Sunday, September 19, 2004
Kerry's Daughter Wins Fellowship
Wizbang: "You're never too rich to suck a little money off the federally funded tit...

KETCHUM, Idaho -- Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry has announced that his daughter Vanessa has won a Fulbright scholarship to study medicine in London.

Vanessa Kerry is a 27-year-old Harvard medical student who frequently travels with her father's campaign.

According to the Fulbright Web site, about 1,000 U.S. students are awarded the federally funded fellowships each year of about 4,500 who apply. Kerry told reporters traveling with him to a long weekend vacation in Idaho on Saturday that Vanessa Kerry recently learned she was one of this year's winners.
Her stepmother is worth over $1.5 billion dollars, and there's her father bragging how she's taking money for a fellowship she doesn't need. I'm sure she earned the fellowship, but there are probably lots of applicants that didn't get accepted that could use the money.

In contrast her step brother, H. John Heinz IV, seems to is noticeably absent from his stepfather's campaign.

Update: Apparently others can't read my words, or I'm not being clear. I am not arguing that Vanessa Kerry doesn't deserve the fellowship, nor am I arguing that she shouldn't accept it. All I'm saying is that she doesn't need the monetary portion of the award.

Update 2: Steven Taylor get's the final word. If a former Fulbright winner sees no issue, who am I to argue."

David and Jess are essentially correct.

Not only is it a matter of being based on merit, but also on the possibility of linkages with the receiving institution. I've seen many applications that were superb, but no one in the receiving country was ready to work on that particular project at the moment, so the applicant lost out.

Financial issues are frequently a problem, too. Just recently, I had a single-parent applicant with twin teenage daughters. The grant was insufficient to pay for her daughters' in-country education. Her options were to a) try to get the grant increased, b) find another source of funding, c) drop the grant.

A) was out of the question, because the budget is fixed. If she got more, then somebody else would lose a grant.

C) was always an option.

B) is what she did. She talked her own institution to upping her sabbatical pay.

The Fulbright program can be very competitive, but the competition depends on the subject matter and the country involved. Not suprisingly, competition for the UK is high; that for Saudi Arabia comparatively lower.

The competition starts in two places. One is the foreign country where the bilateral Fulbright Commission (if there is one, the Embassy if there's not) approaches local academic institutions to see what opportunities exist. Alternatively, an academic can come up with a project and see if it will fly in his target country.

In either case, the proposals go before boards comprised of both US government officials and private citizens.

Then the Cultural Affairs staffs at Embassies work to create the linkages.

The form for the applications are standardized and--as with most gov't forms--ask as little identification information as possible. Kerry's form would give her basic data (place & date of birth, contact information, etc.). The rest would be a brief CV, an academic history, a comprehensive description of the project, and a statement about why the applicant and the project should get the grant. Forms that even hint of playing a connections card get dropped pretty quickly.

And there are all sorts of programs. Some are for grad students only. Others are for faculty. Others, for administrators. Some are for undergrads to live abroad for a year to develop skills in languages. And, as I noted earlier, some are for high school teacher exchanges. There's even one to bring French teachers to Louisiana from Tunisia.

The program in Third World countries gets a larger proportion of US money than those in First World countries. Germany's program, for instance, is paid for with 100% German money. Even India pays about 50% of the freight.

Kerry's daughter is not "depriving" anyone of anything. She put up a unique proposal that was of interest to the receiving institution. The application didn't ask her net worth, nor who her parents were. That, I think, is exactly how merit awards are supposed to work.

Posted by: John at August 16, 2004 05:01 PM

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