FDR Global Fellowship

The origins of this non-partisan, Adams-based program arise from a comment FDR's Harvard roommate and life-long friend Lathrop Brown made in an interview with filmmaker Pare Lorenz. Remarking on why FDR later became such an effective leader, Brown stated: “FDR had traveled much more than most boys of his own age... He had an inquiring mind, and unlike other boys brought up like a litter of puppies in a kennel, who spent their time cuffing each other, he had plenty of time to spend on individualistic pursuits. Because of this, he was more mature in many respects than his contemporaries. His eyes opened earlier.” The key here is travel: by age 15, FDR had spent nearly half of his life abroad, spoke fluent French and German, and had seen much of Western Europe - the very land he would be charged to save 40 years later.This crucial, formative experience was due in large part to the affluence of the Roosevelt family. Thanks to them, the adult FDR knew the world stage intimately, and when the time came, was entirely comfortable acting upon it.

Which leads to an interesting question: can we guarantee that our next FDR will arise from equally fortunate circumstances? And if not, what can we do to maximize the potential of our young people of lesser means? Surely we need more talent like his.

Our answer at Adams House: The FDR Global Fellowship.

Here‘s the general outline: Many of our students from lower income families depend on their earnings during the summer to support themselves during term time. (Some even to support their families.) In addition, Harvard students on scholarship are required by the College to contribute several thousand dollars of their summer earnings to the cost of their education. This effectively means that many talented individuals are prevented from potentially life/career changing experiences abroad during the summer, not so much because other scholarship grants aren't available to send them, but because few other programs make up the true cost of the summer, which includes lost wages, and those that do are often restricted to narrow fields of research.

A number of us at Adams thought it was time to level the playing field a bit and provide our less affluent students with the same intellectual opportunities our wealthy students have, so we've created the FDR Global Fellowship Program, which each year awards up to $7,000 to pay for an approved summer program abroad, and then, once successfully completed, provides the student with a $2000 stipend to make up for lost summer wages. This program is only available to Harvard students below a certain economic threshold, and is awarded to those wishing to pursue clearly delineated goals, in both the sciences and humanities, that foster cultural communication and global understanding in the international spirit of FDR’s fourth inaugural address:

“Today, in this year of war, 1945, we have learned lessons - at a fearful cost - and we shall profit by them. We have learned that we cannot live alone, at peace; that our own well-being is dependent on the well-being of other Nations, far away... We have learned to be citizens of the world, members of the human community. We have learned the simple truth, as Emerson said, that, ‘The only way to have a friend is to be one.’”

Applications are due March 15th of each year, and are vetted by a faculty panel; the program is open to all Harvard freshman, sophomore and juniors. The FDR Global Fellowship is entirely non-partisan; awards are based on merit and adherence to our expressed goal of global understanding. One to three awards are made each year. Applications from across the College are encouraged, though two given identical applications - a near impossible occurrence - preference would be given to residents of FDR's own Adams House.

Student application information can be found HERE

FDR Global Fellows:


Ty Walker '14, Mather House, Governmental Policy Towards Aborginal Peoples in Taiwan and China

Charlotte McKechnie '15, Adams House, HIV Education and Support in rural Tanzania


Gina Kim '15, Adams House, Governmental Policies Towards Sex Trafficking in East Asia

Amanda Hess, Harvard Extension, Development of Micro-Finance and Mentorship Programs in Kenya

Alicia Merganthaler '15, Winthrop House, Development of an Aggregate Crowd Funding Platform for Third World Charities, London


Teresa Orzkinis '17, Leverett House, Engineering World Health: Medical Equipment Repair in Rural Rwanda

Kelvin Mulurki '17, Leverett House, Bio Evolution and the Development of Modern Urban Centers, Paris


Jessica Min ’18 of Quincy House and Melbourne, Australia, Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns in China and India, UN, Paris.

Farhan Javed ’18 of Currier House and Tulsa, Oklahoma, Economic Privatization in Post Communist Armenia

Juliet Kim ’18 of Quincy House and the Bronx, New York, Mind, Brain and Behavior in Humans and Animals, Trento, Italy

the franklin delano roosevelt foundation

26 Plympton Street, Box 471
Adams House, Harvard College
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138