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Alyssa Smith '11

Explaining the idea of United States central bank independence is no easy task. But Alyssa Smith ’11 had such a sound grasp of the subject that she placed third in the nation in the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis’ National Economic Education Video Competition. Her video earned a spot on the St. Louis Fed’s YouTube channel as part of its economic education program, which will be seen by high school students nationwide.

Smith’s video stemmed from a project for a microeconomics class taught by Ed Gamber, professor and head of economics.

“In class, Professor Gamber made the concept of central bank independence visual on the board,” Smith says. “Having that example inspired me to build off of his visual explanation.”

For its spring 2011 YouTube contest, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis asked for individual or team videos explaining the concept of central bank independence. The short videos – no more than five minutes in length – were geared toward a high school-aged audience.

Smith says she wanted to create a video that was accessible to youth, but didn’t “dumb down” the explanation of the central bank structure.

“While young students are familiar with money and what they can buy with it, it is rare for youth to learn about the structure that regulates the value of our currency,” says Smith. “Explaining the concept of central bank independence lent itself to utilizing images and graphic organizers.”

Smith, who just graduated in May with an A.B. with a self-designed major in social justice & quantitative literacy, is continuing the video competition’s aim of teaching economics to high school students by participating in the Teach for America Summer Institute. Currently, she is teaching summer school math to eighth grade students at Dowling Middle School in Houston, Texas. Come fall, Smith will be a Teach for America Corps Member teaching high school math in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.

“My interdisciplinary study at Lafayette enabled me to develop a unique perspective, consider social issues from a mathematical perspective, and deepen my understanding of the role of numbers in the world,” Smith says.

While at Lafayette, Smith was involved in the Landis Community Outreach Center. She was also team leader of Lafayette’s America Reads America Counts program, president of the Alternative School Break Club, and a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority.

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