What Is A Reedie, Anyway? (continued)

Nick studied the economics of low-income housing, volunteered at a local cycling center, and pedaled his steadfast Surly from Maine to Seattle. Photo by Matt D'Annunzio

Nick Pittman economics

Hometown: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Adviser: Prof. Noelwah Netusil [economics 1990–]

Thesis: “The Effect of Low-Income Housing Developments on Nearby Home Sale Prices in Portland, Oregon”

What it’s about: What housing developments of various sizes and types do to the neighborhoods around them, as reflected in sale prices.

What it’s really about: An excuse for me to play around with GIS.

Who I was when I got to Reed: A kid who’d just finished a mind-expanding cross-country bike ride but still had a lot to learn about the diversity of thought, mindset, and prior experience at a place even as small as Reed.

Influential book: The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs.

Favorite spot: The Quad is the best place to throw a Frisbee and say hello to 30 people in 10 minutes.

Random thoughts: I’ve sat down for coffee with at least a dozen alumni and overwhelmingly what they said is that Reed taught them to think. In retrospect, that’s true for me as well. But I’ve also learned metacognition skills. I’ve learned how and under what conditions I think in certain ways and when is the best time for each one. For example, if I’m about to begin writing my thesis lit review I’ll hand $20 to a friend and say, “Keep it if I don’t finish in two hours.” At a certain point, work just expands to fill the time you allot it.

Cool stuff I did: The Community Cycling Center does a holiday bike drive where they give out bikes they assemble or reassemble to low-income kids. I “taught” a PE course where Reed students would bike up to Northeast Portland once a week, assemble bicycles, and then bike back to campus.

How Reed changed me: My time in the Reed liberal arts terrarium has really done a lot to expand my embracing of other viewpoints and backgrounds. I’ve grown to love and respect economics more while also acknowledging all its inherent shortcomings. 

Scholarships, awards, or financial aid: Mellon Environmental Studies Summer Experience Fellowship for a cool internship in Vermont last summer.

What I would tell prospies:
Tell yourself when you get here that you can get all your work done, and still make time to run around outside, hang out with friends, or do whatever keeps you sane. I had to consciously work at it, but I was able to live a pretty balanced life in my time at Reed.

What’s next: I’ll be working at an environmental and economic consulting firm in Cambridge.