Commerce graduate Stephanie Parsons has collected a prestigious national prize, just weeks after being offered a highly sought-after graduate position with the Reserve Bank of Australia.

The 21-year-old economics honours student has received the Pearson Student Academic Achievement Award for 2012 in the Accounting, Economics and Finance category.

The award acknowledges the outstanding effort, dedication and academic achievements of undergraduate students at Australian universities.

Dr Nerina Vecchio and Dr Mirela Malin from Griffith Business School nominated Stephanie for the award, and she also submitted a video clip with her entry.

Stephanie, a Gold Coast native, graduated at the end of 2012, with a double major in economics and finance.

VIDEO CLIP: Economics and Finance – A winning combination

She is currently working on a research thesis as part of her honours year, to be completed in October. She will start work at the Reserve Bank of Australia in Sydney in February 2014.

“It’s a great place to start my career,” she said. “It is the place to be if you want to research macroeconomics in a non-academic setting while also working in this area. For me it is a perfect balance between work and research.”

Stephanie is excited about the future opportunities her employment at the RBA promises. She was one of 12 students to be offered a graduate position from about 600 applicants nationwide.

Stephanie’s passion for economics was fostered at Griffith University, after she first attended as a Year 12 student through the GUESTS (Griffith University Early Start to Tertiary Study) program. She had planned to study accounting and finance before she discovered economics.

She resisted encouragement from friends and teachers to don a lab coat and study science after achieving an OP1, opting instead for a subject tagged the ‘dismal science’.

For Stephanie economics is anything but dismal, and her research thesis bears testament to this.

A soccer fan, she is analysing data on teams like Chelsea, Newcastle and her beloved Arsenal as part of an exciting study linking sport with economics.

She is using econometric techniques to determine whether momentum exists in the English Premier League. Momentum is the notion that past performance predicts current performance after controlling for differences in the quality of the opposition and other factors.

A similar concept exists in finance and among gamblers.

“I heard about similar academic studies of what’s known as the hot-hand effect in the US, focusing on individual players in basketball. The hot-hand phenomenon is based on a belief that a person who has experienced success in the past has a greater chance of repeating the success in future attempts,” Stephanie said.

“I am investigating whether this phenomenon exists in a team situation in soccer and whether it exists within games, across games and/or across seasons.

“The study has a range of applications concerning how people make decisions. Economics is the science of decision-making and people often make decisions based on patterns that don’t exist.

“Although there is a lot of evidence to suggest that people believe momentum exists in sports, I’m sceptical whether the statistics will back this belief up.

“My research will link psychology to economics to see whether these beliefs are valid and whether we can improve economic models as a result.”