Conversations with Renaissance Students
Tamma Carleton CAS '09
"I never, ever thought I'd end up in economics," says Pamplin scholar Tamma Carleton. While spending a summer in Ghana doing volunteer work with a nongovernmental organization, she became convinced that her future lay in international affairs.
"In Ghana, I was thrown into this orphanage and told to teach the children, with no support and no supplies other than chalk," she recalls. "I realized that my desire to help, alone, wasn't enough to be effective--I needed to educate myself to gain a better understanding of how to make these types of NGO programs more effective."
To build that understanding, Tamma dove enthusiastically into Lewis & Clark's international affairs program. But it was in her first economics class that everything clicked. "I've always been math-oriented," says Tamma, "and as I sat in that econ class, I realized: this is how I think." Tamma changed her major to economics with an international focus, complemented by a minor in math. She is enjoying her studies so much that the professor who inspired her, department chair Cliff Becker, associate professor of economics, has invited her to do research with him this summer.
In her own research, Tamma has been focusing on Chile, and next year she will spend a semester there. Her research, her trip, her economics training, and a lot of Spanish classes are laying the groundwork for a potential future in economic development in South America, where she hopes to "take all these tools and apply them to the world."
Tamma balances her academic interests with athletics. As a first-year student on the cross country team, she became the first woman from the College to go to nationals since 1988. She made nationals again in her sophomore year, and earned the 2006 Division III individual All-Academic honor from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. She also holds the school track record in the women's 5k.
"In a Division I school, I'd run, and that's it," says Tamma. "But here at Lewis & Clark, my coaches and my professors realize that I'm not just on one track. I can run, and do research with the chair of the economics department, and cook Argentinian food at my Spanish teacher's house. That just doesn't happen at every school."
Back to Summer 2007 Chronicle