Eyner Román ’19 is a mathematical economics major and dance minor from outside Lima, Peru, and the current Student Trustee for the Colorado College 2018-2019 school year. His studies have taken him around the world, from Peru to Singapore, the Netherlands, Canada, and more. Over this past summer, Román worked for the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, DC. This week, The Catalyst sat down with Román to discuss his new role at the college as well as his other interests.
The Catalyst: As a dance minor, how do you think dance can be a positive force in people’s lives?
Eyner Román: I think that dance is a very personal thing because I’m usually taking math classes and econ classes. I feel like dance is the one field or activity that keeps me relaxed, helps me think about my body, disconnects me from the other commitments that I have to do academically. And so I see it as a way of relaxation, and I think that that would be really helpful for a lot of people. I think everybody can dance [laughs] regardless of the level. It’s just a matter of practice. So in the future, I hope to keep doing dance parallel to my career as an economist.
TC: What is your biggest goal during your time as Student Trustee?
ER: I think that the major thing that I want to achieve is to create more understanding of what the Board of Trustees does. I think there is some sort of mystery here about like what the Board of Trustees is and what they decide. And yeah, the information that we talk about is pretty confidential, but I do think that there could be a better job at showing the students or explaining to students how their portfolio is managed, for example. Or, why does the price of tuition keep increasing? You know, I think that explaining those decisions is really vital for students to understand why the college is being managed the way it is and to be able to reduce the amount of misunderstandings.
Then the other way as well. I feel like there is this misconception that—I don’t want to say that all trustees and this is a personal opinion—but perhaps some of the trustees might think that students are just complaining or that they are making uninformed decisions. But, [the students] might actually be [uninformed] because they don’t really know how the board is being managed. And so maybe if the students were more aware of how things are working with the trustees, then they might be able to provide more useful input.
TC: What has been one of the most valuable parts of being the Student Trustee?
ER: Honestly, I’ve been really impressed by the amount of learning that I’ve gained just from being at the meetings. As you might imagine, I’m the youngest person on the board. So all these people are people who have been running organizations and have been board members and trustees on other boards. So they do know what they’re talking about in most of the cases, and they have really valuable opinions. For me to just be there and hear those opinions is a really educational experience, super enriching. I’ve only met them once so far, but it’s been a great experience, and I also feel like being with the board has allowed me to gain a sort of network of mentors that are willing to help me out, not only with the board but professionally and personally.
TC: What do you look forward to most about working with the board?
ER: I think understanding my role more. I feel like there are a lot of limits to being a trustee for just one year because it typically takes a trustee a year to understand what they have to be doing. So I think that I look forward to feeling more comfortable with my role because I’m still learning how to express my opinion and navigate this position when we meet only a few times a year.
TC: What work did you do in D.C. this summer, and why is that work important?
ER: I worked for an international, multilateral organization, and that name sounds really long. It is basically an organization that promotes economic development, specifically in the Latin America and Caribbean region. The organization is called Inter-American Development Bank. And so what they do is they make a pool of money from wealthy countries like Japan, China, the U.S. is a big stakeholder, some Scandinavian countries, et cetera. The bank uses that money to provide different financial instruments that promote economic development in the Latin American region and the Caribbean. They are a bank, so they provide loans, but they also do grant management, they provide donations. There are a myriad of instruments, and all of this money that’s being disbursed has to be used in a way that aligns with the values of the bank, so they provide government lending mostly. So, it’s really large amounts of money, and some of the values of the bank are gender equality, social inclusion, environmental sustainability, and so I feel like the work that they do is pretty important because it provides that help for many developing nations that don’t have the capital to create those programs.
TC: If you had to bring one thing from home to Colorado, what would it be, why?
ER: I would bring the food. Usually people ask me like, “Oh, do you usually cook Peruvian food?” But it’s really hard to do that because the ingredients used in Peru are basically the same things—I mean, my favorite dish is made of onions, tomato, meat, and potatoes. And it sounds really simple, but we have special ingredients that we put on top of that. The potatoes, for example, you know potatoes are from Peru, so we have a thousand types of potatoes. So we use special kinds and then if I cook it here, it’s not the same thing. So whenever I’m here I really miss that from home.
TC: As a mathematical economics major, how do you think an understanding of numbers/the subjects changes your view of the world?
ER: It’s really interesting because I actually never took economics before my sophomore year [at Colorado College], so it’s been a relatively new thing for me. I started my time at CC thinking that I wanted to study architecture, so I did the studio art program. I took 2D art classes, and then when I did an internship my freshman year summer, I realized that I didn’t really enjoy the technicalities behind architecture. And I realized that I liked the urban planning part of architecture, so I came back to CC a little confused but with the idea that I would do economics to finally understand how a city is supposed to work. Later on, I realized that I liked math, so it made sense to major in math econ. I think that it’s been a really useful and practical way to study social dynamics because I think nowadays there is a lot of credibility to quantitative skills and quantitative methods to explain things in society. I think that being a math econ major has given me these tools like econometrics and modeling that are really useful in the social topics that I’m interested in.
TC: Do you have a lot of optimism for the future of CC based on your interactions with administration?
ER: I think so. I was really impressed by the fact that they really, really care about CC, more than I expected them to. I didn’t imagine them showing the level of appreciation and care for CC. I went in trying to keep my head with no expectations, and I found a group of people that are really invested in the future of CC. They try to be informed with what’s going on on campus. For example, the first meeting we had in June, there was an entire training on diversity and inclusion. It was a big portion of the training. So, you know, the board understands that it is still a group of people that is mainly male-dominated, for example, and there are many things like that that can be improved. But the board is trying to address those things, and it’s really trying to inform themselves before giving advice to [President Tiefenthaler] and to the college. And so I do think that there is a really prosperous future if that attitude is being kept. too—which isn’t s
TC: What do you think has changed the most at CC between your freshman and senior year?
ER: Well personally, I think that my goals have become much more concrete. I came to CC with a very vague idea of what I wanted to study, of what I wanted to become, and I think that being here has given me the tools to actually think about and reflect on what I want to do. And CC has provided me with a lot of opportunities that I otherwise wouldn’t have gotten. In terms of the college, I would say the approach to many social issues. I feel like the college has done a better job at being aware of, you know, inequality on campus—not only racial inequality, but you know socio-economic inequality too. The other day I saw Jill’s email about the effort that the college is trying to make to make other racial groups feel included in this community. But I also, for example, heard that now people who are in scholarships at the college, on full scholarship, are being moved from Meal Plan C to Meal Plan B. And that is big! That is big because I was under that plan because I am on full scholarship at the college and navigating two meals a day is just very tricky. I had to juggle my student employment with those limited resources. And I feel like just making that change is going to make the experience for many people much more comfortable at the college.
TC: What advice would you give another senior who is stressing about graduation this year?
ER: Okay, first to go to the Career Center, but probably because I work there. I have found the Career Center to really be helpful in terms of helping me plan and helping me prepare with realizing what I want to do in the future. I think that resource can take a lot of stress out of seniors. Then I would probably encourage people to—well maybe this is just the advice that I thought for myself. But when I was doing my internship, and I was working with a lot of older people, I realized that this is my last year to finally be a little more carefree and be a college student. Because after college, life is going to get a little more serious and tougher. I would just say, enjoy your time here because even though there are many imperfections at the college, there are also a great deal of fun things that one could be taking advantage of.