark Pauly," Perez said. "(Wharton School professor and LDI Senior Fellow) Pauly didn't write anything on the board but he said something that I really took away with me -- 'you're wasting your time if you don't care about the thing you're doing. If you aren't convinced that it matters, you'll never be able to convince anyone else that it does either.'"

Since graduating, Perez has had one of her papers selected as Best Paper of the Year by the National Business and Economics Society and published others in journals including the International Journal of Health Economics and Management, The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, Health Economics, the International Journal of Services, Economics and Management, and the American Economic Association Papers & Proceedings.

As a SUMR Scholar in her junior year, she worked on two research projects. The first with mentor Julia Lynch, PhD, an Associate Professor of Political Science and LDI Senior Fellow, analyzed perceived inequalities in the Spanish health care system. The second project, with LDI Senior Fellow, Wharton School Professor and mentor Guy David, PhD, explored patterns of ownership and market dynamics related to the country's addiction treatment centers.

"Before SUMR, I wasn't aware that this kind of career combining health care and applied economics was a possibility for me," said Perez. "SUMR was very empowering in that way and I've never forgotten that. I've tried to take what was so meaningful to me in my own SUMR experience and apply it here as a faculty member at Indiana -- where I now mentor students."