The Catholic University of America

Nov. 7, 2007

CUA Sophomore Wins $10,000 Economics Prize

Chase Nordengren

Chase Nordengren, a politics major and sophomore in the University Honors Program, earned a $10,000 prize from the Brookings Institution for his proposal to train rural health care providers using video networks and the Internet.

The proposal, titled "Rural Heath Care: Training and Keeping the Next Generation of Providers," was submitted by Nordengren in June as an entry for the Hamilton Project Policy Innovation Prize, a competition to encourage the next generation of leaders to pursue innovative policy solutions for the nation's pressing economic issues.

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin presented the award at a ceremony last week. Nordengren won the undergraduate competition for the prize; a $15,000 prize was awarded to a law student at the competition's graduate level.

A Des Moines, Iowa, native, Nordengren came to Catholic University to study politics and has always had a deep interest in public policy. In addition to the academic rigors of the University Honors Program, Nordengren balances school with a five-days-a-week internship on Capitol Hill with Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa.

Nordengren says that the idea to tackle rural health care training came during a drive with his father last winter through Decatur County, Iowa, the state's poorest county. As they drove by the county hospital, Nordengren's father described it as a place where patients either went to die or to fly to a better-equipped hospital in an urban area.

"It was a defining moment for me," Nordengren says, who adds that when he read about the Hamilton Project's call for papers, his passion for public policy and his concerns about rural health care coalesced into a six-month project.

In his prize-winning paper, Nordengren proposes a system of federal grants to help train rural health workers in specialized capabilities, utilizing video networks and the Internet to help close the skills gap among rural providers.

The sophomore plans to spend a portion of the prize money traveling to Ecuador this summer to work on community development.