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Spotlighted Student: Michelle Gatonye 2010

Being a native of Kikuyu, Kenya (outside of Nairobi) Economics senior Michelle Gatonye has often been asked How did you end up at Haverford College?, a question I felt obliged to ask. Her uncle, class of ’95, attended Haverford. He discovered Haverford through his father who was a professor in the United States. Being so far from home Michelle sought a small college where she would not feel lost. She also wanted a liberal arts college to explore more academic options. Haverford was a nice fit.


Having always enjoyed finance and money related matters, she declared her major after taking Introduction to Macroeconomics with Professor Preston and Julie Becher’s Introduction to Microeconomics course. In addition, Professor Stahnke’s (Bryn Mawr College) Intermediate Macroeconomics course was especially memorable for Michelle. She also noted great admiration for faculty teaching styles at both institutions.


Haverford’s courses, as well as its Writing Center, helped to develop the level of her writing. She has felt boosted about her confidence in her writing, a critical skill she felt she lacked when entering college.


Michelle spent her junior year abroad at the London School of Economics. She noticed two differences between the institutions; (1) Haverford’s curriculum does a better job of integrating economics into real-life, and (2) Haverford requires more critical thinking of its students. Being abroad was a highlight of her undergraduate experience and it offered her a gratifying respite from the small Haverford community.


When she attended the Wharton Africa Business Forum this past November, Michelle further enhanced her awareness of the opportunities on the continent of Africa. She eventually plans her return to Kenya to do development work in the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group. The IFC aims to promote developing country commerce as a means to reducing poverty, a mission in which Michelle is anxious to become involved.


You can read about her thoughts on Africa’s perceived image in her “Love Letter to Africa” article, published in December’s Bi-Co News (


Before returning to Kenya, Michelle has accepted a two year position with the investment banking arm of UBS where she interned for two summers. During her initial internship she participated in their Rotational Program where interns explore many facets of the business including equities, fixed income, wealth management and operations. This past summer, she worked in the Equity Capital Markets Group, a sector that advises and prepares public offerings.


Michelle’s thesis investigates the impact of the mobile phone technology on economic growth in select African countries. Mobile phone penetration has provided economic benefits to several countries by easing the means of communication and through various income generating activities that are based on the mobile phone industry. She therefore intends to develop a model to predict the impact of this technology on GDP.


Michelle enjoys traveling, learning French and being involved in the theatre. She misses Kenya and looks forward to going back home.

Students cross in front of Founders Hall.

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