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Kennedy Scholars 2020-21

In light of the unprecedented circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kennedy Memorial Trustees granted scholarship deferrals to awardees whose plans to start postgraduate courses in 2020 were disrupted. Deferred awards are indicated with * below, and those students will begin their courses in 2021-22 or 2022-23.

Aymen Ati*, 27
Harvard Law School LLM (will attend 2021-22)

Aymen studied Law and Politics at Queen Mary University of London, and the Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL) at Christ Church, Oxford, on scholarship. He was awarded several prizes and graduated with a First Class Honours. He subsequently interned at JUSTICE (Bonavero Fellow) and Reprieve, and worked as a Judicial Assistant at the Court of Appeal of England and Wales. He has also previously been a delegate for an NGO at the United Nations Human Rights Council, and published a paper on the securitisation of Islamic dress by the European Court of Human Rights. As the son of refugees who fled dictatorship in Iraq, Aymen is keen to use the knowledge and skills he has acquired to strengthen the rule of law in Iraq’s nascent democracy. He thus felt a call to action by the 2019 Iraqi protests, and at Harvard intends to explore how Iraqi law can be reformed to reduce mass corruption and sectarianism. Ahead of attending Harvard in 2021, Aymen will spend this year pursuing the Bar Course at City Law School in London.

Sophie D’Souza, 24
Harvard Graduate School of Education EdM

Sophie is motivated to challenge and redress social inequalities and has worked in research, policy and practice capacities across global mental health and public health contexts. Sophie has worked in Sierra Leone with women who survived Ebola, implementing community-led projects and designing a sexual rights and innovation program in response to rising gender-based violence. Sophie graduated from Cambridge with Double First Class Honours in Psychological and Behavioural Sciences, and was the first in her family to attend university. Following this, at the World Health Organization Sophie developed an online intervention for informal caregivers of people with dementia in low-resource settings. More recently, Sophie has been delivering two national evaluations commissioned by NHS England; one of 13 new Community Forensic CAMHS, the other of 18 custodial settings implementing a trauma-informed framework of care for young people in custody. She has published research on children and young people’s mental health in peer-reviewed journals. At Harvard, Sophie looks forward to pursuing interdisciplinary study on the Human Development and Psychology Master’s program, and contributing to research. She is particularly interested in psychologically-informed social justice, risk and resilience.

Alastair Holder Ross*, 25
Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Special Student (will attend 2021-22)

Alastair’s academic interests lie at the intersection of history, government and political philosophy. He graduated with a First in History from Oxford in 2016, before completing an MPhil in Political Thought and Intellectual History at Cambridge, where he wrote about theories of the state in 20th century Britain. Since 2017, he has worked in Parliament as the policy adviser to a senior MP during a period of intense political gridlock and polarisation. At Harvard, he hopes to reflect on these experiences as a Special Student affiliated to the Department of Government, considering the challenges facing democratic institutions on both sides of the Atlantic and new ways of imagining participatory politics in the 2020s. He intends to use the freedom that the Special Studentship offers to pursue interests in digital technology, policy innovation and international law, and to make the most of the opportunity to travel widely in the US to gain insight into new experiments in democratic engagement taking place across the country.

Dr Harun Khan*, 28
Harvard Chan School of Public Health, MPH (will attend 2021-22)

Harun is a physician and public health researcher. He graduated from Imperial College London with an MBBS, BSc (First Class Honours) and two academic prizes. He is interested in health inequities, particularly the intersection between maternal health outcomes and social identifiers (race and social class). Harun has worked in a research capacity for several institutions including London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the World Health Organization in Geneva. His research has been published extensively in peer-reviewed journals, international conferences and medical textbooks. His commentary on race and health has also been featured on various media platforms such as Audible, Media Diversified, and The Huffington Post.

At Harvard, Harun will pursue the MPH where he will explore policy solutions to maternal health disparities in the UK and USA. He will also develop his qualitative analysis skills for maternal health projects that centre on asylum seeking women in Birmingham, UK. Harun has deferred his studies to work on the NHS frontline in anaesthetics and intensive care due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He will also spend the year working towards fluency in Spanish, his sixth language, ahead of his time in Boston. Harun will be the recipient of a joint award from the Kennedy Memorial Trust and the UK Fulbright Commission in 2021.

