Hometown: Edmond, Oklahoma
Internship: East River Development Alliance in New York City
In a student body known for its homogeneity, particularly in being composed of students from higher socioeconomic levels, the Shepherd Program pushes its students out of the W&L bubble and allows them to see what is going on in a world that seems so far away from Lexington. The Shepherd Program brings poverty issues to light and allows students to get involved. On my campus tour, I heard about the Shepherd Program for the first time. W&L was the last college I visited, and in visiting several other universities on the East Coast, I had never heard of anything like it. The opportunity to mix poverty studies and service with another major was very appealing because I didn't want to abandon my interest in finance and economics. I was very curious to see how the two could relate, and they overlapped more than I imagined possible.
There are two sides to every story. It is very easy to buy into what the media or the president or even other professors are telling you about different issues, because more often than not, they do a great job of convincing you that what they're saying is the truth. However, the Shepherd Program taught me to explore everything that I'm told to look for another answer, or another story. For example, poverty is not simply the result of laziness or of racism. Rather, it is the result of a complex weaving of factors that cannot be solved with money, and we cannot count on a simple cause or a simple solution.
I have really enjoyed all the opportunities that were given to me because of my participation in the program. It was so nice to have Prof. Beckley, a professor who not just knew my name and where I was from (which is a lot to ask of professors at most universities), but he knew about my family, my friends, what I was interested in, and most importantly, who I would want to talk to among the very interesting people visiting campus and what I would want to get involved in. I went to dinners and lectures with some amazing people and was given the "heads up" on many available positions around campus, leading me to become the Community Based Research intern, one of my most favorite roles I've had in four years. Finally, more than anything, the program (via internships, service and coursework) gave me a very unique perspective on how the world works and taught me to tackle problems with critical thinking that I developed in the program. Although I will be working in finance, the Shepherd Program has ensured that I will keep a good conscience when doing so. I wish Poverty 101 was required of every W&L student.
Capstone Paper Topic:
The Economic and Policy Implications of Self-Esteem
Community Service Involvement: