Mutual Funds

Nidhi Nair wants to share financial literacy with the world — starting with her UConn classmates

Nidhi Nair

Aspiring economist Nair has been named a United Nations Millennium Fellow, a Werth Innovator, and a UConn Co-op Legacy Fellow for her research and advocacy.

Establishing on-campus programs, conducting research alongside professors, and earning a laundry list of prestigious fellowships and awards doesn’t leave a ton of time for amusement, but late on Saturday nights, Nidhi Nair ’23 (CLAS) lets loose behind the microphone at WHUS.

“Oh, I just rant,” a cheerful Nair says, laughing into another microphone, this one for a “UConn 360” podcast recording. “It’s so fun.”

Having a radio show is one of many opportunities the recent grad grasped during her four years attending UConn, which she calls “the best decision I ever made.” This fall, the University’s first Schwarzman Scholar heads to Tsinghua University in Beijing to pursue her master’s degree, with a goal of working to increase economic mobility in low-income countries and communities.

Growing up in India, Nair was fascinated by her grandmother’s savings group, where members would pool their savings to use as collateral for bank loans since laws prevented women from having their own assets and, thus, accessing credit.

“They usually started their own businesses, and they were able to rise above their income levels and put their kids through school, and I thought that was really impressive,” says Nair, an economics and mathematics-statistics major. After shadowing the group, she realized she wanted to make a career of helping people achieve economic empowerment. She started right here on campus.

In researching her Honors thesis, Nair learned Connecticut was one of 11 states to receive a failing grade on a recent Champlain College Center for Financial Literacy report card. She conducted her own survey of 400 UConn students and found that fewer than 40% of respondents could answer a set of basic financial questions.

Nair used the data to argue before the state legislature for better lessons in high school — a bill she helped craft requiring courses in financial management and financial literacy had passed the state senate and awaited a house vote at press time. She teamed up with Bridget Abril ’24 (CLAS) to create Financial Literacy Week. Funded by a UConn Co-op Legacy Fellowship Program Change Grant, the week of events teaches students crucial concepts like budgeting, credit, financial planning, and investing.

“What I’m hoping to do is start a research and advocacy organization, after I graduate, that does experiments at a local level, trying to change small things about neighborhoods. If you reduce the distance to a school by a certain number of miles, do those kids end up earning more in the long term? Does access to books at home or at a local level change educational levels or developmental indicators?” Nair says.

Since economic mobility rates are so diverse from city to city, “we should be using that data to suggest policy solutions that are tailored towards those communities.”

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Learn More with Nair:

Gaining Familiarity and Finding Fun in Financial Literacy

UConn Today

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Hey Listen:

Hear Nair on the UConn 360 podcast

UConn 360

By Julie (Stagis) Bartucca ’10 (BUS, CLAS), ’19 MBA
Photo by Sydney Herdle


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