In your time at the University, you have likely run to the Quantitative Analysis Center (QAC) in dire need of assistance. It is also likely, then, that you’ve met Joli Holmes ’17: WesCeleb, head tutor at the QAC, and all-around data extraordinaire. The Argus caught up with Holmes to discuss her position at the crossroads of the University and life beyond the QAC.
The Argus: Why do you think you were nominated as a WesCeleb?
Joli Holmes: I think there’s a pretty obvious answer. I think I’m like the universal tutor or TA at this school for anything quantitative, which seems really silly. But I have met probably hundreds of people through that, and I don’t know them all, and can’t remember who all of them are all the time, but they always say hi to me, and I love my students. So it’s probably through the Quantitative Analysis Center that I know most of the people on this campus, which is pretty funny.
A: What do you do in the Quantitative Analysis Center? And what do you TA, study?
JH: I’m an economics major, which most people don’t realize, actually. They think I’m a QAC major, which does not exist at Wesleyan. There’s a minor, but there’s no major. The major would be statistics if they had one. I am the head tutor here, and I run the Quantitative Analysis Center, which just means that I am technically in charge of all of the tutors, but they just have to listen to me occasionally once a week and go along with whatever I say.
We support all the different econ classes, QAC classes, and all the different psych classes, and sociology classes. Essentially I get a lot of access to a lot of different students across many different disciplines, and it’s really fun to get that type of reach and access. We support everyone; we like to know everyone.
A: You’re so positive! What do you think you’ve learned through your interactions at the QAC that you maybe wouldn’t [have] if you had just been a student in a quantitative department?
JH: Starting out, for me, I really struggled with a lot of things, quantitatively, and had a really, really hard time with it.
A: Me too!
JH: Yeah, if you’re a normal person who’s not just super smart, you struggle, and that’s totally to be expected. Drawing from my own experience, I’ve definitely tried to make a lot of things more accessible and try to bring a lot of positivity and energy when I teach, because I think that’s often lacking, and I want people to feel like the material’s accessible and also feel comfortable coming in for help.
A: That makes me feel so much better about every time I come into the QAC, thank you! But you’re also a person when you’re not in the QAC, so what do you do when you’re not here?
JH: When I’m not here, I play a lot of ultimate. I play on Throw Culture Ultimate Frisbee, which is the mixed, co-ed Frisbee team at Wesleyan. It’s a very fun and silly team, and we go to tournaments and have parties. So I play on that a lot, and other than that I just do school, and research, and worked on a thesis this year, so that consumed a ton of time, obviously. And I was a member of the Committee for Investor Responsibility for two years, or two-and-a-half years, and so I did that for awhile. I actually got to meet quite a few people through that as well. So those are the other main activities.
A: So you’re not bored often, are you?
JH: Oh gosh, no. There is rarely downtime, unfortunately.
A: Do you find that you have more now, at the end of senior year? Or are you filling it?
JH: It’s going to be filled. I’m one of those people that’s totally a workaholic, though, and on Thursday when I came into [the QAC], I don’t know. Theses are done, so I have to make a list of things to do because I just need to have a regimented schedule, things that I can check off the list.
A: I’d be happy to give you some papers to write, some projects to finish, if you’re looking for that kind of stuff.
JH: I’m picking up more research, so….
A: That’s probably best for you.
JH: Yeah, it’ll be good.
A: So, you wrote a thesis. What did you write it on?
JH: I’m an economics majors, and I was working with Abigail Hornstein, who is known to be the finance econ professor at Wesleyan. I was looking at the relationship between corporate governance and social media. Corporate governance [refers to] the different mechanisms that keep managers in line at the firm. Initially, going in, I had the hypothesis that the more that a person is talked about over the media, the more they’re going to be well known, so there’s higher accountability and standards.
But then, we add the social media layer to things, which hasn’t been studied at all, and you get way more exposure. It was fun, it was really interesting. We had some good findings at the end, and we might try and publish, we’ll see.
A: Do you have any post-grad plans?
JH: I don’t know what my post-grad plans are as of right now. Originally, I was going to try to go back to Seattle, where I’m from, and then I don’t know anything right now. So, if you have any jobs available or anyone knows of any jobs, let me know. I’ve been interviewing at a few places, so we’ll see.
A: You transferred here…as a sophomore?
JH: Yes, I was a sophomore transfer, three years ago now.
A: How has that experience been?
JH: It’s really interesting. I feel like I got to Wesleyan and felt like I belonged from day one, which is not how I felt at my first school. And it’s been, I mean the first year, I guess I hung out with a lot of transfers, but then the two consecutive years after that I really felt like I totally integrated myself into Wesleyan. I wasn’t just part of that main group—not that I’m not friends with them, because they’re lovely and I still see them a lot—but was able to integrate into the group at large. You don’t always end up at the right school the first time around, but I think there’s potential for everyone to be happy somewhere, and I got really lucky the second time around. Wesleyan’s pretty great.
It was a very easy process—well, the actual transfer process is annoying, because you have to reapply to colleges, but once I got here, it was a very easy process…. Common App the second time around, not fun. Wesleyan has such a huge transfer community compared to a lot of other schools, so they make it really easy and accessible in a way that I think a lot of other colleges don’t have that same program. I was really lucky. I think that Wesleyan really values transfers, because that’s awesome because we value Wesleyan.
A: Do you have any final parting wisdom?
JH: I would just say get involved with whatever you really find interesting and just follow that to the end of wherever you can follow that. For me, that’s been the Quantitative Analysis Center, but I didn’t know that, coming here three years ago, that that would be my path at Wesleyan. I could never have guessed that.
I think that, for me, what’s been most successful is just diving into different organizations. In my first year, my passion project was the Committee for Investor Responsibility, and just being able to really sink myself into something at Wesleyan where I felt like I was benefiting the greater Wesleyan community in some way has been something that I found very fulfilling.