From left, Madison Staiman, ’21, Zoe Topaz, ’21, Adriana Caceres Ruiz Diaz, ’20, Ethan Lowell, ’21, Aman Kakani, ’19, participate in the College Fed Challenge competition that will be held at Lehigh on Thursday, November 7. This competition entails students taking on the roles of the Federal Reserve and making economic policy recommendations based on current conditions (B&W Staff/Xinchen Ma).

Lehigh hosts College Fed Challenge regional competition


The College Fed Challenge competition will be held at Lehigh on Thursday, Nov. 7, where students will present economic analyses and recommendations for the United States to a panel of judges, who will choose an ultimate regional winner. 

In this competition, students take on the roles of the Federal Reserve and make economic policy recommendations based on current conditions. Students prepare 15-minute speeches, which are followed by 15-minute Q&A sessions with the judges. The judges are unaware of the team’s school affiliation to ensure unbiased voting and scoring. 

Five Lehigh students will be participating as presenters in the Philadelphia Reserve Bank District regional competition. In addition to the student presenters, there is a team of 10 student researchers who assist the speakers in creating their final presentation by reading financial and economic reports and analyzing data. The final presentation is based off of the most recent economic events and data. 

The students who participate in this challenge are currently enrolled in Economics 201, a class taught by Alex Nikolsko-Rzhevskyy, an associate professor of economics. He has advised and assisted the team for seven years, and has been preparing for the competition since the beginning of the semester. 

“Our region consists of several very strong teams,” Nikolsko-Rzhevskyy said. “UPenn, Princeton, and Lafayette are all in our region. We have very tough competition.” 

Nikolsko-Rzhevskyy’s hope for this year’s competition is for the Lehigh team to win regionals, and advance to the national competition held in Washington D.C. in December. 

Regardless of the outcome of the regional competition, both Nikolsko-Rzhevskyy and the students know how advantageous this event is. 

“This class and challenge really helps with job interviews, especially for someone in the business school,” Nikolsko-Rzhevskyy said. “Everyone on the team really understands the economy and its various sectors. Some students have actually ended up working for the (Federal Reserve) after having this experience.”

Ethan Lowell, ‘21, was previously a researcher for the challenge team, and will be presenting this year. He said the challenge team has already proven to be helpful in his job search. 

“Since I did this last year, I was able to speak about it in my interviews and I was able to articulate exactly why I wanted a certain job over other jobs,” Lowell said. “It has put me ahead of my peers in terms of understanding what my long-term goals are.”

It is Nikolsko-Rzhevskyy’s hope that other Lehigh students see how impactful the class and challenge is. He said former students still reach out to him in regards to the class. 

“Almost all former students have said that this is one of, if not the, most important class they have taken from an employment point of view,” Nikolsko-Rzhevskyy said. 

Presenter Zoe Topaz, ‘21, understands how beneficial this competition and class is. 

“The economy is part of everyone’s lives, whether you know a lot about it or nothing about it,” Topaz said. “It affects everyone, and I think the Federal Reserve Challenge team has given me an opportunity to better understand how the economy works and why it matters.

Topaz said whether it be for jobs in the future, internships or just doing her own financials, she thinks the experience will definitely help in the future.

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