Latina student accepted to EDE 2023 cohort
Swarthmore College student Melody Herrera is one of the students named part of Expanding Diversity in Economics Summer 2023 cohort.
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Born in the Bronx, New York, Melody Herrera Garcia, a rising sophomore at Swarthmore College, double majoring in Economics and Studio Arts with a focus on painting, is engrossing all her energy on what makes her happy, and as Marie Kondo loves to say “ask yourself if it sparks joy,” which Herrera will enthusiastically say, art does— an admirer of Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring and Vilhelm Hammershoi’s works—mediative interiors, portraits, and landscapes. But her high school art teacher, Robert McFetridge, is the person she hopes to emulate.
“I looked up to him so much,” she assures. “He was my number one supporter from 10th grade” until she graduated high school.
Although she admits to being passionate about music—playing piano from Grade 6 through 12— her art portfolio was paintings of instruments that later “morphed into flowers.” Despite her artistic evolution, she later discovered, as a senior in high school, her interest in economics.
The Dominican grew up surrounded by a loving family focused on education; everybody in her family went to college, something Herrera takes pride in, and becoming part of the Expanding Diversity in Economics 2023 cohort made it more rewarding.
Expanding Diversity in Economics
Expanding Diversity in Economics Summer Institute (EDE) provides diversity among economics majors, of which approximately 15% of economics majors are Black, Hispanic, or Native American. The EDE is a University of Chicago (UChicago) program hosted by Becker Friedman Institute for Economics (BFI), a highly competitive process to engage students in a three-week summer institute designed to support talented undergraduate students in economics. Additionally provides daily lectures and other activities to inspire learning and promote networking.
Although she has participated in other programs, she admits, “This is beyond what I imagined for myself,” not taking into account the possibility of getting accepted, “So I had no goals for what I wanted to gain from this program, but now that I’ve given it some thought, I’d love to learn how to network my works in the school system.”
The EDE program offers participants ongoing opportunities to engage in research assistant programs, academic year programming, and network opportunities to “further their development and study of economics.”
EDE 2023 cohort starts June 8 and will end June 30, and 30% of its cohort self-identify as Hispanic/ Latinx— Herrera will work on a group statistics project and take microeconomics class with John List, Professor of Economics at UChicago known for establishing “field experiments to address both positive and normative issues.”
Herrera is a Philip Evans Scholar, a part of Swarthmore’s Questbridge Chapter, and a member of Swarthmore College’s Latinx student organization, ENLACE, which ensures Latinx students feel represented on campus.
“I’m very privileged to say that I don’t feel disconnected from my culture or the people I feel close to,” said Herrera, whose mother is always a phone call away to bring her favorite dishes over. However, she notes that “a lot of people who come from, like California or my friend from Puerto Rico, feel that disconnect and ENLACE works to bridge the gap that Swarthmore and distance” can represent for Latinx students in higher education.
For Herrera, her goal is to have a “career that I’m happy with,” and what happens after, whether she goes on to pursue an MBA or joins the workforce—teaching art, will always seem appealing, but what happens after she graduates, is yet to be determined.
She credits Swarthmore for allowing her to “pursue the things you are inherently passionate about,” adding that she is inherently passionate about and “economics was a newfound passion…. [that] Swarthmore gave me all the avenues” to explore.
Herrera shares that those aspiring to attend college should follow their passion, even though she admits “it is so hard, to blindly follow” when she never considered the career outcome in the field of art or the ability to make money that “would raise my family out of being low income,” something she purely pursued because she wanted to be happy.
“Follow your passions and follow [them] as best you can considering everything going around you,” Herrera concluded.