Celebrating our Honors Thesis graduates

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  • The honors thesis is a significant undergraduate research project that serves as the culmination of a student’s honors experience.

Celebrating our Honors Thesis graduates

The honors thesis is a significant undergraduate research project that serves as the culmination of a student’s honors experience. Though the project itself may take on many different forms, the purpose of the thesis is to advance knowledge and understanding and further develop a student’s intellectual, professional and personal growth. During a two-semester research and writing process, students work one-on-one with a faculty mentor, approved by the major’s Honors Faculty Advisor.

Take a look at this year’s incredible graduates and learn a little more about their plans for the future.

Tanner Barton

Honors Business Administration
Thesis: Check, please: The Rise of Checklists in Healthcare

Tell us something about your thesis: 

My thesis is about the application of checklists in healthcare, and the effect that it can have on outcomes. Using University of Utah Healthcare’s Value Based Equation for healthcare, we find that implementing checklists can improve every variable in the formula. As checklists become more commonplace in the industry, we will see a level of standardization that will hopefully combat the rising costs of treatment in America.

What was your most memorable #EcclesExperience? 

My most memorable experience was traveling to Seattle for Business Scholars in 2017. Meeting with managers and alumni working at Microsoft, Boeing, and Amazon helped me envision how I could apply my education in life after school, and I loved being able to spend more time getting to know my fellow Business Scholars. We almost got to witness Utah Football pull off the upset vs. Washington as well, which was the cherry on top.

What are your plans after graduation? 

After graduation, I plan to attend medical school as I continue pursuing my dream of becoming an orthopaedic surgeon.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give a shout out to? 

The two people who impacted my experience the most were Alayna Williamson and Glen Schmidt. Alayna taught my business scholars class, and was the perfect mentor as I started my business education. She gave me the foundation and confidence that I needed to reach my potential as I went through my undergrad. Glen was my OM professor, and one of the first people who showed me how I could directly apply my business learning into the medical field. He has also been a mentor for me- both for my honors thesis and otherwise- and I’ve learned so much from him. I’m so grateful to these two individuals for having such a positive impact on me during my time at the U.

Emily Black

Honors Finance
Thesis: Socially Responsible Investing: Robinhood Users and Their Response to ESG-Related Announcements

Tell us something about your thesis: 

The primary purpose of my thesis was to find whether millennial investors consider environmental, social, and governance (ESG)-related decisions when investing in companies. My work looks specifically at investors using the Robinhood platform and the change in number of users after a company made a social or environment-related announcement. My analysis indicates that, on average, there was an increase in millennial investor numbers following both social and environment-related press releases. Understanding these preferences will allow firms to assess current priorities and implement new strategies that attract millennial investors.

What was your most memorable #EcclesExperience? 

I have had so many incredible experiences over the past fours years that I cannot narrow it down to just one. Studying abroad in Sydney and Shanghai was a major highlight for me and that was where I actually took my first finance class, which led me to choose my major. My time as a Goff Scholar was also very memorable and I will forever cherish the relationships I made and the lessons I learned. In addition, I have spent the past two years serving as a Peer Advisor, helping students navigate their undergraduate careers at the business school, and I also served as an Eccles Ambassador which allowed me to mentor many freshmen and transfer students. All of these opportunities and more have contributed to my outstanding Eccles experience.

What are your plans after graduation? 

After graduation, I will be staying in Salt Lake City to begin my career at Goldman Sachs as an analyst in the Controllers division.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give a shout out to? 

There are so many people who have contributed to my success at the Eccles School, but first and foremost, I would like to thank my parents for their unwavering support. I could not have done this without them! I would also like to thank my academic advisor since day one, Maddie Rossman, my career coach, Suzy Shurtliff, my honors thesis advisor, Davidson Heath, and my Goff Scholars professor, Bonita Austin. Also, a big shoutout to both my team of amazing advisors and peer advisors that I have had the pleasure of working with and the entire Business Scholars team. “Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to give a shout out to my best friend from home, Maddy, and my friends here in Utah who have been the best support system!”

