Economics major thrives in close-knit department

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Emily Vanderpool ’16

Hometown: Bedford, NY
Current Position: Paralegal, New York District Attorney’s Office, Major Economic Crimes Bureau
Major: Economics
Minor: Philosophy
— Economics Club (President)
— Emerging Leaders Program Mentor
— Omicron Delta Epsilon
— Centrino Family Scholarship
— C.R. Seshu Scholarship
Internships: The Benjamin Center
Special Projects/Employment:
— Campus energy usage study with Office of Campus Sustainability
— “Sex, Money and Power: A Dialogue Between Feminism and Economics” conference
— Office manager, Phillies Bridge Farm Project
— Assistant to Edward Nell, retired economist
— The Benjamin Center: Regional Wellbeing study; Time on Test study (published in the Washington Post); Women’s Representation in Government study (presented at the New York State Political Science Association, will be presented in August with KT Tobin at the American Sociology Association in Seattle); Women’s Centennial Conference (2017)

Did you always know you wanted to study economics?

I actually came in as a chemistry major. It was interesting to me how different reactions took place depending on what you introduced. I think that’s why economics ended up being appealing to me. Economics is about changing something and determining how that’s going to affect the rest of the system, but in a social setting.

What kinds of trends did you notice through your research at the Benjamin Center?

I worked with K.T. Tobin on projects like the Regional Wellbeing Project, an assessment of how our region (which we define as Dutchess, Sullivan, Ulster and Orange counties), is doing in terms of the economy, health, and other factors. How have we progressed from 2008? How have we changed? I also worked at Phillies Bridge Farm Project as an office manager, and it’s cool to see how my experience there was mirrored in our research. I got tons of applications for CSA (community-supported agriculture) memberships, so I wasn’t surprised when the research showed that CSAs are on the rise. People involved in CSAs are people who tend to eat the proper amount of fruits and vegetables, and that’s the kind of stuff we found in our report.

The most interesting findings for me so far has been the shift in women’s role in government. Locally, we see that women are shifting up from positions that are very gendered – town clerks, for example, which are still dominated by women – towards more representation in the executive positions. I like to see that.

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(From left to right) Emily, alumni donor Tom Cetrino, and fellow Cetrino Scholarship recipient Will Raphaelson ’14. The Cetrino Scholarship covers a full year’s tuition for students who are interested in public service.

How did you end up at New Paltz?

I visited here with a friend who was a year older than me. We were looking for schools for her. She didn’t end up coming here, but we came on this campus and the second I set foot, I said, “This is a cool place. I like it here. I feel like I fit in here.” I loved the town, and I loved that you can go hiking every weekend. Growing up in Westchester, I couldn’t walk anywhere, so being able to walk out of my dorm and walk into town was crazy to me. Big schools never appealed to me. I had a sense of place when I came to this campus, and I was right.

What appealed to you about a smaller school?

We have a very small economics department here, and I’m so glad. I have such great relationships with my professors. They’re my friends. They’re so supportive of me, and they’ve driven me in such a great direction because of our personal relationships. I’ve never met people who are so committed to their students. If I do a cool project, they’ll be sitting on the edge of their seats cheering me on. They’re the cheerleaders you really need to get through such a tough major. They really are rallying for you to win.