Jenishma (Jeni) Dhodary '21
Philosophy and Economics double major
Where are you originally from?
How did you hear about Stony Brook University?
Stony Brook University is one of those universities that I just knew growing up. There was always a friend or a friend of a friend who had found their way there for a degree. When I was exploring the possibility of pursuing a career in the sciences, Stony Brook University stood out to me for its reputation as a leading research university.
Why did you choose to study at Stony Brook?
I chose Stony Brook for its affordability. My high school mentors had suggested that I pursue the most economical option when it came to a college degree. I was lucky enough to receive various scholarships, including the Excelsior Scholarship, which went into effect for the first time during my first semester in college. Arriving at Circle Road as a freshman, I wondered if I had made the right decision basing my university selection on just affordability — but I know I did. The reason I chose Stony Brook is not as significant as the reasons I stayed. I stayed for its diversity. I stayed for its sensitivity to social mobility. I stayed for the early morning Long Island Railroad rides into the University with strangers who in the course of four fleeting years became my best friends. I stayed for the late nights in The Stony Brook Press office, when my friends and I gathered our devices to write articles about how we could shatter the status quo. I stayed for the professors who took it upon themselves to give me the guidance I craved as a confused university student. I stayed for the 3 a.m. strolls across Staller, when my best friends and I initiated hour long conversations with printmaking students about the significance of art in leading fulfilling lives. I stayed for all of this and more, for the moments that are now immortalized in my heart as I begin my journey as an adult.
On her majors:
I am currently pursuing a double major in economics and philosophy. As an aspiring economist, I am deeply concerned with what I see: rising wealth inequality, a lack of distributive justice and weak institutions unequipped to address the many challenges that await us. It appears that in just these elementary stages of our history, we have architected a society capable of astonishing economic growth — and yet, global inequality continues to rise as poverty plagues the lives of millions across the world. This is wrong. In this age of abundance, no one should know what it is like to go hungry. No one should be deprived of opportunity. I hope to harness the qualitative elements of my philosophy degree with my quantitative economics background to replace our extractive global economy with one based on care and a respect to human dignity.
This semester, I audited an Inequality course taught by Dr. Branko Milanovic at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. We devoted the semester to tracing the history of economic thought, beginning from the founder of capitalism himself to more contemporary thinkers like Anthony Atkinson and Thomas Piketty. Dr. Milanovic integrated this richly theoretical curriculum with statistical concepts in economics to strengthen our understanding of modern global inequality. As we near the end of the semester, his class stands out to me for its respect to nuance, its original curriculum and its crucial relevance to our world today.
Interests and accomplishments:
I am passionate about travel, advocacy and literature. When I am not exploring new cities or fighting for economic justice, I can be found furiously typing stories into existence. Something that very few people know about me is that I have completed three full-length novels, all of which are available for free online!
I believe that my greatest achievement has yet to be written. It will be the day I play a meaningful role in ending poverty.
Awards & Accolades:
I am a recipient of the Stony Brook University Media Suite’s “Best Written Story” Award for my article “The Economy As a Body” for Spring 2021, the U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship and the STRADA Network scholarship for demonstrating outstanding leadership. I am also an Oxford University Effective Altruism Fellow and a member of Stony Brook University’s Dean’s List.
Plans for post-graduation:
After graduation, I will be moving to San Francisco and serving as a Govern for America Revenue and Operational Efficiency Fellow and a Research and Data Analyst at the Department of Revenue. In my two years as a Govern for America Fellow, I will be trained in public sector entrepreneurship, government innovation and data science to creatively impact economic policy. My role at the Department of Revenue will focus on uncovering tax inefficiencies in and optimizing the taxation system of the state of Missouri.
I am an aspiring economist interested in tax policy, labor justice and inequality reform.
Clubs and organizations:
I am an Associate Editor at The Stony Brook Press, Stony Brook University’s culture magazine, a Founding Committee Member of EduMate NYC, a technological nonprofit redressing educational inequalities in NYC, and a Student Advocate at the NYC Fair Trade Coalition, an organization fighting for fair trade practices across NYC.
Advice for future Seawolves?
Pursue the things that fill you with wonder and pursue them fearlessly. And question everything.
Favorite SBU memory?
Three years ago, when I was especially conflicted about my decision to pursue a philosophy degree, I went into one of my professor's office hours crying as I asked him for advice about my future. As a South Asian woman, I had been told that there is no value in a philosophy degree, that I should pursue a more technical field for the sake of both reputation and job security. My professor took his time to empower my decision to pursue knowledge for the sake of knowledge in itself. I came out of that meeting feeling liberated, like I was finally on the road to finding myself at last.
I feel incredibly privileged to have a job opportunity lined up despite our uncertain economy. I also feel like I have a lot of work to do, both as an individual and an economist, but like I am ready to do everything it takes to make this world a better place.