Emilie Ebert

Honors Quantitative Analysis of Markets and Organization
Thesis: A Comparison of the Community Benefit of Nonprofit and For-Profit Hospitals

Tell us something about your thesis: 

In recent years, the issue of whether or not nonprofit hospitals deserve a tax-exemption from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been debated frequently. Critics state that nonprofit hospitals do not provide additional community benefits to justify the tax exemption. Literature suggests that nonprofit hospitals do not provide more charitable, or uncompensated, care than for-profit hospitals. My research focuses on other measures of community benefit outside of charity care. An analysis of hospital and demographic data shows that nonprofit hospitals provide care to more uninsured, low-income, and racially diverse populations than for-profit hospitals. Additionally, nonprofit hospitals are penalized less often for readmissions, indicating that they provide a higher quality of care than for-profit hospitals. These findings should be considered when evaluating the community benefit of nonprofit hospitals.

What was your most memorable #EcclesExperience? 

Some of my most memorable experiences were in the Goff Scholars program. Working in teams and presenting recommendations to real companies was instrumental in helping me decide what I want to do in a career. The skills I learned and friends I made have been invaluable.

What are your plans after graduation? 

After graduation, I will move to Dallas, Texas to become a consultant at Oliver Wyman, an international management consulting firm.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give a shout out to? 

I would like to thank my QAMO professors for helping me develop a love for strategy and economics, Scott Schaefer for patiently advising me through the thesis writing process, and my fellow classmates for making the past four years so memorable. I’m thankful for the generous support of donors to the Eccles school. Of course, I’m most grateful for my family who has always encouraged me to reach my goals.

Ardyn Ford

Honors Quantitative Analysis of Markets and Organizations
Thesis: An Analysis of the Gender Gap in Utah Politics

Tell us something about your thesis: 

Utah ranks last for female political participation in the United States, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy and Research. This study is interested in understanding what factors contribute to the political gender gap in this state. The primary analysis is based on quantitative models that combine general and primary election data, campaign finance records, census data, and Utah voter registration information to test for differences in outcomes between male and female candidates.

What was your most memorable #EcclesExperience? 

Jen Brown’s Economics of Strategy class was a favorite.

What are your plans after graduation? 

I’m working as an instructor for Northwest Outward Bound.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give a shout out to? 

All of the QAMO faculty and Professor Derek Hoff for being great educators and mentors.

Katie Garff

Honors Accounting
Thesis: Digital Disruption in Automotive Dealerships

Tell us something about your thesis: 

Automotive dealerships need to adapt to digital trends to maintain a competitive advantage in the industry. This is because consumers are shifting to an online approach to research their vehicle of preference and Also service their vehicle. While e-commerce is becoming more popular for research purposes, the majority of car buyers prefer to complete the purchase in person. Thus, along with improving their online presence, dealerships must maintain a good presence in person to accommodate their consumers.

What was your most memorable #EcclesExperience? 

I loved being a business ambassador because I met some of my best friends, went on the coolest trips and gained an enlightened perspective on business and its best practices.

What are your plans after graduation? 

I plan to get an MBA and work for Ken Garff, my family business.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give a shout out to? 

Jamie Bay (for helping me with my thesis)

Glen Schmidt (for helping me to be curious and for for going above and beyond to help me understand concepts)

Philip Jeff’s (for answering hundreds of my questions regarding tax)

Max Gruber

Honors Marketing
Thesis: The Fall of America’s Game: How Organizational and Marketing Failures Have Led to a Decrease in Major League Baseball’s Market Share

Tell us something about your thesis: 

This paper focuses on investigating and understanding the decline of Major League Baseball in both market share and consumer interest. Once the most viewed and followed sport in the country, baseball has been steadily declining in popularity, as consumer favor has shifted to sports like football and basketball. The report analyzes not only the shortcomings of Major League Baseball, but sheds a light on consumer preferences and the changing landscape of the entire North American professional sports industry.

What was your most memorable #EcclesExperience? 

My most memorable experience as an Eccles student was getting the opportunity to study abroad in Paris and Rome.

What are your plans after graduation? 

