2023 PPE Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award Winner

The Kellogg Center for Philosophy, Politics, and Economics is proud to feature Christopher Royal, a Spring 2023 PPE graduate, as the 2023 PPE Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award winner.

Christopher, can you tell us a little about yourself, academically?

I am a senior in the class of 2023 double majoring in Finance and Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. While I applied to Virginia Tech as a business major, as early as orientation I knew I wanted to combine my Bachelor of Science with a Bachelor of Arts degree. I had interned the summer before matriculating to Virginia Tech in the Virginia General Assembly, so I was interested in pursuing something incorporating political science. I inevitably chose PPE given the overlap of economics classes across the programs.

What has your experience with the PPE program been like, and what are some of your favorite aspects of the program?

Adding a second degree has led to a rewarding collegiate experience. I often find myself interweaving the disciplines multiple times a day. I would leave one class where we learned how to hedge a volatile asset to another where we evaluated arguments questioning my own existence. PPE has exposed me to new topics of interest through the various speaker series and PPE integration courses. The transdisciplinary exploration of these topics where members of the PPE community attempted to solve pressing and complicated questions by engaging their cross-disciplinary perspectives is truly unique and beneficial as an undergraduate student.

How do you think PPE has set you up for success?

PPE has complemented my traditional finance career pursuits. I differentiated myself in interviews and I was able to utilize skills developed in PPE classes to make more compelling arguments in my internship investment presentations. However, just through PPE alone, I interned with the U.S. Senate as a sophomore via the Washington Semester program (WSGE). Additionally, PPE helped me consider how I can apply my financial skillset to make a positive impact in the world. Discussing arguments like the one presented by William MacAskill in “Replaceability, Career Choice, and Making a Difference” helped me see my capacity to use my upcoming career in investment banking to act as a global change agent. I continue to seek ways to blend finance and supporting the public good and researched socially advantageous financial instruments like social impact bonds in my PPE capstone course this year.

If you could give other students in the program advice, what would it be?

First, I would advise current and prospective students to really engage with the topics discussed across the PPE community from a variety of perspectives. While I found the economic viewpoints came easiest to me, I learned the most when I challenged myself to analyze the philosophical perspectives. Second, I learned that you get more out of the PPE program the more time you put into it. As I increased my engagement with the community, I was better able to connect key themes from classes to the speaker series and glean greater insights from these events.

Do you have any final words or remarks?

A big thank you to all the professors and faculty who have made such a large impact on my undergraduate career! I am honored and proud to be a trailblazer in successfully pursuing Finance and PPE. What initially seemed like an overly ambitious dream has now become a rather popular growing academic tract. I could not have achieved this without the collaborative help of the Kellogg Center and Pamplin. I want to extend a special shoutout to Professor Moehler and Holly Belcher for supporting me in my pursuit of this degree combination and to Professor Wendt for encouraging me to apply for this award.

Share this post: