Economics major receives Flywire Scholarship in Social Justice

Mahi Lal ’22 sees her education at Wooster as the first step in changing the narrative of developing nations

October 5, 2020   /  
Mahi Lal ’22
Mahi Lal ’22

Mahi Lal ’22, an economics major at The College of Wooster, recently received the Flywire Charitable Foundation Scholarship in Social Justice, honoring her for her commitment to supporting vulnerable populations. One of four applicants selected from an international pool of more than 800 students, Flywire, a vertical payments company, selected recipients based on their “vision for using their education to impact positive change in the future.”

Drawn to Wooster by not only its popularity among past students at her high school in Kolkata, India, the low student-to-teacher ratio, and financial aid but also by the “exceptional faculty” in the departments that interested her, Lal found her fit at Wooster by becoming involved in a number of student organizations including the South Asia Committee and the International Student Association. Lal, in her junior year in the fall of 2020, says she chose economics for her major because it “provided me with solutions to issues such as poverty, casteism, sexism, racism, and religious prejudice that are deeply-rooted in society.”

Receiving the Flywire Scholarship, “eased financial constraints for me and my parents,” said Lal, noting that in the past she’d worked multiple campus jobs to help cover costs, and that she plans to devote the extra time to participating in student organizations that will compliment her major. “It has also increased my self-esteem,” she said. “As an international student studying economics and math, both male-dominated streams, I lacked the confidence in classes. Winning this scholarship has made me more comfortable in such spaces and instilled in me the belief that my voice is worth being heard.”

At Wooster, Lal became involved in the Social Entrepreneurship program in the Economics Department. First on a local level, she and a team of students advised by Amyaz Moledina, associate professor of economics and business economics and Anne Nurse, associate professor of sociology, conducted research for the Boys and Girls Club to develop a sustainable fee for its summer program. Though the pandemic prevented the Global Social Entrepreneurship extension of the program from traveling to India this summer, she worked remotely for the Rights and Resources Initiative. “We examined the livelihoods of India’s indigenous people, tribal communities, and Afro-descendants through the lens of the Forest Rights Act, 2006,” she said, explaining that the legislation recognizes land rights for those populations. “The act was a result of the historic struggle of marginalized people and its story turned my belief in social justice into conviction.”

Through her education, Lal intends to be active in “changing the narrative of developing nations,” she said. “This begins with representation in global organizations that strive for peace and development such as the United Nations and World Bank. I aspire to represent my country and advocate for it in these institutions while also working for non-profit organizations that work at the grassroots level.” Her involvement in Social Entrepreneurship at Wooster inspired her along with some of her fellow students to found a student group for women and gender minorities called Women and Gender Minorities in Economics. “I think this will be a safe place for all those who feel excluded in an often male-dominated economics field,” she said. “Going forward, I wish to work in similar inclusionary and development spheres.”