After graduation I will be working for the United States Forest Service as a wildland firefighter in the Pacific Northwest.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give a shout out to? 

I’d like to thank my entire family for constantly pushing me to learn and grow as a person, and for always supporting me. I’d also like to thank my friends for having my back through everything, and motivating me to succeed. I couldn’t have accomplished any of this without you. I also want to thank my thesis advisor, Dr. Abbie Griffin. Her enthusiasm and care about the project made the experience both easier and more enjoyable.

Christopher B. Hales

Honors Business Administration
Thesis: Improving the Culture of Death Denial Across the United States

Tell us something about your thesis: 

My thesis dives deep into the culture of death denial in the United States. This culture of death denial affects the not only the medical expenditures of end-of-life care but more importantly, the quality of life. I have learned that in just a single year, twenty-five to forty-two per cent of Medicare patients received at least one of the twenty-six useless tests and treatments. As a result, one-quarter of Medicare spending in the United States occurs in the last year of life and is commonly interpreted as waste. 

The end goal is then to:

  1. Change the culture: How do we strike a balance between our fear of dying and our hope for a long, healthy life, while still confronting reality?
  2. Improve end of life experience. No one wants to die in an ICU, many would rather be at home with loved ones and comfortable surroundings.
  3. Save money and reallocate: By looking at data, research, and statistics, we can see that there is tremendous waste. Hopefully by changing our outlook on death and having discussions about death more openly, we can curb the ever-increasing medical costs associated with the end-of-life.

What was your most memorable #EcclesExperience? 

Honestly, I loved the classes and the students. I made friends in every class and the professors were amazing. Would not trade my experience for anything!

What are your plans after graduation? 

Continue schooling! My plans are to attend medical school and receive my M.D. In the meantime, spend time in the mountains climbing, hiking, and traveling!

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give a shout out to? 

I would love to acknowledge and thank first and foremost my family. Primarily my mother and father for providing council, guidance, and never-ending support. Secondly, I would love to acknowledge and thank my girlfriend for staying up in the late hours, doing homework right along side me and giving me the encouragement to push forward! Lastly, I would like to thank the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business and Honors College for providing me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn and grow.

Jason Hoag

Honors Quantitative Analysis of Markets and Organizations
Thesis: Media and Politics

Tell us something about your thesis: 

I had a fantastic experience in conducting research under the guidance of Adam. I found that if the media selectively reveals information about a candidates effectiveness, it can lead to increased polarization of candidate platforms. I was able to submit a draft of my thesis as part of my application to graduate school. It was explicitly references by several faculty as a reason for admitting me to their program.

What was your most memorable #EcclesExperience? 

Taking Scott Schaefer’s introductory business economics course. I was a freshman and it was the first class I was taking with a large number of upperclassmen. I was amazed by the interaction of fellow Eccles students and inspired to study economics by Scott’s course.

What are your plans after graduation? 

I will be attending the Stanford Graduate School of Business to pursue a PhD in Political Economics.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give a shout out to? 

I would like to thank Scott Schaefer, Adam Meirowitz, and Jen Brown for their invaluable support and mentorship. My wife and family for their support and encouragement. All of the other Eccles faculty and student who I had the pleasure of working with these past 4 years.

Mitchell Johnson

Honors Accounting
Thesis: Critical Audit Matters and Transparency – Analysis and Implications of New Disclosure Requirements Under as 3105

Tell us something about your thesis: 

The United States of America is regarded as one of the most litigious countries in the world. Common law is requiring more description and deeper interpretation with each new requirement and complex explanations are produced for every situation. In the world of commerce and financial reporting, the US is making a firm push towards transparency. Transparency is beneficial to many companies and their shareholders. It can hold management accountable and can communicate information helpful to shareholders and potential investors. On the other hand, at what point does transparency become harmful to a company? Does over-transparency put US companies at a disadvantage compared to their foreign rivals? Does the new level of scrutinization brought forth by increased transparency stimulate or hinder competitive growth? Is it necessary and is it worth the cost? 

