Twelve for ’12 (continued)

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

Molly Case economics

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.

Thesis expanded:

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.

VIDEO: Molly Case

What a waste! Molly Case ’12 discusses converting human waste into fertilizer and the importance of nonprofit organizations achieving financial independence.