Brazilian President Speaks at IOP

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff
Gina Kim

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff delivers a public address at the John F. Kennedy, Jr. Forum at the Institute of Politics.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff visited Harvard Tuesday to take part in the signing ceremony of a five-year fellowship agreement between her government and Harvard University. The fellowship will provide financial support for Brazilian students who are admitted to Harvard and wish to pursue studies in the sciences.

“Knowledge and talent know no national boundaries,” University President Drew G. Faust said. “And the most pressing challenges that humanity faces must be faced in the broadest possible context—a context that is interdisciplinary and a context that is international.”

Brazil’s National Council for Scientific and Technological Development will provide funds that will allow around a hundred Brazilian students to attend Harvard. This group will include a small number of undergraduates, 30 to 40 doctoral students, and 40 postdoctoral fellows who may have found Harvard too costly to attend otherwise. Further, during the next five years, Brazil will send scholars to Harvard for year-long fellowships.

Jorge I. Dominguez, Harvard’s vice provost for international affairs, said that Harvard has seen a continual increase in the number of Brazilian students over the past two decades.

“This agreement is extremely farsighted on the part of the Brazilian government,” he said.

After their signing ceremony late Tuesday afternoon, Faust and Rousseff appeared at the Harvard Kennedy School. During her speech, which was simultaneously translated from Portuguese, Rousseff said that the level of progress in a society can be assessed by the number of women in prominent positions.

She continued that today, little girls can dream of becoming the president of Brazil or the president of Harvard—possibilities that she did not imagine as a child.

Rousseff focused on Brazil’s impressive economic and social strides during her speech, but she acknowledged that much national progress remains to be seen.

“I must be very clear in my remarks,” she said. “The fact remains that we have huge challenges ahead.”

Such challenges include eradicating “extreme poverty,” she said, while implementing educational opportunities—especially in science. The fellowship is one facet of this effort.

Lucas G. Freitas ’15, who is also a Crimson photo editor, was among a group of Brazilian students that met Rousseff prior to the signing ceremony.

“In the beginning when she was elected, a lot of Brazilians didn’t like her, because she was not initially as charismatic as the previous president,” he said. “A lot of the students [that attended today] now think that she is a much better candidate.”

He continued that his Brazilian classmates were impressed by Rousseff’s improved public speaking and her straightforward answers to questions posed by the audience.

The signing of this agreement is consistent with Harvard’s efforts to further the University’s internationalization.

“With the signing of this agreement, the Brazilian government will be making a Harvard education in the fields of science and technology available to talented Brazilian students without regard to financial status,” Faust said.

She added that this initiative will strengthen the University’s ongoing efforts to increase access to education to “the widest possible array of talent.”

The agreement was signed by The Brazilian Federal Agency for Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education, Brazil’s National Council for Scientific and Technological Development, and Harvard University.

—Staff writer Alyza Sebenius can be reached at