Honors economics and history major Gerrit Boldt ’17 graduated into an eight-month internship at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
He says a class in regional development with Prof. Emeritus Philip Moss prepared him for his job with the Working Cities Challenge, a public-private-nonprofit initiative housed at the Boston Fed that aims to improve employment, housing and health outcomes for low-income residents of former industrial cities in southern New England, including Lowell.
Boldt also researched how Working Cities’ programs might be adapted for small towns and cities in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, where poverty is more rural and spread out.
“Professor Moss taught me the data collection tools necessary to make policy recommendations, why certain regions have developed and been successful economically and why others suffer from multigenerational poverty,” says Boldt, who grew up in Groton.
Boldt also helped plan a summit of Working Cities’ funding partners, at which they looked at how to make Working Cities economically sustainable.
Now he is bringing everything he learned in the internship back to campus as an AmeriCorps volunteer for the River Hawk Scholars Academy (RHSA), a campus initiative to support first-year students who are the first in their families to pursue a four-year college degree.
“I personally believe that education is one of the best ways to alleviate generational poverty and to alleviate poverty in postindustrial cities,” he says.
Boldt’s job is to lay the groundwork for the RHSA’s long-term success, first by ensuring that its programs are serving the students’ needs and then by collecting data so that the academy can show potential funders that it is helping these students to succeed.
Moss’s class and his post-UML experiences have inspired Boldt to pursue a career as a lawyer working in community economic development, antitrust law or bankruptcy – areas in which economics and the law intersect. After he completes his year with AmeriCorps, he will apply to law schools.
Boldt had his choice of public and private colleges. He picked UMass Lowell after coming on a campus tour and hearing about the great personal relationships students had developed with their professors.
He wasn’t disappointed.
“I liked that from Day 1, you weren’t just a seat in a big lecture hall. There are few teaching assistants, so the professors do most of the teaching, and they’re excited to engage with students and share their knowledge,” he says. “It’s a hallmark of the university. Some friends who went to better-known schools didn’t have that experience.”
Besides Moss, other influential professors included University Prof. Robert Forrant, a historian who teaches classes on civil rights, labor history and the history of American business, and Asst. Teaching Prof. Brian Brown and Assoc. Prof. Maria Matz in Spanish. Boldt took Matz’s summer study-abroad program in Cadiz, Spain.
“That was probably my favorite thing I did in college,” Boldt says. “I really enjoyed the immersive experience, because it brought to life the Spanish I’d learned in the classroom in high school and college. You experience Spanish every day in your homestay – in class, going to the beach and walking around the city. It’s transformative.”