For Eric Peters, a recent graduate in economics and international business from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business, a keen interest in research led to opportunities he never imagined. Peters recently lived in Hungary for a time through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program where he analyzed the economic effects of sanctions on Russia that originated in 2014 due to the invasion and annexation of Crimea.
Several months later, Peters accepted an analyst position with BP in Chicago. He also is preparing for his work to be published as a book by the Antall József Knowledge Centre in Budapest, where he was based during his Fulbright tenure.
Peters’ book, “Exploring the Visegrád-Russia Connection: Understanding the Political and Economic Ramifications of Sanction Policies Four Years Later,” is a collection of essays numbering 250 pages in total. He found while researching that contrary to the widely accepted political position, the 2014 Russian sanctions have not had much of a negative effect on Central European economies. Peters discovered these economies developed new trade partners worldwide, lessening their dependence on Russia as a market and putting them in more resilient long-term strategic positions.
“My central question was how sanction policies on Russia, and from Russia, effect the economies of Central Europe,” Peters says. “I spent the first couple of months thinking about what this would look like. An important part of my work was to not just read people’s papers online, but to set up interviews with anyone who would meet with me: journalists, members of the corporate world, bankers and researchers.”
In addition to qualitative research, Peters taught himself the R programming language and analyzed reams of data.
“I realized I needed to take my skill set and bump it up a few degrees,” he says. “There were challenges transitioning into professional life, but I had studied abroad with the Haslam Global Leadership Scholars and was a Baker Scholar as well. I was well-prepared from the cultural, policy and political sides.”
Lane Morris, associate dean of undergraduate programs and student affairs, isn’t surprised by Peters’ success story. To him, it is an example of just how much an engaged student can grow and develop their leadership potential with Haslam.
“Eric Peters made every effort to engage with the resources of this college and university in a way that helped him better define and refine who he really is,” Morris says. “We had high expectations of Eric, as we have of all of our students, and he truly engaged us and took advantage of what we have to offer. Eric’s success story is a reflection of the impact our faculty have on students, as well as his willingness to fully engage the great services and co-curricular opportunities that students can find here.”
For Peters, who describes his experience in Hungary as fantastic, living in a foreign country for months presented an eye-opening opportunity to reflect on home.
“My little group at work that was all Hungarians was great, but I also found a church and played basketball with a small group of guys including another Fulbright scholar from the United States,” Peters says. He is looking forward to working at BP in Chicago, but sees himself eventually returning to UT to complete a doctorate.
“Ultimately, I want to become an academic and use my abilities to help Tennessee in that way,” he says.