How AIER Helped Me Learn to Help Others
Written by Neo Mokgwathi, Williams College Senior
My Winter Study experience at AIER was potentially life changing.
I have long been concerned with issues of social justice. I thought I knew how I would pursue a career in defending the rights of marginalized people: human rights law, or work with a non-governmental organization, or an international organization. It seemed to me that the only way issues of social justice could be addressed was to find a political solution. Political solutions are, after all, what protect rights and resource distribution.
Meanwhile, the fields of economics and finance have been largely uninteresting to me, mostly because they are portrayed as fields concerned with wealth accumulation rather than social development. That is particularly true at a school like Williams, where our largest major is economics, and most people want to go into investment banking.
The Winter Study experience at the American Institute for Economic Research has really changed my perception of social justice, giving me another avenue to consider in my path to pursuing a social career. I always knew that NGOs and IOs were important for protecting people in need of someone to advocate for their protection. I now realize that a lot of social issues can also be resolved through economic means, specifically through business and finance.
I worked on the Money School project, a five-week financial education workshop series for low-income women. It showed me how important financial security is for marginalized groups. People are often exploited when they have no means of becoming financially independent. This program helped me see that economic empowerment is a pivotal tool for achieving social justice.
I had never thought of social justice solutions in that way. Now, I am so happy that AIER gave me the opportunity to see a different path to achieving goals that are so important to me. Perhaps instead of going to law school for human rights law, I will go to business school and look into community development. Or perhaps I will do both.
In short, I am excited to explore all of my options, and I am really grateful for how my experience at AIER contributed.
[Photo above, from left to right: Neo Mokgwathi (Williams College), Kathryn Dixon (Bard College), Pukitta Chunsuttiwat (Macalester College), Nicole Kreisberg (AIER)]