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Economics alumnus capitalises on hard work

Tuesday 10 July 2018 2:55pm

Shaun Markham before graduating in May.

Otago economics alumnus Shaun Markham lists determination, talent, and assistance and encouragement at crucial times, as significant features in his educational journey.
Shaun, who graduated in May with a Master of Economics degree with distinction, was a 2012 Alumni Disability Support Scholarship recipient.

He has cerebral palsy, but is quick to point out that while the condition affects his speech and fine motor skills it does not define him. Instead, it has led to a mind-set that anticipates challenges and values adaptability.

"People assume that it's a lot harder for me. In reality, it's not – I back myself and adapt quickly.

“Getting a master's is a big achievement for our whole class, so it should be about that and not about my cerebral palsy. That's what I like about my economics friends; my disability is never mentioned or an issue, we help each other out in our work and enjoy some good banter.”

Dorian Owen image
Professor Owen

His thesis, completed under the supervision of Professor Dorian Owen, looked at how capital accumulation affects economic growth and how different statistical and econometric techniques affect this relationship.

“I'm interested in economic cycles and how we can create robust growth for everyone. This particular topic wasn't my first choice, but I wanted to learn a particular economic technique in order to keep improving myself.”

Professor Owen says the whole department is proud of Mr Markham’s achievements.

“Shaun has overcome significant challenges, but has achieved outstanding results through his high level of academic ability, determination and strength of character, plus the support of his family, his writer, Jane Ashman, and the team at Disability, Information and Support.”

He says supervising Shaun helped him appreciate more clearly that there are many dimensions to ‘ability’ and that any individual can be challenged in some dimensions but excel in others.
Shaun is also very appreciative of Disability Information and Support for their help.

“Of course I'm unable to write, so I need writers for exams and note-takers but that doesn't slow me down. I type out my assignments alone and generally revise for exams pretty effectively.

“Everything was so smooth for me, which I greatly appreciate. My writer was also great and we will remain good friends.”

Shaun’s next step is to start work as a research assistant in Otago’s Department of Economics, and in future he would like to work for the Treasury or Reserve Bank of New Zealand.
“Economics is at the heart of everything and I enjoy the abstract nature of it. However, it's not as simple as just moving to Wellington as I have cerebral palsy, but I am starting to get things in place.”

(Below: Shaun and Development and Alumni Relations Office Donor and Funding manager Jude McCracken at an alumni scholarship recipient event in 2013).