Michael Fryar ’14, Centre’s first Rotary Global Scholar, recently completed a master’s program at the London School of Economics (LSE) and is now headed to Harvard’s Center for International Development to begin work as a Research Fellow with the Evidence for the Policy Design (EPoD) Program.
EPoD works to improve the design and implementation of public policies and programs around the world through the use of data and economic insights. Fryar will be working with a training team on projects that develop the capacity of policymakers to integrate data and research evidence into policy decision-making. The position, based in Cambridge, Mass., also includes significant travel to India and Pakistan.
“Through my work with EPoD, I hope to deliver the type of high-impact, sustainable outcomes that the Rotary Global Grant Scholarship is intended to support,” Fryar said.
Each year Rotary awards Global Grant Scholarships to fund graduate-level studies for future leaders in fields related to Rotary’s areas of focus: peace and conflict resolution, disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy, and economic and community development. Rotary District 6710 (Centre’s district) sponsors two Global Grant Scholarships of up to $40,000 each for graduate-level study at universities outside North America. This spring, Emily Stephenson ’15 was named the only District 6710 Rotary Scholar in Kentucky, the second Centre College student to receive the scholarship in as many years.
Fryar said his Centre Experience, particularly his international experiences as a Brown Fellow, was critical in motivating him to apply for the Rotary Scholarship to study international development in London.
“Living and working in multiple parts of Latin America, from small communities in Nicaragua and Guatemala to the global cities of Bogota and Mexico City, created a passion for development and left me with questions that I wanted to study further,” Fryar explained.
His interdisciplinary classes at Centre, as well as the devotion of his professors, inspired him to apply to the International Development Department at the LSE because he knew it would bring together classmates from all over the world who also had experience in developing countries.
“Although I knew that both admission to LSE and selection for the scholarship would be extremely competitive, my Centre Experience taught me to aim high,” Fryar said. “Once I began my studies at LSE, I realized that Centre had prepared me very well.
“More importantly, [Centre] also gave me training in multiple methods of thinking critically,” he continued.
Fryar also studied at Queen’s University of Belfast prior to LSE, which exposed him to some of the differences between higher education in the United Kingdom and the United States. The courses utilized his critical thinking and writing skills from Centre, and he was able to achieve an overall degree classification of distinction. Additionally, his time at LSE helped him identify a desire to work at the intersection of academia and policy.
“The analytical rigor of my master’s program, and the opportunity to conduct my own research in my dissertation, reinforced for me that I want to conduct rigorous research,” he said.
As a Global Scholar, Fryar said he learned two main takeaways, including “a greater humility about my ability to create change given the challenges that still remain even after more than half a century of concerted efforts at development” and “a deepened belief that the challenging nature of development work is even more reason to devote myself to it.”
Fryar said that his favorite quote from Robert Lucas best illustrates his time abroad and his future goals: “The consequences for human welfare involved in questions [of development] are simply staggering: once one starts to think about them, it is hard to think about anything else.”
by Elise L. Murrell
December 3, 2015