The goal of this paper is to analyze and discuss the implications of the PCAOB’s new reporting standard regarding the required communication of Critical Audit Matters, and how it factors into the discussion of transparency in financial reporting. Emphasis will be placed on the concepts of transparency and auditor judgement along with the support, criticism, and implications surrounding Critical Audit Matters, including its effects on auditor liability. This thesis will be of interest to anyone familiar with financial reporting and auditing.

What was your most memorable #EcclesExperience? 

My Eccles Global UK semester abroad. Spending the entire semester in London was one of the best experiences of my life. Being able to explore England and other European countries while combining it with my education was truly remarkable.

What are your plans after graduation? 

I have a full time offer to work with KPMG starting in the fall, and I hope to get my CPA license as well.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give a shout out to? 

Special thanks to all the scholarship donors who contributed to my experience and the experiences of many other students. We couldn’t do it without your generous help. Thank you to all my great professors, friends, family, and more.

Drew Kiel

Honors Marketing and Finance
Thesis: How Branding Influences Our Willingness to Pay for Necessity Products

Drew Kiel

Tell us something about your thesis: 

It was interesting to see that branding can impact a customer’s willingness to pay for bottled water by up to 20%! This finding supports the idea that marketing can influence customer’s willingness to pay for products that are necessities and not just those that are superfluous wants.

What was your most memorable #EcclesExperience? 

During my freshman year I participated in the Lassonde Founders program, as well as the Getseeded events they hold. I had an absolute blast working on creating a product prototype and pushing forward with the idea to the point where we could raise funding. I had a blast interacting with so many amazing students, faculty, and advisors and the experiences I gained during this time have shaped the rest of my time here at the U. I loved it!

What are your plans after graduation? 

I haven’t found a full time job yet but am looking for a variety of roles ranging including those in marketing, finance, and customer relationship management. I hope to move to Southern California and can’t wait to see what my next chapter holds.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give a shout out to? 

My parents! My friends, because without them I wouldn’t have made it here today. The amazing Eccles faculty who have helped me along my journey, including Bonita Austin, Paul Dowling, and Abbie Griffin

Megan Kleinman

Honors Finance
Thesis: The Green Bond Revolution: Is It Sustainable?

Tell us something about your thesis: 

My thesis examines the success of corporate green bonds through historical research, investigation of the certification process, and quantitative analysis of pollution and ESG (environmental, social, & governance) data. My research concludes that green bonds do influence pollution released and ESG scores for participating companies and that ultimately, the growth, impact, and success of green bonds are sustainable. In addition to being published in the Marriott Library, a condensed version of my thesis will be published in the upcoming 2021 issue of the University of Utah’s Hinkley Journal of Politics.

What was your most memorable #EcclesExperience? 

Some of my best memories from my years as an Eccles student were when I was involved with the Business Scholar program. Though I have countless fond memories from my experiences as a freshman Business Scholar and Eccles Ambassador, my favorites took place on my domestic and abroad travel experiences with the program. I was fortunate to be able to travel to Chicago, Dallas, California, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Peru, Israel, and Jordan where I visited multinational companies, U.S. embassies, the E.U., trade ports, and farms. Through these international experiences, I gained lifelong friendships and a passion for studying the vibrant and diverse world of business.

What are your plans after graduation? 

I am pleased to share that I have accepted an offer to work as a financial analyst for a tech company based out of Lehi, Utah called Podium. I am incredibly excited to be a part of such an innovative and forward thinking company!

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give a shout out to? 

I would like to thank my thesis advisor, Matthew Ringgenberg for his constant mentoring, patience, and advice throughout my thesis process. I would also like to thank all of my Eccles school professors who encouraged and inspired me to pursue a rigorous career path. And of course, a huge shoutout to the Business Scholars students, staff, and faculty who are the reason I chose to study business. I am so grateful for everyone who has positively impacted my experience!

Ashley Kunz

Honors Quantitative Analysis of Markets and Organizations, Finance
Thesis: Returns to Education Based Off Educational Quality: A Study of American Lawyers

Tell us something about your thesis: 

I learned that the wage gap has grown over the last 10 years. I also learned that college quality only impacts your earnings initially, but over time earnings tend towards the same average regardless of which college you attended.

