As compers for the Harvard International Review during the fall of 2008, Alex W. Palmer ’12 and Aditya Balasubramanian ’12-’13 demonstrated a common passion for global relations. Four years later, the two share another commonality: they are two of the 34 nationwide recipients of the 2013 Marshall Scholarship.
As Marshall Scholars, both will travel to universities in the United Kingdom next fall, where they will pursue fully-funded graduate study.
A history concentrator with a secondary field in economics, Balasubramanian—a former Crimson business editor—hopes to study econometrics and mathematical economics at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Palmer is interested in pursuing a year-long masters program at King’s College London studying Conflict, Security and Development—a program that focuses on the relationship between poverty and security. He is also interested in attending the University of St Andrews in Scotland, but is still open to other options.
Both candidates have extensive experiences abroad which are tied to some of the options they are considering.
After his junior year, Balasubramanian took a year off from school to work at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab in India, where he investigated voter and politician information campaigns.
“I am most interested in the rising inequality in the United States and India, since they are both countries I have ties to,” he said.
Palmer’s experience abroad spanned three different summers, during which he volunteered in refugee camps in Venezuela, Kenya, and the West Bank. Those experiences influenced what Palmer is considering studying.
“In the modern world, when there is a threat, we can’t just think about security, but also whether kids can still go to school and whether people have running water,” he said. “We need to take a more holistic approach.”
After World War II, under the Marshall Plan, the United States provided funding to European countries to help them recover from the war and combat Soviet communism. In 1953, the British government founded the Marshall Scholars Program to commemorate this assistance.
According to the Marshall Scholarship website, “Marshall Scholars strengthen the enduring relationship between the British and American peoples, their governments and their institutions” and are “talented, independent and wide-ranging.” Additionally, the program is intended to “enable intellectually distinguished young Americans, their country’s future leaders, to study in the UK.”
Both Balasubramanian and Palmer say that the application process provided a welcome opportunity to identify their passions and to self-reflect.
“Regardless of the outcome, it is a process in which you learn a lot about yourself and get to play back what you’ve done and think about your time here,” Balasubramanian said. “It makes you feel fortunate about all the opportunities you get here at Harvard.”