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Spotlighted Student: Matthew Palmer, 2010

Economics major Matt Palmer ‘10 is matriculating with a minor in Philosophy. He is the basketball team captain and is an accomplished musician who played piano the majority of his childhood and then immersed himself in the study of the cello for the past nine years.

He was an early decision candidate at Haverford and knew it was the perfect fit for him. He fell in love with the campus on his first visit, and kept coming up with reasons to re-visit because it already felt like home. He chose Haverford knowing he wanted a small Liberal Arts college that would provide him with the opportunity to play basketball, his deepest passion.

When he met Coach Mucci, head men’s basketball coach and recruiter, Matt was excited about playing point guard for the Fords. He finishes a four year basketball career at Haverford that leaves him tied for most games played-- ninety-nine! He noted, with great relief, that he did not incur a single injury in all his years with the Fords. At a luncheon held at University of the Sciences in Philadelphia this past February, he was honored as the Sam Cozen Player of the Week by the Philadelphia Area Small College Coaches Association. The award recognizes outstanding students for their athletic performances and for leadership and academic achievements.

Unearthing where his talents in athletics and music come from is an easy task. Matt moved from Washington, DC to Seven Fields, Pennsylvania (a suburb of Pittsburgh) in eighth grade. He attended high school at Sewickley Academy where his father is Athletic Director and the basketball coach. His mother is a music aficionado and photographer.

His interest in economics stemmed from his mother’s suggestion one summer that he save his summer wages, set up a portfolio and, “play” the market. The results were rewarding and gratifying, sparking his interest in the stock market, business and finance. With the downturn in the market this past year he admits his portfolio is not well diversified, but he’s feeling confident with his penchant for Apple stock.

Matt cited professors and courses that have left him with lasting impressions. Aristotle and Arthur Andersen: Ethical Behavior in the Professional and Corporate World with Professor Neal Grabel resonated with Matt by exploring profit motive and “the dilemma of ethical relativism in the world of international business”. Philosophy of Logic and Language with Professor Ashok Gangadean intrigued Matt with its approach to the “fundamental logic of natural language”. As one of his final projects with Professor Gangadean he explored music as a powerful tool of communication.  Matt discusses how music is very much like a language with its own alphabet and grammatical structure, with a similar way of connecting people. In another class with Professor Gangadean Matt researched the experience of ‘Flow in Sports’ by examining the auto telic nature of, and process of, the mind and body becoming one in sports. In philosophical terms Matt explored achieving flow in sports, noting that an athlete can become unified with his or her sport, and that he or she is no longer playing the sport, but that the sport is playing the person. Lastly, Professor Anne Preston’s Sports Economics class has been influential in his goal to become an economic analyst for a sports team or a sports company. He relishes the idea of blending athletics and economics into a successful career, and Professor Preston’s class has made it clear that there is such a possibility.

David Owens’ Behavioral Economics course helped him in formulating his thesis, Line Movement Analysis in the NBA, in which he analyzes the movement of gambling lines (better known as point-spreads) for the past eight years of NBA games. Matt hopes to prove that when one line moves more than three points away from the ‘hot’ team, one should bet on the ‘cold’ team (the team that the line benefits), statistically resulting in beating the bookie.

Haverford has provided Matt with much more than just a formal education. Haverford’s unique curricular approach integrates academia with life outside of school, nourishing connections with everyday experiences. Additionally, Honor Code and Plenary have impacted Matt’s Haverford experience, building trust and fostering a strong bond between students and faculty.

Internships and work during the academic year have included managing data for Haverford’s Department of Institutional Advancement (IA). Matt is impressed by how much IA knows about its donors, and the elegance and finesse the IA staff display in keeping donors motivated in their support of Haverford. Also, during the summer of his Junior year, he coached a boy’s 12 and under basketball league in Pittsburgh, followed by a semester at the London School of Economics. Matt was enchanted by London and relished his travels to Barcelona and Sicily.

Matt is very interested in problem solving, and would like to pursue group projects where he can work as a teammate as well as demonstrate leadership within that team.  Post- graduation Matt aspires to secure a job working with a company involved in investment banking, consulting, and finance or, with a professional sports team or company where he would be an analyst.

Founders Green on a warm spring day.

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