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Bringing Compassion and Empathy to U.S. Policymaking

Goldthwait Fellowship lets Cailey Stevens select Johns Hopkins SAIS, her first choice
Posted June 8, 2016
Cailey Stevens, SAIS '17, is the first recipient of the John S. Goldthwait Fellowship for students in the Latin American Studies Program. Cailey Stevens, SAIS '17, is the first recipient of the John S. Goldthwait Fellowship for students in the Latin American Studies Program.

Cailey Stevens represented the ideal applicant for the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, with a resume featuring extensive experience living and studying internationally and two years working for the U.S. Federal Reserve. The school's two-year master's program in Latin American Studies and International Economics seemed to be a perfect match for Stevens, who aspires to work for the U.S. Treasury and focus on Latin American policy. But the union wouldn't have come to fruition without an assist from the John S. Goldthwait Latin American Studies Program Fellowship.

"The school has limited financial aid, and recruitment has become more competitive," explains Riordan Roett, professor and director of the school's Latin American Studies Program. "This was a case where we found a very qualified young woman with the kind of experience that brings a great deal to our classroom, whom we wanted to enroll, and the fellowship allowed us to recruit her."

The Goldthwait Fellowship was established in 2015 by a generous $450,000 foundation gift to honor John S. Goldthwait, a successful financial advisor and friend to Johns Hopkins SAIS. The fellowship, an example of the Rising to the Challenge campaign's focus on increasing endowed student aid, provides a student in the Latin American Studies Program with $10,000 in aid over four semesters.

Despite initially choosing to attend another institution with a more lucrative aid package before receiving the Goldthwait Fellowship, Stevens says, "Johns Hopkins SAIS was always my first choice, because its political economy curriculum is exactly what I wanted, and I'm really glad it worked out."

Stevens' interest in U.S. policy in South and Central America grew from her time studying abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as a Wellesley College undergraduate. She found that industrial countries' misunderstanding of the culture and political landscape of the region could contribute to policies that were ill-suited to local realities.

"There wasn't always a lot of nuance in U.S. foreign policy toward Argentina," Stevens says. "Learning about all of the historical political and cultural complexities made me realize I wanted to be a part of policymaking — to bring compassion and empathy to the process in the interest of both countries."

After graduating from Wellesley, Stevens worked in domestic policy at the U.S. Federal Reserve in Washington, D.C., before accepting a Binational Business Fulbright fellowship in Mexico City, where she studied and reported on Mexican energy reform and renewable energy development policies. She’ll deepen that experience this summer when she completes her capstone internship at the U.S. Embassy in Lima, Peru.

"It’ll be a great opportunity to combine political economy and foreign policy in a practical way, to see how these policies are developed and executed in the real world," Stevens says.

"Johns Hopkins SAIS has earned a reputation for producing government and corporate leaders who influence policy development throughout the world, including on Wall Street, at the World Bank, in the National Security Council, and in the Department of State," Roett says. But increased funding to support fellowships for these students is critical as more nations, including the United States, address a fragile global economy that needs individuals skilled in economics, languages and political risk to survive and advance.

"Having worked in several countries and for the Federal Reserve, Cailey knows what questions to raise — and a lot of the answers to those questions, too," Roett says. "We need more students like her who will be prepared to deal with the daily problems and challenges that governments and agencies face on a daily basis."