What was your most memorable #EcclesExperience? 

I have found lifelong friends through the Eccles school. What first started out as a study group turned into a group of friends that will continue to hang out after we graduate.

What are your plans after graduation? 

After graduation, I will continue to work at Discover Financial Services and begin applying for promotions internally!

Parker Law

Honors Operations & Supply Chain
Thesis: The relevance of internal processing units in implementing value-based care

Tell us something about your thesis: 

The main focus of my thesis is explaining and expanding on the reasons that value-based healthcare is not only relevant in today’s world, but it is the direction that healthcare is heading towards. Done correctly, it leads to better, faster, more efficient care for patients while also lowering costs for providers because of reduced waste. One of the biggest sources of waste for care providers is performing care that is unnecessary or incorrect. This negatively affects both the provider and the patient because it is an avoidable cost and it puts the patient through treatments that will not help their condition, which can be costly, time-consuming, uncomfortable, and even dangerous. The use of IPU’s, or internal processing units, is one of the most effective strategies that can be used to implement value-based care. IPU’s allow the care provider to manage and track each patient from diagnosis to post-treatment care, which has been shown to minimize unnecessary treatment and increase the success rate of the care being provided. When one group of healthcare professionals is allowed to manage patients from start to finish, they have more knowledge about each individual patient’s needs and can apply their skillset much more efficiently, which gives the patient a more favorable experience and also saves the organization money. This paper will explain how properly implementing value-based care with an emphasis on IPU’s can help organizations minimize common inefficiencies and deliver positive experiences to their patients.

What was your most memorable #EcclesExperience? 

My most memorable experiences as an Eccles student were definitely the freshman year Business Scholars trips. It was so much fun to go to Dallas, TX and Zion National Park with all of my friends that I had made in the program. The company tour of P&G was very interesting and showed me a lot about how my major translates into the real world. I am so grateful for the knowledge that I gained and the lifetime friends that I made during those experiences. It is, without a doubt, a one-of-a-kind opportunity and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone.

What are your plans after graduation? 

I am excited to take my newly-learned talents into the workforce and take full advantage of my degree that I put so much time and effort into earning. I can’t wait to see how all of my hard work has paid off.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give a shout out to? 

I would like to thank: My family, for being there and supporting me throughout every step of my undergraduate journey, my friends, for helping to make these past 4 years unforgettable, and my professors, for always going the extra mile and helping me obtain such valuable skills. Go Utes!

Kyle McAnally

Honors Finance
Thesis: Economic Policy Uncertainty and Initial Public Offerings

What are your plans after graduation? 

MBA candidate at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Olivia Randall

Honors Finance
Thesis: The Low Income Housing Tax Credit and Impacts on Eviction Rates

Tell us something about your thesis: 

My thesis looks at the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and how it impacts eviction rates. The goal of this thesis is to examine whether or not the LIHTC policy is effective at reducing eviction rates in Mountain West states. When controlling for fixed effects, I found that  LIHTC allocation amounts were negatively correlated with eviction rates at the county level.

What was your most memorable #EcclesExperience? 

I loved my entire experience at the University of Utah and as an Eccles student. In 2019, I was able to take Paul Brown’s class on Entrepreneurship and Poverty Alleviation which ended with a trip to Ghana. The course changed my views on poverty alleviation and was incredibly insightful as well as fun!

What are your plans after graduation? 

I will be moving to New York to work for Schmidt Futures

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give a shout out to? 

I’d like to thank my incredible professors and my family for their support. And a special thank you to my thesis advisor, Professor Elena Patel, for her guidance and support as I worked to complete my thesis.

Clara Randall

Honors Quantitative Analysis of Markets and Organizations
Thesis: Job Tenure, Religion, and The Gender Wage Gap

Tell us something about your thesis: 

Writing my thesis provided a great opportunity to put the quantitative research skills I’ve learned in QAMO to use. My thesis examines how the gender wage gap is impacted by job tenure and religiosity. Its been exciting to use data to examine a problem, and even more exciting when I see the results!

