Molly Case spent a semester in Florence, learned curling (yes, the sport with ice and brooms), and traveled to Haiti for her thesis on the economics of ecological sanitation. Photo by Matt D'Annunzio
Hometown: Sudbury, Massachusetts
Adviser: Noelwah Netusil [economics 1990–]
Thesis: The Benefits of Implementing Sustainable Financial Models in Small Nonprofit Organizations
What it’s about: I constructed a sustainable financial model for SOIL, a small nonprofit based in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, that focuses on ecological sanitation toilets and hygiene education.
What it’s really about: How poop is going to save the world.
When I got to Reed I was: A bright-eyed bushy-tailed idealist who would have followed you to the moon and back and never asked you why.
Influential book: Poor Economics by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo suggests that if you combine goals with legitimate and efficient economically based solutions, you get more done.
Favorite spot: There’s a nook on the top floor of the Student Center overlooking the canyon where I love to nap or grab a few minutes to myself.
Random thoughts: Truth is relative and we don’t live in a world of absolutes. All you can really do is find something you’re passionate about, find a niche somewhere or lots of somewheres, and live a life that is satisfying intellectually and psychologically. It’s important to me to do something productive, but I don’t want to save the world anymore, because I don’t think that’s possible. I want to know I’m working towards a goal that’s meaningful to me.
Cool stuff I did: Admission intern, tour guide, and dorm host. Orientation coordinator. SEEDS orientation odyssey leader. Spent a semester in Florence. Traveled to Haiti for my thesis. Was a member of Reed’s Curling Team, the Drum Korps Dancers, and the peer mentor program.
How Reed changed me: Over the past four years I’ve shed a lot of insecurities and anxieties about being kind of a weirdo and really learned to embrace exactly who I am.
Scholarships, awards, financial aid: I received funding from the economics department and the president’s discretionary fund to travel to Haiti, and I was recently awarded the Mellon Environmental Studies Summer Experience Fellowship for my internship with SOIL.
What’s next: I’m going back to Port-au-Prince this summer to work with SOIL. After that, who knows? It’s okay not to have everything figured out all the time.
I look at the role of nonprofit organizations in today’s economy and evaluate the benefits of achieving independent financial operation. In Haiti, only 17% of people have access to improved sanitation, which means they have access to a pit dug in the ground. Everybody else goes on the street, in lakes, in streams. It’s really bad and both a privacy issue and a human rights issue. People are supposed to have access to a safe, private, dignified sanitation facility, and that’s a need that’s not being met.
What a waste! Molly Case ’12 discusses converting human waste into fertilizer and the importance of nonprofit organizations achieving financial independence.