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The Road from Injury to InFocus

PJ Mindo '16 explores how poverty and inequality is affected through the Affordable Care Act  

By Marie Mikols ’16

The InFocus theme of poverty and inequality has been a widely discussed topic at Moravian College as students explore its impact on society. Perry (PJ) Mindo ’16 took the InFocus theme a step further by exploring how the Affordable Care Act has impacted poverty and inequality through his summer 2016 SOAR project. 

Although it is a coincidence that Mindo’s project reflects the InFocus theme, his research expands upon the very topic many students are encouraged to keep in mind throughout the year as they attend informational talks, events, and conferences. The InFocus theme of poverty and inequality is one of the four themes the college focuses on throughout a student’s time at Moravian College in hopes of enlightening students to become engaging and ethical citizens. 

When Mindo arrived as a freshman, he planned to pursue a major in business and play football. His football career quickly ended, however, when he suffered a major back injury. Instead of getting down, Mindo decided to put all his energy into his coursework. After taking Principles of Economics and doing quite well in the course taught by Sabrina Terrizzi, assistant professor of economics, she approached him at an ABLE (Aspiring Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs) club meeting to consider becoming an economics major. With a little prompting, he accepted the challenge of studying economics. 

His first two courses, health economics and labor economics, inspired him to apply for a spot in the Summer 2016 SOAR program, the College’s largest undergraduate research initiative that funds student-faculty research during the summer. With Terrizzi as his adviser, Mindo tackled the task of seeing if the Affordable Care Act directly impacts poverty and inequality. 

“Economics research is very different,” said Mindo when explaining the complexities of studying economics. Mindo recalls many times having to go back and rework his research so he could find if there was a relationship between his topic of interest. 

For his project, Mindo did a regression analysis to examine how outside factors like new technology, new laws, gender and age impact income inequality, while measuring how easy or difficult it is to move between social classes by looking at each state within the United States. By accounting for possible factors which can also be impacting poverty and inequality, Mindo will be able to get a more accurate reading on how the Affordable Care Act directly impacts the poverty and inequality on its own. One factor he primarily focuses upon is social class. “It depends on the area,” said Mindo when explaining the ease of difficulty of moving outside one’s social class and how different areas determine the level of difficulty.  

He used the example of looking at the city of Bethlehem versus the Queens through the framework of survival versus education. According to Mindo, many students in Bethlehem would be able to focus on education, depending on the area they grow up, while someone in the Queens who experience poverty would be more focused on surviving hardships than their education. By analyzing the instincts of survival versus education as one of the factors which could affect the Affordable care act, Mindo is in the process of determining how a factor such as the basis of survival could influence the Affordable Care Act’s impact.   
By exploring these factors through the lens of the Affordable Care Act, Mindo hopes to add to the intellectual conversation of poverty and inequality and answer the question if the Affordable Care Act will directly affect the poverty and inequality present in the United States. Despite hitting roadblocks in his research and balancing a full-time job, Mindo’s passion for the subject at hand helped him persevere.

“PJ has always been a strong student, but over the past two years, he has developed a true passion for the study of economics in a way that has been illuminated through his research,” said Terrizzi, who supported Mindo’s research with suggestions and guidance during the summer. “As a faculty members, we can become overwhelmed by the stresses of publication deadlines and forget the simple the joys of new discovery that surround our research endeavors. PJ's enthusiasm and passion for his research remind me to be ever-present for those moments.” 

Reflecting back on his research, Mindo hopes he can help others understand the impact poverty and inequality has on society and further explore the unknown effects the Affordable Care Act could have on a larger scale. He believes it is important for students to understand laws and acts which will affect them in the future, and believes “every student at Moravian College should learn about the Affordable Care Act.” He hopes to have a better understanding of the how Affordable Care Act is impacting the world he lives in today as he continues he takes to heart the notion of becoming an engaging and ethical citizen.