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give a shout out to? 

Thanks to Scott Schaefer for the many hours of support provided on my thesis. And, thanks to my peers in the QAMO major for making it a memorable 4 years.

Ayden Richards

Honors Finance
Thesis: 

Tell us something about your thesis: 

I studied the effects of environmental regulations on equity valuations.

What was your most memorable #EcclesExperience? 

I loved bonding with fellow students over late-night group projects in the study rooms at the SFEBB.

What are your plans after graduation? 

I will work as a research analyst at Grandeur Peak Global Advisors.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give a shout out to? 

All of the professors, advisors, friends, and family who supported me and encouraged me.

Lindsay Richards

Honors Quantitative Analysis of Markets and Organizations
Thesis: Employment Trends and COVID-19 in Utah

Tell us something about your thesis: 

I used econometrics to evaluate data about unemployment trends during 2020 in the state of Utah. I discovered that Utah experienced quick economic recovery from the initial economic downturn caused by COVID-19. I learned about how to clean and interpret data.

What was your most memorable #EcclesExperience? 

My most memorable experience is international trips with Eccles Global after my freshman year!

What are your plans after graduation? 

I’m going to work as a financial analyst working on restructuring and distressed debt projects.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give a shout out to? 

I would like to thank my wonderful friends who would respond to calls about homework assignments late at night, study on the weekends, and generally provide moral support throughout the college journey.

Daesh Stastny

Honors Marketing
Thesis: The Relationship Between Fashion Advertising Preferences and Personal Style

Tell us something about your thesis: 

Clothing holds meaning and people care about Instagram ads when they believe the ads communicate characteristics about the model’s personality.

What are your plans after graduation? 

Copywriter in NYC

Chase Verhaaren

Honors Operations & Supply Chain
Thesis: Operational Responses to Disruption: An Analysis of Firms’ Responses to Disruption in Retail Banking, Trading, and Payments

Tell us something about your thesis: 

From my research, I was able to identify specific opportunities for incumbent and disrupting firms in the retail banking, trading, and payments industries to compete successfully and maintain growth. It was exciting to perform my own research and to synthesize research done by others into one distilled set of recommendations for firms in each of these industries!

What was your most memorable #EcclesExperience? 

I was able to participate in an Eccles Global experience with the Business Scholars program – we took a week-long trip to Israel and Jordan, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that experience. Getting to see Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv, the Dead Sea, Petra, and Amman with friends and classmates was unforgettable. I loved the trip, learned a lot, and can’t wait to go back again in the future.

What are your plans after graduation? 

I’ve accepted an offer from Lucid Software to work with their Customer Operations Team. After interning at Lucid for the past 2.5 years, I can’t wait to start full-time and continue to grow our team and the business.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give a shout out to? 

HUGE thank you to my parents and my wife for their support and help throughout the entirety of my undergraduate career. I couldn’t have done it without them, and am extremely thankful for all they’ve done.

Meghan Williams

Honors Quantitative Analysis of Markets and Organizations
Thesis: 3rd Down Jump: Determining the Academic Conversion Impacts of Successful Collegiate Football Programs

Tell us something about your thesis: 

Successful collegiate football programs at universities have often been anecdotally tied to higher rates of alumni giving, student outreach, and prestige, justifying large deficits within athletic programs. Through my research I found no statistically significant evidence pointing towards a successful football season converting to increases in giving, student outreach, or academic prestige. Through my findings I hope to expand the debate around costly collegiate football programs and their impact on universities.

What was your most memorable #EcclesExperience? 

Participating in Eccles Global study abroad programs and having the opportunity to visit 21 countries while learning from David Eccles School of Business Professors.

What are your plans after graduation? 

I will be moving to Philadelphia and joining Hamilton Lane as an equity analyst.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give a shout out to? 

Kristina Gibby-Wachter, I had the opportunity to  take her BUS 3900 class in Paris and have been her teaching assistant ever since, I’m extremely grateful for the mentorship and advice she has provided me throughout my time at the David Eccles School of Business!

2021-05-06T13:03:33-06:00May 5th, 2021|

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