Student profile: Cody Fischer
From skilled swing dancer to economist to world traveler, Cody Fischer seems to have done it all.
In the fall of 2008, he will add to his life experience by traveling as a Rotary Ambassador to Senegal, Africa, after which he aims to attend Carnegie Mellon or American University to pursue a master’s degree in public policy or international development.
Fischer, who graduated from Saint John’s University May 13, 2007 with a bachelor of arts degree in economics, was a highly involved leader during his undergraduate career. He held a position in the Saint John’s Senate, the Investment Club, was a student member of the SJU Board of Regents, volunteered for both the Volunteers in Service to Others (VISTO) program and Big Brothers Big Sisters, and spent two years as a resident assistant. Before Senegal in 2008, he will continue his track record of service by fighting hunger and poverty with the National Emerson Hunger Fellows.
But perhaps Fischer’s best involvement experience while at SJU was founding a swing dance club, Swing Catz, as an opportunity for those passionate “swingers” to practice their craft.
“I’ve been a swing dancer for three years and have never had a place at the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University to do it. Now there is a club and a thriving group of avid dancers,” Fischer said.
Fischer’s involvement on campus spilled over into the world. While a student at SJU, he participated in a service trip to Trinidad and Tobago, attended a development policy summit in Muscat, Oman, and spent four weeks studying the economic and social environments in China as an Entrepreneurial Scholar. He also spent a semester in Cannes, France, studying art, history, and European politics.
“I have learned how to be travel savvy, adapt to cultures, creatively improvise communication, and maintain an open mind,” said Fischer, when asked how this extensive travel prepared him for his ambassadorship.
These skills will be necessary as Fischer travels to Senegal in 2008. Much of his time will be spent studying French at a language school, but as a Rotary Ambassador, he hopes to become involved with a micro-lending organization as a community service project. Fischer will use his economics and entrepreneurial experience from CSB/SJU to assist those applying for micro-loans in Senegal.
As a Rotary Ambassador, Fischer’s mission will be to promote friendly international relations and international understanding, as well as give presentations on the United States to Rotary clubs and other groups in Senegal.
Fischer’s senior honors thesis on Francophone West Africa fueled his excitement to go to Senegal. Fischer also has a brother-in-law from Cote d’Ivoire whose family he looks forward to meeting near the end of his six months in Senegal.
Fischer offered a few words of wisdom to incoming students.
“Two things come to mind: first, find the professors that are great and take as many classes with them as you can. The topic doesn’t make the class, the professor does. As a starter, take a class with Dan Finn - he is one of the stars of the economics department, his courses are interesting and engaging, and you’ll gain valuable tools to examine the discipline which you are learning,” Fischer said.
“Second, plan it out and study abroad. The experience will give you a chance to think about your major within the context of a different political and economic system, and culture.”
The research for Fischer's honors thesis (Francophone West Africa) was funded by an Honors Thesis Summer Research Fellowship in 2006. Fischer presented his research at the St. Cloud State University Undergraduate Research Conference in April 2007 — where it won an award.