Major: Accounting and Business Administration
Internship: East River Development Alliance (ERDA) - Long Island City, NY
In my junior year of high school, I selected David Shipler's book The Working Poor for a nonfiction project in my English class. Immediately, I became very interested in the issue of U.S. poverty, particularly as it was one which my parents had always shielded me from seeing or knowing about. However, I never thought that just one year later I would get a letter in the mail in with my W&L acceptance packet that would tell me about an entire program dedicated to poverty studies--one that uses Shipler's fantastic book in its 101 course. The information about the Shepherd Program included in that acceptance packet is what ultimately made me choose W&L over other universities because I wanted to have an opportunity to continue exploring the themes within Shipler's book.
What I find that I sometimes have to strive to overcome is the temptation to rely on volunteerism as a means to end poverty rather than on efforts that would actually change the systems and/or institutions that proliferate poverty. Sometimes it can be easy to get wrapped up in the idea that "charity" is the magical elixir for poverty because it makes you feel good. As you're preparing meals at a soup kitchen or calling BINGO at a nursing home or tutoring children after school, you feel good about yourself and, in that moment, you feel as though you're "making a difference." While these acts of kindness can affect another person's life for the better, they are merely band-aids. Students in the Shepherd Program are equipped with the tools to permanently reduce poverty in this country, whether it be through lobbying one's congressman, getting involved in politics, working for nonprofits, etc.
This program has greatly enhanced my experience at W&L. Not only has it afforded me with the opportunity to take classes outside of my major, and my comfort zone, but it has also helped me to feel more connected both to people within the Lexington community and to people who I might have never before have thought about or interacted with.
The Shepherd Program does so much more than teach poverty statistics or promote volunteerism and acts of charity; rather, it instills in students the belief that they have the power to actually change and reduce poverty in this country and even throughout the world. It affords students with the tools to implement change instead of simply leaving them resigned to the misguided belief that poverty is an unavoidable part of life in the U.S.
Capstone Paper Topic:
Welfare Privatization: The Feasibility of Privatizing TANF Case Management
Community Service Involvement: