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UST Student Connects the World Through Economics
11/5/2013

Maria Isabel Buambua wants her epitaph to read ‘Maria Isabel Buambua — A Citizen of the World.’ To reach this goal Buambua plans to bridge countries together through their finances and economics. Growing up in Brazil, then moving to Angola before finally moving to Houston to attend the University of St. Thomas, Buambua already understands how incredibly globalized the world is and wants to see cooperation between countries improved.

Buambua, a senior economics major, discovered her love for economics while at UST. After taking economics classes and completing an internship at the Houston branch of the Federal Reserve Bank, Buambua jumped at the chance to be one of the first graduates from the newly revived economics major.

“I think Dr. Barry Willbratte made economics very tangible, Dr. Pierre Canac made it fun and Dr. Hassan Shirvani got me really into it,” Buambua said. “When I found out they were making an economics major it was just this is a good fit. “I didn’t even think twice. I talked to Dr. Beena George, my advisor and told her she needed to sign my major declaration form.”

The economics degree program is a new addition to the AACSB—accredited Cameron School of Business. The program exposes students to social science concepts central to business and governmental decision-making, society’s allocation of resources, international relations among competing economics and ethics in commerce. The economics program encompasses micro and macroeconomics, international economics, money and banking, labor markets, cost benefit analysis, economic development and theory.

While at St. Thomas, Buambua put her study into practice by getting involved with the Social Entrepreneurship Program. Buambua joined the organization her freshman year and now serves as the current president. SEP is s student run organization that fundraises to give microloans to impoverished individuals in developing countries so that they may become self-reliant entrepreneurs. Buambua got involved her freshman year and is now serving as president.

“With SEP, we say ‘Here is a microloan,’” Buambua said. “’You can have your own business; you can be self-reliant; you can send your kids to school; you can give them and education; you can make them a better person or give them a better future than the one you had and you can improve your own future, and you can help the community.’”


Long term, Buambua would like to have a career where she is able to positively influence the world. Whether that means working for the Federal Bank and working in monetary policy or going into international business to build bridges between cultures and companies, Buambua wants to take it on.

“One of the most important lessons I learned was from Dr. Canac,” Buambua said. “He said cooperation is key. He meant in an international economic context, but I think it is true for life.”


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