Magellan Leads W&J Junior to Economics Study in Peru, Ecuador

Created: February 4, 2016  |  Last Updated: July 16, 2020  |  Category:   |  Tagged:

WASHINGTON, PA (Feb. 4, 2016) — A focus on economics and help from Washington & Jefferson College’s (W&J) Magellan Project led Bryan Whipkey ’17 to South America during the summer of 2015 to learn about the economic impact of the textile industry.

Whipkey, a financial economics major from Poland, Ohio, spent three weeks in South America in the summer of 2015. Whipkey visited Peru and Ecuador to learn more about the textile industry, the leading industry in those countries. However, it was not just Whipkey’s interest in economics that led him to plan the trip of a lifetime.

“I wanted to learn about the region’s culture and diversity,” Whipkey said. “One of the best ways to do that is to find out what they pride themselves in.”

He soon learned that both these countries were proud to mostly use natural fibers, such as alpaca fibers, in their textile industries. Comparing the use of textiles in both countries gave Whipkey a better understanding of how each industry economically supported themselves. After learning the lengthy process that goes into making clothing, Whipkey said he has a newfound interest and respect for the textile industry.

“I looked at the economic theory of the textile industry and learned the process of how to promote a product,” he said. “I will definitely use what I learned if I go into the marketing sector of any business.”

While traveling through different cities, including Lima, Cusco, and Quito, and staying in hostels, Whipkey also discovered that much of what he learned came from the different sights he saw with fellow W&J student Grace McCarthy ’17.

“Other than this being my first time traveling out of the United States, getting to see a natural wonder of the world like Machu Picchu and seeing the Galapagos Islands was very interesting,” Whipkey said. “After traveling to Peru and Ecuador you realize that the world is so much bigger than you think it is.”

After graduation Whipkey hopes to travel more and attend graduate school. He hopes to use his background in financial economics to work in financial analysis.

He thanks Tyler Tenney, W&J’s co-ordinator of co-curricular innovation, as well as W&J chemistry professor Michael Leonard, Ph.D. and economics professor Leslie Dunn, Ph.D. for their guidance.

About the Magellan Project

Established in 2008, Washington & Jefferson College’s unique Magellan Project extends liberal arts learning outside the classroom by providing scholarship funding for students to spend the summer pursuing independent projects and internships in the United States and abroad. Learn more about the Magellan Project on the W&J website.

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.

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