What Is a Reedie, Anyway? (continued)

Photo by Matt D'Annunzio

Paapa Kwaku hMensa economics

Hometown: Aburi, Ghana

Adviser: Prof. Nicholas Wilson [economics 2013–]

Thesis: Missio-nomics: Examining the Effect of Historic Missionary Activity on Current Economic Development

What it’s about: My thesis investigates the effects of historical missionary activity on population density growth, my proxy for economic growth, in 66 non-European regions in 1600–2000. Using difference-in-differences analysis, I track the changes in economic activity between the regions that historically experienced Protestant and/or Catholic missionary activity and those that did not.

What it’s really about: : Did Christian missionaries in 1600–2000 make mission destinations better or worse off?

Who I was when I got to Reed: A bright-eyed, smiley and enthusiastic Ghanaian patriot.

Favorite class: Economics 385, Asian Economies in Transition, by Prof. Denise Hare [economics 1992–], opened my eyes and heart to how beautifully diverse and interdisciplinary economics is.

Influential professor: Prof. Peter Steinberger [political science 1977–] led my Hum 110 conference and was the perfect professor: charismatic enough to hold my attention, insightful enough to feed my intellectual curiosity, and nurturing enough to groom my critical thinking and writing skills.

Outside the Classroom:  Two weeks before starting at Reed I released the first single from my album, Solar. When I returned to Ghana after my freshman year, there was a huge demand for gigs. I recorded my second album, Songs for Kukua, in my dorm room my sophomore year. I also sang with the Herodotones, played piano in the Reed jazz ensemble, interviewed prospies for the admission office, and was a house adviser in Sullivan.

How Reed changed me: The West African education system is mostly about who has their hand up first with the answer. At Reed, a good answer is always followed with a “but.” A peer or faculty always has a question for your answer, which leads to conversation. Instead of being consumed with finding good answers to questions, I’ve become consumed with finding good questions to answers. Reed stretched my mind through rigorous coursework, and my heart through deep and intimate relationships.

Financial aid: I wouldn’t have been able to be here without financial aid. Not a day goes by that I don’t appreciate and seek to honor the privilege and blessing it is.

Word to prospies: Reed is undoubtedly the kind of place that pushes you to grow intellectually. But what gives Reed its unique stroke is that it actually wants to learn from its students just as much as it wants to teach them. The symbiosis between faculty and students is phenomenal.

What’s next: I’ll be living, working, serving, and singing in Portland with the Adsideo Church for the foreseeable future.