Economics professor’s passion for tough subject creates champs and changes career paths
12.16.2014 | By Jeannie Peng-Armao
San Jacinto College professor Dr. Delwin Long will be the first to admit that the words "enjoyment" and "economics" rarely appear in the same sentence.
"Taking an economics course usually isn't at the top of the list for students," said Dr. Long. "I guess I am just blessed with the fact that I love it so much."
That fondness for the subject has driven him over the course of 40 years to find a way to fine-tune a teaching method that captures student interest, even inspiring some to test their knowledge and become top 10 in the country at the Phi Beta Lambda (PBL) national competition.
This year, his student, Thomas Schimp, placed fifth in microeconomics and ninth in macroeconomics at the PBL National Leadership Conference. In Texas, he is the 2014 champion in microeconomics and captured second place in macroeconomics. In 2013, another one of Dr. Long's students, Joseph Preston Lyons, placed 10th in the nation in microeconomics.
"Prior to my economics classes, I had no idea that I would enjoy the subject as much as I do," said Schimp, who is currently studying at the University of Wisconsin-Washington County. "Dr. Long prepared me for these (Phi Beta Lambda) tests in many ways, more than I knew at the time. No matter how long it took, he would always take the time and make sure that every student understood the subject. I’ve never seen a professor understand and care for his or her students in the way that Dr. Long does."
So, what's the secret to turning both high school dual credit students and college students into economics champs? Dr. Long thinks it's all in the delivery.
To break the ice with new students, the professor likes to throw out a real-world example for them to ponder. He'll start by comparing money to blood - explaining how fluctuations in a person's blood levels can determine how that person feels and how this is much like the economy. Too much money in the system equals inflation, while too little money leads to a recession.
"Taking an economics course actually solidified my college plan," said Lyons, now a San Jacinto College graduate. "Before this class, I didn't know what I wanted to do. It made me want to take it to the next level." During his time at San Jacinto College, Lyons was in the Honors program and worked with Dr. Long on a research paper on the topic of socialist verses capitalist markets. He has since interned with the Houston Technology Center and the University of Houston Institute for Regional Forecasting.
Many of Dr. Long’s students have moved on to find similar success all over the United States with careers in the sectors of business, government, and education. Angel Navarro hopes to become one of them, as he plans to pursue a career in law after graduating from Clear Lake High School. He is one of 44 students in his school enrolled in Dr. Long's dual credit economics course.
"What Dr. Long is talking about is all very relevant, but you have to pay attention," said Navarro. “I like this because this is what real life is all about. Economics is very challenging class, one of the hardest I've ever taken."
Navarro said that he wanted the college experience early, and that is an experience Dr. Long proudly delivers to his students. Economics encompasses many subjects within a college. It is part social sciences and mathematics, and includes logic reasoning, history, government, and sociology.
"Economists are very much needed to determine what all of the people in the country are going to do,” said Dr. Long. "A person who studies economics can pretty much work in just about any industry."
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of approximately 30,000 credit students. The College offers 186 degrees and certificates, with 46 technical programs and a university transfer division. Students benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success, and job training programs that are renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.