Meet Our Alumni: Returning Home to Make a Difference

After completing her studies at CERGE-EI, Egla Mansi, an Assistant Lecturer at Epoka University, Tirana, made the decision to return to her homeland of Albania. In this new alumni interview, she shares her deep-rooted love for learning and researching, which led her to pursue a career in academia.

You studied in Albania before coming to CERGE-EI. How did you learn about the possibility to study at CERGE-EI? What convinced you to apply?

Prior to my enrollment at CERGE-EI, I pursued my studies in Albania at Epoka University. During my time there, I had the opportunity to attend an open seminar where a CERGE-EI student shared insights into the academic programs and research activities at the institution. What truly caught my attention was the breadth of research areas covered by the faculty, particularly in the field of behavioral and experimental economics. As someone with a keen interest in understanding human decision-making and economic behavior, the program resonated strongly with me. Additionally, hearing firsthand from a student about the supportive community and collaborative atmosphere at CERGE-EI further solidified my decision to apply. The prospect of being part of a vibrant academic community where I could engage with leading scholars, contribute to cutting-edge research, and have the opportunity to meet distinguished economists from all over the world appealed greatly to me.

You decided to return to your home country after CERGE-EI. What was the primary motivation behind that?

Returning to Albania after completing my studies at CERGE-EI was primarily motivated by a strong desire to contribute to the development and growth of my home country. Throughout my time at CERGE-EI, I gained valuable knowledge and skills that I believed could be instrumental in addressing economic challenges and fostering positive change in Albania. As a country that is still emerging and undergoing rapid transformation, Albania presents numerous opportunities for investment and development. I was eager to leverage the insights and expertise I acquired at CERGE-EI to actively participate in initiatives aimed at driving economic progress. Whether through engaging in policy research, collaborating with local organizations, or pursuing entrepreneurial endeavors, I saw returning to Albania as a chance to make a meaningful impact on the socio-economic landscape.

You have been an Assistant Lecturer at Epoka University since 2022. Why have you decided on a career in academia? What do you like the most about it?

Choosing a career in academia was a natural decision for me, rooted in a lifelong passion for learning and researching. From a young age, I was drawn to the process of discovery and the pursuit of knowledge, and this inclination only deepened as I progressed through my studies at Epoka University. As a student, I had the opportunity to serve as a teaching assistant for various courses, and it was during this time that I truly discovered my affinity for academia.

What I find most fulfilling about being an academic is the opportunity to make a tangible impact on the next generation of scholars and professionals. As a lecturer, I relish the chance to mentor and guide students, helping them discover their own passions and develop their skills as economists. Being able to witness their growth and intellectual development over time is incredibly rewarding, and I take great pride in knowing that I play a role in shaping their academic and professional journeys. Moreover, I also appreciate the flexibility and freedom it offers. The ability to engage in diverse projects, collaborate with different colleagues, and explore new research areas ensures that no two days are alike. This dynamic environment keeps me intellectually stimulated and motivated, as I am constantly challenged to expand my knowledge and explore new ideas.

What research projects are you currently working on?

In addition to teaching, I am also actively engaged in several research projects spanning various interdisciplinary fields. One of my primary research projects focuses on data science application, particularly sentiment analysis of social media posts related to war events. Furthermore, I am delving into the realm of sustainable production and consumption through the lens of complex systems modeling approaches where I adapt an agent-based modeling technique. In parallel, I am investigating the phenomenon of digital entrepreneurship among young individuals. Lastly, I am actively involved in a regional cooperation program in the Western Balkans area, focusing on key issues such as migration, education, employability, and digitalization. Here, we aim to address common challenges, foster cross-border cooperation, and facilitate sustainable development initiatives.

What from your CERGE-EI studies has influenced you the most?

My experience at CERGE-EI has left a lasting impression on both my personal and professional journey. Despite the occasional feeling of being overwhelmed, the rigorous academic training I received has profoundly shaped my intellectual growth and skill development. Foremost among the influences from CERGE-EI are the critical thinking and analytical skills I acquired. The program challenged me to delve deep into economic theory, econometric methods, and research techniques, providing me with a solid foundation that I continue to build upon in my academic and professional pursuits. This ability to analyze complex problems and develop evidence-based solutions has been invaluable in navigating various challenges in my career.

Furthermore, the vibrant academic community at CERGE-EI fostered an environment of intellectual curiosity and lively discourse. Interacting with faculty members and fellow students from diverse backgrounds exposed me to a wealth of perspectives and methodologies, broadening my understanding of economics and enriching my approach to research. I am grateful for the friendships forged during my time at CERGE-EI, particularly to my best friend Yan Ren, whose unwavering support has been a constant source of strength. Additionally, I am deeply appreciative of the support provided by the Study Affairs Office team and Academic Writing Center at CERGE-EI. Their assistance with documents and proposals editing has been instrumental in navigating the academic landscape, allowing me to focus more effectively on my research and coursework.

To conclude, my experience at CERGE-EI has not only equipped me with the tools and knowledge needed to excel in my academic and professional endeavors but has also enriched my life through meaningful connections and friendships. I am grateful for the invaluable lessons learned and the enduring impact it has had on my personal and intellectual growth.


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