Katie Shester Katie Shester is an associate professor of economics and a core faculty member for the Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability, as well as Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.
Q. How long have you worked at W&L?
I started working here in the fall of 2011, so this is my 12th year.
Q. What courses are you teaching this term?
I am teaching Econ 100 (Introduction to Economics), Econ 344 (Advanced Topics in US Economic History) and Econ 440 (Honors workshop).
Q. What is your favorite course to teach?
There’s no way I could pick a favorite. I love teaching our intro course because I get to introduce students to economic ideas and break the stereotypes most students have of economics when they first enroll. Students often come in thinking that economics is just about money, but when it comes down to it, it’s really about people. At the same time, teaching the advanced courses is really rewarding. It’s so fun to expose students to cutting edge research, to show them what economists really do and to have them get hands-on experience with empirical projects. Students often find that super rewarding, and it’s cool to see their sense of accomplishment when they’ve exceeded their own expectations.
Q. What is the most satisfying aspect of teaching?
Seeing things click. There’s this moment when a student is trying to understand or do something difficult, and then it suddenly makes sense. The sense of excitement that students have — both in their own ability and in the material — is awesome.
Q. What do you like most about working at W&L?
The students, hands down.
Q. Where is your favorite location on the W&L campus?
The wooden bridge that goes from the parking deck to the Commons. Looking down at Woods Creek Trail is so peaceful.
Q. What advice do you have for students (or parents)?
I know it’s hard, but try to resist focusing so much on careers and majors as soon as you get here. Try new things and keep an open mind. I didn’t take an economics course until second semester of my sophomore year. That’s not to say that everyone should major in economics — you should major in what you love — but I’m glad that I was open to pivoting to economics that late. Also, if you don’t like your major, you’re probably not going to love the jobs you think your major prepares you for.
Q. What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?
I love to make things and listen to podcasts/audiobooks. I’m currently really into quilting and sewing bags, but I also enjoy amateur carpentry and woodworking.
Q. Where did you grow up?
Laurinburg, North Carolina.
Q. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
In early elementary school, I think I wanted to be a marine biologist like every other kid born in the 1980s. (This seemed to be a cultural phenomenon, although I’m not sure why.) After that phase, I’m not really sure – probably a doctor or a lawyer.
Q. Who inspired you to teach? What about them inspired you?
In the seventh and eighth grades, my math teacher was Ms. Allison. She stayed after school two days a week to coach the math team and, when I made it to states, she stayed after school with me multiple days a week to help me prepare. In college, professor Moorhouse taught me two semesters of intermediate microeconomics. He had such high standards, but was also so supportive and respectful of every student in the class. His classes were tough, gave me a big sense of accomplishment and made me believe in myself. Both Ms. Allison and professor Moorhouse challenged, inspired and believed in me, and I am still grateful for it.
Q. What book are you reading now?
“Cloud Cuckoo Land” by Anthony Doerr
Q. What music are you listening to these days?
The Lone Bellow
Q. What is the website you visit most often and why?
The New York Times—I read news and do puzzles every morning.
Q. If they made a movie about your life, who would play you?
I used this celebrity match machine on vacation this year and got matched to Owen Wilson twice. I’d welcome other suggestions.
Q. Tell us something most people don’t know about you.
I started taking flute lessons in the first grade. In college, I played in a lot of ensembles (wind ensemble, orchestra, musicals, quintet) and had a senior recital.
Q. What is your secret talent?
Confidence to try new things.
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