November 20, 2010

Tamma Carleton ’09 named Rhodes Scholar

Lewis & Clark alumna Tamma Carleton has been named a Rhodes Scholar, considered by many to be the most prestigious international graduate scholarship program.

Lewis & Clark alumna Tamma Carleton has been named a Rhodes Scholar, considered by many to be the most prestigious international graduate honor. Carleton was among 32 students in the United States to receive the prized scholarship for 2011 and one of only three from liberal arts colleges. Approximately 1,500 students apply to become Rhodes Scholars each year.

The 2009 graduate received a BA in economics with a minor in mathematics, and she currently works as a researcher with the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C.

While an undergraduate, Carleton excelled both as a scholar and athlete. She was only one of 10 students to graduate summa cum laude in 2009, positioning her in the top 2 percent of her class. Among her numerous athletic accomplishments, she became the first Lewis & Clark athlete to qualify for the Division III National Championships three years in a row and won the 2009 track and field conference championship in the 10k.

Provost Jane Monnig Atkinson praised the alumna for her superb mind and compassion.

“Professors and students alike have been struck by her intelligence, focus, and dedication, whether that be in an economics presentation or on the track,” Atkinson wrote in her letter of endorsement. “She is someone who recognizes a problem and feels the need to act, whether that be building an adobe-brick oven for her rural high school to serve as a community hearth or creating from scratch a farmers market for one of the more underprivileged neighborhoods in D.C.”

In her current position at the Federal Trade Commission, Carleton uses her research skills to examine mergers and acquisitions and investigate price changes for possible monopoly violations. “Tamma’s work demonstrates her ability to succeed where self-motivation, intelligence, and independent thought are required. I quickly realized that she had a level of intellect … on par with a PhD economist.”

Carleton said she never imagined ending up in economics. But after taking her first economics class, she realized, “This is how I think.” Carleton built a reputation among the economics faculty for her intelligence and social justice concerns.

While an undergraduate, Carleton took a particular interest in international aspects of economics and participated in a study abroad program in Chile.

“Experiencing the culture and taking classes in globalization and economic history at Universidad Católica de Valparaíso are giving me a firsthand look at how the theories behind economic development play out for the people here,” she wrote at the time.

Through conversations with locals from both sides of the political spectrum, she learned, “how important it is to keep in mind the benefits of a somewhat-flawed economic system while working on reforming the problematic aspects.”

As a Rhodes Scholar, Carleton plans to pursue a master’s degree at University of Oxford in the economics of development and environmental change and then work on a doctorate in economics. The scholarship is valued at $50,000 per year for up to four years.

In addition to earning a Rhodes Scholarship, Carleton was a finalist for a Marshall Scholarship, a highly selective program for U.S. graduate study in the U.K.