A legacy of support

For more than 30 years, the Robert K. Carr Fellowship has benefited generations of scholars at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Robert "Rob" Carr, SAIS '64 (MA), SAIS Eur '64 (Dipl), established the fellowship in honor of his late father and namesake—an educator, expert in constitutional law and civil liberties, and past president of Oberlin College. As a former SAIS student himself, Carr received financial assistance and knew he wanted to give back when he embarked on his career in international energy.

"I admired my father's career in academia," Carr says. "I also appreciated my fellowship aid and its significance. I was married and studying in Bologna, Italy. I needed the aid."

Photo of Rob Carr

Image caption: Alumnus Rob Carr, who established the Robert K. Carr Fellowship in honor of his father

Image credit: Development and Alumni Relations

The fellowship has grown in scope over the past three decades to support student scholars pursuing issues related to economic development and finance, poverty reduction, energy and climate change, and social policy. In 2022, Carr boldly committed to increase the student financial award and endowment annually. Carr, who is now retired, emphasized that as his career opportunities advanced, he wanted his contributions to match.

"I'm in a totally different financial situation. I did what I could before. I'm going to do now what I can. It's all been built into my estate planning exercise," Carr says. "You reach a point in your life when you can afford to do more—and you should."

Gillous Harris, SAIS '23 (MA), the 2022 recipient of the Robert K. Carr Fellowship, felt the financial boost immediately as he navigated his second year of studying international relations. He describes how being a SAIS alum and a fellow helped jump-start his career. Harris is a research analyst at FinRegLab in Washington, D.C., where he works on projects focused on artificial intelligence and international development.

"I assist and conduct research on financial inclusion in the U.S. and abroad. I'm currently working on a project in Kenya, which is really interesting," Harris says. "I'm so grateful to Rob. To receive a named fellowship was an honor. I was able to solely focus on my studies and internship—it's why I'm working where I am today."

Gillous Harris

Image caption: Gillous Harris, 2022 Robert K. Carr Fellow

Image credit: Development and Alumni Relations

Asked about what prepared him to choose his professional path, Harris credits his education at SAIS and the confidence he gained by receiving a named fellowship. Outside of the classroom, Harris says one of the biggest advantages of Johns Hopkins is connecting with alumni, like Carr, who want to see the next generation of students succeed.

"It's a great way to hear about opportunities, but beyond that it's helpful to learn from and interact with other people who have that common baseline of SAIS," Harris says. "Alumni who studied at SAIS have a lot of diverse experiences and viewpoints. It's beneficial to make these professional connections to see how alums are using their degrees and navigating their careers."

Last fall, Harris met Carr in Washington, D.C., where they shared stories about their time at SAIS Europe in Bologna, along with their educational and professional experiences.

"It was great to talk to Rob. We discussed international relations and finance in Africa. It was really cool," Harris says. "It was interesting to learn how much SAIS has changed since Rob was a student. He was excited when I told him about the classes I was taking and how they were being taught.

"Meeting the awardees is refreshing and positive. It's a fulfilling experience," Carr adds. "There are many career opportunities emerging for SAIS students. The students are receiving a broad education with hands-on experience and internships. I believe it's a home run."

Carr remains active as an alumnus, staying informed about SAIS and even previously serving on the advisory board. He enjoys learning about how the fellows are becoming global leaders.

"Why do we give to worthy causes? Because we think it'll have a positive impact. The relevancy of this program moving beyond academics and into real-world career opportunities is valuable to society," Carr says. "It's public service. Even if the graduates enter into a business career like mine, to understand the significance of climate change, renewables, and geopolitics, in my mind, is extremely important."

As a recent graduate who is in the early stages of his own career, Harris expresses how fortunate he feels to be connected to Carr, SAIS fellows, and alumni.

"Rob is great; he's so interesting. After talking with him, it felt like I was carrying on a legacy and continuation of high achievement after graduating from SAIS. SAIS produces graduates who have an impact on the world," Harris says.

This story was adapted from "Fellowship supports SAIS scholars," published in October 2023 by Development and Alumni Relations as a Why I Give story.

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