Home-schooled student thrives at WKU

Being an underdog can give one the benefit of having to outwork everyone else, therefore honing the strong work ethic one needs to succeed. Such is the case with Joseph Fragnoli.  At 5’ 6” tall he had to work harder than his high school teammates to make the basketball team; he not only made the team, but started on the Varsity Basketball team as a junior and senior.

Joseph was homeschooled from the fourth grade all the way through high school, maintaining a 4.0 GPA throughout all of high school and college. He attributes much of his collegiate success to this experience; giving him ‘self-starter’ skills that benefitted him greatly when he attended WKU.  His high school curriculum was organized through a tutorial program; attending class lectures once a week, completing the weekly work on his own, and uploading it to his professors each day.  He says “This experience helped me develop strong accountability skills, and greatly aided me in seamlessly transitioning into college life.”

One of the best Economic Departments in the country

Joseph initially came to WKU with a dream of becoming an entrepreneur; however, after taking his first Economics class he realized he truly loved the field of Economics, and decided to pursue Applied Economic research.  “If I could go back to my senior year in high school, and was given the choice to attend WKU or Harvard, I would most definitely choose WKU!  My experience has been that exceptional, and I don’t think there’s a better Economics Department in the country,” he says.

“The small class sizes and personal attention from my professors made all the difference for me. I truly looked forward to every single class at WKU for the past four years,” says Joseph.

Joseph received the Most Outstanding Junior in Economics at WKU from Dr. Evelyn Thrasher in 2019

Mentors leading the way

During his undergraduate studies, Joseph was fortunate to have several professors mentor him, including Dr. Brian Strow, and Dr. Sebastian Leguizamon.  Fragnoli says “I had multiple classes with them and thoroughly enjoyed their teaching methods, as well as their openness in meeting with students regarding developing their majors, research projects, and offering graduate school advice. Their guidance and support have truly changed my life and career path, and allowed me to pursue my passion.”

Joseph took his Senior Assessment class with Dr. Lebedinsky, who along with Dr. Strow, helped him develop his research project examining how national savings rates affect economic volatility. The project used the standard deviation of unemployment as the dependent variable in a series of linear regressions to measure economic volatility. The average national savings rate was used as the independent variable of interest to determine if there was any correlation between national savings and economic volatility. The research found a statistically significant correlation that suggested as national savings increased economic volatility decreased. These findings are important because since Franklin Roosevelt our government has been operating on short run economic theory, for which the whole goal is to limit economic volatility and thus economic hardship. The issue with this is that it has led to tremendous overspending that lowers national savings. Therefore, it is likely that by not adhering to long-run economic theory and saving before spending, the government has been essentially holding back the potential of our economy without decreasing economic volatility.


Admitted to the JUMP Program

During his senior year at WKU, another mentor, Dr. David Zimmer (Link to his article here), guided and recommended Joseph to participate in the Jump Program—the Joint Undergraduate-Master’s Program, providing students the opportunity to complete both an undergraduate and graduate degree in approximately five years.  Qualified students who have been admitted to a JUMP may complete a maximum of 18 graduate hours as an undergraduate student, and count a maximum of 12 hours on both the undergraduate and graduate transcript.  Joseph received his BS Degree in Business Economics in May of 2020, and will begin his Teaching Assistantship at WKU with Dr. Zimmer this fall, working toward his Master’s Degree in Applied Economics.

For more information on research, coursework and programs in Economics at WKU please visit the  WKU Economics Department webpage.