Summer Intern Profile: Nicholas Petsas

Nicholas Petsas Photo

We're in our final week of our Summer Intern Profiles. The stellar efforts of talented student interns throughout the year allows NPP to expand and deepen what we do across all aspects of our work. This week's Summer Intern Profile is Nicholas Petsas, a talented student from Arizona who has taken on a huge project here at NPP.

By Nicholas Petsas

My name is Nicholas William Petsas. I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and currently live in Tucson where I attend the University of Arizona Honors College. My studies include Economics, Political Science and Classics (it used to include a minor in Mathematics, but, alas, Vector Calculus got the best of me). My specializations are in International Macro/Trade Economics, International Relations and Classical Civilizations, namely Ancient Greece. My future interests include a wide range of options ranging from law school to an economics doctorate and a long-time dream of working for the World Trade Organization (WTO). This summer when I am not working or preparing to be Secretary-General of Arizona Model United Nations next year, you can find me reading the Wall Street Journal, Economist Magazine, or exercising on my Olympic Rings at a local park.

What brings me to a research internship at the National Priorities Project this summer, which is approximately 2,500 miles away from home, is one of my many interests: how states spend their federal money. It is increasingly clear that we do not understand how federal dollars impact our states and it is my job to illuminate the facts. Using the National Association of State Budget Officer’s (NASBO) “State Expenditure Report” I was able to get a broad picture of how federal dollars have been spent in each state. But to get a closer look, NPP has decided that I should tackle one state at a time and “follow the money” until I have a greater understanding of where the federal funds go. I have almost finished my work on the states of Arizona, Colorado and Iowa and I am currently putting together a report and analysis of those funds using Excel and SAS. Look for another possible blog post in the future!

I have enjoyed the cooler yet occasionally humid weather along with the green beauty of Western Massachusetts working for the National Priorities Project. NPP is truly a wonderful organization that seeks to inform voters by making the federal budget more pedestrian. At the end of the day, constituents armed with facts can change the political debate and engage in meaningful discussion on the implications and trade-offs of different policies as a result. Without NPP and the search for facts, the political debate becomes messy where all sides sling empty rhetoric never addressing the actual problems our country faces.