Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Nicholas Kacher

Motivated to learn: Education was always a priority in my family—both of my parents are highly educated but also valued learning outside of formal education and for its own sake. I chose Wheaton because I wanted a school that was small enough that I would be able to have relationships with and work closely with my professors, and because I appreciated the school’s emphasis on cross-disciplinary study.

Steady wins the race: Cross country and track were a big part of my experience at Wheaton. The teams at Wheaton were a great fit for me: a small but dedicated group who really enjoyed the sport. During fall of senior year, I was named NEWMAC cross country athlete of the week after winning a small meet at Amherst College. I think that success was due simply to a lot of steady work.

Worldly lessons: The summer before my junior year, I had a stipend as part of my Balfour Scholarship from Wheaton to fund an internship in Tanzania. The organization I worked with, AHEAD, Inc., (Adventures in Health, Education, and Agricultural Development) is operated by the aunt and uncle of my advisor, Professor Russell Williams. They run a vocational school and provide some health initiatives (delivering medication to outpatients in surrounding villages, distributing information on safe drinking water, etc.). I think the biggest lesson I took away from the experience is that in nonprofit work and especially in developing countries, it’s essential to develop relationships with people and groups in the area, rather than simply assuming that you know what’s best and can do everything on your own.

Economic equality: My honors thesis was inspired by a discussion in Professor John Miller’s “Public Finance” course on the extent of inequality and specifically, the lack of social mobility that still exists in the U.S. today. The data struck me because it seemed so discordant with the notion of America as a land of opportunity. What I found was that the problem is not a matter of production—we have enough to provide for all our citizens, and the economy continues to grow—but rather an issue of distribution. At the moment I am working at the New Economics Institute, a small nonprofit in the Berkshires dedicated to creating economies that build communities in ecologically sustainable ways.