Spotlighted Student: Alexandra Ferrara '14
Her sister had room-mates who graduated from Haverford and their adoration for the college came through strong and clear. Seeking a college with the right balance of strong academics and competitive athletics, Alexandra Ferrara ’14 wanted to be able to play tennis and get a distinguished education. After tennis coach Ann Koger recruited her, Alex participated in an overnight visit with the team and she knew Haverford College was the place she wanted to be.
The Economics major, who is also graduating with a Minor in Spanish, was first introduced to economics at The Lawrenceville School in Princeton, New Jersey. Her interest was sparked by its real world, day-to-day application. Once at Haverford she took a lot of economics courses early on with favorites being Professors Saleha Jilani’s Economic Development and Transformation: China versus India, Anne Preston’s Sports Economics and two of David Owens’ courses Psychological Biases and Economic Decisions and his course on Behavioral Economics. In fact, her thesis topic stems from course work she did in one of Professor Owens’ classes.
Alex’s thesis will be an experiment that studies the crowding out theory from behavioral economics. She will investigate whether individuals’ altruism decreases when they are paid for altruistic behavior because the social norms motivating them to donate are replaced by market norms. These market norms can cause individuals to examine the donation in terms of a cost-benefit analysis, instead of donating because it is the right thing to do and it makes them feel good. Crowding out defies standard economic theory by suggesting that extrinsic incentives will not increase altruism because individuals are not completely self-interested. Alex’s experiment will have a unique methodology, allowing her to measure this effect more accurately than any past studies.
Her summers have been spent interning and gaining work experience near her home town of Skillman, NJ. After her sophomore year she spent most of the summer working at PlanSmartNJ, a Trenton based non-profit organization. The mission of the organization is to advance sound land use and sustainable environmental efficiency. She was charged with researching water quality management planning regulations, as well as coordinating a panel of experts on this topic. As she wrapped up her work at PlanSmartNJ, she realized she had learned a lot about research and research methods. In fact, she wrote a position paper on how prevailing laws might be updated and changed, and how current regulations may evolve over time. Later in the summer she traveled to England and took a Public Finance course at the London School of Economics which was an exciting variation from Haverford.
The summer following her junior year she was chosen for an apprenticeship in Woodbridge, NJ at Wilentz, Goldman and Spitzer. At the law firm, which specializes in criminal law, she worked with paralegal teams compiling back-ground research on renewable energy law cases, assembled motion binders, and closed and registered files in the legal system.
She has a couple of ideas brewing in regard to post-graduation plans. She is interested in finding a law firm that focuses on economic policies where she can be a research or legal assistant. She is also very drawn to teaching and working with pre-school and elementary school populations in low-income communities. For now she is keeping her options open until she finds a job that will meet and fulfill her career ambitions.
Having been on the tennis team since her freshman year playing singles and doubles, Alex has been co-captain for three years. She also served as an Honor Code Orienteer, and she is currently an upper classman advisor.