Student Experience

McCourt Welcomes New Scholars Class

September 19, 2018

The McCourt School welcomes five distinguished students who have been awarded full scholarships based on their accomplishments and promise as policymakers:

Lillian Alexander

When she was an undergraduate at Harvard, Lillian Alexander spent a summer researching food insecurity and climate change in East Africa. There, she witnessed unforgettable childhood malnutrition and a lack of long-term solutions to agricultural shortages. After graduation, Alexander worked on a climate change initiative in Washington, D.C. and then served as a Fulbright Scholar teaching assistant in Malaysia. Most recently, at Innovations for Poverty Action, she managed a study involving 15,000 smallholder farmers in Kenya. At McCourt, Alexander plans to hone leadership and quantitative skills and focus on policy solutions to food insecurity. She hopes to work in global agribusinesses and be a part of those policy solutions.

Rafael Contreras

With troubles tearing at his native Venezuela over the past two years, Rafael Contreras has been working in D.C. trying to keep in touch with events back home. “It can be isolating,” he says. “But being away also gives me an incentive to learn ways I can be a part of the solutions to problems.” His global perspective began early. After attending an international high school in Norway, studying Arabic, and earning a degree in political science and Middle East studies, Contreras got a job as an operations analyst in the education division at Inter-American Development Bank. At McCourt, he hopes to fuse together his interests in education, displacement, the Middle East and Latin America, with an emphasis on policy solutions for refugees.

Lincoln Foran

Lincoln Foran put his degree in economics from University of Virginia to work at a major international banking company, where he’s now a vice president advising firms in the North American metals and mining sectors. He is also keenly interested in issues of globalization. Which workers are being left behind as commerce moves around the globe? What happens to companies and employees when they compete with companies that are, as Foran says, “subsidized or protected by their own governments”? At McCourt, he intends to focus on trade and economic policy, learning “how to create and enhance economic opportunity in parts of the U.S. that have suffered from the impact of trade liberalization.”

Linn Groft

The day after Linn Groft finished overseeing an intensive summer program for 140-plus middle school students in her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, she started packing for McCourt and D.C. Groft, who has a B.S. in community health and development from University of Alabama, is executive director of Breakthrough Birmingham, which works with high potential, underserved middle school students. At McCourt, Groft hopes to expand on what she’s learned at nonprofits, then work at a policy institution or city agency, eventually returning home with new skills and knowledge. “The deeper I dive,” she says, “the more I see that nonprofits can only do so much. Metro governments, though, can do a lot to solve inequality and access.”

Forest Jarvis

After earning a degree in international politics and economics from Middlebury College, Forest Jarvis served as a Fulbright Scholar. Later, as a researcher at Innovations for Poverty Action in the Philippines, he tried to uncover what makes some people—especially the poor—more vulnerable to natural disasters than others. “I learned how big of a factor environmental degradation was in eroding natural defenses,” he says, recalling how he witnessed entire villages wiped out during a typhoon because of deforested mountain slopes. At McCourt, Jarvis will focus on environmental policy and sustainable development. He hopes to design projects that will help preserve the natural world.