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Dartmouth Experience: Amma Serwaah-Panin ’10

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Campus Connections, International Outlook

Amma Serwaah-Panin ’10 has vivid memories of her first trip to Hanover in September 2006. “I took the bus from Boston and it kept going and going, and there were trees and mountains and nothing else,” says Serwaah-Panin, a Ghanaian citizen who attended an international high school in Swaziland, where her family now lives. “I thought, ‘Where am I going?’”

AmmaAmma Serwaah-Panin ’10 wants to understand what drives global economic inequality. She is writing a thesis on how the media’s portrayal of a nation can impact foreign investments. (Photo by Joseph Mehling ’69)

She soon made a home, and countless friends, at Dartmouth thanks to her extensive involvement in campus life. She joined Students for Africa, Harambe Endeavor (an alliance of African students at top universities), and Sigma Delta sorority. She helped match international students with local families for the International Friendship Family Program, served as an Undergraduate Advisor (UGA) for three years, and is currently treasurer of the Panhellenic Council. It’s no wonder that she was awarded the Cardozo Prize last year, which the Dean of the College presents annually to the outstanding member of the junior class who best exemplifies “academic enthusiasm, genuine concern for fellow classmates, and dynamic participation in campus and community activities.”

“When I walk across campus my friends always joke, ‘Amma, you’re saying hello to so many people!’” she says. “But all of these experiences have helped me to form relationships with lots of different people on campus and to appreciate the diversity and richness of Dartmouth’s student body.”

An economics major modified with math and with a focus on international finance, Serwaah-Panin has especially enjoyed working on Tucker Foundation community service projects. She volunteered for Katrina Relief and the Habitat for Humanity spring break service trip in Florida last year. For spring break 2010, she and Tucker volunteers will return to Florida to work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a group of migrant workers who are employed by tomato and citrus farmers in southwest Florida.

“What drives a lot of what I do at Dartmouth, and in my life in general, is looking at the economic inequalities of the world,” says Serwaah-Panin. “My professors have said that economics is a study of the allocation of resources. And that’s a question I really want to explore. How does the world economy allocate resources so unevenly? This is something we all participate in daily. When I buy my coffee in Collis I do not want that to mean that someone is working for less than a dollar a day in Kenya.”

In her senior thesis, which is being overseen by Professor of Mathematical and Social Sciences Joel Levine, she is examining how popular media sentiment affects how foreign direct investment flows to different countries. “My hypothesis is that there’s under-investment in many foreign countries, especially African countries, because of how they are perceived,” she says. “People think these countries are on the brink of collapse, which isn’t true. But it’s a strongly held and economically damaging perception.”

After graduation, Serwaah-Panin plans to study economics in graduate school and then to teach or work in the private sector in Africa. “I’ve really loved my time at Dartmouth,” she says. “I’m so grateful for all the support I’ve found, and the opportunities to explore social issues further and see how I can be most useful in addressing them. I definitely feel like I’m prepared to go out into the world and effect positive, meaningful change.”

BY BONNIE BARBER

Last Updated: 1/12/10