Enrichment Grant Report: Kehan Zhou ’15

Kehan Zhou ’15 was selected to receive an Enrichment Grant from the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship. This funding allowed Kehan to attend a large J-PAL (Poverty Action Lab) meeting for developmental economists. Read Kehan’s story below, and visit the PCSE website to learn more about our Enrichment Grants.


jpalOn December 7, J-PAL celebrated its tenth birthday, where developmental economists from around the world came to attend this celebration. It is one of the best opportunities an economics student could afford and I was lucky enough to be able to attend with the support of the student enrichment grant.

The celebration consisted of a series of short talks and inspiring video clips, presented to the four-hundred-person audience at the MIT auditorium. The theme of the day was to celebrate the great work done by J-PAL in developmental economics in developing countries. The speakers talked about how to encourage students to participate more often in schools within Kenya, and how clean water and deworming can save millions of lives every year. Another important theme of the day was to discuss how to work with government to guide policy with randomized experiments and analysis. As a developmental economist, it is very important for one to be able to work with policymakers and share the insights gained from fieldwork. In respect to working with the government, the Former Minister of Planning in Chile gave brilliant insight: he concluded that while economists are interested in analyzing data, politicians can better understand stories rather than data. Consequently, it is very important to be able to conclude a comprehensive story of one’s finding that is welcomed by policymakers.

Personally, it was a great experience to not only interact with top economists in this field, but also to learn the newest findings in developmental economics and was a great way to complement my studies at Wesleyan as an economics major. I think after this conference I know more about developmental economics and J-PAL, which is the place that I want to work for after graduation. This conference is definitely going to help me get into this organization and succeed as an economist.