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Alumni Profile: Andrea Matthews, A.B. '11

October 26, 2019

Andrea Matthews graduated from Brown in 2011, double-concentrating in Economics and Public Policy, and graduated from Harvard Law School in 2015.

Matthews initially wanted to study Economics because she came to Brown with the intent to develop skills she could use to make the world a better place. She recognized that a keen understanding of economics would be a critical tool to affect positive change. Matthews reflected upon how impactful it was to witness the 2008 financial crisis while she was an undergraduate at Brown. She recalls how Ross Levine’s Financial Institutions course and his book, Rethinking Bank Regulation: Till Angels Govern, helped her understand the state of financial regulation. Consequently, the course compelled her to examine what regulation should look like going forward.

Some of Matthews’s other favorite courses included Health, Hunger, and the Household and Public Economics, the latter of which was taught by Professor Brian Knight. Matthews appreciated Professor Knight’s generosity in taking the extra time to help nurture students’ individual curiosity. Matthews wrote her honors senior thesis in the Public Policy department on juvenile and incarcerated young adults; however, the topic itself was inspired by Professor Anna Aizer, who was Matthews’s first reader. Matthews praised the thoughtful but straightforward guidance from Professor Aizer, who helped Matthews devise an instrumental variable analysis for the quantitative aspect of the research.

In her professional career, Matthews continued to apply the research methodologies and approaches she learned from Economics at Brown. After graduation, Matthews worked at a think tank dedicated to social and economic policy, where she focused on local criminal justice systems and policing. Additionally, she earned her J.D. at Harvard Law School, where she realized that there were pressing issues not only in the criminal justice system, but also in the civil justice system. At Harvard, she was involved in research that conducted randomized control trials in legal services. Matthews wrote several papers on this topic, bringing the rigor of quantitative evaluation to questions of legal judgment. After law school, Matthews joined the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a government agency in charge of regulating consumer financial products & services including debit cards, mortgages, and other loans. Matthews works at the CFPB as an Enforcement Attorney. Her undergraduate studies in both Economics and Public Policy laid a strong foundation to build the proper analytical and communication skills needed to tackle challenging problems in her work.