Joel Nelson*, 25
Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Special Student (will attend 2021-22)

Joel studied History at the University of Oxford, graduating in 2016 with a first-class degree, having won an academic scholarship and two academic prizes. He then undertook postgraduate research at the University of Cambridge, with a particular focus upon 20th century British history. Joel worked in British politics as an advisor to a Government Minister from 2018-20 and for the Jo Cox Foundation. He intends to use the Special Studentship to research a range of subjects at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, both political and governmental, with a particular focus upon the development and efficacy of contemporary campaigning practices.

Aleksei Opacic, 23
Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, PhD in Sociology

Driven by his own socio-economic background, coming from a low-income, single-parent family, Aleksei wants to understand why economic inequalities exist, change over time, and are intergenerationally transmitted. In studying for a PhD in sociology and an AM in statistics at Harvard, Aleksei hopes to contribute to recent statistical and computational methods which aim to efficiently estimate the causal mechanisms mediating parental-child economic associations, especially those related to education and schooling. His longer-term aim is for these methods and their substantive insights to be widely applied and to inform policy both in the UK and elsewhere. Aleksei graduated top of his year at Cambridge, with a starred First in Social and Political Science, and top of his year at Oxford, with an MSc in Sociology. He has since worked as a policy researcher at a London-based think tank, and as a research assistant at Oxford and Harvard.

Jean-André Prager, 27
Harvard Kennedy School, MPP 

Jean-André has served as a Special Advisor on welfare, disability and pensions policy to two Prime Ministers, Theresa May and Boris Johnson, in the Downing Street Policy Unit. He is a graduate of Kings College School, Wimbledon and won the Julia Wood History Prize from St. Hugh’s College, Oxford and took a place there to study History. On receiving his degree he went to work as a Parliamentary Researcher before moving to the Conservative Research Department where he worked on a range of domestic policies. He is a secondary school Governor and a committed supporter of Fulham Football Club. He hopes his time at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government will further his policy knowledge and quantitative skills and give him greater perspective on issues around international relations and the challenges faced, and solutions found by other countries in domestic and foreign policy areas.

Dr Rhea Saksena*, 26
Harvard Chan School of Public Health, MPH (will attend 2021-22)

Rhea is a Medical Doctor in the National Health Service (NHS) and a passionate health advocate. She is particularly interested in the way global health structures intersect and contribute to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and obesity prevalence worldwide. She has interrogated these relationships through her undergraduate studies in Global Health at the Institute of Global Health, University College London (UCL) where she graduated with First Class Honours and Highly Commended on the UCL Dean’s List. She was nominated for the Faculty of Life Sciences Medal for her dissertation analysing obesity policies in the UK as well as being awarded the John Yudkin Prize in International Health for outstanding commitment to global health advocacy. She has also worked as Scientific Officer with Public Health England to design and implement national sugar reduction strategies to reduce childhood obesity and Global Policy Coordinator with NCDFREE, an international civil society organisation advocating to end NCDs worldwide. As an Academic Foundation Programme trainee at UCL, Rhea was involved in researching community-based strategies to tackle diabetes in Bangladesh while pursuing full-time clinical training. Rhea is now training as an NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow in Oxford, a role which enables her to continue to develop both her clinical and academic interests in obesity and diabetes simultaneously. Rhea is thrilled to undertake the Masters in Public Health (MPH) programme at the Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health. She hopes to develop the skills and understanding required to design health systems that are resilient to obesity and NCDs, to ensure that attainment of the highest standard of health is a certainty for all and not a privilege for a lucky few. Rhea will be the recipient of a joint award from the Kennedy Memorial Trust and the UK Fulbright Commission in 2021.

Huw Spencer*, 25
Harvard Kennedy School, MPP (will attend 2022-2023)

Huw graduated from the University of Oxford with a degree in modern languages, specialising in French and Spanish literature. He spent his year abroad studying politics in Sciences Po Paris and learning tango in Argentina. After university, he returned north to work for a UK MEP in an attempt to understand how Brexit had come about. The experience consolidated his interest in education policy and the democratic mechanisms needed to make politics work for everyone. This led him to work at the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, as an analyst supporting the devolved agenda around children's services. He also set up the Northern Policy Forum, a network for young people interested in policy that aims to make policymaking more inclusive and accessible across the region. Huw has spent the last two years working in the intersecting policy spheres of early years, children's social care, education and health. He intends to build on this policy knowledge at the Harvard Kennedy School, but also to deepen his understanding of how policy is designed at all levels of government. Ahead of commencing his studies at the Kennedy School, Huw will continue to explore these twin interests, and is looking forward to getting back to tango when government covid-19 regulations permit it.
Scholar Profiles
Nathan Taylor, 1990

The Scholarship meant a huge amount to me, especially looking back now.

Nathan Taylor, 1990

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