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IOP to Pilot Scholarship Fund for Student Leaders

Harvard's Institute of Politics announced the launch of its Student Leader Scholarship, a pilot initiative that will provide a $2,000 need-based scholarship for several of the Institute's undergraduate student leaders.
Harvard's Institute of Politics announced the launch of its Student Leader Scholarship, a pilot initiative that will provide a $2,000 need-based scholarship for several of the Institute's undergraduate student leaders. By Ryan N. Gajarawala
By Miles J. Herszenhorn, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard’s Institute of Politics announced the launch of its Student Leader Scholarship, a pilot initiative that will provide a $2,000 need-based scholarship for several of the Institute’s undergraduate student leaders during the IOP’s 2022 student leadership term.

Only five to seven of the 32 members in the IOP’s Student Advisory Committee will be awarded scholarships under the pilot program. The fund aims to “support a consistent commitment to engagement and learning at the Institute of Politics.”

IOP Director Mark D. Gearan ’78 wrote in a statement that the IOP worked alongside the Harvard College Office of Financial Aid, Phillips Brooks House Association, and Harvard Kennedy School to create the initiative.

“We understand that IOP leadership roles can be a significant time commitment and students of every background should be able to lead at the IOP and consider careers in politics and public service,” Gearan wrote.

Janna E. Ramadan ’23, president of the IOP, said in an interview Sunday that she hopes the scholarship will lessen the financial burden on students who make a major time commitment to work at the IOP.

“We recognize students that are in SAC or in IOP leadership are giving a lot of their time to this institute,” she said.

IOP Vice President Tabitha L. Escalante ’23 said she understands the importance of needing financial support because she used to work four jobs on top of her involvement in the IOP.

“It’s obviously something that you can’t always put your entire heart and soul into when there are other things going on in your life,” she said. “It’s a choice every day to be able to do that, and it gets tough.”

Ramadan said it was critical that the Student Leader Scholarship not impact the financial aid packages of its recipients.

Melody M. Wang ’22, who serves as a chief of staff in the Fellows and Study Groups program, called the scholarship a “step in the right direction” but said she believed that it needs to be expanded to other members of the IOP.

She noted there are non-SAC leadership positions to which students devote a lot of time and where financial support would also be helpful.

“I think recognizing that is important,” Wang said. “If the IOP could help with the financial accessibility for people like me, or in my role, I certainly think it’d be beneficial.”

IOP spokesperson Lauren L. Miller said in an emailed statement that the Institute hopes the fund will help eliminate financial barriers for students and that the IOP intends to “reassess it in the future.”

Escalante said they are hoping to launch a general fund later in the spring semester that will be “specifically geared toward general members.”

“We really want to break down any financial barriers that may come up for students before they actually even enter to ensure that they know that the IOP is a place that’s welcoming of people of all backgrounds,” she said.

Ramadan said that the origins of the scholarship extend back to Jerry “DJ” Lacy ’22, who served as the IOP’s treasurer in 2020. Lacy said he thinks the scholarship is going to be “huge” for students going forward.

“It definitely makes me feel better about leaving the IOP, and hopefully I left it in a better spot than when I found it,” he said.

Correction: March 2, 2022

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated five to seven of the of Harvard IOP’s 32-member Student Advisory Committee are eligible to apply for the Institute’s new scholarship program. In fact, all Student Advisory Committee members are eligible to apply, but only five to seven will be awarded the scholarship.

—Staff writer Miles J. Herszenhorn can be reached at miles.herszenhorn@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @MHerszenhorn.

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