Foundation Welcomes 2020 Cohort of Roosevelt Scholars

We are delighted to announce today the 2020 cohort of Roosevelt Scholars. Although the COVID crisis will force us to spend the summer remotely, the scholastic format will be the same: each student will be working 4 days a week on a paid research project with a mentor/educator, and then spending one day a week in our academic practicum, Framing the American Experience, an interactive history program which will explore the creation of the modern United States through the immigrant lens, beginning with the first European settlers and ending with the challenges facing America in 2020.

Congratulations to the new cohort! The six were chosen from a field of almost 50 applicants who participated in Harvard’s FYRE program, aimed at first-generation college students.


Eric Olvera ’23  from Idaho Falls, Idaho, and Adams House will be working with Jed Willard in collaboration with the Venezuelan Embassy in the United States, which represents the Guido government recognized by the US. Eric will complete literature reviews, monitor initiatives to fight misinformation as well as aid the Embassy in strengthening freedom of speech and help improve digital literacy. Jed Willard is the FDR Foundation Director of Global Outreach and the Founding Director Emeritus of the Public Diplomacy Collaborative at Harvard Kennedy School.


Oksanna Samey ’23 from Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Mather House will be working with Dr. Rati Thanawala to build programs that will accelerate career advancement in tech, especially for women of color. Oksanna will illustrate career challenges and solutions learned from various leaders to help improve diversity and inclusion in the workforce. Dr. Rati Thanawala was a 2018 Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellow who has started a Leadership Academy for Women of Color in Tech in 2020.


Simon Levien ’23 from Sparta, New Jersey, and Dunster House will be working with Professor David Jones to deepen his understanding of health effects associated with air pollution in the United States. Through an extensive analysis of relevant sources, Simon will further his evolving knowledge of the negative impacts caused by air pollution. Professor David Jones is an inaugural A. Bernard Ackerman Professor of the Culture of Medicine, a joint position between the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the Faculty of Medicine.




Erick Torres-Gonzalez ’23 from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Quincy House will be working with Akshay Dixit in collaboration with Professor Brule to study how exposure to climate shocks affects women’s political preferences and behaviors in Bangladesh. Through an analysis of climate data, particularly precipitation datasets, Erick will collaborate with Akshay to assist Professor Brule on her paper for publication. Akshay Dixit is a current Ph.D. candidate in Government and Political Economy, and Professor Rachel Brule is an Assistant Professor of Global Development Policy at the Frederik S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University.


Heba Mohamed ’23 from Vernon, Connecticut, and Leverett House will be working with Shireen Hamza on deepening the understanding of the history of medicine in the medieval Islamic world, especially in the region surrounding the Indian Ocean. Through interdisciplinary research, Heba will assist in preparing “plant biographies” as well as data sets with hundreds of common recipes using various data-visualization programs. Shireen Hamza is a current Ph.D. candidate in History of Science studying the lives of medicinal plants in the medieval Islamic world, from cultivation to therapeutic use.



Jaden Deal ’23 from Norwalk, Iowa, and Pforzheimer House will be working with Zid Mancenido to investigate how high-achieving college students learn about and decide whether to become K-12 classroom teachers. Through extensive qualitative and quantitative research, Jaden will further his understanding of “the path to becoming teachers” in the United States. Zid Mancenido is an Instructor and Ph.D. candidate in Education Policy.




Brian Hyun Seo ’22 from Los Angeles, California, and Winthrop House is a graduate of the 2019 Roosevelt Scholars Program and the Program’s 2020 Proctor. This summer, Brian will be working with Hansong Li and Yifei Wu to research the pricing and bidding strategies of medical supplies, from the perspective of crisis management and international trade. Through this research, Brian will further his understanding of firm behaviors as well as economic strategies used to mitigate the crisis. Hansong Li is a current Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Government, and Yifei Wu is a current Ph.D. candidate at Harvard Business School