Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University

Alice Shih '08

Alice Shih '08

Hometown: Austin, TX

Major: Economics with a concentration in Poverty Studies

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • Varsity Equestrian Team
  • W&L Repertory Dance Company
  • Campus Kitchens Project Intern
  • Peer Counselor
  • Project Leader, W&L Student Consulting
  • Vice President, Kappa Alpha Theta sorority
  • Reformed University Fellowship
  • Chair, Freshman Orientation Committee

Off-Campus Experiences:

  • Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowship at Princeton University (Summer 2007)
  • Shepherd Internship at Housing Works, Washington, D.C. (Summer 2006)

Favorite W&L Memory: April Fool’s Day my freshman year, all the guys who lived on the 2nd floor of Graham Lees switched my room in its entirety (dresser, posters, rugs, pictures, beds) with a room on the guy’s floor. So I lived with the guys for a few days! I felt bad for Leah, my roommate…

Favorite Class: Economics of Social Issues with Professor Goldsmith and Poverty and Human Capabilities with Professor Beckley. These two classes really opened my eyes to the many viewpoints of social policy.

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In high school, I was always drawn to community service. I spent my holidays and weekends volunteering at Habitat for Humanity, Head Start, and soup kitchens. My heart went out to the hungry, disadvantaged, and oppressed. However, I always felt like there was more to community service than just being a “do-gooder”. So the summer after senior year in high school, I decided to go to Honduras for 2 months with Amigos de las Americas to do sustainable development.

My trip to Honduras was such a life changing experience that I didn’t think anything in college could measure up. I worried that at W&L, no one would relate to my experiences or share my dream of changing the state of poverty in our world. Then I was introduced to Professor Beckley, the director of the Shepherd Poverty Program. I took Poverty 101, and my eyes were suddenly opened to a whole new academic world centered on poverty. I learned to probe my own understanding and misconceptions about poverty, and changed from being a do-gooder to a person with a holistic view of the problem. I learned and saw that causes of poverty become effects and effects become causes.

A requirement of the Shepherd Program is to complete an 8-week summer poverty internship, which gives students first-hand experience in applying the knowledge we’ve acquired in class. My placement was with the Housing Works organization in Washington, D.C., doing AIDS advocacy. I was pushed further and challenged more than I thought possible. I traveled to six cities helping in the Campaign to End AIDS, lobbied for AIDS legislation on Capital Hill, attended U.N. meetings and helped form a 501 (3)c (non-profit organization), to name a few of things I was involved in. It was an amazing experience to work alongside Harvard Law graduates as well as people living with AIDS.

When I returned to W&L for my junior year, I took on the role of student intern for the Campus Kitchens Project. This is an organization that also fights poverty with a holistic approach. Its mission is to recycle unserved food from W&L’s dining services and other donated goods. This otherwise wasted food is repackaged into nutritious meals for the hungry of Rockbridge County. We not only cook the food, but also deliver and eat with our clients. In CKP’s first year, it will have delivered 12,000 meals thanks to over 400 active volunteers from the student body, faculty and community.

The Shepherd Program has opened my eyes and given me opportunities no other school could have offered. W&L has really allowed me to develop and pursue my passion. This summer, I will study at Princeton University for 2 months under the Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowship. Eventually I’d like to pursue my masters in Public Policy and focus on poverty related policy both domestically and internationally.

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